EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.28.09

Patents Roundup: Disintegration, EU in a Limbo, Applecrosoft Patents and Scientists’ Rebellion

Posted in America, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Patents at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The voice of dissent against intellectual monopolies is becoming too broad and loud to cover exhaustively and one site promptly contends that the system is broken, citing Techdirt among other sources that are like-minded.

I’ve been thinking a fair amount about software patents the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I attended a Brookings Institution conference that focused pretty heavily on the patent system. Since then, I’ve interviewed several sharp patent scholars in preparation for an article I’m working on. In those conversations, I noticed the same cultural gulf I blogged about on Techdirt last week. You might say that on the subject of software patents, lawyers are from Mars and programmers are from Venus.

[...]

So when a programmer thinks about software patents, he’s interested in improving the software industry. Given how screwed up software patents are, programmers often think the best solution would be not to have them at all. In contrast, when a patent lawyers thinks about software patents, he’s interested in fixing the patent system. Abolishing software patents looks like a horrible hack, because the flaws in the patent system that caused software patents to be so dysfunctional are probably plaguing other areas of patent law

Here is a new essay countering the perception that wealth is created by (intellectual) monopoly:

Let’s see how this works. Property rights are protected. Trade is free. People made useful stuff. People bought stuff and used it. They imitated and emulated each other and improved things step by step through investment, profit, and re-investment. That’s all. All development since this great age of innovation that preceding software IP has built on this foundation of open-source material. Bill Gates: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

In Re Bilski [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] is noted for its already noticeable impact on weakening intellectual monopolies.

Software patents are increasingly being used like lottery tickets: If you file enough of them, you’ll eventually have the winning number for litigation. Information Protection and Authentication of Texas (IPAT) has sued a dozen computer makers and some software developers for allegedly violating two security related patents that it holds. IPAT filed a formal complaint in a south Florida district court last Thursday. Some of the defendants are Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo. It has also separately filed suit against software makers including Microsoft and Symantec in a Texas court.

Further to that, another terrible patent potentially sees its death.

The PTO rejected all 20 patent claims over Internet subdomains held by a company called Hoshiko, which were used to bully sites like LiveJournal and Freehomepage.com and pursue litigation against larger companies like Google. The idea behind how to manage subdomains–domains hosted within larger domains, such as news.cnet.com–is too obvious to patent, the PTO ruled after the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation requested the patent be re-examined.

Europe

Alison Brimelow

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.”

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft

In theory, the situation in Europe should be much better, but too many questions remain and the process of clarification is too slow and culmbersome, which leaves everyone involved in an almost-eternal state of uncertainty. Here is a little update regarding the important referral.

It was a full house at law firm Baker & McKenzie’s London office last night as they hosted an Intellectual Property Institute lecture from EPO President, Alison Brimelow, on the ‘Future of IP’.

Brimelow befriended the audience early on by recognising, and voicing frustration at, weaknesses in the patent system. Europe’s seeming inability to move forward with a Community patent and/or a single patent jurisdiction, and the global issue of the unnecessary duplication of work and the backlog it is helping to create, were at the fore. As Brimelow freely admitted, she has no radical proposals to offer. But she did insist that the future of the patent system is a subject that requires action rather than the wait and see attitude she said was favoured by many in the IP world. If those who work inside the IP system do not help shape the future, others will do it for them, Brimelow said.

It is still possible to play a role in the process. It remains likely and it’s only natural to expect Microsoft's pressure groups to step up and intervene.

Interested parties have until the end of April to submit written statements to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal for the president’s referral on the patentability of computer programs

[...]

Given the controversy over the patenting of computer programs in recent years, a large number of submissions can be expected, from the software industry, legal professionals, trade associations and the open-source and anti-software patent communities.

There are still some ongoing attempts to further increase the damage by centralising and thus expanding the scope of litigation.

Disputes on the EPO patents are decided by national courts with the risk of multiple litigation. Consequently, the Council is working on a draft agreement to create a new European-wide jurisdiction. The agreement will be between the States wishing to ratify it and the EU itself.

The situation in the UK too is uncertain. We have been writing a lot about it recently and according to this, software patents are still being actively challenged, despite what Symbian did [1, 2].

Many observers saw the ruling as a rejection of the IPO’s previous methods of judging software patent claims. The IPO has said, though, that it will continue to apply the Aerotel/Macrossan test to decide whether an invention qualifies for a patent.

Apple

Having threatened Palm for its highly anticipated Linux-based device, Apple claims to be “innovating” again.

Apple’s 358-page patent application for their iPhone interface entitled Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics has been approved after more than two years of review by the US Patent Office. [...] As Apple seems eager to defend their intellectual property, what will this mean to other touch developers?

Glyn Moody calls it “ridiculous”, saying that he “was using a touch-screen HP 150 in the mid-1980s.” Here are some more details.

Apple has been granted a patent for touchscreens and related technologies, many of which have been combined to make up the iPhone.

Microsoft

We’ve mentioned Microsoft’s pay-as-you-go patent application in [1, 2, 3] and although it was rejected, it provided some insight into the sorts of Orwelian things Microsoft may have in mind.

All your data are us, and now your hardware too

If you thought that details of trusted computing were grim the patent to impose a charging structure on a PC’s hardware relative to software usage would tax the greatest genius of Jesuitical causitry. If you were impressed by the talents of now defunct investment bankers to leverage profit from packaged sub prime pyramid schemes then Microsoft’s wheeze would earn them a place on the board of Lehman Brothers.

Sharing is Better

Michael Geist has been combating a deformation of copyright law in Canada — a move initiated by Hollywood and further propagated with Microsoft’s help [1, 2]. Backed by this professor’s view, argues Mike Masnick:

Scientists Feel That Patents Cause Significant Harm To Research

Michael Geist points us to a recent survey of scientists who say that IP protection has a negative impact on their research. It’s greatly slowed down the ability to do research, as universities (thanks to the dreadful and damaging Bayh-Dole Act — which has significantly hurt progress in scientific research) are trying to hoard anything that can be patented for the sake of profit, rather than scientific advancement. Of course, advancement doesn’t work that way. It works through collaboration and sharing ideas — and what patents do is add a huge bureaucracy to the process, encouraging secrecy, not sharing and hoarding, not collaboration. Once again, we’re seeing that about the only folks who really truly benefit from patents are the lawyers.

Tim O’Reilly writes: “Dave Gray’s Free The Facts presentation is a must-read, must-share for anyone who cares about either science or open access.” Here is the presentation:

The Internet has proven to be a liberating force when it comes to rapid exchange of valuable knowledge. We’ll be seeing plenty more of this in the future.

We feel privileged to be referenced by IPJur, which recognises our cause.

However, now it looks as if they are in serious trouble: The same reader also hinted me to a posting on the Boycott Novell blog which is dedicated to some kind of political agitation against Novell, Inc., because of the people behind this blog think that Novell has moved far too much towards an alliance with Microsoft.

Consent on this issue is unlikely to arrive from lawyers, but hope lies in the minds of managers, who ought to realise the technical impact of their decisions.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. Andre said,

    January 28, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Gravatar

    What institution obstructs the EU community patent? Could it be a patent office?

What Else is New


  1. Links 1/4/2015: Firefox 37, VirtualBox 5.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  2. When Battistelli's Defender, Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten, Attacked Europeans' Right to Demonstrate

    The now disgraced (having just resigned) Ivo Opstelten played a role in helping Benoît Battistelli crush his staff



  3. Microsoft is Growing Desperate Trying to Destroy Linux While Not Publicly Appearing Anti-Linux

    Microsoft continues to be a destructive company whose goal is to derail Linux and Android by means of infiltration and subversion, shrewdly disguised as being "nice"



  4. Links 1/4/2015: $149 Chromebook, Cinnamon 2.4.7

    Links for the day



  5. Links 31/3/2015: New BlackArch Linux, Mozilla Firefox 37.0

    Links for the day



  6. Links 30/3/2015: Linux 4.0 RC6, OpenELEC 5.0.7

    Links for the day



  7. Techrights Cited by European Politicians in Support of EPO Staff's Causes

    Benoît Battistelli's right-hand man is characterised as suspected of corruption in European Parliament questions



  8. When the EPO Came Under Fire From the Netherlands and Before Systemic Corruption Was Revealed

    Questions that targeted the Dutch Minister of Justice amidst EPO abuses against staff and a shameful failure to enforce a court's decision



  9. Links 29/3/2015: Red Hat's Stock Soars, Kodi 14.2 Released

    Links for the day



  10. Speculations That Microsoft is About to Buy Cyanogen (or at Least Officially Partner) to Attack Google's Android/Linux, Replacing Everything With Microsoft

    Articles in the corporate media and some analysis from smaller media sites serve to highlight the role which Microsoft plays in Cyanogen



  11. Links 28/3/2015: FoundationDB FOSS Shut Down by Apple, European Commission Support for Free Software

    Links for the day



  12. Microsoft Keeps Pretending to be 'Open Source', Despite Relentless Assaults on Open Source

    Microsoft's charm offensives against Free/libre software are proving to be rather effective, despite them involving a gross distortion of facts and exploitation of corruptible elements in the corporate media



  13. Željko Topić and Ivan Šimonović, Two Residues of Ivo Sanader's Corrupt Regime, Seen as Indirectly Connected

    Further exploration of the remnants of Sanader's highly notorious record and those whom he had brought to power before he landed in jail



  14. Links 27/3/2015: Ubuntu 15.04 Second Beta, Dart 1.9

    Links for the day



  15. The EPO's Dutch Scandal Leaves Battistelli and His Cronies on the Run

    EPO management is making concessions and issues statements which admit defeat, allowing the staff union to continue its activities



  16. Microsoft Won't Let People Wipe (Off) Windows But Happily Wipes Android, Wipes Android Apps Through Cyanogen and Blackmailed 'Partners'

    Microsoft's obscene double-standards leave Android and Linux between a rock and a hard place



  17. Links 26/3/2015: GNOME 3.16 Officially Released

    Links for the day



  18. Links 25/3/2015: India Moving to Free Software

    Links for the day



  19. Another Reason to Boycott UEFI: Back Doors or Crackers

    UEFI makes computers more prone to infections, according to some security experts



  20. The EPO's Administrative Council is Under Increased Pressure to Rein in and to Finally Stop Benoît Battistelli

    The EPO's Administrative Council (AC) is about to have a meeting, so the Member States' delegations are urged to call for action



  21. IRC Proceedings: February 22nd - March 21st, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  22. The Latest Microsoft Attacks on GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software

    Microsoft is still hiding behind the façade of 'love' whilst actively attacking GNU/Linux and Free software from many directions



  23. Attempts to Disrupt Android by Pushing Microsoft Software Into It (Using Patent Blackmail and Cyanogen)

    Microsoft's Android coup d'état is succeeding owing to public apathy and poor comprehension of what Microsoft really is up to, partly due to media misdirection



  24. Links 24/3/2015: WebKitGTK+ 2.8.0, Black Lab Linux 6.5

    Links for the day



  25. Concerns Over Željko Topić's Alleged Powerful Links in Croatian Diplomacy

    Rikard Frgačić explains the powerful connections acquired though Ivan Šimonović, who is himself connected to EPO Vice-President Željko Topić



  26. Benoît Battistelli's EPO Comes Under Fire From Prominent Figures Who Are Key EPO Stakeholders, Expect Battistelli to Resign 'in the Longer Term'

    The ‘reign of terror’ which is primarily attributed to Battistelli and his cronies may be about to end; the Luxembourg parliament approves the Unified Patent Court



  27. Benoît Battistelli's EPO is Under Attack From French Politicians Yet Again

    More EPO interventions -- this time from France -- target Benoît Battistelli over his abuses and take it up to Eurocrats for political actions



  28. Bribes and Extortion Help Turn Android (Linux-powered) Into 'Microsoft Android'

    A strategy involving harassment and bribes drives large Android players into Microsoft's arms (PRISM and lock-in), much to Google's (and users') detriment and beyond regulators' range of visibility



  29. Microsoft-connected Black Duck Software Created by Microsoft Marketing Man as an Anti-GPL Operation, Admits the Management

    Black Duck "was founded [on] the idea ... to keep GPL-licensed code out of corporate codebases entirely," according to a new report



  30. Links 23/3/2015: Linux 4.0 RC5, Kubuntu Celebrates Ten Years

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts