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 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

    Links for the day



  2. Links 1/5/2015: HP Ubuntu Laptops, Arch Linux 2015.05.01

    Links for the day



  3. Links 30/4/2015: Plasma 4.4 in the Making

    Links for the day



  4. Microsoft Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing the Linux-centric Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Making Them Windows Devices

    Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is "marketing"



  5. Microsoft Uses Ubuntu to Demonstrate and Promote Microsoft Lock-in

    Canonical's Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents



  6. The EPO's Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, is Probably on His Way Out, Threatens to Resign

    The Napoleonic self-acclaimed 'president' of the EPO, who surrounded himself with loyal thugs and crushed all opposition to him (assuring reign by fear), reportedly threatens to fall on his sword if an independent mediator gets appointed



  7. Links 30/4/2015: Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Microsoft Copies Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  8. Windows Recipes for Disaster (Met Police and Fukushima)

    Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health



  9. ‘Visual Studio Code’: Not News, Not Free, Not Open Source

    Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in



  10. Microsoft's Patent Attacks on Android Not Covered in the Corporate Media, Only Microsoft as the 'Victim'

    Omission of important developments around Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late



  11. As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

    On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)



  12. Pharmaceutical Patents and Hedge Funds: Evil Fighting Evil

    Revisiting the subject of patents on life or life-saving processes, plus a hedge fund's extortion-type attack on such patents (for quick profit)



  13. UCLA Foolishly Grooms Microsoft's Patent Troll Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Who is Busy Attacking Android and Linux These Days

    More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year's SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



  14. Links 28/4/2015: Plasma 5.3, Cutelyst 0.8.0

    Links for the day



  15. Links 28/4/2015: More on Debian 8 “Jessie”, Fedora 22 Beta Walkthrough

    Links for the day



  16. Microsoft is Attacking Android Like Never Before, Qisda the Latest to Sign Patent Extortion Deal

    More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, 'new' Microsoft



  17. Caution Needed When Microsoft Copywriters Flood the Media With Microsoft Propaganda

    Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it 'marketing')



  18. Gartner Staff That Worked for Microsoft and the Latest Nonsense from Gartner or 'Former' Staff

    Gartner waited until 2015 to declare FOSS fit for databases; another example spotted where Gartner staff comes from Microsoft or vice versa



  19. Links 27/4/2015: Debian 9 Named, Linux 4.1 Reaches RC

    Links for the day



  20. Microsoft is Interjecting Itself Into GNU/Linux and Free Software News, Even Events and Foundations

    Microsoft's entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition's overall message and diluting the competition's focus on Free software



  21. The Unethical Business of Selling Fear of Free/Libre Software Bugs (Black Duck, Sonatype, and Symantec)

    The spreading of fear of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is now a growth industry, so proprietary opportunists are eager to capitalise on it, even if by distorting the truth



  22. Patients' Data at Risk as NHS Reinforces Its Microsoft/Accenture Stockholm Syndrome

    The worst privacy violator in the world and the firm behind LSE failures are pocketing as much as £0.35 billion of British taxpayers' money to acquire access to very sensitive data of British people



  23. Links 26/4/2015: Debian 8, OpenMandriva Lx 3 Alpha, Mageia 5 RC

    Links for the day



  24. Links 25/4/2015: Debian LTS Plans, Turing Phone Runs Linux

    Links for the day



  25. Who Kills Yahoo? It's Microsoft, Not Yahoo!

    The media should blame Microsoft, not Marissa Mayer, for what's going on (and has been going on for 7 years) at Yahoo!



  26. EPO Management is Trying Hard to Appease Its Critics While Pushing Forth Unitary Patent Agenda

    The European Patent Office and European Commission promote the agenda of large multinational corporations (at the expense or European citizens) and critics are being kept at bay



  27. Real Patent Reform Will Not Come From Biggest Backers of GNU/Linux, Not Even Google

    A look at the 'new' Google, the company which is hoarding patents (2,566 last year alone) instead of fighting for reform



  28. Microsoft's Troll Intellectual Ventures Loses Software Patents

    Intellectual Ventures is bluffing with software patents, but this time around it doesn't get its way



  29. Links 24/4/2015: Ubuntu and Variants in the News, Red Hat Developer Toolset 3.1

    Links for the day



  30. Links 23/4/2015: Ubuntu 15.04 is Out, Debian 8.0 Out Very Soon

    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