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 28/8/2014: Many New Games, CTO of Red Hat Steps Down

    Links for the day



  2. We Are Gradually Winning the Battle Against Software Patents

    The once-elusive war on software patents is finally leading to some breakthrough and even the Federal Circuit reinforces the trend of software patents' demise



  3. Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Companies Versus FOSS Moles (VMware, Sonatype, Xamarin)

    A look at three entities which pretend to be pro-FOSS but are actually FOSS-hostile and very much determined to replace FOSS with proprietary software



  4. Links 27/8/2014: GNU/Linux in Space, China, LinuxCon

    Links for the day



  5. FUD Against Google and FOSS Security Amid Microsoft Windows Security Blunders

    In the age of widespread fraud due to Microsoft Windows with its back doors there is an attempt to shift focus to already-fixed flaws/deficiencies in competitors of Microsoft



  6. Microsoft Spin Watch: IDG Turns to More Microsoft Propaganda, Hires Microsoft Boosters

    Media in Microsoft's pocket is telling Microsoft's lies and deceives the public for Microsoft's bottom line



  7. Microsoft's Massive Tax Evasion Becomes Better Known

    A new report about Microsoft's admission that it plays dirty tricks with tax (sometimes using moles in government) is increasing awareness of Microsoft's criminal aspects



  8. Links 25/8/2014: China's Linux Revolution Imminent

    Links for the day



  9. Links 24/8/2014: GNU/Linux Specialisation and Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  10. Links 23/8/2014: GNU/Linux Growth

    Links for the day



  11. Microsoft-Funded Attacks on Android Security and Patent/Copyright

    A look back at examples of people who smear Android and are receiving (or received) money from Microsoft



  12. Blowback in Chile and Munich After Microsoft Intervention

    Microsoft's attacks on the digital sovereignty of countries involves lobbying, corruption, an attack on standards (e.g. ODF), an attack on FOSS policies, and even an attack on accurate reporting (truth itself)



  13. The End of Microsoft is Nigh

    A look back at a tough year for Microsoft and a not-so-promising future



  14. Links 22/8/2014: Linux Foundation LFCS, LFCE

    Links for the day



  15. UPS Burned by Microsoft Windows, Gives Away Massive Number of Credit Card Details

    UPS is the latest victim of Microsoft's shoddy back door with software on top of it (Windows); attempts to blame FOSS for data compromise actually divert attention from the real culprit, which is proprietary software



  16. Microsoft's Funding of ALEC and Other Systemic Corruption

    Microsoft role in writing of laws by proxy, via groups such as ALEC



  17. Microsoft is Still Preying on British Taxpayers, Playing Politics

    Some news from the UK showing how Microsoft uses politics to extract money out of taxpayers, irrespective of their preferences



  18. Microsoft's Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as 20% of Staff Laid Off

    More good news regarding the demise of patents as Microsoft's leading patent proxy is collapsing more rapidly than anyone ever imagined and software patents too are collectively doubted



  19. Links 21/8/2014: Conferences of Linux Foundation, Elephone Emerges

    Links for the day



  20. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  21. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  22. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  23. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  24. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  25. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  26. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  27. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  28. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  29. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  30. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software


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