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 18/12/2014: LinuxQuestions.org Polls, Fedora for POWER

    Links for the day



  2. Links 16/12/2014: Google and ODF, Civilization: Beyond Earth Comes to GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  3. Bill Gates' Pet Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as Founder Quits

    Intellectual Ventures founder leaves after an exceptionally large round of layoffs, despite [cref 77299 recent subsidies from Sony and Microsoft]



  4. Keeping Software Patents Out of Europe Following the Demise of Software Patents in the US

    Instability in the EPO seemingly prevents further expansion of patent scope, which is the subject of scrutiny of EPO staff



  5. Links 15/12/2014: OSI 2014 Annual Report, GPLv2 Court Test

    Links for the day



  6. Links 14/12/2014: Calligra 2.9 Beta, Krita 2.9 Beta

    Links for the day



  7. Software Patents Are Dying in the US, But Patent Lawyers Refuse to Admit It

    Patent lawyers continue to distort the reality of software patents' demise in the United States



  8. Links 13/12/2014: Android Wear “Lollipop”, European Commission and FOSS

    Links for the day



  9. Time to Take Microsoft Out of British Aviation Before Planes Crash Into Buildings

    London's mighty Heathrow Airport among those affected by a Microsoft-reliant air traffic control system which is not being able to properly recover from an outage, and not for the first time either



  10. News From France and Germany: Battistelli Under Fire, But Not Fired Yet, Just Firing His Opposition

    The régime headed by Benoît Battistelli and his criminal deputy continues to overthrow or pressure out everyone who is not 'loyal' to the régime



  11. Links 12/12/2014: Linux++, KDE Frameworks 5.5.0, Calligra 2.8.7

    Links for the day



  12. The USPTO is Broken: New Evidence Presented

    The scope of patents, as evidenced by some statistical figures and individual patents, shows that the USPTO is broken and must be reformed or dismantled



  13. US Patent Reform (on Trolls Only) More or Less Buried or Ineffective

    An update on efforts to reform the patent system in the United States, including the possibly imminent appointment of Michelle Lee to USPTO leadership role



  14. Software Patents in Canada Not Dead Yet

    Canada's patent status quo increasingly like that of the United States and Canadian giants like BlackBerry now pose a threat to software developers



  15. Dreaming of a Just Christmas: When a Third of EPO Walks Out to Revolt and European Judges Attack the EPO Over Abuses

    Information about the abuses of Battistelli et al. at the EPO are finally receiving wider coverage and increasing the strain on Battistelli's authoritarian reign



  16. Links 11/12/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta, Firefox 35 Plans

    Links for the day



  17. Ubuntu Core Announcement is Not About Microsoft and Hosting Ubuntu on Azure is Worse Than Stupid

    The power of media spin makes the idea of hosting Free software under the control of an NSA PRISM and back doors partner seem alluring



  18. France Gets Involved in Battistelli's Abuses in the EPO - Part XII (Updated)

    The EPO scandal has officially spilled over to France, where a French Senator got involved and starts asking serious questions



  19. Rolling of Heads Likely Imminent at EPO

    The European patent system is shaking as management breaks the rules, staff is protesting against the management every week, and charges of corruption resurface



  20. Links 11/12/2014: systemd 218, Empire Total War

    Links for the day



  21. Links 10/12/2014: Fedora 21, Ubuntu Core

    Links for the day



  22. Links 9/12/2014: Fedora 21 and Torture Report Are Out

    Links for the day



  23. Exclusive: The Enlarged Board of Appeal Complains About Battistelli's Corrupt Management to the Administrative Council (Updated)

    Text of the complaint from the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) reaches Techrights, demonstrating just how rampant the abuse in Battistelli's EPO has become



  24. Protests Against EPO Corruption Approach 1,000 in Attendance

    EPO staff at all levels is revolting against the management of the EPO, whose dismissal seems to be only a matter of time



  25. Links 9/12/2014: Greg Kroah-Hartman Interview, Fedora 21 Imminent

    Links for the day



  26. EPO Staff Protests Today and Protested Last Week, Targeting Corruption in the Institution

    PO staff is demonstrating against abuse by the management of the EPO, today we well as in prior days



  27. Links 7/12/2014: New Linux Release, Marines and Prisoners on GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  28. EPO Scandal: Benoît Battistelli's Arrogance Recognised by European Delegations

    Battistelli’s Nixon moment and the evasive nature of his approach towards external delegations that are troubled by his behaviour



  29. CBS Brushing Aside and Away Microsoft's History of Blackmail and Bribes Against Linux

    Putting in context some of the poor reporting (or whitewash) regarding Microsoft's bribe (disguised as "partnership") to Barnes & Noble



  30. Links 7/12/2014: Typhoon Hagupit, AURORAGOLD

    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