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 29/9/2014: OpenDaylight Helium Release

    Links for the day



  2. European Patent Office Disorganisation: Problems With the Audit Mechanisms - Part IV

    A prelude to a long article about a thug called Topić, his controversial Battistelli-sponsored appointment, and the removal of auditory functions by Battistelli



  3. More Good News About Demise of Software Patents and Along With Them, Consequently, Patent Trolls

    A weekly roundup of news about patents in the United States and elsewhere, with special focus on software patents



  4. IRC Proceedings: June 22nd, 2014 – September 13th, 2014

    Many IRC logs



  5. Links 28/9/2014: Moto X, End of OpenSUSE 11.4

    Links for the day



  6. CBS Continues to Get Heavily Occupied by Microsoft Staff to Spread Microsoft Propaganda

    The CBS-owned ZDNet continues to hire people who have worked or are currently working for Microsoft and unsurprisingly enough they use their newly-acquired positions to praise Microsoft and bash Microsoft's competition, usually with no disclosure of their conflict of interest



  7. Links 27/9/2014: Linux (Almost) Everywhere, Features Of Linux 3.17

    Links for the day



  8. Microsoft Fakes 'Charity' and Uses Religious Groups to Acquire Lock-in in the Public Sector

    Microsoft's involvements with NGOs and with governments lead to more distrust, more surveillance, less freedom, and ultimately systemic corruption



  9. Bill Gates' Privatisation Crusade

    Mr. Gates, seeking to increase his huge profits and political power, reaches out to Catholic leaders and David Christian



  10. Tux Machines Under DDOS Attack

    Most of Tux Machines continues to work as usual, but some parts are temporarily restricted to keep the server running



  11. Links 26/9/2014: LibreOffice Celebrations, Betas of *buntu

    Links for the day



  12. Links 25/9/2014: KDE Roadmap, Bash Bug, GNOME 3.14 in Next Fedora

    Links for the day



  13. Links 24/9/2014: GNOME 3.14 Released, Bash Has a Bug

    Links for the day



  14. Links 21/9/2014: Fedora 21 Alpha

    Links for the day



  15. More of Bill Gates' Investments in GMO and Mass Indoctrination Under the Disguise of 'Donations'

    Microsoft's arrogant and famously corrupt co-founder is taken to task by those whom he is trying to bamboozle for monopoly, unlimited cross-generational power, and never-ending profit without risk



  16. Home Depot Confirmed a Victim of Microsoft's Bad Security, Microsoft Lays Off Security-Related Staff

    News reports circulate showing that Home Depot was knowingly careless with its Windows dependency while Microsoft lays off staff focused on security



  17. European Patent Office/Organisation - Suspicion of Improper Collusion Between EPO President and Chairman of the Administrative Council: Part III

    A preliminary look at Battistelli's reign and how regulatory powers got abolished, leaving the EPO reckless and largely unaccountable



  18. Links 21/9/2014: xorg-server 1.16.1, Linux Kernel 3.16.3

    Links for the day



  19. Links 20/9/2014: GNOME 3.13.92, Android L

    Links for the day



  20. Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

    MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States



  21. If CAFC is Not Above the Law, Then it Should be Shut Down Now

    A long series of abuses in CAFC may as well suggest that this court has become broken beyond repair



  22. The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

    Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling



  23. Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

    Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia



  24. Links 19/9/2014: Another Red Hat Acquisition, Netflix Dumps Microsoft Silverlight and Brings DRM to WWW

    Links for the day



  25. Links 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

    Links for the day



  26. Web Site 'Patent Progress' Now Officially 'Powered by CCIA' (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

    After talking a job at CCIA, "Patent Progress" and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress



  27. Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

    Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up



  28. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  29. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  30. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments


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