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

02.24.09

Patents Roundup: Microsoft, RAND, Extortion, and Ending Software Patents

Posted in Deals, EFF, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft, Patents at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell newspaper

THERE ARE some bad news and some good news this week. We’ll begin with some of the bad.

Microsoft Against Free Software

Microsoft has just entered a extortion licensing deal with 123map.

Microsoft Corp. and 123map GmbH & Co. KG, a supplier of high-quality geographical services, announced a patent licensing agreement that will enhance 123map’s ability to bring digital point-of-interest mapping technology to its customers.

The text above is pseudo-journalism, recasting a press release [1, 2]. The press release also comes from Redmond and it more or less tells which side is winning.

According to this report, there might be an element of open source software involved.

Microsoft in pact with semi-open source map maker

[...]

“123map’s products are developed with a diverse mix of proprietary and open source software, and this business agreement is a testament to the importance of mutual respect for IP, regardless of development models,” Microsoft officials said in a statement today.

Once again they label "open source" a "development model" (nothing to do with rights or freedom) and they use the term “IP” in order to blur the gap between copyrights, trademarks, and software patents in this case. Why does a German company engage in such a deal? Are these patents legitimate over there at all?

Another brow-raising development comes from AXIGEN, a Romanian collaboration server company that is (or was) focused on BSD and GNU/Linux. It is joining something which is called “Microsoft’s Empower Initiative for ISVs.”

AXIGEN (http://www.axigen.com/), the professional messaging solution vendor, announces it has joined the Empower for ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) initiative, partnership program designed by Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/), worldwide leader in software, services and solutions. Empower combines deep industry knowledge, useful tools, powerful research expertise and innovative thinking aimed at supporting global business growth.

[...]

Winner of the ServerWatch 2007 Product Excellence Award for the Communications Server category, AXIGEN Mail Server features a carrier class technology and outstanding support. Now at version 6.2, AXIGEN runs on several Linux and BSD distributions, on Solaris, on Windows operating systems, on PowerPC and SPARC architectures and is becoming the messaging solution of choice for a growing number of service providers and enterprises worldwide.

This has nothing to do with patents, but it’s another timely example of Microsoft co-opting rivals.

Ambush/Abuse

The nuisance which is Rambus [1, 2, 3] has been leeching off its competitors using patents that it hid inside standards. The European Commission did strike back with accusations, but over in the United States it has been a subject of active debate. Well, sadly enough, Rambus eventually got its way.

The Supreme Court rejected the US Federal Trade Commission’s request to resurrect antitrust accusations the District of Columbia Circuit tossed out in April. Its latest rebuff effectively kills the regulator’s seven-year saga against Rambus for allegedly monopolizing four key technologies found in DRAM chips.

The FTC accuses Rambus of deceiving the memory standard-setting group JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) by not disclosing its intentions to patent technologies that would become part of the DDR SDRAM specification.

This important development which can serve as precedence is also covered in:

“That’s great news for Microsoft,” writes Jose. They have sneaked patents into formats like OOXML, which they committed many crimes to make standards.

Europe

Philips is one of the most vicious lobbyists for software patents in Europe. It even uses ‘attack dogs’ to do its extortions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Well, Digital Majority has just found this text from Philips regarding the Enlarged Board of Appeals referral [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. It says:

Observations: In view of the above discussion on the statutory background, the examples in Article 52(2) EPC should be understood in the light of the principle that all technical inventions are patent-eligible, while all non-technical subjects are not. So, it is not relevant whether some computer-related wording is used in a claim, as the question that needs to be answered is whether the claim relates to a technical invention. Moreover, it is not that relevant whether a claim in the area of computer programs avoids exclusion under Article 52(2)(c) and (3) EPC by using some smartly chosen wording, as it still needs to be new and involve an inventive step in order to be patentable. As has been aptly mentioned in T 154/04, only technical features can contribute to novelty and inventive step, so that there must be technical features that distinguish the invention from the prior art in a non-obvious way.

Also in Europe — the spats-thirsty lawyers from IPKats are trying to force software patents upon the UK using ZDNet as their platform. Glyn Moody rebuts.

Professionals who work in the field of intellectual monopolies have a problem. Most of them are quite able to see there are serious problems with the system, but since their entire career has been built on it, they can hardly trash the whole thing. Instead, they not unreasonably try to come up with a “reasonable” compromise.

[...]

There are simply *no* good reasons for software patents, and hence no justification for halfway houses, however reasonably framed, and however intelligent and reasonable the framer.

Economics of Software Patents

Another good find from Glyn Moody is this paper which shows that patents decrease innovation and therefore harm consumers.

This work basically shows that recent attempts to introduce intellectual monopolies into science in order to “promote innovation” have actually been counter-productive.

[...]

In this context at least, it’s openness that leads to more innovation, not its polar opposite.

Some people are still trading software patents. This trend leads Mike Masnick to asking some hard questions.

The Chicago Tribune has an article claiming that intellectual property sales are “growing” despite the recession, as companies look to sell off what they’re not using. Except… the article doesn’t present any evidence whatsoever

End Software Patents

There are two strands of news in this area; first is the Free Software Foundation’s support for the second phase of EndSoftwarePatents.org. This attacks the problem at its root.

The Free Software Foundation today announced funding for the End Software Patents project to document the case for ending software patents worldwide. This catalog of studies, economic arguments, and legal analyses will build on the recent success of the “in re Bilski” court ruling, in which End Software Patents (ESP) helped play a key role in narrowing the scope for patenting software ideas in the USA.

This also appears here and Glyn Moody sets his sights (probably hopes) very high:

Here’s to Phase III: victory.

The EFF is doing its own share of activism and reporting, as well. It typically targets one patent at the time as opposed to the system which makes them possible in the first place.

In April 2007, as part of our Patent Busting Project, we asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to revisit its decision to grant NeoMedia a patent that broadly claimed to cover database lookups using things like barcodes. In October 2007, the PTO agreed to take another look, and last July, it issued an initial opinion that all 95 claims of the NeoMedia patent were invalid.

The next battleground for Free software is likely to be legal, not just technical. Programmers prefer to focus on technical aspects alone, but ignoring all those ‘peripheral’, man-made aspects does not mean that they will magically disappear. The maximalists always work on new laws to protect their monopolies and banish their competition.

“Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. “Don’t bother us with politics,” respond those who don’t want to learn.”

Richard Stallman

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

2 Comments

  1. Rick said,

    February 24, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Re EFF and NeoMedia – The USPTO just supported NeoMedia by giving them a the rights to the patent. NeoMedia did make small changes by moving a couple of te 95 claims into other claims. Loks like less were authorized, but the whole patent was re-affirmed.

  2. streetstylz said,

    February 28, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Gravatar

    NeoMedia Presents Case Study On Patent Win

    http://streetstylz.blogspot.com/2009/02/neomedia-presents-case-study-on-patent.html

    Case Study by Barkume and Associates

What Else is New


  1. The Likes of Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), Team Campinos and Team UPC Don't Represent Europe But Hurt Europe

    The abject disinterest in patent quality and patent validity (as judged by courts) threatens Europe but not to the detriment of those who are in the 'business' of suing and printing lots of worthless patents



  2. The Linux Foundation Needs to Change Course Before GNU/Linux (as a Free Operating System) is Dead

    The issues associated with the Linux Foundation are not entirely new; but Linux now incorporates so many restrictions and contains so many binary blobs that one begins to wonder what "Linux" even means



  3. Largest Patent Offices Try to Leave Courts in a State of Disarray to Enable the Granting of Fake Patents in the US and Europe

    Like a monarchy that effectively runs all branches of government the management of the EPO is trying to work around the judiciary; the same is increasingly happening (or at least attempted) in the United States



  4. Links 19/4/2019: PyPy 7.1.1, LabPlot 2.6, Kipi Plugins 5.9.1 Released

    Links for the day



  5. Links 18/4/2019: Ubuntu and Derivatives Have Releases, digiKam 6.1.0, OpenSSH 8.0 and LibreOffice 6.2.3

    Links for the day



  6. Freedom is Not a Business and Those Who Make 'Business' by Giving it Away Deserve Naming

    Free software is being parceled and sold to private monopolisers; those who facilitate the process enrich themselves and pose a growing threat to freedom in general — a subject we intend to tackle in the near future



  7. Concluding the Linux Foundation (LF) “Putting the CON in Conference!” (Part 3)

    Conferences constructed or put together based on payments rather than merit pose a risk to the freedom of free software; we conclude our series about events set up by the largest of culprits, which profits from this erosion of freedom



  8. “Mention the War” (of Microsoft Against GNU/Linux)

    The GNU/Linux desktop (or laptops) seems to be languishing or deteriorating, making way for proprietary takeover in the form of Vista 10 and Chrome OS and “web apps” (surveillance); nobody seems too bothered — certainly not the Linux Foundation — by the fact that GNU/Linux itself is being relegated or demoted to a mere “app” on these surveillance platforms (WSL, Croûton and so on)



  9. The European Patent Office Does Not Care About the Law, Today's Management Constantly Attempts to Bypass the Law

    Many EPs (European Patents) are actually "IPs" (invalid patents); the EPO doesn't seem to care and it is again paying for corrupt scholars to toe the party line



  10. The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Once Again Pours Cold Water on Patent Maximalists

    Any hopes of a rebound or turnaround have just been shattered because a bizarre attack on the appeal process (misusing tribal immunity) fell on deaf ears and software patents definitely don't interest the highest court, which already deemed them invalid half a decade ago



  11. Links 17/4/2019: Qt 5.12.3 Released, Ola Bini Arrested (Political Stunts)

    Links for the day



  12. Links 16/4/2019: CentOS Turns 15, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released

    Links for the day



  13. GNU/Linux is Being Eaten Alive by Large Corporations With Their Agenda

    A sort of corporate takeover, or moneyed interests at the expense of our freedom, can be seen as a 'soft coup' whose eventual outcome would involve all or most servers in 'the cloud' (surveillance with patent tax as part of the rental fees) and almost no laptops/desktops which aren't remotely controlled (and limit what's run on them, using something like UEFI 'secure boot')



  14. Reader's Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were 'Imposed' on LibrePlanet and the FSF

    Restrictions on speech are said to have been spread and reached some of the most liberal circles, according to a credible veteran who opposes illiberal censorship



  15. Corporate Media Will Never Cover the EPO's Violations of the Law With Respect to Patent Scope

    The greed-driven gold rush for patents has resulted in a large pool of European Patents that have no legitimacy and are nowadays associated with low legal certainty; the media isn't interested in covering such a monumental disaster that poses a threat to the whole of Europe



  16. A Linux Foundation Run by People Who Reject Linux is Like a Children's Charity Whose Management Dislikes Children

    We remain concerned about the lack of commitment that the Linux Foundation has for Linux; much of the Linux Foundation's Board, for example, comes from hostile companies



  17. Links 15/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC5 and SolydXK Reviewed

    Links for the day



  18. Links 14/4/2019: Blender 2.80 Release Plan and Ducktype 1.0

    Links for the day



  19. 'Poor' (Multi-Millionaire) Novell CEO, Who Colluded With Steve Ballmer Against GNU/Linux, is Trying to Censor Techrights

    Novell’s last CEO, a former IBMer who just like IBM decided to leverage software patents against the competition (threatening loads of companies using "platoons of patent lawyers"), has decided that siccing lawyers at us would be a good idea



  20. Guest Post: The Linux Foundation (LF) is “Putting the CON in Conference!” (Part 2)

    Calls for papers (CfP) and who gets to assess what's presented or what's not presented is a lesser-explored aspect, especially in this age when large corporate sponsors get to indirectly run entire 'community' events



  21. Patent Maximalists Are Enabling Injustices and Frauds

    It's time to come to grips with the simple fact that extreme patent lenience causes society to suffer and is mostly beneficial to bad actors; for the patent profession to maintain a level of credibility and legitimacy it must reject the deplorable, condemnable zealots



  22. Further Decreasing Focus on Software Patents in the United States as They Barely Exist in Valid Form Anymore

    No headway made after almost 4 months of Iancu-led stunts; software patents remain largely dead and buried, so we’re moving on to other topics



  23. Links 13/4/2019: Wine 4.6 and Emacs 26.2 Released

    Links for the day



  24. Links 12/4/2019: Mesa 19.0.2, Rust 1.34.0 and Flatpak 1.3.2 Released

    Links for the day



  25. Caricature: EPO Standing Tall

    A reader's response to the EPO's tall claims and fluff from yesterday



  26. The EPO is Slipping Out of Control Again and It's Another Battistelli-Like Mess With Disregard for the Rule of Law and Patent Scope

    The banker in chief is just 'printing' or 'minting' lots and lots of patents, even clearly bogus ones that lack substance to back their perceived value



  27. Global Finance Magazine Spreads Lies About the Unitary Patent and German Constitutional Court

    Alluding to the concept of a "unified European patent," some site connected to Class Editori S.p.A. and based in Manhattan/New York City tells obvious lies about the Unified Patent Court (UPC), possibly in an effort to sway outcomes and twist people's expectations



  28. New Building as Perfect Metaphor for the EPO Under the Frenchmen Battistelli and Campinos

    The EPO is in "propaganda mode" only 9 months after the latest French President took Office; the Office is seen as dishonest, even under the new leadership, which routinely lies to the public and to its own staff



  29. Links 11/4/2019: Twisted 19.2.0 Released, Assange Arrested

    Links for the day



  30. EPO Still Wasting Budget, Paying Media and Academics for Spin

    EPO money continues to flow like water into hands that are complicit in legitimising the EPO's management and policies; this highlights the grave dangers of lack of oversight at the EPO, not to mention lawlessness or lack of enforcement


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