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 Sickness of the EPO – Part V: Shedding Light on Institutional Abuse Against Ill and/or Disabled Individuals

    The seriousness of the situation at the EPO and a call for action, which requires greater transparency, even if imposed transparency



  2. The EPO's Race to the Bottom in Recruitment and Early Retirements Explained by an Insider

    The European Patent Office under Battistelli is failing to attract -- and certainly failing to retain -- talented examiners



  3. Wouter Pors and Other UPC Boosters Believe That Repeating the Lies Will Potentially Make Them Truths

    The lobbying campaign for UPC, or hopeful lies (sometimes mere rumours) disguised as "news", continues to rely on false perceptions that the UPC is just a matter of time and may actually materialise this year



  4. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Utilised in Fixing the US Patent System and the Patent Microcosm Loses Its Mind

    A roundup of PTAB news, ranging from attacks on the legitimacy of PTAB to progress which is made by PTAB, undoing decades of overpatenting



  5. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Take on Patents Pertaining to Business Methods

    Patents on tasks that can be performed using pen and paper (so-called 'business methods', just like algorithms) and oughtn't be patent-eligible may be the next casualty of the America Invents Act (AIA)



  6. Google's Stewardship of GNU/Linux (Android, Chromebooks and More) in Doubt After Company Resorts to Patent 'First Strikes'

    Google has just turned a little more evil, by essentially using patents as a weapon against the competition (by no means a defensive move)



  7. Links 24/2/2017: Ubuntu 17.04 Beta, OpenBSD Foundation Nets $573,000 in Donations

    Links for the day



  8. IAM, Greased up by the EPO, Continues Lobbying by Shaming Tactics for the UPC, Under the Guise of 'News'

    The shrill and well-paid writers of IAM are still at it, promoting the Unitary Patent (UPC) at every opportunity and every turn



  9. Patent Scope Gone Awry: European Vegetable Patents Office?

    In its misguided race to raise so-called 'production', the EPO lost sight of its original goals and now facilitates patent royalty payments/taxation for naturally-recurring items of nature



  10. Yes, There is Definitely Brain Drain (Experience Deficit) at the European Patent Office and Stakeholders Feel It

    The direction that the European Patent Office has taken under Battistelli undoes many decades (almost half a century) of reputation-building and progress and naturally this repels existing staff, not to mention hampers recruitment efforts



  11. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IV: Cruel Management That Deliberately Attacks the Sick and the Weak

    The dysphoric reality at the European Patent Office, which is becoming like a large cell (with bolted-down windows) where people are controlled by fear and scapegoats are selected to perpetuate this atmosphere of terror and maintain demand (or workload) for the Investigative Stasi



  12. Links 23/2/2017: Qt 5.9 Alpha, First SHA1 Collision

    Links for the day



  13. UPC Roundup: War on the Appeal Boards, British Motion Against the UPC, Fröhlinger Recalled, and Fake News About Spain

    Taking stock of some of the latest attempts to shove the Unitary Patent (UPC) down Europe's throat, courtesy of Team Battistelli and Team UPC



  14. The Sickness of the EPO – Part III: Invalidity and Suicides

    An explanation of what drives a lot of EPO veterans to depression and sometimes even suicide



  15. The Appeal Board (PTAB) and Federal Circuit (CAFC) Maintain Good Pace of Patent Elimination Where Scope Was Exceeded

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) continues to accept about 4 out of 5 decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) refuses to intervene



  16. Software Patents Are Ebbing Away, But the “Swamp” Fights Back and Hijacks the Word “Fix”

    The club of patent maximalists, or those who profit from excess prosecution and legal chaos, isn't liking what has happened in the United States and it wants everything reversed



  17. Report From Yesterday's Debate About the European Patent Office (EPO) at the Bavarian Landtag

    A report of the EPO debate which took place at the Bavarian Landtag yesterday (21/2/2017)



  18. Links 22/2/2017: Wine-Staging 2.2, Nautilus 3.24

    Links for the day



  19. French Politician Richard Yung Tells the Government About Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    The subject of EPO scandals has once again landed in French politics, just a couple of months since it last happened



  20. The Sickness of the EPO – Part II: Background Information and Insights

    With a privatised, in-house (sometimes outsourced and for-profit) force for surveillance, policing, justice, public relations and now medical assessment (mere vassals or marionettes of the management) the EPO serves to show that it has become indistinguishable from North Korea, where the Supreme Leader gets to control every single aspect (absolutely no separation of powers)



  21. EPO Cartoon/Caricature by KrewinkelKrijst

    A new rendition by Dutch cartoonist and illustrator KrewinkelKrijst



  22. Inverting Narratives: IAM 'Magazine' Paints Massive Patent Bully Microsoft (Preying on the Weak) as a Defender of the Powerless

    Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft's tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as "pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products") as seen in IAM almost every week these days



  23. The Sickness of the EPO – Part I: Motivation for New Series of Articles

    An introduction or prelude to a long series of upcoming posts, whose purpose is to show governance by coercion, pressure, retribution and tribalism rather than professional relationship between human beings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  24. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VII: EPO Hypocrisy on Cancer and Lack of Feedback to and From ECPC

    The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), which calls itself "the largest European cancer patients' umbrella organisation," fails to fulfill its duties, says a source of ours, and the EPO makes things even worse



  25. Links 21/2/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9.2 in Chakra GNU/Linux, pfSense 2.3.3

    Links for the day



  26. EPO Caricature: Battistelli's Wall

    Battistelli's solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers



  27. The 'New' Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

    In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft's agenda



  28. PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

    A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don't exist there)



  29. Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

    Links for the day



  30. No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

    Old and familiar tricks -- a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines -- are being peddled by Watchtroll again


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