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. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  2. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism<



  3. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  4. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  5. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  6. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  7. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  8. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  9. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  10. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  11. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  12. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  13. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  14. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  15. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  16. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  17. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  18. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  19. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  20. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  21. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness



  22. Bill Gates' God Complex: Common Core a One-Man Campaign of Greed and Control

    The push for Common Core is overwhelmingly dominated by Bill Gates, who intimidates and even resorts to retribution against critics while bribing those who help him accomplish the goal of privatised (for his private profit) indoctrination in US schools



  23. Bill Gates Investments Harm the World, Not Improve the World, Based on New Exclusive Piece of Investigative Journalism at The Nation

    The Gates Foundation's profiteering efforts and lack of ethics outlined in a new report that many sites around the Web find fascinating and mostly irrefutable



  24. Links 3/9/2014: Android Gadgets, New Tails OS

    Links for the day



  25. Linus Torvalds DebConf Talk

    Torvalds' latest talk which got media attention earlier this month



  26. Microsoft Should Not be Considered Too Big to Jail

    Microsoft continues to use dumping as a strategy which revolves around starving the competition, not beating the competition



  27. Pro-Software Patents Voices Finally Acknowledge the Demise of Software Patents in the United States

    A milestone is reached as even the most zealous supporters of patents on algorithms (or computer-implemented inventions, or software patents) are admitting that the era of software patents may be over



  28. New Lies About Microsoft 'Privacy' and New FUD Against the GPL Comes From 'Former' Microsoft Staff at Black Duck

    More AstroTurfing by sites that are run by Microsoft MVPs and firms which were created by people from Microsoft



  29. Links 2/9/2014: GNU/Linux in BBC, Calls Against systemd

    Links for the day



  30. Links 1/9/2014: Poettering on systemd, ITNews on DBMSs

    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