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

03.10.09

Patents Roundup: Splashtop Encumbered by Patents, Google Linux Phone Sued by Patent Troll, TomTom Update and More

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux, Splashtop, and Patents

Splashtop is a wonderful development that will enable more people to be exposed to GNU/Linux on their personal computers (usually Windows). This helps the burial of tired Linux myths and can — overall — boost the perception and adoption of GNU/Linux as a sole operating system.

One of our readers, Stefano Forenza, took a look a little more closely at Splashtop. He found out that the technology may already be somewhat of a patent minefield.

While a Linux based operating system riskying to become a de-facto standard on every computer may seem gold, not everything shines. Reflect: if it’s so cool to have already been adopted and everybody likes it so much, how comes they didn’t patent it ?

They did:

Patents:

* Mechanism for intuitively invoking one or more auxiliary
* Method and apparatus for virtualization of appliances

Other (unspecified) patents are pending.

This may open the door to yet another lock in scenario. And possibly even worse than the actual force-Windows-on-every-consumer. Thruth to be said, so far, the approach of splashtop toward developers seems much more open that Apple’s and Microsoft’s, but patents always raise concerns, no matter what:

* as patenting means Splashtop will be the only player in the BIOS-as-OS business
* or will be anyway more cheap than commercial competitors

So, what make this worse than MS monopoly ? For maybe the first time in computing, patents will be possibly able to completely forbid competition in a non-secondary area. That said, I’m no patent expert and probably over-simplifying, that’s just what popped into my mind when I saw those patents referenced on their homepage.

Over in Germany, it turns out that Google’s first Linux-based phone has come under a lawsuit which was filed by a patent troll.

Tech companies are getting sued for patent infringement regularly, but this recent case of patent litigation might mean serious trouble for HTC, at least in Germany. Munich-based IPCom, which is not your usual insignificant patent troll, says the Taiwanese company is infringing its patents (IPCom doesn’t have a website).

Android
Paranoid Android

TomTom Case

Microsoft’s lawsuit against TomTom (and Linux) is far from forgotten and not just because of the public protests. At the moment, even Microsoft bloggers add their skepticism to the lot. One of them (in InformationWeek) advises Microsoft to call this thing off.

Microsoft’s FAT32 Deserves Its Freedom

[...]

So what are the implications of Microsoft having a patent on FAT technology? Let’s look at a simple example. Whenever you plug a flash drive into your PC, the odds are that it’s formatted with Microsoft’s FAT32 technology. If you take that flash drive to another non-PC device, the software on that device needs to be able to understand the FAT32 format in order to read the files. Microsoft says that to do that, you need to license their patents.

[...]

Allowing Microsoft to control the FAT32 patent this way is allowing them to leverage their monopoly status.

Here is another new take of the patentability of software in this context:

Last week I spoke with Phil Marcus, a Maryland attorney and electronics and software engineer who concentrates on intellectual property issues. As a point of clarification, he reminded me that most software is not subject to being patented. Nearly a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that certain algorithms or “programming recipes” could be patented as “business methods.” (And that may soon be limited further, he said, depending on how the Supreme Court handles a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that only those “business methods that run on specific machines or somehow “alter matter” can be patented.)

Katherine Noyes wrote about the Allison take, which we previously covered in [1, 2, 3]. Is this really a GPL challenge?

Legislation

Here is Microsoft lobbying for more patents in WIPO [PDF]. It’s stuff like that which prevents a so-called 'reform' from becoming anything useful. It merely removes the elements unwanted by monopolies (mostly those pesky patent trolls) while keeping all the rest in tact so as to empower the monopolies. This is what happens in a corporocracy, naturally.

One of the prominent defenders (or proponents) of software patents has just reposted the coalition statement on this so-called ‘reform’ bill.

The Chairman of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, Gary Griswold, released the following statement after the introduction of The Patent Reform Act of 2009, in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. The bills introduced in the House and Senate today contain several provisions that did not have sufficient support to become law because of the potential negative impact on innovation and job growth.

Patently-O has meanwhile covered some more Bilski material and it seemingly coined the term “European Bilski” in relation to the EPO’s EBoA referral (c.f. full text of EBoA referral and of In Re Bilski decision).

# European Bilski: The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO is looking for third-party input on four issues:

1. Is it only proper to exclude patents covering computer programs as such when explicitly claimed as a “computer program”?
2. Does a claim avoid the computer program as such exclusion by mentioning a computer or data storage medium? (If not, what technical effect is needed?)

Nonetheless, despite the Bilski brouhaha, we’re continuing to see what appears like active discussion about business method patents and their application. Here is a new press release.

Integra, Inc. and Medicine-On-Time have released an interface between Integra’s industry leading set of work flow and document management solutions, DocuTrack and DeliveryTrack, and Medicine-On-Time’s personal prescription system.

[...]

The system combines software and patented packaging components, allowing pharmacists to custom sort and package a patient’s prescription medication into a series of clear dosage cups.

It’s not entirely clear what was patented here, but it seems to at least comprise a physical device [1, 2, 3, 4].

Bad Patents

On several occasions one year ago [1, 2] we wrote about Guitar Hero patents being used aggressively. Fortunately, these have just been officially tossed:

A California court has tossed out Gibson Guitar’s patent infringement lawsuit against Guitar Hero maker Activision, saying Gibson’s arguments “border on the frivolous.”

On the other hand, a different reexamination process proved fruitless a few days ago.

Pictometry International Corp. announces a significant win in the reexamination proceedings instituted by GEOSPAN Corp. against Pictometry’s U.S. Patent No. 7,424,133 entitled “Method and Apparatus for Capturing, Geolocating and Measuring Oblique Images.” In sum, on February 2, 2009, the U.S. Patent Office upheld the validity of priority ownership to the inventive concepts claimed within Pictometry’s patent thereby rejecting recent allegations made by GEOSPAN Corp. Furthermore, the Patent Office held that the majority of GEOSPAN claims are without substantive merit.

For an impression of the sort of junk that gets through to the USPTO, behold this one (patent pending from IBM). Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Patent Bullies

Sisvel, the ‘patent mafia’ of Philips [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], is still putting a barrier in the face of manufacturers of media players — many of which are based on/powered by Linux — using MP3 patents. Here is the latest about unnerving cooperations (consider also this report).

There was no dawn raid by police to seize patent-infringing MP3 players at this year’s Cebit trade show — but behind the scenes, haggling over technology licensing continued.

Raids by German police or customs officers had become a regular feature of shows such as Cebit, in Hanover, and IFA, in Berlin, in recent years, often at the instigation of an Italian company, Sisvel, which licenses patented technology essential to the manufacture of MP3 players.

Microsoft too is a licensee [PDF], i.e. it’s paying Sisvel. Microsoft paid SCO for a licence it did not require whilst SCO was aggressively suing Linux. As Bruce Perens put it, “Microsoft hardly needs an SCO source license. Its license payment to SCO is simply a good-looking way to pass along a bribe…”

“The trade fair raids are a means of social pressure. Most press people get trapped by the product piracy spin, in particular when it is about an European company versus Chinese manufacturers,” says a shrewd reader to us. See this [PDF] for more details. “The MP3 technology is usually licensed from Frauenhofer/Thompson. Sisvel is a free-riding troll but it is a shame that they use the customs authorities as their aids,” says our source.

Patent extortion at gunpoint is one thing, but how about people who potentially die because of patents? Mike Masnick tells this latest story:

Bob Austin, who for many years has worked in major metropolitan fire and EMS departments, had the idea of creating an open source medical dispatch system. Such a system would have numerous benefits. Beyond being a free system, it also would allow best practices to easily bubble up in a way that actively would help save lives. If another EMS department could improve on the system, they easily could do so and contribute it back to the community.

[...]

The whole situation is rather sickening, and I’m really hoping that folks here might be able to help see if we can get this project back on track. Priority Dispatch’s decision to scare these open source developers into submission for merely offering up a free project to help save lives is really a rather disgusting use of the patent system, and obviously goes against the very purpose of that system: “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” Instead, such things are being actively stymied in a way that puts all of us at risk.

We have already seen how patents can kill and so has the European Commission, which embarked on responsive action.

“My message to the patent world is: Either get back to the doctrines of forces of nature or face the elimination of your system.” —Hartmut Pilch, Paraflows 06

Ogg Theora

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

What Else is New


  1. EPO's Board 28 Notes Battistelli's “Three Current Investigations/Disciplinary Proceedings Involving SUEPO Members in The Hague."

    The attack on SUEPO (EPO staff representatives) at The Hague appears to have been silently expanded to a third person, showing an obvious increase in Battistelli's attacks on truth-tellers



  2. Links 28/9/2016: Alpine Linux 3.4.4, Endless OS 3.0

    Links for the day



  3. Cementing Autocracy: The European Patent Office Against Democracy, Against Media, and Against the Rule of Law

    The European Patent Office (EPO) actively undermines democracy in Europe, it undermines the freedom of the press (by paying it for puff pieces), and it undermines the rule of law by giving one single tyrant total power in Eponia and immunity from outside Eponia (even when he breaks his own rules)



  4. Links 28/9/2016: New Red Hat Offices, Fedora 25 'Frozen'

    Links for the day



  5. Team Battistelli Intensifies the Attack on the Boards of Appeal Again

    The lawless state of the EPO, where the rule of law is basically reducible to Battistelli's ego and insecurities, is again demonstrated with an escalation and perhaps another fake 'trial' in the making (after guilt repeatedly fails to be established)



  6. After the EPO Paid the Financial Times to Produce Propaganda the Newspaper Continues to Produce UPC Puff Pieces, Just Ahead of EU Council Meeting

    How the media, including the Financial Times, has been used (and even paid!) by the EPO in exchange for self-serving (to the EPO) messages and articles



  7. Beware the Patent Law Firms Insinuating That Software Patents Are Back Because of McRO

    By repeatedly claiming (and then generalising) that CAFC accepted a software patent the patent microcosm (meta-industry) hopes to convince us that we should continue to pursue software patents in the US, i.e. pay them a lot more money for something of little/no value



  8. The US Supreme Court Might Soon Tighten Patent Scope in the United States Even Further, the USPTO Produces Patent Maximalism Propaganda

    A struggle brewing between the patent 'industry' (profiting from irrational saturation) and the highest US court, as well as the Government Accountability Office (GAO)



  9. Patent Trolling a Growing Problem in East Asia (Software Patents Also), Whereas in the US the Problem Goes Away Along With Software Patents

    A look at two contrasting stories, one in Asia where patent litigation and hype are on the rise (same in Europe due to the EPO) and another in the US where a lot of patents face growing uncertainty and a high invalidation rate



  10. The EPO's Continued Push for Software Patents, Marginalisation of Appeals (Reassessment), and Deviation From the EPC

    A roundup of new developments at the EPO, where things further exacerbate and patent quality continues its downward spiral



  11. The Battistelli Effect: “We Will be Gradually Forced to File Our Patent Applications Outside the EPO in the Interests of Our Clients”

    While the EPO dusts off old files and grants in haste without quality control (won't be sustainable for more than a couple more years) the applicants are moving away as trust in the EPO erodes rapidly and profoundly



  12. Links 27/9/2016: Lenovo Layoffs, OPNFV Third Software Release

    Links for the day



  13. The Moral Depravity of the European Patent Office Under Battistelli

    The European Patent Office (EPO) comes under heavy criticism from its very own employees, who also seem to recognise that lobbying for the UPC is a very bad idea which discredits the European Patent Organisation



  14. Links 26/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC8, SuperTux 0.5

    Links for the day



  15. What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become



  16. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  17. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  18. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government



  19. Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

    Links for the day



  20. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  21. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  22. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  23. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  24. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  25. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)



  26. Journalism 101: Do Not Believe Anything That Benoît Battistelli and the EPO's Management Say (Also Don't Fall for the UPC Hype)

    A survey/review (or an overview) of recent articles about the EPO and why they're wrong (mostly because they parrot the official lies from Battistelli's department)



  27. Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM 'Magazine' Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

    Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent



  28. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Going Places and Suing Microsoft Rivals, Microsoft Wants More 'Linux Patent Tax'

    Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn's MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)



  29. Links 22/9/2016: Linux Professional Institute Redesign, Red Hat Upgraded

    Links for the day



  30. Links 22/9/2016: Red Hat's Latest Results, GNOME 3.22 Released

    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