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

04.09.09

Patents Roundup: OIN to Strike Back, Apple Clarifies, Lawsuits Continue, and Turnaround Foreseen

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, HP, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SUN at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

novell-chair

THIS is the latest part in an endless series which explores our software patents landscape. As Jose X put it in last night’s post, “software patents [are] poised to cripple the industry and shut out real innovation.” This affects not only Free software, but as usual, we choose to focus on GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and GNU/Linux

In what came as somewhat of a surprise to many, Microsoft may be forced to pay $388 million for patent infringement. It’s a surprise because this decision was not widely anticipated.

News Analysis. Some court rulings are just rich with irony. Today, April 8, a jury found that Microsoft infringed on Uniloc patents for product activation. Microsoft uses the technology to protect its software from theft. Who’s stealing from whom?

I expect to read lots of comments on this blog praising today’s jury verdict, which ordered Microsoft to pay Uniloc $388 million. Gauging from comments on past posts about product activation, many of you don’t much like it.

This sum of money and the nature of this case is somewhat reminiscent of the Alcatel-Lucent case (involving MP3 support in Windows). It has been a long, fierce battle [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

In other important news, there are more confirmations of the claim that OIN may strike back at Microsoft pretty soon (within weeks).

Indeed, Rooney quotes OIN CEO Keith Bergelt, who was interviewed by our sister site, LinuxDevices, shortly after the Microsoft lawsuit was filed, as saying that there could be a “response” to Microsoft from the open source community in the coming weeks. “It’s Newton’s law. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” Bergelt was quoted as saying. The story goes on to quote Bergelt’s assertions that the settlement “says nothing about the validity of the patent.”

Another report (or opinion) suggests that the TomTom case may indeed be used against Microsoft:

So in the short term, Microsoft didn’t gain very much by picking on TomTom. And in the long term, the company’s decision to sue could explode in its face.

TomTom may have stepped aside, but some much bigger and better-funded open-source players are now stepping up to the plate. The Open Invention Network, for example, is already pondering a counterattack that could include legal action designed to invalidate Microsoft’s FAT patent.

The next few weeks will be interesting. Microsoft opened a Pandora’s box.

Apple

Slashdot has just brought back what is old news (but still new to some) about Apple polluting the Web with its patents. The company has a formal response to that and it doesn’t sound too good: “While the current draft patent policy does state a “preference” for royalty-free standards, the ready availability of a RAND option presents too easy an alternative for owners of intellectual property who may seek to use the standardization process to control access to fundamental Web standards. A mandatory royalty-free requirement for all adopted standards will avoid this result.

Well, RAND and Free software don't work together. Apple ought to know this.

Victims of Communication

One recent patent victim which was mentioned a few days ago is Hewlett-Packard. According to this report, it bailed.

Hewlett-Packard has cashed out of a four-year-old Wi-Fi patent lawsuit from Australia’s national science agency that’s targeted a who’s-who list of big tech vendors with wireless products.

Communication is an area where the patent thicket has always been notorious and now there is another massive lawsuit:

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. and Circle K Stores Inc. were two of nine companies named in a lawsuit filed by Emsat Advanced Geo-Location Technology LLC and patent licensee Location Based Services LLC, alleging the defendants of infringing patents covering enhanced 911 services in cell phones, Law360.com reported.

[...]

The suit claims the telecommunications companies infringe patents titled “Cellular telephone system that uses position of a mobile unit to make call management decisions,” issued between 1999 and 2007, and covering location services for 911 calls, allowing for increased accuracy in determining the location of a cell phone user who has placed a call to an emergency operator, the report stated, citing the complaint. It also alleged the companies infringe a patent application filed January 2008, titled “Cellular telephone system that uses position of a mobile unit to make call management decisions.”

Why are such patents granted in the first place? It’s truly an embarrassment to the practice of patenting.

Turnarounds

As an update on the situation in India [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], someone who is trying to legalise them wrote this article which explains where the system stands. [via Digital Majority]

In India, for administrative convenience, four patent offices are located in metropolitan cities. However, the offices are inconsistent in their practice with regard to software inventions, mainly due to the lack of clear guidelines. While the Indian Patent Office largely relies on the practice of the European and UK patent offices, there have been instances where inventions claiming software methods with a technical effect that have been allowed by the European or UK patent office have nonetheless been rejected by Indian Patent Office officials on the following grounds:

• The term “technical effect” is not defined in the Indian Patents Act.
• The Draft Manual is not binding on the examiners, as it is only in draft form.
• There are no Indian precedents in respect of software inventions.

As a side note, here is another call for a “global patent”, which is somewhat of a euphemism (think globalisation, like Community patent, harmonisation or centralised court for increased damages, software patents, and so on).

Here is another new editorial about the proposed patent deform[sic] bill in the United States. It addresses the wrong questions and dodges common criticisms like those relating to software patents.

It isn’t often that you see heavyweights in the tech world duking it out in a high-stakes match, with Congress as the referee. It’s happening today over proposed reforms in patent law, which pits the software and information technology giants against their counterparts in biotech. The issues are as fascinating as they are thorny — and while each side paints the choices as black and white, there’s enough gray here to cover a fleet of battleships.

[...]

One reform everyone agrees on is the need to expedite patent applications. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has just over 5,000 underpaid and overworked examiners to review more than 400,000 new applications each year. It would take them two years just to catch up on the current backlog if no new applications arrived. This, too, is stifling innovation. The office needs the money for more staff.

One person opines that software patents, just like network neutrality, suffers from serious misconceptions.

Software patents may be going the way of network neutrality: an arcane policy problem once the preserve of a small circle of wonks is becoming a politicized slanging match. In both cases an esoteric but important research question has become a point of leverage for certain interest groups. In both cases the subject (“network neutrality”, “software patents”) is at best poorly defined, typically has multiple possible meanings, and at worst is so vague as to be useless. And in both cases, the poster child is the small-time innovator, while the sugar daddy is a big money player minimizing costs (e.g. content providers who love net neutrality, and VCs who hate software patents).

Assuming that it’s true and software patents are standing on their last leg, why can’t the Bilski test be invoked? Sun Microsystems has just heroically attempted this but failed due to some federal judge.

A federal judge has shot down an attempt by Sun Microsystems Inc. to use the Bilski test to invalidate two patents for product configuration software held by Versata Software Inc. that Sun is accused of infringing.

Here is an interesting new essay titled “Ten Reasons the Supreme Court Should Take In re Bilski.”

Erika Arner is the co-author of the Bilski petition for certiorari challenging the Federal Circuit’s limits on the patentability of method claims. She handles patent prosecution and litigation at Finnegan Henderson in DC. I asked Ms Arner to write this post.

The thing to look forward to at this stage is OIN’s response to Microsoft, but all in all, this only legitimises software patents rather than challenge them. IBM would not mind.

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. Links 15/7/2019: Vulkan 1.1.115 and Facebook Openwashing

    Links for the day



  2. Microsoft Office 360 Banned

    OpenDocument Format (ODF, a real standard everyone can implement) and Free/libre software should be taught in schools; it's not supposed to be just a matter of privacy



  3. Microsoft, in Its Own Words...

    Sociopathy, incompetence and intolerance of the rule of law, as demonstrated by Microsoft's top managers



  4. Microsoft's WSL is Designed to Weaken GNU/Linux (on the Desktop/Laptop) and Strengthen Vista 10

    What Microsoft does to GNU/Linux on the desktop (and/or laptop) bears much resemblance to what Microsoft did to Java a couple of decades ago



  5. Links 14/7/2019: Linux 5.2.1, Unreal Engine 4.23 Preview, Linux Mint 19.2 Beta

    Links for the day



  6. 25,500 Blog Posts and Pages

    With our thirteenth anniversary just a few months away we're at a pace of about 2,000 posts per year



  7. With WSL Microsoft is Doing to GNU/Linux What It Did to Netscape

    Embrace, extend, extinguish. Some things never really change even if they become an old and repetitive accusation.



  8. Allowing Bad Guests to Become the Hosts

    Why the so-called 'Linux Foundation', a nonprofit that acts more like a PAC controlled by proprietary software companies and people who don't even use Linux, is increasingly becoming a Linux-hostile front group



  9. Honesty and Collaboration Make Free Software Stronger, Microsoft is Inherently a Misfit

    In spite of all the lies Microsoft and its Web sites spew out on a daily basis, nothing has really changed and Microsoft is still attacking Software Freedom (mostly from the inside nowadays, helped by FUD proxies such as WhiteSource and Snyk)



  10. Patent Certainty Waning, But That's Still OK for Patent Trolls

    Patent maximalism remains a threat to everyone but patent lawyers (and patent office chiefs who measure their own performance only by the number of patents granted); best served are the patent trolls who extrajudicially attack already-impoverished parties behind closed doors



  11. GitHub is Microsoft's Proprietary Software and Centralised (Monopoly) Platform, But When Canonical's Account There Gets Compromised Suddenly It's Ubuntu's Fault?

    Typical media distortions and signs that Microsoft already uses GitHub for censorship of Free/Open Source software that does not fit Microsoft's interests



  12. Canonical is Turning Ubuntu Into a More Proprietary Deviant of GNU/Linux

    Ubuntu is becoming more 'Ubinary'; binaries without their source code available are packed up and cooked up for (or baked into) the ISO; this may be good for widespread adoption, but it's not an advancement of freedom, a capitulation rather



  13. Links 13/7/2019: Librem 5 July Update, Project Trident 19.07, KDE Frameworks 5.60.0

    Links for the day



  14. The Problem Isn't Women or Minorities in Free Software But Particular Corporations That Exploit or Steer or Hijack Their Agenda

    If technical issues are being disguised using colours and genders (among other things), then it's important to highlight who's behind it (what company/ies) rather than fling back insults at people because it makes things worse



  15. There's No Such Thing as Cloud Computing, Serverless and All That Other Nonsense

    Buzzwords. Confronted.



  16. Linux is Doing 'Well' Only for Those Who Dislike Software Freedom and Love Control Over Users

    Linux, the kernel, has become a corporate playground or a sandbox that's used to upsell proprietary software, including surveillance; freedom in Linux is gradually being diminished if not completely obliterated and it does not worry the foundations entrusted to guard against it



  17. Consultation About Direction and Future Focus for Techrights

    We invite ideas and recommendations for the future of the site, notably which topics and aspects are worth covering as a matter of higher priority



  18. European Media Continues to Ignore the EPO Crisis While Law Firms and EPO Management Cover Things Up

    The EPO crisis silently deepens because serious problems are lied about, not acknowledged, and the legitimacy of European Patents is greatly diminished, not to mention the EPO's ability to attract talent



  19. Links 12/7/2019: Alpine 3.10.1 is Out and Red Hat Loses Oliva

    Links for the day



  20. Links 11/7/2019: KDE Plasma 5.16.3 and Verifying Gentoo Election Results

    Links for the day



  21. Campinos is Already Widely Seen as Battistelli the Second, Even Among EPO Stakeholders

    The Frenchmen in charge of the EPO may have a taste (and waste) for wine, but they have no clue how to run a patent office (except into the ground); patent application numbers are meanwhile falling (a reduction in demand)



  22. The EFF Responds to IBM's Liars and Lobbyists for Software Patents Just a Day After Red Hat is Officially Absorbed

    IBM's unacceptable stance and abominable actions on the patent front continue to haunt it; IBM must quickly dissociate and reconsider its patent strategy so as to not alienate thousands of workers (the real asset of Red Hat) it has just spent a fortune on



  23. Microsoft Putting Patent Traps Inside Linux While Blackmailing Companies Using Patents Associated With These Traps

    In an effort to make exFAT (a patent trap) the 'industry standard', even inside Linux, Microsoft now wants exFAT inside the very heart of Linux and people are pushing back



  24. Links 11/7/2019: Cockpit 198, Librem Updates

    Links for the day



  25. More People Are Coming Out: Microsoft Tried to Get Them Fired for Standing in Microsoft's Way (the 'One Microsoft Way')

    Microsoft's bullying tactics aren't "old news"; the same tactics carry on to this date and they're the moral or corporate equivalent of doxing



  26. Links 10/7/2019: Sparky 4.11 and Sculpt OS 19.07

    Links for the day



  27. Links 10/7/2019: Septor 2019.4, Tails 3.15, FreeBSD 11.3 and Microsoft 'Morality Police' (Censorship of FOSS) in GitHub

    Links for the day



  28. EPO Further Harms Justice and Quality by Weakening Processes Associated With the EPO’s Boards of Appeal

    The priorities of EPO management reveal the sheer misunderstanding if not malice; either they do not know how to run a patent office or they intentionally try to make it fail (where it matters most)



  29. Links 9/7/2019: Goodbye Red Hat (IBM Takeover Finalised), Mesa 19.1.2, D9VK 0.13

    Links for the day



  30. IBM Has Just Wiped Clean Red Hat's Position on Software Patents

    Proprietary software giant buying Red Hat is not good news; but now it is confirmed and damage limitation may be in order


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

Recent Posts