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

05.11.09

IBM’s Missed Opportunity to Help Free Software

Posted in IBM, OIN, Patents at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When silence is consent

IBM Netvista

Summary: It’s high time that people asked IBM to abolish software patents

IBM and its embodiment in other organisations like the Linux Foundation and OIN are no opponents of software patents, so it’s always important to challenge IBM to 'pull a Bilski' on such patents. Without pressure, nothing will ever change.

IBM does not attack Free software using its patents, but it does use these as a marketing tool (indemnification and other perceived protections). This puts IBM in a position of considerable advantage and may not help Free software in the long term. Big Blue wants to keep the cake and eat it too.

“IBM does not attack Free software using its patents, but it does use these as a marketing tool (indemnification and other perceived protections).”IBM likes the Eclipse licence and while it subscribes a lot to Linux, it more of less distances itself from GNU, and particularly its philosophy. While IBM did offer its endorsement to the GPLv3, it did not oppose software patents in Europe and instead opted for some sort of a waffle. See its submission to the EBoA here (direct link requires session ID).

The reason for bringing this up is the possible appointment of an IBM person who might soon become the director of the USPTO. He could make more of farce of the USPTO, whose heads usually come from software patent proponents and/or the large patent holders (embracing maximal monopoly). Perhaps by contrast, the former USPTO Commissioner Bruce Lehman was recently quoted as saying that “The age of IP rights being at the forefront of American trade policy is over.”

The appointment of a person from IBM is far from final because there are other candidates, as IAM Magazine reports:

Three names have been in the frame for the job up to now: Todd Dickinson, David Kappos and James Pooley.

To say more about IBM, here is a new finding that came via Digital Majority.

Patent Thickets and Patent Trolls:

[...]

[T]his new definition would now include many corporations, such as IBM, which collect patents, not for manufacturing purposes, but to use them as a shield against patent infringement lawsuits. (Coincidentally, two commentators to my prior post on incremental invention mentioned IBM’s practice of hoarding patents.) In sum, IBM, which has long been one of the largest owners of patents in the country, uses patents defensively. Its policy has been one of “mutually assured destruction,” i.e., if someone threatens to sue it for patent infringement, then it promises that it can find a patent in its massive patent portfolio with which to countersue for infringement. This policy has worked marvelously well for IBM, which has mostly avoided patent infringement lawsuits and has been left free to devote its time, energy and money to developing new products and services that it offers in the marketplace. But IBM’s policy of hoarding patents is certainly “patent troll”-like behavior — patents are being used solely for litigation purposes and not for development of actual products sold in the marketplace.

If IBM cares about Free(dom) software, then it will put software patents to rest. Limiting their scope is not enough because they are inherently incompatible with software freedom, where code can be redistributed.

“IBM is proud of its patent portfolio, and the fact that they produce patents at a rate of 10 a day. With such an extensive arsenal of patents, backed by unlimited legal funds – what chances are left for the VC backed company? This is like the US going to war against Micronesia.” —Daniel Cohen, Gemini Israel Funds

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

3 Comments

  1. Contrarian said,

    May 11, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Gravatar

    What makes you think IBM doesn’t do harm to free software with patents? It has a highly profitable business cross-licensing them – designed by the same guy who went on to switch Microsoft from using patents for-defense to for-profit – and it chills the market for commercial use of free software just the same way Microsoft does. The fact that Microsoft is more clumsy in its actions and more honest in its intent doesn’t make IBM – cunning and opaque – any better.

    And I love your implication that IBM might want to see software patents abolished, if we only asked! How ridiculous! They love them!

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    What makes you think IBM doesn’t do harm to free software with patents?

    Where did I suggest this?

    I wrote:

    “IBM does not attack Free software using its patents, but it does use these as a marketing tool (indemnification and other perceived protections).”

    And I love your implication that IBM might want to see software patents abolished, if we only asked! How ridiculous! They love them!

    Of course. If I raise the issue in Sutor’s blog, he deletes the comments.

  2. David L. Craig said,

    May 13, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Gravatar

    IBM is a for-profit entity. It is far more focused on their historical method of generating them: selling products and services to organizations of all sizes that make big differences in those organizations’ bottom lines. Their success speaks for itself. They have understood all the important considerations of this focus for a very long time, including product liability, quality, and innovation. Patents are the fallout of R&D, obtained primarily as a defensive measure. As the government changed patent rules, IBM adapted in response. Now the rules seem to be swinging back again. At this time there are pros and cons that every software manufactuer needs to balance as they plan for the future of software patents. Portfolio disarmanent will be as simple as nuclear disarmanent. I rate IBM’s goodwill much higher than any of its peers.

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/6/2018: Total War: WARHAMMER II Confirmed for GNU/Linux, DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  2. More Media Reports About Decline in Quality of European Patents (Granted by the EPO)

    What the media is saying about the letter from Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald and Vossius & Partner whilst EPO communications shift attention to shallow puff pieces about how wonderful Benoît Battistelli is



  3. Beware Team UPC's Biggest Two Lies About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Claims that a Unified Patent Court (UPC) will commence next year are nothing but a fantasy of the Liar in Chief, Benoît Battistelli, who keeps telling lies to French media (some of which he passes EPO money to, just like he passes EPO money to his other employer)



  4. Diversity at the EPO

    Two decades of EPO with 16-17 years under the control of French Presidents (and nowadays predominantly French management in general with Inventor Award held in France almost half the time) is "diversity at the EPO"



  5. Orrin Hatch, Sponsored the Most by the Pharmaceutical Industry, Tries to Make Its Patents Immune From Scrutiny (PTAB)

    Orrin Hatch is the latest example of laws being up for sale, i.e. companies can 'buy' politicians to act as their 'couriers' and pass laws for them, including laws pertaining to patents



  6. Links 17/6/2018: Linux 4.18 RC1 and Deepin 15.6 Released

    Links for the day



  7. To Keep the Patent System Alive and Going Practitioners Will Have to Accept Compromises on Scope Being Narrowed

    35 U.S.C. § 101 still squashes a lot of software patents, reducing confidence in US patents; the only way to correct this is to reduce patent filings and file fewer lawsuits, judging their merit in advance based on precedents from higher courts



  8. The Affairs of the USPTO Have Turned Into Somewhat of a Battle Against the Courts, Which Are Simply Applying the Law to Invalidate US Patents

    The struggle between law, public interest, and the Cult of Patents (which only ever celebrates more patents and lawsuits) as observed in the midst of recent events in the United States



  9. Patent Marketing Disguised as Patent 'Advice'

    The meta-industry which profits from patents and lawsuits claims that it's guiding us and pursuing innovation, but in reality its sole goal is enriching itself, even if that means holding science back



  10. Microsoft is Still 'Cybermobbing' Its Competition Using Patent Trolls Such as Finjan

    In the "cybersecurity" space, a sub-domain where many software patents have been granted by the US patent office, the patent extortion by Microsoft-connected trolls (and Microsoft's 'protection' racket) seems to carry on; but Microsoft continues to insist that it has changed its ways



  11. Links 16/6/2018: LiMux Story, Okta Openwashing and More

    Links for the day



  12. The EPO's Response to the Open Letter About Decline in Patent Quality as the Latest Example of Arrogance and Resistance to Facts, Truth

    Sidestepping the existential crisis of the EPO (running out of work and issuing many questionable patents with expectation of impending layoffs), the PR people at the Office choose a facts-denying, face-saving 'damage control' strategy while staff speaks out, wholeheartedly agreeing with concerned stakeholders



  13. In the United States the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Which Assures Patent Quality, is Still Being Smeared by Law Firms That Profit From Patent Maximalism, Lawsuits

    Auditory roles which help ascertain high quality of patents (or invalidate low-quality patents, at least those pointed out by petitions) are being smeared, demonised as "death squads" and worked around using dirty tricks that are widely described as "scams"



  14. The 'Artificial Intelligence' (AI) Hype, Propped Up by Events of the European Patent Office (EPO), is Infectious and It Threatens Patent Quality Worldwide

    Having spread surrogate terms like “4IR” (somewhat of a 'mask' for software patents, by the EPO's own admission in the Gazette), the EPO continues with several more terms like “ICT” and now we’re grappling with terms like “AI”, which the media endlessly perpetuates these days (in relation to patents it de facto means little more than "clever algorithms")



  15. Links 15/6/2018: HP Chromebook X2 With GNU/Linux Software, Apple Admits and Closes a Back Door ('Loophole')

    Links for the day



  16. The '4iP Council' is a Megaphone of Team UPC and Team Battistelli at the EPO

    The EPO keeps demonstrating lack of interest in genuine patent quality (it uses buzzwords to compensate for deviation from the EPC and replaces humans with shoddy translators); it is being aided by law firms which work for patent trolls and think tanks that propel their interests



  17. Grünecker, Hoffmann Eitle, Maiwald and Vossius & Partner Find the Courage to Express Concerns About Battistelli's Ugly Legacy and Low Patent Quality

    The astounding levels of abuse at the EPO have caused some of the EPO's biggest stakeholders to speak out and lash out, condemning the Office for mismanagement amongst other things



  18. IAM Concludes Its Latest Anti-§ 101 Think Tank, Featuring Crooked Benoît Battistelli

    The attack on 35 U.S.C. § 101, which invalidates most if not all software patents, as seen through the lens of a Battistelli- and Iancu-led lobbying event (set up by IAM)



  19. Google Gets Told Off -- Even by the Typically Supportive EFF and TechDirt -- Over Patenting of Software

    The EFF's Daniel Nazer, as well as TechDirt's founder Mike Masnick, won't tolerate Google's misuse of Jarek Duda's work; the USPTO should generally reject all applications for software patents -- something which a former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO seems to be accepting now (that such patents have no potency after Alice)



  20. From the Eastern District of Texas to Delaware, US Patent Litigation is (Overall) Still Declining

    Patent disputes/conflicts are increasingly being settled outside the courts and patents that aren't really potent/eligible are being eliminated or never brought forth at all



  21. Links 13/6/2018: Cockpit 170, Plasma 5.13, Krita 4.0.4

    Links for the day



  22. When the USPTO Grants Patents in Defiance of 35 U.S.C. § 101 the Courts Will Eventually Squash These Anyway

    Software/abstract patents, as per § 101 (Section 101) which relates to Alice Corp v CLS Bank at the US Supreme Court, are not valid in the United States, albeit one typically has to pay a fortune for a court battle to show it because the patent office (USPTO) is still far too lenient and careless



  23. Buzzwords and Three-Letter Acronyms Still Abused by the EPO to Grant a Lot of Patents on Algorithms

    Aided by Microsoft lobbying (with its very many patent trolls) as well as corrupt Battistelli, the push for software patenting under the guise of "artificial intelligence" ("AI") carries on, boosted by Battistelli's own "Pravda" (which he writes for), IAM Magazine



  24. The United States is Far Better Off With the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), So Why Do Lawyers Attack It?

    The anti-PTAB lobby (which is basically the pro-troll or pro-litigation lobby) continues to belittle and insult PTAB, having repeatedly failed to dismantle it; in the meantime PTAB is disarming several more patent trolls and removing from the system patents which were granted in error (as well as the associated lawsuits)



  25. Links 12/6/2018: Neovim 0.3 and Wine 3.10

    Links for the day



  26. Corrupt Benoît Battistelli Promotes Software Patents in IAM's Patent Trolls-Funded Event in the United States

    With less than 3 weeks remaining for Battistelli's term he engages in gross revisionism, lobbying, and even looting of the patent office



  27. The EPO's 'Expert' Georg Weber is Still Advocating Software Patents in Europe (But He Disguises Them Using Buzzwords)

    The EPO's overzealous support for software patents continues unabated while the European Parliament looks the other way; this is part of the plan to expand patent scope in Europe and flood the continent with low-quality patents (causing a ruinous litigation boom like in China)



  28. Battistelli's EPO is Outdoing North Korea When It Comes to Propaganda and Abuses Against Staff

    Battistelli’s ‘scorched Earth’ approach — his sole legacy at the EPO — has left many workers in mental breakdowns (if not dead), but to celebrate the ‘Battistelli years’ three weeks before the end of his term the Office issues new propaganda material (pertaining exclusively to the Battistelli years, 2010 to 2018) while Battistelli-leaning media offers ‘cover’



  29. IPBC, a Patent Trolls-Funded Event of IAM, is Advancing the Attacks on Section 101/Alice

    Andrei Iancu preaches to the litigation 'industry' in an event (lobbying opportunity) organised by the patent trolls' lobby, IAM



  30. PTAB Carries on Undeterred and Unabated, Courts Are Becoming Less Tolerant of Low-Quality Patents

    With the shift away from the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) and with PTAB applying growing levels of scrutiny to patents the likelihood that abstract patents will endure at the patent office or the courts is greatly diminished


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