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 27/5/2016: Android for Raspberry Pi, Google Beats Oracle in Court

    Links for the day



  2. Warning: EPO Surveillance May Have Just Gotten Even More Intrusive

    BlueCoat, which the EPO uses to enable oppression inside its European premises, has just gotten even nastier and staff may be at risk



  3. Victim Card Ends up in Another Blunder for Battistelli and His Six Bodyguards

    Battistelli is wrecking what's left of the EPO's reputation (after decades it took the Office to earn it) as the media continues to scrutinise his appalling regime



  4. Italian Report About EPO Now Available in English

    An English translation of a TV program which earlier this month documented some of the glaring problems at the EPO



  5. The EPO is Doing Great, Says EPO-Connected 'News' Site

    IAM 'magazine', a longtime ally of the EPO, gives people the impression that all is fine and dandy at the EPO even though that's clearly not the case



  6. Microsoft Has Killed Nokia (and Its Own Mobile Ambitions), But Watch What it Does With Patents

    Microsoft announces many more layoffs, having already caused tremendous damage to the Finnish economy, and patents are left astray for Microsoft's favourite patent trolls to pick



  7. EPO Management Under Growing Stress From Croatian Law Enforcement Authorities, German Politicians, Italian Media

    Things are not as rosy as the relative calm may suggest, and in the coming weeks we expect some major events other than the protest at all EPO sites across Europe



  8. Microsoft, a Dead Company Walking, Resorts to Malware Tactics, Now Truly Indistinguishable From Crackers

    Microsoft is essentially taking over people's PCs and installing on them a large piece of malware, complete with keyloggers, against the will of these PCs' owners



  9. Links 26/5/2016: CentOS Linux 6.8, Ansible 2.1

    Links for the day



  10. The Latest EPO Victim Card (Played by Željko Topić) Should be Treated as Seriously as Those Bogus Claims of Violence by a Judge (Updatedx3)

    In its desperate pursuit of a narrative wherein the staff of the EPO is violent and aggressive the management of the EPO, renowned for institutional aggression, finds (or claims to have found) a little tampering with a bicycle



  11. Links 25/5/2016: Nginx 1.11, F1 2015 Coming to GNU/Linux Tomorrow

    Links for the day



  12. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  13. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  14. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    Under the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  15. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject



  16. [ES] Interrumpiendo la Propagánda Distractante de Battistelli: los Empleados de la EPO Protestará de Nuevo en una Quincena

    La exágerada extravagancia (desperdicio de dinero) en la Ceremonia de Premiación al Inventor Europeo de la EPO tendrá que competir por atención de los medios con miles de empleados de la EPO (en todaslas sedes de la EPO) marchándo en las calles para protestar por los abusos de la EPO



  17. Windows and Microsoft's Other 'Burning Platforms'

    It's not just Windows for phones that's reaching minuscule market share levels but also Windows, but Microsoft is skilled at hiding this (cannibalising Windows using something people do not even want, then counting that cannibal, Vista 10)



  18. Links 24/5/2016: CRYENGINE Source Code is Out on GitHub, Jono Bacon Leaves GitHub

    Links for the day



  19. Links 23/5/2016: GNOME 3.22, Calculate Linux 15.17

    Links for the day



  20. 'Celebrity' Patent Trolls and the Elusive Battle Against Patent Trolls (or Eastern District of Texas Courts) Rather Than Software Patents

    Some of last week's more important reports, which serve to demonstrate how the system is attempting to tackle a side-effect of software patents rather than the patents themselves (their irrational scope)



  21. The Circus of Patent 'Reporting' (by Omission) on the Subject of Software Patents in the US and USPTO Bias

    look at some of the latest oddities in the US patent system and much of the reporting about software patenting (more or less monopolised by those who profit from it, not harmed by it)



  22. IP3 Demonstrates That Today's Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates' Game, Won't Protect the Mythical Small Inventor

    Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?



  23. Disrupting Battistelli's Distracting Propaganda: EPO Staff to Protest Again in About a Fortnight

    The overly extravagant (waste of money) EPO European Inventor Award will have to compete for media attention with thousands of EPO staff (in all EPO sites) marching in the streets to protest against the EPO's abuses



  24. Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO's President Battistelli is 'Buying' Votes of Small Member States

    Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious 'circle' now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)



  25. [ES] Los Mitos de la EPO ‘Calidad’ de Patentes y de ‘Creación’ de Patentes: Basados en Ventas de Cafe y Trauma

    La carrera hacia el fondo, o la ridícula asumpción de Battistelli de que otorgar más y más patentenes más rápidamente (e.g. usando PACE) sería beneficióso a largo término, puede guíar al final colapse del valor de la EPO y la pérdida de su lárgamente ganada reputación a nivel mundial



  26. Links 22/5/2016: Systemd 230, Debian Installer Alpha 6

    Links for the day



  27. EPO Patent 'Quality' and 'Patent Creation' Myth: Capsule-Based Coffee Sales and Trauma

    The race to the bottom, or Battistelli's ludicrous assumption that granting more and more patents faster (e.g. using PACE) would be beneficial in the long run, may lead to the ultimate collapse of the EPO's value and demise of its long-earned reputation worldwide



  28. Guest Post: How Vista 10 Imposes Itself on Users of Windows

    A reader's experience being nagged by Microsoft, as documented and explained by this reader



  29. [ES] El Notorio Tirano de la EPO, Benoît Battistelli, Se Reune Con Otros Tiranos, Reportes de Que ‘Limpia’ el Consejo Administrativo

    El régimen de Battistelli, talvez la fuente de verguénza más grande, alegadamente está “cortejándo países pequeños/corruptos para asegurárse de que los delegados que votarón contra él serán remplazados”



  30. [ES] Comentadores Anónimos Debaten Si la EPO de Battistelli Puede Revocar las Pensiones de Empleados Que Se Atreveen — GASP — a Buscar Empleo Alternativo

    Una mirada a las causas de desesperación e imensa presión en la EPO, donde las pensiónes pueden ser cortadas como medio de represália y la gente puede ser negada empleo aún después de dejar la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO)


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