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

05.14.09

Killing Spurious Patents Before They Kill Us

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Executioner

Summary: Another roundup of patent news serves as an alarm to Free software defenders

THE LAST time we wrote about patents that kill people was 4 days ago. There is another major new case which takes to task this dangerous trend of patenting:

i. Cancer Patients Challenge the Patenting of a Gene

When Genae Girard received a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2006, she knew she would be facing medical challenges and high expenses. But she did not expect to run into patent problems.

ii. ACLU sues over patents on breast cancer genes

Myriad Genetics, a Utah-based company, vowed Wednesday to “vigorously defend” itself against a legal challenge to its patents on two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers, its attorney told CNN.

iii. ACLU, Cancer Patients Sue Over Patenting Of Genes

The ACLU has organized a group of cancer patients who have had treatments and medical analysis limited due to gene patents held by the company Myriad Genetics, and brought the issue to court. This is a big deal… and while the case and the resulting appeals will certainly take many years, this is going to be a case well worth watching.

For those who think that such patents are unethical, consider pharmaceuticals more broadly [1, 2]. Better ways do exist for development of drugs.

Here is a new essay about patent thickets and their relationship to antitrust:

In my next (and final) post on the sewing machine patent thicket, I will raise an issue that is not yet discussed in my paper — antitrust. The impact of antitrust doctrine on how patent-owners contract with other patent-owners may create significant variances between the nineteenth century and today on how patent-owners may resolve patent thickets. I am still researching the relationship between patent pools and antitrust, and so I am especially keen on receiving feedback from the readers of this series.

In light of the Intel ruling in Europe (or elsewhere), Glyn Moody raises again the same question about patents and antitrust:

This might have interesting implications for the netbook market, where Microsoft is desperately trying to keep manufacturers from offering cheaper GNU/Linux models. How it does that could well come under scrutiny by the European Commission if there’s any hint it is apply pressure unfairly.

But beyond that, there’s a more subtle point. These fines arise, after all, from the abuse of monopoly power. And there are no greater abuses than those associated with intellectual monopolies – patents and copyrights. The more that the European Commission punishes such monopolies, the sooner, it seems to me, it will be forced to confront the worst monopolies – those actually backed by its constituent governments. If it wants to make the European markets truly fair, and to promote competition, it should not just be hitting big, bad companies that bully competitors, but the big, bad system that has such bullying at its heart.

Moody also writes about the (probably false because Microsoft denies it) speculation that Microsoft will buy a top lobbyist for software patents in Europe:

Rumour: Microsoft to Buy SAP?

[...]

Irrespective of rumours, Microsoft would be the perfect suitor for SAP since the latter is one of the last major bastions of proprietary software in Europe, and favours software patents.

That’s no surprise, since Enterprise Resource Planning – SAP’s heartland – is one of the few software sectors where open source has failed to make significant headway yet, and software patent monopolies are a great way to lock out up-and-coming free alternatives to high-priced closed-source solutions.

As we have been stressing a lot recently, there is a strong new attempt to legalise software patents in Europe and Roberto Galoppini warns about it, adding that:

Carlo Cappato has been fighting software patents since 2003, and I’m not surprised he just signed the free software pact, the initiative mentioned earlier this week. Now he asks for help, if you like what he did on digital freedoms for years it is time to help him to get elected.

The FFII has pulled old quotes that highlight the severity of the situation.

Hartmut Pilch, founder of the FFII, had the right vision in 2007 about the EU-EPLA project. Here is what he said about the future specialized patent court in Europe.

As this new article from Law.com indicates, when it comes to software, only large companies benefit, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, certainly not from an economic perspective, let alone a moral one.

Congress has spent the past five years in an ongoing effort to reform the patent system. Reform proposals have come and gone; the debates between proponents and opponents of various amendments have been fierce and protracted.

[..]

These disagreements demonstrate the conflicting needs of different industries in the patent system. The incentives necessary to promote innovation in the pharmaceutical industry are not necessarily those for software or to semiconductors. The incentives necessary to innovation by small entities may differ from those needed by large entities.

Despite all this, Bill Gates seeks to justify what he does by publicly equating software to drugs (April 2008). Privately he sings another tune altogether. Some years ago, said Bill Gates (in private): “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

And again, despite all of that we know, Gates is being trained to recite words like “innovation” or “R&D” when it fact it’s all marketing and it’s supposed to instill confidence in the minds of Microsoft clients and shareholders. As one person put it in a new article about “Microsoft Research”:

Microsoft Research…why make the effort?

[...]

What research is for, in cases like Microsoft, is status. It’s a very tax efficient, with many valuable and wonderful side effects that occasionally benefit the company, but its primary task is marketing. It’s proof, even in these most distressingly modern of times, that patronage works.

This marketing stunt is also being used to pass new laws that block competition. Why else would they go out of their way to organise a lobbying event called "Innovation Day", which is a recent example of the Microsoft circus for software patents in the EU? There are other examples like Pi Day, usually all leading back to the same Microsoft lobbyists.

“The genesis of this idea was when I was at Microsoft. We had a problem with patent liability. All these people were coming to sue us or demand payment. And Bill (Gates) asked me to think about if there was a solution.” —Nathan Myhrvold, WSJ: Transcript: Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures

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. Report From Yesterday's Debate About the European Patent Office (EPO) at the Bavarian Landtag

    A report of the EPO debate which took place at the Bavarian Landtag yesterday (21/2/2017)



  2. Links 22/2/2017: Wine-Staging 2.2, Nautilus 3.24

    Links for the day



  3. French Politician Richard Yung Tells the Government About Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    The subject of EPO scandals has once again landed in French politics, just a couple of months since it last happened



  4. The Sickness of the EPO – Part II: Background Information and Insights

    With a privatised, in-house (sometimes outsourced and for-profit) force for surveillance, policing, justice, public relations and now medical assessment (mere vassals or marionettes of the management) the EPO serves to show that it has become indistinguishable from North Korea, where the Supreme Leader gets to control every single aspect (absolutely no separation of powers)



  5. EPO Cartoon/Caricature by KrewinkelKrijst

    A new rendition by Dutch cartoonist and illustrator KrewinkelKrijst



  6. Inverting Narratives: IAM 'Magazine' Paints Massive Patent Bully Microsoft (Preying on the Weak) as a Defender of the Powerless

    Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft's tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as "pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products") as seen in IAM almost every week these days



  7. The Sickness of the EPO – Part I: Motivation for New Series of Articles

    An introduction or prelude to a long series of upcoming posts, whose purpose is to show governance by coercion, pressure, retribution and tribalism rather than professional relationship between human beings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  8. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VII: EPO Hypocrisy on Cancer and Lack of Feedback to and From ECPC

    The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), which calls itself "the largest European cancer patients' umbrella organisation," fails to fulfill its duties, says a source of ours, and the EPO makes things even worse



  9. Links 21/2/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9.2 in Chakra GNU/Linux, pfSense 2.3.3

    Links for the day



  10. EPO Caricature: Battistelli's Wall

    Battistelli's solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers



  11. The 'New' Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

    In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft's agenda



  12. PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

    A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don't exist there)



  13. Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

    Links for the day



  14. No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

    Old and familiar tricks -- a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines -- are being peddled by Watchtroll again



  15. Paid-for UPC Proponent, IAM 'Magazine', Debunked on UPC Again

    The impact of the corrupted (by EPO money) media goes further than one might expect and even 'borrows' out-of-date news in order to promote the UPC



  16. Lack of Justice in and Around the EPO Drawing Scrutiny

    The status of the EPO as an entity above the law (in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and so on) is becoming the subject of press reports and staff is leaving in large numbers



  17. Links 19/2/2017: GParted 0.28.1, LibreOffice Donations Record

    Links for the day



  18. The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

    The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one



  19. Patent Misconceptions Promoted by the Patent Meta-Industry

    Cherry-picking one's way into the perception of patent eligibility for software and the misguided belief that without patents there will be no innovation



  20. As the United States Shuts Its Door on Low-Quality Patents the Patent Trolls Move to Asia

    Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China's massive patent bubble, and Singapore's implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)



  21. Links 17/2/2017: Wine 2.2, New Ubuntu LTS

    Links for the day



  22. Bad Advice From Mintz Levin and Bejin Bieneman PLC Would Have People Believe That Software Patents Are Still Worth Pursuing

    The latest examples of misleading articles which, in spite of the avalanche of software patents in the United States, continue to promote these



  23. Patents Are Not Property, They Are a Monopoly, and They Are Not Owned But Temporarily Granted

    Patent maximalism and distortion of concepts associated with patents tackled again, for terminology is being hijacked by those who turned patents into their "milking cows"



  24. SoftBank Group, New Owner of ARM, Could Potentially Become (in Part) a Patent Troll or an Aggressor Like Qualcomm

    SoftBank grabbed headlines (in the West at least) when it bought ARM, but will it soon grab headlines for going after practicing companies using a bunch of patents that it got from Inventergy, ARM, and beyond?



  25. Technicolor, Having Turned Into a Patent Troll, Attacks Android/Tizen/Linux With Patents in Europe

    Technicolor, which a lot of the media portrayed as a patent troll in previous years (especially after it had sued Apple, HTC and Samsung), is now taking action against Samsung in Europe (Paris, Dusseldorf and Mannheim)



  26. Michelle Lee is Still “in Charge” of the US Patent System

    Contrary to a malicious whispering campaign against Lee (a coup attempt, courtesy of patent maximalists who make a living from mass litigation), she is still in charge of the USPTO



  27. Our Assessment: EPO Wants a Lot of Low-Quality Patents and Low-Paid Staff With UPC (Prosecution Galore)

    The European Patent Office seems to be less interested in examination and more interested in facilitating overzealous prosecution all across Europe and beyond; The Administrative Council has shown no signs that it is interested in profound changes, except those proposed by Battistelli in the face of growing resistance from staff and from ordinary stakeholders



  28. Links 16/2/2017: HITMAN for GNU/Linux, Go 1.8

    Links for the day



  29. Yet More Complaints About the European Patent Office in the Bavarian Regional Government

    Some German politicians do care about the welfare of EPO staff, a lot more so than the EPO's management that is actively crushing this staff



  30. EPO Staff Representatives to Escalate Complaint About Severe Injustices to the EPO's Secretive Board 28

    In a new letter to President Benoît Battistelli it is made abundantly apparent -- however politely -- that Battistelli's gross abuses could further complicate things for Battistelli, who is already embroiled in a fight with his predecessor, Roland Grossenbacher


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