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. Links 24/11/2014: Linux 3.18-rc6, Qualcomm Eyes GNU/Linux Servers

    Links for the day



  2. Boycotting Micro Focus International

    Microsoft's "Partner of the Year" is taking over the patron of SUSE and all of Novell's remains, except the patents (Microsoft has already grabbed those)



  3. Vesna Stilin's Remarks on Željko Topić: Part XI

    Vesna Stilin speaks about her confrontation with EPO Vice-President Željko Topić, who has criminal lawsuits against him in Croatia



  4. Links 22/11/2014: Linux Mint 17.1, Ubuntu MATE

    Links for the day



  5. Links 21/11/2014: Problems at Debian, Jolla Tablet

    Links for the day



  6. Links 18/11/2014: Linux 3.18 RC 5, New DigiKam

    Links for the day



  7. Special Report: Many Criminal Charges Against EPO Vice-President Željko Topić

    The abuses of Željko Topić, who has gained notoriety in his home country, are rapidly becoming public knowledge across all of Europe



  8. Links 16/11/2014: Xfdesktop 4.10.3, GNU Hello 2.10

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft is Going Into the Anti-Whistleblowing Business, Dodges Criticism Over 19-Year Bug Door in Windows

    With Aorato acquisition Microsoft helps protect the criminals (from whistleblowers) and with lies about .NET Microsoft distracts from a bug that has facilitated remote access into Windows (by those in the know) for nearly two decades



  10. Reaffirming Microsoft's Long-Known Hostility Towards Net Neutrality, Microsoft Crashed Juniper

    Steve Ballmer is ranting against net neutrality and Juniper's business is in trouble after a lot of executives from Microsoft took over most top positions there



  11. Another Massive Step Towards Elimination of Software Patents as Even CAFC Rules Against Them

    After SCOTUS gets involved in the Ultramercial case, the CAFC finally decides to actually serve justice rather than dogma



  12. The GOP's Patent Reform Plan Not Effective Enough to Stop Massive Patent Trolls Like Microsoft/Nokia

    The corporations-serving GOP says that it wants a patent reform, but another reminder is needed of the futility of the suggested changes



  13. How the EPO's Executive Branch (Battistelli and Topić) Banned Scrutiny and Created Authoritarian Model of Control: Part X

    A look at highly dubious moves by EPO President Battistelli and his right-hand man Topić, whose abuses are becoming hard to oversee or even report



  14. Links 15/11/2014: Linux Mint 17.1 Release Candidate, Popcorn Time 0.3.5

    Links for the day



  15. IRC Proceedings: October 26th, 2014 – November 8th, 2014

    Many IRC logs



  16. The Terrible Joke Which is Microsoft 'Loving' Linux: Nightmares With UEFI 'Secure' Boot (i.e. Windows Monopoly Imposed) Continue to Affect GNU/Linux Users

    A reminder of Microsoft's sheer hostility towards GNU/Linux and long-reaching sabotage of GNU/Linux installations



  17. Patent Lawyers Worry About Section 101 in 'Alice' (and Other Patent News)

    A quick roundup of news of interest regarding software patents



  18. Will Write for FUD (Against FOSS)

    Black Duck rears its ugly head again, serving to show that it is in the business of changing perceptions and not in the information or analysis business



  19. Debunking Several Days of Never-Ending Lies About Microsoft and .NET

    .NET is not "Open Source", it cannot be forked (there remains patent threat), Visual Studio is still completely proprietary and it is expected to come to other platforms only because Windows has lost its dominance and Microsoft wants to perpetually control APIs (with software patents) and hence reign over developers



  20. Links 14/11/2014: LibreOffice 4.3.4, Ads Now in Firefox

    Links for the day



  21. Links 14/11/2014: GNOME 3.14.2, PulseAudio 6.0

    Links for the day



  22. Microsoft Windows is Still Designed as a Paradise of Back Doors, Intrusion, Wiretaps, and Interception

    At many levels -- from communication to storage and encryption -- Windows is designed for the very opposite of security



  23. Forget the FUD About Bash and OpenSSL, Microsoft Windows Blamed for Massive Credit Cards Heist

    Home Depot learns its lesson from a Microsoft Windows disaster, but it stays with proprietary software rather than move to software that is actively audited by many people and is inherently better maintained (Free/libre software)



  24. Windows 'Update' and NSA Back Doors, Including a 19-Year Bug Door in Microsoft Windows

    The back doors-enabled Microsoft Windows is being revealed and portrayed as the Swiss cheese that it really is after massive holes are discovered (mostly to be buried by a .NET propaganda blitz)



  25. Revealed: Microsoft is Trying to Corrupt the UK in Order to Eliminate Its OpenDocument Format-Oriented Standards Policy

    Microsoft interference with Britain's preference for ODF is now confirmed, thanks to a valuable news report from Computer Weekly; OOXML lock-in is being unleashed by Microsoft on Android users



  26. Links 13/11/2014: Ubuntu MATE 14.04.1 LTS, New KDE Plasma

    Links for the day



  27. .NET is NOT "Open Source", But Microsoft's Minions Shamelessly Openwash It Right Now

    The openwashing of .NET continues with yet another publicity stunt that is intended to lock in developers



  28. Links 11/11/2014: GNOME Trademark Dispute Settled, Mozilla Embraces Tor

    Links for the day



  29. Patent Reform Subversion After Republican (GOP) 'Win' in US Senate

    The Grand Corporations Party, or the political party which serves large businesses that are funding it, continues to just focus on a mirage of a 'reform' rather than tackle the real issues where culprits include very large businesses such as Microsoft and Apple



  30. Microsoft-Armed Patent Troll MOSAID (Now Conversant) Wants to Sweep up More Patents for Litigation

    Reports about patent trolls and scope of patents serve to show what the foes of Free software are up to right now


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