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. Speculations That Microsoft is About to Buy Cyanogen (or at Least Officially Partner) to Attack Google's Android/Linux, Replacing Everything With Microsoft

    Articles in the corporate media and some analysis from smaller media sites serve to highlight the role which Microsoft plays in Cyanogen



  2. Links 28/3/2015: FoundationDB FOSS Shut Down by Apple, European Commission Support for Free Software

    Links for the day



  3. Microsoft Keeps Pretending to be 'Open Source', Despite Relentless Assaults on Open Source

    Microsoft's charm offensives against Free/libre software are proving to be rather effective, despite them involving a gross distortion of facts and exploitation of corruptible elements in the corporate media



  4. Željko Topić and Ivan Šimonović, Two Residues of Ivo Sanader's Corrupt Regime, Seen as Indirectly Connected

    Further exploration of the remnants of Sanader's highly notorious record and those whom he had brought to power before he landed in jail



  5. Links 27/3/2015: Ubuntu 15.04 Second Beta, Dart 1.9

    Links for the day



  6. The EPO's Dutch Scandal Leaves Battistelli and His Cronies on the Run

    EPO management is making concessions and issues statements which admit defeat, allowing the staff union to continue its activities



  7. Microsoft Won't Let People Wipe (Off) Windows But Happily Wipes Android, Wipes Android Apps Through Cyanogen and Blackmailed 'Partners'

    Microsoft's obscene double-standards leave Android and Linux between a rock and a hard place



  8. Links 26/3/2015: GNOME 3.16 Officially Released

    Links for the day



  9. Links 25/3/2015: India Moving to Free Software

    Links for the day



  10. Another Reason to Boycott UEFI: Back Doors or Crackers

    UEFI makes computers more prone to infections, according to some security experts



  11. The EPO's Administrative Council is Under Increased Pressure to Rein in and to Finally Stop Benoît Battistelli

    The EPO's Administrative Council (AC) is about to have a meeting, so the Member States' delegations are urged to call for action



  12. IRC Proceedings: February 22nd - March 21st, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  13. The Latest Microsoft Attacks on GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software

    Microsoft is still hiding behind the façade of 'love' whilst actively attacking GNU/Linux and Free software from many directions



  14. Attempts to Disrupt Android by Pushing Microsoft Software Into It (Using Patent Blackmail and Cyanogen)

    Microsoft's Android coup d'état is succeeding owing to public apathy and poor comprehension of what Microsoft really is up to, partly due to media misdirection



  15. Links 24/3/2015: WebKitGTK+ 2.8.0, Black Lab Linux 6.5

    Links for the day



  16. Concerns Over Željko Topić's Alleged Powerful Links in Croatian Diplomacy

    Rikard Frgačić explains the powerful connections acquired though Ivan Šimonović, who is himself connected to EPO Vice-President Željko Topić



  17. Benoît Battistelli's EPO Comes Under Fire From Prominent Figures Who Are Key EPO Stakeholders, Expect Battistelli to Resign 'in the Longer Term'

    The ‘reign of terror’ which is primarily attributed to Battistelli and his cronies may be about to end; the Luxembourg parliament approves the Unified Patent Court



  18. Benoît Battistelli's EPO is Under Attack From French Politicians Yet Again

    More EPO interventions -- this time from France -- target Benoît Battistelli over his abuses and take it up to Eurocrats for political actions



  19. Bribes and Extortion Help Turn Android (Linux-powered) Into 'Microsoft Android'

    A strategy involving harassment and bribes drives large Android players into Microsoft's arms (PRISM and lock-in), much to Google's (and users') detriment and beyond regulators' range of visibility



  20. Microsoft-connected Black Duck Software Created by Microsoft Marketing Man as an Anti-GPL Operation, Admits the Management

    Black Duck "was founded [on] the idea ... to keep GPL-licensed code out of corporate codebases entirely," according to a new report



  21. Links 23/3/2015: Linux 4.0 RC5, Kubuntu Celebrates Ten Years

    Links for the day



  22. Microsoft Admits Lying (or Deceiving) About the Cost of Vista 10

    After much hype in the press about Windows being 'free' it turns out that Microsoft just lied yet again, leaving that lingering perception that Windows is as inexpensive as GNU/Linux



  23. Politics of Blackmail at the EPO

    Comments serve to highlight the role of bribes (or contrariwise blackmail), as allegedly exercised by the current management of the European Patent Office



  24. Benoît Battistelli's EPO Comes Under Attack From the British

    A British MEP criticises Battistelli and the management of the European Patent Office (EPO) while Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, UK Minister for Intellectual Property, gets closer to Battistelli in a tactless effort to improve relations



  25. The Royal Norwegian Department of Labour on the Right of European Patent Office (EPO) Workers to Strike

    The role of bureaucrats from Norway in defending (or not) the rights of EPO workers -- rights that the EPO's management is actively trying to deny and punish for



  26. Michael Silver Back to Acting as Gartner's Microsoft Agent, Promoting Vista 10 Based on False Promises

    Vista 10 in the headlines as its marketing propaganda zones in on false perceptions around cost, aided in part by longtime foes of GNU/Linux such as Gartner, especially its Microsoft-embedded elements (Michael Silver and co-workers)



  27. Despite Media Propaganda About Security, Microsoft Windows Remains the Least Secure Operating System, by Design

    Amid highly misleading security-centric reports that rely on Microsoft's bogus number of vulnerabilities (Microsoft already admitted hiding many of them) Techrights presents recent news about Windows 'security'



  28. Canonical Goes to Bed With Company That Sues Linux Using Software Patents and Copyrights (Through SCO)

    Despite Microsoft's continued assault on GNU/Linux, Canonical is foolish enough to give Microsoft control over many Ubuntu instances



  29. Links 22/3/2015: GNOME 3.16 Shaping Up, LibrePlanet 2015

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft Hates Linux - Part VI - Propaganda Wars Against Free Software Facilitated While Media Control is Secured and Abused

    How Microsoft systematically lies to the public, including decision-makers and officials who can be tricked into choosing proprietary software, thinking it is in fact "open"


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