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 28/8/2014: Many New Games, CTO of Red Hat Steps Down

    Links for the day



  2. We Are Gradually Winning the Battle Against Software Patents

    The once-elusive war on software patents is finally leading to some breakthrough and even the Federal Circuit reinforces the trend of software patents' demise



  3. Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Companies Versus FOSS Moles (VMware, Sonatype, Xamarin)

    A look at three entities which pretend to be pro-FOSS but are actually FOSS-hostile and very much determined to replace FOSS with proprietary software



  4. Links 27/8/2014: GNU/Linux in Space, China, LinuxCon

    Links for the day



  5. FUD Against Google and FOSS Security Amid Microsoft Windows Security Blunders

    In the age of widespread fraud due to Microsoft Windows with its back doors there is an attempt to shift focus to already-fixed flaws/deficiencies in competitors of Microsoft



  6. Microsoft Spin Watch: IDG Turns to More Microsoft Propaganda, Hires Microsoft Boosters

    Media in Microsoft's pocket is telling Microsoft's lies and deceives the public for Microsoft's bottom line



  7. Microsoft's Massive Tax Evasion Becomes Better Known

    A new report about Microsoft's admission that it plays dirty tricks with tax (sometimes using moles in government) is increasing awareness of Microsoft's criminal aspects



  8. Links 25/8/2014: China's Linux Revolution Imminent

    Links for the day



  9. Links 24/8/2014: GNU/Linux Specialisation and Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  10. Links 23/8/2014: GNU/Linux Growth

    Links for the day



  11. Microsoft-Funded Attacks on Android Security and Patent/Copyright

    A look back at examples of people who smear Android and are receiving (or received) money from Microsoft



  12. Blowback in Chile and Munich After Microsoft Intervention

    Microsoft's attacks on the digital sovereignty of countries involves lobbying, corruption, an attack on standards (e.g. ODF), an attack on FOSS policies, and even an attack on accurate reporting (truth itself)



  13. The End of Microsoft is Nigh

    A look back at a tough year for Microsoft and a not-so-promising future



  14. Links 22/8/2014: Linux Foundation LFCS, LFCE

    Links for the day



  15. UPS Burned by Microsoft Windows, Gives Away Massive Number of Credit Card Details

    UPS is the latest victim of Microsoft's shoddy back door with software on top of it (Windows); attempts to blame FOSS for data compromise actually divert attention from the real culprit, which is proprietary software



  16. Microsoft's Funding of ALEC and Other Systemic Corruption

    Microsoft role in writing of laws by proxy, via groups such as ALEC



  17. Microsoft is Still Preying on British Taxpayers, Playing Politics

    Some news from the UK showing how Microsoft uses politics to extract money out of taxpayers, irrespective of their preferences



  18. Microsoft's Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as 20% of Staff Laid Off

    More good news regarding the demise of patents as Microsoft's leading patent proxy is collapsing more rapidly than anyone ever imagined and software patents too are collectively doubted



  19. Links 21/8/2014: Conferences of Linux Foundation, Elephone Emerges

    Links for the day



  20. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  21. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  22. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  23. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  24. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  25. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  26. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  27. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  28. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  29. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  30. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software


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