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


Patents Roundup: Microsoft, Patent Ambush, Moral Issues, and Europe’s Back Door

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 5:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest news about patents with emphasis on software


THE COMPANY from Redmond has been busy creating patent FUD against Linux using an assault on TomTom. This does not mean, however, that the company is immune to the very same patents its actively lobbying for around the world (with the simple aim of making truly Free software illegal). IDG presents this new story of the company which won hundreds of millions of dollars for what it claims to be patent violations in Microsoft software.

A small security company that won a $388 million judgment against Microsoft after accusing the company of patent infringement has big plans for the future.

Uniloc, with U.S. headquarters in Irvine, Calif., prevents software piracy by creating a unique device fingerprint that can distinguish the computer in your hands from any other computer ever built. Vendors that want to prevent unauthorized use of software tie their product activation processes to Uniloc’s patented method of identifying a device.

Patent Ambush

FAT is a good example of patent ambush, a practice whereby a company seeds the market with its technology and then waits until it spreads widely before attacking/extorting. It is a form of ambush, or the setting up of a trap for competitors.

Rambus is a recent case study [1, 2, 3, 4] in this one particular area. The FTC had the company investigated. But now, however, it turns out that the FTC does just what it always does. The British press says that the FTC just lets Rambus off the hook despite patent ambush.

US regulators have finally thrown in the towel after seven years of battling memory chip designer Rambus in court.

The Federal Trade Commission today said it’s officially dropped claims Rambus violated antitrust laws by hoodwinking the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) industry standards group into approving memory technologies on which it was quietly obtaining patents.


The FTC has been wrestling with Rambus for yonks on claims the firm manipulated the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) – the body in charge of memory industry standards, not some distant galaxy – to adopt memory technology designs that Rambus was sneakily patenting.

This looks pretty grim for the FTC. It tolerates abuse in the standards/patent industry and thus breeds mistrust.

Further on the same subject of patents in standards, read what this man shrewdly says.

Either EU remains committed to open standards or the term “open standards” need to be removed from the new interoperability framework decision. Perhaps just standards as in formal standards from ISO would be more adequate? Open standards should not be stolen from the winning innovative Internet realm just because the greed of those that prefer royalty based industry standards.


” The term “open” is usually restricted to royalty-free technologies while the term “standard” is sometimes restricted to technologies approved by formalized committees that are open to participation by all interested parties and operate on a consensus basis.” (at least still)

If one needs to pay a competitor for use of a so-called ‘standard’, then it’s proprietary, not open. “Open” should not be taken just for visibility, or else new terminology is required, such as “free(dom) standards”.


Look what IBM is doing.

“Last week, the USPTO granted IBM a patent for its System and method for comprehensive automatic color customization in an email message based on cultural perspective. So what exactly did the four Big Blue inventors come up with? IBM explains: ‘For example, an email created in the U.S. in red font to indicate urgency or emphasis might be mapped to a more appropriate color (e.g., blue or black) for sending to Korea.’ IBM took advantage of the USPTO’s Accelerated Examination Program to fast-track the patent’s approval. BTW, if you missed the 2006 press release, IBM boasted it was ‘holding itself to a higher standard than any law requires because it’s urgent that patent quality is improved.’”

IBM should be shamed for this. It is still a big part of the problem. Digital Majority has found another good article about the economic impact of this gold rush to own every idea under the sun.

It costs high-tech companies an average of $5 million to defeat a frivolous suit. So often defendants pay large sums just to make the case go away. This money is diverted from worthwhile research and development that could go to innovation leading to more jobs and economic growth.

The American economy is in critical need of invention and innovation. But if we want intellectual property industries to help invent a way out of the recession, we must put an end to the legal gamesmanship that rewards lawsuit abuse over creativity.

All industries directly or indirectly affected by patents — including finance, automotive manufacturing, high-tech, bio-tech and pharmaceuticals — will benefit from patent reform. It will encourage innovation — from the lone inventor in his or her garage to the high-tech company that files a thousand patents each year, and all businesses in between.

Moral Issues

Economic issues aside, there is a moral and mortal issue at stake too.

Patents as a whole are becoming increasingly controversial. It’s not just about software patents, which happen to be more relevant to Free software in the sense that they harm free distribution. Patents sometimes kill. They get to define who lives and who dies.

Here is a new article that Groklaw aptly labels “Pandemics and Patents”:

Swine Flu Not an Accident From a Lab, W.H.O. Says

As for the use of oseltamivir, the generic form of Tamiflu, the W.H.O. has certified only one drug — Antiflu, made by the Indian company Cipla in both pill and liquid forms — as equivalent to brand-name Tamiflu.


The move could prompt patent lawsuits by Gilead and Roche, which developed and sell Tamiflu, so Cipla will sell only to countries indemnifying them against such suits, the company said.

There is also more recognition that human rights are being compromised: “Experts Aim To Balance Intellectual Property Rights And Human Rights”

The United Nations human rights framework is being brought to bear on intellectual property law, in the hopes that the weight of expert voices in human rights can lead IP regimes toward a better balance between the needs of industry and the needs of public policy.

The Working Group on the Right to Development, an intergovernmental political body, in August 2008 took on the task of examining two intellectual property-related development partnerships that could influence the work of policymakers in at least two UN institutions.

Europe Awoken

Can Europe stay a haven to FOSS developers at all? Was it ever a haven when threats of embargo were issued across the Atlantic? There is forever a danger that Microsoft tries to legalise software patents in Europe. Since it cannot compete based on technical merits it will try to injure and illegalise FOSS. It is so much easier than producing a better product sometimes. Here is a timely new reminder of the situation:

MEPs locked horns with the Commission again in 2005 over a proposal to harmonise patent protection law for computer-implemented inventions, dubbed the ‘software patents’ directive. MEPs demanded that Charlie McCreevy, the European commissioner for the internal market, revise the draft legislation, but he refused on the grounds that EU governments supported its objective. An overwhelming majority of MEPs voted to reject the proposal in second reading, the first time the Parliament had ever used this power.

One last point: there is growing concern that software patents may arrive at continental Europe through a form of unity with the UK (Charlie McCreevy is Irish), which has already permitted Nokia to do its damage.

Certain computer programs are patentable according to the UK IPO.


The Patents Act says that something cannot be patented if it consists only of a program for a computer. The IPO has historically been stricter in denying software patents than European patent authorities, despite UK law being based on the European Patent Convention, on which the European Patent Office bases its decisions. The US allows software to be patented. The UK IPO now states that Software that allows programmers to program a mobile phone system remotely from a computer can be patented because it is more than just a software program. The ruling overturns an initial decision that the invention is unpatentable because it consists of nothing more than a computer program.

Watch out for the back door of Europe.

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. EPO Staff Representatives Highlight to Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ How Battistelli Deceived Him

    Some of the latest material to and from French MP Le Borgn’, who is being informed by EPO staff representatives rather than lectured by Benoît Battistelli, with convenient references to Battistelli’s 'media partner' in France

  2. Links 1/12/2015: Porteus Kiosk 3.6.0, Linux Mint 17.3 “Rosa”

    Links for the day

  3. Željko Topić Tries to Do to EPO Staff What He Did in Croatia, Now Crushes Staff Assembly in The Hague

    Reminder to European Patent Office (EPO) staff that the EPO's management has a history of union-busting and serious violations of the rules; a call to join protests later today and later this week

  4. The Spanish EPO Scandal - Part I

    How García-Escudero Marquez, the sister of a Spanish Senate speaker, got controversially appointed to succeed the (now) EPO's Vice-President Alberto Casado Cerviño

  5. Media Alert: IAM 'Magazine' Does Not Protect Sources

    An important discussion regarding the role of IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) in the debate about EPO abuses

  6. Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen on the Microsoft-Red Hat Deal

    Founder of Free software and author of the GPL (respectively) comment on what Microsoft and Red Hat have done regarding patents

  7. Links 30/11/2015: Linux 4.4 RC3, Zaragoza Moving to FOSS

    Links for the day

  8. Public Protests by European Patent Office (EPO) Staff Weaken the EPO's Attacks on the Media

    Where things stand when it comes to the EPO's standoff against publications and why it's advisable for EPO staff to stage standoffs against their high-level management, which is behind a covert crackdown on independent media (while greasing up corporate media)

  9. Why the European Patent Office Cannot Really Sue and Why It's All -- More Likely Than Not -- Just SLAPP

    Legal analysis by various people explains why the EPO's attack dogs are all bark but no bite when it comes to threats against publishers

  10. How the EPO Twisted Defamation Law in a Failed Bid to Silence Techrights

    Using external legal firms (not the EPO's own lawyers), the EPO has been trying -- and failing -- to silence prominent critics

  11. East Texas and Its Cautionary Tale: Software Patents Lead to Patent Trolls

    Lessons from US media, which focuses on the dire situation in Texas courts, and how these relate to the practice of granting patents on software (the patent trolls' favourite weapon)

  12. The Latest EPO Spin: Staff Protesters Compared to 'Anti-Patent Campaigners' or 'Against UPC'

    Attempts to characterise legitimate complaints about the EPO's management as just an effort to derail the patent office itself, or even the patent system (spin courtesy of EPO and its media friends at IAM)

  13. The Serious Implication of Controversial FTI Consulting Contract: Every Press Article About EPO Could Have Been Paid for by EPO

    With nearly one million dollars dedicated in just one single year to reputation laundering, one can imagine that a lot of media coverage won't be objective, or just be synthetic EPO promotion, seeded by the EPO or its peripheral PR agents

  14. EPO: We Have Always Been at War With Europe (or Europeans)

    The European Patent Office (EPO) with its dubious attacks on free speech inside Europe further unveiled for the European public to see (as well as the international community, which oughtn't show any respect to the EPO, a de facto tyranny at the heart of Europe)

  15. What Everyone Needs to Know About the EPO's New War on Journalism

    A detailed list of facts or observations regarding the EPO's newfound love for censorship, even imposed on outside entities, including bloggers (part one of several to come)

  16. EPO Did Not Want to Take Down One Techrights Article, It Wanted to Take Down Many Articles Using Intimidation, SLAPPing, and Psychological Manipulation Late on a Friday Night

    Recalling the dirty tactics by which the European Patent Office sought to remove criticism of its dirty secret deals with large corporations, for whom it made available and was increasingly offering preferential treatment

  17. The European Private Office: What Was Once a Public Service is Now Crony Capitalism With Private Contractors

    The increasing privatisation of the European Patent Office (EPO), resembling what happens in the UK to the NHS, shows that the real goal is to crush the quality of the service and instead serve a bunch of rich and powerful interests, in defiance of the original goals of this well-funded (by taxpayers) organisation

  18. Microsoft Once Again Disregards People's Settings and Abuses Them, Again Pretends It's Just an Accident

    A conceited corporation, Microsoft, shows not only that it exploits its botnet to forcibly download massive binaries without consent but also that it vainly overrides people's privacy settings to spy on these people, sometimes with help from malicious hardware vendors such as Dell or Lenovo

  19. When the EPO Liaised With Capone (Literally) to Silence Bloggers, Delete Articles

    A dissection of the EPO's current media strategy, which involves not only funneling money into the media but also actively silencing opposing views

  20. Blogger Who Wrote About the EPO's Abuses Retires

    Bloggers' independent rebuttal capability against a media apparatus that is deep in the EPO's pocket is greatly diminished as Jeremy Phillips suddenly retires

  21. Leaked: EPO Award of €880,000 “in Order to Address the Media Presence of the EPO” (Reputation Laundering)

    The European Patent Office, a public body, wastes extravagant amounts of money on public relations (for 'damage control', like FIFA's) in an effort to undermine critics, not only among staff (internally) but also among the media (externally)

  22. Links 27/11/2015: KDE Plasma 5.5 Plans, Oracle Linux 7.2

    Links for the day

  23. Documents Needed: Contract or Information About EPO PR/Media Campaign to Mislead the World

    Rumour that the EPO spends almost as much as a million US dollars “with some selected press agencies to refurbish the image of the EPO”

  24. Guest Post: The EPO, EPC, Unitary Patent and the Money Issue

    Remarks on the Unitary Patent (UP) and the lesser-known aspects of the EPO and EPC, where the “real issue is money, about which very little is discussed in public...”

  25. Saving the Integrity of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Some timely perspective on what's needed at the European Patent Office, which was detabilised by 'virtue' of making tyrants its official figureheads

  26. A Call for Bloggers and Journalists: Did EPO Intimidate and Threaten You Too? Please Speak Out.

    An effort to discover just how many people out there have been subjected to censorship and/or self-censorship by EPO aggression against the media

  27. European Patent Office (EPO) a “Kingdom Above the EU Countries, a Tyranny With ZERO Accountability”

    Criticism of the EPO's thuggish behaviour and endless efforts to crush dissenting voices by all means available, even when these means are in clear violation of international or European laws

  28. Links 26/11/2015: The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, Running Sans Systemd Gets Hard

    Links for the day

  29. EPO Management Needs to Finally Recognise That It Itself is the Issue, Not the Staff or the Unions

    A showing of dissent even from the representatives whom the EPO tightly controls and why the latest union-busting goes a lot further than most people realise

  30. Even the EPO Central Staff Committee is Unhappy With EPO Management

    The questions asked by the Central Staff Committee shared for the public to see that not only a single union is concerned about the management's behaviour


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


Recent Posts