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

05.21.09

Latest Report About Microsoft’s Newly-Found Affair with Software Patents (as Anti-FOSS Mechanism)

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 3:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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.”

Bill Gates (when Microsoft was smaller)

Summary: A roundup of news and observations about Microsoft’s exploitation of software patents

AS THE previous post showed, Microsoft and its offshoots may be paying politicians for software patents. One of the benefits (to Microsoft) which comes out of this is that it bans competition. Microsoft’s #1 competition is GNU/Linux and Free software and the company already sues this competition using software patents which is lobbies for. Microsoft views software patents as something that the GPL is naturally vulnerable to.

LWN.net has just made public its latest debate about the TomTom/FAT case, which represents Microsoft’s first legal shot at Linux. From the article:

When Microsoft filed its lawsuit against TomTom, it named two patents which cover the VFAT filesystem. That, naturally, led to a renewed push to either (1) get those patents invalidated, or (2) move away from VFAT altogether. But some participants have advocated a third approach: find a way to work around the patents which retains most of the VFAT filesystem functionality while, with luck, avoiding any potential infringement of the claims of the patent. But, as a recently-posted patch and the ensuing discussion show, workarounds are not a straightforward solution even after the lawyers have been satisfied.

There is a rather terrible and demeaning article in Ars Technica right now. It is about Microsoft's patent propaganda book and the reviewer plays right into Microsoft’s hands, maybe intentionally.

Far from being the evil monopolist, Microsoft has in many ways become the cooperative giant—and it’s all thanks to intellectual property. The company’s IP czar takes us inside the corporate transformation in a new book, Burning the Ships, to show us how it happened (and to take a few potshots at Richard Stallman).

Glyn Moody responds to the shallow take contained in this book review, which seems only to defend Microsoft’s offensive behaviour. Software patents did not make Microsoft nicer; they only made it more ruthless and anti-competitive.

To call this “collaboration” is a perversion of language: it’s about *enslavement*, pure and simple. It’s just that Microsoft has become subtler.

Moody also shows what Microsoft has done to the idea of patenting and Microsoft’s tactics of intimidation may be working because, according to this new article, some companies seek indemnification.

But for many large enterprises, potential intellectual property (IP) lawsuits and lack of support staff still keep open source tools out of data centers.

Indemnification is also mentioned in Bluenog’s new press release — being a company that more or less uses the term “open source” for marketing purposes.

“Bluenog is disrupting today’s enterprise technology space with Bluenog ICE, an integrated suite of CMS, Portal and BI software that offers the benefits of open source, such as access to source code, backed by indemnification and the comprehensive support typical of commercial solutions,” said Suresh Kuppusamy, chief executive officer, Bluenog. “It is no small feat to be selected among the best and brightest companies competing to be winners of the Red Herrin

Some of Microsoft’s patents are rather outrageous. Take this newly-approved patent for example. It’s hilarious, it’s an embarrassment to the USPTO.

“On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by ‘making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user’s ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer’ until an ‘agreed upon sum of money’ is paid to ‘unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.’ According to Microsoft, this solves a ‘problem inherent in open architecture systems,’ i.e., ‘they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.’ An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that ‘virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.’ Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft’s eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who’s been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges.”

Regarding this news, one reader writes to us: “Microsoft Openness, I don’t think so. It just goes to demonstrate how – they aren’t ever going to stop – until they own it all.

“This ‘patent’ a perversion of everything the technology is supposed to be about. Guess who the gate keeper of of this functionality is going to be. Not content with messing with the ever changing system calls, they now want to control the whole industry at the OS level.”

Now that XBox is struggling against Nintendo Microsoft also resorts to ‘copying’ and then patenting this:

In a newly disclosed patent application, naming Allard and others as inventors, Microsoft seeks intellectual property protection for a concept described, literally, as a “MAGIC WAND.” Although it was only made public a few days ago, the application was originally filed in November 2007 — about a year after Nintendo launched the Wii, with its distinctive, wand-style controller. (Update: Timing of Nintendo’s Wii launch has been corrected since original post.)

More coverage in:

Gene Quinn, a lawyer and proponent of software patents (the more patents, the more money for lawyers) says that In Re Bilski is not bad for software patents. The patent reform (deform), which is by all means a farce, seems to have negative impact in other places where equivalents crop up. Here is one from New Zealand:

Patents Bill

[...]

I will begin by looking briefly at software. The bill proposes that software should be patentable; the opposite direction to that being pursued by the European Union. This is a very bad idea. The foremost theorist in this area is Richard Stallman. Stallman eloquently argues that the use of software patents stifles creativity, massively reduces efficiency, and can lead to whole areas of software usefulness remaining unexplored. Software patents are a substantial cause of software incompatibility, for example. He draws an analogy with the composition of a symphony. Suppose someone had patented particular chord progressions, sequences of notes, or combinations of instruments playing at the same time. What sort of problem would Beethoven have had? We regard him as a brilliant and innovative composer, but he wrote symphonies using a musical vocabulary comprised of very many musical ideas developed by multiple composers. Stallman argues that even a genius software programmer must draw on a standard vocabulary of programming ideas. If software patents are permitted, then the programmer cannot draw on such ideas without infringing patents. The consequences are that whole areas of software development are avoided lest software developers breach patents, and in other areas inefficient or otherwise unsatisfactory programmes remain in use because it is not technically feasible to develop better options because of this restriction. In this area patents are clearly a brake and a hindrance on innovation.

In the United States, patents (monopolies) are seen as the notion with which to save the economy. [via Digital Majority]

IP Enforcement As US Foreign Policy

The United States Chamber of Commerce, the largest US business group, on Monday issued a release applauding a new bill introduced into the US House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (Democrat, California) that would “enhance State Department resources and training for intellectual property enforcement efforts in countries not meeting their international obligations,” the Chamber said.

In essence, this is competitive strangulation using pieces of paper. As we showed earlier, Microsoft being the example, even crippling of an operating systems is now a US patent. Here is another funny new patent which is consumer-hostile:

MLB Gets A Patent On Making It More Difficult To Watch Your Favorite Baseball Team Online

[...]

Limiting access by subscription levels has been around forever. Combining the two hardly seems new and innovative. This seems like it should fail based on general obviousness, as well as the new tests under the KSR ruling (on obviousness) and the Bilski ruling (on pure software patents). About the only “good” that comes of this is that perhaps it means other sports leagues won’t use such an anti-fan policy.

Where is this patent system going? And other than selfishness and infinite greed, what is it that motivates Microsoft to support it?

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. 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



  2. 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



  3. 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)



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

    Links for the day



  5. 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



  6. 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"



  7. 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?



  8. 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)



  9. 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



  10. 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



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

    Links for the day



  12. 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



  13. 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



  14. New Survey Reveals That High Patent Quality, or Elimination of Bad Patents, is Desirable to Patent Holders

    A new survey from Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA reveals that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which still grows in prominence, is supported by people who have themselves gotten patents (not those who are in the bureaucracy of patents and self-serving politics)



  15. Open Patent Office is Not the Solution; Ending Software Patents is the Solution

    Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development



  16. New Scholarly Paper Says “UK’s Withdrawal From the EU Could Mean That the Entire (Unitary Patent) System Will Not Go Into Effect”

    A paper from academics -- not from the patent microcosm (for a change) -- provides a more sobering interpretation, suggesting quite rightly that the UPC can't happen in the UK (or in Europe), or simply not endure if some front groups such as CIPA somehow managed to bamboozle politicians into it (ratification in haste, before the facts are known)



  17. Patent Trolls Update: Rodney Gilstrap Maintains His Support for Trolls, MPEG-LA Goes Hunting in China, and Blackberry Hits Nokia

    A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia



  18. Guest Post: EPO, an Idyllic Place to Work

    The true face of the EPO as explained by an insider, recalling the history that led to the negative image and toxic work atmosphere



  19. Links 15/2/2017: Linux 4.9.10 and Linux 4.4.49

    Links for the day



  20. Claude Rouiller (ILOAT) and ILO Rulings Effectively Disregarded by the European Patent Office

    The compositions of kangaroo courts at the EPO continue to be absurd, in spite of a ruling from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which insisted that change must be made following a lot of mistrials



  21. National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform

    Whispering campaign surrounds Neil Gorsuch's alleged or perceived views on patents, and in particular the America Invents Act (AIA) which brought the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a serial invalidator of software patents, owing to Alice (a Supreme Court decision)



  22. Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) is a Lobby Group for Software Patents and Patent Maximalism

    An introduction to what the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding really is, what it is for, and who is behind it



  23. The European Patent Office Looks More and More Like the Sicilian Mafia Every Day

    Battistelli has constructed or pulled together a Mafia-like family inside the EPO, where all those who protect the 'King' (or Don) are rewarded and the rest are removed with prejudice



  24. EPO-Connected Writers Are Using Alternative Facts or Fake News to Promote the Unitary Patent in British Media

    The misuse of publications for the purpose of lobbying by Battistelli and Team UPC (a small group of opportunists looking to exploit change that they themselves introduce) is worth noting, for its frequency is on the rise again



  25. Microsoft Has Not Managed to Blackmail Huawei Over Android and GNU/Linux, But Its Trolls/Satellites Are Trying

    The story of Huawei gets more complicated, even though software patents are losing their teeth and notorious patent trolls are altogether losing their patents



  26. IBM Has Become an Enemy of GNU/Linux and a Loud Proponent of Software Patents

    IBM's poisonous policy on patents, which has long been incompatible with Free/Libre software, has gotten even worse and the company now takes the lead in lobbying for patenting of software



  27. Leaked: European Patent Office a Fire Hazard Waiting to Cause Tragedy (Possible Deaths)

    The EPO has known for a while that is was not in compliance with regulations, but as usual -- flaunting immunity and impunity -- nothing happened



  28. For Valentine's Day, Battistelli Learns to Stop Worrying and Love to Lie

    Battistelli lies about patent quality once again, incidentally on the very same day that serious leaks regarding patent quality got published (and need distracting from)



  29. India Cites Public Interest in Patent Case Where Embargo Attempted Against Local Drugmaker

    India turns away a foreign corporation that attempts to use patents to shut down (or destroy the business model of) an Indian company



  30. Links 14/2/2017: Linux Lite 3.4, GNU Health 3.0.6

    Links for the day


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