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. What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become



  2. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  3. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  4. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government



  5. Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

    Links for the day



  6. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  7. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  8. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  9. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  10. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  11. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)



  12. Journalism 101: Do Not Believe Anything That Benoît Battistelli and the EPO's Management Say (Also Don't Fall for the UPC Hype)

    A survey/review (or an overview) of recent articles about the EPO and why they're wrong (mostly because they parrot the official lies from Battistelli's department)



  13. Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM 'Magazine' Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

    Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent



  14. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Going Places and Suing Microsoft Rivals, Microsoft Wants More 'Linux Patent Tax'

    Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn's MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)



  15. Links 22/9/2016: Linux Professional Institute Redesign, Red Hat Upgraded

    Links for the day



  16. Links 22/9/2016: Red Hat's Latest Results, GNOME 3.22 Released

    Links for the day



  17. The Patent Law Firms in the US Relentlessly Lobby for Software Patents Resurgence by Placing Emphasis Only on Rare Outcomes

    Decisions against software patents continue to be ignored or intentionally overlooked by patent law firms, which instead saturate the media with the few cases where courts unexpectedly rule in favour of software patents



  18. Links 21/9/2016: Lenovo Helps Microsoft Block GNU/Linux Installations

    Links for the day



  19. Like Big Tobacco Lobbyists, Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are Just Chronically Lying and Manipulating Politicians With Their Lies

    Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC continue to meddle in politics and mislead the public (through the press) about patent quality as well the UPC, which is now in effect sunk inside the ashtray of history



  20. The EPO's 'Investigative' Function is Totally Out of Control and Continues to Get Bigger, Whitewashed by So-called 'Review'

    An update on the situation which still causes great unrest at the European Patent Office (EPO), namely abuse of staff by the so-called Investigative Unit (Eponia's equivalent of unaccountable secret services)



  21. Microsoft and Patent Law Firms in the United States Can't Stop Writing About McRo in a Coordinated Push to Resurrect Software Patents

    Microsoft is pursuing more Linux 'patent tax' (using software patents) and patent law firms are preoccupied flooding the media with their shameless self-promotion which is also software patents promotion



  22. For Abuse Like Plagiarism and Malpractice, the US Patent System is Still World Champion

    Low patent quality, abusive litigation (e.g. by patent trolls) and various other elements that globally discredit the USPTO are only symptoms of a wider problem, which is a greedy system motivated by neo-liberal values rather than professionalism and servitude



  23. Links 20/9/2016: GNOME 3.22 Preview, Absolute 14.2 Released

    Links for the day



  24. Links 19/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC7, KDevelop 5.0.1

    Links for the day



  25. Patents Roundup: Disclosure Requirements, Mobile Patents, Patent Lawyers' Plagiarism, USPTO Getting Sued, and Corporate Domination of the Patent System

    The unwanted elements of the patent system (as it stands at present) illuminated by very recent news and patent court cases



  26. With or Without the UPC (Which Will Probably Never Happen) Battistelli is Crushing the EPO and Ejects Experienced Staff, a Future Without Examination Possible

    A pessimistic but probably realistic take on what is happening at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is undergoing a silent transformation so wide-ranging that stakeholders deserve to know about it



  27. When EPO Liar-in-Chief Benoît Battistelli Defamed His Staff in Parliament, Comparing Them to Nazis and Criminals

    A reminder of the audacity of Benoît Battistelli, who in his capacity as a politician -- a problem in its own right -- slanders EPO staff



  28. After McRO v Namco Case (at CAFC) the Patent Microcosm Works Overtime to Produce Pro-Software Patents Propaganda, Smear the Supreme Court

    Increasingly desperate to convince people to pursue software patents and/or use their software patents to initiate growingly risky lawsuits (high risk of losing), the patent microcosm hugs McRO v Namco while distorting the complete record of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on this subject



  29. Poor Quality Control at the US Patent Office Gives Birth to 'Unpatent' and Gives a Voice to Critics

    The USPTO must up its game on patent quality (not relying on PTAB and the courts correcting its errors after the grants) or face growing backlash that tarnishes its public image



  30. Patent Trial and Appeal Board Under Attack by Law Firms, Which Will Soon Infiltrate It in the Form of 'Bar Association'

    The vultures that are patent law firms keep circling around PTAB and hoping to destroy it, if not from the outside then from the inside, potentially regressing and ruining great progress for US patent quality since Mayo and Alice


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