07.24.09

Patents Roundup: Why Microsoft’s Patents Are Useless; More Patent Failure News

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More ‘stolen’ ideas get patented by Microsoft while the USPTO shows its weaknesses

EVERY once in a while it is worth reminding everyone that numeric counts of patents mean too little if the quality of the patents is low and thus they are simple to invalidate.

Microsoft was never known for innovation, no matter how much it repeated the word “innovation”. Since its early days, Microsoft’s modus operandi was to “copy the product that others innovate, put them into Windows so they can’t be unplugged, and then give it away for free,” to quote Oracle’s chief, Larry Ellison.

Microsoft is known to have copied Lotus (see antitrust exhibits which shows that they systematically do this with other products too) and then patented this copying of features. That too is just so typical when it comes to Microsoft. Here is Microsoft patenting the “emotiflag”, which is not Microsoft’s invention at all. From the news:

Microsoft wins ‘emotiflag’ patent, despite Lotus Notes precedent

[...]

A few years ago, Microsoft made headlines for seeking a patent on the email “emotiflag” — an emoticon, chosen by the sender, that appears along with the subject line in the recipient’s inbox. The application was controversial because the idea was actually introduced years earlier as “Mood Stamps” in Ray Ozzie’s Lotus Notes.

As Scientes puts it, “USPTO fails to do a simple web search for prior art, gives Microsoft invalid patent.”

Network World (IDG) asks, “Why would Microsoft patent a ‘butt hinge with butt straps’?”

You can look for yourself in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database: Patent No. 5,819,372; inventor: Robert D. Magoon, Duluth, Ga.; assignee: Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Wash.

I asked Microsoft’s public relations department at the time but they were unable to assist.

Then life moved on.

Microsoft has been actively engaged in brainwashing (indoctrinating) children so that they become fans of patents.

“Microsoft has been actively engaged in brainwashing (indoctrinating) children so that they become fans of patents.”One of our readers brought to our attention a Web site called “Invent Now”

“It’s like a “patent Kool-Aid kit” for children,” explains the reader, adding that it “seems to be sponsored by the UPSTO.”

To quote from the parental section: “Teachers, inspire your students through problem-solving exercises, exploration, creativity and the inventive process. At the same time engage them in learning about the intellectual property protections of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

“I think the whole purpose of this site is to push patents now that they’re being questioned,” opines our reader.

There are many other interesting posts and articles about patents this week. Here is a sample of some that are more relevant:

No Patents for Circuits? Since You Insist…

I love this argument:

Arguments against software patents have a fundamental flaw. As any electrical engineer knows, solutions to problems implemented in software can also be realized in hardware, i.e., electronic circuits. The main reason for choosing a software solution is the ease in implementing changes, the main reason for choosing a hardware solution is speed of processing. Therefore, a time critical solution is more likely to be implemented in hardware. While a solution that requires the ability to add features easily will be implemented in software. As a result, to be intellectually consistent those people against software patents also have to be against patents for electronic circuits.

[...]

Since software is just algorithms, which is just maths, which cannot be patented, and this clever chap points out that circuits are just software made out of hardware, it follows that we shouldn’t allow patents for circuits (but they can still be protected by copyright, just as software can.)

The Fact That A Credit Card Is Patented Is A Selling Point?

In the (snail) mail this week I happened to get an ad for the Visa Black Card, which Visa is pitching as “exclusive,” though I’m guessing that exclusivity is mostly based on finding enough suckers to pay a $500 annual fee for the card.

D Ravi Kanth: A Trips-plus agenda at WIPO

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ is a timely reminder for key actors who are bent on pushing failed agendas. As governments and multilateral institutions struggle to recover from a pervasive crisis of confidence stemming from the current political and economic climate, it is important to not make the same mistakes all over again. But the tendency is to cock a snook at such warnings.

[...]

Internally, the abrupt removal of Ram Kishan Singh, a junior official, who worked for nine years in the organisation with an outstanding record and the proposed reforms in the staffing pattern raise serious questions whether developing country officials are specific targets in the onward march of a renewed western IP agenda at WIPO!

In China And India, Stronger Intellectual Property Is Unnecessary

Stronger intellectual property may also be unnecessary in another way. Although they are promoted as a tool for enhancing economic competitiveness, readers of Techdirt will know that their effectiveness is, at most, questionable. In the 1980s, there was a boom in American patenting activity, seemingly corresponding with changes to intellectual property laws that were made in response to worries about diminishing national competitiveness (Dahlman 2001). A measure of useful innovation, Total Factor Productivity, should have increased accordingly with the rise in useful, novel and non-obvious inventions, but this has not been the case (Boldrin 2008), providing compelling evidence that, contrary to common usage, patent activity is not equitable with economic benefits.

Costly Drugs Known as Biologics Prompt Exclusivity Debate

For starters, whatever the exclusivity period, biologic drugs would also continue to be protected from copycats by patents. And in many cases, the patent protection would last longer than the exclusivity period, making the Congressionally mandated exclusivity a moot point.

Genentech’s Avastin, for instance, has patent protection until 2019 — 15 years after the drug’s 2004 approval by the F.D.A. The company’s breast cancer drug, Herceptin, has patents that extend 21 years from its 1998 approval.

Another bad day for IP auctions as first ICAP sale hits record low

I have just heard the results of the first ICAP Ocean Tomo IP auction, held this afternoon in Chicago. According to the reports I have had, a total of just over $1.5 million was raised, excluding buyer and seller premiums. This is lower than any amount raised at any Ocean Tomo auction and is comfortably less than the approximately $2.75 million generated in San Francisco in March – which itself was seen as pretty disastrous.

Has Google Forgotten Celera?”

One of the reasons I wrote my book Digital Code of Life was that the battle between the public Human Genome Project and the privately-funded Celera mirrored so closely the battle between free software and Microsoft – with the difference that it was our genome that was at stake, not just a bunch of bits.

Patent unrest is very high these days, and not just in the field of software.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2009/07/24/microsoft-patents-useless/

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

4 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    July 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Gravatar

    “Microsoft was never known for innovation, no matter how much it repeated the word “innovation”. ”
    Even MS-DOS was actually bought from SCP, and that only because DR refused the IBM contract for a 8086 version of CP/M or something like that.

  2. zatoichi said,

    July 24, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Gravatar

    If Microsoft’s patents are “useless”, why worry about Mono…?

  3. Dario said,

    July 26, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Gravatar

    zatochi = troll
    @zatochi
    What does, worring about mono, have to do with patents being useless?
    Nothing. You’re talking nonsense

  4. zatoichi said,

    July 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Gravatar

    What does, worring about mono, have to do with patents being useless?

    I have to imagine that you just haven’t been paying attention, Dario. All of the objections to Mono stem from concerns that pottions of it may infringe patents held by Microsoft. If those patents are “useless”, then what other concerns remain regarding Mono?

    Nothing. You’re talking nonsense

    Well, one of us is…

What Else is New


  1. Richard Stallman Vilified by Those Who Don't Know Him, Says Sylvia Paull

    Republished "In Support of Richard Stallman"



  2. [Meme] Linux Foundation Can't Use Linux

    Two examples from yesterday, highlighting what a bunch of hypocrites run the marketing operation now disguised as ‘research’; Jason Perlow from Microsoft signed/published this newsletter highlight from the failing “Linux” Foundation — a foundation that calls itself “Linux” while its newsletter is still hosted by Microsoft Windows+proprietary IIS and this latest report is made with proprietary software on a Mac



  3. [Meme] Haters Gonna Hate, Don't Apologise to a Libelling Mob

    As was already pointed out before, you cannot appease a mob by talking back to it, certainly not by issuing an apology (putting oneself in a position of weakness)



  4. What the EPO Has 'Normalised' in Europe...

    Under the cover of 'new normal', Europe's second-largest institution crushes the law and crushes its own staff



  5. Lots of Information in Sight, But Minimal Distraction

    How I keep focused on reading and writing whilst at the same time keeping an eye on important incidents, such as DDOS attacks and urgent messages coming in



  6. IRC Proceedings: Friday, April 16, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, April 16, 2021



  7. Hate Letter Against FSF (Concern Trolls): 1415 Committers, Letter in Support of FSF (With Its Founder Back): 5116

    Taking into account people who asked for their names to be removed from the defamatory hate letter (inciting people, based on falsehoods), it's not impossible that the support letter really triples or quadruples it in terms of number of signatures



  8. Richard Stallman: Sharing is Good... We Need to Legalise It

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, explains his take on copyright and the artificial restriction being used against sharing



  9. Nadine Strossen and Hannah Wolfman-Jones Rebut Accusations Against Stallman and Choose Him as Coauthor

    "Here are her thoughts and the response she received from Nadine, extracted verbatim with their permission from the original article"



  10. Links 17/4/2021: GNOME 40 in Tumbleweed, Devuan 4.0 Alpha, Kate Editor Makes a Leap

    Links for the day



  11. EPO Staff Union Takes the EPO 'to Court' (the ILO's Tribunal, as the EPO Cannot be Taken to a Proper Court)

    The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Committees are preparing a legal battle over unlawful and unjust measures taken collectively against hard-working (overworked during pandemic) members of staff; the European public should support them



  12. The Latest Anti-RMS Coup Attempt Targets the GNU Project (Because the FSF Coup Has Clearly Failed) by Infringing and Disregarding Trademark Conventions

    A fake "GNU" (not the original GNU, just riding the coattails of the name "GNU") is trying to find/gain traction and we must oppose it because it's an extension of the very same coup attempt (same plotters) that manufactured a whole bunch of libel to incite people and blackmail the Free Software Foundation (FSF)



  13. Links 16/4/2021: Mozilla Dumping FTP, Corporations Still Concern-Trolling FSF

    Links for the day



  14. The EFF Attacks Software Freedom and Promotes Fake Privacy Linked to Microsoft

    Only weeks after attacking Software Freedom (the ad hominem way, which is easier) the EFF endorses a Microsoft-linked privacy abuse, misframing it as some sort of privacy champion



  15. Richard Stallman on How Corporate Media Limits What People Are Allowed to Think and Say (Updated)

    What the founder of the FSF told yours truly a number of years ago about the behaviour of corporate (funded and controlled by corporations) media



  16. Exposing Hard Truths is the First Step or the Path Towards Justice

    A reflection and a moment taken to set aside tribalism (shallow differences based on allegiances of personal comfort), for we need look back at actual facts — however inconvenient at times — and consider the reality of the situation



  17. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, April 15, 2021



  18. [Meme] Laundering Bribes as 'Cooperation Money'

    Germany has financial interest in ensuring that EPO abuses carry on and nobody holds the EPO accountable



  19. Articles in Support of Richard Stallman

    Reproduced with permission



  20. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 20: Taking Stock

    Benoît Battistelli's legacy at the EPO is a legacy of corruption and cover-up; we take stock of how illegality was defended and persists to this day



  21. Links 15/4/2021: Zorin OS 16 Beta and Pushing Linux to GitHub- and Microsoft-Connected Rust

    Links for the day



  22. [Meme] Enemies With Common Interests

    The Software Freedom Movement (or Free Software Movement) has many enemies; some of them just hide in the shadows or speak out through shadowy front groups/NGOs that they semi-officially sponsor



  23. [Meme] Germany's Red Cash Cow

    EPO brings a lot of money to the German state. But at what cost to citizens and Germany’s public image?



  24. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 19: The Deafening Silence of the Media

    "There has been speculation that Maas might have had his own political interest in protecting Battistelli and the Balkan Express because of certain allegations about financial irregularities involving the German Patents and Trademark Office (DPMA) which were doing the rounds at the time."



  25. The Indirection Game

    How to attack institutions and concepts by personifying them, then proceeding to character assassination based on lies and deliberate distortions



  26. Links 15/4/2021: LXQt 0.17, Proxmox Backup Server 1.1

    Links for the day



  27. The Patent Battles in Europe Are Connected to the War on GNU/Linux (as a Community-Led Effort)

    Monoplisers of GNU and Linux want us to think that OIN is the solution while they actively lobby for software patents in Europe and the people in charge of Europe’s second-largest institution and Europe’s largest patent office help them; this long video contains thoughts about news from the past couple of days



  28. Richard Stallman: Freedom is the Goal (Updated)

    What Richard Stallman (RMS) told me in person on his trip here



  29. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, April 14, 2021



  30. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 18: Zero Tolerance for “Lawless Zones”?

    "It comes as no surprise that Maas appeared as a guest of honour at the European Inventor of the Year Boondoggle in Berlin in 2014 where he was seen on stage clapping along with the EPO President."


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