08.06.09

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When Patents Are Not a Monopoly Strong Enough…

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”

David Kappos (currently head of USPTO) on patents

Summary: The Pharmaceutical Cartel wants increased government-granted monopoly in addition to patents

ONE way to describe patents in the context of software is that they are a soft extension of copyrights, where mere ideas — not implementations — are being blocked by a monopoly holder on particular ideas. When it comes to APIs, this type of monopoly cannot even be worked around.

To the Pharmaceutical Cartel, which Microsoft is close to by the way, not even patents are seen as a sufficient monopoly, so this turns into another case of intellectual insanity. The Huffington Post and Mercury News wrote reports about that. Critics say:

Robert McClelland alerts us to the unfortunate news that our elected officials have caved in to what the big pharma companies wanted and agreed to a new plan that would give a twelve-year monopoly on these sorts of “biosimilars.” It’s still not clear why this is needed at all, other than to wipe out competition and make drugs much more expensive. The two congressional reps who pushed this through were Representatives Anna Eshoo and Joe Barton. This is no surprise from Barton, but Eshoo, who represents part of Silicon Valley should know better than to be increasing monopoly protections.

In other news of interest, visibility of code becomes part of a dispute over software patents.

Facebook was ordered by a judge in the District of Delaware’s District Court this week to release its entire source code to Leader Technologies Inc., a web-based collaboration platform developer. Leader, based in Columbus, Ohio, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook in November 2008. According to Law360, Leader alleges that the social network has “deliberately infringed a patent related to the management and storage of electronic information.”

What is this nonsense about “deliberately infringed”? Patents are land mines that unlike copyrights do not correspond to applied ideas. Microsoft’s Horatio Gutierrez is quoted by Fortune as saying (about Linux and patents): “This is not a case of some accidental, unknowing infringement.”

As Jason puts it, “I love the implication here that FLOSS are intentionally infringing. Like FLOSS developers are gathered around a project road-map with a list of Microsoft patents in one hand and asking each other, “Alright, how can we work in an infringement against this patent here? Think man! We must infringe a patent soon, or the entire project is for naught!””

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2 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    August 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Gravatar

    While I tend to support pharma patents because of the huge research costs versus small manufacturing costs, this “biosimiliar” idea is going to be a total quagmire and benefit only the lawyer-parasites. You don’t need much beyond a basic notion of Biology to know that it is going to be a quagmire. It’s quite annoying to me when laws are passed in ignorance of the basic facts.

    Jose_X Reply:

    >> While I tend to support pharma patents because of the huge research costs versus small manufacturing costs

    The research costs are unavoidable only to the extent they require expensive machinery/materials/etc. As far as computer processing and human power, there are many ready to lend a hand there (with nonprofit and profit motives).

    Manufacturing drugs certainly has costs compared to say manufacturing/distributing software. However, the mark up is also very high for the pills.

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