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

08.31.09

Patents Roundup: Bilski Revisited, FFII Seems Confused, EU Seemingly Hijacked by Large Corporations

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Death to the King

Summary: Worrying signs of important establishments being captured by higher interests that promote software patents

THERE is quite a heap of material on software patents and other related issues of intellectual monopolisation. We shall start with a recommendation of this excellent writeup which goes under the heading “What Intellectual Property Law Should Learn from Software.”

There are lots of reasons to doubt that this vision of “creation out of nothing” works very well, even in the arts, the traditional domain of copyright law. But whatever its merits or defects in the arts, it seems completely wrong-headed when it comes to software. Software solutions to practical problems do converge, and programmers definitely draw upon prior lines of code. Worse still, software tends to exhibit “network effects.” Unlike my choice of novel, my choice of word-processing program is strongly influenced, perhaps dominated, by the question of what program other people choose to buy. That means that even if a programmer could find a completely different way to write a word-processing program, this programmer has to be able to make it read the dominant program’s files and mimic its features if the programmer is to attract any customers at all. This hardly sounds like completely divergent creation.

According to Patently-O, an important opportunity to abolish software patents in the United States will now involve Kappos personally.

The USPTO has issued a set of interim examination guidelines for determining whether a claim is properly directed to patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. S 101, relevant Supreme Court precedent, and Bilski. The instructions begin with a realization that the area is in flux and that more permanent guidelines will be established once the Supreme Court rules on Bilski v. Kappos. In addition, these are guidelines rather than rules or laws. Thus, an examiner’s failure to follow the guidelines is “neither appealable nor petitionable.”

Kappos is an opponent of the Bilski ‘doctrine’, but then again, Kappos came from IBM, whose stance on the subject has been consistent all along. Kappos is now leading the USPTO, so it’s screaming for “conflict of interests”. Here is the accompanying press release.

As we shall show in a moment, this system is gradually made more friendly towards monopolies (or big businesses) and watch this. They are now getting their own special rules that are more favourable to them, as in “the patent system is fine, as long as it’s working for the big players and adds exclusion to forbid/limit counter-action.”

Technology majors Intel, Apple, Cisco and Microsoft have won an appeals court ruling that limits the amount of patent damages they will have to pay for products shipped outside the US.

This relates nicely to the i4i vs Microsoft case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], which now has this extensive resources page. The i4i debacle shows that Microsoft has different and special rules to defend itself from patent lawsuits. This system does not work equally for all. It’s imbalanced against the “small inventor” which it originally purported to defend. Patently-O suggests that even reexamination is underway.

Pending Reexamination: Microsoft has submitted its motion for a stay of injunctive relief pending the outcome of its appeal to the Federal Circuit. Oddly, the first sentence of Microsoft’s introduction begins with a statement that the PTO “already had provisionally rejected upon reexamination as anticipated and obvious.” By ‘provisionally rejected’ Microsoft means that a non-final office action has been mailed out in the ex parte reexamination that it requested in November 2008 (the litigation was filed in March 2007).

“Microsoft tries to use the “too big to fail” defense in the i4i case,” tells us one reader. “Smaller companies get wiped out by bogus patents and defending themselves all the time, but Microsoft gets let off so Dell and HP won’t suffer? Give me a break.”

We have also remarked on the role of the corrupted US juridical system in all this. No surprises here [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

This leads us to a side issue which is nonetheless important. Law.com has this new report about systemic changes that also involve “life sciences innovations”.

An upcoming en banc rehearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has the potential to reverse a written description requirement for patents that the court imposed a dozen years ago. Owners of broadly written patents such as those covering life sciences innovations are watching closely.

Speaking of these so-called “life sciences innovations”, watch how even cancer genes are now being patented. There is no limit to this insanity.

Breast Cancer Gene Patent Challenge:

* The ACLU, PUBPAT, and others continue their fight against patents covering the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 held by Myriad and the University of Utah. The federal lawsuit argues (1) that the genes should not be patentable as “products of nature” and (2) that the patentee’s use of patent rights to limit scientific research on the genes violates constitutional First Amendment protections.

More patents are standing in the way of medical doctors:

Patent examiner Deandra Hughes decided that all 66 claims of the 6,188,988 patent are, indeed, patentable, despite more than 200 pages of evidence submitted by Shafer and his lawyers. Even though doctors had used databases to help choose therapies to treat various ailments for decades before the first relevant patent application at issue was filed in 1998, Hughes said the ’988 patent should be allowed. Her reasoning: the prior art references didn’t distinguish a system with exactly three “knowledge bases.” And that distinction alone—having three “knowledge bases”—is a patentable advance, Hughes decided. See Notice of Intent to Uphold the Claims of the ’786 patent [PDF].

If that’s not bad enough, even food is being patented. This leads to very serious ethical questions.

Members Of Human Rights Expert Committee At UN Question Patents On Food

[...]

A group of experts working as a think-tank for the United Nations Human Rights Council raised the issue of patents and food at a meeting this week. Meanwhile, a new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food expected to be available at the end of August will focus on the intersection between intellectual property and the human right to food.

Moving over to Europe, there are very obvious conflicts of interests.

The committee on economic and monetary affairs (ECON), responsible for regulating the financial sector, will be chaired by British MEP Sharon Bowles. Bowles was previously accused of having a conflict of interests after pushing for software patents while also being partner in a law firm run by her husband representing clients with a direct interest in software patent protection.

There has also been controversy over the newly-elected chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, Klaus Heiner Lehne. During the previousl administration, Lehne was one of the MEPs pushing strongly for software patents. At the same time he was a partner at Taylor Wessing, a law firm with a large patent department advising clients on patenting strategy in the software sector.

Glyn Moody has just written another post about SAP’s role. SAP is close to Microsoft [1, 2] and it is still lobbying for software patents in Europe.

It’s probably too much to expect a sudden outburst of common sense among SAP’s management, but at least it’s good to see a pro-software patent company learning the hard way that overall, the costs of litigating and licensing patents from others outweigh any income gained from licensing to third parties. It’s not even a zero-sum gain: the only people who win here are the lawyers.

By mere serendipity we’ve come across a little unfinished document from the FFII, which lobbies against software patents in Europe. But there must be some kind of a colossal mistake in this draft of an amicus brief regarding Bilski (written by Reinier Bakels), which states odd things such as, “In U.S. patent law, there is no basis to prohibit software patenting categorically, or to make any other specific exception for software.

What?

This can’t be FFII speaking. What is this? It is the very opposite of what FFII is all about. Is the FFII — just like Europe in general — letting its very own Lehnes grab the podium? If the FFII carries its name and message in vain like this, then it can cause more harm than good. This document will hopefully be mended and the message rectified before it’s finalised.

“The European Patent Office is an executive organisation, it deals especially with patent applicants, as such, its view of the world may be biased. As an executive organisation, its interpretative powers are very limited. The European Patent Convention excludes computer programs, it is outside the EPO’s power to change this.”

Ante Wessels

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

2 Comments

  1. rbakels said,

    August 31, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Gravatar

    Would you please remove the draft “amicus brief” for the Bilski case immediately? Being a draft, it is a preliminary text. I have circulated the text in a closed group, obviously not intended for publication. Apparently someone who was not satisfied by my draft text chose to leak it to you, instead of passing suggestions for text improvement to me.
    For you, it was clear that the draft was not intended for publication. If you have not removed the text by tomorrow (1/9) afternoon, I will take legal (criminal) action, either on the basis of copyright or on the basis of fencing.
    I appreciate that you are strongly opposed against software patents, but it does not help the cause to break the basis norms of decency and to try to defame me – instead of proposing a text improvement.
    Incidentally, anyone familiar with American law will confirm what I said – but you choose to “kill the messenger”.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    rbakels,

    I’ve removed the document. My interpretation of the document still stands (I regret my wording though), but if you’re open to debate then you can make sure it omits pro-software patents rhetoric, however subtle this may be. It would be wasteful to throw away this rare In Re Bilski opportunity because IBM, for instance, has been far from helpful. I thought that FFII was as stubborn as it gets on this issue (swpats, not bm pats).

    Best regards.

What Else is New


  1. The EFF Back to Tackling Software Patents, Not Just Patent Trolls

    Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyers start targeting large companies that exploit patents for intimidation and extortion, not just patent trolling



  2. Microsoft Wants to Devour the Competition (Linux), Devour People's Data

    Refuting the "new Microsoft" propaganda and some ludicrous concept that Microsoft is now "playing nice"



  3. Benoît Battistelli Thinks 'President' is Above the Law, Decides to Ignore the Court's Ruling

    Staff of the EPO is given yet more reasons to protest tomorrow at the British Consulate, for the so-called 'President' of the EPO reminds everyone of the very raison d'être for the protest -- a vain disregard for the rule of law



  4. Links 24/2/2015: Xfce 4.12 a Week Away, GNOME 3.16 Previewed

    Links for the day



  5. Links 23/2/2015: Ubuntu Kylin 14.04.2 LTS, Cinnamon 2.6 Previews

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: February 8th - February 21st, 2015





  7. The EPO's Sham 'Internal Investigation' of EPO Vice-President Željko Topić's Affairs

    The EPO never investigated the Željko Topić affair, it only pretends to have investigated (one small aspect, i.e. cherry-picking) using a Benoît Battistelli-controlled group



  8. Links 21/2/2015: GNOME 3.15.90, Google Wins Android Lawsuit

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft AstroTurfing War on GNU/Linux is Still Going On, But Hidden Better, Uses API as Instrument of Lock-in

    The corruptible press continues to describe blatant attacks (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) against GNU/Linux and Free software as Microsoft 'embracing' Open Source



  10. Lenovo's Superfish Scandal is Spyware on Top of Spyware (Microsoft Windows), the Problem is Inherently Proprietary Software

    Shifting focus to the root problem, which is neither Lenovo nor its laptops but the non-free programs installed on hardware



  11. Benoît Battistelli Once Again Threatens EPO Staff That 'Dares' to Protest, Battistelli Exploits Terror Attacks to Pretend to Respect Free Speech

    The European Patent Office (EPO) President, Benoît Battistelli, reportedly started threatening -- as before -- staff that decides to exercise the right to assemble and protest against abuses, including the abuses of President Battistelli himself



  12. Links 20/2/2015: Android Studio v1.1, GDB 7.9

    Links for the day



  13. Links 20/2/2015: Bloomberg Joins Linux Foundation, ClearOS Community 6.6.0

    Links for the day



  14. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys Slams the European Patent Office for Structural Failings

    An important letter which we overlooked while writing yesterday's 4 articles about the European Patent Office (EPO); yet another key stakeholder complains



  15. Links 19/2/2015: Hewlett-Packard on Cumulus Linux, Previews of GNOME 3.16 Beta

    Links for the day



  16. Techrights Under Attack Again, Shortly After Important EPO Articles

    Techrights highlights a pattern that is months old; Site faces availability issues shortly after reports about the European Patent Office and its abuses



  17. EPO Staff Protests Against Benoît Battistelli’s Lowering of Patents Quality (Scope Expansion and Software Patents for Profit)

    A protest in Munich in less than 6 days will target Mr. Sean Dennehey, who has helped Battistelli cover up his abuses and crush legitimate critics, whom he deemed illegal opposition as if the EPO is an authoritarian regime as opposed to a public service which taxpayers are reluctantly (but forcibly) funding



  18. Breaking: European Patent Office Sued by Its Own Staff in The Hague, Must Unblock Staff's Voices

    The crooked management of the European Patent Office (EPO) gets in legal trouble after repeated attempts to cover up abuses and suppress criticism



  19. Željko Topić's History in SIPO Leaves a Legacy of Alleged DZIV Vehicles (Bribes), Authorship Abuses, and Intimidation Against Reporters

    Another deep look at Željko Topić's background in Croatia, preceding his very notorious appointment to the EPO where he now serves as Benoît Battistelli's most controversial attack dog



  20. The Old Obsession With Patent Trolls Continues to Distract From Debate About Software Patenting

    A roundup of recent coverage about monopolies on algorithms in the United States



  21. Links 19/2/2015: 64-bit ARM Linux, Chinese New Year

    Links for the day



  22. Links 18/2/2015: Linux Report, FlightGear 3.4

    Links for the day



  23. EPO Scandals: The Story So Far

    An overview of articles about mischief, misconduct and breach of laws at the EPO



  24. Links 17/2/2015: TripleO, Pivotal

    Links for the day



  25. Links 17/2/2015: SystemD 219, Frugalware 2.0 (Rigel) Released

    Links for the day



  26. Željko Peratović Slammed for Whitewashing Željko Topić After Publishing Important Piece on Behalf of Key Sources

    Response from Ivan Kabalin to Zeljko Peratovic's so-called "apology" which is both mysterious and seemingly inadequate as it does nothing to actually explain what was wrong (if anything)



  27. Benoît Battistelli Has Made Oversight of European Patent Office Absolutely Impossible





  28. Microsoft Already Killed Nokia, Don't Let It Kill Android Players Too

    Microsoft's strategy against Android mirrors the company's evil strategy that derailed MeeGo and Nokia



  29. Intel Continues to Attack Software Freedom Through UEFI

    The Trojan horse that Microsoft uses to cement its monopoly on desktops and laptops (making it hard or impossible to install and run GNU/Linux) is also being misused to block Coreboot



  30. Links 16/2/2015: Netrunner 15, Bridge Linux

    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