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

09.02.09

Patents Roundup: Software Patents Seen as Harmful to Innovation, Tuxera Discussion Continues

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 2:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bright idea with clipping path
Lit when software patents are annulled.

Summary: Miscellaneous news and views about software patents

SOME interesting new articles have appeared which can be used as ‘ammunition’ against the false argument that patents promote innovation. The first one is this:

Yet Another Study Shows That Patents Lead To Sub-Optimal Innovation

[...]

A few months back, two professors, Andrew W. Torrance and Bill Tomlinson, published a paper on a simulation game they ran to test out some of these hypotheses. A bunch of folks submitted this back when it first came out, but I wanted to spend some time looking over the details before writing about it. Basically, Torrance and Tomlinson create a nice simulation system that really does a good job simulating the various models for innovation with patents or in a more collaborative world. And, what they found in the simulation they ran supports what has actually happened in the real world, according to the research we’ve discussed in the past:

These results indicate that current patent systems (that is, systems combining patent and open source protection for inventions) may generate significantly lower rates of innovation (p<0.05), productivity (p<0.001), and social utility (p<0.002) than does a commons system. This suggests that current patent systems may significantly deter, rather than spur, technological innovation compared to a commons system.

Specifically, the results compared three separate models: one where everything gets patented, one where it’s a hybrid model with both patents and a common, and one that was pure commons. The results are pretty striking. In the pure commons (no patents) world, they ended up with more innovation, significantly greater productivity and massively more social utility.

Timothy B. Lee, a longtime critic of the patent system, also wrote the following essay:

The Case against Literary (and Software) Patents

[...]

Imagine the outcry if the courts were to legalize patents on English prose. Suddenly, you could get a “literary patent” on novels employing a particular kind of plot twist, on news stories using a particular interview technique, or on legal briefs using a particular style of argumentation. Publishing books, papers, or articles would expose authors to potential liability for patent infringement. To protect themselves, writers would be forced to send their work to a patent lawyer before publication and to re-write passages found to be infringing a literary patent.

[...]

The patent at issue in Bilski is not a software patent; it is a “business method” patent that claims a strategy for hedging against financial risk. But the case is being closely watched for its effects on the software patent issue. Patented business methods are often implemented in software; for example, a key decision on the patentability of software, State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group, involved a software-implemented business method. And the standard articulated by the Federal Circuit in Bilski, known as the “machine-or-transformation test” has been used by the Patent Office in recent months to invalidate several software patents. The Supreme Court could ratify the Federal Circuit’s mildly restrictive standard, or it could articulate its own standard that is either more or less restrictive of patents on software.

Reiterating that software cannot be patented would be a dramatic step, but it would be the right one. Supporters of software patents insist that barring software patents would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But it’s not clear there was a baby in there to begin with. Empirical research suggests that software patents are dramatically less effective at promoting innovation than other categories of patents, producing more litigation and smaller revenues for innovators.

The Inquirer covered this too.

Most software companies infringe patents

[...]

In a report, Cato denizen Timothy Lee compared patents on software and business processes to patents on English prose.

[...]

Since patent protection was first extended to software in the 1980s, it is difficult or impossible to create any significant software without infringing one or more patents. With tens of thousands of new software patents granted every year, and no effective indexing method for software patents, there is no cost-effective way to determine which patents cover any piece of software.

Relating this to Free software and Linux, the latest major issue is to do with Tuxera [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. One person raises the point thatThere are numerous open source file systems available, why do they persist with FAT? it’s a horrid file system to begin with.

Another person argues thatIt will be interesting to see how MS will be stabbing these guys in the back, as they are wont to do.

Rainer Weikusat writes:

It has the technical advantage of being really
simple-minded and that’s something many people
from the embedded swamp will be happy about,
because this means they have some chances of
understanding it. At the base of FAT sits a
so-called ‘ressource-map allocator’ which is
one of the oldest and most primitive memory
management schemes in existence, And who
would want to throw all this DOS-code away
for as long as there is still somebody willing
to buy it again?
.
After all, products are sold by devising
innovative marketing strategies, especially
since ‘the customer’ isn’t going to understand
anything about them anyway, not the least be-
cause technical information is usually shot
down by pointing out that anything requiring
more thought than ‘the cavemen interface’
(“point&grunt”, term coined by E. Moglen)
is just to complicated for the average
cavemen (who still spends a sizable amount
of his time with roasting raw meat on open
fires and trying to make sexually useful
contacts while doing so).

In response to this, claims another commenter:

Yes, it appears most technology marketers take Scott Adams’ advice and aim their products at the “Stupid Poor” market segment, with a view to eventually following Microsoft’s lead and breaking into the “Stupid Rich.” What I don’t understand is why they get so annoyed when people from the other two market segments try to buy/use their products. Does the ‘smart money’ have a different exchange rate?

In a more reasonable market, the chosen file system would be something like ext3, which nobody claims (or enforces) patent rights over.

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. Tell Lawyers That 'Privilege' Without Encryption is Just a Mirage

    The sad truth that law firms claim to respect privacy and security; they do in principle, whereas in practice they respect neither



  2. Links 25/8/2019: Happy Birthday to Linux, Enlightenment DR 0.23.0 Release

    Links for the day



  3. Openwashing Report: It's Not Just Microsoft, But Microsoft is by Far the Biggest Facilitator of That

    A weekly roundup looking back at distortion if not intentional misuse of the term "Open Source"; Microsoft is still working hard and spending a lot of money to control the narrative (e.g. to limit "Open Source" to what's on its proprietary platform, GitHub)



  4. Patent Maximalists Refuse to Accept That Their War on Patent Quality Also Dooms a Pan-European Patent Court System

    The EPO‘s embrace of patent maximalists’ agenda, which necessarily means significant decreases in patent quality (and deviation/departure from the EPC), dooms patent certainty; it also, however, dooms the Unitary Patent (UPC) because an extension of this rogue regime to the court system won’t be tolerated



  5. Links 24/8/2019: Wayland’s Weston 7.0 and More

    Links for the day



  6. Outsourcing to Microsoft and Openwashing as a Service (OaaS): This is the Linux Foundation in 2019

    The concept of "Open" at the Linux Foundation gives room for thought; are things really being opened or mostly marketed as "Open" and, if so, is the Foundation more like a marketing agency?



  7. Links 23/8/2019: Wine 4.0.2 Released, Removing Qt 4 From Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  8. Links 22/8/2019: KDE ISO Image Writer, GNU Parallel ‘Jesper Svarre’

    Links for the day



  9. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: A Free (as in Freedom) Library, and Federation of Advocates

    "This library is not just for cultural works, but also for software."



  10. Linux Foundation's Linux.com in 2019: Zero Articles (Nothing Original) and a Terrible, Rookie New Design

    Linux.com has become a curated syndicator of news (edited by one single Microsoft proponent); the site has also eliminated its traditional design in favour of something only 'hipsters' can appreciate



  11. Managing IP as Team UPC's Megaphone and Lobbying Front

    Managing IP is lying on behalf of Team UPC yet again; the site's long history promoting the UPC hasn't ended even when prospects of the UPC are slim to none



  12. No More Rights for EPO Staff?

    The oppression and the crackdown on labour rights in Europe's second-largest institution has deepened to the point where staff is paid as little as is legally possible



  13. Links 22/8/2019: GNOME 3.33.91, Systemd 243 RC2, Cockpit 201, Ubuntu Touch OTA-10, FreeIPMI 1.6.4

    Links for the day



  14. Some Patent Attorneys Dislike Techrights Not Because It's Wrong But Because Software Patents Are Wrong (and Sometimes Illegal)

    Odd rants which misuse common law and ignore alleged Fair Use (and misinterpretation of copyright law, for censorship purposes) would have people believe that we're wrong; but it's more likely that the person in question is jealous, insecure, or offended by our stance on patent scope, which is very much rooted in the law itself (and the views widely held by software developers globally)



  15. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Distro-libre and feature-schema

    "Every time a distro does not suit a user's purposes, and it is less work to adapt the distro on one's own than to affect the distro in any other way, a distro is born."



  16. Links 21/8/2019: Dell's XPS 13, Mesa 19.2 RC1, Librem Update

    Links for the day



  17. Links 21/8/2019: Open Source POWER, Alpine 3.10.2, Netrunner 19.08

    Links for the day



  18. Edward as a Nodder to Team UPC Kool-Aid

    Bristows LLP is at it again and it's getting pathetic, not just dishonest as usual



  19. Guest Post: António Campinos' European Patent Office Redefines Modern Slavery in the Heart of Europe in 2019

    The European Patent Office’s (EPO) President António Campinos — like his predecessor Battistelli — emulates Chinese labour practices



  20. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: There is More Than One Iceberg Ahead

    "This strategy is not far from when Microsoft talked about "de-commoditizing protocols" in the late 90s, as part of their plans to control, dominate, and end Open Source and Free software."



  21. EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

    The EPO's long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it's difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework



  22. The European Patent Office Increases Surveillance: Can't Get Food Without Being Spied on

    The infamous "War on Cash" has been 'won' at Europe's second-largest institution, where people's diet can now be monitored and indefinitely retained on the system



  23. To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

    Don't let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions



  24. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Has the Full Support of Techrights

    Our support for the FSF is strong enough that we want to occasionally suggest improvements; there are growing frictions designed to isolate the FSF and cause self-restraint/censorship



  25. Why We Support Phoronix (Whereas Some Others Do Not)

    Some people try to characterise Michael Larabel as the 'bad boy' of Linux even though Michael is probably the hardest working Linux journalist out there



  26. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

    "AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won't be followed all the time."



  27. Links 20/8/2019: DragonFlyBSD Developing DSynth

    Links for the day



  28. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Narcissism in The Community

    "Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important."



  29. Breaking the Law Has Become the Norm at the European Patent Office

    The European Patent Office’s ongoing practice of destroying critics/whistleblowers and crushing unions, judges, examiners etc. — as well as threats and bribery of the media — ultimately mean a perpetual state of lawlessness that, if it prevails, will let patent trolls raid the European economy and stall innovation



  30. Links 20/8/2019: KMyMoney 5.0.6, Kdenlive 19.08

    Links for the day


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