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

09.19.09

Patents Roundup: IBM Abuse Carries On, Patent Troll Tracker on Trial, Paltalk Bites Again, and Patent Law Challenged

Posted in Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM logo twist

Summary: IBM as part of the problem at the USPTO despite opposing business method patents; opposition to patent trolls gets radically harassed; patent abuse carries on despite and because of obvious problems with the system — problems that get ignored

WHEN it comes to software patents, IBM is not a friend of Free software [1, 2]. When it comes to the patent system in general, IBM is part of the problem, not the solution. It may be opposing the Bilski patent, but the Bilski test which it created does not go far enough, probably by design. It has just gotten caught sending more of its wannabe ‘inventions’ over for the USPTO to process (the USPTO is now run by an ex-IBMer).

theodp writes “The first known use of a recorded laugh track is said to be in 1950, when the producers of the Hank McCune Show added canned laughter after the show’s taping. Almost 60 years later, IBM says it deserves a patent for ‘inventing’ adding canned laughter to conference calls. ‘A pre-selected stored sound (e.g., an interjection such as a laugh) may be generated if there is a period of silence on one of the telephone lines that exceeds a threshold,’ explains Big Blue in its just-published patent application for Enlivening Conference Calls to Make Conference Calls More Interesting for Participants. Eureka!”

More in The Register:

While tried and true, option b comes with certain drawbacks. For one, the effort could get a gentleman sued by International Business Machines one day, should the method of inserting said flatulence be mechanical.

You see, the folks at TechDirt have uncovered a rather compelling patent application from Big Blue that claims invention of delivering canned sounds over the telephone.

IBM, unlike patent trolls such as Acacia, is not attacking Free software, but it lays the foundations for patent trolls to exist, as an unfortunate side-effect, a symptom.

The Patent Troll Tracker, Rick Frenkel, called the Eastern District of Texas “Banana Republic” and he now gets grief for simply saying the truth. Obviously, the masters of that “Banana Republic” wanted to gag him using a frivolous lawsuit [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] that takes away his freedom of speech and harms his career.

Former patent blogger Rick Frenkel took the stand in the federal courthouse in Tyler, Texas, on Wednesday, and apologized for referring to the Eastern District of Texas as a “Banana Republic” in a post he published as the “Patent Troll Tracker.” But Frenkel insisted his blogging about a patent infringement suit against his then-employer, Cisco Systems, was not defamatory.

“You know, I think I was outraged over a situation … and I used words that were strong,” said Frenkel. “But I sure didn’t mean to hurt anyone by it.” Frenkel apologized for using the phrase, and noted that he took it off the blog after 24 hours. In October of 2007, about 500 people per day were accessing the Troll Tracker blog, he added.

The Boston press has some coverage of the patent aggressor known as Paltalk. We wrote about it in when it sued Microsoft [1, 2, 3] and now it proceeds to suing more companies.

Turbine Inc. of Westwood, a leading maker of Internet-based, multiplayer video games, has been named in a patent infringement lawsuit that targets several of the world’s largest online gaming firms.

The complaint was filed by Paltalk Holdings Inc. of Jericho, N.Y., in the US District Court in Marshall, Texas, one of the nation’s most popular venues for patent lawsuits. “The eastern district of Texas is considered a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction,’’ said Christopher Donnelly, a partner at Donnelly Conroy & Gelhaar LLP in Boston.

Here is some more new coverage.

Paltalk, which recently settled a patent infringement tussle with Microsoft, has launched a new lawsuit against Turbine, Sony and other MMOG makers over their alleged infringement of the same technology.

Paltalk has filed suit against the makers of several popular MMOGs currently on the market, claiming the data-sharing technology employed in their games violates patents it purchased from the defunct company HearMe in 2002.

For future reference:

According to this report, the location is familiar. Guess where the lawsuit was filed? The “Banana Republic” Frenkel spoke about.

How is this beneficial to the market?

As Tim Lee stresses with the backing of the Coase Theorem, patents harm development.

One of the most famous essays in economics is Ronald Coase’s “The Problem of Social Cost.” Its key argument, which was later dubbed the Coase Theorem by George Stigler, says that in a world with zero transaction costs, the initial allocation of rights doesn’t matter because people will negotiate toward an allocation of rights that maximizes total social utility.

Coase illustrates this principle with an example involving a farmer and a rancher who occupy adjacent parcels. The rancher’s cattle sometimes stray onto the farmer’s land and damage his crops. Coase’s claim is that it doesn’t matter whether the law holds the rancher liable for the damage to the farmer’s crops or not: either way, the rancher and farmer will reach a bargain that maximizes the joint value of the rancher and farmer’s output.

Here is another new rebuttal to the fallacy (and propaganda) that the American economy owes its progress to patents.

Some asked me if this proved patents do encourage innovation. But of course it does not. This proves absolutely nothing, in fact, except that there can still be growth despite state intervention such as intellectual monopoly grants. Correlation is not causation. I hope Obama doesn’t see this–I’m sure he could whip up a similar chart correlating growth over the last two centuries with, say, increasing taxes, increasing federal spending, increasing federal size/employment, increasing military size, increasing efficiency at mass murder, and so on.

Even front groups of proprietary software companies seem to agree that patents are counter-productive, depending on the situation (whose side is the plaintiff). Those who disagree with patent abolishers are often lawyers and patent examiners, who primarily monetise this system for personal gain — a broken system they helped create and maintain in the first place.

“Technology products typically consist of hundreds or thousands of patented components. It therefore is impossible for technology companies to investigate all of the patents, and pending patent applications that may be relevant to a new invention (product), notwithstanding their best efforts to do so.” —Business Software Alliance, Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in eBay Vs MercExchange

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. aeshna23 said,

    September 19, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Gravatar

    As Tim Lee stresses with the backing of the Coase Theorem, patents harm development.

    Actually, what the linked Tim Lee article argues is that using the Coase Theorem to argue that a more efficient patent system would not benefit development. I’m not sure how you’d go straight from the Coase Theorem to making an argument that patents harm development.

    http://timothyblee.com/?p=781 may be of more interest to BoycottNovell readers.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Actually, what the linked Tim Lee article argues is that using the Coase Theorem to argue that a more efficient patent system would not benefit development. I’m not sure how you’d go straight from the Coase Theorem to making an argument that patents harm development.

    I think it’s a similar way or presenting the same conclusions, but yours is more precise.

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  2. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  3. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  4. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  5. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  6. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  7. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software



  8. The Microsoft Patent Trolls: Android Extortion, Vringo Versus Google, and Intellectual Ventures

    Roundup of news about patent aggression by Microsoft and some of its proxies



  9. Links 16/8/2014: Microsoft Linux, US Government Turns to Free Software

    Links for the day



  10. Links 15/8/2014: Reiser4 in Headlines Again, GNOME and KDE Events Finish

    Links for the day



  11. Links 14/8/2014: Kernel Summit Coming, KMix on KDE Frameworks 5

    Links for the day



  12. Shameless Microsoft Spin is Blaming China for Microsoft's Misconduct and Back Doors While Justifying Massive Losses in Hardware (Made in China)

    A new look at how Microsoft-friendly media takes negative Microsoft news and turns that news into some kind of scandals where Microsoft is the victim



  13. Microsoft Spin in the Media Evokes 'New Microsoft' and New Back Doors

    Some new examples of Microsoft boosters rewriting history, characterising Microsoft as a FOSS champion, and generally weak/shallow reporting on Microsoft's audio/video surveillance software



  14. Links 13/8/2014: GNU/Linux as Winner, New Snowden Interview

    Links for the day



  15. Reader's Article: Skype Spying Reaches New Levels of Blatant

    Forced 'upgrades' of Skype give useds [sic.] of Skype more than they asked for



  16. The Problem is Software Patents (and Scope), Not Patent Trolls Who Abuse Them Just Like Large Corporations

    Reminder of the dangers of losing sight of the real patent problem, which is the patents themselves, not necessarily those who use them



  17. Fraud in the USPTO and CAFC Helped Apple Launch Frivolous Patent Lawsuits Against Linux/Android, Based on New Withdrawals

    Inherent corruption in the US system has aided Apple's assault on east Asian electronics giants that use Linux at the core of their products



  18. Investigation Reveals That USPTO is Corrupt, Time to Abolish It or Annul Nearly a Million Patents

    Corruption is found at the heart of the USPTO and the USPTO works hard to hide it, despite attempt by whistleblowers to bring this corruption to light



  19. Links 13/8/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 Beta, Tizen in Watches

    Links for the day



  20. Links 12/8/2014: Chromebooks Surge, OpenGL in the Headlines

    Links for the day



  21. Bill Gates is Profiting By Diverting Public Money to His Own Pocket and Reducing Wages

    Gates' lobbying for companies he is an investor of and for lower salaries inside companies he is investing in (and managing) comes as no surprise



  22. Microsoft is Still Attacking Open Standards, So Khronos Does Not Need the Microsoft Moles

    Having attacked the industry's document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have 'embraced' ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL



  23. Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

    A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens' interests



  24. Links 11/8/2014: DEFT 8.2, Linux Mint on Debian Stable

    Links for the day



  25. Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

    Links for the day



  26. Links 8/8/2014: Qt a Separate Company Again, KDE Frameworks 5.1 Released

    Links for the day



  27. Microsoft's Android Lawsuit Against Samsung Shows That Windows is Dead Beef

    Microsoft resorts to AstroTurfing, lawsuits, vapourware, and attack ads, revealing that it is a feeble aggressor whose only remaining hope for revival is destruction of rivals



  28. Only Foolish Governments Would Choose Microsoft or Apple

    China bans Apple's operating systems (just like Microsoft's) while Apple retreats on it litigation strategy from 2010, showing perhaps where Microsoft is heading now that it is suing Samsung (as Apple did some years ago)



  29. Links 6/8/2014: Linux 3.17 Features, Ubuntu in India

    Links for the day



  30. Latest Attacks on Android From Apple/Microsoft and Their Network of Trolls/Partners

    Net Applications (Apple- and Microsoft-funded) makes a misinformation comeback, Apple retreats from some Samsung litigation battles, and Microsoft dives deep into it


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