Summary: Abolishers of software patents organise an event this week; demonstrator against patent trolls receives abuse
LAST YEAR’S World Day Against Software Patents was marked (some would say “celebrated”) all around the world, so it was a smashing success. The event comes back later this week, so the FFII is rallying for supporters.
September 24th software professionals around the world will celebrate the annual World Day against Software Patents. This year the Swedish EU Presidency happens to contributes a minister consultation to the #ssp09 celebrations with an aim to “[review] Community innovation policy in a changing world”.
Those in the vicinity of these events can hopefully attend or help organise more such events. Other activists against the broken patent systems have been dragged into court [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and The Prior Art blog reports from there as follows:
Holmes repeated the last clause slowly, emphasizing each word to the jury: “The Banana Republic of East Texas.” Then he showed the modified version of the post that went up the next day, which eliminated that last sentence and changed “conspiring” to “may have… helped.” (Frenkel had regretted his earlier harsh phrasing and changed the post of his own accord, his lawyer told the jury later on Monday.)
Ward took legal action the following month, seeking to depose Google officials to determine the identity of the then-anonymous patent blogger. Once Frenkel was identified as the Patent Troll Tracker several months later, both Ward and Albritton sued Frenkel and Cisco for defamation.
Ward and Albritton say Frenkel’s posts, about changing a date on official court documents, were defamatory because they accused the two Texas lawyers of committing a crime. Lawyers for Frenkel and Cisco maintain that the posts contain no such accusations, and are a mix of true facts and legally protected opinion.
As the above shows, patent trolls are unable to accept criticism even from blogs, so they are trying to get them “shut down”. Troll Tracker was unmasked after the father of all patent trolls, Ray Niro, put a bounty on his head. These are borderline thugs who treat their “Banana Republic” down in Texas as though it’s the new Wild West.
Ray Niro is also connected to the world's biggest patent troll, which came from Microsoft and received financial support from Microsoft, Apple, and Bill Gates. The Economist’s new article which is titled “Trolls demanding tolls” writes about this patent troll which Microsoft created. It received at least $5 billion in investments from ‘charitable’ Mr. Gates and related entities.
The market is still small but it is growing quickly—by perhaps 20-30% a year, reckons Coller Capital, an investment firm that has snapped up, among other prizes, IBM’s portfolio of medical-device and health-care patents. Intellectual Ventures, based near Seattle, has spent a large chunk of the $5 billion it has raised from investors on buying patents; at the last count it had 27,000. Fortress, a big hedge-fund and private-equity group, is also active. Ron Epstein of iPotential, a patent-brokerage firm, says he is getting an ever-increasing volume of calls from hedge funds looking for patents related to mobile telecoms, medical equipment, biotechnology and the internet. He estimates that $4 billion-worth were bought and sold last year overall.
In other patent news, the USPTO’s new chief [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] is asked to change how patents get written, but this should really be a minor issue for someone who says that patents are a “20-year monopoly” to deal with. Yes, the chief of the USPTO actually said that patents are “monopolies”. They also happen to be monopolies that can be sold by the pound to patent trolls, which renders this whole system a farce. █
“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD