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11.30.09

Patents Roundup: Threat of Software Patents in Mexico, Sweden; Microsoft Still Fights with (and for) Software Patents

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mexican flag

Summary: A collection of news reports and important observations about patent legislation that affects Free software

WITH patents on stage performance (Michael Jackson), it is clear that the USPTO has gone too far. But it wants to go further. FFII’s president says that “Software Patents legislation [is] in preparation in Mexico.” NAFTA, anyone? Let’s remember that Novell’s Miguel de Icaza and his probable idol Bill Gates lobbied for OOXML in Mexico.

Separately, the FFII warns that the Lisbon Treaty [1, 2, 3, 4] which Microsoft lobbies for may be related to ACTA, which is another cornerstone in globalisation that marginalises the majority. There is this ongoing analysis which is still a draft, just like ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. But unlike ACTA, it is actually visible.

On Dec. 1, 2009, the European Union Lisbon Treaty will enter into force. (provisional consolidated text) On this page we present a draft analysis of the EU competence to conclude ACTA and other trade agreements.

Generally speaking, the European Parliament’s role becomes more important, the member states loose some of their veto power.

André Rebentisch has this update about the ACTA’s secrecy.

Let me add that 1st of December Art 15 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU is set into force. In my German language “confirmatory application” for an ACTA document access to the European Council I argued recently that this takes effects for the ACTA document access regime as well.

Rebentisch also wrote about Microsoft's patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, which is funded by Bill Gates. Microsoft views patents as the future of software. To quote Nathan Myhrvold, “Intellectual property is the next software.”

Microsoft has just patented viral gaming.

The concepts are all based around the current party system, with the most basic simply allowing invited friends to invite their own friends, whether they are known to the original party creator or not.

User-created games are also being patented by Microsoft, as few news sites reveal. Insane software patents know no boundaries.

The authoring features allow users to capture screenshots and video clips, and to use a digital pencil to mark them. It also may allow for audio commentary and tags, and developers can submit their own guides that will take precedence over user-created guides.

Here is the latest about the Alcatel-Lucent case [1, 2, 3]:

A federal appeals court on Monday rejected Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) request that it reconsider the way patents are upheld in court cases, as the software maker continues its long legal battle with French telecoms equipment company Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA).

Microsoft, which infringed an Alcatel-Lucent patent, according to a lower court jury last year, asked the appeals court to hear its argument that a patent could be held invalid if evidence is presented in a court case that was not available at the time the patent was granted.

As the i4i case taught [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], Microsoft does not respect other people’s patents. Here is a new update on this case (there are many ongoing cases):

Microsoft’s Struggle With i4i Sheds Light On Software Patent Process

[...]

Microsoft’s recent trials and tribulations with its Word software patent illustrates the difficulty in granting — and defending — software patents. This fall, Microsoft was briefly barred from selling Word because of a dispute over XML code that i4i claimed infringed on one of the Toronto, Ontario-based company’s patents. That trial is ongoing. While some observers questioned why Microsoft didn’t resolve the dispute early on, others are interested to see how the dispute will play out and how patent rights will be determined.

[...]

The Bilski case could provide the Supreme Court with an opportunity to resolve the ongoing debate over the wisdom of having software patents in the first place. At issue is whether a “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus or transform a particular condition into a different state to be considered as patent-eligible subject matter.

The above speaks of some difficulties associated with software patents enforcement. With Bilski still at the centre of debate, it is bound to get worse. Here is a photo of Mr. Bilski, attached to a new report from the FSF’s executive director, Peter Brown.

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case that could give the free software community (and software developers everywhere) a huge win in the fight against software patents. Free Software Foundation executive director Peter Brown was on the scene, and reflects on the Bilski case, the oral arguments, and the desperate need for change.

Our reader amd-linux has also informed us of this landmark decision of the British High Court regarding software patents (it’s in German).

Fish & Richardson, whom Patent Troll Tracker wrote about a lot [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], will be cashing in again thanks to frivolous patent lawsuits.

This week: DeepNines collected $25 million when it won an infringement suit against anti-virus software giant McAfee Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas two years ago. But after paying off its Fish & Richardson lawyers and outside investors at Altitude Capital Partners, the small network-security company wound up with less than $800,000 of the $25 million. And now DeepNines is being sued by Altitude, which wants millions more than it’s already gotten. A revealing look at how a leading player in the lawsuit-investment trade does business.

More announcements and news about patents ought to reveal that there are no jackpots here, unless one is a lawyer.

Recently, a jury in a patent infringement case found for the plaintiff, deciding that all three patents-in-suit were “valid” (actually, “not invalid”) and infringed. A happy plaintiff, right? Wrong! The very next day, the Patent Office Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (the B.P.A.I.) ruled that the defendant was actually the first to invent the subject matter of the patents and that rights to these inventions, therefore, belonged not to the plaintiff, but to the defendant.

So why did the patent office attribute these “inventions” to the wrong party in the first place? What a failure.

Last but not least, FFII’s president warns that the “Swedish Presidency conference [is] about UPLS and software patents via the caselaw of a central patent court next 15 and 16 Dec…”

He also alerts his peers about a piece promoting software patents and, needless to say, it is a self-serving placement.

Since the 1960s I have been a strong advocate of the patenting of inventions implemented in software and in 1968 I received the first US patent for an inventive way of sorting data on a digital computer[1].

A man with software patents is defending software patent? No way! How about an impartial point of view from Patently-O? Vested interests invalidate a point of view, as we last explained a week and a half ago.

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