12.09.09

Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia

Posted in America, Apple, Australia, Bill Gates, Database, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard, SUN at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Vigilant eye on laws that restrict or ban Free software, with new examples ranging from Microsoft to similar companies

THIS latest roundup actually begins with a weird new example where copyrights — not patents — are used by someone to ‘own’ SQL queries.

Can someone copyright a SQL query?

[...]

So back to the subject’s question: Can he really copyright this query? And if so, is modifying it ourselves a copyright violation? In my mind, a single query isn’t program code. It’s more a command line command. But I don’t know what it’s considered legally.

Need programmers now check every SQL query of theirs and ensure it does not infringe on copyrights? This is insane. What’s even more insane is a subject that was brought up before — that some companies are creating intellectual monopolies on methods vital to saving the planet. These are now being fast-tracked.

The US Patent and Trademark Office said Monday that it’s launching a test program that will greatly speed the review of “green” technology patents.

The new fast-track pilot program is expected to shave a full year off the patent review process, which takes an average of 40 months to reach a final decision, according to the USPTO.

It is suicidal to use patents to limit the use of such methods. It shows that the patent system prioritises profit — not betterment — of the industry.

Looking at some proprietary software giants, Apple is looking to reverse a decision regarding a patent (in Eastern Texas of course).

Apple has been told to pay OPTi $21.7m in damages after an Eastern Texas Court issued a final judgment in the firm’s long-running patent infringement case.

But reports this morning suggest the Mac maker’s next move will be sending an appeal to the ruling, rather than a cheque.

Microsoft is meanwhile getting together with a company that attacked Free software using software patents. That would be NetApp. It may have put ZFS in a life-threatening position.

Microsoft and NetApp have struck a 3-year strategic alliance centred on virtualised server environments and technology integration.

President of the FFII is unhappy about Peer-to-Patent’s extension into Australia because it only helps legitimise software patents as a whole. Pointing to this new report about threats to the European patent system [1, 2, 3, 4], he argues that “Bifurcation of infringement and validity will be a disaster, as it is completely one-sided in favour of patentees.” He also adds that “Mono Hackers [are] coming to HSB for FOSDEM, should bring some Microsoft software patents covering Mono?” We wrote about this before.

Those who are not paying attention to what Microsoft is doing in Europe do so at their own peril. We have already shown how Microsoft pressure groups CompTIA, BSA, and ACT were lobbying for software patents in Europe’s interoperability framework [1, 2, 3]. The FSFE is now highlighting their role in the successful perversion of EIFv2 (European Interoperability Framework version 2) and concludes as follows:

Based on the above analysis, we can only conclude that the European Commission is giving strong preference to the viewpoint of a single lobby group. Regarding interoperability and open standards, key places of the consultation document were modified to comply with the demands of the BSA. Input given by other groups was not considered on this issue. Beyond ignoring this input, the Commission has apparently decided to ignore the success of the first version of the EIF, and to abandon its efforts towards actually achieving interoperability in eGovernment services.

OSOR has written about this too. We previously wrote about EIFv2 in:

  1. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  2. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  3. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
  4. Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF
  5. IBM and Open Forum Europe Address European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Fiasco
  6. EIF Scrutinised, ODF Evolves, and Microsoft’s OOXML “Lies” Lead to Backlash from Danish Standards Committee
  7. Complaints About Perverted EIF Continue to Pile Up
  8. More Complaints About EIFv2 Abuse and Free Software FUD from General Electric (GE)

The ODF Alliance has just published a post which shows that the US administration wants “Open Formats”, but it is only a matter of time before Microsoft lobbyists redefine “open” in the United States too and then pressure the government to use proprietary formats instead. Microsoft’s top lobbyist [1, 2, 3], Bill Gates, is even making phonecalls to politicians to achieve such goals.

The Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive was unveiled today. Concerning open formats the key provisions are:

“each agency shall take prompt steps to expand access to information by making it available online in open formats……..To the extent practicable and subject to valid restrictions, agencies should publish information online in an open format that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web search applications. An open format is one that is platform independent, machine readable, and made available to the public without restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information……..”

Just give us the data! That’s been the mantra of open-government enthusiasts, developers among them, who have created mashups – web-based tools that make the reams of government data more accessible and, importantly, put this data to effective public use. For example, Stumble Safely, highlighted in a recent New York Times article, links data regarding incidents of crime with popular locations, such as bars, restaurants and transportation hubs to help guide people home safely after a night out.

It seems safe to assume (based on experience) that Microsoft is already leaning on the right people.

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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 9, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m sure it can be done one better and not just copyright a particular expression of an SQL statement, but patent a whole category of statements.

    I’ll run out and patent the concept of Left, Right, Inner and Outer Joins. However, I all be Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory and charge 10 EUR per quarter per each occurrence per program plus a run-time fee of 0.50 EUR per invocation. It’s a reasonable fee since its so small and its non-discriminatory since everyone has to pay up.

    While at it, I’ll patent each of the 66 categories of plots and charge per use:
    http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html

    Since we can’t know how many times you read that book, and it may be possible to lend out that book, we’ll have to round up and burn all non-DRMed, non-electronic books. Only the drm’d electronic books will be capable of even coming close to proper accounting. For thinking of literature plots, whether for writing or just reminiscing about past readings, until we can do the drm chip in the brain, it’ll have to be the honor system via a flat tax based on each nations literacy rate.

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