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01.13.10

Patents Roundup: The Lobby for Software Patents Still Active, Update from USPTO Assessors, Policy Delay in New Zealand

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money
“The more money we come across, the more patents we see…”

Summary: The lobbyists still fight for software patents for their selfish reasons, even in New Zealand; surprising USPTO statistics; more patent backlash

TECHDIRT appears to have only just discovered the very crass proponent of software patents, Gene Quinn (mentioned here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). He is making money from this. He is not a scientist, he’s in a meta-industry that exploits science for profit.

About a post that we mentioned here the other day (regarding patents), writes TechDirt:

Well Respected VC Firm Comes Out In Favor Of Independent Invention Defense Against Patent Infringement Lawsuits

[...]

Union Square Ventures has come out strongly in favor of an independent invention defense against patent infringement. This is great. I have no idea if I helped to make this come about, but a year ago, Union Square partner Fred Wilson had spoken out about how patents were harming his portfolio, and suggested some ways to fix the system (not including an independent invention defense). I responded with a post suggesting he consider an independent invention defense beyond his proposals, as it would really solve a lot of the problems. So it’s really fantastic to see the firm take a stand on such an important issue — proving once again what a lie it is to claim that VCs require patents.

There is also this response:

Proposal: An Independent Inventor Defense Against Software Patents

I’m extremely excited to see Brad and Fred come out so strongly against software patents. I’ve been talking against this for a long time and I expect my rants against software patents are well known to any readers of this blog (if you aren’t familiar with them, feel free to indulge yourself if you are so inclined.) But this is the first time that I’m aware that any of my peers – other than my partners at Foundry Group – have come out so strongly in public against software patents.

The Against Monopoly Web site, a site that we definitely recommend, has published the following two denouncements of intellectual monopolies:

i. Clean Films and Government Permission

In a previous post, I noted the arbitrariness of copyright law in prohibiting editing a DVD to take out objectionable scenes, when presumably it would be legal to accomplish the same thing by other means-e.g., as I pointed out in a legal forum, by providing instructions to users to use to program a special DVD player that edits out the bad scenes “on the fly” in the user’s home.

ii. IP Trends

A Swedish libertarian buddy, Johan Ridenfeldt, pointed me to this article (in Swedish), which describes libertarian (liberal) arguments against intellectual property, and also includes a review of the debate in Nyliberalen (The Neoliberal). He wrote, “I find this very positive. I’m involved (somewhat) in politics, and I have noticed that most of the libertarian young ones agree with us on IP [i.e., that it is problematic and unlibertarian]. This was not the case when I first started quoting you back when your Against IP article was in draft [in 2000 or so]. I used to post and recommend your working paper draft, and back then I was pretty alone in my views.”

It is often being said (propaganda with repetition) that patents help the United States maintain dominance in science and technology, but according to new numbers, more patents in the USPTO are being granted to non-US citizens/companies. Whose advantage is it now? Well, the lawyers, the trolls, and the monopolies of course. It’s not to do with geography but to do with class and occupation. It’s about protecting parasites.

According to IFI Patent Intelligence, a Wolters Kluwer Health business, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues a total of 167,350 utility patents in calendar year 2009, a 6.1% increase over 2008 and nearing the “all-time high” of 173,772 set in 2006. Forty-nine percent of those patents landed with U.S. firms, while 51% went to foreign companies, marking the second consecutive year U.S. companies lagged behind. Yet IFI Patent Intelligence points out that U.S. companies received about 7% more patents in 2009 than in 2008, while foreign firms experienced a 6.5% increase during the same time.

A paywall-encumbered article says that New Zealand’s new Patents Act is being delayed. “Indeed,” says the article, “most of the submissions made publicly-available relate either to software patents…”

This is a subject that we wrote about some months back [1, 2]. Microsoft New Zealand is a mess at the moment and it’s looking to block Free software in New Zealand using legal means.

“New Zealand [is] pushing for software patents with a “technical effect”, every software changes the hardware, so patentable,” remarks the President of FFII, who points to this new page. He also promotes this conference and says: “Submit a paper for the Knowright2010 conference, deadline at the end of the month, FFII supporting the conference…”

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