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01.18.10

Patents Roundup: Neelie Kroes and Microsoft Patents Revisited, Steve Ballmer Lobbies Obama on Patents, Apple Wants Linux Phones Embargoed (Using Patents)

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another glimpse at the way proprietary software giants currently suppress the adoption of Free software, notably using patents

Europe’s situation when it comes to software patents was recently made worse because of something that Neelie Kroes said [1, 2]. People are still calling for action, but André has a different interpretation of it. He writes:

On software patents Kroes focussed on interoperability within her portfolio.

“We should discuss what about software patents…”

A view which satisfies stakeholders against and for software patenting alike.

[...]

Kroes is the perfect person for the position of a “Digital Agenda” Commissioner. Agenda policy is usually a slow and ineffective snowball process driven by technocratic sermon, an undisputed lie or truth in the center of it all. Having someone involved who is still able to talk plain language and check the premises is very much beneficial. Most digital policy matters require a strong focus on market order. Who would be better qualified than Kroes to get that right?

Meanwhile we find that Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer is lobbying Obama for increased “throughput” in the patent office, having already apparently blackmailed the president so that workforce gets betrayed. Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Snyder personally paid money to Obama, so they get access to his ear. The same goes for Bill Gates and his wife (they separately paid Obama) and it shows [1, 2].

“Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Snyder personally paid money to Obama, so they get access to his ear.”What chance is there that Obama* will support a withdrawal of software patents in the United States if executives who actively lobby for software patents are funding him?. Few other countries accept software patents; very few in fact, maybe a handful. One of those countries is Japan and the president of the FFII wrote this morning that according to this document from WIPO [PDF], “WIPO: Art 2.1 of Japan Patent Law defines “invention” as a creation of technical ideas by which a law of nature is utilized…”

Watch this new comment on an article about Apple patents, which are wrongly being described as “defensive”.

Like all software patents it’s a defensive one. Apple’s patents nearly all are. Software patents are usually for things that can be classified as insanely derivative and the majority of patents have some form of reference to prior art.

In this specific case it looks like Apple’s patent came before anything from Google. And even in the US, it’s not who had the idea first that matters. You have up to one year to file a patent after documenting the idea and publicly discussing or showing it in a product. IMO, not only that stipulation should be removed, but software patents themselves should be completely abolished. They serve only to harm competition and the marketplace. We already have copyright law to protect source code and design. That’s enough for software.

The above is being called “defensive”, but how might that explain Apple using its patents to terrify Linux device makers? These are just as defensive as a nuclear weapon is “defensive”. It’s better (safer and less wasteful) to just disarm.

In the latest round of a frivolous Nokia-Apple case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], Apple wants to embargo some of Nokia’s Linux-based devices. Apple goes aggressive and retaliatory with patents, but to be fair, Nokia started this confrontation. Nokia used patent law in attempt to embargo Apple products.

As for another important item from the news, guess who is the second-largest patent awardee in the US? It’s the company which conspired with Microsoft against the freedom of GNU/Linux.

The Armonk, NY, based technology giant received 4,914 new patents in 2009, according to IFI Patent Intelligence in Wilmington, Delaware. Korea’s Samsung Electronics was second with 3,611 patents and Microsoft Corp. was third with 2,906.

IBM is also part of the problem. It’s not a friend of Free software when it comes to patents.
____
* It’s not an Obama/Democrats problem by the way, as both major parties are serving similar business interests. The problem is partly systemic.

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