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01.19.10

Patents Roundup: Microsoft Keeps Ruining (to Exploit) the Patent System, USPTO’s Purpose in Greater Doubt, Cisco Surrenders to Trolls

Posted in Courtroom, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest news about patents that pose a problem to the adoption of Free software, with particular focus on Microsoft which is by far the biggest problem

YESTERDAY we showed that Steve Ballmer lobbies Obama on patents. Now he is lobbying with an article that The Mad Hatter let us know about last night.

Microsoft is very focused on using (bending) law — not technical superiority — to defeat its competition. Microsoft wants to make its competition illegal and in the process it picks allies such as the copyright cartel (which it serves more than ever in its operating system, due to built-in DRM).

“Microsoft is very focused on using (bending) law — not technical superiority — to defeat its competition.”A few days ago, Groklaw pointed out that “peer to peer is used for many other legitimate things. I use it all the time for downloading Linux, various distros I want to try out, for example. The RIAA seems to assume that the technology is all about piracy, but Linux is not being pirated. It’s a legitimate use of peer to peer. And there are millions of us who like to use it. Just pointing it out, in case they are not aware.”

This is another method of derailing GNU/Linux, the #1 competition of Microsoft. The RIAA has already insulted even the Free Software Foundation, which may sound bizarre because the RIAA (a front for media conglomerates) is not in the business of software. This just smacks of collusion.

Something that Neelie Kroes said last week has led to some heated debate [1, 2, 3] as the software patents situation in Europe is made worse by Microsoft. Jukka S. Rannila suggests contacting the European Commission in his new Web page, to which Groklaw adds: “Just so you know, you can still provide feedback to the EU Commission on Microsoft’s recent commitment regarding interoperability, called an “undertaking”. The link takes you to an example. The EU Commission is monitoring the impact on the market as to how well the undertaking is working regarding interoperability between Microsoft’s products and non-Microsoft products.”

We wrote about this blunder before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Another related blunder revolves around EIFv2 (European Interoperability Framework version 2), which has received a lot of negative publicity after Microsoft lobbied to derail its purpose/goals. We wrote on this subject in the following posts:

  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)
  9. Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia
  10. Microsoft Under Fire: Open Source Software Thematic Group Complains About EIFv2 Subversion, NHS Software Supplier Under Criminal Investigation
  11. British MEP Responds to Microsoft Lobby Against EIFv2; Microsoft’s Visible Technologies Infiltrates/Derails Forums Too

The president of the FFII has just shared this presentation from Europe, which ought to explain that software patents hamper motivation and innovation of Free software developers.

In other related news, Microsoft’s partner Blackboard, which was also funded by Microsoft and then monopolised an area of education, is finally walking away. Blackboard has been using software patents to deter potential competition [1, 2, 3] and now comes this:

All lawsuits have been dropped by both sides. The companies will cross-license each others’ patent portfolios under undisclosed terms, which gives both companies an opportunity to save face. After three and a half years, higher education can move on. Left unresolved is the larger question of the role of patents in higher education, but that is at least as much a question for the universities as it is for the vendors.

According to a couple of updates about the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], Microsoft is not giving up, maybe because OOXML is in trouble.

Microsoft isn’t giving up the court fight over the patent at issue just yet. On Friday, the company’s legal team, led by Matthew Powers of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, filed a petition with the Federal Circuit asking for a rehearing en banc. Powers didn’t return calls for this story. Earlier coverage on i4i’s trial win, post-trial action, and Federal Circuit win is available from the AmLaw Litigation Daily.

According to this article from The Guardian, i4i is not going to settle with Microsoft by licensing.

The chairman of the company that has won an injunction preventing Microsoft from selling Word 2007 because of patent infringement says he will not license the technology to the company – and has not ruled out going after any other products that infringe its XML patent.

This brings us to another hot item from the news, which is to do with patent statistics for 2009 (we have already mentioned this last week). The H belittles the value of Microsoft’s software patents.

Also Microsoft is advancing – even if partly with inexpressibly petty software patents – and holds the third place with 2900 of these overwhelming patents now. If you know how to go from one page of a document to the next using software – voilà, that’s Microsoft’s U.S. patent 7 415 666, granted in 2008.

We have already shown that Microsoft is granted patents it should never have been granted in the first place. They are miserably trying to increment the patent count in order to intimidate rivals and engage in racketeering. It’s about quantity to them, not quality.

Other statistics of interest:

i. U.S. losing Right Stuff in science, engineering

According to a 2010 National Science Board report, the state of science and engineering in the U.S. is still good; however, the country’s lead in the number of researchers is being challenged by China. Other science and engineering indicators in the U.S. are also being challenged by Asian countries.

ii. IBM Fluffs Patent Portfolio with Services Tech (more here)

For what seems like a zillion years running–alright, for the past 17 years now–IBM has come out as the top dog in the annual rankings of patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A few years back, the USPTO stopped giving out data about patent counts, but market researcher IFI Patent Intelligence takes the raw patent data and dices and slices it like the patent office used to.

iii. Wikipedia Citations in Patents Up 59 Percent

Patent Librarian Michael White recently posted an interesting graph on the number of U.S. patents referencing Wikipedia articles:

The number of U.S. patents issued last year that contain one or more references to Wikipedia articles totaled 809, a 59 percent jump from 2008. Several years ago the USPTO banned patent examiners from using Wikipedia as a source of information for determining patentability of inventions. However, examiners and applicants continue to cite it.

White’s graph is shown below.

Google too is amassing patents, which makes it less than “do[ing] no evil”. Patents are about exclusion and monopoly and they tend to be inherently unethical, as a new UN report seems to suggest. From IP Watch:

The cultures of indigenous peoples have frequently been ignored when global standards on intellectual property were being set, a new United Nations report has stated.

Intellectual property issues feature prominently in State of the World’s Indigenous People, the first UN publication that aims to give a comprehensive overview of how the 370 million individuals considered as indigenous fare in terms of their health, education, income and access to employment.

Those who try to restore sanity and mend the system by denouncing patent trolls (Frenkel for example [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) not only get sued but also get their employer sued. This new report says that Cisco too has been pressured to pay to the conspirators of patents trolls. They don’t give a damn about justice and ethics; the only language they understand is ego and currency.

Longview, Texas, lawyer T. John “Johnny” Ward Jr. has settled the defamation suit he filed against Cisco Systems Inc. over a posting on the Patent Troll Tracker blog.

That Oct. 18, 2007, posting by Patent Troll Tracker blogger Richard Frenkel — then a Cisco in-house lawyer — had alleged that Ward and Longview lawyer Eric Albritton conspired with the Eastern District of Texas clerk’s office to alter the filing date of an infringement suit, allegations denied by all.

The settlement in John Ward Jr. v. Cisco Systems Inc. came a month before the suit was set for trial in U.S. District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren’s court in the Western District of Arkansas. Hendren signed an order on Jan. 11 dismissing the suit with prejudice, subject to terms of a settlement agreement.

Frenkel himself has been off the hook for several months now [1, 2]. However, he lost his job for ‘daring’ to denounce parasites like Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], who should probably be locked up or sentenced to exile.


Makes routers, not patent war

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