EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.21.10

Patents Roundup: ACTA Threatens Free Software in New Zealand, the Rambus Extortion Racket Expands, and Google Earns New Monopoly

Posted in Australia, Free/Libre Software, Google, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 8:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patent tax is rammed down people’s throats in New Zealand; Rambus gets about a billion dollars from Samsung after an ambush; Google vainly claims ownership of MapReduce

AT the behest of big corporations, politicians are now trying to advance ACTA [1, 2, 3], which is the wishlist of those seeking to maximise profits and marginalise rights.

As we have shown here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], the ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] is also a weapon for a monopolist like Microsoft, not just the copyright cartel. ACTA can make Free/libre software illegal and this issue is being raised in LCA, which takes place in New Zealand (NZ). To quote the opening of a new IDG article: (also published here and here)

Open source under threat from ‘grey’ IP laws

[...]

In a presentation at this year’s Linux.conf.au Linux and open source conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Jackson said free software remains under threat from the expansion of copyright, misguided software patents, the desire to control the Internet by companies whose business model it threatens and the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty.

Crikey.com.au writes about this too:

The copyright outrage the geeks forgot to mention

[...]

I know this to be true because I’m at what’s undoubtedly the geekiest place in the Southern Hemisphere right now: linux.conf.au 2010, the annual gathering of Australian Linux enthusiasts. With commendable broad-mindedness, this year’s event is actually taking place in Wellington. Yes, in New Zealand. You’ve probably heard of it.

You might just have heard of Linux, the open source operating system favoured by people who know Windows is too unstable and Macs are too expensive. If you haven’t, just imagine a random mixture of your work IT department, some super-enthusiastic students and some scarily clever people, and a penguin mascot. There’s about 700 Linux supporters in Wellington this week, and they know more about technology than you (or I) will ever manage.

But back to the main issue. When ACTA got mentioned during a linux.conf.au keynote presentation by NYU anthropology professor Gabriella Coleman, the audience reaction was instantaneous: much booing and hissing. This crowd knew that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was potentially very bad news. But that bad news hasn’t been passed along much, even though a crucial meeting to decide the future of the proposal will take place next week.

“NZ is pushing for software patents,” says the president of the FFII, “the law is NZ has been postponed because of number of submissions.” We wrote about this last week.

FurnaceBoy says that “there’s a bit of history there in NZ… regarding the pro-Microsoft factions there, especially lobbying government.”

“The patent ambush is shameful and Rambus should be denied the patent and forced to refund their extortion money (the loot)…”New Zealand hopefully pays attention to the worrisome developments which are occurring in its patent law [1, 2]. Microsoft New Zealand, which is in a bit of a chaos these days, is always trying block Free software in New Zealand — if not by back-room deals, then using legal means. This afternoon we mentioned the New Zealand government attempting a migration to GNU/Linux on the desktop. It is a development like this which usually leads Microsoft CEO to making emergency trips (like the one to Munich [1, 2]) and ‘pulling an EDGI’.

Controversial Rambus Ambush

In other patent news, the Rambus ambush (submarine patent) is again being exploited in order to extort competitors [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. The patent ambush is shameful and Rambus should be denied the patent and forced to refund their extortion money (the loot); instead, Rambus’ extortion racket finds another victim, this time Samsung.

KOREAN ELECTRONICS GIANT Samsung has raised a white flag and agreed to pay $900 million to make Rambus lawyers go away.

More here:

It was a good day at the office yesterday for Rambus; it made $900m when Samsung caved in on the eve of a court case, which the Korean firm had planned to fight alongside Hynix and Micron.

All Your MapReduce Are [sic] Belong to Google

Slashdot reveals that the “do no evil” company has just earned a monopoly on MapReduce:

theodp writes “Two years ago, David DeWitt and Michael Stonebraker deemed MapReduce a major step backwards (here are the original paper and a defense of it) that ‘represents a specific implementation of well known techniques developed nearly 25 years ago.’ A year later, the pair teamed up with other academics and eBay to slam MapReduce again. But the very public complaints didn’t stop Google from demanding a patent for MapReduce; nor did it stop the USPTO from granting Google’s request (after four rejections). On Tuesday, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,650,331 to Google for inventing Efficient Large-Scale Data Processing.”

Ars Technica correctly points out that Google may just be claiming ownership of a public good (taking away from the commons).

The USPTO awarded search giant Google a software method patent that covers the principle of distributed MapReduce, a strategy for parallel processing that is used by the search giant. If Google chooses to aggressively enforce the patent, it could have significant implications for some open source software projects that use the technique, including the Apache Foundation’s popular Hadoop software framework.

The H says:

The concept of mapping and reducing fuctions has been a fundamental idea behind distributed parallel processing for many years, and in a dispute it could be reasonably claimed that Google didn’t invent MapReduce itself, but that would just move the argument on to the specific claims within the patent.

For Google, this already acts as a weapon that intimidates competitors. It gives Google leverage that it probably does not deserve; the matter of fact is that many nice inventions are never claimed by anyone in the form of a patent, until some greedy corporation comes along and decides to become “first to file”. Many simple “inventions” — PageRank included — come from academia (Stanford in Google’s case) and TechDirt debates whether or not academic research should be eligible to earn patents; after all, the purpose of patents is not to promote creation but to exclude parallel innovation, which is crucial in the mostly taxpayers-funded academic community, unlike in a shareholders-driven industry.

Should Data Collected For Academic Research Get Intellectual Property Protection?

[...]

Now, while the economic setup in the academic world may seem to be slightly different (researchers aren’t necessarily trying to maximize revenue), the overall incentive structure remains effectively the same (and money is still a part of it all). Freeing up your data so that more people can analyze it increases the overall value of the data and is more likely to lead to additional breakthroughs or interesting findings from that data. In turn, that can lead back to more interest for the original data collector and more opportunities to do more or to be involved in more relevant projects. Locking up the data, on the other hand, takes away many of those incentives for no clear benefit.

In my thesis I was strictly required to exclude others by including a statement about ownership of something called “intellectual property” (which I don’t believe in and in fact all my code is Free software). Universities really ought to rethink this if they want to innovate rather than exclude. Ideas do not spread and inspire others by decreasing their distribution and means of dissemination. The Internet has changed everything and regulations should change accordingly (in the arts, in software, and in knowledge).

“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.” —Richard Stallman

“The day that the software sector forms a clear front against software patents, as pharma does for a unitary patent system… will be the day our cause comes close to winning.” —Pieter Hintjens, Fosdem07 Interview

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    January 22, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Gravatar

    In practice, Google’s patents in general aren’t going to be much of a problem, though, as mentioned in the same sources. Also note that design and normal patents are different too.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, a point of information: software patents affect closed source applications at least as much if not more than Free Software. It is not a matter of code, but of function.

    So as much as we may rely upon Free Software for getting things done at work, it is the closed source that is threatened at least as much.

    BUT make no mistake, this is not about software producers, distributors, vendors, or developers. They would be concerned about copyright, because that covers distribution. Patents cover usage of software and in that way it is anybody using a computer who are at risk.

    Microsoft talking points make use of the misdirection about developers or Free Software or Free Software developers to mislead about the scope of the population at risk and the potential costs.

    dyfet Reply:

    That is an excellent point which I think is too often forgotten.

What Else is New


  1. IRC Proceedings: Friday, February 28, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, February 28, 2020



  2. Alexandre Oliva Against Bullying and Violence

    I was ready to come to a close of this series, but an urgent request I got takes priority over the last planned post in the series, now postponed



  3. Links 28/2/2020: Qt 5.15 Beta, UBports/Unity8 Now Lomiri, GCC 8.4 Release Candidate

    Links for the day



  4. Richard Stallman is Now Eligible for the FSF's Award

    To counter the impression that FSF leadership distances itself from the FSF's founder it can publicly display a healthy and cordial relationship with GNU's chief



  5. People Who Oppose Stallman Can be Rude and They Pick on People Who Merely Defend Stallman's Role at FSF

    Earlier this week I wrote about aggressive reactions I receive for my articles; here's one of them (minutes old)



  6. 3 Founders Out in 5 Months

    With OSI's co-founders both out (not long after the start of this year), as well as the founder of the FSF, one must ask who's left to lead the fight against proprietary software injustices



  7. Inside the Free Software Foundation (FSF) - Part II: The Majority of the Board Supports Richard Stallman

    It seems to have become somewhat fashionable separating high-profile projects and institutions from their founders; at the FSF, thankfully (at least for now), the founder still has a foothold



  8. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, February 27, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, February 27, 2020



  9. EUIPO and EPO Celebrate Corruption in Croatia

    The EPO returns to its corrupt roots of the Battistelli era even in the form of photo ops



  10. Death of the UPC (Unitary Patent) Confirmed by the British Government

    The lies about the UPC are repeatedly being called out as UPC disarray is confirmed by the spokesperson of Prime Minister Boris Johnson



  11. A Month After One OSI Co-Founder Resigns in the Mailing Lists Over OSI's Attacks on Software Freedom the Other OSI Co-Founder Gets Kicked Out for Speaking About It

    The 'cancel culture' seems to be canceling people who speak about software freedom, under the guise of the real motivation being manners (when one lashes out at those who attack Free software and free speech)



  12. Links 27/2/2020: LibreOffice 6.4.1, Collabora Office for Phones and Latte Dock 0.9.9

    Links for the day



  13. The Linux Foundation is Deeply Committed to Diversity and Inclusiveness (as Long as You Have Perfect Vision and Use 'Big Browsers' That Spy)

    The Linux Foundation's message of inclusiveness refers only to a particular kind of inclusiveness



  14. Inside the Free Software Foundation (FSF) - Part I: Year Zero

    People behind the ousting of Richard Stallman (or 'leaders of the coup' as some call them) want a fresh start; but they aren't starting what most FSF supporters have been led to believe



  15. Alexandre Oliva on Diversity Hypocrites

    "Some of them purport to be for inclusion and diversity, but won't hesitate to make fun of someone's poorly-disguised handicap."



  16. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, February 26, 2020



  17. Alexandre Oliva: Courage is Contagious

    Having a proposal rejected at a conference is nothing unusual, but the surrounding circumstances and the conflicting versions are.



  18. Links 26/2/2020: Cosmo Communicator 2-in-1, FSF Outlines Plans for Code Hosting

    Links for the day



  19. Reminder: At Linux Foundation in 2020 Three Board Members, Including the Vice Chair and Director at Large, Are Current or Past Microsoft Employees

    Sometimes the facts speak for themselves (or pictures speak louder than words)



  20. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, February 25, 2020



  21. Links 25/2/2020: MakuluLinux LinDoz and Manjaro 19.0 Released

    Links for the day



  22. FSF's Interim Co-President Alexandre Oliva on FSF Communication Policies

    Surely I, being acting president and then half-acting president, must suck as a manager. I probably do indeed, but it's not so simple.



  23. The EU's EUIPO Will Later Today Help the EPO (Run by EUIPO's Former Chief) Promote Illegal Software Patents

    Propaganda terms such as "intellectual property rights" and meaningless concepts like "technical effect" are being used to promote so-called 'computer-implemented inventions' (software patents by another name)



  24. Growing Acceptance That There's No Future to the UPC System and the Unitary Patent

    There are growing pains and more signs that even key elements of Team UPC move on, accepting the demise of the UPC



  25. Emulating the Linux Foundation's Business Model (Selling Influence)

    LibrePlanet sponsors are presented with benefits of offering money to the event (or to the FSF)



  26. Guest Article: LibrePlanet Attendees Should Demand a Partial Refund

    What we do know is — that the FSF is no longer “Free as in Speech!”



  27. IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 24, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, February 24, 2020



  28. An FSF That Rejects Its Founder Would Not Remain FSF As We Once Knew It

    It's important to keep the FSF focused on its goals; that won't be achieved by expelling those who insist on these goals



  29. Links 24/2/2020: Linux 5.6 RC3, Netrunner 20.01, Google Summer of Code 2020 Mentoring Organisations Announced

    Links for the day



  30. Alexandre Oliva's New Article About a Coup

    Some people try to tell me that the criticism I've got, inside the FSF and outside, since the Free Software Sept 11, are not about my being supportive of RMS, but about my making public statements referencing him at all.


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts