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

02.14.10

Patents Roundup: Escalations in Europe, SAP Pretense, CCIA Goes Wrong, and IETF Opens Up

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 8:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SAP logo for Microsoft business partner

Summary: Many updates about the software patents situation in Europe and some other assorted developments from across the Atlantic

About a week ago we showed that Judge Uwe Scharen could help legalise software patents in the EU. The FFII has him listed as one of the players in Europe’s argument over software patents and according to the following new report, he may soon rule from the throne of the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal:

For the Free Software Foundation Europe and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), 2010 looks like a decisive year given that several interesting decisions will be taken on the patentabilty of software, business processes and conventional seeds. Four questions about computer implemented inventions and their patenting have been referred by Brimelow to the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal and a decision can be expected soon, even if the referral itself is rejected.

[...]

The free and open source software model might be a better alternative to patenting and then “repairing” possible barriers to technology transfers, said Karsten Gerloff, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe. It might be possible to transfer this model to other technology areas like climate technology, he said. In any case, information technology related climate technology would gain through free and open source software.

The FSFE, according to Gerloff, will follow closely the work by the EU Commission on the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), which consists of a set of interoperability guideline documents for European Public Services. While the first draft resulting from consultations in 2008 contained solid references to open standards and open source software, according to the FSFE, these had vanished from a second draft leaked last September. Six member states filed objections against this second EIF draft, according to the FSFE.

Ignoring open standards and open source software has a series of disadvantages, according to the free and open source software organisations, from anti-competitive effects against smaller software companies to proprietary formats for public content.

A second focus of the FSFE’s work in 2010 is the relationship between standards and patents. “In our view, patents that are part of standards have to be licensed royalty free,” said Gerloff. While standardisation bodies like the World Wide Web Consortium or the Internet Engineering Task Force this worked well, in other organisations like the International Standards Organisation, reform is necessary, he said. “There is a lot of work to do.”

There are all sorts of troubling issues here. The president of the FFII warns that an “Hungarian MEP [is] pushing for the Community Patent only in English, so that it gets ignored by the non-English EU citizens

Citing this PDF, he also adds that “Liberals [are] pushing more patents, easier and cheaper to obtain”

The following report (also here, but requires subscription) says:

The European Patent Office is considering whether to redefine the criteria for patenting software inventions.

This new article titled “Maximizing protection for software innovations” also requires subscription:

Software innovators can better protect their intellectual property by drafting patent claims with an eye toward how those claims may actually be interpreted in litigation.

Europe’s policy on software patents is always under pressure to change, courtesy of Microsoft and Microsoft allies like SAP (although there are other batsmen for software patents whose interests are not directly tied to Microsoft). The president of the FFII says that “SAP is lobbying the European Commission for UPLS/EUEPLA” (the unified system that can bring software patents) and experience suggests that SAP has always been rather hostile towards Free software [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Despite all this — and rather surprisingly in fact — Matthew Aslett from the 451 Group chose SAP as a “case study for open source engagement” just a couple of days ago. He received a statement from SAP:

Of course some issues remain. On a related issue, one of the most significant for free and open source advocates is the company’s attitude towards software patents. A good explanation as to why this is the case is provided by Glyn Moody.

I asked Claus and Erwin for their perspective on SAP’s stance on software patents and how that impacted the perception of SAP. Part of the response was the expected position that as SAP exists in a world where there are software patents it has no choice but to engage in patenting software itself if it is to retain a strong position against competitors. The other, with specific reference to open source, was as follows:

“SAP actually is a big proponent of strong and concise IPR licensing regimes for all standards and open source initiatives we participate in. Whatever claims of patents and patent applications that essentially need to be infringed to implement a standard or use an open source component should always be licensed in a reasonable and non-discriminatory manner by the individuals and organizations that have contributed to the project (obviously, in open source projects RAND means royalty-free). SAP does participate in open source projects particularly in order to drive adoption of a certain technology. There may be SAP patents in that very domain and they may be essential, but we require ourselves to freely license those patents to everybody. But we expect the same from any other project participant. And that’s actually why we prefer governance models like the one from the Eclipse Foundation (that also comprises contribution analyses in order to minimize unintentional copyright infringements).”

Suffice to say, this is just PR/spin. SAP’s actions have spoken for themselves for many years, ever since SAP’s Shai Agassi went about with his offensive rhetorics against Free software. It’s like they had their own little Steve Ballmer (before he left to do something ethical). Glyn Moody has already responded to the post from Aslett and he fills in some gaps.

Readers with a taste for high comedy may remember my post “Why SAP is Such a Sap over Software Patents”, which rather took to task a certain large German software company over its stance on software patents. Now, to be fair, SAP has done some good things for free software – not many, but some – and Matthew Aslett has produced an excellent summary of these on his 451 CAOS Theory blog, which I urge you to read.

[...]

The other problem is the reference to RAND. As the quotation notes, RAND for open source projects means royalty-free – but not for traditional software companies. In that case, RAND means a “reasonable” licence fee – which may be small, but is, as SAP must know, completely incompatible with free software licences like the GNU GPL.

Over in Europe, SAP is considered one of the worst offenders when it comes to attempting to illegalise Free software (using software patents). So again, it’s funny to see this company listed as “case study for open source engagement”. An “open source divorce” would be a better case study matching SAP.

In other news from Europe, Glyn Moody shows “stacking [of] the deck yet again” by pointing to this report about the IP Observatory:

In the legal affairs committee JURI in the European Parliament, we have been discussing an initiative by the EU Commission to set up an ”IP Observatory” that should monitor and combat all kinds of intellectual property infringements, from commercial goods counterfeiting to kids downloading films and music. Right now, we are in the process of drafting a resolution, known as the Gallo report, on the subject.

[...]

So much for the involvement of the European Parliament on this issue. We have been invited to hold an exchange of views in the JURI committee, and we are currently spending time on drafting a resolution on if and how the IP Observatory should be set up.

These lawyers are interfering with law that is fairly reasonable. Who is running this system anyway? In reference to it, says TechDirt, “Government for the people?”

It is worth adding that, according to the president of the FFII, “CCIA launched a dedicated blog on IP and patents earlier in January” and it says:

The Computer & Communications Industry Association is launching its new intellectual property blog today to serve as a forum for tech policy discussions. With the Obama appointees now in place and Congress looking for ways to help the economy grow, CCIA is optimistic about seeing patent reform this year.

“As we talk about developing an innovation agenda to boost our economic recovery, patent reform and balanced copyright rules should be part of that discussion,” said CCIA President & CEO Ed Black. “Current patent policies favor some business models over others, but after years of discussion it’s time for this Congress to recognize what consensus there is and lead the country toward reforms that would create the most innovation and jobs — and ideally allow for the next generation of innovation.”

The CEO, Ed Black, received millions of dollars in Microsoft money, even personally. Microsoft bought CCIA out of the antitrust case and then attacked GNU/Linux at IBM with CCIA’s help [1, 2, 3]. The president of the FFII connects some more dots by showing this “Interesting blog of CCIA about software patents, patent trolls and al, but their call for reform will keep swpats [software patents] alive”

Money well spent by Microsoft in Europe?

“The IETF came under criticism from the FSF last year after it had allowed patents inside standards.”Well, either way, there are also some important developments outside of Europe. Here, for instance, is an update on the notorious VoIP patent which the EFF is challenging.

Free software can simply ignore software patents in the large majority of the world and moreover, as the president of the FFII puts it by quoting, “Torvalds is the fellow who advised his people not to read patents, setting the public disclosure of patents on its head.”

Microsoft is the same. It made it a policy to discourage staff from reading patents (so as to avoid infringements being willful).

In more minor news, IETF creates a wiki in which to summarise its work. The IETF came under criticism from the FSF last year after it had allowed patents inside standards.

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

2 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    February 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Gravatar

    Of course, it is more that Torvalds that realize the importance of not reading patents. First and foremost it is a waste of time which will cause you triple damages for your trouble. The time spent reading or researching patents is much better spent either trying to roll back the US law to a more sensible, earlier version without software patents and/or ensuring that in Europe the 1974 European Patent Convention is recognized even by Bliar and Berlusconi.

    It’s stupid to have the same talking point come up again and again to have to waste resources shooting the disinformation down.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Well, a whole industry of patent lawyers (and patent trolls masquerading as inventors/solicitors) was created to fill the gap created by a protectionist system for monopolies.

    The good news is that the leech community does recognise the backlash.

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/9/2019: Samba 4.11.0 and Kubernetes 1.16

    Links for the day



  2. Update on Koch v EPO: Internal Appeals Committee (IAC) Composition Still Likely Illegal

    An important EPO case, concerning a dismissed staff representative, shows what ILO-AT and the EPO's Internal Appeals Committee boil down to



  3. Links 18/9/2019: Fedora Linux 31 Beta, PCLinuxOS 2019.09 Update

    Links for the day



  4. Links 17/9/2019: CentOS 7.7 and Funtoo Linux 1.4 Released

    Links for the day



  5. EPO is Not European

    Internationalists and patent trolls are those who stand to benefit from the 'globalisation' of low-quality and law-breaking patents such as patents on algorithms, nature and life itself; the EPO isn't equipped to serve its original goals anymore



  6. The EPO's Central Staff Committee and SUEPO (Staff Union) Respond to “Fascist Bills” Supported by EPO President António Campinos

    Raw material pertaining to the latest Campinos "scandal"; what Campinos said, what the Central Staff Committee (CSC) said, and what SUEPO said



  7. Storm Brewing in the European Patent Office After a Hot Summer

    Things aren't rosy in EPOnia (to say the least); in fact, things have been getting a lot worse lately, but the public wouldn't know judging by what media tells the public (almost nothing)



  8. Why I Once Called for Richard Stallman to Step Down

    Guest post from the developer who recently authored "Getting Stallman Wrong Means Getting The 21st Century Wrong"



  9. As Richard Stallman Resigns Let's Consider Why GNU/Linux Without Stallman and Torvalds Would be a Victory to Microsoft

    Stallman has been ejected after a lot of intentionally misleading press coverage; this is a dark day for Software Freedom



  10. Links 16/9/2019: GNU Linux-libre 5.3, GNU World Order 13×38, Vista 10 Breaks Itself Again

    Links for the day



  11. Links 16/9/2019: Qt Quick on Vulkan, Metal, and Direct3D; BlackWeb 1.2 Reviewed

    Links for the day



  12. Richard Stallman's Controversial Views Are Nothing New and They Distract From Bill Gates' Vastly Worse Role

    It's easier to attack Richard Stallman (RMS) using politics (than using his views on software) and media focus on Stallman's personal views on sexuality bears some resemblance to the push against Linus Torvalds, which leans largely on the false perception that he is sexist, rude and intolerant



  13. Links 16/9/2019: Linux 5.3, EasyOS Releases, Media Backlash Against RMS

    Links for the day



  14. Openwashing Report on Open Networking Foundation (ONF): When Open Source Means Collaboration Among Giant Spying Companies

    Massive telecommunications oligopolies (telecoms) are being described as ethical and responsible by means of openwashing; they even have their own front groups for that obscene mischaracterisation and ONF is one of those



  15. 'Open Source' You Cannot Run Without Renting or 'Licensing' Windows From Microsoft

    When so-called ‘open source’ programs strictly require Vista 10 (or similar) to run, how open are they really and does that not redefine the nature of Open Source while betraying everything Free/libre software stands for?



  16. All About Control: Microsoft is Not Open Source But an Open Source Censor/Spy and GitHub/LinkedIn/Skype Are Its Proprietary Censorship/Surveillance Tools

    All the big companies which Microsoft bought in recent years are proprietary software and all of the company’s big products remain proprietary software; all that “Open Source” is to Microsoft is “something to control and censor“



  17. The Sad State of GNU/Linux News Sites

    The ‘media coup’ of corporate giants (that claim to be 'friends') means that history of GNU/Linux is being distorted and lied about; it also explains prevalent lies such as "Microsoft loves Linux" and denial of GNU/Free software



  18. EPO President Along With Bristows, Managing IP and Other Team UPC Boosters Are Lobbying for Software Patents in Clear and Direct Violation of the EPC

    A calm interpretation of the latest wave of lobbying from litigation professionals, i.e. people who profit when there are lots of patent disputes and even expensive lawsuits which may be totally frivolous (for example, based upon fake patents that aren't EPC-compliant)



  19. Links 15/9/2019: Radeon ROCm 2.7.2, KDE Frameworks 5.62.0, PineTime and Bison 3.4.2

    Links for the day



  20. Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) Have Become the 'Norm' in Europe

    Normalisation of invalid patents (granted by the EPO in defiance of the EPC) is a serious problem, but patent law firms continue to exploit that while this whole 'patent bubble' lasts (apparently the number of applications will continue to decrease because the perceived value of European Patents diminishes)



  21. Patent Maximalists, Orbiting the European Patent Office, Work to 'Globalise' a System of Monopolies on Everything

    Monopolies on just about everything are being granted in defiance of the EPC and there are those looking to make this violation ‘unitary’, even worldwide if not just EU-wide



  22. Unitary Patent (UPC) Promotion by Team Battistelli 'Metastasising' in Private Law Firms

    The EPO's Albert Keyack (Team Battistelli) is now in Team UPC as Vice President of Kilburn & Strode LLP; he already fills the media with lies about the UPC, as one can expect



  23. Microsoft Targets GNU/Linux Advocates With Phony Charm Offensives and Fake 'Love'

    The ways Microsoft depresses GNU/Linux advocacy and discourages enthusiasm for Software Freedom is not hard to see; it's worth considering and understanding some of these tactics (mostly assimilation-centric and love-themed), which can otherwise go unnoticed



  24. Proprietary Software Giants Tell Open Source 'Communities' That Proprietary Software Giants Are 'Friends'

    The openwashing services of the so-called 'Linux' Foundation are working; companies that are inherently against Open Source are being called "Open" and some people are willing to swallow this bait (so-called 'compromise' which is actually surrender to proprietary software regimes)



  25. Microsoft Pays the Linux Foundation for Academy Software Foundation, Which the Linux Foundation is Outsourcing to Microsoft

    Microsoft has just bought some more seats and more control over Free/Open Source software; all it had to do was shell out some 'slush funds'



  26. Links 14/9/2019: SUSE CaaS Platform, Huawei Laptops With GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  27. Links 13/9/2019: Catfish 1.4.10, GNOME Firmware 3.34.0 Release

    Links for the day



  28. Links 12/9/2019: GNU/Linux at Huawei, GNOME 3.34 Released

    Links for the day



  29. Links 12/9/2019: Manjaro 18.1 and KaOS 2019.09 Releases

    Links for the day



  30. EPO: Give Us Low-Quality Patent Applications, Patent Trolls Have Use for Those

    What good is the EPC when the EPO feels free to ignore it and nobody holds the EPO accountable for it? At the moment we're living in a post-EPC Europe where the only thing that counts is co-called 'products' (i.e. quantity, not quality).


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