02.14.10

Gemini version available ♊︎

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 in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

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.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 16/10/2021: Xubuntu 21.10 and DearPyGui 1.0.0

    Links for the day



  2. DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  3. Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  4. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIII: Battistelli's Iberian Facilitators - Spain

    The EPO‘s António Campinos is an ‘Academy’ of overt nepotism; what Benoît Battistelli did mostly in France Campinos does in Spain and Portugal, severely harming the international image of these countries



  5. From Competitive (Top-Level, High-Calibre, Well-Paid) Jobs to 2,000 Euros a Month -- How the EPO is Becoming a Sweatshop by Patent Examiners' Standards

    A longish video about the dreadful situation at the EPO, where staff is being ‘robbed’ and EPO funds get funnelled into some dodgy stock market investments (a clear violation of the institution’s charter)



  6. [Meme] Protecting European Patent Courts From EPO 'Mafia'

    With flagrant disregard for court rulings (or workarounds to dodge actual compliance) it seems clear that today's EPO management is allergic to justice and to judges; European Patents perish at unprecedented levels in national European courts and it should be kept that way



  7. Links 15/10/2021: Pine64's New PinePhone Pro and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Codename

    Links for the day



  8. [Meme] GitHub Isn't Free Hosting, It's All About Control by Microsoft

    Deleting GitHub isn’t a political statement but a pragmatic decision, seeing how Microsoft routinely misuses its control over GitHub to manipulate the market



  9. With EPO 'Strike Regulations' Belatedly Ruled Unlawful, EPO Management May be Lowering the Salary Even Further by Introducing Outside 'Temps' or Casual Workers

    Institutional capture by an 'IP' (litigation) Mafia is nearly complete; with illegal so-called (anti) 'Strike Regulations' out the door, they're quickly moving on to another plan, or so it seems on the surface



  10. Links 15/10/2021: 95% of Ransomware Targets Windows

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 14, 2021



  12. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection

    The EPO‘s presidency (led by Frenchmen for nearly 15 years out of the past 18 years; Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are both French despite their somewhat misleading surnames) is extremely unlikely to even be mildly scrutinised by the French delegates because of a web of nepotism and protectionism



  13. [Meme] Another Maladministration Meeting Comes to an End

    Did the EPO‘s overseeing body properly tackle Benoît Battistelli‘s illegal acts, authorised by that very same overseeing body? Don’t hold your breath as António Campinos continues to crack down on staff (maybe ILOAT will rule on it in 2030)



  14. Links 14/10/2021: LibreOffice 7.2.2, Happy Birthday to Jolla, Ubuntu 21.10, Devuan GNU+Linux 4.0, OpenBSD 7.0

    Links for the day



  15. [Teaser] What Miguel de Icaza Really Thinks of the CEO of Microsoft GitHub

    Following the opening of a new series about Microsoft GitHub we drop a little teaser today; we expect dozens of parts to be released in the coming weeks/months as facts are being validated and organised



  16. Splitting the Time to Cover More Leaks and Exposés

    We take stock of Part 11 of the ongoing EPO series (“EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion”) and explain what caused various delays yesterday; we may have to up our pace a little in order to keep up with an influx of leaks and whistleblowers



  17. [Meme] Destroying the Workplace

    The working conditions at the EPO continue to worsen under the António Campinos regime, perpetuating the decade-long 'demolition project' of Benoît Battistelli and his cohorts in the complicit Administrative CouncilThe working conditions at the EPO continue to worsen under the António Campinos regime, perpetuating the decade-long 'demolition project' of Benoît Battistelli and his cohorts in the complicit Administrative Council



  18. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists

    Today we commence a new series that implicates Microsoft, GitHub, Copilot, and Team Mono



  19. EPO Management Tricks EPO Staff Into Taking More Paycuts

    “Education and childcare reform” [sic] is an António Campinos "reform" in the same sense regressive salary reductions are just “adjustments” (euphemism); Electronic opt-in gaffes, according to staff representatives, show that the tradition of Benoît Battistelli carries on at the Office, taking away from staff for a few corrupt officials to milk the institution to death



  20. Links 14/10/2021: Whisker Menu 2.6.1 and KDE's Birthday

    Links for the day



  21. Links 14/10/2021: DragonFly 6.0.1 Released and Red Hat Loses Another Top Executive

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 13, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 13, 2021



  23. Süddeutsche Zeitung Became a Propaganda Arm of EPO Management (and by Extension Software Patents/Patent Lobbyists)

    EPO ‘genius’ António Campinos enjoys shallow press coverage, which echoes or resembles Benoît Battistelli‘s corruption of the media (paid-for fluff)



  24. GNOME (and Debian) Infringe Human Rights by Shipping Parental Control Software (Internally Called “Malcontent”)

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  25. No, JWZ, Discord is Not “IRC With Pictures”

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XI: “General Bock” - Battistelli's Swiss Apprentice?

    The António Campinos-led EPO won’t be subjected to real oversight by the Administrative Council, which ‘met’ (online) earlier today; so we look at who in the Administrative Council did what; today we wrap up the parts about Switzerland (third part of three)



  27. Links 13/10/2021: Sparky 2021.10 and New Archcraft

    Links for the day



  28. Links 13/10/2021: Firefox Keylogger on (By Default), GNOME Platform Design Discussed

    Links for the day



  29. [Meme] [Teaser] Swiss Alexandre Benallas

    The EPO‘s French dictator, Benoît ‘Vichy’ Battistelli, might be relieved to hear that his enabler in the adjacent Switzerland also enlisted armed bullies to keep the population down (the father of António Campinos might know a thing or two about those; it’s why he fled to France)



  30. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 12, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 12, 2021


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