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02.19.10

Patents Roundup: America, Europe and Asia Share a Problem with Software Patents

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Patents at 6:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

THIS is another quick summary of news about patents, which are harming the field of software.

What is IP?

Well, this new post about Apple’s iPad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] gives a decent answer to the question, “what is intellectual property (IP)?”

Slaveware companies go even further and use the word IP to confuse users. IP is a stupid bundle of Trademark, Copyright, Patent and much more. You can’t put patents and Trademark in the same basket, especially in the case of software or products which are in the software format. In a lot of countries software patents are not valid, but with the usage of the word IP these companies try to bring software under that umbrella of protection.

This is partly inspired by the FSF/GNU explanation. “IP” is considered a term to avoid because it’s a perception changer that gets embedded in our language.

United States

Is embargo the new innovation? Sometimes it seems so:

US ITC to investigate Apple and RIM

THE US International Trade Commission (ITC) will launch an investigation into technology from Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) that seems to bear close resemblance to an invention claimed by Kodak.

US agency to investigate Blackberry and iPhone makers

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has said it will investigate the makers of the iPhone and Blackberry, over technology used in their handsets.

Masnick adds:

Pretty much all smartphones are made outside of the US, so they can all be barred by the ITC, and with the technology in your average smartphone being covered by hundreds of patents, it’s almost certain that every smartphone infringes on a slew of patents.

Also from Masnick:

Firefox Guys Admit That Competition Is What Drives Innovation

[...]

Imagine if instead of thinking that way, the concept of a browser had been patented way back when? Does anyone honestly think that we’d have as innovative a web world as we do today?

Patents are a fence. Fences do not drive progress; it would be counter intuitive to grasp, too. So who benefits other than huge corporations and their lawyers? As this new document [PDF] exemplifies it, “ADC is a patent holding company founded by a patent attorney”

So the patent system serves lawyers pretty well, at the expense of scientists of course. It’s the “solicitor tax” applied to areas of science and those who exploit loopholes benefit the most.

Europe

Software patents might end up in Europe if lobbyists of companies like Microsoft get their way. The president of the FFII points to this comment which says: “The creation by CreditSuisse and Deutsche Bank of “patent funds” to purchase unused patents also indicates that money is entering the European market to finance litigation.”

He also links to this new analysis of the United Patent Litigation System (UPLS), stating that it’s about “European Patent Law [getting] outsourced outside of the EU.”

The idea of creating a single patent court for Europe in order to improve legal certainty as well as to reduce costs is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creating a unitary trans-national patent which has the same legal effect all over Europe and which goes well beyond the European bundle patent of our days. Without such new substantive patent law, any attempt to bundle the procedural aspects of litigation and nullity matters will surely be futile. When assessing the chances for a unification of patent courts in Europe we will have to look at the history and prospects of both ideas. If there is no unitary substantial patent law in Europe there will also be no European patent court.

And who would that be good for? Lawyers seeking maximal damages? This is similar to the notion of extradition, which means that people receive no protection from unjust or corrupt jurisdictions. How are increased penalties and punishments improving society/science in general? They aren’t, they don’t.

India

In India too there are attempts to formally legalise software patents and patent lawyers in the country already lick their lips.

He explained that he also expected changes in regulations that would soon permit software patent filing without independent of hardware patents, which would be a large growth area.

Software patents are a travesty. They are wanted by patent trolls/lawyers and software monopolies that want to shield their dominant position (i.e. prevent free market competition). Stallman explained the problem one year ago in Germany.

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6 Comments

  1. The Mad Hatter said,

    February 20, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    Get it right. Patents are a travesty. Doesn’t matter whether they are for hardware or software. Both are deadly.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Gravatar

    We’re mostly focused on software in the Web site.

  3. The Mad Hatter said,

    February 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Gravatar

    There isn’t any difference where patents are concerned.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I think there is. Code has less of a design and manufacturing process, so software patents are relatively unmanageable and thus silly. From an economic point of view, they make no sense.

  4. The Mad Hatter said,

    February 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Gravatar

    I know there isn’t. 10 years of working with hardware design, after 10 years of working with software design, tells me that there is no difference.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Fashion copyrights/patents are clearly one of the more ridiculous cases.

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