03.03.10

Patents Roundup: Benjamin Franklin Would Have Disliked Patents, Tim Bray Leaves, Patents Kill, Ridiculous Software Patents Named

Posted in Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Oracle, Patents, SUN at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffred Duplessis

Summary: This post presents a roundup of patent news (mostly software); it is intended to show the lesser-known truths about patents — the ones which lawyers do not want people to know

Ghabuntu has just done some exploration around Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

It turns out that, just like Thomas Jefferson, Franklin would have rejected patents and advocated Free software. It is often being argued that software patents are unconstitutional, but that’s another matter that won’t be discussed today.

Here is what Ghabuntu found:

This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov’r. Thomas was so pleas’d with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin’d it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

An ironmonger in London however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it.

Here is an older link on the subject (from one year ago). It’s titled “Ben Franklin, the first Open Source advocate” and it says:

Benjamin Franklin is known in American history as a founding father and a inventor. One interesting fact is that he did not approve of patents. Martin Streicher of IBM points out in his article of 10 tips for sensible systems administration that Benjamin Franklin would more than likely approve of Open Source software.

One of our favourite entrepreneurs is Tim Bray, who had the guts to complain about Microsoft’s corruption [1, 2, 3]. After his recent rants about patents, Bray decides to leave Sun/Oracle.

“Just resigned from Sun/Oracle,” he wrote a few days ago. “Not currently looking for another job.”

Patents are not only harming software by the way. Glyn Moody, who wrote a book about the dangers of genome patents, shows this new report about removal of generics using patent provisions.

Aside from pharmaceutical patents, the other key IP provision in the free trade agreement relates to geographical indications (GIs). These allow certain regions to claim an effective monopoly right on delicacies such as Champagne or Parma ham that are synonymous with them. According to Brussels sources, over 200 GIs will be covered by the agreement with Peru and Colombia.

In previous posts we explained why this is the death knell to a lot of people [1, 2]. This is genocide by patents. Speaking of which, the effect of the Gates-funded Monsanto is similar. It causes deaths rather than save lives and we wrote about the subject in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Monsanto is a company whose business model depends on patents relating to life (biology as a private property of a person). GM Watch asks, “Have we seen Peak Monsanto?”

Is it possible that we’ve reached Peak Monsanto?:

Low commodity soybean prices, attractive premiums, and rising prices for genetically modified soybean seed are leading American farmers to plant more acres of non-GMO soybeans this year.

Representatives with soybean associations, universities, and grain buyers all say that demand for non-GMO soybeans is growing, leading to more non-GMO acres.

Genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans have taken an increasingly larger percentage of U.S. soybean acreage each year since their introduction in 1996, reaching 92 percent in 2008.

Bill Gates supports this colonisation of land and food. It’s about creating a crops monopoly, using intellectual monopolies (patents).

TechDirt has this new item which says that “It’s The Execution That Matters, Not The Idea” and the item happens to cite a former (but famous) Microsoft employee who seemingly argues against patents.

There have been lots of players who have come and gone, and there are at least a dozen players in the space today. And it’s not because they all “took” the idea from this guy, but because lots of people recognized that it’s an idea that makes sense. Kickstarter is certainly getting a ton of press these days, but that’s mostly because of some top notch execution on its part.

This leads us to the next area, which is software patents. No less than twice in recent days we wrote about Facebook’s controversial software patent [1, 2], as well as the company’s relationship with Microsoft and apparently the company’s patent troll too (Nathan Myhrvold). Here is another good analysis of why Facebook’s behaviour should be seen as hostile.

I wonder what is Facebook’s strategy here. They could simply be looking to stifle competitors. The obvious result of this is that they will probably attempt to get licences from some prominent social networks and the aforementioned open source projects. In the longer run, this could be used to become the only name in social networking. Not good news at all.

Google is also a foe when it comes to software patents. Mashable covers Google’s new software patent on location-based advertising. This is ridiculous, but it is not truly a farce like today’s USPTO.

That patent itself focuses on making sure businesses can better target their ads based on location information so that they can do things such as price arbitration (e.g. figuring out prices for items near you and getting the best deal). It also deals with the user interface and defining geographic areas.

Will Google obey or least consider the suggestions from many people who want Google to set its new codec free? Or use Ogg Theora in YouTube? As this new post emphasises, this is a top issue when it comes to Free software and patents. GNU/Linux depends on it.

Patented multimedia codecs, however, are a little different from proprietary drivers and firmware, for reasons discussed in my first post on the topic. There are people–for example, a commenter on a previous post named markit–who remain passionately opposed to the use of restrictively licensed codecs and can make well reasoned arguments to support their stance, particularly since fully functional GPL-friendly equivalents are available for multimedia codecs.

The arguments against the use of patented codecs are not without merit. By using formats like MP3 and MPEG-2 rather than GPL’d alternatives, users perpetuate dependence on proprietary software, which is antithetical to the Ubuntu philosophy.

The obvious response to such arguments, of course, is that while it would be nice to use only patent-free codecs, that’s not a realistic goal for most people. You can’t send .ogg files to Windows users and expect them to know how to open them, and you won’t have many friends if you refuse to accept data in non-free formats.

Google’s harmful policy on patents withstanding, can the company prove to be helpful to Free software by weakening or gradually eliminating H.264? Let’s hope so.

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

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2010/03/03/lesser-known-truths-about-patents/

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/4/2021: VirtualBox 6.1.20, GCC 11.1 Release Candidate, Nginx 1.20.0

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, April 20, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, April 20, 2021



  3. Some People Who Asked to Be Removed From the Slanderous Hate Letter Against the FSF Are Still Being Denied Removal (But Not All)

    I am aware of some people (evidence is in the public domain for all to see) who asked to be removed from the hate list; their requests have not yet been processed, or simply denied. Maybe they should ask again. There are silent and selective changes.



  4. Overt Abuse and Mischaracterisations by Bully de Blanc

    The campaign to ruin the FSF and silence its founder, Richard M. Stallman (RMS), goes months prior to the hate letter set up by Bully de Blanc, her boss, and the Microsoft-sponsored OSI; they just attack the licence (GPL/copyleft) and they try to redefine things for the corporations which fund them



  5. According to StatCounter, This Month GNU/Linux Market Share on Desktops/Laptops Exceeded 2% (Based on Sites They Monitor)

    StatCounter does not monitor everything and not every machine connects to the Web, but in relative terms, based on the chart above, no doubt GNU/Linux continues growing relative to other operating systems (chart plotted based on the latest raw data, rendered in LibreOffice Calc)



  6. At the EPO, Lawlessness Has Become “a New Normal”

    Without as much as a real consultation with those who are impacted (by the EPO's gross infringements) the management of the EPO rushes ahead again, enjoying zero oversight, no legal review, and no accountability or scrutiny of any kind



  7. Links 20/4/2021: Tails 4.18 and Mark Surman in Mozilla's Board of Directors

    Links for the day



  8. Microsoft as a Censorship Machine Working to Undermine Free Software and Code Sharing (Also Sharing in General)

    Microsoft is, as usual, a tool of destruction rather than creation; it seems to be better at ruining things and censoring things, notably things that compete against Microsoft or pose a threat to Microsoft's business model (and close partners, such as RIAA)



  9. Phoronix Needs to Exercise Caution and Stay Vigilant/Careful of Microsoft

    Taking note or lessons from the blunder of Raspberry Pi (back in February), Phoronix should be careful of Microsoft 'freebies' as they're never free and there are strings attached, destined to alienate longtime supporters



  10. IRC Proceedings: Monday, April 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, April 19, 2021



  11. Links 20/4/2021: EasyOS Dunfell 2.7.1, Phoronix Takes Microsoft 'Freebies', Microsoft Trying to Steal Credit for Linux on Mars

    Links for the day



  12. Richard Stallman on How UPC is a Trojan Horse for Software Patents in Europe

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, offers his analysis of the Unitary Patent (or UPC) and what it means for software patents in Europe now that the EPO increases its influence over continental law



  13. Technology Can Make Life Worse, Even in the Public Sector, Not Just the Private Sector

    There are growing concerns — increasingly justified concerns as a matter of fact — that customer service is universally going away and “COVID” has become the impenetrable shield or a cover in the face of facts, laws, and basic rights



  14. Links 19/4/2021: LibreSSL 3.3.2, OpenSSH 8.6, Firefox 88

    Links for the day



  15. Time to Move to Gemini, Wherever/Whenever Possible, as the World Wide Web is a Burden on Everybody

    A 30-minute rant about what the Web has become and the promise of gemini:// (designed to simplify everything, enable self-hosting, preserve privacy, and empower communities rather than military-connected monopolies)



  16. The Number of Signatures in the Anti-FSF Petition is Decreasing, Not Increasing

    A reader has notified Techrights that belatedly, perhaps where people’s job is at risk (we’ve heard of stories and situations wherein the employer’s view and a worker’s view diverge), the GNOME Foundation/OSI did in fact remove some people from the hate letter they had set up for their monopolistic sponsors. We do, however, still see some names in there of people who asked to be removed, so it must be a very selective process. They don’t want to lose face, so they must have made it very difficult to revoke one’s name. Exceptional circumstances? We have checked to confirm, based on the available archives, and indeed that number decreased since 10 days ago, whereas 6,415 people have thus far signed the support letter (it's still growing), so we’ve just re-plotted the chart.



  17. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, April 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, April 18, 2021



  18. How Many People Developed GNU (Maybe Hundreds) in the 1980s

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, explains how code was managed and contributed in the early days of GNU



  19. Links 19/4/2021: Linux 5.12 RC8, GNU Poke 1.2, EndeavourOS 2021.04

    Links for the day



  20. Proprietary Software (BT Hub) Has Ruined My Whole Day

    While we did have some plans to publish long articles, those plans were curtailed or at least delayed due to the fact our sole device at home not to be controlled by us (a so-called 'Smart' Hub from BT) decided to break itself and by doing so bring productivity to a standstill (that firmware update, silently installed without notice or any form of consent, managed to screw with the local network)



  21. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, April 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, April 17, 2021



  22. Tolerating the Intolerant and Lacking Tolerance for Opposing Views

    The person who shouted...



  23. Letter of Support for Richard Stallman - Doing Better in Community

    "How do you support someone you’ve known for years who is unfairly attacked and publicly maligned?"



  24. Richard Stallman on Rejecting Workplace Bureaucracy in the 1970s

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, explains what inspired him to get involved in non-software matters



  25. Renata Avila: Trying to Understand the Lynching of Stallman

    Reproduced from the original



  26. Breaking News: EDPS Admits That It is Powerless to Investigate Claims of GDPR Non-compliance at the EPO

    Nobody is truly in charge at the EDPS (and in Europe at large); they say EPO is "company" and all one can do is kindly ask the EPO itself to obey the law and stop outsourcing European data to American military contractors



  27. Links 17/4/2021: Linux 5.13 in Sight, Holland Warming up to Free Software

    Links for the day



  28. Richard Stallman Vilified by Those Who Don't Know Him, Says Sylvia Paull

    Republished "In Support of Richard Stallman"



  29. [Meme] Linux Foundation Can't Use Linux

    Two examples from yesterday, highlighting what a bunch of hypocrites run the marketing operation now disguised as ‘research’; Jason Perlow from Microsoft signed/published this newsletter highlight from the failing “Linux” Foundation — a foundation that calls itself “Linux” while its newsletter is still hosted by Microsoft Windows+proprietary IIS and this latest report is made with proprietary software on a Mac



  30. [Meme] Haters Gonna Hate, Don't Apologise to a Libelling Mob

    As was already pointed out before, you cannot appease a mob by talking back to it, certainly not by issuing an apology (putting oneself in a position of weakness)


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