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03.07.10

Broken Laws

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 8:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lincoln monument

Summary: ACTA, patents, and tax law challenged

TECHNICALLY, GNU and Linux make a fantastic platform that is Free (libre), stable, versatile, affordable, yet rather prestigious. The main rivals of GNU/Linux include Apple and Microsoft, both of which are already fighting GNU/Linux using software patents. Sadly for them, software patents are still invalid in the vast majority of the world, so they need to change the law. Here at Boycott Novell we strive to keep track of these issues which we consider to be most vital to the future freedoms of software. We also need to preserve developers’ right to develop programs without dreading a lawsuit over the use of some idea or algorithm. It’s not Free software which cripples the software industry; it’s ludicrous secret code and software patents that do this.

ACTA

Yesterday we showed that the ACTA conspiracy is trying to launder patent law around the world and the USPTO is likely to remain broken because the fox watches over this hen house. Here is an interesting USENET post from yesterday:

Subject: ACTA is one big con-artist scheme
From: Anonymous
Date: Saturday 06 Mar 2010 09:53:35
Groups: comp.os.linux.advocacy

I’m starting to understand why the U.S. is trying to con other nations  into ACTA:

First Step: Implement a patent system which allows the patenting of  obvious and trivial ‘inventions’, including software patents, business processes etc.

Second Step: Prod your citizens and corporations to patent virtually everything, even the most straightforward and trivial algorithms, patent things which were invented previously and allow the eternal extension of the patent’s duration by so-called Patent Extensions where trivial improvements are made to a patent, but will make it impossible for anyone to take use the invention in the expired patent because there’s hardly any difference between it and the Extended Patent.

Third Step: Force other nations through secret negotiations to accept you ‘Everything’s Patentable’ patent system (i.e. ACTA).

Fourth Step: Since U.S. companies and individuals have patented everything under the Sun, start litigation in countries which were stupid enough to adopt the U.S’s patent system and start raking in money without ever having to lift a finger. Start threatening with trade sanctions against countries that did not adapt the Trivial Patenting scheme, accusing them of ‘Intellecual Property Infringement.’

Let’s recall what Vice President Biden did a few months back (we have the video). The EFF is formally complaining about this abuse of power right now:

The Obama Administration has been slowly ramping up its attention to intellectual property issues. Over the past few months, we’ve seen an IP “summit” at the White House. We’ve seen the successful nomination of a new cabinet-level “IP Czar” position. We’ve seen the announcement of a new DOJ task force for IP issues. What does it all portend?

[...]

The first bad omen came last December, when Vice President Biden invited the RIAA, MPAA and other representatives of the mainstream entertainment industry to a closed-door “Piracy Summit” at the White House. Although Biden’s office sold the summit as “bringing together all the stakeholders” in the piracy debate, it failed to invite a single representative of the public interest or the technology industry.

One outcome previewed at the summit was the formation of a new Department Of Justice “Intellectual Property Task Force”, which was formally announced in February. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice already has a history of coming down disproportionately hard on victims of the copyright conflict. And while the task force’s announcement stressed that IP crime “threatens not only our public safety but also our economic wellbeing,” it didn’t even pay lip-service to the harms to privacy, free speech, and innovation in the industry’s long war on piracy.

Intellectual monopolies are for monopolies; they have almost nothing to do with advancement.

Patents

OSS Watch writes about “threats to copyleft” in a guest post which says:

Combining freedoms and copyleft in the Gnu GPL license (invented by Richard Stallman) was the cornerstone of free software. This is now questioned due to the proliferation of incompatible copyleft licenses.

After counting 1,800 free software licenses used in hundreds of thousands of projects, the Black Duck company patented (Patent US 7,552,093 B2) the technology for controlling the use of open source licensing in a multi-source development process (meaning combined works, elaborated from multiple free components under different licenses).

No need to say that patenting proprietary technology to solve copyleft licenses incompatibility may not be seen by everyone as a major achievement!

This kind of incompatibility is exactly what the monopolies want. They want more patents, which help discriminate against the ‘small’ people. Here are some new reports that are mistaking patents for “inventions” [1, 2]. It’s about some person called NakaMats, who might just be a bit like Edison — that is, someone who took other people's ideas and filed them in the patent office (claiming credit for small variants of existing ideas). That’s not invention, it’s organisation.

Patents help lawyers, as lawsuits clearly suggest. Bad players like Rambus (which ambushed the market [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]) get to mess around with competition, using patents. From Reuters we learn that:

Memory chip designer Rambus Inc (RMBS.O) said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had affirmed two of three patents at the center of a legal dispute over whether graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) infringed on Rambus technology.

Patent Reform

Can one hope for amendments after a co-called ‘reform’ we’ve been hearing about for years. According to TechDirt, the patent reform bill is “more of the same”.

It still tries to switch the US to a “first to file” system, rather than “first to invent” — which just encourages more patents being filed faster, rather than better patents being filed. It has the same (controversial) damages setup as last year, which would be useful in limiting damages from infringement, but which many special interests hate.

Here is some detailed information about the changes.

Supplemental Examinations: Permits a patent holder to provide additional, potentially material prior art regarding the patent to the PTO. If the PTO considers the information and determines it has no effect on patentability, that additional information cannot serve as the basis for an inequitable conduct claim later in court. The information must be presented to the PTO and any reexamination must be completed prior to litigation.

It was unreasonable to expect the USPTO to become reasonable. It is run by lawyers, to whom more patents mean more business and personal income. The fox controls the hen house again.

Tax Evasion

Speaking of income, tax laws are broken because Microsoft is able to evade taxation, leaving it for others to pay the national bills. One of Microsoft’s former employees keeps complaining about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and in his latest updates on this issue [1, 2, 3] he also includes hilarity from Rep. Larry Seaquist:

Does the Department of Revenue think Microsoft is following the law? Well, we’ve recently received a more detailed response from the department about this issue and will post more shortly. All I’ll say for now is that HB3176 labels this kind of out of state tax dodge an “abusive tax practice”.

As for Rep. Seaquist, when I wrote him to be sure he understood the problems with the bill (and to ask him for a public statement for the blog), he replied, “Gents, please direct your continuing concerns to Rep. Hunter. Very best wishes, Larry”

But Rep. Hunter is a former Microsoft manager. Smell the corruption that Microsoft presence in the United States government has brought about. The fox dominates the hen house again.

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