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

03.31.10

Patents Roundup: Several Defeats for Bad Types of Patents, Apple Risks Embargo, and Microsoft Lobbies Europe Intensely

Posted in Apple, Australia, Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Standard at 8:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techrights image

Summary: News from around the world about government-approved monopolies on general banking methods, human genes, computers, and even mathematics (encoded in the form of algorithms)

BLOG POSTS have been very scarce and rare over the past few days because we rearrange the Web site to better fit our scope of coverage (Boycott Novell becomes just a subset). We kindly ask for some patience from readers. The logo above is only temporary as one contributor works on a permanent one.

So, what has happened all this time? The big story is about SCO (more on that later), but equally important there’s this old patent issue that Novell made worse when it signed the 2006 deal with Microsoft. The following post only looks at patents.

In Re Bilski (Business Method Patents)

Let’s begin with the impending ruling on Bilski — an important decision that has been escalated to the Supreme Court. From the EE Times we have:

The Supreme Court could issue a decision any day on a controversial case limiting business method and software patents. Legal experts expect the court will uphold the Bilski decision but may call for the Federal Circuit court broaden a test of what can be patentable it set in that case.

In 2008, the Federal Circuit Court upheld a decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejecting a 1997 patent application filed by Bernard Bilski on a business method for hedging financial trades. In its decision, the Federal court laid down a controversial test for any patent: it has to be tied to a device or transform something physical.

Gene Patents

How about patents on life? The encouraging news is that scope of patents seems to be narrowed rather than broadened now that gene patents may die, leading to the suspicion that invalidation of software patents in the United States is reachable (Bilski already shatters business method patents and sometimes software patents too).

There’s been an important development in the world of US patents:

Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court today. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes.

That’s notable because it asserts definitively (well, subject to appeals) that genes are not patentable matter – overturning decades of practice. Here’s what the judge said on the issue:

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were “improperly granted” because they involved a “law of nature.” He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”

Note that it singles out “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result”. That’s interesting, because it is essentially the same technique that is used in the world of software patents.

Here is what ACLU had to say on the case:

Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court today. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes. The ruling follows a lawsuit brought by a group of patients and scientists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Apple & Embargo

From Bloomberg we now learn that Apple gets hit with an embargo attempt similar to the one it tried to pull against Android/Linux when suing HTC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Irony at its best.

Elan Microelectronics Corp., a Taiwanese maker of chips and touch-screens, asked a U.S. trade agency to ban the import and sale of some Apple Inc. products, including the forthcoming iPad, because of alleged patent infringement.

Elan’s complaint filed yesterday with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington claims Apple “knowingly and deliberately” used Elan’s technology, while continuing to introduce infringing products, the company claims in the complaint. The petition also seeks to ban imports of the iPhone and iPod Touch products, Elan said in the complaint.

“Our goal is to protect our technology and to stop sales of those products in the U.S.,” Dennis Liu, spokesman for Hsinchu, Taiwan-based Elan, said by phone today.

Microsoft & EIF

Earlier on we wrote about allegations (from a reliable source) that Microsoft had a “coup in process” at the European Commission [1, 2]. The head of the FSFE has responded to that as follows:

The European Commission started updating the EIF in 2006, and called for public comments in the summer of 2008. Then, the document was still very strong on Open Standards, and gave clear directions to the European member states that wanted their public sector IT to be more efficient and vendor-independent.

Until the Business Software Alliance (BSA) got its hands on it.

The Business Software Alliance is a lobby group of proprietary software vendors, backed above all by Microsoft. FSFE has prepared an overview page showing how the BSA’s demands are reflected in the latest draft of EIFv2.

[...]

In its current state, EIFv2 would do only one thing: Cement the vendor lock-in and network effects that are keeping too many public bodies from migrating to Free Software and Open Standards. FSFE is not the only group with serious concerns about the text. Open Forum Europe has written a strongly worded letter (.pdf) to Member States and the European Commission, calling for the document to be rejected.

There is also this article in German about the subject. Even the Document Freedom Web site could not help remarking on that.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Open Standards are a rather dull topic. Specifications are probably the most boring kind of reading known to man.Who will be able to read what you wrote? Who can you share documents with? Will you be able to read your own writings in the future, or will it all be locked into proprietary file formats developed by companies that have long since disappeared, leaving you sitting on a pile of digital toxic waste?

[...]

As far as we know, this sort of thing doesn’t sit well with everyone in the European Commission. DG INFSO appears to be under huge pressure from other DGs to remove the reference to Open Standards from the text, and make it less ambitious overall.

FSFE is active on both issues, talking to policy makers and calling public attention to the problem. What’s at stake here is the fate of Open Standards in Europe’s public sector in the coming years.

Open Invention Network (OIN) Grows

The patent pool that’s designed to protect Linux by hoarding patents just keeps growing with the addition of Guest-tek.

Open Invention Network (OIN), the company formed to enable and protect Linux, today extended the Linux ecosystem with the signing of Guest-tek™ as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, Guest-tek™ has joined the growing list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Software Patents Suffer a Blow in New Zealand

A few months back we wrote about the terrifying possibility that New Zealand may authorise the patenting of software [1, 2, 3] (like Australia, for example). If the press from New Zealand (IDG in this case) is reporting accurately, then local supporters of Free software have been rather successful at defending their country’s software industry.

Open source software champions have been influential in excluding software from the scope of patents in the new Patents Bill.

Clause 15 of the draft Bill, as reported back from the Commerce Select Committee, lists a number of classes of invention which should not be patentable and includes the sub-clause “a computer program is not a patentable invention.”

“We received many submissions concerning the patentability of computer programs,” says the committee in the preamble to the Bill. “Under the Patents Act 1953, computer programs can be patented n New Zealand, provided they produce a commercially useful effect.

More here:

So, there you are. New Zealand MPs of all parties are to be congratulated on recognising, what to many, for many years, has been patently obvious. There are some members of that committee that paid particular attention to the detail of the debate, there were also lots of submissions made be patent lawyers in favour of patents.

The issue is also being discussed in Slashdot. The assessment from the FFII’s president, who looked at the “Patents Bill” draft, says concisely that New Zealand is “trying to exclude software patents, not an easy task, confused by the embedded software trick” (as posted in Twitter).

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 24/8/2016: More From LinuxCon, Uganda Wants FOSS

    Links for the day



  2. Links 23/8/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta, Android 7.0 Nougat

    Links for the day



  3. The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

    This morning's reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft's patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles



  4. Not Just President Battistelli: EPO Vice-Presidents Are Still Intentionally Misrepresenting EPO Staff

    Evidence serving to show that EPO Vice-Presidents are still intentionally misrepresenting EPO staff representatives and misleading everyone in order to defend Battistelli



  5. Battistelli the Liar Causes a Climate of Confrontation in French Politics, Lies About Patent Quality (Among Many Other Things)

    Battistelli's lies are coming under increased scrutiny inside and outside the European Patent Office (EPO), where patent quality has been abandoned in order to artificially elevate figures



  6. The Collapse of Software Patents and Patent Law Firms Trying to “Overcome” Alice

    The United States continues its gradual crackdown on software patents (which are viewed as abstract and thus unpatentable), whereas in Europe things are murkier than ever



  7. Apple's Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

    Apple's insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns



  8. Links 22/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC3, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Beta

    Links for the day



  9. Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

    Links for the day



  10. Links 20/8/2016: Android Domination, FSFE summit 2016

    Links for the day



  11. Patents Roundup: Trolls Dominate Litigation, PTAB Crushes Patents, Patent Box Regime Persists, and OIN Explains Itself

    Another roundup of patent news from around the Web with special focus on software patenting



  12. The Cost/Toll of the 'New' EPO and Where All That Money Goes or Comes From

    The European Patent Office has become a servant of the rich and powerful (including large foreign corporations) and even its own employees now pay the price associated with misguided new policies (or 'reforms' as Battistelli habitually refers to these)



  13. Links 19/8/2016: Linux Mint With KDE, Linux Foundation's PNDA

    Links for the day



  14. The End of an Era at the USPTO as Battistelli-Like (EPO) Granting Policies Are Over

    The United States is seeing the potency of patents -- especially software patents (which make up much of the country's troll cases) -- challenged by courts and by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)



  15. Battistelli's European Patent Office Goes to the United States to Speak About the UPC and Software Patents

    The European Patent Office is showing its utter contempt -- not just disregard -- for the very fundamental rules that put it in its place and brought it into existence



  16. Turkey Subjected to the European Patent Convention (EPC) But Benoît Battistelli is Not?

    The ‘constitutional crisis’ at the European Patent Office in the context of Turkey, which has signed "the EPC and as such recognises the competence and the decisions of the institutions which have been introduced in the convention."



  17. Links 18/8/2016: EFF Slams Vista 10, Linux Foundation Makes PNDA

    Links for the day



  18. Links 17/8/2016: GNOME and Debian Anniversaries

    Links for the day



  19. Personal Audio LLC and Patent Troll Jim Logan Demonstrate the Harms of Software Patents and Why They Must Never Spread to Europe

    Jim Logan of Personal Audio (a notorious Texas-based patent troll) is still fighting with his bogus patent, having already caused enormous damage with a single software patent that should never have been granted in the first place (due to prior art, not just Alice)



  20. The Patent Microcosm Hopes That the Originators of Software Patents Will Undermine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

    Now that the actions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which have been consistently upheld by the CAFC in precedential decisions, are suddenly being questioned the patent microcosm gets all giddy and tries to undermine PTAB (again)



  21. That Time When the Administrative Council Helped Battistelli Crush Oversight (Audit Committee) and What ILO Said About It a Month Ago

    Things are becoming ever more troublesome at the EPO as the Administrative Council enjoys inaction from the International Labour Organization (ILO), in spite of its role in destroying much-needed oversight at the behest of Battistelli



  22. The EPO's Administrative Council Keeps Postponing Debate About Grounds for Firing the President

    A recollection of events prior to the latest Administrative Council meeting, where Benoît Battistelli's failings and accountability for failing to correct them never even came up



  23. A Surge of Staff Complaints About the European Patent Office Drowns the System, Disservice to Justice Noted

    Self-explanatory graphs about the state of the justice [sic] system which is prejudiced towards/against EPO workers, based on internal reports



  24. Links 16/8/2016: White House Urged by EFF on FOSS, Go 1.7 Released

    Links for the day



  25. Links 15/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC2, Glimpses at OpenMandriva Lx 3.0

    Links for the day



  26. Clawing Back the Staff Benefits at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Staff of the EPO is leaving (or retiring) in droves as abusive management continues to be the norm and staff benefits are being taken away or gradually revoked



  27. The Patent Microcosm is Panicking and Spinning Alice/§ 101 Because US Software Patents Are Still Dying

    A look at recent developments in the software patents scene in the United States, with increased focus on (or fear of) the Patent Trial and Appeal Board



  28. 21,000 Posts in Techrights in Less Than a Decade

    This post is the 21,000th post and the next one will make it more than twenty-one thousand posts in total. We are turning 10 in November.



  29. Patent Microcosm Shuts Out the Poor: Unified Patent Court (UPC) Promotion by Practising Law Institute (PLI) Only for the Wealthy

    The people who are profiting from patent feuds, disputes, lawsuits etc. are still trying to muscle their will into European law and they keep the general public out of it by locking down (or pricing out of reach) their meetings where they influence/lobby decision-making officials



  30. The United States Has a Growing Patent Trolls Epidemic as Very High Proportion of Lawsuits Filed by Them

    A look at the high proportion of patent lawsuits that are filed by entities that make nothing at all and thus serve no role whatsoever in innovation


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts