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

04.07.10

Patents Roundup: USPTO Changes, New Zealand’s Law Ambiguity, Facebook and Apple Sued

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Law, Patents at 2:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Angry man

Summary: Patent maximalists have their revenge in a system designed to benefit monopolies and protect them from competition

SOFTWARE PATENTS have become an increasingly-relevant issue when it comes to Free software. Therefore, Free software supporters should probably treat it as important and this post is a short overview of the latest news.

USPTO

“The patent office should create a pool of software programmers and keep a database of their related skills,” says the president of the FFII regarding this new essay which is summarised by TechDirt:

In the past when discussing different ways to potentially improve the patent system, I’ve pointed out that one of the key points in determining whether or not something is patent worthy is supposedly whether or not the invention would be “non-obvious” to a “person having ordinary skill in the art.” And, yet, at no point in the patent review process does the average examiner — who quite often does not have ordinary skill in the art — ever go out and ask those who do. That always troubled me. So, I thought one (of quite a few) useful improvements to the system would be to let patent examiners call on certain folks who work in various fields. Now, this wouldn’t be to have that person give a total thumbs up or thumbs down on the patent. That would still be reserved for the examiner. But, at least hear some knowledgeable people out on whether or not the idea is obvious.

TechDirt also alerts readers that the “Patent Office Hires Economist To Add Some Actual Evidence To Patent Policy” (cost benefit of patents is high for monopolies and low for the rest).

Given all this, it’s interesting to hear, via Jamie Love, that the USPTO has hired economist Stuart Graham to the newly created position of “chief economist.” Love notes that Graham’s appointment comes with the mandate to compile economic data while doing a true economic analysis of patents for the USPTO. This seems like a good thing. I did a quick search on Graham’s previous research and came up with a a listing of some of his research — and at a first pass, it bodes well. He’s done work on how post-grant opposition to patents can improve quality of patents (pdf) and also has done research on patents in the pharmaceutical world, noting that there is a disconnect between patents and actual product development. In fact, that same study found that increased R&D doesn’t appear to be an indicator of greater product development at all.

New Zealand

Last week’s big news was that New Zealand is rejecting software patents [1, 2], but as the president of the FFII puts it: “How the NZ Patent Office will make the definitive distinction between embedded and other types of software?”

Some patent lawyers have raised this point:

How might the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office handle the challenge of developing guidelines for a clear and definitive distinction between embedded and other types of software? The IPKat awaits the outcome with curiosity.

The report is silent regarding patent term extension where commercial exploitation of a patented product, such as a pharmaceutical or agrochemical, is delayed due to the need to obtain regulatory approval. This omission is particularly disappointing for patentees as the Bill contains ‘spring-boarding’ provisions in clause 136 that grant an exemption from infringement for an act done for experimental purposes and in clause 138 for the development and submission of information required to obtain regulatory approval.

These loopholes also exist in Europe and Microsoft brags about exploiting them.

Facebook

Facebook is a bad company when it comes to software patents and according to this, it has just been sued for supposedly violating the law with software patent infringements.

Technology patent trolling seems to have become a regular pasttime — something that is influenced proprtionally with lucrative potential of a patent, and which the long-flawed approval process at the USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) abets in the first place. Now there’s another questionable patent lawsuit, this one involving ‘online communities’, and naturally, Facebook is a target with its community of more than 400 million users.

TechDirt says that the patent is very broad, covering just online communities.

It’s always fun to see patent system defenders in our comments insist that the patent system rarely makes mistakes in issuing patents, and how really bad patents get pushed out upon review. And yet… then we hear stories like the following one. Four guys, back in 2001 filed for a patent (6,519,629) on a “system for creating a community for users with common interests to interact in.” Seriously. Reading through the patent application, I’m having trouble seeing how this wasn’t covered by a ton of prior art. What in that patent does not apply to early BBS systems, for example? And, even if there really is something new (I can’t find anything), how is putting together an online community not an obvious thing?

This is another sign that the patent system does not work.

Apple

Despite Apple’s lawsuit against Android/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], HTC is said to be doing quite well.

Taiwan’s HTC Q1 profit, March sales rise

[...]

Earlier this month, Apple sued Taiwan-based HTC and accused it of infringing 20 hardware and software patents related to the iPhone.

It wasn’t long ago that a company close to HTC attempted to embargo Apple's iPad using patents and here comes another lawsuit claiming patent violations.

A company that has already sued Apple over a patent on zooming and scrolling on a mobile Web browser, is now adding the iPad to the lawsuit Monday.

The Mad Hatter argues that Apple is the “Competent Danger to Free Software” and he explains why:

Free has nothing to do with price, instead it stands for ‘FREEDOM’ or ‘LIBERTY’, meaning that the end-user should be free to use the software, modify the software, and pass on their modifications. There is no reason why free software cannot be sold, as long as the four freedoms are respected. Those freedoms are:

* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

While many people consider Open Source to be equivalent to Free Software, it isn’t. Open Source is a software design methodology, which is claimed to produce better software, while Free Software is a philosophical equivalent to the Freedom of Speech clause found in many countries constitutions.

It is rather amazing that some people still choose to believe that Apple is friendly towards “Open Source”. It’s only blind faith.

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

A Single Comment

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    April 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, as I said before, Apple and open source is another mess altogether. On that topic, I started a thread named “Apple, iPhone, and GPLv3 troubles‏” on the gcc@gcc.gnu.org mailing list, and still have many messages from it in my email inbox.

What Else is New


  1. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  2. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  3. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  4. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  5. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  6. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  7. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  8. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  9. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  10. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  11. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  12. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  14. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  15. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  16. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  17. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  18. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft



  19. Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

    Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests



  20. Software Patent Applications Already Being Rejected in the US Owing to SCOTUS Ruling, Some Patent Lawyers Are Fuming

    Good news on the software patents front as the USPTO starts rejecting software patent applications, based on patent lawyers' words



  21. Links 15/7/2014: New Plasma, Google Announces Project Zero

    Links for the day



  22. Interest in Free Software Coverage and 9 Months With Tux Machines

    Thoughts about the level of interest in Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and growth of at least some sites that focus on GNU/Linux



  23. White House Backs Away From Appointing Patents Zealot to Top USPTO Position

    Philip Johnson is no longer poised to become the Director of the USPTO, which is basically an establishment that provides protectionism to primarily US-based corporations



  24. Professor James Bessen Presents the Case Against Software Patents After Important SCOTUS Ruling

    The debate about software patents in the Unites States continues, with academia on one side and greedy patent lawyers on the other



  25. Software Patents Demising in the US as Microsoft Patent Attacks on Android/Linux Suffer a Huge Setback

    M-Cam's assessment of Microsoft's bundle of extortion (using software patents) shows toothlessness, irrespective of the SCOTUS decision to effectively annul "abstract" software patents



  26. Links 13/7/2014: KDE Activity Surge

    Links for the day



  27. Pro-Microsoft Spin in Microsoft-Funded News Networks

    The rogue media (misinformation) campaign of Microsoft benefits from networks which have been paid by Microsoft over the years



  28. Cronyism at Play: European Hostility Towards Free/Libre Software Despite Espionage and Moles

    Europe continues to be held hostage with back doors, lock-in, and massive payments to foreign powers, despite evidence that these powers are destructive and hostile



  29. Wirelessly-Controlled Contraceptives and Other Villainous Bill Gates Initiatives

    Remote controls for people's reproductive systems are now in the making and Bill Gates is a prominent investor in the technology



  30. Links 12/7/2014: CrossOver, New Wine

    Links for the day


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