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


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.


“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 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.


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


    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 24/10/2016: Linux 4.9 RC2

    Links for the day

  2. Battistelli Plans to Expand the Social [sic] 'Study' (Then 'Conference') Propaganda Until Next Month, Under the 'Workshop' Umbrella

    Milking his shameless propaganda (paid-for 'studies'), Battistelli wants to rewrite the record by all means possible, then pretend that EPO staff participates in it

  3. EPO and EUIPO Join Hands to Release Propaganda (for European Media to Parrot) Some Time Tomorrow

    EPO and EUIPO in collaboration for the promotion of the notion that they are both necessary (and reinforced speculations about growing overlap between them)

  4. UPC Preparatory Committee Puts the Brakes on UPC Amid Brexit and Growing Uncertainty

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC) preparatory committee recognises that the UPC isn't going anywhere (any time soon) and false job advertisements -- or advertisements for jobs that will never exist -- are withdrawn

  5. Updates Regarding EPO and BoAC: Unrest and Injustice Carry on

    Some of the latest information which is publicly and privately available to us, in particular regarding the case of a suspended judge which represents unprecedented erosion of the appeal boards' independence (and hence lack of justice in the Organisation)

  6. EPO and the “Iberian Connection”: Patricia García-Escudero Márquez - Battistelli's Pet Chinchilla on the Boards of Appeal Committee?

    Why the Boards of Appeal Committee has begun showing prominent signs that it is anything but independent and capable of standing up to Battistelli (or his circle at the Office, which includes the “Iberian Connection")

  7. Links 23/10/2016: Alcatel's New Android Smartphones, Another Honorary Doctorate for Stallman

    Links for the day

  8. Open Letter Exposing the Farce Which Was Battistelli's 'Social Conference' Coinciding With Further (New) Attacks on EPO Staff Representatives

    A detailed letter reveals legitimate concerns expressed by staff representatives at the EPO ahead of the so-called Social Conference, in which we have highlighted severe factual flaws

  9. Translation of Latest Rant From French MP Philip Cordery About Benoît Battistelli's Abuses at the EPO

    Philip Cordery crosses horns with Benoît Battistelli, who has become a source of embarrassment for France with his autocratic tendencies and misguided policies that rapidly ruin the European Patent Office (EPO)

  10. Battistelli-Commissioned PwC ‘Study’: Leaked Document Shows PwC's Dishonesty and Misrepresentation of EPO Staff

    An in-depth analysis (but not comprehensive, just preliminary) of the so-called 'study' from PwC, which basically did what it was paid for (pay to say)

  11. Links 22/10/2016: Deus Ex for GNU/Linux, Global DDoS (DNS)

    Links for the day

  12. Battistelli-Commissioned PwC ‘Study’: Survey Comparison Shows Serious Deterioration and Efforts by PwC to Disguise the Truth

    The latest output from PwC turns out to be even worse than initially thought, indicating that not only did it find a degradation in the EPO but also attempted to hide/obscure it

  13. EPO Teaser - The "Iberian Connection" - Some Photos of García-Escudero and His Royal/Government Connections

    A look at the undeniably close connections between Mr. García-Escudero and the most powerful people in Spain

  14. Disruption to Site's Service

    A technical note about why Techrights has not been publishing many articles recently

  15. Links 21/10/2016: MPV 0.21, Mad Max for GNU/Linux

    Links for the day

  16. EPO Caricature: Battistelli's High Five

    Another cartoon about the sad state of the EPO

  17. Battistelli Ruins Not Only the EPO But Also the Whole of Europe By Ushering in Software Patents That Patent Trolls Love So Much

    Battistelli's bad leadership at the EPO threatens to bring to Europe all the ills and menaces of the patent system in the United States

  18. EPO Spokesman Lies to IP Watch in Order to Save Face and Save the King (Battistelli)

    Rewriting history (revisionism) regarding Battistelli and what was demanded amidst abusive behaviour from him

  19. Unitary Patent (UPC) is Dead, But 'Managing IP' and Selfish Patent Law Firms Still Try to Resurrect It

    The latest attempts to shore up the Unitary (or Unified) Patent Court and who's behind it other than the usual suspects

  20. Links 20/10/2016: Linux 4.10 Preview, ONF and ON.Labs to Merge

    Links for the day

  21. Battistelli-Commissioned PwC 'Study': The Raw Outcome Shows Distortion of the Facts at the EPO's Notorious 'Social Conference'

    Results of the Staff Survey carried out by PwC, in order to provide some propaganda for Battistelli's expensive Social Conference

  22. Addendum: EPO's Alberto Casado Cerviño, WIPO's Francis Gurry, and EUIPO's Archambeau

    Photos taken as part of an IP event which took place in Riga (Latvia) in March 2015

  23. Worrisome Connections Between EPO VP2 Alberto Casado Cerviño and Patricia García-Escudero Márquez

    Exploring the potential conflicts of interests implicating the EPO's Boards of Appeal Committee

  24. Site's Infrastructure Under Attack and Upgrades Ahead of Major New Publications

    Protections for the Web site have been improved and capacity increased in order to avoid or at least prepare for another week of abusive/spam traffic

  25. Team Battistelli's Conspiracy Theory: SUEPO is Behind Everything, EPO Management is Trying to Tell the Media

    Attempts to blame SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, even though SUEPO has nothing to do with articles that are critical of the EPO while many thousands of EPO employees are disgruntled

  26. Links 19/10/2016: Canonical Livepatch Service, Plasma Plans

    Links for the day

  27. The 'Sarah Sharps' of Microsoft: Not the Kind of Scandal the Media Cares Enough to Write About

    Another example of the large (industrial) scale of sexual discrimination at Microsoft -- a company that tries to advertise itself as diverse or tolerant and stigmatise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) as intolerant and/or not diverse

  28. EPO Caricature: EQE Questions

    The latest EPO cartoon, this time about European qualifying examination (EQE)

  29. The Long History or Seeds of Control by Fear and Punishment at the EPO

    The latest hogwash from Team Battistelli (Pinocchio), the latest instance of software patents promotion by EPO Principal Director, and an old (decade-old) nugget of information from the Forum for Principal Directors

  30. Subject of the European Patent Office's Abuses Raised in European Parliament by Ulrike Müller (ALDE)

    A local copy of a bunch of questions asked less than a month ago by Ulrike Müller at the European Parliament, regarding the unacceptable state of affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO)


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