05.20.10

Patents Roundup: Novell’s and Apple’s Latest Software Patents, Ruling in Germany, and Harms to Software Freedom

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Novell, Patents at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll picks cows

Summary: News about software patents and other unjust monopolies

Patent applications by Utahns [Novell still loves software patents]

System and method for creating and presenting modal dialog boxes in server-side component Web applications, patent No. 7,721,225, invented by Daniel Montroy of Sandy, Micah Gorrell of Spanish Fork, and Matthew Sorensen of Lehi, assigned to Novell, Inc. of Provo.

New iPhone Patents Extend Apple’s Control Over Apps, Potentially Squeezing Out Many Developers [Apple uses patents against GNU/Linux]

Apple Looking Into Location-Temporary Apps

German court ruling, upholding Siemens patent, as text [see yesterday's analysis about Siemens]

German Supreme Court on Patents on Computer-Implemented Inventions

Today the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) has published the full reasons of the decision in re Xa ZB 20/08 dated April 22, 2010. The decision is related to German patent application DE10232674 filed by Siemens AG on July 18, 2002.

Hugin and patents [some Free software projects have already been hurt by software patents and then vanished, e.g. [1, 2]]

Source code as such (certainly in the case of compiled languages) does not implement an invention — it merely describes an algorithm. As such, I believe that the source code of a Free Software implementation of some patented algorithm (as if it makes sense to patent an idea, but hey, some patent offices hand these things out) cannot infringe the patent even if you accept the validity of algorithmic patents because it’s just describing something that has already been published — the patent text itself! On the other hand, compiled forms of the same do implement the algorithm in a machine and might be covered. I’m not sure if anyone has really dug into the implications of the division between source and object code in this area.

In cases like this, the Open Invention Network might be of use. It’s a patent pool organization for Linux. Since Hugin isn’t part of Linux (as in, the kernel bits) it’s unlikely to be helped out directly. The OIN folks are some of the most pragmatic and sensible people I’ve talked to about the effect (negative) software patents have on us all.

[...]

While looking for the SIFT patent, I did find US patent numbers 7,639,897 and 7,711,262 which both cover guiding a user of a digital camera in making a panorama photo. They seem awfully similar to me, although obviously there’s a giant difference (sarcasm doesn’t work in writing unless Penny Arcade does it) between sweeping a scene and then re-photographing it and indicating already-photographed areas as the scene is swept. I guess there’s no patent yet on not helping at all.

Fighting patent aggression the open source way [see Acacia for details]

For the open source community, it’s worth noting with pride that a substantial portion of the prior art used in the case was identified by community members. Groklaw helped rally support, and drew many prior art contributions. The Open Invention Network’s Linux Defenders program posted the patents on its Post-Issue Peer to Patent page, and drew numerous useful contributions as well. In fact, all of the prior art used as prime examples at trial (Apple Switcher, Commodore Amiga 1000, and Chan Room Model), were identified on both Groklaw and Linux Defenders. Many thanks to all who contributed and showed how open source can help invalidate patents that should never have been granted.

Explaining prior art to a jury is itself an art, and our invalidity expert, Dave Wilson, did a great job. He was smart and engaging, and managed to make some challenging material really interesting. For those interested in the technical details on invalidity, I’m posting his entire testimony, but here are a couples of excerpts that will give some idea of what he did.

Chien: Recent History Suggests that Supreme Court will Rule Bilski’s Claim Unpatentable [see background/index to Bilski]

Professor Colleen Chien (Santa Clara) has written an interesting new article on the importance of amicus briefs in patent cases. Her article is titled Patent Amicus Briefs: What the Courts’ Friends Can Teach Us About the Patent System and is available online at SSRN.

[...]

The abstract:

Over the last two decades, more than 1500 amici, representing thousands of organizations, companies, and individuals, have signed onto amicus briefs in over a hundred patent cases, many of them representing landmark decisions. This paper turns the spotlight on these “behind-the-scenes” actors in the patent system. It combines theoretical insights with an empirical study of amicus briefs filed in patent cases over the last 20 years in an examination of who is interested in the patent system, the positions they have advocated, and the effectiveness of their advocacy. Amicus filers have been instrumental in shaping the courts’ agenda; the Supreme Court was seven times more likely to grant cert, and the Federal Circuit eight times likely grant a petition for en banc rehearing, if urged to by an amicus. However, while certain briefs have been important, overall the balance of briefs on the merits have not had a measurable impact on the courts’ rulings. One exception has been the briefs of the US Government, which have been exceptionally prescient. Over the 20 years studied, every single amicus brief authored by the US Government in a Supreme Court patent case except one predicted the case outcome. That is to say, in almost all cases, the Court affirmed or rejected the lower court holding when the Government told it to, and in one case, dismissed cert as improvidently granted when the Government recommended doing so. In terms of who files briefs and their agenda, the results are somewhat surprising. Although debates about the patent system are usually cast as a fight between the pharmaceutical and hi-tech industries, patent lawyers comprise a powerful interest group, filing the most briefs of any single group. In addition, among companies, what seems largely to determine how they advocate is their business model – non-practicing entities, for example, nearly always weighed in for the patentee and public companies, often against the patentee. These and other results have implications for those seeking to understand the patent system and those seeking to influence it.

The Suicide Belt [Monsanto strikes again]

He is one of nearly 200,000 Indian farmers, many of them cotton growers, to commit suicide since 1997. In fact, suicide among farmers in India has become so prevalent that officials in New Delhi keep a tally. Hanging and consumption of poison are the common methods of death, and most farmer suicides have occurred in India’s cotton belt, which extends from Hyderabad north to Nagpur, at the geographical center of India, and east to the state of Gujarat.

[...]

Cotton seed has historically been among farmers’ lowest expenses. During the harvest, cotton growers would cultivate crop seeds and save them for the following season. As a general practice, they also would swap seeds with neighboring farmers, ensuring through natural selection that subsequent generations of cotton seed would be best suited for the region. Although local cotton did not provide the same potential yields as cotton seed from the Americas, it had adapted to India’s unique climate — an intense monsoon season followed by months of drought.

Monsanto helped to abolish this practice. At the turn of the century, the company introduced a genetically modified cotton plant that produces bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a commonly used pesticide against bollworm. When Bt cotton seed first came to market nationwide in 2002 under the trademark Bollgard, a box recommended for one acre of farmland was 1,400 rupees, about $35, a substantial amount for a farmer who in a good year will earn a few hundred dollars to support his family. Although government-regulated prices have been halved to 750 rupees per box — a predatory pricing lawsuit filed by the state of Andhra Pradesh forced Monsanto and the federal government to lower the prices — the input costs of Bt cotton are still more than the average farmer can afford to spend out of pocket.

Developing Countries Blast WHO Report On IP, Demand “Credible” Approach [intellectual monopolies always suppress the poor, by design]

A critical report on financing research and development of medicines for the world’s poorest was created without transparency, failed to live up to its mandate, and did not address the potential threat that intellectual property rights can pose to access to drugs, developing countries said today at the World Health Assembly. But a proposal by a group of Latin American countries for a new intergovernmental working group was not accepted by developed countries and others and quick informal consultations began to work out differences before the end of the assembly this week.

[...]

Even the United States – generally supportive of the group’s work – said it was “regrettable” that information on process and manner of work was not included in the report itself when published, and that member states did not hear about it until last week’s informal meeting (IPW, WHO, 14 May 2010).

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/2010/05/20/unjust-monopoly-news/

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 10/4/2021: Linux on M1, Wine 6.6, ClamAV 0.103.2

    Links for the day



  2. Lunduke: On Mob Justice in the Tech Industry

    A new video from the former Microsofter who fears the phenomenon that’s adopted by companies like IBM



  3. IRC Proceedings: Friday, April 09, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, April 09, 2021



  4. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Appendix (Benoît Battistelli's Vichy Syndrome): Georges Henri Léon Battistelli and Charles Robert Battistelli

    Local copies with evidence of or something concrete about Benoît Battistelli’s connection to unsavoury — and by today’s standards outright fascistic — politics



  5. IBM Doubles Down on Masters Being an Acceptable Word in the Context of Technology

    3 days after this post which disproves IBM's stance or shows its double standards it once again says “Masters” in its official blog (won’t that offend and alienate some people as they insist?)



  6. Hate Letter Against Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS) Backfired So Spectacularly That Signers Asked to Revoke Their Own Signatures and the List Was Then Frozen Permanently (Updated)

    "An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation" tops 6,100 signatures (graph generated just moments ago)



  7. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 11: The BMJV's Tweedledee: Dr Christoph Ernst

    The right-hand man of António Campinos plays a role similar to that of Herr Lutz before him



  8. Links 9/4/2021: Tanglet 1.6.0 and HPVM 1.0

    Links for the day



  9. The Libel Against Richard Stallman Did Not Age Well

    Almost 2 years down the line libel about the founder of the FSF remains online, uncorrected (in sites funded by Microsoft and IBM)



  10. The Letter in Support of the FSF and Richard Stallman is Backed by the International Community, Not American Monopolies and Nationalistic Elements

    Free software is for everybody to use, internationally, it is not the asset of a bunch of current and old monopolists (connected to the US military) that also control the media; the nature of the signatures says that out loud



  11. Gemini Over IPFS (Decentralised Web, Accessed Over Gemini Protocol)

    The Gemini protocol (gemini://) can already be used to fetch (at the back end) and present objects from a P2P-like network; we're currently exploring practical use cases and possibilities



  12. News Sites That Talk About Patents Have Become Shameless Self-Promotion 'Plugs' by Law Firms (and Sometimes Outright 'Spam' for Litigation)

    The sources of news about patent affairs have dried up; sites that actually used to investigate and report facts have since then shut down or defected to the Public Relations/marketing industry



  13. Links 9/4/2021: Kubernetes 1.21 and FFmpeg 4.4 Released

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 08, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, April 08, 2021



  15. [Meme] Self-styled Judges

    To suit a recurring theme at the EPO we hereby present Roland Lutz, a self-styled judge



  16. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 10: A Faithful Lapdog Despised and Reviled by EPO Staff

    "In any event, the "Nazi" jibes directed against Lutz seem to have triggered Battistelli who decided to take revenge on his perceived enemies inside the EPO by smearing them as “Nazis”."



  17. Links 8/4/2021: GnuPG 2.3.0, Xen 4.15, Xfdashboard 0.9.2

    Links for the day



  18. The Hate Letter Which Backfired

    The FSF is more closely aligned with its founder's vision, his antagonists have left or are leaving, and that old hate letter turned out to be a loud minority (made to appear louder by biased media) emboldened by a gish gallop of lies



  19. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, April 07, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, April 07, 2021



  20. IBM: We Can Say It... You Cannot

    Blog posts such as this new one help show the hypocrisy or the double standards of IBM, looking to control speech while attacking people's (software) freedom/civil liberties and profiting from atomic bombs



  21. The Collapse of Microsoft Windows

    Although the corporate media keeps insisting that Microsoft is doing well, government (or military) bailouts keep the company afloat while its desperate attempts to remain relevant (as the common carrier languishes) merit a debate



  22. Links 8/4/2021: Mesa 21.0.2, GNU Releases, and Stable Kernels

    Links for the day



  23. Petition in Support of FSF's Decision to Put Its Founder in the Board Doubles Size of Hate Letter Propped Up by Corporate Media (Partly Funded by Monopolies)

    You cannot fool the population for eternity and there's a reflexive response to a campaign of misinformation, as the graph above shows; notice it keeps growing and growing, albeit not the defamatory one from the (Google-funded) Mozilla- and Red Hat-connected Luis Villa, who put in the GNONE Foundation Microsoft people



  24. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 9: A Veritable Virtuoso of Legal Sophistry

    "Lutz is also reputed to be closely linked to the German branch of the influential UPC lobby group centred around Prof. Winfried Tilmann."



  25. He Said, Xi Said: Hard to Censor Techrights and It's More Than a Web Site

    An explanation of some of the latest Techrights changes (mostly work on IPFS and Gemini this week, as they complement the Web site)



  26. A Patent System for Giant Corporations Like Boeing and Airbus, Not for Ordinary European Citizens

    There's hardly any illusion left that the patent system in Europe is supposed to serve the public; instead what we're seeing is an office that lost sight of its purpose and is instead trying to make law firms and their largest clients richer



  27. Links 7/4/2021: Godot 3.3 RC 8, Canonical Targets Robotics

    Links for the day



  28. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, April 06, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, April 06, 2021



  29. Pro-Free Software Foundation Petition Soon Reaching 6,000 Signatures (and Still Rising Steadily)

    It seems rather apparent that not many people have been conned by the hateful corporations, their corporate media, and corporate-led (or funded) NGOs that insisted FSF should reject its very own founder



  30. Links 7/4/2021: “Getting Things GNOME” Reaches 0.5, IBM Boasts Its Role in Masters

    Links for the day


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