Summary: Latest signs that the patent system in China — not just in the United States — is sliding off the rails
CSIRO’S aggression with patents [1, 2, 3, 4] is a misrepresentation of CSIRO’s funding source, namely the Australian public. Here is yet another criticism of what CSIRO is doing with its patents (mentioned before but republished elsewhere):
Wi-Fi patent has driven CSIRO money mad
When that grand old hoarder of intellectual property, IBM, promised in 2005 that it would make 500 patents in its 40,000-strong database freely available to anyone working on open source projects, it was applauded.
“This is exciting,” said famed Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, who is known for his strong opinions on the need to reduce copyright and intellectual property restrictions. “It is IBM making good on its commitment to encourage a different kind of software development and recognizing the burden that patents can impose.”
We should be applying the same standards to the CSIRO when it comes to patents as we did back in 2005 to IBM. To do any less will demean us and sully us in the eyes of our descendants.
To illustrate my point I encourage you to read an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday which details the CSIRO’s actions in attempting to enforce what it claims is its patent on the Wi-Fi technology which is used everywhere in modern society – from laptops to mobile phones to the Nintendo Wii.
IBM’s so-called ‘promise’ is not without its flaws, either. Sure, it’s a lot better than what Microsoft is doing, but it’s still no way to get rid of software patents, which are the root of this problem. A patent lawyer, Bastian Best, seems to have taken the Twitter account “swpats” (software patents), which was mostly used as a tag to protest against them. Bastian Best is now promoting these patents using the very same word that typically represented opposition to them. Is this opposition-jacking (or hijacking)? Either way, today he is promotingMicrosoft's FAT case in Germany. It’s the latest among Microsoft’s many endeavours to legalise software patents in Europe and then sue or extort GNU/Linux vendors which are based in Europe (Canonical is based in the UK, for example).
The first report appears to have come from the Wall Street Journal:
Dish Network Corp. (DISH) and Echostar Corp. (SATS) scored a legal victory after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that TiVo Inc.’s (TIVO) patent claims over its “time-warp” digital video recorder technology were invalid.
The rest of the news is not about software, but hopefully that illustrates just how ill the patent systems have become. For years we’ve been reading about the brewing patent litigation mess in China and here is the type of maze exported to China by WIPO:
June 3 marked the 30th anniversary of China’s membership in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
By the end of 2009, 7.22 million trademark applications had been filed, with 4.27 million registered, as trademark applications soared to 830,000. All three figures rank first in the world.
What a waste of productivity. When it’s all over there is just a big pile of paper (or terabytes of data) containing different people’s monopolies, which largely intersect one another and disregard prior art. What’s the point of this cumbersome bureaucracy?
The “videographs” are intended to provide irrefutable evidence for anyone hoping to patent a new style of yoga that the Indians got there first. A previous effort to define yoga, based simply on translations of ancient texts circulated to the relevant authorities, had mixed results, so now they are trying again.
The campaign to safeguard India’s rich heritage of medicinal art, craft and practice has already scored major victories, forcing European companies to reverse patents on the use of extract of melon, ginger, cumin, turmeric and onions for a range of health products. In each case Indian government officials were able to comb the new digital library to submit carefully translated excerpts from texts ranging from 19th century medical text books to 5th century manuals of traditional ayurvedic medicine to support their claims.
The campaign to preserve yoga as Indian has its roots in a bid several years ago by Bikram Choudhury, the self-proclaimed Hollywood “yoga teacher to the stars”, to get his Bikram yoga style patented in the US.
Are dance moves patented yet? How about eating and breathing techniques? Is sleep also a patent? Is that an infringement yet? With genetic patents abound, just being born or even conceived is a potential patent violation. But hey, more patents mean more innovation, right? It’s common sense, assuming you’re a lawyer. █
“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”
Summary: Mark Shuttleworth turned down Microsoft’s offer that “you can’t refuse” (racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7])
Chris Smart has just published an article that contains some rather new information:
When it comes to patents, it’s not just about proving someone wrong. A company like Microsoft needs only put in an application to the court to have all possibly offending products stopped from shipping (remember when Microsoft had to stop selling Office over those XML issues?). The big problem is not whether one is right or wrong about patent infringement, that takes a long time to come out in court. What hurts are injunctions put on the products a company sells. Take Tom Tom for example. They had to settle because if they didn’t, Microsoft could have shut down their business by stopping the sale of their products until the court case was settled, but then dragging the court case out for years and years. Few companies could afford to fight that.
Red Hat on the other hand, has a massive port folio themselves and agreements with other corporations to share pool patents. If Microsoft sued Red Hat, it would be on for young and old. This is why it’s an arms race. If Microsoft sued Canonical, could it withstand the pressure? I highly doubt it. Not unless it has the backing of other big guns. Insurance won’t cut it long term, especially after the first few cases and premiums go through the roof. Of course, this does leave one other option on the table for Canonical. Settle and pay for patent protection. Indeed, this is written into their assurance (emphasis mine):
“Canonical will replace or modify the infringing portion of the software so that it becomes non-infringing, or obtain the rights for you to continue using the software.”
Microsoft has already approached Canonical pressuring them to sign up to a patent deal, but they turned it down. Does this mean they might have to re-consider their position? Certainly Ubuntu ships with VFAT support.
Canonical did surrender to MPEG-LA in a sense [1, 2]. MPEG-LA is strongly supported by Apple.
Don’t believe for a second that Apple and Microsoft can simply be ignored. Just listen to Mark Shuttleworth (when he doesn’t play the PR game for the cameras). █
“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”
Key distribution , patent No. 7,734,051, invented by Stephen R. Carter of Spanish Fork and Carolyn B. McClain of Springville, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.
Secure tunnel domain name management, patent No. 7,734,792, invented by Chendil Kumar and Vishnu Govind Attur of Bangalore, India, and Allu Babula of Ganjam, India, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.
Client-server model for synchronization of files , patent No. 7,734,826, invented by David K. Brown of Carmel Valley, Calif., Thomas A. Rolander of Pacific Grove, Calif., Robert D. Silberstein of Monterey, Calif., and Josef Wein of Yokohama, Japan, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.
Secure problem resolution techniques for complex data response networks , patent No. 7,734,962, invented by Jason Allen Sabin of Pleasant Grove, Vernon Roger Holm of Sandy and Carolyn B. McClain of Springville, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.
Credential mapping, patent No. 7,735,122, invented by David Nephi Johnson of Provo, Dustin Lance Nielson of Salt Lake City, Jerry E. Griffis Jr. and Paul Erik Sherman of Lehi, David Kent Beus of Highland, Nathan Blaine Jensen and Stephen R. Carter of Spanish Fork, William Street and Michael William Cook of Orem, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.
As we have shown earlier this year, Novell does a fair deal of Vista 7 promotion, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. The latest example — like many prior ones — comes from Grant Ho. The headline is: “Seven ways application virtualization can simplify any Windows7 migration” (the promotion of Vista 7 is never very direct).
Novell (NASDAQGS: NOVL) announced recently it will release SUSE® MeeGo as a fully supported operating system for netbooks. Novell expects SUSE MeeGo to be pre-installed on a variety of devices from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the next twelve months.
Novell is developing an OpenSuse version of MeeGo that should be available on netbooks within the next year.
At least there will be a non-SUSE version of MeeGo (if all goes according to plan). There is a bit of a problem when OEMs preload SUSE, which is taxed by Microsoft for some unknown reasons only Novell can ever explain. From the news:
Engadget’s Joanna Stern spotted an HP Classmate PC netbook running SUSE Linux 11 at Novell’s Computex booth this week.
We are extremely happy to announce Mono Tools for Visual Studio 2.0 Beta 1! (MonoTools)
Mono Tools for Visual Studio is a commercial add-in for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 that enables developers to build, debug, and deploy .NET applications targeting Mono without leaving Visual Studio.
Vienna’s migration to GNU/Linux is said to have been ruined by inability to run programs/Web sites that require Internet Explorer (non-standard parts of it, which could be run under Wine and the likes of it anyway). Now we learn that this Internet Explorer problem is made even worsewith the government’s endorsement. What are they thinking? [via Glyn Moody]
Microsoft and the Government of Austria collaborated on the Project “Digital Austria Explorer.” Microsoft developed a menu bar for the iExplorer (see below for an example).
Is it a problem that this service is only available via an exclusive platform? The Government of Austria argues: “We have no problems when somebody approaches us with a good idea. Next time we will work together with someone else. If other browsers also want to offer this service, we would not say no.” Without any doubt, this is a good service and a great example of what Nick Vitalari talks about when he discusses the role of public-private ecosystems. However I believe that, in general, the goal of the government should be to use open platforms, even if it means investing taxpayer’s money.
The Government believe that departmental websites should be hubs for debate as well as information-where people come together to discuss issues and address challenges-and that this should be achieved efficiently and, whenever possible using open source software.
But this idea of sharing, which is so critical to the advancement of science, is almost anathema to nationalistic aims that fuels so much government nanotech funding. So all of these huge government investments that are supposed to put one country or region ahead of all the others is almost diametrically opposed to the sharing of these facilities. The rub will be that the nanotechnology advancements that these various governments are seeking will not come about through this race to put your region ahead of all the others but sharing your facilities with all the others.
At the beginning of this year we announced a revised approach to our education plans, focusing our activities to support of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. In order to do so we have worked hard to increase the amount of information available on our own site – in addition to a new Education landing page and our OER portal explaining Creative Commons’ role as legal and technical infrastructure supporting OER, we have been conducting a series of interviews to help clarify some of the challenges and opportunities of OER in today’s education landscape.
Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to engage in big issues – environmental crises, oppression, injustice. Too easy: all it takes is a click and that email is winging its way to who knows where, or that tasteful twibbon has been added to your avatar. If you still think this helps much, try reading Evgeny Morozov’s blog Net Effect, and you will soon be disabused (actually, read it anyway – it’s very well written).
In answer to that last question, no and yes: I don’t think we should regard this as old-style rental over the Internet, but a new kind of sharing where people spread the cost of rivalrous goods. However you look at it, though, it is going to be big.
Yesterday the UK parliament heard that studies at the University of Texas have shown that homeopathic remedies kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells intact.
The revelation came from David Tredinnick, who continues to use his position as a public representative to argue for more NHS spending on complementary and alternative medicines.
To my mind, the fact that this study was mentioned in parliament, and the statement that homeopathy can kill cancer cells is now a matter of public record, is a spectacular failure. But it is not a failure of politics or politicians: it is a failure of science.
People who find out they have high genetic risk for cardiovascular disease are more likely to change their diet and exercise patterns than are those who learn they have a high risk from family history, according to preliminary research. The findings, from a personalized medicine study at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit research institute based in Camden, NJ, suggest both a potential benefit of genetic testing–inspiring patients to get healthy–and a misunderstanding of the power of genetics.
Last year colleagues and I wrote Database State, a report for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which studied 46 systems that keep information on all of us, or at least a significant minority of us. We concluded that eleven of them were almost certainly illegal under human-rights law, and most of the rest had problems. Our report was well received by both Conservatives and Lib Dems; many of its recommendations were adopted as policy.
It may not surprise you that a company with a tree as its logo spends a lot of time in the forest. But it may surprise you just how involved it is and the level of commitment it has made.
In a partnership with GreenNet, a Japan-based nongovernmental organization, Timberland plans to restore the desert’s grasslands by developing irrigation and planting new shrubs and trees while educating the local population on more sustainable farming practices.
On Tuesday, “oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster hit Mississippi shores for the first time,” covering about two miles of Petit Bois Island’s beach. And that meant more tone-deaf greenwashing from dirty energy lobbyist-turned-Governor Haley Barbour, as reported in this Think Progress repost.
As ThinkProgress noted, the appearance of oil onshore led Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to shift his upbeat rhetoric about the approaching oil, acknowledging that “this could turn out to be something catastrophic and terrible.” But after Barbour visited Petit Bois Island yesterday and saw that the oil that came ashore had “been washed away by storms,” he returned to the positive spin, saying, “I don’t think the island was hurt one iota.” Barbour even downplayed concerns about animals being suffocated by the oil in the ocean, comparing it to humans being covered in toothpaste
I have obtained a copy of the almost-600-page BP Regional Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico as of June, 2009, thanks to an insider. Some material has been redacted, but these are the three main takeaways from an initial read. The name of the well has been redacted, but if it’s not Deepwater Horizon, then there’s another rig still out there pumping oil and aimed at Plaquemines Parish.
In 2008, the Supreme Court gave Exxon Mobil a $2 billion gift by reducing the punitive damage award from $2.5 billion to $507.5 million for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Roberts Court’s willingness to invent a rule capping punitive damages against Exxon does not bode well for those hoping to hold BP accountable for this most recent disaster.
Fortunately, human beings are not money-making robots. The truth of the matter is that human beings are actually multi-dimensional beings: All beings have a selfish side. Their happiness comes from many directions, not just from making money.
Wages are rising and the supply of surplus labor in China is vanishing. On these points, just about everyone agrees — although the lightning speed at which it is happening is a source of surprise. But why it is happening is a topic for great debate. In the case of Foxconn, China’s largest employer, a cluster of suicides sparked a media frenzy and international embarrassment. In the case of Honda, good old-fashioned labor organization — strikes! — resulted in a wage increase.
Please see the attached document regarding a possible boycott of Nature Publishing Group journals by UC faculty. We urge you to read this important update, which has been jointly prepared by the University Libraries and the University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication. Please contact me directly with your comments and concerns.
Mikel Maron reports on an interesting development in the OpenStreetMap community of volunteer mappers — the Russian OSM community is debating whether Russian military installations should be removed from the OSM dataset, on security grounds.
Perhaps it is because the Chinese authorities see things the same way that they have blocked Twitter through much of the past year. Through the past 48 hours, of course, they have blocked Foursquare, apparently to avoid the possibility of even a virtual “demonstration” in Tiananmen Square on the 21st anniversary of the crackdown there. (My Beijing friend Kaiser Kuo archly noted via Twitter: “Finally, the freakin’ GFW does something good and blocks Foursquare. No more ‘mayor of blah blah’ messages in my Twitter stream!”) How this part of the dissent/control balance will swing in the long run is impossible to say. It’s all reminder number five million that today’s Chinese system has big, big strengths and big, largely self-imposed limitations.
The UK Government has discovered that BitTorrent is the cheapest and most effective method of sharing large files with the public. As part of the UK Prime Minister’s transparency initiative, the Treasury has today released several torrents with details on how the Government spends the public’s money.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may hamper the fight against climate change by inhibiting the diffusion of green technology, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).
Behind closed doors, the European Union, United States, Japan and other trade partners are negotiating an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA will contain new international norms for the enforcement of copyrights, trade mark rights, patents and other exclusive rights.
Summary: A reminder of the Abramoff-Gates affairs and the corporate loopholes they created
THE following video we’ve just found is blaming Bill Gates without quite naming his very unique role in the scandals around visas, possibly best known for participation from a convicted criminal Jack Abramoff and from Gates (Abramoff even worked for Preston Gates & Ellis). They stabbed the public in the back in order to enrich themselves (with investments in BP and other such ‘good’ causes), all while pretending that “Americans” (US citizens) lack the necessary skills, essentially insulting their countrymen’s intelligence with self-serving lies.
Summary: A famous victim of Microsoft’s abusive behaviour explains why Microsoft is in a bad position
IT HAS been a while since we last mentioned BeOS, whose main man had come from Apple. He seems to have a blog in some new company and he is criminally under-subscribed because he’s quite a superstar in the computing world. In some of his recent posts he explains how the server side puts Microsoft’s entire business model in jeopardy.
Last July, I wrote about Google’s goal: Sink Microsoft by deploying Cloud-based Google Apps and, as a result, destroy the Microsoft Office money machine. Today, we’ll take another look at Google’s strategy and at Microsoft’s response with its just released Office 2010 which combines desktop and on-line apps.
You know the business lore joke. The departing CEO meets his successor and hands him three envelopes to be opened in the prescribed order when trouble strikes. First crisis, the message in envelope #1 says: Blame your predecessor. Easy enough. Another storm, the the CEO opens the second envelope: Reorganize. Good idea. And when calamity strikes yet again, he reaches for the third: Get three envelope
Reorganising the whole mobile/devices area won’t save Microsoft. It’ll only complicate an already-complicated division without leadership [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft recognises that the future lies in this area and it admits to have fallen way behind. The impact on Microsoft’s stock is telling. It fell almost 20% since the last financial report (falling behind Apple in terms of value).
There is something else to be said about Windows Mobile. Microsoft helps shatter the myth that having a low market share makes one more secure. As evidence we have Microsoft’s Windows Mobile malware which we wrote about the other day. Microsoft has well under 10% market share, yet its operating system which is Windows-derived is still a malware magnet. In the words of Brian Prince:
Malware Hidden in Windows Mobile Applications
Attackers are targeting devices running Windows Mobile with malware hidden inside mobile apps. Users with infected phones could end up with hundreds of dollars’ worth of unauthorized charges to overseas numbers, warns security company Lookout.
When Microsoft has around 90% market share, it blames “market share” for its security problems. What will it say when security problems hit its platform which has less than 10% market share? Let’s face it, Windows is a bad platform which was made ubiquitous because Microsoft broke laws. Windows remained inferior over the years (no incentive to improve when there is monopoly) and this inferiority takes its toll now. It’s something for Jean-Louis Gassée to enjoy witnessing, having suffered from Microsoft illegal tactics just over a decade ago. █
“When I want to do something mindless to relax, I install windows 95.”