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06.15.10

Patents Roundup: No Bilski Yet, Gene Patents Revisited, Microsoft Partners With Patent Aggressor (Against Free Software) NetApp, Microsoft at LinuxTag 2010

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Standard, SUN at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest against EPO

Summary: The big decision that may impact software patents is imminent but not there yet; the ugly business of gene patenting is revealed; Microsoft becomes partner of a company that sued Free software; Microsoft’s booth is shown in a Linux conference in Europe, where Microsoft lobbied Neelie Kroes into accepting software patents inside standards

ANOTHER Monday comes to an end and still no decision regarding the Bilski case (for reasons we explained recently [1, 2, 3]). Red Hat’s Richard Fontana writes: “SCOTUS issues opinions in 4 argued cases but no Bilski!”

He also writes: “SCOTUS announces that they will issue more opinions on Thursday – next possibility for Bilski”

In Re Bilski is about business method patents, but there are other types of patents that ought to be excluded already, notably software patents and patents on genes. The latter are a subject that we write a lot about; it’s where patents harm life and delegitimise the patent system as a whole. The now-infamous cancer gene monopoly receives hard treatment but the problem is broader than that:

United States: Ground-breaking Federal District Court Ruling on Gene Patents

[...]

Editor: Do you see any of your larger clients selling off some of their patent portfolios?

Camacho: I see very few of my clients selling off patent assets except in connection with the sale of a portion of the business, which will typically include the portion of the patent portfolio to which it pertained. More often, my clients are finding strategic partnerships in which they can monetize their patent portfolio by licensing the technology in markets that are ancillary or orthogonal to the client’s primary market – i.e., they don’t want to license the technology to a competitor. However, when a client has a large number of overlapping patents on a particular product and the value of pushing through incremental advances on that particular product is marginal at best, I do see clients choosing to spend less of their IP budget on getting additional patent coverage.

Here is an update on the Rambus case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Rambus trapped its competitors using patents inside industry standards. It’s a lesson for GNU/Linux users to learn because Microsoft’s strategy is like Rambus’ in some ways.

Court Reschedules Rambus Patent Hearing

Rambus on Wednesday said that a U.S. federal appeals court has rescheduled a hearing in the company’s patent infringement cases with rivals Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology.

One interesting item of news that we found is about NetApp partnering with Microsoft a few years after their lawsuit against Free/open source software from Sun (not to suggest a direct causal relationship/correlation). Here are some articles about those two love birds:

Here is the press release. NetApp is somewhat of a patent parasite and according to another new press release, it’s not the only storage-oriented company to sign up with Microsoft this month.

Here is FFII taking a photograph at Microsoft´s LinuxTag booth. Microsoft attended the event for malicious reasons [1, 2]. Here is the FFII’s new page about its LinuxTag 2010 workshop:

We did an informal workshop, where interested people discussed current matters on software patents, open standards and other FFII topics.

The president of the FFII links to this new statement from Neelie Kroes, who he claims to be “not against software patents in standards” (based on her speech).

“[T]his means she’s [Kroes] in favour of software patents”
      –Rui Seabra
Microsoft was lobbying to change her views [1, 2, 3] and Rui Seabra responds to the above by saying that “this means she’s in favour of software patents” (this is not news to us).

As BoingBoing reminds us, prior art is everywhere (sometimes not implemented in software form), so this whole idea of owning abstract ideas ought to be suppressed.

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2 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Kroes new statement does come across very much as backpedalling on her earlier statements. The reference to “some observers” clearly refers to M$, but rather than dismissing them she shifts the whole playing field to accommodate their extreme position.

    The real backpedalling occurs in her second point and does seem to pave the way for software patents. She is probably under a lot of pressure and it would not be surprising if Microsoft activists also had threatened her directly or indirectly with retribution should she not toe the line.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    She is probably under a lot of pressure and it would not be surprising if Microsoft activists also had threatened her directly or indirectly with retribution should she not toe the line.

    Don’t forget SAP with about 50,000 employees.

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