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

06.19.10

Microsoft’s Attack on Software Freedom With Software Patents (and the Significance of the Bilski Case)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pieter Hintjens

Summary: New analysis of patents relating to software, assorted items from the news, and interpretation of those items

A new volume of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review has just been released [PDF]. Towards the end, this latest issue contains an article from Pieter Hintjens, who speaks about Microsoft’s OOXML corruption and “For monopolists like Microsoft,” quotes the president of the FFII, “the answer is to prevent the software from being free, this requires software patents.”

Companies like Tuxera help Microsoft achieve this goal even in Europe (Tuxera is based on Finland) and the 451 Group mentioned this company a few days ago:

While it has drawn some controversy for its IP deal with Microsoft, Tuxera says this allows it to benefit from the ability to offer support, integration and licensing for both NTFS and exFAT filesystems.

Tuxera receives money as long as it also allows Microsoft to make money from Android and from Linux. What’s not to like? Both Tuxera and Microsoft enjoy this, at the expense of software freedom. Microsoft uses Tuxera as a bridge with which to impose software patents on Linux (including branches/derivatives).

Here is a new press release which remarks on the difficulty of obtaining “business method software patents” (they are lumped together as though they are one).

The fundamental business methods and processes unique to N-Play(R) led the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to recently issue U.S. Patent #7,664,682. Business method software patents are considered a rarity and are the most difficult patents to obtain through the USPTO with less than 17% being approved.

Well, it’s obviously not hard enough because none at all should be accepted, especially after the Bilski case (assuming the decision stands when it’s released [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). If business method patents and software patents are seen as equatable, then both can probably be abolished post-Bilski. Neither refers to an actual product which is physical. Besides, as this new article puts it:

The US Patent Office has been flooded with software patents ever since.

85% of Microsoft’s patent filings are said to be for software patents (monopolies on algorithms).

It has become utterly trivial to patent just about anything and one person has just put it like this:

Since anything (however stupid it might be) can be patented, I am gonna patent the following:

Title: SYSTEM and METHOD for TROLL CONTROL in open-source projects mailing lists, via Contribution-Points based eMail Limits

Speaking of trolls, Thomas Edison has some voice recordings of his salvaged. It’s more of an historical thing, not much of professional value. Edison was part of the problem we now know as the USPTO; his characterisation as an inventor is often challenged as it neglects to mention how he took people’s existing ideas, modified these mildly and then claimed/earned a monopoly on them. Edison is said to have been a businessman and a patent (monopoly) opportunist, just like Bill Gates in a sense.

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

5 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    June 19, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Gravatar

    We should never confuse Edison’s patents with software patents which monopolize general concepts. Edison’s patents document specific, useful inventions which are the results of endless careful experiments with physical objects. Software patents attempt to “own an idea” such as a method of organizing files by alphabetical order. Software patents are always methods or math, which are a part of nature that can be discovered but are never an invention which is the combination of specific natural phenomena to produce something useful.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The question is, was he a documentor?

    Jose_X Reply:

    Though I am much in favor of significant patent reform across the board (eg, towards shorter durations, enforcement in limited sized regions, and against only significantly larger competitors), allow me to help give an example of how software patents make so little sense period.

    I can simply turn on some inspirational music, hum to myself, and then write an idea about a great software feature or application.

    That was the easy part, much like coming up with the ideas for a novel. Today, this is patentable (in the case of software, but not yet for fiction despite a push in that direction by monopoly lovers).

    The significantly harder (in most cases) and much less fun part is in writing up that great novel or application that audiences will really like and find useful.

    Further, I can think of almost any feature, and eventually it can get implemented, if crudely (as might be the case if I had been given a monopoly lock on the feature). Same applies to a novel. I can think of almost any storyline, and it can get written (eg, poorly, if *I* were the one to get the monopoly).

    In contrast, I can’t come up with just any idea and have it become a workable physical solution because, unlike when we create virtual realities with software or with novels, physical products require adherence to many physical restraints. You can’t will your imagination into reality as you can with software and with fiction.

    All software, like math and fiction, is a creation of idealized rules in the mind. In each of these three cases, there is skill and art involved and rules of logic that must be met, but the hurdles of the physical world do not come into play except tangentially.

    Patents on the broad ideas (not impacted by costly physical experimentation, manufacture, distribution, etc) is not just a little stifling, but potentially very very stifling.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Allegories and novels are an interesting example because there too some people want patents. Can you imagine how a prior art search would work and what it would do to the process of writing?

  2. Jose_X said,

    June 20, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Gravatar

    A reference link: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071227/010830.shtml “Once Again: The Great Inventors Often Were Neither Great, Nor Inventors”

What Else is New


  1. Patent Dangers to Linux and Android: Qualcomm, Apple, and Nokia

    The prevailing problem which is companies with mountains of patents going after OEMs, using a bulk of infringement accusations, and demanding 'protection' money



  2. Colossal Institutional Failure Surrounding the European Patent Office (EPO) and EPO Chickens Out of Debate About It

    Shielded by a network of institutions, governments, and departments that facilitate the EPO's abuses by inexcusable inaction, Team Battistelli continues to hoard more money and power



  3. The United States Has Already Tackled Both Software Patents and Patent Trolls

    An outline of some notable responses to TC Heartland and where we go from here



  4. Cloudflare Wants to Completely Squash the Patent Troll Blackbird Technologies by Squashing the Only Thing It Has

    Putting more of its money to good use, for a change, Cloudflare goes for the kill against Blackbird Technologies, which has no technologies, just patents and lawsuits



  5. Links 25/5/2017: Mesa 17.1.1, Qt 5.9.0 RC, and Much More

    Links for the day



  6. Links 24/5/2017: New RHEL Beta, SteamOS Updated

    Links for the day



  7. Great News: While IBM et al Try to Undermine Patent Reform the Supreme Court Deepens the Reform in TC Heartland Case

    In a unanimous decision, with the court ruling 8-0 against TC Heartland, the monkey business in East Texas (beneficial to patent trolls and large businesses that leverage software patents) may have just come to an end



  8. Speculations About Battistelli's End of Term, Campinos at EUIPO, and Failed UPC Ambitions

    Rumours and speculations surrounding the fate of the EPO's leadership now that the UPC gravy train is stuck again and Battistelli's protector, Jesper Kongstad, is about to leave



  9. Martijn van Dam is Wrong to Believe That Battistelli's Abuses Are Somehow Acceptable or Tolerable Because His Term is Possibly Ending

    Coverage of Martijn van Dam’s stance (he is the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs) reveals that economic gain trumps ethics and justice, irrespective of what the law says



  10. Media and Staff Association Elections at EPO and WIPO Are Compromised

    A campaign of abuse (legal bullying) and gifting to the media, combined with a wide-ranging assault on critics who represent the interests of staff, have led WIPO and EPO down the route to totality



  11. New Documents Help Demonstrate That ILO Delivers Institutional Injustice to EPO Employees and Cushions Team Battistelli

    The International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) delivers not justice but merely the illusion of justice, probably in defiance of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)



  12. Leaked: 2017 European Inventor Award Finalists, or Stooges Whom the Tyrant Battistelli Exploits for PR Purposes and Media Manipulation

    The stupidest ceremony in Europe (turning serious science into something sketchy such as Eurovision) is disliked among EPO staff and is exploited by the person who destroys the EPO (Benoît Battistelli) to pretend all is fine and dandy, at huge expense to the Office (as extraordinary as about 5 million Euros for a ~2-hour show)



  13. EPO: Can the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Still Save It?

    Genuine concerns about the slow process at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lack of progress at ILO, which coincide with weakening of the unions and threat to jobs of patent examiners (leaving ordinary Europeans more vulnerable to meritless patent lawsuits)



  14. Links 21/5/2017: Linux 3.18.53, Tizen 4.0

    Links for the day



  15. Cloudflare's Enemy is Software Patents, Not Just One Software Patent or One Patent Troll

    With a bounty of $50,000, which is likely less than the cost of legal defense, Cloudflare looks for help with its own case rather than the underlying issues that need tackling worldwide



  16. Patent Laws -- and Especially Eligibility of Software Patents -- Are Being Hijacked by Large Corporations and Their Front Groups

    Intervention by large multinational corporations and their lawyers, front groups, etc. (like the classic lobbying model) gives room for concern in multiple continents where most software development is done



  17. Links 18/5/2017: Catching Up With the Past Three Days

    Links for the day



  18. The US Supreme Court Consults USPTO Director Michelle Lee Regarding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Which is Invalidating Software Patents With CAFC's Approval

    Software patents continue to get knocked out by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) whose introduction of PTAB gave a helping hand to companies that are susceptible to abusive litigation (with bogus patents)



  19. IBM and Its Revolving Doors Lobby Are Plotting to Undermine Supreme Court Rulings to Restore Patentability of Software

    IBM has become so evil that it is now trying to steal democracy, label programmers "thieves", and basically attack the rule of law by extra-judicially overturning a Supreme Court decision



  20. 3 Years After the Alice Case at the Supreme Court the Plague of Software Patents is Easier to Cope With

    Litigation figures are down, rejection rates of software patents remain high, and only spin (e.g. cherry-picking) or constant lobbying can save those who used to profit from software patents



  21. The Attacks of Patent Trolls as Outlined in the Media This Past Week

    An outline of some of the latest troll cases to be aware of and their consequences too (e.g. software patents being used to literally shut down entire programs)



  22. Links 14/5/2017: Linux 4.12 RC1 and KDE Frameworks 5.34.0

    Links for the day



  23. Industry Giants Challenge Qualcomm's Patent Practices While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Closely Examines Such Behavior

    Scrutiny of Qualcomm's patent aggression and coercion -- scrutiny that can profoundly change the way software patents, SEPs and FRAND are viewed -- as seen in various amicus briefs (amici) from industry giants that are affected



  24. Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette Questions Whether Patents Work When Patent Scope is Too Broad

    Citing MIT economist (and MacArthur “genius”) Heidi Williams, Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette from Stanford challenges old myths and quotes: “we still have essentially no credible empirical evidence on the seemingly simple question of whether stronger patent rights—either longer patent terms or broader patent rights—encourage research investments.”



  25. OIN is Still a Distraction Unless We Want GNU/Linux to Coexist With Software Patents (Rather Than Eliminate Those)

    Another wave of media coverage by/for the Open Invention Network (OIN) necessitates a reminder of what OIN stands for and why it is not tackling the biggest problems which Free/Open Source software (FOSS) faces



  26. Links 13/5/2017: Neptune Plasma 5 ISO, a Shift to Free (FOSS) Databases

    Links for the day



  27. Countries With a Dozen European Patents Are an Easy Photo-Op 'Sell' for Battistelli While the EPO's Demise is Largely Ignored by the Patent Microcosm

    Behind the façade of legitimacy, the EPO suffers from an incompetent, insecure and delusional boss, whose actions will almost certainly lead to the collapse of both the Office and the entire Organisation (whose founding document he routinely shreds to pieces)



  28. Our Assessment: Unitary Patent (UPC) Will Crumble Along With Battistelli's Regime at the EPO

    A reflection and an opinion on where the EPO stands and what it means for the UPC, which doesn't seem to be going anywhere (it's all talk and lobbying)



  29. The European Patent Office Has a Long History/Track Record of 'Screwing' Contractors

    The European Patent Office (EPO) appears to have quite an extensive track record/reputation for ‘screwing’ contractors and then misusing immunity to get away with it



  30. Links 12/5/2017: Wine 2.8, Kdenlive 17.04.1, NHS Windows Syndrome

    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