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 in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

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. Links 19/1/2021: Krita 4.4.2 Released and JingOS Hype

    Links for the day



  2. Team UPC Keeps Pretending That UPCA Can Still be Resurrected (Even Without the UK, Which is Strictly a Requirement)

    The latest distortion of facts regarding the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement (UPCA) as seen from the lens of people who seek to profit from such distortion



  3. 'Ethical Source' is Not Ethical and Not a Movement But a Misguided Self-Serving PR Stunt

    Something which is neither enforceable nor ethical is being promoted by profoundly unethical media in the pockets of large corporations



  4. InteLeaks – Part XXI: Intel Seeking Advice From a Bunch of Clowns (Harbor 'Research')

    A firm called Harbor 'Research' is making dubious recommendations to Intel; as shown in the above video, there's also an obsession with buzzwords (typically suggestive of a lack of technical grasp/understanding)



  5. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, January 18, 2021



  6. The US Election Was Not Rigged, But the Nomination Process Was (Undermined to Maintain Control by Oligarchy)

    Cheating/driving the left out of the Democratic Party seems like a longstanding tradition and we know who stands to gain from it; moreover, problems remain in the voting process because it's controlled by secret code of companies like Microsoft (in spite of the openwashing)



  7. InteLeaks – Part XX: Redacted (for Names Only) Release of Intel File About Developer eXperience (DX) Meddling in GNU/Linux

    Today (or tonight) we release the first 'phase' of InteLeaks in a sensibly redacted form; coming up next is a surprise from Team Microsoft



  8. Sites in Bed With the EPO and UPC 'Covering' the 'News' Without Mentioning Any of the Overt Abuses

    It is rather sad that blogs like IP Kat have turned into proponents of abusive EPO management and Team UPC increasingly resorts to lying using pseudonyms (to avert criticism and accountability); much of the rebuttal or response that’s hinged on reality/facts can only be found in comments, which are still subjected to a face-saving moderation process (conducted by Team UPC)



  9. Suppressed Facts of the Free Software Movement and Its Community of Volunteers – Part IV: Stories From the Depths of the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

    To reduce or alleviate suspicions and a potential of mistrust the FSF needs to become more transparent and liberate information (such as the real reason Bradley Kuhn left, as noted in the previous part)



  10. Links 18/1/2021: GNU Radio 3.9, Wikipedia at 20

    Links for the day



  11. InteLeaks – Part XIX: Intel's Web 'Experts' Seen as Microsoft Champions Dealing With the Platform Microsoft is Looking to Destroy

    Things aren't rosy at Intel because the hires aren't suitable for the job of documenting and/or presenting GNU/Linux-centric products (whose target audience is Free software developers)



  12. Adding Images as Characters to the Daily Bulletins of Techrights

    Our daily bulletins now have inside them coarse graphics, depicted using characters alone, and the tool used to generate them announced a new release earlier today; we showcase some of its features (in a new video)



  13. Links 18/1/2021: Weekly Summaries and Linux 5.11 RC4

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 17, 2021



  15. The Oligarchs' Parties Will Never Choose the Side of Software Freedom Because Free Software Cannot Bribe Officials

    The tough reality is that next week's (or this coming week's, depending on what Sunday counts as) inauguration ceremony is partly symbolic as all the same and important issues remain largely untouched, for corporations control almost everything of significance



  16. COVID-19 Has Actually Helped Software Freedom Due to Financial and 'Spare Time' Factors

    Developers and users are increasingly exploring what the Free software world has to offer; this is actually measurable and it contradicts claims to the contrary



  17. Future Plans and Using Videos to Complement Text

    Remarks on recent and impending site changes; We are not replacing text with video, we're just trying to enhance the presentation a bit, especially where visuals help make a point or where browsing through Web sites (or leaks) is more suitable than static, linear presentation



  18. InteLeaks – Part XVIII: Intel Does Not Know How to Properly Do Research and It Seems Apparent Unscientific Methods Are Used to Justify Poor Documentation

    There appears to be a severe crisis at Intel; they cannot recruit scientists (or those whom they recruited are walking away) and as a result the company produces bad products with poor documentation (or highly defective chipsets that top-notch marketing cannot compensate for); in this video we walk through some examples of how studies are being conducted (as already noted in Part XVII)



  19. Suppressed Facts of the Free Software Movement and Its Community of Volunteers – Part III: The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Seems More Like a Victim of Destabilisation Campaigns

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF), which turns 36 later this year, is looking to raise money that helps support the GNU Project, soon 38 years old and likely the most important Free software project to exist (ever)



  20. Links 17/1/2021: EasyOS on Raspberry Pi and GNU libsigsegv 2.13

    Links for the day



  21. InteLeaks – Part XVII: The High Cost of Microsoft Windows Users in GNU/Linux Development Teams

    A look inside Intel explains what holds back the technical team, which bemoans the lesser technical people getting in the way and not even using the product that they are writing about



  22. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 16, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 16, 2021



  23. Suppressed Facts of the Free Software Movement and Its Community of Volunteers – Part II: Why Bradley Kuhn Left the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

    The founder of the FSF is still at the FSF (albeit not publicly) and the person who lobbied to oust him has basically been 'banished' by the founder



  24. Links 16/1/2021: LibreOffice 7.1 Release Candidate, Zeroshell 3.9.5, FreeBSD Report, and GhostBSD 21.01.15

    Links for the day



  25. Free Speech on the Web Not Respected by Companies That Used to Support Software Freedom

    Mozilla does not have to make its Web browser about politics; it can just make an excellent piece of software that is neutral about the Web pages that it renders, based on the user's personal preferences



  26. Suppressed Facts of the Free Software Movement and Its Community of Volunteers – Part I: We Are Under Attack by Corporations and Their Salaried Facilitators

    The corporate takeover (taking over the Commons, produced by volunteers who are motivated by altruism) is a subject we must speak about and somehow tackle; this series will highlight uncomfortable or difficult truths



  27. InteLeaks – Part XVI: Intel Cannot Do Command Line, Even When It's Vastly Simpler and More Suitable for Development

    The Developer eXperience (DX) team at Intel seems to be full of Microsoft drones instead of developers and/or mildly technical people; this has not only harmed the quality of documentation but also upset staff, alienating people who actually understand what developers need (more than buzzwords like "DX")



  28. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, January 15, 2021



  29. Links 15/1/2021: KaOS 2021.01, Whisker Menu 2.5.2, Istio 1.8.2

    Links for the day



  30. InteLeaks – Part XV: Intel is Blind to Blind and Colour-Blind People

    Intel does not seem to grasp very basic concepts associated with accessibility; nevertheless, Intel shamelessly tries painting itself as "woke" and a "justice warrior" (policing speech while overlooking much-needed practical work)


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