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

08.31.10

Patents Roundup: OIN, Patent Attorney Ignorance, “Ultimate Patent Troll”, the Rambus Submarine Patent, Death Patents, MPEG-LA, and i4i/Microsoft

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Submarine (patents)

Summary: An overview of patent news from the past few days, ranging from issues that directly affect GNU/Linux to issues that simply show how amoral and dysfunctional the patent systems have become

IT HAS BEEN a long time since the last “Patents Roundup” per se. This post is intended to keep readers abreast of the developments in the spooky world of patents, so no single topic is covered here exclusively.

We wish to begin with Linux, which has OIN protecting it in somewhat controversial ways (fighting software patents with software patents), which is effective only in particular circumstances, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

“Our community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks…”
      –Eben Moglen
Groklaw's most recent take on OIN is a good source of information for OIN sceptics. OIN is not the “bad guy” here; not at all. Keith Bergelt of OIN is genuinely interested in protecting Linux from patent litigation by accumulating (hoarding) patents and killing weak ones rather than eliminating the foundations of this whole category which is known as computer-implemented inventions (CII, or software patents). Bergelt says he is in favour of “good” patents. It’s not ideal of course, but the FSF/SFLC accepts the OIN and appreciates its work. Professor Eben Moglen wrote last year that “[o]ur community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks for interrupting this arms trade, and calling attention to a bad business practice.”

With that in mind we can approach a new post which says that “OIN seeks to overturn weak patents”:

The tech news industry is buzzing with stories about companies suing each other over patent infringement. Most of the supposed patent infringements come closer to patents representing a concept then an actual invention. As I have said before the conduct of many patent holders is the equivalent of patenting the color blue and suing anyone who wears a blue t-shirt.

This is where the Open Invention Network comes in to play. They have invited the public to review patents, especially patents that are being used to attempt to block open source development. The Open Invention Network is asking for its readers to submit examples of prior art. This is where a company has patented a product or concept that had already been developed by previous companies or individuals. Once evidence is in place of prior art in connection with a patent, that patent can be invalidated.

The Open Invention Network and its sibling projects are not as good as abolishing software patents a la FFII, but an analogy to them would be “pragmatism” in the Free vs. proprietary software sense. The OIN is a temporary fix, a Band-Aid® of sorts.

On we move to an important observation from Patently-O, a popular Web site which mostly attracts American patent lawyers and even — allegedly — SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) appointees. Patently-O points out that not enough computer scientists occupy the USPTO, which implies insufficient knowledge about software patents.

Professors Ralph Clifford, Tom Field, and Jon Cavicchi have published an interesting study on the technical backgrounds of patent attorneys and agents. After the trio submitted a FOIA request, the PTO handed-over 50,000 pages of patent bar registration applications. Using that information, the trio created a database of registered patent attorneys and their associated degrees/schools.

The paper makes the legitimate argument that the PTO should allow folks with a computer science degree to register — especially with the rise in the number of inventions related to computer science. “[A]n institutional bias exists within the PTO that prevents software-savvy individuals from registering with the Office.”

This is a serious problem. A lot of patent lawyers who are proponents of CII simply don’t understand how computational machines work; some ignorantly deny that computer programs (algorithms) can be encoded as mathematical formulae. That patent clerks at the USPTO fail to perceive it is a true travesty, not to mention similar problems among policy-makers, including Justices at SCOTUS.

Law Pundit has published this new post about a patent troll called George Selden. He is a patent lawyer who claimed a monopoly on the automobile. This sounds like some story out of science fiction, but it’s not.

The fix in which modern technology finds itself today as the result of our ill-conceived and smothering patent laws is unfortunately nothing new, but was a battle fought more than a century ago over patent rights to the invention of the automobile.

Thankfully for the future development of the automobile industry, legal common sense only prevailed due to the tenacity of Henry Ford, who prevailed over “virtual” inventor George B. Selden upon appeal, in a story in which the otherwise unknown Selden is the main character.

Rambus, which is a shameful aggressor (greatly loathed by many of its peers in industry), keeps ramming the bus [pun] into just about every technology company in the area, using submarine patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. How destructive. It is now targeting Big Blue again:

Chip designer Rambus Inc (RMBS.O) has sued International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N), seeking to reverse a federal agency finding that its patent for a memory system was not infringed.

Pubpat.org (Public Patent Foundation or PUBPAT for short) offers a glimpse at the fact that, once we depart from the field of technology, patents may also deal with life and death very directly. We call these death patents and HIV/AIDS drugs are invaluable examples of that:

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced today that it has formally asked the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine eight patents held by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) relating to the critical HIV/AIDS drug ritonavir, which is marketed by the Chicago, Illinois pharmaceutical giant under the name brand Norvir.

In its requests, PUBPAT submitted previously unforeseen prior art proving that the patents should not have been granted. PUBPAT also cited recent Federal Circuit case law that supports its detailed arguments for nullification of the eight patents.

MPEG-LA, which is spearheaded by a patent troll, has not only a codec monopoly; it has begun forming an equally-despicable strategy in areas such as the above (which makes it a huge threat to life, not just to culture).

Simon Phipps, who recently said that “MPEG-LA is a parasite using standards bodies as its host, whether they want it or not,” addresses the latest stunt from this parasite [1, 2] and heralds that “H.264 Is Not The Sort Of Free That Matters” (same as the argument we made last week). Simon says:

The statement actually takes a lot of unpacking, probably intentionally so. H.264 is the widely-used “MP4″ video format created many years ago by the Motion Picture Experts Group, MPEG. Those “experts” were mostly associated with various corporations and research labs, and the international standard they created was heavily encumbered with patents.

Realising that no-one much would use the standard if each user had to go negotiate patent licensing terms with a large number of separate parties, the patent-holders wisely decided to get together outside the scope of MPEG and create the “MPEG Licensing Authority”, MPEG-LA.

Despite the name, MPEG-LA is nothing to do with the standards group itself. It’s a for-profit company devoted to making the patent problem worse in the name of making it “easier to handle” by creating patent pools for all sorts of other technology areas, beyond the media formats they already police. Go looking for the exact terms under which they are offering “free use” in this case and you’ll find they are not keen for you to know. The best available are summaries that are sketchy about the exact definitions of terms.

Last but not least, yesterday we wrote about the i4i case, noting that Microsoft decided to appeal (again). As Masnick correctly points out in his long and informative headline, “Microsoft, Who Supports Software Patents, Now Asks Supreme Court To Help It Against Patent Holder” (great news if this is indeed going to SCOTUS).

Microsoft, who has become a strongly pro-software patent company (despite Bill Gates’ old claim that patents would have harmed the software industry in the early days), is finding out (yet again) that such a stance can come back to bite you. We’ve already covered the somewhat ridiculous lawsuit that Microsoft faced from a small Canadian company, i4i, who claimed a patent (5,787,449) on an XML editing feature. Microsoft lost the lawsuit, and the court issued an injunction against Microsoft and claimed that the feature was worth an astounding $98 per copy where the feature was used.

Well, it’s even more interesting than that because Microsoft’s infringement was deliberate and it involved stabbing a ‘partner’ in the back. Can Microsoft help abolish software patents right now? Highly doubtful, but this case against Microsoft might contribute towards this goal.

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

What Else is New


  1. Patents Roundup: Software Patents, Patenting Loopholes, PTAB, Patent Trolls, and Software Patents Propagandists

    A digest of recent news about (primarily) software patents and people who oppose or promote them in the United States



  2. Links 13/2/2016: Debian 6.0 EOL

    Links for the day



  3. The European Patent Office, Aloof/Apathetic to Inventors and Human Rights, Simply Cannot be Trusted With the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The European Patent Office (EPO), once a source of great pride for increasingly-unified Europeans, not only wants to enjoy impunity but also wants to attain new powers, despite demonstrating that its interests are anything but European and are often detrimental to Europeans, not just to European inventors



  4. Feedback About Battistelli's 'Meet the President' Event in Rijswijk (4th of February, 2016)

    President of the EPO, the self-absorbed Battistelli, as described by those who attended his self-glorification event earlier this month



  5. Microsoft Continua Usando Patentes de Software para Extorsionar/Chantajear Incluso Más Compañías que Usan Linux, Forzandolas/Coerciendoles a PreInstallar Basura de Microsoft

    Acer es el último gran OEM que se ha convertido en la caza de brujas por parte de Microsoft contra preinstalladores de Android/Linux, a quienes esta coerciendo en convertirse en transportistas de Microsoft (o enfrentarse a litigaciones sobre patentes de software, con altos costos legales sino bloqueos con altísimos costos por arreglos secretos).



  6. Nuevas Protestas Contra La Vil OEP en Medio de Crisis Nerviosa de su Empleado Español (Después del Matoneo Institucional de Los Chacales de Battistelli), España Rechaza la Patente Unitaria UPC

    Enfrentando enorme presión de no-tecnicos Eurocráticos como Battistelli, España permanece FUERTE y RESISTE la Corte Unitaria de Patentes (UPC), que pone más poder en las manos de un cuerpo ABUSIVO que grotescamente discrimina contra los Españoles.



  7. Sólo Media Docena de Patentes Cubana Registradas en la OEP, Pero el Trístemente Célebre Battistelli Va a Cuba a Acumular Apoyo Baráto

    Ahora que España esta antagonizando a la OEP (y especialmente la UPC) el Presidente de la OEP ayuda a crear piezas de hojaldre en español cuando visitó Cuba y sus vecinos hispano-hablanetes que históricamente son renombrados por su gobernabilidad desaparecida así como su ilegalidad (como la OEP misma)



  8. In Lawyerland, Simulated UPC 'Trials' and More Extraordinary EPO Propaganda for Change That Would Harm Europe to Help Patent Lawyers and Their Big Clients

    A look at the latest wave of lobbying for the Unitary Patent Court (UPC), courtesy of patent lawyers who profit from patent disputes, and the utterly shameless marketing from the European Patent Office (EPO)



  9. Apple and Microsoft Cannot Keep Up With Android (Linux), More Layoffs Reported

    Having failed to grow (in the operating systems market share sense), proprietary software giants lose loyalty, try to attack the winner (Android/Linux) with software patents, and inevitably make their staff redundant



  10. Links 12/2/2016: Russian's Government With GNU/Linux, India's Wants FOSS

    Links for the day



  11. New EPO Protests Amid Nervous Breakdowns of Spanish EPO Employee (After Institutional Bullying by Battistelli's Goons), Spain Rejects the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    In the face of enormous pressure from non-technical Eurocrats like Battistelli, Spain remains strong and resists the Unitary Patent Court (UPC), which puts more power in the hands of an abusive body that grossly discriminates against Spaniards



  12. Only Half a Dozen Cuban Patents Filed at EPO, But Hugely Unpopular Battistelli Goes to Cuba to Garner Cheap Support

    Now that Spain is antagonising the EPO (and especially the UPC) the President of the EPO helps create some puff pieces in Spanish as he visits Cuba and neighbouring Spanish-speaking nations which are historically renowned for defunct governance and lawlessness (like the EPO itself)



  13. Nepotismo de la UPC, Abusos Políticos, y el Envolvimiento en la UPC de la Firma ¨Legal¨ que la OEP Contrato para Matonear a Techrights

    La Corte Unitaria de Patentes UPC, un sistema arregaldo esta siendo embestida por la gargant de Europa por la OEP. (Nos están metiendo la yuca). Sus grandes clientes (incluso extranjeros), con sus abogados de patentes para que todo el mundo los vea.



  14. Miembro del Parlamente Europe Resalta ¨Las Continuas Violaciones de los Fundamentales Derechos de los Empleados de la OEP¨

    Pregunta a la Comisión Europea de parte de la MEP Portuguesa Ana Gomes, publicado en el sitio del Parlamente Europeo.



  15. Links 11/2/2016: LibreOffice 5.1, HMRC and FOSS

    Links for the day



  16. Microsoft Continues to Use Software Patents to Extort/Blackmail Even More Companies That Use Linux, Forcing/Coercing Them Into Preinstalling Microsoft

    Acer is the latest large OEM to have become a victim of Microsoft's witch-hunt against Android/Linux preloaders, whom Microsoft is coercing into becoming Microsoft's carriers (or face litigation over software patents, with high legal fees if not injunctions or high damages upon secret settlements)



  17. EPO Brain Drain (Even Directors Fed Up With Team Battistelli) and Rumours About Battistelli Becoming President of the UPC

    Words heard through the grapevine of the European Patent Office (EPO), where staff is overwhelmingly against the managers and some people, including high-profile staff, add to the exodus



  18. More Than 20 Years in the Line: European Patent Office and Claims of European Convention on Human Rights Infringement Against Applicants/Stakeholders

    Gross incompetence and potentially an infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights at the European Patent Office (EPO), this time impacting an applicant (one of many in a similar position)



  19. UPC Nepotism, Political Abuses, and UPC Involvement From the Legal Firm That EPO Hired to Bully Techrights

    The Unitary Patent Court (UPC), a rigged system that is being rammed down Europe's throat by the EPO, its big clients (even foreign), and their patent lawyers laid bear for people to see



  20. Member of European Parliament Brings Up “Ongoing Violations of the Fundamental and Employment Rights of the Staff of EPO”

    Question to the European Commission from Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes, as published in the site of the European Parliament



  21. La Oficina Europea de Patentes Pretende que No Pasa Nada y Prepara una Feria de Vanidad

    La estrategia de relaciones públicas de la OEP cuya destructiva estrategia de patentes continua sin disminución (por ahora), se engancha en Colombia y se esfuerza en manufacturar el mito donde el público, examinadores de patentes, y aplicantes de patentes todos estan muy felices con la OEP.



  22. La ‘Internacional’ Commisión de Comercio Impone/Reenfuerza Patentes de Software para Establecer Otro Embargo

    La Comisión Internacional (sic) de Comercio se esta entrometiendo en competición de nuevo permitiendo a un gigante de los Estados Unidos Ciso en este caso, a potencialmente bloquear rivales (no importaciones del extranjero) usando patentes de software.



  23. Links 9/2/2016: Linux in Robotics, Hyperledger Project

    Links for the day



  24. Besieged Benoît Battistelli Mimics 'Damage Control' Tactics of FIFA or Blatter as More Judges Start Getting Involved in EPO Scandals

    Rumours and a new rant from Battistelli reinforce suspicions that actions are being organised behind the scenes, possibly as part of an upcoming, high-level campaign to unseat/dethrone Battistelli, who has become a reputational disaster to the European Patent Office (EPO), much like Sepp Blatter at FIFA



  25. Several Political Parties Directly Challenge the European Patent Office for Ignoring the Law, Not Obeying Court Orders

    Politicians make it crystal clear that the EPO, despite its unique status, cannot just raise its nose at the rulings of courts of law, definitely not in Dutch territory where the EPO operates



  26. Even the Legal Community is Upset at Benoît Battistelli for the Damage He Did to the EPO

    A recent article from lawyers' media (in German) speaks of the great damage (or mess) left by its current president, who has become somewhat of a laughing stock and growingly synonymous with farcical trials even in the circles of stakeholders, not just his own staff



  27. EPO Union (SUEPO) Getting Busted: “More and More People are Joining the Union, but Fewer and Fewer People Dare to Take on Leading Positions There.”

    The union-busting actions taken by EPO management in collaboration with Control Risks (for weak accusations against staff representatives) and FTI Consulting (for 'damage control') as described in a recent article, in the words of SUEPO lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld



  28. Microsoft's Copyrights- and Patents-Based Attacks on GNU/Linux Carry on

    The SCO case is still going on and Microsoft has just signed a patent deal with GoPro over its FOSS-based software, relating to “certain file storage and other system technologies”



  29. The EPO's Benoît Battistelli is the Dictator Who Can No Longer Dictate Like He Used to

    The European Patent Office's mechanism of oversight is starting to work just a little because, based on a new report from Juve, Battistelli is now reluctant to make proposals that would prove unpopular among delegates



  30. La Más Detallada Explicación (hasta ahora) de ¿Qué esta mal con la OEP?

    La insistencia de la OEP que permanece arriba de la ley no sólo est bajo fuego en los medios pero también esta siendo desafiada basado en personas familiares con la aplicabilidad de la ley a organizaciones internacionales.


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