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

09.17.10

Abolishing Software Patents a Top Priority This Software Freedom Day

Posted in Google, IBM, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, SCO at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom

Summary: A day before Software Freedom Day (SFD) we remember the harms software patents cause to everyone’s freedom and give some news about the subject

THOSE who care about their freedom should do something to abolish software patents this Software Freedom Day (tomorrow). SCO is over as a threat because its remaining assets are being sold, according to techrockies.com. We covered this last night.

This morning we found what we were going to describe as a “very good article from Adam Bolte” and only moments later Peter Brown (FSF) dented “Great article by Adam Bolte” (the similar wording is coincidental). The article is titled “The Threat to Software Freedom” and it is a detailed summary of key points, e.g.:

Software Patents

Why are software patents any more of a problem than patents in other fields? There is far more to be said about that that can be covered in this post. The End Software Patents wiki is essential reading—or at least skim the bits you’re interested in; there are bound to be sections you’ll find of interest, and contributions are most welcome. There’s also an excellent downloadable video documentary called Patent Absurdity on the subject.
Unexpected Infringements

Software patents are a bad idea in general, but they are especially bad for free software. While all software might have an equal chance of infringing on a patent unintentionally, it can be a lot harder to detect in a proprietary application. That is to say, detecting certain patent infringements easily would require source code access.

Even if you’re found out later to infringe on a patent, the owner may forgo taking immediate action, instead waiting until the infringement is as widespread as possible so as to maximize potential court awards. The GIF format, for example, was in widespread use before patents associated with it became an issue, regardless of whether the delay in litigation was deliberate or not.

[...]

Patented “Standards”

The other kind of patent problem we have is the MPEG LA kind. It’s the kind that occurs when companies try to create standards based on patents they own, so that they can reap the benefits of licensing software that interoperates with those formats for a hefty price. We’ve seen this problem in the past with MP3, but the current hot topic is H.264.

H.264 is certainly (and unfortunately) more commonplace today than WebM due to a large head start. If H.264 were to win the HTML5 video-format war, it’d mean that it would be impossible for free software browsers like Firefox, Chromium, and Konqueror (which shouldn’t allow for freedoms to be restricted by patents) to have native video support. Given the popularity of some of these browsers, it appears that WebM or Ogg Theora are the only formats that could possibly win in the long run, but still Apple and Microsoft will try to drag the H.264-only versus WebM/Ogg Theora-only war on indefinitely. By being able to pay for patent licenses on behalf of their user base, they have unfair leverage over free software competition that they intend to milk it for all its worth. Once again, web developers lose.

The president of the FFII tweets:

Knowledge4Litigation: litigation is so crucial for the future of Europe: http://ur1.ca/1n3ec

The FFII’s account at Twitter has this new quote from Microsoft’s front group Association for Competitive Technology, which fought against ODF in Massachusetts:

Zuck: “an attempt to prevent lock-in by Microsoft Office in [MA]…, but one of the first communities to object was the disabled community”

OOXML is an example of patented “standards” (pseudo-standards that are actually proprietary).

This week’s best example of the harms of software patents happens to have come from Google. Cecilia Kang from the Washington Post plays along with the anti-Google lobby and AstroTurf by connecting Google being harassed by software patents (more in [1, 2]) to antitrust actions led by Microsoft and its allies. There is hardly any connection between one and the other.

The Boston-based firm also filed a separate suit against Google saying the company infringed on Skyhook’s patents for the software, a technology that allows advertisers to serve up ads based on a user’s precise location.

That’s a rubbish patent case. Nobody ought to defend Skyhook’s action given the absurdity of these software patents. Speaking of which, IBM’s latest rubbish patent gets rubbished in TechDirt right now:

theodp writes “Thirty-three years ago, the Choose Your Own Adventure series of kids books was introduced. But that didn’t stop the USPTO from granting IBM U.S. Patent No. 7,784,069 for Selecting Divergent Storylines Using Branching Techniques, fancy lawyer-speak for choose-your-own-adventure movies. Nice to see the USPTO recognize purported patent reformer Big Blue for its ‘invention’ – never mind that there’s already an app for that!”

As we’ve argued before, IBM should get rid of software patents, but it is too dependent on the patent office which it uses to monopolise some areas. This has gone on for many decades. Google too should help end software patents, but it doesn’t.

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

2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    September 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Gravatar

    Free software is not more liable to patent attacks than non free software but publishers are using patents as a weapon against freedom. All software patents are method patents and the most obnoxious ones target visible program behavior. Of the referenced attacks above, not even the ancient gif patent required source code review, any application that worked with gif files was open to attack. The same can be said of one click shopping, and other business methods. Patents that target observable methods block free software from whole classes of activity. As Steve Jobs and MPEG-LA rudely asserted about Ogg Theora and Google’s codecs, most modern video features are under threat by people with deep pockets. They want you to be forced to formats that only work on systems they control. It is up to all of us to insist on our freedom and overturn the US patent system. Ultimately, software freedom issues are free press, speech and assembly issues. The best thing to do is to use free software and free formats to share with your friends. Everything else is more difficult anyway.

  2. Ycvddf said,

    October 3, 2011 at 1:38 am

    2011…

    I just could not depart your site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard information a person provide for your visitors? Is gonna be back often in order to check up on new posts…

What Else is New


  1. Links 30/10/2014: GNOME 3.15.1, Red Hat Software Collections 1.2

    Links for the day



  2. Links 29/10/2014: Ubuntu Touch Tablet, Puppy Linux 6.0

    Links for the day



  3. Links 28/10/2014: SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, Canonical OpenStack Distro

    Links for the day



  4. Links 28/10/2014: PiFxOS, The Document Foundation in OSBA

    Links for the day



  5. Microsoft is Bricking Devices With Linux (Yet Again!), So a Microsoft Booster Spins/Paints Linux Devices as 'Fakes'

    Microsoft delivers rogue drivers through Windows Update and they brick Arduino microcontrollers



  6. How Bill Gates Continues to Pass Wealth From the Public to His Own Bank Account

    Having put a universal tax on many things (not just computers) and evaded tax using the classic 'charity' trick, Gates is now buying the media, the schools, politicians etc. and earns as much as 10 billion dollars per year while the public is taught that Gates is a giver, not a hoarder of the worst kind



  7. Links 27/10/2014: Lenovo Unbundling, Linux 3.18 RC2

    Links for the day



  8. IRC Proceedings: September 14th, 2014 – October 25th, 2014

    Many IRC logs



  9. Links 25/10/2014: KDE Mockups, Update on GNOME Outreach Program for Women

    Links for the day



  10. After Infecting Unity -- Successfully -- Microsoft's Partner Xamarin Wants to Infect Unreal Engine With .NET

    Xamarin continues to spread dependence on Microsoft to more gaming frameworks, not just platforms such as GNU/Linux, Android, and even permanent-state devices



  11. Taking Microsoft Windows Off the Grid for Damage to Businesses, the Internet, and Banking Systems

    Microsoft's insecure-by-design software is causing massive damages ([cref 27802 possibly trillions] of [cref 13992 dollars in damages to date]) and yet the corporate press does not ask the right questions, let alone suggest a ban on Microsoft software



  12. City of Berlin Does Not Abandon Free Software, It's Only Tax Authorities

    A Softpedia report that says the City of Berlin is moving to Microsoft Office is flawed and may be based on a poor translation



  13. Nadella a Liar in Chief at Microsoft, Pretending That His Anti-Competitive Practices Are Unfortunately Imposed on Microsoft

    The nastiness of Microsoft knows no bounds as even its assault on GNU/Linux and dirty tricks against Free software adoption are characterised as the fault of 'pirates'



  14. Reuters Writes About the Demise of Software Patents, But Focuses on 'Trolls' and Quotes Lawyers

    How the corporate media chooses to cover the invalidity of many software patents and the effect of that



  15. Links 24/10/2014: Microsoft Tax Axed in Italy, Google's Linux (ChromeOS/Android) Leader Promoted

    Links for the day



  16. Links 24/10/2014: GNU/Linux History, Fedora Delay

    Links for the day



  17. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  18. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  19. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  20. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  21. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  22. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  23. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  24. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  25. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  26. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  27. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  28. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  29. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  30. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    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