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 27/5/2016: Android for Raspberry Pi, Google Beats Oracle in Court

    Links for the day



  2. Warning: EPO Surveillance May Have Just Gotten Even More Intrusive

    BlueCoat, which the EPO uses to enable oppression inside its European premises, has just gotten even nastier and staff may be at risk



  3. Victim Card Ends up in Another Blunder for Battistelli and His Six Bodyguards

    Battistelli is wrecking what's left of the EPO's reputation (after decades it took the Office to earn it) as the media continues to scrutinise his appalling regime



  4. Italian Report About EPO Now Available in English

    An English translation of a TV program which earlier this month documented some of the glaring problems at the EPO



  5. The EPO is Doing Great, Says EPO-Connected 'News' Site

    IAM 'magazine', a longtime ally of the EPO, gives people the impression that all is fine and dandy at the EPO even though that's clearly not the case



  6. Microsoft Has Killed Nokia (and Its Own Mobile Ambitions), But Watch What it Does With Patents

    Microsoft announces many more layoffs, having already caused tremendous damage to the Finnish economy, and patents are left astray for Microsoft's favourite patent trolls to pick



  7. EPO Management Under Growing Stress From Croatian Law Enforcement Authorities, German Politicians, Italian Media

    Things are not as rosy as the relative calm may suggest, and in the coming weeks we expect some major events other than the protest at all EPO sites across Europe



  8. Microsoft, a Dead Company Walking, Resorts to Malware Tactics, Now Truly Indistinguishable From Crackers

    Microsoft is essentially taking over people's PCs and installing on them a large piece of malware, complete with keyloggers, against the will of these PCs' owners



  9. Links 26/5/2016: CentOS Linux 6.8, Ansible 2.1

    Links for the day



  10. The Latest EPO Victim Card (Played by Željko Topić) Should be Treated as Seriously as Those Bogus Claims of Violence by a Judge (Updatedx3)

    In its desperate pursuit of a narrative wherein the staff of the EPO is violent and aggressive the management of the EPO, renowned for institutional aggression, finds (or claims to have found) a little tampering with a bicycle



  11. Links 25/5/2016: Nginx 1.11, F1 2015 Coming to GNU/Linux Tomorrow

    Links for the day



  12. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  13. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  14. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    Under the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  15. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject



  16. [ES] Interrumpiendo la Propagánda Distractante de Battistelli: los Empleados de la EPO Protestará de Nuevo en una Quincena

    La exágerada extravagancia (desperdicio de dinero) en la Ceremonia de Premiación al Inventor Europeo de la EPO tendrá que competir por atención de los medios con miles de empleados de la EPO (en todaslas sedes de la EPO) marchándo en las calles para protestar por los abusos de la EPO



  17. Windows and Microsoft's Other 'Burning Platforms'

    It's not just Windows for phones that's reaching minuscule market share levels but also Windows, but Microsoft is skilled at hiding this (cannibalising Windows using something people do not even want, then counting that cannibal, Vista 10)



  18. Links 24/5/2016: CRYENGINE Source Code is Out on GitHub, Jono Bacon Leaves GitHub

    Links for the day



  19. Links 23/5/2016: GNOME 3.22, Calculate Linux 15.17

    Links for the day



  20. 'Celebrity' Patent Trolls and the Elusive Battle Against Patent Trolls (or Eastern District of Texas Courts) Rather Than Software Patents

    Some of last week's more important reports, which serve to demonstrate how the system is attempting to tackle a side-effect of software patents rather than the patents themselves (their irrational scope)



  21. The Circus of Patent 'Reporting' (by Omission) on the Subject of Software Patents in the US and USPTO Bias

    look at some of the latest oddities in the US patent system and much of the reporting about software patenting (more or less monopolised by those who profit from it, not harmed by it)



  22. IP3 Demonstrates That Today's Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates' Game, Won't Protect the Mythical Small Inventor

    Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?



  23. Disrupting Battistelli's Distracting Propaganda: EPO Staff to Protest Again in About a Fortnight

    The overly extravagant (waste of money) EPO European Inventor Award will have to compete for media attention with thousands of EPO staff (in all EPO sites) marching in the streets to protest against the EPO's abuses



  24. Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO's President Battistelli is 'Buying' Votes of Small Member States

    Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious 'circle' now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)



  25. [ES] Los Mitos de la EPO ‘Calidad’ de Patentes y de ‘Creación’ de Patentes: Basados en Ventas de Cafe y Trauma

    La carrera hacia el fondo, o la ridícula asumpción de Battistelli de que otorgar más y más patentenes más rápidamente (e.g. usando PACE) sería beneficióso a largo término, puede guíar al final colapse del valor de la EPO y la pérdida de su lárgamente ganada reputación a nivel mundial



  26. Links 22/5/2016: Systemd 230, Debian Installer Alpha 6

    Links for the day



  27. EPO Patent 'Quality' and 'Patent Creation' Myth: Capsule-Based Coffee Sales and Trauma

    The race to the bottom, or Battistelli's ludicrous assumption that granting more and more patents faster (e.g. using PACE) would be beneficial in the long run, may lead to the ultimate collapse of the EPO's value and demise of its long-earned reputation worldwide



  28. Guest Post: How Vista 10 Imposes Itself on Users of Windows

    A reader's experience being nagged by Microsoft, as documented and explained by this reader



  29. [ES] El Notorio Tirano de la EPO, Benoît Battistelli, Se Reune Con Otros Tiranos, Reportes de Que ‘Limpia’ el Consejo Administrativo

    El régimen de Battistelli, talvez la fuente de verguénza más grande, alegadamente está “cortejándo países pequeños/corruptos para asegurárse de que los delegados que votarón contra él serán remplazados”



  30. [ES] Comentadores Anónimos Debaten Si la EPO de Battistelli Puede Revocar las Pensiones de Empleados Que Se Atreveen — GASP — a Buscar Empleo Alternativo

    Una mirada a las causas de desesperación e imensa presión en la EPO, donde las pensiónes pueden ser cortadas como medio de represália y la gente puede ser negada empleo aún después de dejar la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO)


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