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


The Free Software Foundation Fights Software Patents in the Southern Hemisphere

Posted in Australia, Europe, FSF, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 9:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time to stand up against software patents and WIPO

Puzzle time

Summary: The southern part of the world, where wealth is scarce and software patents are largely illegitimate, is being visited by Richard Stallman who helps educate about the harms of software patents (even to Europe); it is also acknowledged that patent value in Europe is an odd duck and that the Europe-based WIPO is hostile towards the vast majority of people

Australian lawyers are hoping to help ruin EPO just like USPTO (the European and American patent offices, respectively). Richard Stallman, an activist far gentler than the mainstream media may have the population believe, has been giving some talks in Australia and now he turns his attention to a European Patent session in the same country. The Australian press is being unfair by claiming that Dr. Stallman “crashes” the session (that’s what the headline says) when in fact all he did was hand out printed copies of his article and held up a sign with a polite message. Judge him based on the following new article whose headline is unfair and worth correcting:

Software freedom activist Richard Stallman made an unexpected appearance at a European Patent Office presentation in Brisbane today.

Stallman, pictured, who was also due to address the World Computer Congress later in the day, carried a placard that said: “Don’t get caught in software patent thickets”.

He briefly interrupted a presentation by European Patent Officer Ralf Abbing, who spoke about the “big issues in IP in relation to computing technology”.

In his presentation, Abbing outlined the requirements for software patent applications under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

“We have a very narrow interpretation,” Abbing said of patentable software.

According to Article 52 of the EPC, patented inventions had to be “susceptible of industrial application”, new, and involve an inventive step.

The Article excluded aesthetic creations, discoveries, mathematical models, business methods and presentations of information from being patented.

Abbing explained that patentable software also had to be “technical” – that is, software that processed physical data parameters, controlled values of an industrial process, or affected “the way a computer operates”.


Stallman said he supported the movement, and told iTnews that the European Patent Office was lobbying for software patents in Australia.

“We’re here at the World Computer Congress and what I’ve discovered is that the European Patent Office is here to campaign in favour of software patents in Australia,” he said.

“You can be sure that if Australia allows software patents, almost all the patents will belong to foreigners and will give them the opportunity to sue Australians.

Another new article, this one from The Australian, has an exceptionally deceiving headline, “Richard Stallman calls for internet tax to combat piracy” (he neither talked about “piracy” nor called for an “internet tax”). The latter part of the article speaks about the appearance at the European Patent session:

He and an unknown colleague held up placards reading: “Don’t get caught in the software patent thickets”.

While considering him eccentric, some experts at the conference were sympathetic to Mr Stallman’s ideas.

During a presentation on software piracy among students, Linda Spark, a researcher from Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand said: “Although I thought some of Richard Stallman’s ideas were a bit radical, there’s a lot of areas I don’t disagree with him. If we look at the history of software you have to ask why software is owned. It’s because someone got greedy along the way. It wasn’t originally proprietary software.”

“The ethics on both sides are really bit questionable.”

Notice how preconceptions of Stallman (created by daemonisations in the press) affect people’s reception of his teachings. No wonder Stallman has disdain for the PR industry. They try to maginalise him and create a radical image of him. In reality, his message makes a lot of sense, just like the messages of Mr. Moore and Mr. Assange for example.

Truth be told, Stallman’s views have made him many enemies in quarters such as the proprietary software industry, the meta-industry of patent lawyers, and so on. Here we have IAM (lawyers’ magazine) shooting itself in the foot by admitting that the industry it shelters is quite worthless (or a “Seductive Mirage” as Richard Stallman called it in the famous essay he handed out in paper form in Australia).

“Under 1% of patents account for close to 50% of overall patent value in Europe,” says this headline: [via Glyn Moody]

Under 1% of patents account for close to 50% of overall patent value in Europe – UPDATED


Obviously, there is no scientific valuation process involved here, but the answers can be considered indicative of how much value the owners felt they got from their patents. And what is so interesting is how this survey backs up so many others in finding that the vast majority of patents turn out to be worth very little or nothing at all; but those that are worth something can be worth a hell of a lot. The trick, of course, is in knowing which patents will fall into which category. Unfortunately from a patent procurement perspective, it can’t be done ahead of time – though there are plenty of people that are looking to find ways of getting an edge in this area.

Going further to the east and crossing over to Australia’s neighbour New Zealand, there exists a battle in there over the issue of software patents. Microsoft front groups have been lobbying in favour over there and in this new interview with Microsoft’s NTO in New Zealand he gets asked the following question:

What’s Microsoft stance on changes to software patents in New Zealand?

Fundamentally the final decision needs to be in the economic interest of New Zealand. IRP should be designed and serve New Zealand’s interest. The concerns we still have is that there’s been no real detailed economic analysis of what impact any changes are going to have.

The fundamental idea that someone who invents something, spends the time, money and effort to create something new should be able to benefit from it, is something that we believe in deeply. It’s our core businesses. That’s why we spend US$9 billion a year on research and development. It’s important that we benefit from that and show our shareholders that we benefit from that.

In a time where there’s so much talk about the importance of IT and export growth in New Zealand, it seems odd that we’d throw away a profit prediction for a thing that we’d want to sell.

Microsoft is avoiding the subject. This is not surprising. In order to avoid backlash from the public, Microsoft always prefers to push for software patents using front groups (e.g. 'NZ'ICT in New Zealand). It hides behind proxies which pretend to serve the opposite side, in this case “NZ” (‘NZ’ICT is a multinational, not a New Zealand representor).

To finish off this overly-elongated post, mind the latest news which exposes the evils of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation). We last wrote about it 10 days ago. A famous blind man, Stevie Wonder, is taking on WIPO and shockingly enough WIPO snubs him. This made it into a lot of publications, even Reuters.

U.S. pop and soul music legend Stevie Wonder told diplomats from nearly 200 nations on Monday to stop squabbling over copyright and agree on a pact bringing “hope and light” to blind people around the globe.

And the singer-musician, himself sightless since just after birth, warned negotiators at the United Nations intellectual property and copyright agency WIPO that he would write a sad song about them if they didn’t act on his appeal.

They did not “act on his appeal” based on some articles we found, so we look forward to Wonder’s eulogy for the WIPO, which grows increasingly controversial, especially among poor nations (the world’s majority) and minority groups like blind people.

Andrew Katz, a new writer for IDG in the UK, writes about the term WIPO uses to justify its existence. It’s misleadingly called “intellectual property” and as Katz correctly argues, it’s just an analogy not to be taken seriously:

[Y]ou’ll find organisations like the RIAA, BSA, FAST and BPI talk a lot about “property”. And you’ll find organisations like the Free Software Foundation railing against that characterisation.

It’s also fairly telling that the organ of the United Nations which deals with these issues is called the “World Intellectual Property Organisation”, and that the relevant government agency in the UK is Intellectual Property Office.

It’s nice to see the FSF getting some credit there. The FSF, unlike the IBM-backed Linux Foundation/OIN, is strongly against patents. That’s why Techrights is sympathetic towards the FSF.

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. The Enemies of the Patent System Are Patent Maximalists, Not Those Pursuing Saner Patent Policy

    Taking stock of some recent news and remarking (yet again) on the danger the patent system faces if it allows patent lawyers rather than inventors to steer/influence policy (as seen in Europe with the failed UPC bid)

  2. The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Declining Patent Quality 'Tackled' by Making Appeals/Oppositions Harder and More Expensive

    The so-called 'System Battistelli' is proving to be a disaster which makes both examiners and patents obsolete; Making applications cheaper while making appeals/oppositions harder and more expensive is a recipe for disaster, assuring nothing but more litigation and more workloads for courts, where fees rise to extraordinary levels (in effect externalising the costs/toll of EPO to the public, primarily for gains of patent law firms)

  3. Ericsson, Acting Directly Rather Than Via the Patent Trolls It Habitually Uses, in a Patent War Against Linux/Android

    LG is the latest company to be sued by Ericsson, which doesn't just harass the competition (which actually sells something) through patent trolls but also directly, having won a case in the notorious Eastern District of Texas (EDTX/TXED)

  4. The Federation of International Civil Servants' Association: Frenchman “Campinos is Known for Having Close Ties to Mr. Battistelli Who Strongly Supported His Candidacy.”

    Readers find little or no room for optimism as Battistelli's final day at the Office approaches; FICSA is not optimistic either and the general consensus is that Battistelli's so-called 'reforms' will soon yield layoffs

  5. Links 22/3/2018: Mesa 17.3.7, Mesa 18.0.0 RC5, RawTherapee 5.4, Krita 4

    Links for the day

  6. Japan is Becoming Firmer on Patents, Whereas China Goes in the Opposite Direction

    Japan has become less tolerant of patent aggressors and more conscious/concerned about patent quality, which is why the patent microcosm would rather hail China as a role model (even when China's overall share of patents in Europe, for example, is about the same as tiny South Korea and a lot smaller than Japan's)

  7. Aggressive New Activities of Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls: Finjan, Intellectual Ventures, and Dominion Harbor

    The extensive group of Microsoft-connected patent trolls is still very much active; Microsoft funds them, arms them, and gives them instructions while offering people 'protection' from them (if and only if they choose Azure)

  8. Battistelli's Ongoing Attacks on the Boards Are Helping Unitary Patent (UPC), Which in Turn Helps French Patent Trolls

    Battistelli will likely be remembered not only as the man who attacked justice (and judges) but also rendered staff redundant, issued a lot of highly controversial patents, and by doing so helped the insurgence of patent trolls in Europe

  9. Links 21/3/2018: Cutelyst 2, More on webOS

    Links for the day

  10. SUEPO: “Today May Be Your Last Chance to Demonstrate Against the Seriously Flawed Reforms That Mr Battistelli Has Imposed” on EPO Staff

    Benoît Battistelli will likely remain involved in EPO affairs for a long time to come (even through a fellow Frenchman, Campinos, whom he swaps two chairs with at the Office and CEIPI), but today is the last opportunity for EPO staff to march in protest against the Battistelli regime, which for the first time ever will result in major staff cuts and growing irrelevance for the Office

  11. Links 20/3/2018: GStreamer 1.14.0, Freespire 3.0, Endless OS 3.3.13

    Links for the day

  12. BIO, MDMA and PhRMA Are Pushing the PTAB-Hostile STRONGER Patents Act While IAM and Patently-O Continue to Bash PTAB

    The patent microcosm, which compares the Board to the above (crude analogy from Judge Rader and other patent extremists), is still trying to kill inter partes reviews (IPRs), in effect overlooking its own hypocrisy on the matter (they don’t want patent justice, they just want to metaphorically ‘shoot down’ the judges)

  13. 35 U.S.C. § 101 is Still Effectively Tackling Software Patents in the US, But Patent Law Firms Lie/Distort to 'Sell' These Anyway

    The assertion that software patents are still worth pursuing in 2018 is based on carefully-constructed spin which mis-frames several court decisions and underplays/downplays/ignores pretty much everything that does not suit the narrative

  14. Battistelli's EPO Became Extremely Reliant on China for Distraction and on Endless Supply of Applications (Supply Which Doesn't Exist)

    Discussion about the EPO granting machine (or patent-printing machine) and figures the way EPO management would rather the public won't ever see them; the concept that China means redemption for this patent system is as laughable as always

  15. The US International Trade Commission (USITC) Against Comcast, Courtesy of the Intellectual Ventures-Connected Rovi

    The USITC/ITC, which mostly serves to impose embargoes (sometimes in shocking defiance of PTAB decisions), is being invoked by a firm connected to the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures

  16. Tinder/Match Group Uses Software Patents to Sue a Rival, Obviously Choosing to Sue in Texas

    Software patents are being used for leverage, but only those which were likely granted before Alice and only in courts at districts somewhere around Texas

  17. Links 19/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC6, Atom 1.25, antiX 17.1, GNU Mcron 1.1

    Links for the day

  18. From PTAB Bashing to Federal Circuit (CAFC) Bashing: How the Patent 'Industry' Sells Software Patents

    The latest tactics of the patent microcosm are just about as distasteful as last month's (or last year's), with focus shifting to the courts and few broadly-misinterpreted patent cases (mainly Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix)

  19. Patent Maximalists Keep Coming Up With New Terms and Buzzwords to Bypass the Practical Ban on Software Patents

    The fightback against Section 101 and the US Supreme Court (notably Alice) seems to concentrate on old and new buzzwords, such as "Software as a Medical Device" ("SaMD") or "Fourth Industrial Revolution" ("4IR"), which the EPO recently paid European media to spread and promote

  20. News About Patents is Often Just Advertisements Composed Directly or Indirectly by Companies That Sell Patents and Patent Services

    Infomercials are still dominant among news about patents, in effect drowning out the signal (real journalism) and instead pushing agenda that is detached from reality, pertinent facts, objective assessment, public interest and so on

  21. Blocks and Paywalls Won't Protect the Patent Trolls' Lobby From Scrutiny/Fact-Checking

    Joff Wild and Benoît Battistelli have much in common, including patent maximalism and chronic resistance to facts (or fact-checking)

  22. China Has Become Very Aggressive With Patents

    China now targets other Asian countries/firms -- more so than Western firms -- with patent lawsuits; we expect this to get worse in years to come

  23. UPC/Battistelli Booster IAM Blames Brexit Rather Than EPO Abuses

    While the EPO is collapsing due to mismanagement the boosters of Team Battistelli would rather deflect and speak about Brexit, which is itself partly motivated by such mismanagement

  24. European Commission Again Urged to Tackle Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Rina Ronja Kari is the latest MEP attempting to compel the Commission to actually do something about the EPO other than turning a blind eye

  25. Links 18/3/2018: Wine 3.4, Wine-Staging 3.4, KDE Connect 1.8 for Android

    Links for the day

  26. TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

    A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

  27. PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent 'Industry' That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

    The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it's supporting sham deals (or "scams") and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

  28. The Patent 'Industry' is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn't Like the Decisions

    Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they're willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

  29. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Carries on Enforcing § 101, Invalidating Software Patents and Upsetting the Patent 'Industry' in the Process

    A quick report on where PTAB stands at the moment, some time ahead of the Oil States decision (soon to come from the US Supreme Court)

  30. Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its 'Reforms', Even Without the UPC

    With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO's terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion -- a fiscal environment ripe for shells)


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