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

09.22.10

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. Links 29/7/2015: Akademy 2015 Ends, NetBSD 7.0 RC

    Links for the day



  2. MPEG-LA is Preparing New Patent Obstruction (Called DASH) Against Free Software, OIN Grows

    A new conspiracy against free multimedia software, set up by the MPEG cartel, is called DASH



  3. New Zealand's Media Gets History Wrong on Software Patents

    Setting the record straight on the fight against software patents in New Zealand



  4. Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too

    Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft's tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically



  5. The Government of Bulgaria Sells Out to Microsoft, Again

    Despite some promises and reassurances that Bulgaria will consider Free/libre software, the Bulgarian government hands out a lot more of taxpayers' money to the Mafia



  6. Corporate Media Finally Finds Out That Vista 10 Crashes a Lot

    Stability issues of Vista 10 are belatedly reported to be a major catastrophe, leaving it unusable for many early adopters



  7. Links 28/7/2015: Linux 4.2 RC4, New Logos and Bug 'Branding' for FUD

    Links for the day



  8. Patents Roundup: Technicolor, Alice, Voip-Pal, Fitbit, Marijuana Patents, and JDate

    A look at some of last week's patent news, with imperative responses that criticise corporate exploitation of patents for protectionism (excluding and/or driving away the competition using legal threats)



  9. Corporate Lobbyists Including Koch-Connected Front Groups Attack Real and Perceived Patent Reform in the United States

    Looking at some of the latest propaganda for and against a bill which is already too watered-down to actually fix the US patent system



  10. Patents in the Android World Further Complicate Freedom in This Linux-Powered Platform

    A survey of last week's news with special focus on Google and Android, which are trying to coexist and thrive in a world full of patent maximalists



  11. The 'Unitary' Patent Trojan Horse Rammed Down the Throat of Europe

    Under the guise of 'unification' or 'unity', existing patent systems are being abandoned and more power gets passed to corrupt EPO officials



  12. HEVC Cartel is Not News, Only the Names of Backers and the Costs Are New

    A few remarks on and a roundup of recent articles about HEVC, which we first wrote about in spring



  13. IRC Proceedings: July 12th, 2015 – July 25th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  14. Links 26/7/2015: Purism Librem and Freedom, Akademy Updates

    Links for the day



  15. Vista 10 (Windows 10) Has NSA Back Doors and Front Doors

    Vista 10 to bring new ways for spies (and other crackers) to remotely access people's computers and remotely modify the binary files on them (via Windows Update, which for most people cannot be disabled)



  16. Vista 10 Not Ready, But Released Anyway

    Despite severe technical issues in the rushed-out-the-door Vista 10, Microsoft decides to stick with the deadline, only days after reporting billions of dollars in losses



  17. Links 25/7/2015: Plasma Mobile, Linux Mint 17.2 OEM

    Links for the day



  18. Links 24/7/2015: openSUSE Leap 42.1, Intel With Rackspace for OpenStack

    Links for the day



  19. Links 24/7/2015: GNOME 3.17.4, Mozilla Developer Network Turns 10

    Links for the day



  20. Microsoft Has Run Out of Attempts and Vista 10 Will Definitely Fail

    As Microsoft admits billions of dollars in losses just days before Vista 10 is pushed as a 'free' upgrade, there is no concrete sign that financial recovery is imminent, for the bigger cash cow (Office) suffers a similar fate



  21. GNU/Linux Circles Ought to Stop Promoting Visual Studio, Which is Neither Cross-Platform Nor Free Software

    Media carries on openwashing Visual Studio and perpetuating the illusion that it is not tied to Microsoft Windows



  22. Spinning Proprietary Software Dangers as Dangers of Free/Libre Software

    News sites mislead their readers, teaching them that the biggest dangers associated with proprietary software are in fact problems exclusive to Free/libre Open Source software



  23. Links 23/7/2015: New RHEL Release, Capital One Releases Code

    Links for the day



  24. Terminology of Patent Lawyers and Pro-Patents Media Serves to Mislead the Public

    An outline of stories where the language used to describe patents is grossly distorted so as to bias the reality and mislead the audience/readers



  25. Amid Billions in Losses, Microsoft Tries to Conquer the Competition (Which Already Wins)

    The 'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish' strategy goes a few steps further as Microsoft looks to dominate developers, devices and servers that are running Free/libre software



  26. Microsoft Losing Billions of Dollars is Not News

    Few remarks on Microsoft's latest admission that it is losing a lot of money



  27. Links 22/7/2015: Kodi 15.0, MKVToolnix 8.2.0

    Links for the day



  28. The Technology Sector in the US Has Gotten Fed Up With Apple's Patent Aggression Against Android/Linux

    Apple is desperately trying to stop Android from increasing its levels of dominance (in phones, tablets, watches, and so on), so Silicon Valley is lining up against Apple, antagonising its misuse/abuse of patents for anticompetitive purposes



  29. Patents Regime in Europe: Mixture of Greed, Competition Abuses, and Propaganda

    A roundup of the latest patent news from Europe, focusing on Italy, the UK, Germany, and Hungary



  30. Patent 'Reform' in US Congress Still Under Attack by Patent Lawyers and Corporate Lobbyists

    The latest instances of assault on changes to the US patent system, demonstrated through an elaborative survey of the media (two days' worth)


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