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

09.30.10

Strong Momentum in the Fight Against Weak Patents

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents, Red Hat, SUN at 3:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Power expression

Summary: A roundup of stories about the fight against software patents in the United States and the fight to ease elimination of extremely bad ones (even Microsoft supports this latter fight)

STRONG OPPOSITION is being formed against software patents and yesterday we mentioned Red Hat's filing. Ars Technica covers this right about now, arguing very clearly that Red Hat is pushing for the end of software patents.

When the Supreme Court heard the Bilski case earlier this year, it ruled that the specific business method patent at issue in the case was invalid and contended that the patentability of intangible methods should be reduced but not eliminated. The court declined to provide clarity on the scope of software patentability, however, which leaves a lot of important questions unanswered.

[...]

Red Hat’s submission was authored by Rob Tiller, the company’s vice president and assistant general counsel. He argues that a growing number of vague patents on software methods have made it impossible to guess whether a new product will face the risk of litigation. His statement contends that the resulting landscape of uncertainty discourages innovation in the software industry.

LWN has covered this too and the thread is being trolled by Microsoft Florian, who spreads disinformation as usual (daemonising Red Hat and just about anything that resembles competition to Microsoft). For those who don’t know yet, Microsoft Florian works almost exclusively with Microsoft software. He only pretends to be a “FOSS” guy. He also lobbies in favour of software patents, not against them. It’s like with ACT, where the lobbyist pretends to represent the very opposite side which he or she lobbies for. It’s a common and highly unethical lobbying technique in the United States. It’s so common because it’s very effective (something along the lines of the “I like Linux, but…” troll). For those who do not know, Microsoft Florian’s mission seems to be ‘injecting’ the Microsoft line into GNU/Linux-oriented Web sites (he blocks feedback on his own ridiculous posts). Right now he is spinning it just like Microsoft Nick, simply because there is common ground on the issue of invalidating bad patents [1, 2, 3], not the stance against software patents. Microsoft spinners would love to mix the issues and fool those who are gullible or do not verify the facts. The Linux Foundation and Microsoft (and at times even the SFLC/FSF) agreed on some issues and worked together when it came to software liability for example. This does not mean that Microsoft is a friend of the Linux Foundation. To Microsoft it’s just a selfish deed, intended to save the Office cash cow from i4i (c/f i4i vs Microsoft).

One more thing to be said about Microsoft Florian (there are more details in our IRC logs) is that he attempts to be omnipresent by allegedly pasting the same comments in many different GNU/Linux-oriented sites and then modifying them slightly. That counts as spamming, just like mass-mailing journalists with slight personalisation is a form of spamming. Microsoft Florian does both. And all this coming from the same lobbyist who called FSF “spammers” for merely asking supporters to write their own letters in support of abolishing software patents? People are entitled to write to their own government or patent office? What a hypocrite. As gnufreex put it in IRC, “Mueller is attacking Red Hat for comoditising, and at same time, he defends TH’s [TurboHercules'] right to commoditise.” Microsoft Florian just repeats his lies over and over again in many places (with different audiences).

“Truth is, if Oracle’s acquisition failed, Sun would be sold to pieces. James Gosling implicitly admitted that the other day. Some pieces would go to trolls. So Moglen is right.”
      –gnufreex
For those who wonder where repeated messages are allegedly posted (and even double-posted in at least one case), the list includes Ars Technica, IT world (IDG), Computer World (IDG), LWN, Slashdot, and various blogs (he was banned from Groklaw). In Twitter, Microsoft Florian is promoting Mono, Microsoft repositories, and he is chatting with the Microsoft crowd, conspiring to smear all the groups and people who support software freedom. Microsoft MVP de Icaza even helps him smear some of those groups and sites. Perfect couple, eh?

“Florian’s points are all pretty weak,” explained to us a reader who brought some of these allegations (gnufreex). “But enough to fool the ignorant. So it is dangerous. Best bet is to elegantly refute his points. For example, his Moglen smears goes like this: “Moglen supported Oracle’s acquisition, so he is a sellout. Moglen also said that Oracle better home from Sun patents that Microsoft, and Microsoft never made bid for Sun. So Moglen is fear-mongering people against Microsoft/trying to make ‘em believe in bogeyman called Microsoft.

“Truth is, if Oracle’s acquisition failed, Sun would be sold to pieces. James Gosling implicitly admitted that the other day. Some pieces would go to trolls. So Moglen is right. Oracle is better than the alternative.”

Anyway, moving on a little, journalism on the subject of patents appears to be poor. TechDirt has just caught a good new example where a reporter could not tell the difference between copyright and software patents and thus misreported:

Michael Scott pointed us to a story from the Mass High Tech Business News claiming that Adobe had been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit by EveryScape. That caught my eye because it’s pretty rare for there to be copyright infringement claims between software companies, since there needs to be actual copying of the code in question (in most cases), and that’s pretty rare. And, reading the article, it didn’t sound like anyone was actually alleging copying of code. The more I read, the more I suspected that the reporter just got the story totally wrong, and that this had to be a patent infringement case, rather than a copyright one.

And, indeed, that’s what it appears to be. The company EveryScape, appears to have two patents (7,327,374 and 7,593,022) on the technology being discussed here. I get that not everyone recognizes the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks, but honestly, if you’re passing yourself off as a high tech publication, it seems like you should be able to get the basics down.

Here is one letter which has just been sent to the USPTO to protest against software patents:

I am a US citizen and software engineer. I am a named inventor on at least three patents (numbers 7,346,839, 7,409,383, and 7,783,639) and am named as an inventor for numerous pending patent applications. I am employed by Google, Inc.; this letter represents my personal opinion and not necessarily that of my employer.

Software patents are a significant threat to innovation in the software industry and, by extension, all of America’s technology-related businesses. While I understand the theoretical case that software patents can foster innovation – by encouraging investment and advancing the state of the art through disclosure – I have not seen this to be the case in any way in the software industry.

Software patents are not wanted even by American software engineers, but can they outnumber the patent lawyers and the lobbyists of software monopolists? It usually boils down to bureaucracy and greed, not science.

“The FT on the push for an EU patent,” says James Love regarding another new article whose first couple of paragraphs (needs subscriptions to read the rest) say nothing about the long-term impact on patentability of software. They make the Community patent (there are variations to this name) sound so attractive and sane.

A political push to create a single European Union-wide patent will get under way on Wednesday evening as EU industry ministers gather for an informal meeting in Brussels.

They will be urged to back a plan for a single patent that could apply across the 27-nation bloc and would be granted in one of three official languages – French, German or English.

Also on the subject of patents, gene patents [1, 2] suffer another well-deserved blow:

Several months ago we reported that a group of Australian plaintiffs had initiated litigation challenging the validity of Myriad’s Australian BRCA patents. Much like its U.S. counterpart, the Australian lawsuit represents a frontal attack on the patentability of genes.

Here in the U.S., the gene patent litigation shows no signs of reaching a swift resolution. Over the summer, Myriad appealed March’s widely-discussed district court ruling invalidating several of its key BRCA patents and claims, and the current appeal is unlikely to be the last, regardless of the outcome. In Australia, however, Myriad appears to be taking a different tack: offering to surrender its BRCA patent.

Recall the recent actions of Richard Stallman in Australia [1, 2]. Power to him.

Oddly enough, there is this new article with a sentence that bothered us slightly:

The number of U.S. software patents held by women has increased 45-fold since 1985; three times the national average.

Patents are not a measure of success and people need not measure innovation by the amount of papers accompanying some lines of code. Lawyers have an entirely different perspective and patent lawyers include the “innovation” meme alive as means of propaganda. Crosbie Fitch wrote to me and said: “People correlate patents as having caused innovation, not vice versa, inexorable progress attracting monopoly as a parasite. Indoctrination has it patents are modest reward for innovation, NOT that monopoly is excused by enumerating the obvious.”

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

8 Comments

  1. kozmcrae said,

    September 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Gravatar

    So that’s who I’ve been doing battle with (Microsoft Florian). Your descriptions match a tiresome Toll on Computerworld (SJVN’s blog). He posted some comments that mysteriously disappeared in less than 20 minutes. A couple days later Joyce Carpenter (Moderator?) apologized for the missing comments and admitted that she didn’t know why they went missing. No problem. They were so juicy I didn’t hesitate to copy the page.

    Here’s the one I believe the Troll called in a favor on:

    “Chapman makes a fool of himself again”
    Submitted by Anonymous on September 23, 2010 – 9:49 P.M.

    “Richard, I’m highly educated. You probably don’t even have a high school education. An MBA is smarter than 99.9% of all the people in the world. So shut up, and don’t try to argue with someone whose smrater than you.”

    Whatever my education may be, I know enough to use the built-in spell checker in Firefox. I noticed too that he didn’t say he was an MBA.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’m not sure it’s him. It’s not his style (too patronising/rude) and he’s a grammar Nazi, so I doubt he would have this many typos.

  2. kozmcrae said,

    October 1, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks, that’s good to know. Whoever he/she is, the style is consistent, mostly. The comment of mine he replied to must have touched a nerve because he seems to have lost it there. I try to ignore their insults. One thing they try to do is to drag the discussion down into a garbage filled quagmire of petty squabbles and unrelated topics.

    I would really like to tell my grandchildren how the War of Digital Independence was won, in person.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    When people in the comments start attacking/threatening other people in the comments section, intervention becomes quite justified. That’s why we introduced a commenting policy last year (no comments deleted, but we defend readers and contributors from harassment).

  3. twitter said,

    October 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Gravatar

    Software patents must be eliminated not made livable. The EFF and many other groups are mistakenly bolstering Microsoft’s effort to make the injustice of software patents something that business can tolerate. Microsoft’s move is much like what tobacco companies did to anti-smoking legislation thirty years ago, they channeled public resentment into non threatening forms. Public opinion, especially professional opinion, is against software patents. What Microsoft has asked for will work to advantage of big companies who can afford to defend themselves against bogus patents while using the same to exclude smaller competitors. It would be better to eliminate software patents, which are obnoxious government monopolies on business methods.

    dyfet Reply:

    Yes! Exactly!

  4. Agent_Smith said,

    October 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Gravatar

    What awesome moments we’re living in: While people all over the world tries to set free from corporations, we see the dirty tricks, the usual dirty tricks, happening over and over again. Lets keep our spirit, and fight evil with instruction and knowledge. Donate knowledge to someone, anyone, you give something and don’t loose nothing in the process.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, the flow of information is very crucial (Wikileaks too).

    Just don’t take the Internet for granted as that too is under attack:

    http://boingboing.net/2010/09/21/mpaa-actas-censoring.html
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/09/21/2315251

What Else is New


  1. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  2. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  3. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  4. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  5. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  6. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  7. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  8. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  9. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  10. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  11. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software



  12. The Microsoft Patent Trolls: Android Extortion, Vringo Versus Google, and Intellectual Ventures

    Roundup of news about patent aggression by Microsoft and some of its proxies



  13. Links 16/8/2014: Microsoft Linux, US Government Turns to Free Software

    Links for the day



  14. Links 15/8/2014: Reiser4 in Headlines Again, GNOME and KDE Events Finish

    Links for the day



  15. Links 14/8/2014: Kernel Summit Coming, KMix on KDE Frameworks 5

    Links for the day



  16. Shameless Microsoft Spin is Blaming China for Microsoft's Misconduct and Back Doors While Justifying Massive Losses in Hardware (Made in China)

    A new look at how Microsoft-friendly media takes negative Microsoft news and turns that news into some kind of scandals where Microsoft is the victim



  17. Microsoft Spin in the Media Evokes 'New Microsoft' and New Back Doors

    Some new examples of Microsoft boosters rewriting history, characterising Microsoft as a FOSS champion, and generally weak/shallow reporting on Microsoft's audio/video surveillance software



  18. Links 13/8/2014: GNU/Linux as Winner, New Snowden Interview

    Links for the day



  19. Reader's Article: Skype Spying Reaches New Levels of Blatant

    Forced 'upgrades' of Skype give useds [sic.] of Skype more than they asked for



  20. The Problem is Software Patents (and Scope), Not Patent Trolls Who Abuse Them Just Like Large Corporations

    Reminder of the dangers of losing sight of the real patent problem, which is the patents themselves, not necessarily those who use them



  21. Fraud in the USPTO and CAFC Helped Apple Launch Frivolous Patent Lawsuits Against Linux/Android, Based on New Withdrawals

    Inherent corruption in the US system has aided Apple's assault on east Asian electronics giants that use Linux at the core of their products



  22. Investigation Reveals That USPTO is Corrupt, Time to Abolish It or Annul Nearly a Million Patents

    Corruption is found at the heart of the USPTO and the USPTO works hard to hide it, despite attempt by whistleblowers to bring this corruption to light



  23. Links 13/8/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 Beta, Tizen in Watches

    Links for the day



  24. Links 12/8/2014: Chromebooks Surge, OpenGL in the Headlines

    Links for the day



  25. Bill Gates is Profiting By Diverting Public Money to His Own Pocket and Reducing Wages

    Gates' lobbying for companies he is an investor of and for lower salaries inside companies he is investing in (and managing) comes as no surprise



  26. Microsoft is Still Attacking Open Standards, So Khronos Does Not Need the Microsoft Moles

    Having attacked the industry's document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have 'embraced' ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL



  27. Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

    A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens' interests



  28. Links 11/8/2014: DEFT 8.2, Linux Mint on Debian Stable

    Links for the day



  29. Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

    Links for the day



  30. Links 8/8/2014: Qt a Separate Company Again, KDE Frameworks 5.1 Released

    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