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11.05.10

Patent Trolls Including Microsoft’s Co-founder Are Attacking, IBM is Not Really Defending (Unless IBM is Attacked)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big bloop

No diving at the pool

Summary: More entities which are tied to Microsoft keep turning offensive using software patents and IBM supports response which only legitimises software patents

IBM, the main company behind OIN, is not doing enough to alleviate the patent problems GNU/Linux is having. Well, pointing to this IBM item and this one from the receiver of IBM support, the current FFII president (Benjamin) says:

IBM promoting legitimisation of software patents through the peer-to-patent project

It is not news that IBM is in some ways part of the problem. The former FFII president wrote a few days ago: “Would you trust a legal framework that was co-written by Microsoft said “reasonable and non-discriminatory” wrt patents?”

“We need software patent litigation, Google sued over Streetview,” adds Benjamin in relation to this article. What he means to say is, companies like Google might only start lobbying against software patents if the number of patent lawsuits increases and costs the company too much. As it stands, Google's policy is similar to IBM's and as Microsoft keeps manufacturing patent trolls and expansionists, Traul Allen for example is suing the likes of Google. Groklaw has some of the latest details, including:

Presumably, Allen has to comply and finally tell us what this lawsuit is actually about. Until he does, how in the world do the accused comply with any of it? You don’t know what documents are relevant or what employees might have evidence until you know what it is you allegedly did. Maybe that’s the judge’s point, to force the issue and cut the gaming short.

What is this adherence to patenting of software? Traul Allen is not the only Microsoft troll who is attacking Microsoft rivals (including Linux players) right now. Linking to this recent report that we already responded to similarly, Pamela Jones wrote last night: “So first Microsoft funded SCO. Now it’s funding Acacia. Acacia subsidiary IP Innovation sued Red Hat and Novell for patent infringement. It lost, but it cost the companies plenty to defend. Get the picture? Here are the complete trial transcripts, so you can see how utterly ridiculous the claims were. The jury ruled nothing was infringed and the patents asserted were not valid. And now we know the rest of the story.”

Dan Bricklin, who is Pamela Jones’ friend, has explained why patenting the spreadsheet paradigm/s was simply not worth it to him (even some Microsoft employees would apparently agree):

Dan Bricklin, the creator of the first spreadsheet program, VisiCalc, has been mentioned in a number of articles recently concerning the issue of software patents, and he’s now speaking up about the basic question of what would have happened if he’d been able to patent VisiCalc. He’s responding to someone who suggests that the lack of a patent on VisiCalc slowed innovation by making everyone just copy VisiCalc. Bricklin responds smartly (of course) by pointing out that this wasn’t true at all. First, plenty of others tried to come up with other, completely different systems to replace spreadsheets — and none caught on.

[...]

There’s a big difference between invention and innovation — and it’s the innovation that helps the economy.

Here is another new reason not to turn to patents as a strategy:

Ski Manufacturer Turns Patent Troll, Igniting Patent Response & Pissing Off Potential Customers

Crosbie Fitch alerts us to the news that skiing manufacturer Armada apparently secured a patent 7,690.674 earlier this year on a “snow riding implement,” and the company has started sending out threat letters to a bunch of competitors. Now, two interesting things have happened in response. First, at least one of the companies threatened, Rossignol, has responded by pulling out one of its own patents (6,986,525 and filing a lawsuit against Armada for infringement, while also asking for declaratory judgment that it does not infringe on Armada’s patent:

Microsoft is no better than this company called Armada, but Microsoft uses proxies for some of its litigation. Unless the super-corporations that compete against Microsoft (Google, IBM, etc.) do something to end the problem at the root, there will be no imminent solution. It’s also them one needs to pressure.

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