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

11.16.10

India Says No to RAND and Europe Should Pay Attention

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Red Hat at 1:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Elephant statue

Summary: India does the right thing when it comes to RAND and the world ought to pay attention and mimic this Indian model regarding standards

THERE is some good news regarding software patents in India and also an admission from Microsoft that patents inside standards are not a good idea after all. We’ll go through some of the news links we found and explain what they mean.

Glyn Moody, one of the more notable voices as of late against RAND terms (‘GPL kryponite’), says that “Microsoft Demonstrates why FRAND Licensing is a Sham” in this new post regarding the Microsoft versus Motorola lawsuit (where Microsoft is a patent aggressor). As Dr. Moody puts it:

The key part here is that Microsoft accuses Mototola of failing to honour its commitment “to license identified patents related to wireless and video coding technologies under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions.” That is, even when FRAND (called RAND here) has been agreed as the terms under which technology will be licensed, there is no guarantee those terms will actually be “reasonable” (or “fair”) in everyone’s eyes.

This is exactly what I was suggesting in my previous piece – but even worse here, because this isn’t even about the non-availability of “special” terms for free software, but the squabbling amongst traditional proprietary vendors over what FRAND means in practice. Basically, it demonstrates nicely that FRAND means precisely and exactly nothing: grand-sounding though “fair” and “reasonable” may be, in the red-in-tooth-and-claw world of patent licensing, they are hollow words that offer absolutely zero guarantee for those that foolishly take them at face value.

Indeed, Microsoft’s action shows that the only way to obtain “fair and reasonable” terms under FRAND is fight for it in the courts – which again is completely impossible for free software projects that are not bankrolled by major companies. This is yet another way in which FRAND is biased against such smaller, players that make up most of the free software world.

Microsoft’s latest action provides one more compelling reason why the European Commission should not use FRAND for EIF v2 if it wants to create a level playing field for software in Europe through support for open standards. If it does, the only people who will benefit will be the big, bullying software companies that will simply ride roughshod over any sense of “fairness” or “reasonableness” – and the lawyers.

Simon Phipps too has just written about RAND the following remarks (the context being a little different from the above):

One of the unseen menaces to software freedom is bilateral (private) agreements that supersede apparent freedoms. That’s a great reason to oppose RAND as a way of licensing patents in standards by the way – RAND ensures the market is not transparent and open becuase it compels participants to engage in bilateral agreements that supersede software freedom.

Fortunately, at least in India, sanity prevails and will hopefully expand to the West. RAND-type terms are being abolished as matter of law (although it’s a bit of a stretch to say so). As Pranesh Prakash put it:

Very exciting! India’s new Open Standards policy’s finalized: http://goo.gl/4YfeD [pdf] #openstds

Here is how a Red Hat employee from India put it

After three years of continuous running battles, India’s Department of Information Technology has finalized the National Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance. This incorporates many of the key points submitted by Red Hat. Over the last three years, we worked with our friends in government, academic, civil society and the media to push the Indian government in favor of a policy that mandates a single, royalty-free standard. The final policy and the comments that Red Hat had submitted are attached.

Michael Tiemann, OSI superstar and colleague of the person above, writes not on behalf of Red Hat that:

This clause ensures that open standards do not discriminate against open source, which is great news for the free software and open source software communities. More importantly, as India’s star continues to rise, this shows that a leading nation of the world can discuss, debate, and decide a policy that balances—and indeed strengthens—the interests of business and the rights of the people. The wisdom and courage of India are on full display today!

This will not stand without a fight from those who oppose software freedom or monetise unnecessary litigation. Our reader Satipera warns of “Pushing #swpats [software patents] in India” under this new article from a bias-filled source, obviously a person with vested interests. Dr Anu Vaidyanathan, who describes himself as “founder of PatNMarks, an intellectual property consulting firm,” has just been given a platform by The Hindu, as if it’s intended to provide/facilitate advertising/lobbying needs. To quote parts of this ‘plug’:

Patent law in India states explicitly that a mathematical or business method or computer program per se or algorithms constitute non-patentable subject matter. In the USPTO, various tests exist to check whether a certain patent is a business method or a software patent. These are applied after the tests for novelty and inventiveness, which are the first-level tests to be applied to any patent, worldwide.

In India, arguably, the precedents that exist for the successive application of these tests are very slim simply because we don’t have a vast litigation history in this area — either in Business Methods or in Software. For future reference and purposes of discussion, these are important for two reasons (a) Litigation surrounding technology companies within India, most notably Google, is on the rise in the domain of Intellectual Property and (b) Indian companies are better off knowing the possibility of their patents being accepted based on historical data than to be first filers that set them up in a big way for litigation and other unexpected precedents.

[...]

For a software company, this is probably the best way forward because by applying for a patent, these companies are not trying to limit access to their technology, rather making the case of protecting their fort to avoid the nuisance of trolls or third-party objections to their code-bases, application programming interfaces or platforms.

These are the sorts of people who would rather see standards being ‘contaminated’ with software patents, in which case Free software gets excluded. Citizens of India should not let the RAND proponents get their way; it would harm all small- and medium-sized businesses, be they proprietary or free/libre. The EU will hopefully be inspired by India now that the debate there is ongoing (with Microsoft front groups pushing for RAND this fall [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]); “let’s hope the EU gets it while it’s hot,” argues Glyn Moody.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing quite a lot recently about the imminent European Interoperability Framework (EIF), and the extent to which it supports true open standards that can be implemented by all. Of course, that’s not just a European question: many governments around the world are grappling with exactly the same issue. Here’s a fascinating result from India that has important lessons for the European Commission as they finalise EIF v2.

As you might expect, the free software community in India has been fighting similar battles to those still raging in Europe.

The FFII has meanwhile found out that the US ACTA negotiator said: “I personally don’t think there are any problems with the patent system.” Yes, it figures. That’s where a lot of the RAND trouble comes from.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Slashdot

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 22/10/2020: LibreOffice 6.4.7, Septor 2020.5, Ubuntu 20.10 Released, FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 21, 2020



  3. Living Humbly (With Older Technology or None) is More Compatible With Privacy- and Freedom-Respecting Technological Lifestyle

    Simplicity sometimes trumps so-called 'novelty', especially when it comes to human rights and users' freedom



  4. Reasons Why You (and Everybody Else) Should Join the Fight for Software Freedom

    Society is being closely watched and controlled (more so during/after the latest pandemic) and people must carefully consider the true importance of resisting proprietary technology (controlled remotely by state actors)



  5. Ways and Means to Reduce One's Dependency on Google's Various Monopolies and Near-Monopolies

    Getting rid of Google means a lot more than embracing DumbDumbGo (DDG) or some other sites that spy just like Google; we're taking stock of some options



  6. The European Commission is Still M.I.A. Regarding EPO Corruption (and the EPO's Management Plays Dirty, as Always)

    There's no change in the EU; the EUIPO and EPO enjoy complete and total immunity/impunity, with the Commission being manned by those who are deeply complicit



  7. 10 Reasons Why All This 'Edge for Linux' Coverage is a Total Farce

    The fake hype surrounding "Edge" is an inauthentic hype/buzz campaign made to coincide with anti-Google sentiments spread by Microsoft front/pressure groups



  8. Microsoft's IIS Has Collapsed Again This Past Month (and IIS Will Not and Cannot Survive This Way)

    Netcraft shows that Microsoft's decline further accelerates in the Web servers space; IIS is becoming financially unviable



  9. Links 21/10/2020: Alpine 3.12.1, Tor Browser 10.0.2

    Links for the day



  10. [Meme] US Department of Justice Should Have Taken on Microsoft Again, Not Google

    When lobbying, connections and political sway determine the actions of the American government it's hardly surprising that Bill Gates gets the Trump administration to fight for him (to make him even richer)



  11. [Meme] Banning Words, Gaslighting Volunteers

    What happens when institutions are themselves in violation of a CoC (institutional violation) and massive corporations that fund such institutional violations are defending demonisation of the individual (squashing ‘uncomfortable’ voices, even volunteers’)



  12. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 20, 2020



  13. Links 21/10/2020: $8000 GNU/Linux Desktop, Tails 4.12, Open Infrastructure Foundation and Firefox Release

    Links for the day



  14. Never Feed the Internet Trolls, No Matter How Tempting It Becomes

    The tactics for removing critics of abuse (by framing them as "abusive") have evolved a lot in recent years; the best course of action is to never entertain provocateurs in any way whatsoever (just ignore them, give them no attention which they crave and feed on)



  15. Bill Gates: “I'm Not a Lawyer” (He Dropped Out of College, Where He Studied Law Before and After Breaking the Law Chronically)

    How Microsoft blackmailed other companies into supporting nothing but Microsoft and Windows; Bill Gates repeatedly lied to the interrogators about it, then said "I'm not a lawyer" (IANAL) even though he went to college to become one, just like his father who died last month



  16. Microsoft Has Not Changed Since Being Investigated (and Prosecuted) for Crimes at a Federal Level

    The media keeps telling us a bunch of worthless junk about Gates "saving the world" and Microsoft becoming a "nice" and "gentle" (or "soft") company, but nothing could be further from the truth



  17. Stick a Fork in the Open Source Initiative (OSI). OSI is Dead. Microsoft Bought OSI.

    OSI leadership proudly showing early signs of 'prognosis negative'; the OSI can never and will never recover from this; Microsoft killed it



  18. Links 20/10/2020: OpenZFS 2.0 RC4 and Trisquel GNU/Linux 9.0

    Links for the day



  19. People With God Complex Must Never be Allowed in Positions of Power

    The attack on Linus Torvalds — an attack which at his own expense/peril he fails to recognise/acknowledge — seeks to put both projects that he founded right in Microsoft’s palm



  20. IRC Proceedings: Monday, October 19, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, October 19, 2020



  21. Corporate Media: GNU/Linux Can Only Succeed If/When Microsoft Dominates Everything Inside It

    The corporate takeover (or handover) of GNU/Linux would not have been possible without complicity of corruptible (bribed) media



  22. Bill Gates Explains How Microsoft and Apple Leverage Software Patents in Their Cross-Licensing Deals (to Perpetuate Duopoly/Shared Monopoly)

    A look back at Apple's and Microsoft's use or misuse of bogus software patents in bargaining (in effect excluding those who have not amassed tens of thousands of patents)



  23. Standards and Choices

    GNU/Linux is a very standards-based platform; having lots of choices (e.g. distros to choose from) isn’t the principal problem — or nowhere near the extent sabotage and illegal tactics by Microsoft have been



  24. IBM's “Emb(RACE)” Campaign is an Insult to History and Historians

    IBM wishes to be seen as some heroic saviour and warrior for black girls; this requires serious if not torturous revisionism to be believed



  25. There Are Too Many Types of Cars...

    "Choice is malicious," say the antagonists



  26. Reversal of Narratives by Internet Trolls (Spinning Reaction to Their Trolling as 'Abuse')

    Organisations that engage in demonisation of people (typically those who expose the abuses of such organisations) somehow evade the standards of Codes of Conduct, as if Codes of Conduct are covertly designed not to protect individuals but to empower those who already have all the powers (or front for powerful people/corporations)



  27. Ongoing (Albeit Secret) Campaign of Patent Extortion Against GNU/Linux Distributions Using Software Patents, Even Expired Ones in Europe

    GNU/Linux distros attacked by software patents, even in Europe where no such patents are supposed to exist (or have any legal bearing)



  28. Links 19/10/2020: Linux 5.9-ck1/MuQSS, Linux Kodachi 7.3

    Links for the day



  29. Java's James Gosling is Wrong. Free Software Advocates Never Suggested or Insinuated That Money-Making Was Ethically Wrong.

    The honorable James Gosling mischaracterises the stance of Free software advocacy, portraying it like it is an issue of money rather than respect for users



  30. Maybe This is What Codes of Conduct Were Made for? Or to Prevent? (Updated)

    When people bemoan the abuse they receive from a so-called 'anti-harassment' team (covering up corporate corruption in a project by ousting people) this is the kind of thing they receive from colleagues or former colleagues


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