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12.20.10

LibreOffice Finds Some Patent Assurance in the OIN

Posted in Microsoft, OIN, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle, Patents at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“What we’re seeing though now can be loosely described as patent terrorism, where people are using their patent horde as a threat [...] It’s almost like a cold war stand over tactic; where I have these patents and if you breach these patents, I’m going to come after you and sue you.”

James Eagleton, systems product manager for Sun Microsystems

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN) gets the Document Foundation as a licensee; other patent news of interest

THE Document Foundation (TDF) and LibreOffice were covered here a couple of times before and this whole initiative does pretty well so far. Oracle is already in the OIN and following advice from Groklaw — although probably not related to it — TDF is joining too and makes this announcement:

The Document Foundation has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), to further extend the free software ecosystems. By becoming a licensee, The Document Foundation – developer of LibreOffice, a free office suite for personal and corporate productivity – has joined the growing list of organizations that recognize the importance of participating in the Open Invention Network, in order to protect the free software ecosystem from the risks associated to software patents.“The Document Foundation is a major free software project, and LibreOffice a key office suite for creating, managing and sharing documents. By becoming a licensee of the Open Invention Network, we fight software patents – which stifle innovation and encourage predatory business practices – and at the same time we improve the protection of our software projects,” said Charles Schulz, Member of TDF Steering Committee.

Coincidentally, a lot of the TDF is European, which may help reduce the patent threat to it. Vis-à-vis Europe and patents, the “EU patent” [1, 2, 3, 4] had Italy dodge the rest of the pack (they are smart for avoiding such European problems which get falsely marketed) and then excluded as a result. Whilst European lawyers are excited, developers of software — no matter whether free/libre or proprietary — should be concerned. Even an aggressive/abrasive pro-software patents lawyer Gene Quinn seems to have had some Eureka moments given what he posted recently. A patent lawyer who focuses on games is contesting Groklaw’s position while streaming gaming content becomes a patent:

OnLive may not be offering a wide range of games at the moment, but the technology behind the service has proven impressive. The company now has another powerful weapon in its arsenal, as a patent on cloud-based gaming and the streaming of content has been granted to Steve Perlman, OnLive’s CEO.

Patents are a tax which is benefiting trolls and lawyers the most; can they be eliminated also for the sake of software Freedom? It’s Microsoft’s last resort now that it accepts more Office counterfeiting and sues companies using patents.

“Search engines be da**ed, it’s the OS that generates money – if the world switches to linux, it will switch to OpenOffice too.”

Motley Fool (heavily Microsoft influenced)

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3 Comments

  1. Patrick said,

    December 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Gravatar

    I don’t necessarily characterize that particular post as “contesting Groklaw’s position.” Groklaw was, primarily, reporting facts. I do, however, contest the spin (from many other than Groklaw) that the Judge’s decision in the Interval Licensing case was a “victory” for the defendants.

    Consider this: I have kids, and one of the rules in my house is that each week they must clean up their rooms. Suppose they neglect to do it. If I punish them only by making them clean up their rooms (something they are already required to do), would you say that they have learned anything about rules and consequences?

    Essentially, this is what the Judge did to Interval. What I tried to do in my post is expose the inefficient nature with which patent rights are adjudicated. Most readers of your blog probably believe that such rights shouldn’t exist, or should be more limited than they are today. However, as long as we have IP rights, including the right to exclude/demand royalty from users of specific technology, it makes sense to have disputes over such exclusions/demands as efficiently as possible.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I do, however, contest the spin (from many other than Groklaw) that the Judge’s decision in the Interval Licensing case was a “victory” for the defendants.

    I did too at the time. I think we actually agree on that, so it’s just a misunderstanding, hinged on the word “position”.

    twitter Reply:

    More efficient injustice is not a substitute for justice. Business method and software patents should not exist and they will inherently be redundant and confused if allowed. I don’t see an upside in allowing those who have stockpiled patents more efficient judicial extortion. If invalidating software patents one by one is like trying to eradicate malaria by swatting mosquitoes, then more speedy enforcement is like trying to eradicate malaria by murdering the victims.

    As a side note, you should avoid the propaganda term “IP” [2].

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