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02.15.11

The ‘New Nokia’ is a Patent Problem in Europe

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 12:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia vampire

Summary: Nokia’s direction after a virtual takeover by Microsoft is dangerous to Free software and New Zealand too is going through some new issues

IN OUR posts about Nokia’s sellout [1, 2, 3] we highlighted the patent risk it would pose. For quite some time Nokia has been a major patent nuisance in Europe and also internationally. As we pointed out a few days ago, the FFII, April, and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) urged the EU to not hurry with the damaging EU patent, which would basically enable software patents to enter Europe. To quote one of the latest reports on the subject:

The issue is on the Parliament’s agenda for next week, but a legal opinion from the court is not expected until later this month or even March.

“Software patents hurt innovation and are an unnecessary burden on European software developers,” said Karsten Gerloff, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe. “Legislators need to take charge and make sure the patent system contributes to the public good. As the European Patent Organisation has acknowledged, this is a decision that cannot be left to bureaucrats and the judiciary.”

“Just bought Nokiaplanp.com, P like Patents. Send me your ideas for a cool page,” writes the president of the FFII. Currently it just points to TechEye, which has an article that confirms Nokia is indeed intending to use patents (offensively). The FFII took note of Nokia’s ugly side when it comes to patents, as Techrights too has pointed out for years.

A European tour from Richard Stallman is now arriving at Belgium (think of Brussels). The abstract of his talk is as follows: “Richard Stallman will explain how software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user. Economic research shows that they even retard progress.”

With regards to the situation involving software patents in New Zealand (similar to what has happened in Europe), there is still some awkward stuff going on:

Web efficiency developer Aptimize is seeking worldwide patents for more of its software. This will include filing for New Zealand software patents as long as these are still available, says CEO Ed Robinson.

Aptimize applied for its first local patent in mid-2008 and had it granted towards the end of last year. The protection “gave us breathing room” to further develop the company’s products, secure in the knowledge they would not be imitated, Robinson says.

Aptimize’s products have been adopted internationally by companies including Google and Disney and, in this country by TradeMe, Mainfreight and Zespri.

In other news, watch how an apparent patent troll is shaping up. From the press release about Mark Whitaker coming to Baker Botts LLP:

Whitaker has successfully represented clients in electronics, telecommunications, chemical and software process patent disputes and licensing campaigns. He has also worked with clients involved in fast-track intellectual property litigation before the International Trade Commission (ITC).

In other words, this man loves embargoing products. How counter-productive. This is the type of thing Europe and New Zealand should keep away. Nokia has historically sidled with the patent lobby on this issue, quite strongly in fact.

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