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04.06.11

FFII President Denounces Google’s Bid for Patents

Posted in Google, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benjamin Henrion and Andre of FFII

Summary: Elements of the FFII, notably Benjamin Henrion (left), encourage Google to use its financial power to abolish — not acquire — software patents

THOSE who want to get rid of software patents need not compromise at the level of accepting them as an interim solution just as activists against nuclear weapons must not encourage more nations to acquire or develop nuclear weapons as a “deterrent”. The whole argument around deterrence is a weak one, it’s propaganda. The opinions of the president of the FFII are quite similar to ours, unlike others in the FFII who adopt a more “diplomatic” (arguably cowardly) approach. This division within the FFII is a subject we alluded to before and it is not of much relevance to this post (see Andre’s opening remarks in the video below for a better idea).

“There is not so much consent around the attitude of the OSI, the Linux Foundation, and OIN.”In any event and at any rate, there seems to be growing popularity and intensity for the argument that we must get rid of all software patents. There is not so much consent around the attitude of the OSI, the Linux Foundation, and OIN. The president of the FFII points to this older post and notes that EPO Judges argued “[c]omputer-implemented inventions and their protection in the US and under the EPC was the next agenda point” (why do they discuss it in the first place?). He also links to this post and notes this patent: “Downloader: A computer that retrieves web pages and embedded objects from the internet. 6,864,904 ”

Suffice to say, the cited item is a lawyers’ blog, so it has nothing to do with technology. These people who are not engineers. They are in fact patent lawyers who sue for a living and extort using pieces of paper (patent watchtroll in this case), so they worship patents as a whole and also defend patent number 6,411,947. They insult those who actually write code and understand the subject matter (pun not intended). My critics too should know that I wrote about 3,000 lines of code last month.

The president of the FFII then addresses the Google situation, notably the Nortel bid, by saying:

it’d be better if Google were pouring that $900 million into lobbying to get rid of software patents altogether http://ur1.ca/3s2px

Wishful thinking? No patents would be Utopian to Google, but this would not be beneficial to just Google (it’s like promoting the brand “Linux”), so how can this be justified to shareholders? Moreover, Google’s lawyers wish to justify their existence within the company. “Google not really against software patents,” concludes the president of the FFII who links to other critics of intellectual monopolies. This strategy which Google adopts does not help against trolls, but some would play along with Google and call it “patent armoury”. It’s not. Patents are like nuclear weapons; they are used for litigation, not so much for negotiation. We are better off without any of them. Just watch Sun’s “defensive” patents and what Oracle did to Android with them. ZFS, which is now owned by Oracle, is a famous victim of patents and we wrote about this for years. Patents change hands and with this change of “ownership” comes change in patent strategy, too.

IDG says that “Google gets serious about software patents” and here are some more details in niche sites:

Nortel will pay Google $25 million in break up fees, and a further $4 million to cover expenses if another party wins the auction, Bloomberg reports. Bids will go up in increments of at least $5 million, and bidding has been pegged to hit a minimum of $1 billion.

The numbers/sum most-widely quotes is $900 million for 6,000 patents.

From Mercury News:

Today: Texas Instruments intends to buy NatSemi for $6.5 billion. Plus: Watch out for email “phishing” schemes. And: Google (GOOG), Pandora, Silicon Valley tech stocks.

$6.5 billion NatSemi deal

Texas Instruments intends to buy Santa Clara chip giant National Semiconductor in a cash deal worth $25 a share, or $6.5 billion, the two companies announced this afternoon.

[...]

Google would be the “stalking horse” bid, but other companies also could make offers for the patents. Google is trying to buy the patents even as it argues for changes to the system, arguing that some software patents are stifling innovation rather than encouraging it.

Well, software patents are indeed stifling innovation rather than encouraging it. So what example is Google setting by its actions?

Here is a new article which suggests that universities should forget about patents:

Open source software licenses already offer university software creators an alternative to the university’s patent+license commercialization model. Open source hardware licenses are next. University intellectual property strategies will need to learn to peaceably learn to co-exist with open sourced hardware licenses. A centralized, enforcement-flavored intellectual property strategy is not going to work. Nor will university policies that blindly favor hardware patents at the expense of alternative methods of sharing design information.

Here is a new press release from some company which thinks it’s acceptable to get a thought monopoly on a product:

Tentatively called The Trade Marketplace, this patent-pending software was recently revealed in beta form to a group of Cleveland-area job shop owners, who said they would welcome a convenient, time-efficient means to quote new business, especially one that spotlights their core competencies, reduces the expense of processing an RFQ or an RFP and increases the opportunity to win new business.

It is not about winning new business but about obstructing rivals, as this new story about Mosaid Technologies helps remind us. Companies which do not abolish software patents and part of the problem; conformism is not an excuse. Aim high, achieve much. Aim low, achieve nothing.

24C3: NO OOXML – A 12 euros campaign

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14 Comments

  1. markolopa said,

    April 6, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Gravatar

    Hello,

    I am from the FFII and your comments about a division within it sounds strange and puzzling to me. If there is an issue you want to discuss I suggest you to formulate it more clearly and openly. The way you did, it gives room to bad interpretations.

    Thanks for the very informative blog!
    Marko

    twitter Reply:

    FFII’s position on software patents is an unambiguous condemnation. I don’t see what Andre says to contradict this in the first nine minutes, other than say that he had an initial hesitation to oppose Microsoft and ooxml before he researched the subject. Perhaps I’m looking at the wrong video?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    On the issue of patents, the FFII is single file. And that’s what matters the most.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Hi markolopa,

    The example I gave in the video is one which I merely see for the second time; back in 2008 and now again I find that Andre and Ben disagree/d about the No<OOXML campaign. In addition, there are constrictions found in the @xoobab account (president) and @ffii account (e.g. one agrees with me and retweets, the other says it’s incorrect). That again is misalignment between Ben and Andre. Then there are older examples like http://techrights.org/2009/08/31/hijacked-by-large-corps/

    No organisation — unless it is tyrannical — has one uniform view. IOW, this is fine.

  2. a.rebentisch said,

    April 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Gravatar

    Beating the bush to catch the snake – as the Chinese say. You’re guessing.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Can you provide some examples? The reason I brought this up is, the other week I quoted Ben, published a post, he then liked it too (it would seem so because he linked), but you replied by saying that it was not correct. So I just don’t know anymore who speaks for FFII. I didn’t mean to misrepresent anyone. I could use some clarifications to avoid upsetting individual members.

    verofakto Reply:

    I could use some clarifications to avoid upsetting individual members.

    The same old story, except that this time you aimed the gun at yourself. Here’s a hint: If you want to avoid upsetting people, don’t insult them. That usually works.

    a.rebentisch Reply:

    By explaining which statements are wrong I would reveal internal information, e.g. about the twitter process.

    In terms of who speaks for what the generally accepted approach is to attribute things as they are. When I write in my private blog (or file a document access request) I do that on my own behalf. When an association where I am a board member adds spin and references to it via twitter is fine for me but it is just a referrer. If I want to make it a request of the org there would be a press release of the respective org.

    Concerning Google I see no reason to smear the company. In fact Benjamin does not do that:
    http://twitter.com/zoobab/statuses/55273151675908096
    He highlights that regulatory action is usually much cheaper than suffering the consequences. Tactically Google may take the appropriate decision:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/patents-and-innovation.html

    Example for Dr. Schestowitz: Immediately an obese man has to be sent to hospital, his doctor finds. His complete blood count shows. A colleague of the doctor regrets “Malnutrition is a challenge of our society. Sports and carrots would be cheaper than hopitalization of obese persons”.

    twitter Reply:

    People have to guess where information is scarce. Thank you for clarifying your position or lack of one and how that relates to FFII.

    I hope that after some reflection, you will realize that Benjamin is correct and that no smear was intended. From your OOXML talk, you and Roy have a lot in common but you admit giving too much credit to big companies. It is disappointing, though not surprising, to see that you consider it a smear disagree with Google’s decision to spend $900,000,000 on patents. This would only be a good tactical move if they are bidding to drive troll costs up rather than to purchase something that should be worthless. Even this is a long term defeat because it legitimizes software patents. As Microsoft partners who pay patent royalties for Android and GNU/Linux have already learned, there is no patent portfolio or royalty payment provides protection against the insane US patent system and abusers like Microsoft, MPEGLA and other proxies for big publishers and telcos. No matter who they pay or what they do, they find themselves embargoed, threatened and sued. I agree that Google deserves the benefit of the doubt but software patent purchases are a clear loser for Google and everyone else.

    Thank you for your continued and courageous advocacy of software freedom.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    @a.rebentisch: I did not refer to your personal site as a FFII position, just the @ffii account (whose stance I mostly agree with, about 95% of the time).

  3. a.rebentisch said,

    April 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Gravatar

    @twitter I disagree. You read too much from Florian Müller. He also communicates along these lines.

    Example: I do not find it wrong to make a fortune out of speculation against currencies and support regulatory reforms against abuses of the monetary system. It is impossible for me to find “hypocrisy” in that conduct.

    That makes it an intellectual challenge for me to take such arguments seriously.

    Fear mongering makes the spook. No one gets scared to use Android because of desperate attacks from market competitors: http://bit.ly/gIA5hP
    If Google buys out Nortel, its not their misconduct but shows the burden/costs of the current regulatory environment for them.

    @Schestowitz:
    http://techrights.org/2011/04/02/transparency-triumph/

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    @twitter I disagree. You read too much from Florian Müller. He also communicates along these lines.

    There is the spin which gets accentuated, but the claim is hinged on real hypocrisy.

    twitter Reply:

    I don’t think Google’s purchase of Nortel’s patents is misconduct so much as it is a waste of money. Microsoft proxies will attack no matter how large Google grows their patent portfolio beyond the 500 or so they have. The money is better spent eliminating the problem at the roots. No one should be burdened with business method and software patents.

  4. a.rebentisch said,

    April 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Gravatar

    @twitter I disagree. You read too much from Florian Müller. He also communicates along these lines.

    Example: I do not find it wrong to make a fortune with speculation against currencies and support regulatory reforms against abuses of the monetary system. It is impossible for me to find “hypocrisy” in that conduct.

    That makes it an intellectual challenge for me to take such arguments seriously.

    Fear mongering makes the spook. No one gets scared to use Android because of desperate attacks from market competitors. If Google buys out Nortel, its not Google’s misconduct but shows the burdens/costs of the current regulatory environment for them.

    @Schestowitz:here

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