04.28.11

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Fake Patent Reforms and Abolition of Software Patents

Posted in America, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Why progress is not being made in the fight against software patents, despite claims that software patents can only be obtained in the United States and perhaps some Asian countries

Patent Extortion Against Linux

Microsoft is a very abusive patent aggressor, despite Todd Bishop pretending that it complies with the law. It’s all just spin or misdirection. Thanks to the absence of NDA rules (not applying because no deal was signed), B&N showed serious abuses from Microsoft after it got sued (similar to Microsoft suing Motorola over Linux) and regulators should take a close look at that. Microsoft has turned into some kind of massive patent troll or a company which uses patent trolls to attack its competition. Funnily enough, TechDirt publishes an analyst’s opinion that “Motorola’s Best Play Is To Become A Patent Troll & Destroy Android Ecosystem With Patent Lawsuits” (TechDirt quote, not the analyst’s), yet nobody seems to mention what Microsoft is already doing, which is exactly how Mike describes it:

Weren’t patents supposed to be about encouraging innovation? Of course, the reality is that they’re mostly used for the opposite purpose, which is holding back innovation, stopping other companies and cashing in on the lawsuits. It seems that some analysts aren’t even pretending that patents are useful for innovation any more. Trip Chowdhry, a somewhat well known analyst in the tech space, is claiming that [...] suggests that the company go full on patent troll and sue everyone else making Android tablets. Because that will help the market.

Read the above and think about what Microsoft is doing. It is exactly that. Given the nature of patent litigation in such a scenario, should there not be a patent reform? They want us to believe so.

USPTO ‘Reform’

Well, as we pointed out at the time, the recently-passed reform was not really a reform but more of a decoy. They called it a “reform”, but it was more like a symbolic pat on the shoulder. Erick Robinson, the Senior Patent Counsel at Red Hat, says it passed “with little reform” and he explains why:

In my March 2 post on patent reform, I noted that many of the provisions offered in prior versions of patent reform bills were removed from the pending bill. On March 8, the Senate passed S. 23, now called the “America Invents Act” 95-5. As one might guess, any legislation passed with such unanimity must present little controversy. Such is the case here, as the bill was further stripped before passage, leaving little reform to match the hype with which it was passed.

For example, the damages provision mentioned in my post – already watered down from the version in prior years’ bills – was removed. Similarly, the venue provision (also significantly diluted from previous bills) was deleted. In fact, the only controversial provision that made its way into the final bill was the “first to file” provision. Most of the other minor changes in my March 2 post remain intact as well.

Now, let’s look at what goes on in Europe.

EPO

The EPO keeps pretending that it does not accept software patents while bragging about some of them in an MP3 propaganda piece like one which hails Karlheinz Brandenburg, noting:

Karlheinz Brandenburg was not the only researcher working on digital audio coding.

Yes, and they all worked on similar underlying mathematics. This is outrageous because the EPO decided to issue just one person/party a monopoly/franchise on such mathematics. How shameful. The EPO does not serve the public and amid budget cuts it should be made a candidate for shutdown. In response to such congregations of illegitimate power, Google is trying to free multimedia codecs, but there are mixed messages as it also seeks more “defensive” patents. What else can it do? Watch this new courageous piece about the EPO. The “wheel chair arguments for life patents return,” FFII e.V. calls out about it. The lawyers cannot ever have enough patents, can they?

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

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