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05.15.11

Patents Roundup: Kodak Dinosaur Wins Against Apple, Patent Trolls Attack the Small Guy, and USPTO Does Nothing Right

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bubbles

Summary: More evidence that the USPTO as it stands is helping the wrong types of players, like dying monopolies, patent trolls, and various other parasites

THE worse the patent situation gets and the more depressing the media makes it appear, the more likely we are to see a real reform and with it a belated abolition of software patents.

Here is some interesting news about a preliminary ruling that can help ban hype* products from Apple:

An International Trade Commission judge has sided with Eastman Kodak in the company’s ongoing patent battle with Apple.

Judge Robert Rogers yesterday rejected Apple’s claims that two of its patents on digital photography were being violated by Kodak. In a statement to CNET today, Kodak said that it was “pleased by this ruling.”

Make no mistake. Apple is not a victim and in fact it’s quite the offender too. Apple still collects patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and later uses them to attack Linux-based devices from HTC and Samsung. We wrote all about it before, especially after Apple had needlessly sued HTC and sought to embargo Android devices. Apple is far from a friend of Free software; it contributes to it neither when it comes to code nor to policy. That too is a subject we wrote about many times before.

The policies pushed for by the likes of Apple and Microsoft are destroying everyone who is not part of their colossal cartel as “patent trolls start going for the little devs … not very kind,” says Glyn Moody regarding this piece of news:

Yesterday, we received word from Rob Gloess of Computer LogicX, the company behind the Mix & Mash and Mix & Mash LITE applications for iOS, that he had received legal documents threatening a patent lawsuit over the use of an “upgrade” button in the lite version of his application linking users to the App Store where they could purchase the full version.

Microsoft Florian already spins is against Android (he is focused on making Android look dangerous, still). Talk about diversion. His posts ends with: “Once we have a similar situation with little guys being attacked over their Android apps, it will be interesting to see what Google does. Google doesn’t even indemnify its device makers, so it’s unlikely to offer too much protection to its app developers.” He also says to FFII people that “At least 2 of the threatened app developers are European”; He has been trying for a while to insinuate that software patents are legal in Europe. Florian still discredis the FFII and gets challenged for it by Jan Wildeboer. But that’s another story altogether.

Large companies are also impacted sometimes, as this new ruling helps show:

SAP AG (SAP), the world’s largest maker of business-applications software, was told by a jury to pay $345 million for infringing a Versata Software Inc. patent.

The federal jury in Marshall, Texas, said today that closely held Versata was owed compensation for sales of certain SAP enterprise and customer relationship-management software sold prior to May 2010. The jury awarded $260 million for lost profits and $85 million as a reasonable royalty.

The damages are more than the $138.6 million Walldorf, Germany-based SAP was ordered to pay Versata in a 2009 verdict that was thrown out. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham had ordered a new trial because of rulings by an appeals court specializing in patent law that set new rules on how financial penalties should be calculated.

That’s an amazing sum for some single crummy patent — essentially a piece of paper, akin to a note from your mother which you hand over to the school’s headmaster/principal.

Brian Proffitt writes about the impact of software patents on Linux, citing the latest from Bedrock, an annoying patent troll. Brian points out that “[t]he court docket indicates that on April 29, Bedrock settled its claims against MySpace and AOL and then on May 9, just one day before the Yahoo! verdict came through, also settled its claims against Amazon.com and SoftLayer Technologies. Match.com had already settled with Bedrock on March 28. By my score card, then, that leaves just PayPal, CME, and CitiWare still defending against Bedrock’s claims.”

This is of course bad news. It is a tax on Linux. Meanwhile, the Mono team wants to put more of Microsoft's shady patents inside everything and some sites help this agenda, which is scary. They never learn, do they?

The bottom line is, all real companies seem to be negatively affected by patents. Non-practicing companies (or hardly practicing companies like Kodak) win while companies like SAP and Apple (which used to like software patents) get penalised, along with small businesses and software which is developed by volunteers in order to be shared with the commons. Time for a change in law, right? To actually promote innovation, not kill it.

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