06.07.11

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FSFE Head: “US Department of Justice Finally Seeing Software Patents as Threat to Competition?”

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nortel

Summary: In light of the Nortel patents situation, the US Department of Justice responds in a way that is similar to what it did about the CPTN/Microsoft acquisition of Novell’s patents

THE idea behind a patent (temporary monopoly) was long ago neglected and its application has been perturbed by a growing group of unethical opportunists. The comparison to nuclear weapons, however (not just a mere deterrence), is still a tad disturbing because, bar sanctions, anyone can ignore some pieces of papers claiming monopolies on mere ideas. This is why, as explained earlier, China and African should reject patents. Simply put, patents only exist to build artificial fences that keep over 90% of the world’s population in the dark. Here is a new article which uses the nuclear analogy:

Forget Google, DoJ Fears Apple Gaining Nortel’s “Stockpile Of Nuclear Weapons” — Here’s Why

Two months ago, Google disclosed that they were bidding on bankrupt Nortel’s patent portfolio. Why? They claim it’s a defensive maneuver to protect the “relatively young” company from would-be patent predators. And Google is very serious about it. They put up the $900 million “stalking-horse bid” (the initial bid) for the over 6,000 patents. Given the stakes, it should be no surprise that the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into the bidding. But interestingly, it may not be Google they’re too concerned with.

We previously compared Nortel and Novell. Novell is mentioned in this new article, the context being patents:

The lawsuit filed by Mission Abstract Media over automation technology is moving forward despite the contention of some in the radio industry that automation systems already were well established in the market when the first automation patent was applied for in 1994 and issued in 1997.

[...]

“The largest hard drive we could find at the time was 2 GB. We had 10 [hard drives] in each server for 20 GB storage. We used a Novell network with SFT3 for transparent redundancy,” Paley said.

pointing to this report, Karsten Gerloff from the FSFE says that the regulators are finally watching (well, after CPTN had some intervention from the US Department of Justice). To quote what’s not behind a paywall:

The Justice Department is scrutinizing likely bidders for a trove of patents being sold by the bankrupt Canadian telecom-equipment maker Nortel Networks Corp. amid concerns the patents could be used to unfairly hobble competition, according to people familiar with the matter.

The antitrust review has enveloped some of the U.S.’s largest technology companies, including Apple Inc. and Google Inc. It’s the latest sign the Justice Department has heightened its interest in whether patents are being used to stifle competition in high-tech industries.

Carlo Piana, a lawyer, wrote: “I anticipate problems for #Apple buying #Nortel’s patent portfolio. [nudging Google] Isn’t it time to get rid of #swpats?

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