06.18.11

The Indoctrination of Engineers by Patent Lawyers and Monopolists

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PHB (Pointy-Haired Boss)Summary: How people who are against software patents eventually become named for companies’ patent monopolies

Clearly enough, there is a point where paying a wage becomes conditional upon no longer being truthful to oneself. This subject was discussed yesterday in IRC and also mentioned a few years back when we saw Novell/GNOME people applying for software patents (due to the employer’s pressure). These are patents that end up in Microsoft’s hands, attacking Linux and other Free/open source software. Remember what Java’s inventor wrote about his patents after these had been used against projects complementary to Java.

Developers do not have misconceptions about patents. To patent lawyers it’s like a faith; it doesn’t matter what is true, as long as it’s convenient. The main victim is the wider public, on whom the large corporations and their lawyers are waging a war. Many members of the publics, who are supposed to be represented by politicians, really do fall for the illusion of patents correlating with innovation, where the relation is falsely assume to be causal. The only causality here is that patents cause decreased pace of innovation as they offer exclusive privileges, a monopoly of sorts.

Members of the public are under no obligation to drink the Kool-Aid, but what happens when one’s wage depends on such vidws? The culture of indoctrination by managers is one that is very dangerous for the same reason that soldiers blindly obeying orders from ‘superiors’ can lead to catastrophe. It removes logic and ethics, resulting in what’s sometimes called “machine men” (or women, to be politically correct these days).

Several months ago we showed that the partly Microsoft-owned Facebook had become a patent bully. It is amassing software patents either by filing or by buying them. This new article tells us that inside Facebook the engineers do not like patents, but they are being pressured to change their views:

Facebook’s “hack-a-thons” are the stuff of geek legend. Every month or two, software engineers stay up all night to brainstorm new features and write code to create them.

Refrigerators are stocked with Red Bull. Chinese food is delivered. House music plays till morning — and so do some of Facebook Inc.’s in-house lawyers.

Patent counsel Nair Flores’ input so impressed the engineers at one recent session that they gave her a hack-a-thon “hero” award: a replica of the helmet worn by Boba Fett in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

“Being able to relate and integrate at the hack-a-thon got huge respect from the engineers,” says Facebook General Counsel Theodore Ullyot.

Since Ullyot’s arrival in 2008, he and his team have made patents a priority. One thing they’re doing is trying to coax more patents from the engineers by breaking down the walls that separate them from lawyers.

How shameful. This is what the patent lawyers bring to a lively culture of code. They are not there to breed innovation but to create fences. It ought to be mentioned that, as we showed many times before, present and past Microsoft developers occasionally speak out against software patents. It is a risky opinion for them to share because their paycheck depends on it. Part of their wage comes from patent extortion by Microsoft.

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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Just another reason Facebook can be broken up and disbanded. Absolutely no value added.

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