EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.23.11

The Linux Foundation Needs a Rethink About Software Patents Stance (Currently Represents Multinationals, Not GNU/Linux Users/Developers)

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jim Zemlin

Summary: The stance of the Linux Foundation resembles that of the OIN and Peer-to-Patent, which makes it a peril to real progress in the fight against software patents

OIN and LF (Linux Foundation) are tightly related entities whose position on patents we wrote about a few years ago. Not much has changed since then, except that we have a lot more evidence to validate and solidify this relationship this year (the older post is from 2008).

Those who have followed this site for a while would probably know that we are sceptical of the OIN because rather than abolish software patents it is validating a strategy of getting more software patents to ‘cancel out’ those of enemies of GNU and Linux (more of the latter). Peer-to-Patent takes a similar approach in spirit. We have just found out that Peer-to-Patent liaised with patent lawyers. Are they wasting students’ time and legitimising patents? Read the following from a UK-based patent lawyers’ blog:

Last week’s Peer-to-Patent (P2P) seminar, organised by the IPKat and kindly hosted in Olswang LLP’s cosy rooftop nest in Holborn, is gone but not forgotten. For one thing, this blog is privileged to have some notes from one of those present, Dr Roger J Burt (a European and Chartered Patent Attorney with huge experience of software-related patents).

[...]

There is a particular hope that university students, particularly computer science students for the present pilot, may take part and benefit from learning about the patent system and how it works”.

What a silly idea. If anything, British students need to be taught to reject the patent system and antagonise companies that lobby for software patents. These companies are enemies of their prospective occupation. They are monopolising the field and reducing the number of available jobs in computer science. We were even more saddened to see Jim Zemlin closing his latest interview with the following brow-raising statement:

Zemlin: I think we were speaking around patent reform. I think everyone in the tech industry related specifically to software would like to see a higher bar in terms of quality for patents issued around software because the lack of quality leads to a lot of needless litigation.

The problem is not “quality for patents issued around software”, the problem is “patents issued around software,” right? The head of the FFII interprets this as “Zemlin of LinuxFoundation a supporter of swpats [software patents]” and given the OIN’s approach, it is not exactly shocking. Both the OIN and the Linux Foundation are a bit like front groups for large supporters of Linux, especially the big companies that engage in kernel development for their own benefit. If the LF is a front to software patents proponents like IBM and like Intel, then we need to reassess our take on the LF’s position regarding patents, not just the OIN’s position (which we never truly supported, with exceptions). IBM’s Rob Weir tweets about fake patent 'reform' which goes under the nose of the IBM veteran-led USPTO (Kappos):

Fascinating congressional patent reform bill debate on CSPAN.. Debating first-to-invent versus first-to-file

That’s not the reform we should focus on. The real reform people want and need would stop monopolies like IBM from getting ‘ownership’ of algorithms. Let us remember that IBM and Intel — not just Microsoft — are behind the push for software patents in NZ — an important subject at this moment because US-based Web sites try to impose their power upon the kiwis, e.g. by claiming “widespread criticism of proposed exclusion and examination guidelines”. This is an utter falsehood. The only criticism comes from US-based giants, their few partners in NZ, and patent lawyers. The population of NZ rightly retests the idea of software patents in this country. To quote the part that is true:

The future of software patents in New Zealand remains in doubt following an almost unanimous rejection of a proposal to exclude computer-implemented inventions from patentability in a recent public consultation.

Let us hope it stays this way. Patent cartels would just love to validate their monopolies in NZ, which would in turn put NZ-based programmers in a position of needing permission from the US to just write simple computer software, however original.

Software patents never made sense, but they made a lot of money for those who produce the least. To insist on the burial of existing software patents (in the US) is not to be armed revolutionists or rebels; it’s just the only rational, progressive thing to do. Developers like yours truly are being assaulted with sanctions so that monopolists can improve their profit margins.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

7 Comments

  1. NotZed said,

    June 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Gravatar

    “Both the OIN and the Linux Foundation are a bit like front groups for large supporters of Linux, especially the big companies that engage in kernel development for their own benefit.”

    I’m confused. They’re not ‘a bit like front groups’. They are openly and obviously front groups for big business. That is what they were always for and the only reason they exist.

    ‘foundations’ are just another name for lobbyists, they are created to perform marketing in their members interest. And given that the linux business is such a BIG business, that’s whose interest any ‘linux’ foundation would lobby for.

    twitter Reply:

    You could say the same about the Free Software Foundation but it would not be correct. Foundations should be independent and pursue the goals and interests of their members and the FSF does a good job at that.

    A defense of software patents would be an insult to Linux Foundation members that would harm the organization’s credibility. The Linux Foundation is supposed to promote Linux and standardization. Software patents are a direct threat to both and the Linux Foundation should reject them. There is a broad consensus opinion among developers that software patents should not exist. Even Bill Gates knew it was a bad idea. Roy is right to call the Linux Foundation on this and to hope for a credible response.

    The “first to file” rule should be tracked because it would make the already insane USPTO even worse. “First to file” legitimizes idea patents by allowing people to file without first making a working device, aka an invention. This promotes lawyers at the expense of actual inventors in a system that has already left the tracks in that direction. First to file moves the US closer to official government monopolies on business methods that some big business favors. If you want to know what that does for innovation, study the history of the USSR.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t think my post was rude, was it?

    twitter Reply:

    I don’t think so. You have tied things together in a way that is rational and the concerns are legitimate. PJ probably wishes that you had made your arguments about Novell more forcefully.

    The Linux Foundation has taken a defeatist and ineffective stand on software patents in the past.

    Q. I think software patents are evil. Shouldn’t we focus on eliminating them instead of trying to help the USPTO improve their approval process?
    A. No, that’s beyond the scope of this project, which is about how to handle problems presented with the status quo given that software patents aren’t going away anytime soon. The USPTO must implement whatever the US legislature dictates — they have been assigned the daunting task of reviewing software patent applications and issuing patents when legal requirements have been met. Faced with problems finding prior art, they contacted IBM and reached out to OSDL and others in order to get help in doing their job better. Whether or not you’re a fan of software patents, everyone can agree that the state of issued software patents is not good. By developing ways to help the USPTO find prior art, and making Open Source Software more available as prior art, fewer software patents will issue. The project’s basic goal is improving accessibility to the very creative, innovative code developed by the open source community as a source of prior art. Everyone wins, proprietary and open source developers and businesses alike, because fewer bad patents are issued.

    There are so many software patents out there that even a complete stop of new ones would make little practical difference. All of them are patents on ideas, methods and math and should be eliminated, as members of the Linux Foundation have advocated.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I am not sure to what extent Andy Updegrove speaks for the Linux Foundation (it’s his blog post) and I am not sure it is one of his clients anymore (Microsoft too became his client, whereupon for all I can say he stopped criticising the company).

    Microsoft Florian actually told me that he liked this post as one of the items I can agree with him on is that the Linux Foundation harbours some software patents proponents (then again, they also help fund the FSF).

    twitter Reply:

    My point was not that Andy speaks for the Foundation, it was that the Foundation should speak for Andy. Approval of software patents, as can be seen in the frequently asked questions, is a minority opinion and it is strange that a few proponents would be able to set policy.

    Florian would know about patent proponents, especially when they ape his own talking points. I’m sure the people paying him would be happy if all of the organizations associated with the Linux foundation would vanish. I’d rather those organizations made up their mind to get rid of software patents instead.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    He uses this for another angle — to insinuate that FOSS has patents (thus the name FOSSpatents IMHO) and that it should therefore be subjected to extortion using software patents. He legitimises unjust taxation, even by patent trolls.

What Else is New


  1. Microsoft Says It Will Continue to Extort Companies That Distribute Linux, Using Software Patents As Usual

    Microsoft's war on Linux, a war which is waged using software patents (for revenue and/or for coercion in bundling deals), is still going on in spite of all the PR tactics from Microsoft and its paid partners



  2. Australia Might be Next to Block Software Patents If Commission's Advice is Followed

    Australian advice against software patents, which can hopefully influence Australian politicians and put an end, once and for all, to all software patents in Australia



  3. [ES] ''Si la Forma de Pensar de la EPO fuese Seguida, Guantánamo Sería Posible en Suelo Alemán.”

    La EPO está todavía bajo fuego, pero mucho de ello pasa detrás de las cortinas y envuelve abogados y/o burócratas



  4. The European Copy-Paste Office (EPO)

    This morning's example (not the first) of how the EPO uses 'social' media



  5. Links 28/4/2016: Fedora 24, EE Goes Open Source

    Links for the day



  6. Amid Referendum “the New European Unitary Patent System is Likely to Collapse Before It Started”

    The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) vision seems like it may be just one month away from its gradual death, depending on British voices amongst other key factors



  7. USTR is Trying to Shame and Bully India Into Introducing Software Patents in India

    Lobbying body of the US (corporations-led) is trying its usual dirty tactics against India's sound policy which excludes software/algorithms from patent scope



  8. No, Visual Studio is NOT Open Source and Xamarin Openwashing is NOT News

    The latest example of Microsoft openwashing, courtesy of confidants of Microsoft and those who got bamboozled by them



  9. Latest Black Duck Puff Pieces a Good Example of Bad Journalism and How Not to Report

    Why the latest "Future of Open Source Survey" -- much like its predecessors -- isn't really a survey but just another churnalism opportunity for the Microsoft-connected Black Duck, which is a proprietary parasite inside the FOSS community



  10. If EPO “Form of Thinking Were to be Followed, Guantanamo on German Soil Would be Possible.”

    The EPO is still under fire, but a lot of it happens behind the scenes and involves lawyers and/or bureaucrats



  11. Links 28/4/2016: Tomb Raider for GNU/Linux, Proxmox VE 4.2

    Links for the day



  12. [ES] La Departura de la Readidad de la EPO Y Su Entrada en la Esféra Industrial China de Propaganda

    La deceptiva trampa del maximálism de patentes, donde se asume que artficialmente aumentando el número de patentes otorgadas traerá el resultado esperado



  13. [ES] Una Fársa de Sistema: ¿Cómo la SIPO, USPTO, y cada vez más la EPO se Convierten en Llenado de Patentes (No Se Requiere Propia Examinación)

    Una crítica al decline en la calidad de patentes en algunas de las más grandes oficinas de patentes del mundo, donde aspiración parece ser neo-liberal en el sentido económico



  14. [ES] Microsoft ‘Asalto con Todo’ Contra Android, Java, y GNU/Linux, Usando la Clásica E.E.E. Táctica de Nuevo

    Otro recordatorio de la realidad que Microsoft está muy activo en el frente E.E.E., not no sólo contra GNU/Linux pero también Android y Java



  15. [ES] Más Rumores y Llamadas Acerca de Prospectos de Microsoft Vaya a Comprar Canonical (Ubuntu con todo y Zapatos)

    Teniendo en cuenta los últimos movimientos de Canonical, algunos expertos piensan que es posible que Shuttleworth elija el dinero a Microsoft sobre principios sino también inste para que esto ocurra



  16. Links 27/4/2016: A Lot About OpenStack, Vivaldi 1.1 Released

    Links for the day



  17. A Farce of a System: How SIPO, USPTO, and Increasingly the EPO Too Turn Into Filing Systems (No Proper Examination/Filtering Required)

    A critique of the declining quality of patents in some of the world's biggest patent offices, where the aspiration seems to be neo-liberal in the economic sense



  18. Microsoft's 'Full Assault' on Android, Java, and GNU/Linux, Using Classic E.E.E. Tactics Again

    Another reminder of the fact that Microsoft is very active on the E.E.E. front, not just against GNU/Linux but also Android and Java



  19. More Rumours and Calls Surrounding Prospects of Microsoft Buying Canonical (Ubuntu and More)

    Taking some of Canonical's recent moves into account, some pundits not only think it's possible for Shuttleworth to choose Microsoft money over principles but also urge for this to happen



  20. [ES] El Nuevo Impulso Finánciado por Microsoft Para Reforzar las Patentes de Software en los EE.UU., Apoyado por los Sospechosos Usuales (La Sagrada Familia) Mientras que Microsoft Cada Vez Más Lucha Como Compañíá Productiva

    Una mirada al esfuérzo de trae una resurgencia de las patentes de software en los Estados Unidos (con un clarísimo rol de Microsoft en él) y la fundación/conf ianza de Microsoften las patentes de software como arma contr Linux/Android porque las ganancias de Windows se están secando y el Windows Phone está al borde del colápso



  21. Links 26/4/2016: Firefox 46.0, Thunderbird's Stewardship

    Links for the day



  22. Links 25/4/2016: Kodi 16.1, OpenStack Summit

    Links for the day



  23. New Microsoft-Funded Push to Make Software Patents Stronger in the US, Backed by the Usual Suspects as Microsoft Increasingly Struggles as a Producing Company

    A look at the effort to bring about a software patents resurgence to the US (with clear Microsoft role in it) and Microsoft's reliance on software patents as a weapon against Linux/Android because Windows profits dry up and Windows Phone is on the verge of collapse



  24. Patents Roundup: Marijuana Patents, Patent Satellites, Patent Trolls, Wars, and Merchants (Notably Lawyers)

    Various strands of news about patents, focused on issues raised in the latter half of last week



  25. The EPO's Departure From Truth and Entrance Into the Realms of Chinese Industrial-Grade Propaganda

    The entrapping delusion of patent maximalism, wherein artificially or superficially increasing the number of granted patents is assumed to be a desirable outcome



  26. [ES] La Fundación de Frontera Electrónica (EFF) Continua su Batalla por la Sanidad de Patentes en los Estados Unidos

    Una mirada a las últimas actividades de la EFF en el área de patentes, donde probablemente habrá mayor énfasis en los daños de las patentes de software y la necesidad de eliminarlas completamente



  27. [ES] La Sociedad Regional de Economía Comprehensiva (RCEP) Amenaza Traer las Patentes de Software a la India

    La amenaza que arrastra otro acuerdo denominado de "comercio" cuyo impacto a favor de los MONOPOLIOS contra los intereses del pueblo de la India y por lo tanto debe ser rechazadas por ellos



  28. [ES] Toma Menos de 10 Votos para 'Ganar' una Elección en la Mini Unión (Minion) de Battistelli

    Una mirada al minúsculo tamaño de la Unión apadrinada por Battistelli, la que parece tener una docena de miembros activos



  29. [ES] Di la Verdad Acerca del Sistema de Patentes de los EE.UU., Conseguiras Ser Atacado por la Máquina Propagandistica de Patentes (Disfrazada de Prensa)

    El Sr. Darrell Issa (fotografiado arriba) cae bajo ataque de los proponentes de patentes de software patents, los apologistas de los trolles de patentes (quiénes los financian frecuéntemente), y los máximalistas de patentes porque correctamente insinuó que la (mayoría) de demandantes son como/casi trolles de patentes en los Estados Unidos



  30. Links 24/4/2016: Google Summer of Code 2016, Year of the OpenBSD Desktop

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts