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. Links 1/9/2014: Poettering on systemd, ITNews on DBMSs

    Links for the day



  2. Moving Away From Windows to GNU/Linux and the Abandonment of Windows as the Modest Proposal These Days

    Morale of GNU/Linux and an embrace of GNU/Linux is very high, despite recent propaganda from Microsoft MVPs and boosters (primarily security-themed and Munich-themed FUD)



  3. Korean Press Slams Microsoft Over Patent Extortion Against Linux/Android as New Abuses Resurface

    Harsh words from the national press of South Korea as Nokia's role in Microsoft's anti-Linux tactics becomes more apparent



  4. More Good News About Patents and Their Demise in the United States

    A roundup of news about software patents and patent trolls in the land where these thrive



  5. Links 31/8/2014: Linux 3.12.27, Akademy 2014

    Links for the day



  6. Links 30/8/2014: Jailhouse 0.1, *buntu 14.10 Beta

    Links for the day



  7. Links 28/8/2014: Many New Games, CTO of Red Hat Steps Down

    Links for the day



  8. We Are Gradually Winning the Battle Against Software Patents

    The once-elusive war on software patents is finally leading to some breakthrough and even the Federal Circuit reinforces the trend of software patents' demise



  9. Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Companies Versus FOSS Moles (VMware, Sonatype, Xamarin)

    A look at three entities which pretend to be pro-FOSS but are actually FOSS-hostile and very much determined to replace FOSS with proprietary software



  10. Links 27/8/2014: GNU/Linux in Space, China, LinuxCon

    Links for the day



  11. FUD Against Google and FOSS Security Amid Microsoft Windows Security Blunders

    In the age of widespread fraud due to Microsoft Windows with its back doors there is an attempt to shift focus to already-fixed flaws/deficiencies in competitors of Microsoft



  12. Microsoft Spin Watch: IDG Turns to More Microsoft Propaganda, Hires Microsoft Boosters

    Media in Microsoft's pocket is telling Microsoft's lies and deceives the public for Microsoft's bottom line



  13. Microsoft's Massive Tax Evasion Becomes Better Known

    A new report about Microsoft's admission that it plays dirty tricks with tax (sometimes using moles in government) is increasing awareness of Microsoft's criminal aspects



  14. Links 25/8/2014: China's Linux Revolution Imminent

    Links for the day



  15. Links 24/8/2014: GNU/Linux Specialisation and Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  16. Links 23/8/2014: GNU/Linux Growth

    Links for the day



  17. Microsoft-Funded Attacks on Android Security and Patent/Copyright

    A look back at examples of people who smear Android and are receiving (or received) money from Microsoft



  18. Blowback in Chile and Munich After Microsoft Intervention

    Microsoft's attacks on the digital sovereignty of countries involves lobbying, corruption, an attack on standards (e.g. ODF), an attack on FOSS policies, and even an attack on accurate reporting (truth itself)



  19. The End of Microsoft is Nigh

    A look back at a tough year for Microsoft and a not-so-promising future



  20. Links 22/8/2014: Linux Foundation LFCS, LFCE

    Links for the day



  21. UPS Burned by Microsoft Windows, Gives Away Massive Number of Credit Card Details

    UPS is the latest victim of Microsoft's shoddy back door with software on top of it (Windows); attempts to blame FOSS for data compromise actually divert attention from the real culprit, which is proprietary software



  22. Microsoft's Funding of ALEC and Other Systemic Corruption

    Microsoft role in writing of laws by proxy, via groups such as ALEC



  23. Microsoft is Still Preying on British Taxpayers, Playing Politics

    Some news from the UK showing how Microsoft uses politics to extract money out of taxpayers, irrespective of their preferences



  24. Microsoft's Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as 20% of Staff Laid Off

    More good news regarding the demise of patents as Microsoft's leading patent proxy is collapsing more rapidly than anyone ever imagined and software patents too are collectively doubted



  25. Links 21/8/2014: Conferences of Linux Foundation, Elephone Emerges

    Links for the day



  26. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  27. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  28. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  29. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  30. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    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