07.25.11

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Mainstream Press is Turning Against Software Patents

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 5:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Newspaper

Summary: The consensus is being shifted as the alleged benefits of patent systems come under question in the US, India, and elsewhere

The fight over many issues is typically fought out in the media, where public opinion can be shaped using words like “piracy”. Over the years we have seen many conformist views in the media when it comes to patents, but the consensus is now leaning towards the opposite, except in the corporate press (not the same as the mainstream, despite overlap). According to this one site, “Software patents come home to roost” now that India-based companies are trolling companies in the US, using the USPTO against its clients (showing how the USPTO harms the very same nation it is based in while India’s patent office holds back on such foolish ideas):

Most people have heard of online trolls, people who take joy in being rude and sometimes even abusive. You might not have heard of patent trolls, but they are wreaking havoc in the software business, and some developers are threatening to quit the US unless patent laws are reformed.

Patent trolls are companies that collect patents and aggressively pursue anyone they think has infringed them. Often, patent trolls have no intention of developing the technology outlined in the patents. Instead, they act opportunistically to maximise the income from their patent portfolio.

Mumbai-based Kootol Software Ltd has given notice to over 32 companies whom it claims has infringed on its US patent for “messaging, publication and real time searching technology”. Amongst the accused are giants Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon and IBM, as well as social media sites Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare.

“Software Patent Trolls In India” is another new headline that we found today. The article/blog post says:

Patent trolls are people or organisation that acquires a patent with the primary objective of non use of the same. Their main objective is to get maximum commercial benefit through licensing mechanism. They also intend to sue others for patent infringement and derive monetary benefits through compensation for the alleged patent infringement.

Software developers in US are frequently targeted by such patent trolls through cease and desist orders by alleging patent infringement. So bad has become the situation that software developers in US have threatened to leave US unless they are duly protected from such trolls.

So what is the position regarding the same in India. Patent Trolls and their Regulations in India is well founded says Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based IP and ICT law firm Perry4Law. Indian Patents Act 1970 “Prohibits” Unfair Trade Practices of Hoarding a Patent by not using the same and hindering its availability to general public, informs Dalal

Pranesh Prakash argues: “Non-practising entities shouldn’t be entitled to sue for patent infringement.”

Moreover, it would make sense to prohibit lawsuit against another company in another country. This would help prevent many of Apple’s lawsuits against Linux/Android. They all use coercive means like economic sanctions.

Over in New Zealand we find this new article which says about a very recent broadcast:

Also on The Court Report this week, if you create something original, shouldn’t you be able to patent it? The obvious answer is yes … yet in New Zealand computer software is not eligible for patent. For an industry that seems rife with illegal copying and downloading, that may beggar belief. Certainly large software developers want to see this changed; they’re lobbying hard to see their work patented. But there is a less obvious side to this argument … because equally there’s a large group of developers who believe in free and open access to software. How can you grant a patent to something that’s little more than a collection of zeroes and ones?

If any of our reader has a link/file to the video, please share. We have heard from people who were involved in this debate, but publishing a copy would be useful (and compliant with fair use doctrine).

Over here in the EU (see wiki for background), this is this claim about the legality of a system that would potentially bring software patents into the whole of Europe in one fell swoop:

Under close scrutiny, it appears that the legal basis of the regulation on the unitary patent is at best questionable. At worst, such doubts could very well mean that the regulation is simply illegal. In a situation where the enhanced cooperation procedure is already undergoing two appeals before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the future of the unitary patent cannot afford such strong legal uncertainty. Hopefully, some amendments to the proposed regulation could help the unitary patent to partly overcome this hindrance.

The site is actually on the bad side on this debate — that which helps large corporations outside of Europe without bringing benefits to Europe itself. Will democracy survive or will it be toppled by political abuse?

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