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11.10.11

Patent Law Corrupted by Billionaires and Their Lobbyists

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 12:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates and Nasscom
From NASSCOM. Microsoft’s chief lobbyist.

Summary: To the “1%”, patent justice is “just us”

THE WORLD’S biggest patent troll, created largely by Microsoft folks (including funding from Bill Gates), is lobbying the government on patent laws. And guess whose side the government is choosing? Dvorak speaks of the “Gates PR machine” in his very recent article which reminds us to get back to coverage about Gates Foundation. Dvorak writes:

The Gates PR machine, which is always waiting in the wings to pounce if needed, was apparently called into action.

Writers recognise that Gates not only employ many lobbyists (for profit at others’ expense); he also stole the press and it shows. Just because he smiles and wears a sweater does not make him harmless. There is a new headline in Boing Boing and it says ‘James Murdoch, “the first Mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise”‘.

Here we have a new video where Gates’ attempts to privatise schools and influence them for profit gets criticised but only gently. Watch this:

With a lot of influence over the government, Gates has probably been able to defuse Microsoft oversight and months ago we found out that he was lobbying for more outrageous patent laws in the United States (not just in other countries). It is new stuff like “OnePatont” trolling big companies [1, 2] that serves as evidence of how broken things really are. It’s business as usual at the patent offices of north America and the government refuses to listen to the people; it listens to its private rich funders instead, resulting not just in bogus lawsuits but also an elevated cost for everyone. Well, at least patent lawyers are happy. To quote just one new example:

In a verdict that could have significant implications for the Internet software industry, a federal court jury in Central Islip, N.Y. found AOL liable for infringing the patent of BASCOM Global Internet Services, Inc., a Long Island Internet software company. The jury also found that BASCOM’s patent, which covers remote filtering of adult or other inappropriate content, among other things, is valid and enforceable. The jury awarded BASCOM $10 million dollars in damages as a royalty for AOL’s infringement.

If this is “innovation”, then innovation is dead. To quote another new article of interest:

The White House weighs in on software patents, doesn’t say much

[...]

So, what does this mean? It’s difficult to say. There isn’t a lot of substance to examine in this statement. In a nutshell, the administration is a big believer in the new patent legislation the President just signed (to be expected), and it seems to have an affinity for “open source energy.” On the issue of what can, or should, be done to address people’s concerns over software patents in the US, the White House isn’t saying much.

So the government does not listen to the people and, quite importantly, it ignores what developers want. What would be the best course of action then? Here is another new perspective from a developer:

MIME creator: Developers face patent trap

Patent infringement lawsuits have become a very real concern for independent developers and big companies alike, a situation highlighted by the growing number of high-profile courtroom battles over intellectual property.

In order to resolve the copyright issue (Hollywood driving policy against the people) Professor Lessig decided to leave aside Creative Commons and embark on a political crusade about unjust influence that corrupted his government. To remove software patents from the USPTO, a similar strategy may be necessary. The answers in both cases are simple and obvious. It is clear what citizens prefer. But it’s not them who decide, it’s that “1%” that calls all the shots. The illness is systemic and we know who controls the system. They are public figures and the real economy does not depend on them; it suffers from them every single day because they squeeze it like a squeegee to get richer and richer, hoarding whatever capital/property is left. Patent law today is an instrument for legalised looting.

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