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11.23.11

Patents Roundup: Bad System, Clear Symptoms

Posted in Apple, Patents at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple is one of those symptoms

Apple with heart

Summary: A mixture of news about patents and software patents in particular

THE EVER-waning patent system gets more and more unpopular as people recognise trolling and entities close to the government have a chance to correct things. Quoting one news item, we have:

Supreme Court case could end costly patent trolling

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in December that could have major implications for the future of American business and a significant impact on companies in the Rochester area.

And sadly, however, the SCOTUS rarely helps people, it helps corporations [1, 2]. Maybe it will surprise us all for the better this time around. According to the Boston Globe independent studies provide clear guidance, unlike for example all that propaganda from patent lawyers and their clients. Even Amazon’s chief has grown tired of software patents, as we noted the other day. There is big business around taxing technology with unnecessary barb-wire and even promotional evens for those who drink the Kool-Aide. Scientists need to expel this element which is eating away at productive jobs, replacing them with excess bureaucracy.

Over at TechDirt there is realisation that Open Source is again being harmed by patents:

Potential Patent Infringement Threatens To Doom Highly Anticipated Open Source Project

John Carmack, the guy behind the Doom series of games, has alway been a supporter of open source software. He has in the past released the source code for the original Doom and Quake to the open source community. This open access has led to Doom and Quake being used in a variety of ways and has allowed numerous people to learn how to make games. It has really come as no surprise that Carmack has decided to open source the code for Doom 3. What is surprising though is that move has been held up due to an old patent infringement suit.

OSS Watch covered this as well:

Just a quick one on the subject of open source and patents. John Carmack is well known in gaming circles as the lead programmer behind such classic PC and console games as Castle Wolfenstein, Doom (and sequels) and Quake (and most of its sequels). Carmack and his company id software are the originators of the ‘First Person Shooter’ genre of game which has in turn spawned such gigantic franchises as Call of Duty and Halo. As well as being technical pioneers, id has an interesting policy of releasing their old engine technology (the software which renders the game’s video and audio) as open source under the GNU GPL v2. This allows students of gaming software development to look at how real commercial games software is written, and also allows the games to be ported to new hardware platforms by volunteers. As the art and sound assets are not included with the code, this also generates a small market for licences to old id games – games which may well not run on more modern operating systems – in order to get the game data for use with the aforementioned ports.

Coverage about this was consistently negative in the sense that authors are disappointed about patents having this effect. Those who use patents are typically companies that are unable to make decent products. According to news report, Android is kicking Apple’s behind and Apple has “Complain[ed] About “Total War” Apple Started”, which we found rather amusing. According to this:

Apple’s lawyers have accused Samsung of waging all-out patent war in the latest battleground for the world-spanning dispute between the two firms.

The tech giants are now in Paris to argue over Samsung’s attempt to get a preliminary injunction against the iPhone 4S in France, based on alleged infringement of its 3G patents.

Remember who started this. We’ll write more about Apple in a separate post.

Charles tackles some common misconceptions about innovation and patents in a blog post that says:

Innovation is not a mystery and I don’t think that you can track how it works. You can assume that a certain set of circumstances and an environment letting people code start-ups emerge and Free & Open Source Software projects grow will ultimately translate into something that someone, whether a journalist, consultant, politicians or venture capitalists will call innovation. Anything else besides that, innovation sounds more like vapor and magical boxes. This should probably express what I feel about software patents, by the way.

One last thing: Innovation is different than progress. Progress is usually applied to fields that do not necessarily belong to science or technology; it can be more a perception and may concern society as a whole. Yet the interesting thing is that while progress seems to be an even more elusive term than innovation, you can actually tell progress from regression or stagnation: people perceive it almost immediately, however relative it sometimes may be.

Apple is not innovative by the way. It’s all overblown. Patents are not indicative of innovation, either. The same goes for sales. There is that infamous patent which appears in the news again and helps demonstrate what patents really are about. To quote: “The suits were filed in the District Court of Massachusetts, asserting infringement of the ’502 patent.

“The ’502 patent is directed to novel and groundbreaking methods and systems for facilitating interaction between object-oriented software programmes and relational databases. As such, the patented technology has become fundamental to the development of numerous enterprise software applications, including business intelligence and data mining products, Amphion said.”

If this is what precludes innovation, then the word innovation lost its meaning. The SCOTUS needs to do something about it, but it probably won’t.

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A Single Comment

  1. mcinsand said,

    November 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Gravatar

    There are several elephants in the room that defines patents, and I think I’ve figured out how to best sum up the one that really gripes me the most. If we forget for a moment the question of whether granting a temporary monopoly is a good deal, let’s just look at the deal itself; in exchange for publicly documenting an innovation or creative work (design patents), an inventor is granted a temporary monopoly. This really sums up where we, the public, are getting ripped off, and we need a system for charging responsible parties (examiners and patent attorneys) for malpractice. For that matter, inventors and designers have a responsibility, too, or that’s what I’ve been repeatedly told in my time as an inventory; we are not to even start the process if we do not firmly believe that we have created something new and unanticipated.

    A good example is a piece being asserted against Samsung by the company that the mindless lemmings keep hailing as innovative and creative, despite years that show otherwise. Look up Design Patent D618677, and then think about this logically. This goes extraordinarilly beyond the simply issue of prior art. In fact, among compact, portable devices, there is a disctinct paucity of items that are NOT prior art. To go one step farther, especially in the US where ambulance chasers roam unrestrained, try selling something like this with nonrounded corners, and use a stopwatch to see how long it takes for the first injury lawsuit.
    The only innovating thing that Apple has ever demonstrated is to turn a branch of FOSS into an instrument for vendor lock-in by removing choice and hardware support. Anyway…

    This ‘IP,’ MS’s patents being asserted against B&N for imitating mouse actions, the ‘slide to lock’ patent are just some examples of how the public are being ripped off. We are granting temporary monopolies on these ideas but getting nothing in return, since the ideas on so many of these are not new.

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