Summary: Patent news of interest
LINUX/Android is affected in a very real way by patents, with notable cases like this assault by Oracle [1, 2, 3] or even Apple's extortion, in addition to Microsoft’s. If 3 giants want $15 from each Android device sold (plus patent trolls toll/fines), then the tax on Linux becomes significant. This is exactly what they are hoping to achieve because some of the latest numbers from the United States suggest that Android extends its lead, having long ago conquered the #1 spot with almost 1 million device activations per day.
Android was never about patents, but foes of Linux decided to use patents as a last resort that Windows 95 never really had to cope with. The EFF has a new infographic which shows how patents hinder innovation. And to quote:
Patents may have been created to help encourage innovation, but instead they regularly hinder it. The US Patent Office, overwhelmed and underfunded, issues questionable patents every day. “Patent trolls” buy too many of these patents and then misuse the patent system to shake down companies big and small. Others still use patents to limit competition and impede access to new knowledge, tools, or other innovations.
Over at patent lawyers’ sites there is yet more RAND advancement/promotion, neglecting the fact that RAND (or FRAND) is not compatible with Free software. They neglect ZRAND and other options that actually are being marginalised. To quote part of this post:
On its face, it is easy to see why a FRAND commitment might reassure implementers of a standard. If a patent is essential to the standard, the patent holder must license the patent on terms that are fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory. Unfortunately, the devil has proven to be in the details of FRAND, and no two companies seem to have the same view of what constitutes fair, reasonable or non-discriminatory licensing terms. This lack of agreement has troubled regulators for some time and has led to an increasing number of litigation claims alleging that one party or another to a standards effort has failed to comply with its FRAND obligations.
The February FRAND statements by Apple, Microsoft and Google are thus informative and potentially of great importance. To understand the statements, and why the DOJ viewed them differently, it is helpful to compare them side-by-side. The following table summarizes what Apple, Microsoft and Google said FRAND means to them.
Apple and Microsoft pretend to be victims. Google never really wanted anything to do with patents, but it was attacked fiercely by the duopoly. The OIN meanwhile looks for solutions to this duopolistic aggression (not patent trolls) and articles about it reach as far as CNN, which says:
An alliance of technology corporations, including IBM, is expanding the scope of patent protection it provides to developers, vendors, and users of open source software such as Linux. The move cuts against the grain of major companies going after each other, filing suit over patent infringement.
Adobe’s patent-pending software technology is used in a variety of plug-ins for popular desktop apps such as Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. Adobe says it is also working on support for Microsoft Outlook, PowerPoint, and Chrome in the future.
Something called “Patent Research Platform” has just gotten funding:
You won’t have to go far in Silicon Valley to find someone who will tell you that the patent situation in the tech industry is a mess. While trouble has been brewing for a decade, the last year has been marked by a continuous stream of litigation, and some might say it’s beginning to take its toll on innovation. Take Yahoo’s recent threats to Facebook, for example. Back in September, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt warned that “overbroad patents will slow” the progress of the software industry, saying that the current state of patents in the U.S. was “terrible.”
At the time, Schmidt suggested that dealing with patents in a way that is more systematic might be beneficial to the industry, even broadly making reference to the idea of crowdsourcing. The Google Chairman isn’t alone in thinking this approach could help make a difference in the ongoing patent wars, evidenced by the growing community that is Article One Partners’ global patent research platform.
This was already attempted by others, including Peer-to-Patent. The issue with this approach is, it inadvertently helps validate patents. How about companies that base themselves on patents? Here is a funny opening paragraph:
Good news for gamers –start up Numecent has announced further details of its patented cloudpaging technology which could vastly lower the time needed to stream software applications.
Why does it seem necessary to patent it? This a bubble. █