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04.20.12

After the Demise of Microsoft’s FAT Patent

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 3:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Street protests over patents in Germany

EPO backlash

Summary: Nokia is becoming more like a patent troll while Microsoft perhaps loses its ability to do so

RUPERT Murdoch’s press tells us that a “German court ruled Friday that Finnish handset maker Nokia Corp. has infringed a patent belonging to German patents licensing company IPCom GmbH & Co.” [via]

The term “patents licensing company” means “patent troll”. It’s a euphemism. Having said that, with the likes of MOSAID getting Nokia’s patents and the press reporting that Nokia plans to ‘monetise’ its patents (i.e. sue and extort), Nokia will become almost the same thing as IPCom and Microsoft. They cannot sell phones, so as their sales dwindle they will just try to make money by bullying those who found success, notably Google. Well, actually, that is already happening, even though Microsoft has not managed to bamboozle any company into a Linux/Android patent deal since the FAT patent came under fire. It’s Microsoft’s #1 weapon against Linux, based on what we learned from the OIN's CEO.

As we argued at one time, the demise of the FAT patent does not help end the problem at its root. Microsoft is busy buying a lot of patents in hope of finding something that can be used against Linux/Android and withstand any court’s scrutiny (Microsoft does not favour the German court). Over at British papers, the protest continues against software patents:

Don’t let software patents stop us standing on the shoulders of giants

Put aside the old chestnut of people copying the latest Lady Gaga album or The Hunger Games (whether movie or book) without permission. There’s plenty of fighting over that, replete with collateral damage from proposals such as the US’s Sopa bill, but the lines for détente on straight-out copying are drawn: there’s been uptake of all-you-can-eat subscriptions through services such as Spotify or Netflix, and pay-per-item stores such as the iTunes store.

No, the deepest and most pressing problem of intellectual property online is derivative use. What we build is made possible by the work of others who precede us. “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants,” wrote Isaac Newton, in a modest moment. Indeed, Newton’s very quote can be traced back to others at least as far as the 12th century. When we create, we in fact rest upon a succession of shoulders of varying sizes.

In today’s digital environment, the linkages between past and present work are more readily laid bare. Quotes morph as they are retweeted, while often leaving a trail of bread crumbs back to Tweet Zero. YouTube videos include soundtracks and images from other videos – enough that copyright-minded robots can detect the fingerprints of those earlier works and throw up a red flag against a new use.

Microsoft really needs software patents because they are the last thing Microsoft can use to stop FOSS/Linux/Android and open standards.

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