EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.19.12

Europe to Push for Unitary Patent (Software Patents Loophole) at 7 PM CET Tonight

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawyers in government against citizens’ will

Flag of Europe

Summary: Urgent call to contact politicians regarding the Unitary Patent and its consequences; reminder of the reality of lawyers’ influence

NOW that it’s almost 3 PM (CET) it’s probably a good time to address a very important subject. Central Europe is currently not allowing software patents, but large corporations are trying to change that. This impacts me professionally and it impacts many others.

Richard Stallman, the father of Free (as in freedom) software, warned about allowing Europe to give a go-ahead to software patents, saying it would eliminate the current advantage European developers have over their counterparts across the Atlantic. He also suggested eliminating litigation over software patents in the US, as covered by a site he helped fund (through the FSF):

Another approach to ending the problems of software patents would be a law saying, as Richard Stallman puts it, “that developing, distributing, or running a program on generally used computing hardware does not constitute patent infringement.”

Stallman’s piece in the Wired series had major impact, which we last showed when talking about forums on software patents getting stacked by lawyers and law professors. They’re everywhere in these debates because they’re prominent in politics and they hang around where they can make money at other people’s expense.

Speaking of events about software patents, here is one. On Friday there was this conference:

Preview of Our “Solutions to the Software Patent Problem” Conference

On Friday, we’re having our big academic conference of the semester, “Solutions to the Software Patent Problem.” At the conference, experts will propose their ideas of how to fix software patents. Ultimately, we hope there will be enough enthusiasm among the participants to coalesce around one or more proposals and see if we can actually make progress.

In preparation for the conference, we held a “preview” for the students so that they would understand the conference background better. Without previews like this, students often don’t get as much out of the conference because so much of the discussion goes over their heads. Colleen Chien was supposed to do the preview but she had a major conflict, so I stepped in. Below, I’ve included my talk notes. If you’re really interested, I’ve also posted the audio from the talk. I hope to see you on Friday!

This is a conference dealing with software patents, but it is stacked mostly by “law” people (i.e. lawyers). Groklaw wrote:

I’m so happy to tell you that tomorrow’s conference on what to do about software patents, Solutions to the Software Patents Problem, at the Santa Clara Law’s High Tech Law Institute will be live streamed for those of us who can’t make it in person.

I confess I begged for this, because I know a lot of you are seriously interested in this topic but can’t make it there. So thank you Santa Clara Law. Here’s where you go tomorrow, and it runs all day from 8:50 am to 5:30 pm Pacific time, minus one talk at 9 AM.

To be fair, it was not just a parade of lawyers. This one particular event had notable speakers who are against patents, so unlike some conferences, it was not just law people speaking among themselves. Here is TechDirt:

Patent Office, Perhaps Forgetting What Year It Is, Locks Down Mobile App Development Platforms

I’m spending today at a conference at Santa Clara University’s Law school on Solutions to the Software Patent Problem. It seems only fitting that as this is happening, I’ve been alerted to a completely ridiculous new patent: Appsbar has put out a press release gleefully announcing that it’s been granted a patent on offering a “create your own mobile app” development platform. Stunningly, the patent in question, 8,261,231, was just applied for in February of this year. I’m at a loss as to how a competent patent examiner could possibly think that a mobile app development platform is somehow new or non-obvious in this day and age.

There is more news about the expansion of the patent system to Silicon Valley — something that ought to be criticised. Rather than shrink the system that issues far too many patents, those in charge let it grow further.

One law professor with an actual background in some science is the latest author in the Wired series on patents. John Duffy describes himself as follows:

John Duffy is a professor at Virginia Law School; prior to that, he was a research professor at George Washington University Law School. Duffy was identified as one of the 25 most influential people in the field of intellectual property by The American Lawyer. He earned his undergraduate degree in physics.

The previous contributor, Andrew Chin, is also a law professor and he writes about his case for keeping abstract patents:

Much criticism of software patents is rightly aimed at the use of abstract claim language to cover a wider range of technology than the patentee invented and disclosed. Mark Lemley, for example, highlights “functional” language in claims as particularly problematic, and proposes in this opinion series that a claimed function be limited to the disclosed “program and ones like it.”

[...]

So the utilities of Bilski’s claimed methods are not amenable to one resource-specific causal account, but many. Bilski’s methods perform their hedging functions whether the market participants’ option values are calculated on my office desktop PC or on the London Science Museum’s Difference Engine, and whether their transactions are completed via telephone or website. A patent examiner could simply cite such an observation in rejecting Bilski’s claims as unpatentable subject matter.

A key advantage of my proposed “concrete causation” standard is its consistency with Supreme Court precedents, which allows the Federal Circuit to introduce it without need for legislation. The universal applicability of this approach conforms to our treaty obligations (to make patents available without discrimination as to the field of technology), suggesting it could become an international norm. The approach also upholds what I’ve identified elsewhere as the patent system’s metaphysical commitment to scientific realism.

By design, this proposal explicitly acknowledges that all of the “useful Arts” confront the common problem of having limited resources. This necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. The patent system exists for those working to do more with less, not for those seeking to corner the market on such efforts through abstract claim drafting.

In Europe too we are left to deal with “legal” folks, whose interests lie not in advancing knowledge but in making a lot of money from it, as if the latter somehow takes priority over the former. April asks people to fight back against the bureaucrats by informing them:

The European Parliament just announced an exceptional meeting of the legal affairs (JURI) committee on Monday November 19th, 2012 at 7pm for the only purpose of discussing the unitary patent package. This new unexpected event in the unitary patent saga is a concern. There is an urgent need to get in touch with the MEPs to let them know about the threats of the unitary patent.

We must really ensure that software patents are kept out of Europe, including the loopholes that let Finnish company Tuxera put a patent tax on Linux and Android. Carla Schroder wrote about it the other day:

Microsoft’s creaky old FAT filesystems, FAT16 and FAT32, have long been the de facto standard filesystems for Flash storage devices. They enable portability because FAT is supported on all major operating systems, and they don’t have access controls so there are no permissions hassles– just plug in your device and use it. But despite FAT’s age and ubiquity, Microsoft successfully enforced its FAT patents against TomTom in 2009. TomTom agreed to drop FAT32 support from their products, several of which were built on Linux. Microsoft has also gone after Android vendors, such as Motorola, who use FAT.

The legal landscape, as always, is bizarre. Linux can support FAT32 without paying royalties because of an inane technicality: long and short filenames. My fellow old codgers recall the 8.3 DOS filename convention: filenames could be no more than 8 characters long with a 3-character extension. This collided with grownup filesystems that supported longer filenames, which FAT truncated. And that is why something like nicelongfilename.txt would be shortened to nicelo~1.txt.

[...]

Linux users have options, sort of. Tuxera sells a good exFAT driver, but only to OEMs, such as Android vendors. There is a free exfat driver, fuse-exfat, and it is included in several distros. This is built on fuse, filesystem in userspace. I’ve tested it a bit without problems, but the developers do not have access to any specifications and it’s still young, so it has some rough edges. I would not rely on it for syncing a Linux PC with devices that use exFAT, like cameras and smartphones.

There is prior art there, as Linus Torvalds revealed some months ago. Those patents are essentially bunk.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  2. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  3. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  4. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  5. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  6. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  7. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software



  8. The Microsoft Patent Trolls: Android Extortion, Vringo Versus Google, and Intellectual Ventures

    Roundup of news about patent aggression by Microsoft and some of its proxies



  9. Links 16/8/2014: Microsoft Linux, US Government Turns to Free Software

    Links for the day



  10. Links 15/8/2014: Reiser4 in Headlines Again, GNOME and KDE Events Finish

    Links for the day



  11. Links 14/8/2014: Kernel Summit Coming, KMix on KDE Frameworks 5

    Links for the day



  12. Shameless Microsoft Spin is Blaming China for Microsoft's Misconduct and Back Doors While Justifying Massive Losses in Hardware (Made in China)

    A new look at how Microsoft-friendly media takes negative Microsoft news and turns that news into some kind of scandals where Microsoft is the victim



  13. Microsoft Spin in the Media Evokes 'New Microsoft' and New Back Doors

    Some new examples of Microsoft boosters rewriting history, characterising Microsoft as a FOSS champion, and generally weak/shallow reporting on Microsoft's audio/video surveillance software



  14. Links 13/8/2014: GNU/Linux as Winner, New Snowden Interview

    Links for the day



  15. Reader's Article: Skype Spying Reaches New Levels of Blatant

    Forced 'upgrades' of Skype give useds [sic.] of Skype more than they asked for



  16. The Problem is Software Patents (and Scope), Not Patent Trolls Who Abuse Them Just Like Large Corporations

    Reminder of the dangers of losing sight of the real patent problem, which is the patents themselves, not necessarily those who use them



  17. Fraud in the USPTO and CAFC Helped Apple Launch Frivolous Patent Lawsuits Against Linux/Android, Based on New Withdrawals

    Inherent corruption in the US system has aided Apple's assault on east Asian electronics giants that use Linux at the core of their products



  18. Investigation Reveals That USPTO is Corrupt, Time to Abolish It or Annul Nearly a Million Patents

    Corruption is found at the heart of the USPTO and the USPTO works hard to hide it, despite attempt by whistleblowers to bring this corruption to light



  19. Links 13/8/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 Beta, Tizen in Watches

    Links for the day



  20. Links 12/8/2014: Chromebooks Surge, OpenGL in the Headlines

    Links for the day



  21. Bill Gates is Profiting By Diverting Public Money to His Own Pocket and Reducing Wages

    Gates' lobbying for companies he is an investor of and for lower salaries inside companies he is investing in (and managing) comes as no surprise



  22. Microsoft is Still Attacking Open Standards, So Khronos Does Not Need the Microsoft Moles

    Having attacked the industry's document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have 'embraced' ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL



  23. Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

    A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens' interests



  24. Links 11/8/2014: DEFT 8.2, Linux Mint on Debian Stable

    Links for the day



  25. Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

    Links for the day



  26. Links 8/8/2014: Qt a Separate Company Again, KDE Frameworks 5.1 Released

    Links for the day



  27. Microsoft's Android Lawsuit Against Samsung Shows That Windows is Dead Beef

    Microsoft resorts to AstroTurfing, lawsuits, vapourware, and attack ads, revealing that it is a feeble aggressor whose only remaining hope for revival is destruction of rivals



  28. Only Foolish Governments Would Choose Microsoft or Apple

    China bans Apple's operating systems (just like Microsoft's) while Apple retreats on it litigation strategy from 2010, showing perhaps where Microsoft is heading now that it is suing Samsung (as Apple did some years ago)



  29. Links 6/8/2014: Linux 3.17 Features, Ubuntu in India

    Links for the day



  30. Latest Attacks on Android From Apple/Microsoft and Their Network of Trolls/Partners

    Net Applications (Apple- and Microsoft-funded) makes a misinformation comeback, Apple retreats from some Samsung litigation battles, and Microsoft dives deep into it


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts