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

11.29.12

David Kappos Leaves as He Loses the Debate and Software Patents Lose Legitimacy Among Public Figures

Posted in Patents at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep clean

Summary: A roundup of software patents news, especially published opposition

SO days ago we learned that Kappos had decided to quit, just shortly after he was slammed by some media sites and especially blogs (people, not corporate press). Here is a blog in Murdoch’s site speaking about the news, which is a PR disaster for the USPTO:

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos, who oversaw the agency during the biggest change to the patent system in decades, will leave his post in January, according to a PTO spokesman.

During his three-and-a-half year tenure, Mr. Kappos was widely credited for making the agency more efficient.

Or conversely, he was criticised for creating more monopolies by lowering bars of entry. Here he is spreading IBM mythology about software patents this month. Even an IBM proponent, Pamela Jones, was upset by this. She wrote: “I don’t believe a word of this is so. It’s mythology. Software is not benefited by patents at all and it impedes innovation. It is toxic to Free and Open Source software, which is developed in a shared environment which is the opposite of what patents are about. Nor does the public benefit from patents on software, because they get less functionality than they otherwise could have. Patents benefit the incumbents. It’s not the innovators who start throwing patents around, but rather it was Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and Nokia who started the war. Why? They don’t want to have to compete with Android, and if they have to they want to make Android pay them to survive at all, meaning prices for the public will go up. And the level of “innovation” represented by the patents in this smartphone war is so low it’s a joke. No one should be entitled to get money for such things as rounded corners or a bounceback function. It’s stupid from beginning to end and while large companies like IBM or Microsoft may benefit by muscle-ing the new players, the public in no way benefits from companies having to rework their phones to try to avoid those stupid, too-broad patents on problems, as opposed to ways to address a problem, or on functionality that everyone knows how to do without any patents showing them how. I could go on, but this speech is proof to me that the USPTO will not improve and getting rid of software patents or the harm they cause is goal number one.”

Eric Goldman, who now writes for Forbes blogs, also slammed software patents yesterday:

The U.S. patent system largely treats all innovations equally, but innovation often works quite differently in different industries. In particular, the software industry differs from other major innovative industries–such as computer hardware and biotech/pharmaceuticals–in several key ways, and those differences can create (and have created) significant friction for the patent system.

Software patents have also created big–and expensive–problems for companies throughout all sectors of our economy. Pretty much as soon as they get venture financing, start-up companies are getting approached by “patent trolls” with offers they can’t refuse: pay me now or pay your lawyer many times that amount to prove you don’t have to pay me. And large companies, especially in the smartphone industry, are paying literally billions of dollars to acquire patent portfolios to keep those portfolios from falling into the wrong hands and with the hope that large patent portfolios will fend off competitor threats (i.e., provide the company freedom to operate its business without interference from competitors’ patents).

The Atlantic shared this cartoon we promoted yesterday and it’s introduced as follows:

The Best Cartoon You’ll Ever Watch About Ending Software Patents

If there’s one thing Schoolhouse Rock taught us all, it’s that the easiest way to explain a dry topic to someone with a short attention span is to show them a cartoon. So kudos to George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok and Idea Rocket Animation for putting together this delightful two-minute clip laying out the case against software patents, a by and large nerds-only conversation topic that deserves way more attention than it receives. The video’s got Jeff Bezos, a club-wielding giant, Isaac Newton, a crashing airplane, and a surprisingly funny joke about licensing fees. Best yet, it’s explained in language anyone — even a Congressman — could understand.

Just in case those two minutes are too long, though, here’s Tabarrok’s point in brief: Patents make sense for products, like pharmaceuticals, that are expensive to develop, but cheap to copy. That’s because nobody would spend the money to create them if a competitor could just swoop in and steal their work. But software doesn’t need that protection. It’s less expensive to create and less disastrous if someone else imitates your work. Moreover, huge patent portfolios let companies keep competitors out of their market, which slows down innovation.

We recently learned from people who attended the event on software patents (seemingly stacked by people who are not programmers, as usual) how it went and Masnick published his contribution to this debate:

First off, I know that some patent system defenders took great offense to the idea that the event wasn’t “balanced” with system supporters. Nearly every speaker presented an aspect of how the system was broken with suggestions to fix it. But I see this complaint as being misleading. There’s this random belief out there that conference panels need to be “balanced” with “pro & con” and then let the panelists argue things out. I’ve argued against this in the past when setting up panels for other events, and with the events that we run, we’ve tried to avoid that concept as well. While just setting up pro vs. con can make for an entertaining session, it rarely leads to productive discussions that move the conversation forward. They just lead to people arguing past each other. A productive event is one in which people agree on a basic premise or problem and are then working towards possible responses. That’s what this was. It was a conference for those who believe the system is broken. Given that assumption, the point of the event was to suggest possible solutions. There are plenty of events where patent system defenders and skeptics can argue against each other, but I can’t think of another where people were able to dig in deep on possible fixes.

[...]

And, just to address this one point before one of our regular patent lawyer commenters tries to make it in the comments: there is an argument among patent system supporters that there is no such thing as a “software patent” and thus any argument that uses that term is meaningless. This is both slightly true and (more importantly) a distortion of the larger issue. As was discussed at the conference, there is a difference between software and hardware that can’t be denied. One involves moving around bits. One doesn’t. So it’s not difficult to define software differently from hardware. The real problem is that if we did carve out software from patentability, it’s likely that crafty patent lawyers would quickly figure out how to rewrite patent claims to make them broadly cover the same concepts in a way that could be seen as not being “software.” Given all that, I think it’s quite legitimate to discuss “patents that cover software” as “software patents,” even while I agree that merely targeting “software patents” misses the larger problem.

All in all, a lot of opposition to software patents could be found lately.

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. Leaked: Boards of Appeal Face 'Exile' or 'Extradition' in Haar After Standing up to Battistelli

    A look at some of the latest moves at the European Patent Office (EPO), following Battistelli's successful coup d’état which brought the EPO into a perpetual state of emergency that perpetuates Battistelli's totalitarian powers



  2. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comes Across as Against Software Patents, Relates to the EPO as Well

    Some analysis of the input from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with focus on the EPO and software patents



  3. In the US, Patent Trolls Engage in Patent Wars and Shakedowns, Whereas in China/Korea Large Android OEMs Sue One Another

    Highlighting some of the differences between the US patent system and other patent systems



  4. Links 24/7/2016: Elive 2.7.1 Beta, New Flatpaks and Snaps

    Links for the day



  5. Links 23/7/2016: Leo Laporte on GNU/Linux, Dolphin Emulator’s Vulkan Completion

    Links for the day



  6. Links 22/7/2016: Wine 1.9.15, KaOS 2016.07 ISO

    Links for the day



  7. Haar Mentioned as Likely Site of Appeal Boards as Their Eradication or Marginalisation Envisioned by UPC Proponent Benoît Battistelli

    Not only the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is under severe attack and possibly in mortal danger; the increasingly understaffed Boards of Appeal too are coming under attack and may (according to rumours) be sent to Haar, a good distance away from Munich and the airport (half an hour drive), not to mention lack of facilities for visitors from overseas



  8. EPO Attaché Albert Keyack Viewed as Somewhat of a Mole, Reporting From the US Embassy in Brazil Until Shortly Before the Temer Coup

    Public responses to the role played by Albert Keyack on behalf of the United States inside the European [sic] Patent Office



  9. EPO Insiders Explain Why the EPO's Examination Quality Rapidly Declines and Will Get Even Worse Because of Willy Minnoye

    Public comments from anonymous insiders serve to highlight a growing crisis inside the European Patent Office (EPO), where experienced/senior examiners are walking away and leaving an irreplaceable bunch of seats (due to high experience demands)



  10. Patents Roundup: BlackBerry, Huawei, PTAB, GAO, Aggressive Universities With Patents, and Software Patents in Europe

    Various bits and pieces of news regarding patents and their fast-changing nature in the United States nowadays



  11. Glimpse at Patent Systems Across the World: Better Quality Control at the USPTO Post-America Invents Act (2011), Unlike the EPO Post-Battistelli (2010)

    While the EPO reportedly strives to eliminate pendency and appeal windows altogether (rubberstamping being optimal performance as per the yardstick du jour), the USPTO introduces changes that would strengthen the system and shield innovation, not protect the business model of serial litigants



  12. Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

    Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars



  13. Links 21/7/2016: Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Xfce Beta

    Links for the day



  14. Links 21/7/2016: An Honorary Degree for Alan Cox, Looks Back at DebConf16

    Links for the day



  15. EPO USA: Under Battistelli, the 'European' Patent Office Emulates All the Mistakes of the USPTO

    Conservative Benoît Battistelli is trying to impose on the European Patent Office various truly misguided policies and he viciously attacks anyone or anything that stands in his way, including his formal overseers



  16. Links 19/7/2016: ARM and Opera Buyout

    Links for the day



  17. Large Corporations' Software Patenting Pursuits Carry on in Spite of Patent Trolls That Threaten Small Companies the Most

    With unconvincing excuses such as OIN, large corporations including IBM continue to promote software patents in the United States, even when public officials and USPTO officials work towards ending those



  18. Battistelli Has Implemented De Facto EPO Coup to Remove Oversight, Give Himself Total Power, and Allegedly Give UPC Gifts (Loot) to French Officials

    Benoît Battistelli's agenda at the EPO is anything but beneficial to the EPO and suspicions that Battistelli's overall agenda is transitioning to the UPC to further his goals grow feet



  19. EPO Social [sic] Report is a Big Pile of Lies That Responsible Journalists Must Ignore

    A reminder of where the EPO stands on social issues and why the latest so-called 'social' report is nothing but paid-for propaganda for Battistelli's political ambitions



  20. Links 18/7/2016: Vista 10 a Failure, FreeType 2.7

    Links for the day



  21. Exploiting Perceived Emergencies/Disasters, Suspending the Rule of Law, and Suspending Judges: How Erdoğan is Like Battistelli, Except the Coup

    Pretexts for crackdown on law-abiding people or figureheads who are remote and independent the hallmark not only of Erdoğan but also the EPO's President, Benoit Battistelli



  22. The Impotence of Gene Quinn

    Attacking the enforcer of Alice v CLS because it's doing harm to his source of income, which makes him angry



  23. After the FTI Consulting-EPO Reputation Laundering Deal's Expansion in Germany Süddeutsche Zeitung 'Forgets' That the EPO Even Exists

    Relative apathy if not complete silence regarding the EPO at Süddeutsche Zeitung following reports of FTI Consulting's deal expansion (media positioning in Germany), with hundreds of thousands of Euros (EPO budget) thrown at the controversial task



  24. Benoît Battistelli and Persistratos

    Reminds you of someone?



  25. Whistleblower Protection Desperately Needed at the European Patent Office

    EPO scandals are not publicly accessible or known to many people and not many such scandals are known at all because people are afraid of Battistelli's Fabius Maximus strategies



  26. Microsoft and Its Patent Minions at Nokia Still Have Patent Stacking Ambitions Against Android/Linux OEMs

    Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders



  27. [ES] ¿Que si la EPO Bajo Battistelli Se Arruina Sin Posibilidad de Reparación Como la UPC?

    La última evidencia alrededor del hundimiénto de la reputación de la Epo y su calidad de trabajo, así como la caída del sistema que Battistelli trata forzadamente de imponer (una carrera al fondo)



  28. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli, Quién Quiebra la Ley, Subvierte el Curso de la Justicia y Rechaza Obedecer las Ordenes de la Corte Dice lo Impensable en Medio de los Actos de Terror

    Los terribles ataques hace un dia en Francia están siéndo explotados por el caradura de Benoît Battistelli para comedia negra o un verdaderamente absurda afirmación en la sección de “noticias” de la EPO



  29. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli Continúa Cortejando a Officiales de Países Pequeños y su Propaganda de Beneficiar a las “PYMEs de Aquellos Países”

    El caradura de Benoît Battistelli prosigue desfilando en los países pequeños que tienen delegados al Consejo Administrativo (CA) y los explota para propaganda barata, no sólo para que lo apoyen en las reuniónes del CA



  30. Links 17/7/2016: Lithuanian Police Switches to GNU/Linux, Blockchain on LinuxONE

    Links for the day


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