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. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  2. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  3. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government



  4. Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

    Links for the day



  5. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  6. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  7. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  8. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  9. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  10. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)



  11. Journalism 101: Do Not Believe Anything That Benoît Battistelli and the EPO's Management Say (Also Don't Fall for the UPC Hype)

    A survey/review (or an overview) of recent articles about the EPO and why they're wrong (mostly because they parrot the official lies from Battistelli's department)



  12. Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM 'Magazine' Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

    Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent



  13. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Going Places and Suing Microsoft Rivals, Microsoft Wants More 'Linux Patent Tax'

    Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn's MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)



  14. Links 22/9/2016: Linux Professional Institute Redesign, Red Hat Upgraded

    Links for the day



  15. Links 22/9/2016: Red Hat's Latest Results, GNOME 3.22 Released

    Links for the day



  16. The Patent Law Firms in the US Relentlessly Lobby for Software Patents Resurgence by Placing Emphasis Only on Rare Outcomes

    Decisions against software patents continue to be ignored or intentionally overlooked by patent law firms, which instead saturate the media with the few cases where courts unexpectedly rule in favour of software patents



  17. Links 21/9/2016: Lenovo Helps Microsoft Block GNU/Linux Installations

    Links for the day



  18. Like Big Tobacco Lobbyists, Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are Just Chronically Lying and Manipulating Politicians With Their Lies

    Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC continue to meddle in politics and mislead the public (through the press) about patent quality as well the UPC, which is now in effect sunk inside the ashtray of history



  19. The EPO's 'Investigative' Function is Totally Out of Control and Continues to Get Bigger, Whitewashed by So-called 'Review'

    An update on the situation which still causes great unrest at the European Patent Office (EPO), namely abuse of staff by the so-called Investigative Unit (Eponia's equivalent of unaccountable secret services)



  20. Microsoft and Patent Law Firms in the United States Can't Stop Writing About McRo in a Coordinated Push to Resurrect Software Patents

    Microsoft is pursuing more Linux 'patent tax' (using software patents) and patent law firms are preoccupied flooding the media with their shameless self-promotion which is also software patents promotion



  21. For Abuse Like Plagiarism and Malpractice, the US Patent System is Still World Champion

    Low patent quality, abusive litigation (e.g. by patent trolls) and various other elements that globally discredit the USPTO are only symptoms of a wider problem, which is a greedy system motivated by neo-liberal values rather than professionalism and servitude



  22. Links 20/9/2016: GNOME 3.22 Preview, Absolute 14.2 Released

    Links for the day



  23. Links 19/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC7, KDevelop 5.0.1

    Links for the day



  24. Patents Roundup: Disclosure Requirements, Mobile Patents, Patent Lawyers' Plagiarism, USPTO Getting Sued, and Corporate Domination of the Patent System

    The unwanted elements of the patent system (as it stands at present) illuminated by very recent news and patent court cases



  25. With or Without the UPC (Which Will Probably Never Happen) Battistelli is Crushing the EPO and Ejects Experienced Staff, a Future Without Examination Possible

    A pessimistic but probably realistic take on what is happening at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is undergoing a silent transformation so wide-ranging that stakeholders deserve to know about it



  26. When EPO Liar-in-Chief Benoît Battistelli Defamed His Staff in Parliament, Comparing Them to Nazis and Criminals

    A reminder of the audacity of Benoît Battistelli, who in his capacity as a politician -- a problem in its own right -- slanders EPO staff



  27. After McRO v Namco Case (at CAFC) the Patent Microcosm Works Overtime to Produce Pro-Software Patents Propaganda, Smear the Supreme Court

    Increasingly desperate to convince people to pursue software patents and/or use their software patents to initiate growingly risky lawsuits (high risk of losing), the patent microcosm hugs McRO v Namco while distorting the complete record of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on this subject



  28. Poor Quality Control at the US Patent Office Gives Birth to 'Unpatent' and Gives a Voice to Critics

    The USPTO must up its game on patent quality (not relying on PTAB and the courts correcting its errors after the grants) or face growing backlash that tarnishes its public image



  29. Patent Trial and Appeal Board Under Attack by Law Firms, Which Will Soon Infiltrate It in the Form of 'Bar Association'

    The vultures that are patent law firms keep circling around PTAB and hoping to destroy it, if not from the outside then from the inside, potentially regressing and ruining great progress for US patent quality since Mayo and Alice



  30. EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are Still Lying, Don't Believe a Word They Say

    A rather bulky rebuttal to some of the latest misleading statements from EPO management and law firms that wish to expand/advance their own careers at the expense of the integrity of the European patent system


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