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. Weaponising Russophobia Against One's Critics

    Response to smears and various whispering campaigns whose sole purpose is to deplete the support base for particular causes and people; these sorts of things have gotten out of control in recent years



  2. When the EPO is Run by Politicians It's Expected to Be Aggressive and Corrupt Like Purely Political Establishments

    António 'Photo Op' Campinos will have marked his one-year anniversary in July; he has failed to demonstrate morality, respect for the law, understanding of the sciences, leadership by example and even the most basic honesty (he lies a lot)



  3. Links 16/6/2019: Tmax OS and New Features for KDE.org

    Links for the day



  4. Stuffed/Stacked Panels Sent Back Packing After One-Sided Patent Hearings That Will Convince Nobody, Just Preach to the Choir

    Almost a week ago the 'world tour' of patent lobbyists in US Senate finally ended; it was an utterly ridiculous case study in panel stacking and bribery (attempts to buy laws)



  5. 2019 H1: American Software Patents Are as Worthless as They Were Last Year and Still Susceptible to Invalidation

    With a fortnight left before the second half of the year it seems evident that software patents aren't coming back; the courts have not changed their position at all



  6. As European Patent Office Management Covers up Collapse in Patent Quality Don't Expect UPC to Ever Kick Off

    It would be madness to allow EPO-granted patents to become 'unitary' (bypassing sovereignty of nations that actually still value patent quality); it seems clear that rogue EPO management has, in effect, not only doomed UPC ambitions but also European Patents (or their perceived legitimacy, presumption of validity)



  7. António Campinos -- Unlike His Father -- Engages in Imperialism (Using Invalid Patents)

    Despite some similarities to his father (not positive similarities), António Campinos is actively engaged in imperialistic agenda that defies even European law; the EPO not only illegally grants patents but also urges other patent offices to do the same



  8. António Campinos Takes EPO Waste and Corruption to Unprecedented Levels and Scale

    The “B” word (billions) is thrown around at Europe’s second-largest institution because a mischievous former EUIPO chief (not Archambeau) is ‘partying’ with about half of the EPO’s all-time savings, which are supposed to be reserved for pensions and other vital programmes, not presidential palaces and gambling



  9. Links 15/6/2019: Astra Linux in Russia, FreeBSD 11.3 RC

    Links for the day



  10. Code of Conduct Explained: Partial Transcript - August 10th, 2018 - Episode 80, The Truth About Southeast Linuxfest

    "Ask Noah" and the debate on how a 'Code of Conduct' is forcibly imposed on events



  11. Links 14/6/2019: Xfce-Related Releases, PHP 7.4.0 Alpha

    Links for the day



  12. The EPO is a Patent Troll's Wet Dream

    The makers of software and games in Europe will have to spend a lot of money just keeping patent trolls off their backs — a fact that seems to never bother EPO management because it profits from it



  13. EPO Spreading Patent Extremists' Ideology to the Whole World, Now to South Korea

    The EPO’s footprint around the world's patent systems is an exceptionally dangerous one; The EPO amplifies the most zealous voices of the patents and litigation ‘industry’ while totally ignoring the views and interests of the European public, rendering the EPO an ‘agent of corporate occupation’



  14. Guest Post: Notes on Free Speech, and a Line in the Sand

    We received this anonymous letter and have published it as a follow-up to "Reader's Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were 'Imposed' on LibrePlanet and the FSF"



  15. Links 13/6/2019: CERN Dumps Microsoft, GIMP 2.10.12 Released

    Links for the day



  16. Links 12/6/2019: Mesa 19.1.0, KDE neon 5.16, Endless OS 3.6.0 and BackBox Linux 6

    Links for the day



  17. Leaked Financial 'Study' Document Shows EPO Management and Mercer Engaging in an Elaborate “Hoax”

    How the European Patent Office (EPO) lies to its own staff to harm that staff; thankfully, the staff isn't easily fooled and this whole affair will merely obliterate any remnants of "benefit of the doubt" the President thus far enjoyed



  18. Measuring Patent Quality and Employer Quality in Europe

    Comparing the once-famous and respected EPO to today's joke of an office, which grants loads of bogus patents on just about anything including fruit and mathematics



  19. Granting More Fundamentally Wrong Patents Will Mean Reduced Certainty, Not Increased Certainty

    Law firms that are accustomed to making money from low-quality and abstract patents try to overcome barriers by bribing politicians; this will backfire because they show sheer disregard for the patent system's integrity and merely lower the legal certainty associated with granted (by greedy offices) patents



  20. Links 11/6/2019: Wine 4.10, Plasma 5.16

    Links for the day



  21. Chapter 10: Moving Forward -- Getting the Best Results From Open Source With Your Monopoly

    “the gradual shift in public consciousness from their branding towards our own, is the next best thing to owning them outright.”



  22. Chapter 9: Ownership Through Branding -- Change the Names, and Change the World

    The goal for those fighting against Open source, against the true openness (let's call it the yet unexploited opportunities) of Open source, has to be first to figuratively own the Linux brand, then literally own or destroy the brand, then to move the public awareness of the Linux brand to something like Azure, or whatever IBM is going to do with Red Hat.



  23. Links 10/6/2019: VLC 3.0.7, KDE Future Plans

    Links for the day



  24. Patent Quality Continues to Slip in Europe and We Know Who Will Profit From That (and Distract From It)

    The corporate media and large companies don't speak about it (like Red Hat did before entering a relationship with IBM), but Europe is being littered and saturated with a lot of bogus software patents -- abstract patents that European courts would almost certainly throw out; this utter failure of the media to do journalism gets exploited by the "big litigation" lobby and EPO management that's granting loads of invalid European Patents (whose invalidation goes underreported or unreported in the media)



  25. Corporate Front Groups Like OIN and the Linux Foundation Need to Combat Software Patents If They Really Care About Linux

    The absurdity of having groups that claim to defend Linux but in practice defend software patents, if not actively then passively (by refusing to comment on this matter)



  26. Links 9/6/2019: Arrest of Microsoft Peter, Linux 5.2 RC4, Ubuntu Touch Update

    Links for the day



  27. Chapter 8: A Foot in the Door -- How to Train Sympathetic Developers and Infiltrate Other Projects

    How to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects



  28. Chapter 7: Patent War -- Use Low-Quality Patents to Prove That All Software Rips Off Your Company

    Patents in the United States last for 20 years from the time of filing. Prior to 1994, the patent term was 17 years from when the patent was issued.



  29. The Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in Income, But Cannot Maintain Linux.com?

    Today’s Linux Foundation gets about 0.1 billion dollars per year (as explained in our previous post), so why can’t it spend about 0.1% of that money on people who write for and maintain a site that actually promotes GNU/Linux?



  30. Microsoft and Proprietary Software Vendors a Financial Boon for the Linux Foundation, But at What Cost?

    The Linux Foundation is thriving financially, but the sources of income are diversified to the point where the Linux Foundation is actually funded by foes of Linux, defeating the very purpose or direction of such a nonprofit foundation (led by self-serving millionaires who don't use GNU/Linux)


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

Recent Posts