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

05.08.13

Losing Sight of the Real Problem With the Patent System

Posted in Deception, Patents at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man with glasses

Summary: Criticism of a strategy for reforming the patent system — a strategy which gained popularity despite the fact that it is a red herring with no solution in sight

Armed with some new information, Mike Masnick insists that “Over 90% Of The Most Innovative Products From The Past Few Decades Were NOT Patented“. Copyright is not a prerequisite for creativity and patents are not essential for innovation; these legal instruments are empirically shown, repeatedly, for having the very opposite effect. So the problem is patents and copyrights, not those who use or misuse them. These two are quite outdated and ‘modernising’ them for the age of digital abundance is imperative; making software patentable like hardware is worse than foolish and trying to restrict copies of 1s and 0s is also an impossible task.

Brad Feld, a startups-loving VC, says “It’s Time To Protect Startup Communities From Patent Trolls” (which again places focus on trolls rather than software parents, as Feld used ti). To quote his opening paragraphs:

If you’re a mobile gaming startup, you’ve probably heard of, or even been sued by, a company called Lodsys. Where this narrative gets interesting is when you understand that Lodsys is suing small, effective companies for “unlawfully” using patents that that it has no intention of developing upon. This behavior is what the tech community calls patent trolling. And there are AT LEAST hundreds of so-called “patent trolls” out there — increasingly targeting startups, creating a real drag on innovation and job creation. 55 percent of the companies targeted have $10 million or less in annual revenue.

I spend my days investing in new tech companies around the United States, hoping to help them build the next great idea that will make our lives better. Startups already face many unique challenges to growth and so I’m always disheartened to see legislation that fails to protect, or even hurts, companies that are creating jobs and inventing breakthrough technologies. One recent example is the America Invents Act (or AIA) — the biggest attempt at patent reform in over 50 years. Despite the attempt at change, the system is still struggling under the weight of overly broad patents that are often bought up by non-practicing entities (or patent trolls).

But that’s not the key point; trolls are not always worse than large entities which use software parents to impede startups. Masnick’s site says that “When Startups Need More Lawyers Than Employees, The Patent System Isn’t Working” (irrespective of patent trolls). This too, however, uses the recurring theme of trolls rather than software patents:

As part of our sponsorship program with the Application Developers Alliance, we’re highlighting some of the content on DevsBuild.It, their new resource website, that we think will be most interesting to Techdirt readers.

We’ve talked a lot about the tax on innovation that patent trolls create, which is well-known inside startup circles but often misunderstood by the broader public, thanks to the pro-innovation rhetoric of high-profile trolls like Intellectual Ventures. The conversation is getting more attention lately, especially with the recent news of Senator Schumer’s patent reform bill which specifically aims to fight the patent troll problem, and this interview with an anonymous developer from a tech startup offers some perspective from someone who is directly affected by the issue.

Ashby Jones from the Murdoch-owned press misses the boat by using a false narrative in the article “Samsung-Apple Patent Fight: Is It Worth It? “

There are issues with this article. It starts with: “Smartphone makers who went on the offensive in the industry’s patent wars are learning a tough lesson: The courts aren’t buying it.”

Not quite accurate. It was Apple that sued Samsung, it’s not a two-way battle. When one side seeks deterrence/defence through reactive litigation, it’s not quite as the article puts it. Here is a post based on this report:

WSJ: The patent wars have been a major bust for all smartphone vendors

While just about everyone is sick and tired of the constant barrage of patent lawsuits among smartphone vendors, it seems that tech companies themselves keep plugging precious resources into suing one another despite having fairly little to show for it. Analysis by The Wall Street Journal has found that “courts have proven as likely to deliver plaintiffs a rebuke as a win, and the slow grinding of the justice system has sapped the impact of the occasional big victories” in patent lawsuits.

There is a pattern in reporting which is troubling; either the reporters single out the mobile market as the issue or they simply name the trolls, never challenging the simple idea that patents themselves (or their scope) may be the culprit.

Apple is suing Android/Linux because Apple is desperate, not because its patents have merit. Already we see some eulogies for Apple, such as this one about “Peak Apple”. It says:

Foxconn is reportedly planning for an Apple-free future after a massive slump in orders from Cupertino.

Apple’s favourite production company is moving away from simply building other people’s designs and trying to break into a new market with the introduction of a range of flatscreen televisions.

Recall that Foxconn sold Android down the river to Microsoft [1, 2]. This is neither an issue of patent trolls nor an issue of patent applications backlog. Taking a shot at trolls would do nothing to address the issue, not in its entirety anyway.

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 29/7/2015: Akademy 2015 Ends, NetBSD 7.0 RC

    Links for the day



  2. MPEG-LA is Preparing New Patent Obstruction (Called DASH) Against Free Software, OIN Grows

    A new conspiracy against free multimedia software, set up by the MPEG cartel, is called DASH



  3. New Zealand's Media Gets History Wrong on Software Patents

    Setting the record straight on the fight against software patents in New Zealand



  4. Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too

    Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft's tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically



  5. The Government of Bulgaria Sells Out to Microsoft, Again

    Despite some promises and reassurances that Bulgaria will consider Free/libre software, the Bulgarian government hands out a lot more of taxpayers' money to the Mafia



  6. Corporate Media Finally Finds Out That Vista 10 Crashes a Lot

    Stability issues of Vista 10 are belatedly reported to be a major catastrophe, leaving it unusable for many early adopters



  7. Links 28/7/2015: Linux 4.2 RC4, New Logos and Bug 'Branding' for FUD

    Links for the day



  8. Patents Roundup: Technicolor, Alice, Voip-Pal, Fitbit, Marijuana Patents, and JDate

    A look at some of last week's patent news, with imperative responses that criticise corporate exploitation of patents for protectionism (excluding and/or driving away the competition using legal threats)



  9. Corporate Lobbyists Including Koch-Connected Front Groups Attack Real and Perceived Patent Reform in the United States

    Looking at some of the latest propaganda for and against a bill which is already too watered-down to actually fix the US patent system



  10. Patents in the Android World Further Complicate Freedom in This Linux-Powered Platform

    A survey of last week's news with special focus on Google and Android, which are trying to coexist and thrive in a world full of patent maximalists



  11. The 'Unitary' Patent Trojan Horse Rammed Down the Throat of Europe

    Under the guise of 'unification' or 'unity', existing patent systems are being abandoned and more power gets passed to corrupt EPO officials



  12. HEVC Cartel is Not News, Only the Names of Backers and the Costs Are New

    A few remarks on and a roundup of recent articles about HEVC, which we first wrote about in spring



  13. IRC Proceedings: July 12th, 2015 – July 25th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  14. Links 26/7/2015: Purism Librem and Freedom, Akademy Updates

    Links for the day



  15. Vista 10 (Windows 10) Has NSA Back Doors and Front Doors

    Vista 10 to bring new ways for spies (and other crackers) to remotely access people's computers and remotely modify the binary files on them (via Windows Update, which for most people cannot be disabled)



  16. Vista 10 Not Ready, But Released Anyway

    Despite severe technical issues in the rushed-out-the-door Vista 10, Microsoft decides to stick with the deadline, only days after reporting billions of dollars in losses



  17. Links 25/7/2015: Plasma Mobile, Linux Mint 17.2 OEM

    Links for the day



  18. Links 24/7/2015: openSUSE Leap 42.1, Intel With Rackspace for OpenStack

    Links for the day



  19. Links 24/7/2015: GNOME 3.17.4, Mozilla Developer Network Turns 10

    Links for the day



  20. Microsoft Has Run Out of Attempts and Vista 10 Will Definitely Fail

    As Microsoft admits billions of dollars in losses just days before Vista 10 is pushed as a 'free' upgrade, there is no concrete sign that financial recovery is imminent, for the bigger cash cow (Office) suffers a similar fate



  21. GNU/Linux Circles Ought to Stop Promoting Visual Studio, Which is Neither Cross-Platform Nor Free Software

    Media carries on openwashing Visual Studio and perpetuating the illusion that it is not tied to Microsoft Windows



  22. Spinning Proprietary Software Dangers as Dangers of Free/Libre Software

    News sites mislead their readers, teaching them that the biggest dangers associated with proprietary software are in fact problems exclusive to Free/libre Open Source software



  23. Links 23/7/2015: New RHEL Release, Capital One Releases Code

    Links for the day



  24. Terminology of Patent Lawyers and Pro-Patents Media Serves to Mislead the Public

    An outline of stories where the language used to describe patents is grossly distorted so as to bias the reality and mislead the audience/readers



  25. Amid Billions in Losses, Microsoft Tries to Conquer the Competition (Which Already Wins)

    The 'Embrace, Extend, Extinguish' strategy goes a few steps further as Microsoft looks to dominate developers, devices and servers that are running Free/libre software



  26. Microsoft Losing Billions of Dollars is Not News

    Few remarks on Microsoft's latest admission that it is losing a lot of money



  27. Links 22/7/2015: Kodi 15.0, MKVToolnix 8.2.0

    Links for the day



  28. The Technology Sector in the US Has Gotten Fed Up With Apple's Patent Aggression Against Android/Linux

    Apple is desperately trying to stop Android from increasing its levels of dominance (in phones, tablets, watches, and so on), so Silicon Valley is lining up against Apple, antagonising its misuse/abuse of patents for anticompetitive purposes



  29. Patents Regime in Europe: Mixture of Greed, Competition Abuses, and Propaganda

    A roundup of the latest patent news from Europe, focusing on Italy, the UK, Germany, and Hungary



  30. Patent 'Reform' in US Congress Still Under Attack by Patent Lawyers and Corporate Lobbyists

    The latest instances of assault on changes to the US patent system, demonstrated through an elaborative survey of the media (two days' worth)


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