With Software Patents in Europe (and Pushes for the Same Thing in Australia and India) Patent Trolls Now Come to Europe, Attack Android/Linux
The United Kingdom — and by extension Europe — now a platform of choice for some major patent trolls
Summary: Worst-case scenarios are becoming a reality as Android backers officially attacked by patent trolls using standard-essential patents in London, England
SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS across Europe hate software patents. Ask them. Seriously, just ask them. Programmers in general (with rare exceptions) don’t want software patents; they already have copyright law (or copyleft for Free software). It helps protect them and assert that their own work cannot be exploited/ripped off. That’s just the nature of software, which is a lot like poetry or musical compositions.
The Danish creator of Ruby on Rails (RoR), David Heinemeier Hansson, wrote the other day: “Software patents are a racket used by trolls/BigCos to shake down/stifle competition. If you file for patents, you’re arming the racketeers.”
“Programmers in general (with rare exceptions) don’t want software patents; they already have copyright law (or copyleft for Free software).”As we have shown here before, no software patents are “good”, hence there is no such thing as “bad patents” or “bad software patents” (a term often used by apologists of them, such as IBM). Patents in the hands of “good” companies are not secure either; they can be sold and fall into hostile hands. See Sun and Oracle for example (Sun patents are now being used against Linux/Android). See Novell’s patents, which fell into Microsoft’s hands through CPTN. There are many more examples like that.
“Software patents are a racket used by trolls/BigCos to shake down/stifle competition. If you file for patents, you’re arming the racketeers.”
–David Heinemeier HanssonRoR’s creator, a hugely popular developer (not just in Europe), said a couple of days ago: “Shame on Ericsson for arming a patent troll with a large stockpile of outdated yet weaponized patents for a cut” (he spoke about Unwired Planet).
For those who are not familiar with Ericsson and Unwired Planet, here is an article from 3 days ago. It makes everything quite easy to follow: “Unwired Planet Inc. has 16 employees and no products. What it does have is a portfolio of more than 2,000 patents, mostly acquired from Ericsson AB, which it says on its website are “considered foundational to mobile communications.” The Nevada-based firm wants more than just recognition.”
So a European company, Ericsson, is now the motor of patent trolls, much like Nokia after Microsoft took over. How did this happen? Well, we covered this over the past few years and we warned that this was going to happen, despite software not (officially) being patentable in Europe.
London is now serving as the venue for patent trolls, attracting the litigation ‘business’ just like Eastern Texas. Huge damages are at stake and the target is Free software, not some proprietary software, hence free distribution itself is being threatened. Believe it or not, this may have the same impact on Free software on phones in Europe as the FCC on Free software on routers/hubs in the US. The Ericsson-backed troll is now attacking Android (Free software and Linux-powered). Making it impossible to dodge the lawsuit, we are dealing with standard-essential patents (SEP) here, meaning that in order to conform with standards one must infringe. The patents boosters say that Huawei, Google and Samsung are the target of the lawsuit. To quote: “Tomorrow Unwired Planet is scheduled to begin a series of face-offs against Huawei, Samsung and Google at the Patents Court in London. At issue are alleged infringements of five standard essential patents (SEPs) owned by the NPE that were transferred to it as the result of a deal done with Ericsson back in 2013.
“London is now serving as the venue for patent trolls, attracting the litigation ‘business’ just like Eastern Texas.”“Over on the ARS Technica website, Joe Mullin talks about coming to a UK court being “a high-cost, high-risk scenario that’s unappealing to trolls”. He’s right. And that’s why trolls – whose business model is based on asserting poor-quality patents to leverage the high cost of US patent litigation to extract relatively low-cost, pre-trial, licensing-based settlements from alleged infringers – would never take a case as far as a courtroom in the UK (or anywhere else for that matter).
“Unwired Planet, though, is not a troll. It is a patent licensing business looking to secure a global agreement from entities it believes are infringing high-quality SEPs. It may not like trials (who does?), but it is not afraid of them because it feels it has a good chance of winning and is willing to pay to find out if it is right, especially as the ultimate prize is potentially a collection of eight or even nine figure global licensing deals. Seen in such a light, its choice of the Patents Court in London makes a fair bit of sense.”
The proponents of software patents, people such as IAM's biased (for their own financial gain) writers, helped patent trolls come to Europe. IAM said that “Unwired Planet patent suit in London against Huawei, Google & Samsung again shows Europe is now NPE venue of choice”. Patent Buddy, a more moderate voice, noted the importance of this: “Unwired Planet Will Fight SEP Suit Against Huawei, Google and Samsung in London, Not a US Court” (where this typically takes place).
It’s easy to see what patent lawyers find desirable here. They can make money from the legal aftermath and the proceedings themselves, irrespective of the outcome (who wins). Now that there are some software patents in Europe, authorised by the corrupt EPO, large companies are using loopholes and cheats to get more of them and then sue. As Patently German clarified the other day, “the German court essentially follows the EPO, the language even being a bit more generous” (but it’s the EPO that led to it, even back in Brimelow’s days).
“It’s easy to see what patent lawyers find desirable here. They can make money from the legal aftermath and the proceedings themselves, irrespective of the outcome (who wins).”Germany’s exceptional lenience on software patents granting was mentioned here this morning and it is likely to be a topic we will revisit in the near future. Jonas Bosson (FFII Sweden) wrote that “#TPPA is “all fields of technology” a trick force patents on abstract matters, such as math and data processing? http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership_Agreement …”
These terrible ‘treaties’ play a growing role in corporate takeover of Europe and based on this latest update, “The UK has joined the Unified Patent Court (UPC) protocol agreement, representing a ‘milestone’ for the country.”
Yes, a ‘milestone’ for corporations taking over the country and most of the continent it’s technically a part of.
The FFII’s President expressed his concerns earlier today by stating: “FSF, despite its 30 years, still spending too few of its resources on fighting software patents and the unitary patent court #FSF30″
Australia Dubs It “Innovation Patent System”
This whole software patents and ‘treaties’ chaos (laws rewritten in bulk) is becoming a growing problem not just in Europe but also in Australia, where activists like Sturmfels (mentioned before in [1, 2, 3]) oppose a push for software patents. The patent maximalists ridicule the likes of him with insulting weasel phrases and belittling words. To quote a new blog post titled “‘Free Software’ Advocates Aside, Submissions to IP Australia Overwhelmingly Support Innovation Patent System”:
Needless to say, such comments lack anything resembling either evidence or detailed reasoning. They also fail to address the fact that abolition of innovation patents would affect all industries, and not just the ‘software industry’ (whatever that may be), including those represented by other submissions in support of innovation patents. In any event, these near-identical submissions are so clearly the result of an orchestrated campaign that they can hardly be regarded as constituting independent contributions to the consultation process. Furthermore, they are at odds with the submission made by BSA | The Software Alliance as noted above.
Other parties making submissions in favour of abolition of the innovation system include Melbourne-based free-software advocate Ben Sturmfels, on behalf of a group of nine like-minded individuals, and Open Source Industry Australia Ltd, which argues that ‘abolition of the innovation patent system will be an important first step towards delivering a more efficient, effective and equitable patent regime for Australia’.
Even Microsoft front groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA) play a role in the lobbying. To quote:
“BSA | The Software Alliance, which represents the global commercial software industry (counting among its members Adobe, Altium, ANSYS, Apple, ARM, Autodesk, AVEVA, Bentley Systems, CA Technologies, Cisco, CNC/Mastercam, DataStax, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Minitab, Oracle, PTC, salesforce.com, Siemens PLM Software, Symantec, Tekla, The MathWorks, and Trend Micro), and which argues that the innovation patent system should be retained, and improved in line with a number of the recommendations in ACIP’s original report”
The above are all proprietary software giants, hardly small businesses. It’s clear whose interests are served by monopolies on algorithms.
IAM Not Speaking for India
IAM is meanwhile returning to the situation in India, claiming that India’s small businesses want software patents (citing this article which doesn’t really focus on patents) and saying in Twitter: “Limited scope of patent protection, rather than cost, is what is driving high-tech Indian SMEs out of the country” (total nonsense).
“Microsoft reportedly lobbies regarding the UPC in Europe, despite being a foreign company with no personal affection for Europe.”The patent lawyers (like the people who operate IAM) want patent trolls and large corporations that hire them to just carry on with patent chaos because patent lawyers profit from it. This is true not only in Europe but also in the US. Watch how IBM is lobbying for software patents in just about every country, India included. The same goes for Microsoft and other patent aggressors. Microsoft reportedly lobbies regarding the UPC in Europe, despite being a foreign company with no personal affection for Europe. Microsoft is not a person. It is also treated like a V.I.P. by the increasingly corruptible (up for sale to corporations) EPO. █