11.10.15

Mozilla Follows Red Hat’s Misguided Strategy of Trying to Fight (Software) Patents With Patents Rather Than Invalidate Them

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Patents at 11:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

M.A.D. strategy where one side massively outweighs the other

Chris Beard
Source: Chris Beard, CEO of Mozilla (via Wikipedia)

Summary: Despite progress in the US patent system (limiting the patentability of software), the Mozilla Foundation leans towards patents with an acquisition and patent filing program

FOLLOWING a ruling by SCOTUS, the USPTO begrudgingly adopted new examination guidelines and software patents are demolished in retail quantities as a result. One might think that, consequently, FOSS firms would go on the offensive against software patents. Instead, however, some leading FOSS entities now befriend their patent enemies or even assimilate. Red Hat, for instance, has been filing for software patents for a number of years (we wrote a lot about this half a decade ago). Red Hat staff tells me that Red Hat is still applying for more software patents. This is relevant in light of the following recent articles:

Larry Cafiero from FOSS Force just wrote:

While it’s true that we’re past the Ballmer “cancer” era, let’s be clear on this issue: Microsoft only “loves” Linux because it has come to the realization that it needs Linux and FOSS to survive. I’m not willing to accept this “love” as sincere, and until Microsoft decides to “walk the walk” instead of just talking the talk, I am going to just have to consider this claim to be, well, complete nonsense.

Finally, let’s not forget the true nature and history of Microsoft, as outlined centuries ago by that famous Greek programmer Aesop:

“A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, ‘how do I know you won’t sting me?’ The scorpion says, ‘because if I do, I will die too.’

“The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp ‘Why?’

“Replies the scorpion: ‘It’s my nature…’”

Earlier today we showed that Microsoft is still attacking Linux with patents (it’s Microsoft's nature), just days after the deal with Red Hat. But it’s not just Red Hat.

“Mozilla will file software patents,” Benjamin Henrion wrote (citing this article in French), “time to crowdfund PTAB invalidations under Alice” (well, yes, it’s well overdue and vastly better use of funds).

“They are essentially fighting fire with fire.”PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeals), which we last wrote about several months ago, got mentioned by a large corporations’ lobbying site (focusing on patent trolls). “It amazes me,” Matt Levy wrote, “that a procedure like inter partes review has become so controversial, with the Patent Trial and Appeals Board being called a “patent death squad” and people talking about patent “kill rates.” The argument typically goes something like this: a high percentage of patent claims are invalidated in inter partes review (the exact percentage claimed varies), therefore the PTAB is killing patents.”

Looking at the automated translation of the article Henrion linked to, it says that, “Mozilla on Friday announced an acquisition and patent filing program, with the intention to place them immediately under viral free licenses, that would encourage proprietary software vendors to join the movement free.”

No, that’s just a waste of time. It’s like OIN and it’s not going to protect from trolls such as MPEG-LA, which Mozilla is already paying.

It is rather disappointing to see some of the most powerful companies that are (almost) purely focused on FOSS choosing to adopt patents rather than properly fight against them. They are essentially fighting fire with fire. This isn’t what we need in order to defend the freedom of software. Are these firms being advised or even steered by lawyers, who make a living from perpetuating this kind of mess?

“Small Software companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?” —Marco Schulze, Nightlabs Gmbh

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