07.16.16

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With ‘Friends’ Like IBM and Its ‘Open’ Invention Network We Legitimise Software Patents Rather Than End Them

Posted in IBM, OIN, Patents at 3:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Choice of a ‘lesser evil’ still leaves us with evil

A devil

Summary: Another reminder of where IBM stands on patent policy and what this means to those who rely on IBM for sheltering of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) or small businesses (SMEs) in a post-Alice era

Large corporations take it all when it comes to patents. Patent trolls are somewhat of a distraction and an obsession, as they help obscure the underlying problem with patent scope, including the existence of software patents. Consider IBM. IBM is itself a patent bully (with history). It uses software patents to attack far smaller companies and lobbies for such patents as well. IBM is opposing patent reform and it is also relying on its lobbyist (and former employee and former USPTO Director) David Kappos to maintain the status quo and abolish Alice as a factor, i.e. to prop up software patents at a time they’re increasingly dying.

“IBM is opposing patent reform and it is also relying on its lobbyist (and former employee and former USPTO Director) David Kappos to maintain the status quo and abolish Alice as a factor, i.e. to prop up software patents at a time they’re increasingly dying.”According to another new article from Fortune, which seems to have found an interest in patents lately, “innovation and entrepreneurship has been on a steady decline for the last 40 years, and the U.S. has ultimately become less competitive as large companies take a greater share of profits in their respective industries, and roughly as many small companies go out of business as start up annually. One particularly telling statistic: Nearly 60% of U.S. employees now work for firms founded before 1980, Kauffman says.” The article is titled “How Licenses and Patent Trolls Are Choking Entrepreneurship in America”. The current policy is basically an SME killer (they’re increasingly being eliminated by patents), whereas large companies don’t seem to mind this. They form conglomerates like OIN which provide them with a collective shield in many cases. Where does antitrust law come into this?

“Don’t be misled,” IBM’s Manny Schecter wrote regarding the above article, “this is about occupational licenses, not patent licenses even tho it is also about patent trolls”

Benjamin Henrion responded to Schecter by saying “patent trolls such as IBM. I had a look at your Prodigy patents complain[t], really insane.”

And right now, based on yet another corporate media puff piece (Bloomberg in this case), it sure looks like the OIN people are greasing up major journalists for puff pieces this week. iophk told us regarding this article: “When will Microsoft put their money where their mouth is and join?”

“Some may be friends of FOSS on the technical side, but when it comes to policy — especially patent policy — they are certainly part of the problem.”Well, when will IBM actually do something to stop the menace of software patents rather than promote these? Red Hat, which itself pursues software patents of its own (we wrote about this before), gets all excited about OIN even if it doesn’t achieve much. Today it wrote about it that “Fortune reports that Toyota has joined the Open Invention Network as a full member, joining IBM, Red Hat, Google and others.”

Unless or until OIN makes its goal also the abolition of software patents, why would the FOSS community have a good reason to embrace it? Look at the main parties behind OIN. Some may be friends of FOSS on the technical side, but when it comes to policy — especially patent policy — they are certainly part of the problem. Toyota itself is very close to Microsoft.

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