Summary: Microsoft continues its long journey towards ‘Linux tax’ (or Microsoft tax on Linux) as the ‘standard’ while trying very hard to derail Android and prevent nations from moving to Free/libre software
THE bubble of ‘good’ Microsoft is being burst on a daily basis because the company keeps — and sometimes even enhances — its hostile behaviour, having just taken away software from Android [1, 2], engaged in yet more “embrace, extend, extinguish” tactics against Android, and then started recording Android users remotely (always on), as reported by Mary Jo Foley and other Microsoft propagandists (Microsoft’s special relationship with the NSA notwithstanding). Based on this new article from IAM, there is also a monopoly being shielded here, with the prospect of litigation against Google and others (for royalties or product removal). “A new study by technology consulting and litigation support firm iRunway,” says IAM, “has analysed the patent landscape around speech recognition technology, finding that Microsoft and specialist company Nuance lead the way. The report highlights the growth in patent filings over the last 10 years as companies have made significant strides in the development of technology in this area.” Just watch how Apple has been suing Samsung. It is still pursing high royalties through a settlement. It wants “hundreds of millions of dollars”, as an Apple proponent/Android foe put it. Much of that is for software patents and it is the same strategy Microsoft has been sticking to for much longer than Apple.
Make no mistake about it. There is no 'new' Microsoft except a Microsoft that engages in patent racketeering against Linux and Android. There are only faceplate changes, site changes, logo changes, etc. The company is as aggressive as ever before.
“Make no mistake about it. There is no ‘new’ Microsoft except a Microsoft that engages in patent racketeering against Linux and Android.”Several years ago we noted that Microsoft had promoted Horacio Gutierrez, who is now a Microsoft Vice President. Microsoft was emphasising a litigation route, making it abundantly clear that patent extortion against Linux was a growing strategy. Anti-Linux patent men are once again being promoted inside Microsoft as Smith becomes President. Recall all the anti-Linux rhetoric from him and mind the “astroturf in the comments,” as noted by our reader iophk. Smith is an aggressor, so the way we interpret the news is, anti-Linux litigation is only further promoted (not demoted) as the strategy. Watch what Microsoft has been doing with Tuxera, putting and reinforcing patent tax as part of the ‘standard’ inside Linux. Here is a new press release from Tuxera and partners — a statement which says:
iWedia, a leading provider of software solutions for TV devices to service operators and Consumer Electronics manufacturers, today announced that it has integrated its Linux-based Teatro-3.0 Set-Top Box (STB) software solution for IP-connected zappers with the AllConnect streaming technology of Helsinki-based Tuxera, the market leader in embedded file systems, network storage and streaming technologies.
Well, Tuxera is a Microsoft partner and it pays Microsoft. This is the sort of GPL-hostile future Microsoft is after. Microsoft is trying to make Linux its own cash cow. Yes, cash cow! It’s an assault on the very heart of Free software. It impedes distribution rights.
Speaking of underhanded tactics such as these, the Gates Foundation is being used as a Trojan horse by Bill Gates, who is now an integral part of Microsoft’s management and according to this report China’s “President Xi is set to also have a private dinner with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates before leaving Seattle for Washington.”
Another report says “President Xi will also be visiting and meeting with Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, even before he visits Obama in Washington.”
“That makes Xi look very weak,” iopkh wrote to us. It’s not the first time that this happens. The same kind of story was reported here almost decade ago, back in 2007.
“Yes,” iopkh noted, “it’s happened with other presidents of China. It makes them look very foolish, to keep it polite.”
Our worry is that China will lift its ban (in government) on Office and Microsoft Windows, maybe after some ‘sweet’ (behind closed doors) deal with Gates, who is now officially back at Microsoft (in functional terms). At the moment, China is rapidly moving to GNU/Linux at many levels, not just when it comes to mobile devices but also when it comes to servers and desktops. We wrote a lot about it. China not only explored Free software, but also began moving to it en masse. It’s the world’s largest market and trend setter.
Don’t believe for even a moment that Microsoft has changed for the better. It’s just more discreet about its constant attacks on Free software. █
Send this to a friend
Photo source: Intellectual Ventures
Summary: News collated which pertains to software patents, especially those which affect Free/libre software
TODAY’S series of links is divided based on themes, starting with what we deem most important.
Apple’s Attacks on Free Software
Joe Mullin is flabbergasted by Apple’s vicious assault on the Linux-powered platform that reduced the ‘i’ empire to rubble, with at most 18% market share (depending on the source and the geography).
“All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.”Android rose to unbeatable levels of dominance despite Apple’s assault (remember that Apple started it 5 years ago) and in one legal case alone there are now “3,200 documents [...] not including exhibits.” Imagine the cost of legal defence here. Apple and Samsung are still fighting in court and “Koh’s recent orders suggest she is fed up with the intense litigation by both parties,” Mullin notes. “The case docket for the first of two Apple v. Samsung lawsuits now has more than 3,200 documents in it, not including exhibits. Last week, Koh issued an order prohibiting the parties from making any further additions without permission.”
This is, at the very least, deterrence. More importantly, it’s Apple greed (it wants billions of dollars from Samsung). Apple is just hoping that companies with pockets less deep than Samsung’s will simply give up and pay Apple for profits made through distribution of Android (Free software). This is clearly an attack on Free software, so anyone still insisting that Apple likes “Open Source” is about as delusional as people who deem ‘i’ products superior and worthy of the high price tags.
Several years ago we openly and unambiguously called for a boycott of everything “Apple”. The company is malicious and it is dangerous to the future of Free software. All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.
Rothschild Connected Devices ‘Innovations’
Joe Mullin, covering and citing the original rant from the EFF, expands on Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, which is essentially a patent troll. He provides some details on what Leigh Rothschild, whom the world’s biggest patent troll (Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft-connected) glamourises, has been up to:
Patent-holding company Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations (RCDI) owns US Patent No. 8,788,090, which was granted in 2014 and describes a system where a “remote server” “transmits” a “product preference” via a “communication module.” Using those broad claims, RCDI has sued more than 20 companies for making things that connect to the Internet. The company sued ADT (PDF) over its Pulse product that allows for things like adjusting a thermostat.
The patent relates to an application filed back in 2006 that essentially describes an Internet drink mixer. A consumer can customize products by connecting to a server on “the global computer network, e.g., the Internet,” which can then “provide product preferences of a user to a product or a mixing device, e.g., a product or beverage dispenser.”
This is an example not just of patent trolling but also software patents, which are the weapon favoured among patent trolls. If the latter can be eliminated, much of the former too will vanish (go bankrupt). This is why we emphasise the need to combat software patents (scope), not just “trolls”, however one defines them (definitions tend to vary somewhat as some very large companies act indistinguishably from classic patent trolls or patent sharks).
There are more new signs of the US patent system tightening. Yesterday for example Foley & Lardner LLP published an analysis of another criterion (not “abstract”) by which patents can be squashed in US courts, even the notorious Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). To quote the analysis: “As noted in the Federal Circuit decision, Dow Chemical Company asserted selected claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,847,053 and U.S. Patent No. 6,111,023 against NOVA Chemicals Corporation (Canada) and NOVA Chemicals Inc. (Delaware). A jury found the asserted claims to be infringed and not invalid, and the Federal Circuit affirmed, holding, among other things, “that the asserted claims were not indefinite.” The district court then conducted a bench trial for a supplemental damages period through the expiration date of both patents, granted $30M in supplemental damages in the form of lost profits and reasonable royalties, and denied Dow’s request for enhanced damages. NOVA appealed, and Dow cross-appealed.”
Earlier this year we wrote about the Nautilus case. This too is relevant here. “Applying the Nautilus standard,” says Foley & Lardner LLP, “the Federal Circuit held that existence of multiple methods that could lead to different results and the absence of guidance in the patent or prosecution history as to which method should be used rendered the claims indefinite because they “fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” The court therefore reversed the $30M supplemental damages award.”
This ought to discourage litigation, filing of new patent applications that are similar in nature to the above, and generally feed back (like in a loop) into the US patent system so as to modify examination guidelines, in very much the same way that Alice has done since last year. See this new article titled “After Alice: A Feedback Loop of Software Patent Invalidity”. The article comes from the pro-patents media (whose audience is patent lawyers) and it’s summarised as follows: “Ever since a major patent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, patents have seemed to be invalidated right and left. But is that a result of the decision itself, or because of the feedback loop caused by the process by which patents are challenged?”
They are trying to dismiss the legitimacy of the decisions by casting them as an “echo chamber” of sorts. Well, that’s what one might expect from the patent profiteers, even thought some patent lawyers’ blogs already acknowledge that software patents may be on their death throes.
IP Kat, a blog run by patent lawyers (and other monopolies like copyrights, trademarks, etc.), is still openly concerned about voices of reason, or published opinions from people who don’t profit from this corrupt system of protectionism by patent monopolies. Watch this latest dismissal of The Economist‘s pair of articles.
“No,” insist sthe patents proponent, “what these articles are ultimately intended for is to try and set the narrative by which the patent system is discussed. To this end, economics is merely a hand-maiden. In so doing, The Economist joins a long tradition. We have seen the struggle to control the patent narrative played out several times in the recent past.”
OK, so the lawyers are upset at an opposing (not dissenting) view and insist that The Economist is basically trolling (in the Internet troll sense of the word). “No,” continue this particular lawyer (second in this blog this week to write about The Economist‘s articles from one month ago), “this Kat is not an IP Luddite. The patent system and the laws underlying it can certainly be improved. But this is not what the two pieces in The Economist are about.”
It was perfectly clear what The Economist meant to say. Rather than tip-toeing and making decorative, minor changes to a broken system (like all of these proposed ‘reforms’ we keep hearing about) the writers/editors at The Economist wish to just scrap the entire lot, potentially starting from scratch (if at all). Seeing the patent lawyers squirm over this very idea is hardly surprising. Their want their share. They want to tax everything, even if nobody needs them at all. █
“We cannot hope to own it all, so instead we should try to create the largest possible market and insert ourselves as a small tax on that market.”
–Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft at the time (now a patent troll)
Send this to a friend
Patents on trivial concepts can’t carry water for Apple
Summary: Apple’s attacks on Android (and by extension Linux) run short of results
DESPITE Apple’s ‘generous’ payments to IDG (e.g. for advertisements), IDC‘s parent company, IDC now reports (as widely covered in the media) that Apple is unlikely to ever catch up with Android and Apple’s stock rapidly collapsed recently, costing the company around $100 billion in overall value.
Apple saw the writings on the wall some years ago. It started suing Android half a decade ago, taking advantage of a notorious patent system (the USPTO) that is such an utter joke that it actually let McDonalds have patents on making burgers (patents protectionism) just when in the US, based on this new report, some people are copyrighting a chicken sandwich (or at least trying to). Remember that Oracle attacks Android not only using patents but also copyrights (on APIs). CPTN, a consortium built around Novell’s patents with Apple, Microsoft and Oracle at its core, shows that there is a proprietary software collusion against Android/Linux. Microsoft has been destroying Nokia to turn it into a patent troll, using its patents to feed Android-hostile trolls like MOSAID.
Outside the US (although increasingly in the US too) Apple has not been so lucky when it comes to fighting Android. Watch Europe for instance. Aside from the fact that the system isn’t biased in favour of US companies (like the ITC tends to be), Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent, to give just one example, is nothing more than an old gate lock (thousands of years old) borrowed for digital metaphors. It’s just not patentable in many places, including in Europe. Apple has ultimately embarrassed itself by even trying to follow Steve Jobs' "thermonuclear" (apocalyptic) plan.
“Apple’s anti-Android/anti-Samsung patents are an endangered species in every jurisdiction in which they get challenged (and may soon be an extinct species in Europe)…”
–Florian MüllerAccording to Florian Müller, who has been working for Microsoft (and based on some reports also for Apple) as a sort of lobbyist, Apple continues to be defeated in Europe. To put it in his own words: “The spring 2014 armistice with Google has a major downside for Apple: it related only to infringement cases, not to challenges to the validity of its patents, a fact that was not clear at the time of the original announcement. Five months ago, the European Patent Office revoked Apple’s iconic rubberbanding patent on a Europe-wide basis. The sole remaining party opposing the grant of that patent was Motorola. I have no doubt that Google (not Lenovo) is the driving force behind this continuing effort to shoot down Apple patents, and I guess Google is paying Quinn Emanuel for representing Motorola in cases such as that one.
“Today, Google and QE’s continuing efforts have succeeded once again (and most probably not for the last time): the Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s highest court (besides, theoretically, the Federal Constitutional Court, which has never heard a patent case in its history), today announced (German-language press release) affirmance of the Federal Patent Court’s April 2013 decision to invalidate the German part of Apple’s European slide-to-unlock patent.”
In another article from Müller the failures of Apple are shown to be broader than just in Europe. To quote: “Apple’s anti-Android/anti-Samsung patents are an endangered species in every jurisdiction in which they get challenged (and may soon be an extinct species in Europe), except for the Northern District of California, where Judge Lucy Koh has so far acted as if she was the World Wildlife Fund for Apple patents. But a tipping point may have been reached at which conservation will come to an end even in her district court.”
When even Müller has no favourable opinion on Apple’s case it’s easy to conclude that Apple totally lost the plot.
Let’s hope that Apple will rot on its own, without (any longer) trying to take Android down along with it. █
Send this to a friend
Why would anyone still support a bully like Apple?
Summary: Apple’s attacks on Android (using bogus patents) may be soon be escalated to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)
PATENTS are the long-term foe of Free software because as long as there are software patents (even in just a few countries) import of devices with Linux or Android or whatever other Free software inside them can be banned, barred, blocked at the border. It’s a massive injustice.
The other day we saw the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP (prolific when it comes to pro-patent-maximising opinions) spreading FUD against Free software licences and promoting software patents. These are the sorts of parasites that continue to stand in the way of a Free software-run world — one in which transparency and participation are part of the social contract. Suffice to say, transparency and participation reduce corruption and empower peace, whereas the opposite creates suspicion, hostility, betrayal, and conflict.
Florian Müller has spent a number of years attacking Android, sometimes as part of the contracts he was paid for, e.g. by Microsoft. He recently wrote about how Apple lost a key design patent. It’s one which we covered before. It’s laughable.
Sarah Burstein says that “SCOTUS hasn’t heard an issue of substantive design patent law for over 100 years.” She cites Howard Mintz who wrote that “Federal Circuit refuses to rehear Samsung appeal of verdict in patent trial against Apple. Scotus or bust” (i.e. last resort).
The SCOTUS has thus far been the best weapon against ridiculous patents (more on that in our next post) and Müller says that Samsung will appeal to it, answering questions from Apple propaganda sites (see questions like “will Samsung ask SCOTUS?” regarding this article from Mac Rumors).
“These are the sorts of parasites that continue to stand in the way of a Free software-run world — one in which transparency and participation are part of the social contract.”This development has been covered a lot by corporate media in the US and it hardly shocks us that a US court ruled in favour of a US company, not a Korean company. We wrote about such biases many times before (the ITC is a good example of that) and since the corrupt CAFC is involved, it makes this anything but shocking, just expected.
There is no CAFC hearing for Samsung, say lawyers from London. Someone “wrote in to say that the method by which the figure was arrived at would, if unchallenged, lead to “absurd results” on the basis that three design patents could not encompass the entire value of a smartphone which has hundreds (if not thousands) of IP-protected features.”
The bottom line is, Apple’s patent war on Android has turned 5 (it started against HTC and then Samsung was added). HTC is still suffering and Apple hopes to destroy Samsung not by innovating but by litigating. By extension, Apple attacks the whole Android world, including Linux. We can’t let Apple get its way. █
Send this to a friend
Patents not on engineering (or physical products) anymore
Summary: News about patents from all across the Web, placing special emphasis on software patents and how these affect Free software projects, including Linux and Android
THIS week’s patents roundup revolves around practicing companies that act in a way which is almost indistinguishable from patent trolls. As we have said here for several years, the term “patent trolls” can be misleading because many large companies act in the same way but don’t get labeled “trolls”, mostly because of their size. It means that a fight against “patent trolls” often turns out to be a fight over scale, waged by large corporations against smaller ones. Check again who is behind the PATENT Act [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
Today’s post brings together several stories and themes/strands in order to keep readers abreast of the latest developments.
Open Invention Network
We have spent over 8 years writing about the Open Invention Network (better known as OIN) and why it cannot effectively protect Free software projects. We also exchanged many E-mails with the OIN and some trolls. We saw how toothless the OIN can be in many scenarios and we challenged the OIN over it. I spoke in length with their CEO a few times over the telephone and I still think that it helps legitimise software patents and rarely achieves very much, except promote the interests of large corporations (like those which founded it and still fund it).
Earlier this morning FOSS Force published this very long interview with Deb Nicholson, who had worked for the FSF before she moved to OIN. This interview is very good and Nicholson’s views on patents are fine. We shared them here before.
“My work at OIN involves a lot of research,” Nicholson says. “I read academic papers on litigation trends and try to stay on top of who’s getting sued this week. It also involves a lot of behind the scenes emailing. I have lots of informal conversations with people about how you run a free and open source software project. Sometimes, they don’t realize that lots of other companies are succeeding with FOSS business models and shared community resources. Once they see that it can be done, they often feel more confident.”
Nicholson then speaks about the role of SCOTUS in lowering the risk of software patents.
“The Supreme Court,” she explains, “has given the lower courts the tools to rule against two specific categories of vague and frivolous patents. This is great for companies that have the cash and the time to go to court. For companies that don’t want to fight in court — which is lots of them, because it really is expensive and time-consuming — the letters will keep coming. Plus, there are still plenty of overly broad or obvious patents on the books that may not be affected by the recent rulings. So, things are improving but I wouldn’t say that we’re finished.”
She makes an important point regarding the cost of litigation, but the matter of fact is, USPTO examiners are now tougher on software patents and fewer companies (or shell firms) are eager to assert software patents for fear of losing them. Not only the extorted party (usually developers) is scared of the courts; the plaintiff, e.g. a patent troll, is too. What SCOTUS has done is, in our humble assessment, the best news in nearly a decade. We cannot recall anything bigger or better in terms of magnitude, at least not when it comes to systematically squashing software patents (not one patent at the time as per the EFF’s much-advertised earlier efforts, dubbed “patent busting”).
The Finjan-led patent extortion crusade was mentioned here just weeks ago (they are Microsoft-connected) and now, just weeks later, this firm’s troll entity (Finjan Holdings) gets extortion money from a really nasty company, Blue Coat, which some say the EPO hired to spy on people like yours truly and EPO staff. “Finjan Holdings,” as a trolls expert explains, is “a patent-licensing company operating in the cybersecurity space” and it has just “won a hefty $39.5 million jury verdict (PDF) on Tuesday, when a San Jose jury found that Blue Coat Systems infringed five of its patents.”
Keep an eye on Finjan, not just because of its Microsoft connections. Finjan has become a very malicious company. It deserves to go out of business. The sooner, the better.
Cisco, now known for its surveillance and back doors (which is even openly discusses when applying for standards), is receiving negative publicly because as its profits run dry (or more meager), it increasingly turns into more of a troll, just like Microsoft and Apple. Is this what Cisco wants to be renowned (or notorious) for? Remember that TrollTracker, a fighter against patent trolls. was a Cisco lawyer, but Cisco is now turning into what it fought. Arista, according to this article, says that Cisco is “Very Much Like a Patent Troll” (that’s the headline) and it’s coming all the way from the top. To quote the article, “Arista’s top lawyer used the company’s earnings call for trash-talk Thursday, saying Cisco is “behaving very much like a patent troll” in its intellectual property lawsuit against Arista.
“Arista Networks Inc. CEO Jayshree Ullal kicked off the badmouthing: “Despite all the overheated rhetoric we’ve been hearing from Cisco blogs about Arista’s brazen copying, we think the only thing brazen about the suit is the extreme length Cisco has gone to,” she said. “Our customers have shown unwavering support.”
“Cisco has basically become another very malicious company, if not for colluding with espionage agencies, then for bulling/attacking rivals using patents.”“Arista Vice President and General Counsel Marc Taxay agreed. “Ironically … it appears to us at any rate that Cisco is behaving very much like a patent troll, which is pretty much what they’ve spent the last decade condemning.” Cisco is claiming patents for widely implemented features and functionality that exist on a broad range of switches today, and some of the patents affect features the patents were never intended to cover, Taxay said.”
The Wall Street Journal, taking note of “expensive legal battle with Cisco”, also expresses concerns about this case. “That may give some investors pause,” the author claims, “especially when Arista remains embroiled in an expensive legal battle with Cisco, which has accused it of infringing on patents.”
Cisco has basically become another very malicious company, if not for colluding with espionage agencies, then for bulling/attacking rivals using patents. Cisco used to be on the defensive, but now it’s on the ofsensive, and not against trolls. For a company that is eager to be seen as a FOSS and GNU/Linux supporter, this surely is a dumb strategy whose gains — if any — are massively outweighed by public image erosion.
A new article from Timothy B. Lee helps chastise the bully called JDate, which we wrote about very recently. “JDate,” he explains, “recently sued JSwipe, a mobile dating app for Jews that works like Tinder. Most media coverage has focused on mocking JDate for essentially claiming that it has a monopoly on certain uses of the letter J.
“But in some ways, the part of JDate’s lawsuit that really merits mockery is the patent infringement claims. JDate is suing JSwipe for infringing a broad patent that essentially claims the concept of using a computer to match pairs of users who express interest in each other. The lawsuit illustrates the continuing need for patent reform, because the current system makes it too expensive for defendants to challenge dubious patents.”
There are some interesting comments about JDate here. Although this Web site only targets a small niche, we strongly encourage all readers to boycott JDate, or else they’ll continue their shameful bullying, perhaps inspiring other companies to do the same.
The Economist Versus Patents
The Economist, interestingly and surprisingly enough (given its strong pro-business bias), chastises the patents regime in at least two articles this month. One is titled “A question of utility” and says in its summary: “Patents are protected by governments because they are held to promote innovation. But there is plenty of evidence that they do not” (we have covered such evidence for almost a decade).
“The ability to patent,” says the author, “has been extended from physical devices to software and stretches of DNA, not to mention—notably in America—to business processes and financial products.”
Yes, patent scope is a huge part of the problem.
“Time to fix patents” is the second such article from The Economist and it too is an assault on the status quo. “Ideas fuel the economy. Today’s patent systems are a rotten way of rewarding them,” said the summary.
Here is a key part of this article: “Patents are supposed to spread knowledge, by obliging holders to lay out their innovation for all to see; they often fail, because patent-lawyers are masters of obfuscation. Instead, the system has created a parasitic ecology of trolls and defensive patent-holders, who aim to block innovation, or at least to stand in its way unless they can grab a share of the spoils. An early study found that newcomers to the semiconductor business had to buy licences from incumbents for as much as $200m. Patents should spur bursts of innovation; instead, they are used to lock in incumbents’ advantages.”
It is nice to see even The Economist debunking these tiresome myths, many of which still perpetually spread by patent profiteers rather than producing companies. Are we on the cusp of a mindset change?
Patent Propaganda From Lawyers’ Sites
Lawyers’ media, seeking to maximise dependence on patent lawyers, promotes patents on construction in this series that starts with the following paragraph: “In the first of this three part series, clean tech, or green construction, was defined as construction that reduces or minimizes the environmental impact in building construction, operation and use. That article also discussed the importance of building intellectual property walls, and especially with patents, to protect inventions from being incorporated into projects by unlicensed users. Equally important is knowing the patents that may prevent a company from incorporating patented technology for which it has no license. Patent rights can shape an industry; consequently, companies must develop patent strategies. Patents for green construction encompass everything from building materials, to software for optimizing various processes, to green energy systems, amongst others.”
Yes, they even suggest software patents right there.
“The US may not have a world class patent system,” say the patent maximalists of IAM, “but its professionals are second to none” (for taxing by lawyers perhaps). Another site of patent lawyers who lobby for a lot of ludicrous types of patents (including software) pretends that patents take a short time to receive, despite that infamous backlog and these notorious issues which can only be tackled by lowing examination standards, hence granting bogus patents (trivial, and/or with prior art).
“Intellectual property & intangible assets” is the headline of this British article which is so full of nonsense that we don’t know where to start. To quote one part of it: “Newton says the real value in business these days is in knowledge, which is tied up in intellectual property, patents, trademarks and designs.”
That’s nonsense. The term “intellectual property” refers to patents, trademarks, and copyrights, so it cannot be separated as above. Then there are designs, which are already (in most domains) covered by copyrights and if the author wishes to speak about trade secrets, that’s different from all the above and still pertains to knowledge, without having to introduce that vague notion of “intellectual property” and “intangible assets” — both horrible propaganda terms that equate ideas with objects.
“Patent scope has been getting so much worse over time, to the point where abstract concepts like business methods, algorithms, and even basic designs become patents although copyright should definitely suffice.”The article titled “9 Tech Startups Disrupting the Legal Industry” talks about proprietary software that patent lawyers use to keep track of their work. “Experts say the market for legal technology is as much as $400 billion,” the article says, but there is nothing like a citation to support such a figure.
“We hear the same complaints over and over every time Congress tries to improve the patent system,” Matt Levy wrote the other day. “In fact, we’ve been hearing some of them for over 70 years.” Patent scope has been getting so much worse over time, to the point where abstract concepts like business methods, algorithms, and even basic designs become patents although copyright should definitely suffice.
Design Patents and Linux Gadgets
Speaking of design patents, watch what patent maximalists celebrated this weekend: “The text cluster provided here shows that much of Hasbro’s portfolio of 1,772 patents (339 of which are active) are related to toy vehicles, electronic games and ornamental designs, indicating a fair amount of design patents.”
The notion of “design patents” has got to be one of the most loathsome and ridiculous. The article “Apple v. Samsung and a Fight Over the Patents for Designs” was published by Forbes the other day, reminding us of so-called design patents (such as the widely-ridiculed 'rounded corners' patents). Apple is very desperate to stop Android (and by extension Linux), but doing so by bullying with outright bogus patents isn’t the way to compete. CPTN members (i.e. holders of Novell’s patents) Oracle, Apple and Microsoft have been systematically attacking Android using patents and Oracle now takes this further. “Oracle’s lawsuit against Google over Java copyrights probably won’t be back in a courtroom again until next year,” wrote The Register, “but in the meantime, Oracle has asked the court to let it expand the scope of its complaint to include events that have occurred since it was first filed in 2010.”
This forever-legal-limbo scenario helps hurt Android, so we cannot just pretend that software patents are not a problem. More FOSS and GNU/Linux site must learn to address these issues as a matter of priority. Not enough are doing this at the moment and it definitely helps our foes. Many people seem to forget that Microsoft still attacks GNU/Linux using patents (albeit more discreetly than before). █
Send this to a friend
Seeing the dark side of Apple…
Summary: 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
APPLE became somewhat of a patent troll around 2010 when it filed its first anti-Android patent lawsuit, having threatened to do the same to Palm years beforehand (Tim Cook played a big role in these threats at the time). Microsoft and Apple are both bullies and they are not hiding it. They really hate Linux; they try to destroy it rather than adopt it like the rest of the industry, especially in Silicon Valley. With the exception of Microsoft, which habitually supports Apple’s court cases against Android, almost every significant company is now supporting Samsung‘s defence against Apple [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Engadget wrote: “Samsung has also found a powerful group of backers in its fight against Apple in court. According to a document unearthed by Inside Sources, Google, Facebook, eBay, Dell, HP and other big tech corporations have submitted a “friend of the court” brief on July 1st, supporting Samsung’s stance. The two companies have been embroiled in legal fisticuffs for years, ever since Apple first filed a lawsuit against Samsung for violating various intellectual properties, such as tap-to-zoom, sinle-finger scrolling and two-finger zooming, as well as edge-to-edge glass design, among other things.”
“Supporting Apple these days is supporting an arrogant bully, hell-bent on destroying Linux.”There is no “patent fight with Samsung” as some media puts it. It is Apple attacking Android by targeting a top Android entity other than Google (it is clear that Google has far greater an incentive to fight back). It is, by extension, an attack on Linux. Apple fans’ site keep bragging about new Apple patents, perhaps not caring to realise that they now support the equivalent of a giant patent troll, the world’s richest troll.
Google, by contrast, is trying to fix the patent system and to reduce litigation. As Mike Masnick put it a few days ago, “Google Revamps Patent Search To Actually Do What Patent Office Should Do” (that’s Masnick’s headline).
Masnick correctly recalls that this is not the first such effort from Google. To quote some background: “A few years ago, Google seemed to downgrade its patent search features, pulling away a separate “Google Patents” section and mixing it back into the main Google search. This seemed like a major step backwards, especially given how terrible the US Patent Office’s own patent search engine was. Google has tried to do a few things like launching a “prior art finder” and teaming up with StackExchange to help crowdsource prior art.”
Supporting Apple these days is supporting an arrogant bully, hell-bent on destroying Linux. Please don’t buy anything from Apple as it only makes this aggressor stronger. █
Send this to a friend
Who’s copying who?
Summary: Europe is being drained by the patent industry (lawyers, judges, etc.) while the US gradually takes on the problem
“So Software isn’t Patentable in the EU but the EPO is ignoring the Law?”
That’s a comment made the other day by “AntiSoftwarePat” over at Twitter. Well, we have already shown many other instances where the EPO ignores the law — knowingly too — including the extension of patent scope (in order to artificially elevate patents count).
The Unitary Patent will take expansion of patent scope even further, transcending borders. “UK Unitary Patent ratification before Brexit referendum, Mr Cameron is taking risks by giving EU super patent powers,” wrote the FFII’s President regarding this new article about UK-IPO. “In a statement sent to Out-Law.com,” said the author, “the IPO ruled out ratification of the Agreement this year but said that it intends to complete the “domestic preparations” for ratification ahead of the UK referendum on whether the country should remain in the EU, which is scheduled for some time in 2017.”
So they are jumping the gun. The public isn’t even taken into account.
“Hey, let’s patent life,” some folks may think (they can make a lot of money from that). According to this article from a London-based blog of lawyers, “Life sciences come to life again, this time in Berlin”. To quote: “Arrangements are now being made for the training of judges, the provision of court facilities and the projecting of existing patenting and dispute resolution techniques on to a fresh canvas. This is a scenario in which the accumulated experience, knowledge and wisdom of the life science sector cannot be relied upon in the absence of rigorous double-checking against a new framework for patenting, new litigation rules and — this is going to hurt the most — a set of complex transitional provisions.”
This shows that Europe is rushing (even fast-tracking) these expansions without public consent. While the US is narrowing down patent scope, Europe seems to be expanding patent scope.
A new article from the US (CBS) asks: “What would ‘real’ patent reform look like?”
The author correctly points out that “last year, the US Supreme Court issued a number of patent-related decisions that drew modest limits around both the process and substance of newly created categories of patents, including for software and business methods. Courts and the Patent Office became more aggressive about rejecting or overturning applications that should never have been granted. As a result, the overheated market for low-quality patents collapsed.”
The whole patent system in its current form is so utterly corrupt, biased and inherently protectionist (that’s just its goal, not publication). Too few people are willing to say that. Watch what Apple is patenting right now [1, 2]. It’s computer vision, i.e. software patents, on selfies! Will Europe go down the same abyss? hopefully not. European citizens need to educate themselves about what today’s patent system really is and who it benefits. █
Send this to a friend
SCOTUS says no entry!
Summary: SCOTUS refuses to rule that APIs cannot be considered copyright-’protected’, despite common sense and despite Java (which the case is about) being Free/libre software
FOR anyone who has been paying attention, Oracle‘s hostility towards Android is not hard to understand. It is a CPTN member along with Microsoft and Apple and it has shown on numerous occasions over the years that it is eager to antagonise and badmouth Free software. Oracle killed many of the projects that it bought from Sun. Google, on the other hand, is at least trying to appease the Free software community and it has made Android (AOSP) an ‘open’ platform, even if most developers contribute just proprietary software to run on it.
Many of our readers have probably heard the big news by now. SCOTUS has aligned itself with foes of software development [1, 2, 3] (not just Free software development), reaffirming the ridiculous judgement from CAFC. Now that SCOTUS reaffirms the status of APIs as copyrightable, adding to mass surveillance with NDAs and software patents in the United States, why would software companies still choose to be there?
To give Google some credit, it did fight over this matter for nearly half a decade. After pressure from the clueless White House (exactly one month ago), however, reuse of APIs may be impossible and collaborative development with forking may soon be toxic. Today is a horrible day for software development in general and it’s not too clear to us what Google can do next. Some certain types of lawyers probably know Google’s next steps or options and knowing that this ‘legal’ system favours the deeper pockets, there is usually something someone can do given the correct fees (just see how long the SCO case goes on for).
“Google will hopefully continue to fight that case, whatever its options may be.”One reader of ours was disappointed with this article that FOSS Force published today, comparing Google to Microsoft. “Revisionism,” he said, “especially that closing sentence. People hate Microsoft not for the sake of hating Microsoft but because of how it (and its people) behaves and has behaved. It has held computing back at least 20 years and the damage spreads into all domains where desktop computers are used.
“It’s just that Microsoft pays for constant whine against Google. While Google has many shortcomings, it is not a problem like Microsoft has been and continues to be.”
“But on the topic of Google,” he continued, “here’s something fairly current with yet another ****up by SCOTUS” (he linked to the above news).
Google will hopefully continue to fight that case, whatever its options may be. As for Microsoft and Apple, they surely will keep trying to harm the market. They often work together these days (mostly true when it comes to patents, OOXML, DRM, and so on) and as this article by Galen Gruman reminds us:
If you thought Microsoft was finally treating the Mac as an equal citizen, you’ll be disappointed in the reality
Remember that Microsoft and Apple are both on Oracle’s anti-Android side (even publicly, on numerous occasions). These are all proprietary software giants, aspiring to control the entire market by patents, copyrights, litigation, and intimidation. Google simply does not fall under the same category. It deserves the public’s support in this particular case. █
Send this to a friend
« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »