Summary: An expansion of scope at the OIN does not help resolve the real problems GNU/Linux and Free software at large are having
THERE IS an update on patents coming soon. According to Wildeboer from Red Hat, “Apple also wants 5-15 US$ per Android device. Just as Microsoft.” As the OIN’s CEO put it to me over the phone, Apple and Microsoft (he calls them the “duopoly”) are trying to make Android “uneconomic”, to use his term that he repeated a lot for over an hour. I recently got an invitation to meet him in London, but I had to decline because it’s far from where I live (Manchester), so instead I suggested an E-mail interview. They agreed, but when I asked questions such as how the OIN would deal with patent trolls (I named MOSAID) they seemed to have changed their mind about the interview. The matter of fact is, the OIN is flawed. It works for IBM perhaps, but not for us independent developers who are not part of a company weighing at hundreds of thousands of full-time employees (and tens of thousands of patents, which is not so impressive given the headcount).
A month ago the OIN boasted “Strong 2011 Licensing Performance” (whatever that practically means, notice the term “licensing”) and we keep wondering, what will they do about patent trolls? Microsoft is already operating through MOSAID. We foresaw this and asked the OIN about MOSAID more than a month ago. What about the Twin Peaks lawsuit against Red Hat (about s fortnight ago)? What can the OIN do? Nothing. Or not much.
Nevertheless, the OIN is addressing one of the other criticisms of its strategy. It expands its scope of coverage even further to more Free software projects such as
KVM, Git, OpenJDK, and WebKit. Mobile Linux distributions like Android, MeeGo, and webOS will also soon be expressly protected.
We asked about those Linux distributions over a month ago, but the OIN returned no response. The secrecy at the OIN needs to stop. And the hard questions — in particular the one about patent trolls — need to be tackled. Until then, destroying all software patents — not subscribing to the OIN — is the right solution. We find it interesting that OIN will cover WebKit, which is in part being developed by Apple — the cult which is suing Android/Linux and demands a tax or products embargo. OpenJDK is also covered despite the fact that an OIN member, Oracle, is suing a over Dalvik. Samba’s lawyer once said that the only solution is abolition and he was right. The OIN neither pursues nor advocates abolition; its business model and very existence depends on patents. Sites like Groklaw, which is led by a law professor, present a similar point of view, which can be problematic at times (patents being essential to one’s living). My intention is not to disparage anyone but merely to explain the conflict of interests and the point of view of companies like Intel and IBM (and their de facto front groups). █
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Summary: IBM claims a “record” on the privatisation — with government endorsement — of ideas
A few days ago we wrote about USPTO statistics. New numbers were suggesting that the patent levers are rising (more monopolies) as quality control is brought down and the press caught up with the patents professor following an official statement from sources including the USPTO, which is run by a former IBM guy. To quote the British technology press:
The annual rankings of patents awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office used to come out of that government agency, but in 2007 it stopped because, as the public affairs officer told me at the time, people were too focused on patent counts and not on patent quality. Since then, IFI Claims Patent Services has diced and sliced the data in the USPTO databases and published the annual US patent count rankings, as a means of advertising for more complex patent services it offers for a fee.
IBM is a proponent of software patents and therefore not our friend. IBM used this to brag about its patents, claiming quite falsely that these are a measure of innovation. They are acting like it’s a contest and claim a record repeatedly, with some of the press playing along to that tune:
Weeks after the latest Blue Gene supercomputer shipped out from Rochester, IBM has topped the U.S. patent list for the 19th year in a row.
Big Blue tallied a whopping 6,180 patents issued in 2011. About 500 of those patents originated in Rochester.
I confronted an IBM manager over this. He insisted, as usual, that IBM acts responsively with patents. Now, to be fair, OIN relies a great deal on IBM and this new pile of patents reportedly helps Google defend Android (not in the ideal way [1, 2]). Does this quality as good news then?
Patents were a hot-button issue in 2011, so there’s no wonder so many companies were filling their portfolios with new intellectual property throughout the year.
Ideally, those patents oughtn’t be granted because they are a ‘theft’ of knowledge that otherwise can belong to society, not privatised quite so organically and arbitrarily. Isn’t it funny that the biggest client of the USPTO became its manager? The government should remove the power it gave to the USPTO if it wants to really encourage innovation. █
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Linux proponents unite against proprietary aggressors
Summary: A roundup of patent news about Android/Linux and some of the latest events that relate to it
THE decline of Windows Mobile and all of its other identities (Microsoft keeps Sevenwashing it) has been so rapid that Windows is now a 1% player in a market that keeps growing and growing.
“Windows Phone reaps what it sows” says one journalist who explains it as follows:
Misunderstood, mocked by its competitors, blocked from the market, and little used by the average user.
Ten years ago, this would have been a harsh but fair description of Linux. Today, however, it’s seems perfectly apt to use these labels to describe a completely different bit of technology: the Windows Phone operating system.
Even Nokia cannot save Windows (on mobile phones), so all that Microsoft can do now is become a leech through patents, e.g. via MOSAID and its patent extortion operations (notably Android “licensing”). In this age of many lawsuits that we find in the news all the time we realise that this problem is systemic too. After all, Apple too uses a similar strategy.
Looking at the USPTO for a moment, Matt Asay notes that:
2011: new record in patent grants, tied to Obama’s PTO chief not increased filings zite.to/y1nABx <Cue Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere”
Glyn Moody’s remark on the same report is sarcastic:
because what the world needs is lots more intellectual monopolies
James Love (of KEI) says:
During patent reform legislation, WH claimed low quality patents are problems. But USPTO just issued a record number.
The FFII asks James: “How do they measure patent quality in the US?”
Here is the report they all link to. It’s from a pro-patents circle, known to many as Patently-O (Dennis D. Crouch), and it says:
The USPTO issued more utility patents in calendar year 2011 than in any year in history. The 2011 total – just shy of 225,000 issued patents – is only a small increase over 2010, but towers above all other historic figures. The previous record was set in 2006 with about 173,000 issued utility patents. The dramatic rise in issuance rate is not tied directly to an increase in filings (although there has been a small increase in new application filings). Rather, the two-year increase appears to be the result of regime changes instituted by USPTO Director David Kappos who took office mid-year 2009 after being nominated by President Barack Obama.
the USPTO is a bubble and a sham. The sooner people realise this, the sooner it will be toppled. It serves a conspiracy of monopolies, parasites, and patent lawyers who drive up the price of everything and deny the entry of new competition into the market.
When in the news we see searching as a patent and even business methods as a monopoly we cannot help feeling that one productive response would be to expose the system, not just pertinent companies that exploit it to the extremes and harm Free software more than anything else. The USPTO is very dangerous at all levels because there are lobbyists who use the “USPTO model” to expand this same model to other countries. This include the UK-IPO that we have here in England. As one person puts it, “All in the American mind? US and UK take different approaches to assessing mental act exclusions”; if the unitary patent is passed through, the US may have the whole EU (EPO) assimilate to the USPTO. Already, some software patents are being approved in the UK. This is a new example from the news:
Image processing software not excluded from patentability, IPO rules
An IPO examiner had previously ruled that the invention was excluded from patentability on the grounds that the invention consisted solely of a computer program. Hewlett Packard, the company trying to patent the invention, appealed against the examiner’s ruling and the hearing officer has now upheld that appeal on the basis that the invention uses mathematical techniques that are sufficiently technical in nature to avoid being excluded from patentability.
Under the UK’s Patents Act inventions must be new, take an inventive step that is not obvious and be useful to industry in order to qualify for patent protection. An invention cannot be patented, according to the Act, if it is “a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a program for a computer … as such”.
Henrion from the FFII writes that:
The problem with the patent system at the moment is that it’s being applied to intangibles: software and user interfaces
Here is one new example of it:
Lakeside Software, a leader in business intelligence solutions for IT professionals, today announced that the company has expanded its patent portfolio with the granting of a patent for the management of data across multiple computer systems.
Data too has patents on it now? How far will this go? And how abstract a computation is going to be deemed patentable? Oracle pushed copyrights and patents to the edge when it suggested that APIs too can be patented, which they probably can in the US.
We already know that the age of bankruptcy is an age of patent wars and Sun’s sale to Oracle had its “defensive” parents turn into hostile. Novell’s patents were sold to Microsoft and Apple, too (both companies are FOSS-hostile and litigate against Linux/Android). Here is the new story of another company that ran to the courtroom amid its demise: “The newspaper quoted unidentified people as saing Kodak could seek protection in the next few weeks if an effort to sell a collection of digital-imaging patents falls through.
“Kodak has sold patents valued at millions of dollars over the last several years in a bid to shore up its ailing finances.”
It’s actually a strong case against patents because companies become just a pile of orphaned patents (Novell included), and in turn this fuels wars, not sparking any innovation at all. Disregard the pro-patents propaganda from lawyers’ Web sites and instead watch why they like patents (starting 2012 with patent lawsuits). As one columnist in IDG put it:
When Netscape went public in the fall of 1995, few of us understood that we were entering an era of constant and accelerating change. Since then, 16 years of Moore’s Law has given us powerful and cheap hardware. The open-source software movement has made software that’s worth millions of dollars freely available to anyone who can click a mouse. As one can see, reducing these natural barriers to entry has made it easier to start a Web services business. These same trends have had an interesting effect on intellectual property strategy.
Open hostility toward patents from the open-source community and 10 years of judicial infighting over the patentability of “business methods” and other Web 2.0 technologies didn’t help matters. Many Web 2.0 companies underinvested in patents, when they should have increased their efforts to secure legal barriers to entry to offset the reduction in natural barriers to entry.
Actually, patents do not work for small players. That’s just the lie sold to us by the 1% (or less) who benefit from patents. Here is some more London-based propaganda dressed up as a press release:
The Decision Model is revolutionising Enterprise Decision Management by modeling the business logic (rules) behind key operational and strategic business decisions (http://www.azinta.com/Services/the-decision-model-solutions.html). The recent award of a US patent for The Decision Model to Knowledge Partners International (KPI) triggered an intense debate resulting in some commentators claiming that The Decision Model patent is an IP trap. Suleiman Shehu, the CEO of Azinta Systems – a KPI Consulting Partner, analyses the reasons for this debate and presents the evidence why The Decision Model patent is not an IP trap.
Decision-making as a patent. How about that, ladies and gents?
Moving back to the impact on FOSS, although Apple gets sued for patent violations, the company persists with its support for that same rotten system. “Last week,” says one article, “Apple applied to the US patent office to register facial recognition software…”
This affects me personally and professionally, too. “So instead of sliding to unlock the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, one could simply point it at one’s face,” notes this article, among others that we mentioned in December. The point they are missing is that Apple gets a monopoly here. It is not good for anyone. Microsoft’s identity change to “patent aggressor” is on route as well [1, 2] (software patents). They are goodwill-washing it through gullible Web sites. With phrases like “patent helps”, there is clearly not a realistic expectation. And in the face of infographic propaganda from taxmen of technology (lawyers) we fortunately see some infographic sanity and we are able to see to what degree Android is the victim here (victim of Microsoft, Apple, and some of their allies). Google does not get patents anymore; in fact, “Google stopped submitting patents to the USPTO” because it’s pointless. To quote: “Software patent wars have always existed: companies fought them (or paid up), sometimes quietly, sometimes making a big fuss. However, something has changed over the last year or so: people started getting directly affected by software patents (ask anybody wanting a Samsung Galaxy Tab in Australia for Christmas 2011…). Lately, two things came to my attention: Google acquired 200 patents from IBM. But, more interestingly: Google hasn’t filed any patents over the last several months.”
Google does not apply for patents; it buys/gets them instead, usually from IBM [1, 2, 3, 4] under secret terms. An article for background can be found here:
Last year, IBM sold Google 2,000 or so patents ranging from mobile software to computer hardware and processors.
As other reports put it:
Google’s quest to build a strong patent portfolio continues with IBM assigning a further 222 patents to the search and advertising company. Details of the transaction have not been disclosed by either party, but the USPTO database shows the patents being transferred on 30 December 2011. This is not the first time Google has acquired IBM patents; over one thousand IBM patents were transferred to Google in both July and September 2011.
Some say that IBM is trying to defend Linux/Android in this case. “A trial date has been set in Oracle v. Google, or more accurately, an earliest trial date has been set,” writes Mark Webbink, who remarks on this bit of news:
SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)–Google Inc. (GOOG) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) have been scheduled to go to trial over an intellectual-property dispute related to Google’s mobile phone software in March, a development that could start to draw the lengthy spat between technology giants to a close.
There is a theory that Google’s new patents from IBM are capable of helping in this case (IBM is an Oracle competitor), but as the FFII points out, “Arms trading is a sustainable business but still mere economic efficiency waste.”
We shall assume that IBM’s interests in this case are in alignment with Linux interests. As we explained some days ago, there is apparently also an Android lawsuit (if not several) brewing against Microsoft and Apple. It’s getting rather interesting. █
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Summary: A diplomatic cable about IBM, Linux and Free/open source software
The following Cablegate cable talks about IBM and Linux. It also states that “[t]he use of an open source code Linux is another area of focus for IBM India. The company formed an IBM Linux Competency Center and Linux Solution Center in Bangalore to establish product standards, further Linux R&D as well as to localize products for an increasingly global customer base with local content requirements. State governments in India are big customers as they prefer open source code that enables development of local language fonts.”
Here is the Cablegate cable in full:
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCG #2571/01 3260727
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220727Z NOV 06
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0443
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2087
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4907
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0647
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 CHENNAI 002571
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EINV [Foreign Investments],
EINT [Economic and Commercial Internet], IN [India; Andaman Islands;
Lakshadweep Islands; Nicobar Islands]
SUBJECT: IBM INVESTS BIG IN INDIA: HUMAN RESOURCES
REF: CHENNAI 1187
¶1. (U) Summary: Riding the crest of a $6 billion
investment, IBM India plans to expand its Bangalore
research and development (R&D) operations and in
doing so will unleash a new human capital thrust in
already talent-hungry south India. The company
anticipates its Indian workforce will triple in the
next five years. An expanding market in India for
U.S. manufactured mainframes and network software
services presents an opportunity the company does not
plan to miss. Increasing demand for remote management
of global client networks is another revenue stream
for IBM India. Simultaneous investments in open
source software protocol and capacity building
spearhead the companyQs effort to market e-governance
solutions in the Indian market. To meet its expanded
human resource requirements, IBM plans to initiate
in-house staff training programs, marking a notable
shift from its past strategy of hiring employees away
from competitors. Indian software companies, already
experiencing a human capital crunch, are now
struggling to quickly respond and prevent attrition,
fearful of losing skilled employees to their
competitors. End summary.
All bets on India
¶2. (U) On June 6 Sam Palmisano, IBMQs Chairman,
announced investment plans in India of $6 billion
over a five year period (reftel). The company
remains reluctant to disclose the details of its
investment strategy, but during a recent meeting in
Bangalore with visiting New Delhi DCM Pyatt, Inder
Thukral, Director Strategy and Business Development
at IBM India told post that emphasis will be on
research and development of telecommunication and
netware solutions for IBM operations worldwide. The
desire to leverage even further IndiaQs large highly-
skilled labor force led to this investment move,
Shankar Annasamy, Managing Director IBM India told
us. The company expects to triple its workforce from
the current 47,000 employees at 25 locations in the
next five years.
India: IBMQs research and development hub
¶3. (U) IBM India, with $2 billion in current
investments, is the proverbial Q800-pound gorillaQ of
IT research and development in the country. The
companyQs India-based teams account for over 30% of
IBMQs global R&D on network and communications
solutions. With its latest investment, the company
has rapidly diversified to meet its R&D needs: The
IBM Innovation Center in Bangalore provides an
institutional platform for software service suppliers
and is a critical testing ground for new products in
both the Indian and global market. IBMQs India
Software Lab, with facilities in Bangalore and Pune,
also develops and supports IBM software products for
worldwide operations. In addition, the high-
performance On Demand Lab develops specialized
software to automate and virtualize the complex
information technology infrastructure of clients
located in the south Asian region. To further
hardware development, the Engineering and Technology
Services Center designs advanced chips, cards and
systems to meet customer requirements across Asia.
India: A big market for US made mainframes
¶4. (U) IBMQs U.S. manufactured main frames have
captured the booming Indian main frame market. The
company holds an 80 percent share of IndiaQs
estimated $250 million market for main frames. The
market is currently growing at 55 percent, with much
of the growth coming from mid-sized Indian
businesses. Main frames offered to the Indian market
are pre-positioned at the companyQs Bangalore-based
Innovation Center to enable potential customers to
experience the computing power and capabilities of
the machines. IBMQs service oriented architecture
that facilitates communication between different
business segments located in various locations has
CHENNAI 00002571 002 OF 003
found favor in India and helped IBM secure a $100
million deal with Bharti-Airtel, one of IndiaQs
largest mobile phone service providers.
Open source products spearhead E-governance
¶5. (U) The use of an open source code Linux is
another area of focus for IBM India. The company
formed an IBM Linux Competency Center and Linux
Solution Center in Bangalore to establish product
standards, further Linux R&D as well as to localize
products for an increasingly global customer base
with local content requirements. State governments
in India are big customers as they prefer open source
code that enables development of local language
IBMQs BPOs transform outsourcing
¶6. (U) Leveraging IndiaQs large talent pool of
network managers, IBM India services clients around
the world via satellite and fiber optic networks from
its global operations hub in Bangalore. IBM Daksh, a
back office unit which the company acquired in 2004,
accounts for nearly 50% of the companyQs staff in
India and is expected to contribute over half of the
company revenues in the next five years. Similar to
other BPO operations such as local giants Infosys and
Wipro, Daksh provides services for clients involved
in retail, technology, banking, mortgage, energy and
life insurance. The range of services includes
application processing, account maintenance, data
conversion services, logistics management, claims
processing, email support and financial services.
According to IBM executives, this line of business
registered some of the fastest growth rates for IBM
in recent history.
In-house training to meet in-house needs
¶7. (U) IBMQs recent investment spike comes at a time
when a fiercely competitive hiring climate is forcing
top leadership to rethink its human resource
strategy. In the past the company notoriously
QpoachedQ experienced individuals from local firms.
Looking for new HR capacity building vehicles,
company executives are emphasizing university
recruitment to attract and train new waves of fresh
engineering graduates, or Qfreshers.Q Yet this may
be a tall order in a time when A-list tech firms are
vying for talent, and freshers with experience under
their belt are job-hopping for bigger and better
packages. Nonetheless, IBM executives are betting on
a combination of higher salaries and their global
brand equity to ensure a steady talent pool.
¶8. (U) Strategic partnerships with elite Indian
technology institutions are also enabling IBM India
to further leverage local human capital expertise.
IBMQs Center for Advanced Studies, for example,
maintains a close relationship with prestigious
institutions such as the Indian Institute of
Technology (IIT) Chennai that leads directly into
software R&D. The company has a similar program with
the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and
plans to expand its partnerships with other high-
caliber institutions across India.
Expansion plans leave Indian software companies
¶9. (U) Comment: IBMQs investment announcement sent a
minor wave of anxiety through the Indian software
industry, which is already struggling to control
costs. InfosysQ Human Resource Director told us his
company is trying to preempt potential attrition by
offering a 30% salary hike. Mindtree Consulting, a
medium sized software development company, plans to
tap bright talent as early as the secondary school
level. The company hopes to partner with U.S.-based
universities to offer recruits a degree in
CHENNAI 00002571 003 OF 003
engineering at the end of a five year stint.
Whatever strategy adopted, representatives of both
Infosys and Mindtree told us that IBMQs investment
plans will dramatically alter IndiaQs software
business landscape and long-term human capital
strategy. End comment.
¶10. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy New
In later cable we are going to see some more evidence of warming up to FOSS. █
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Continuation of this post and this post
Summary: A look at support for software patents in Europe and where this is coming from
AS the unitary patent was rushed (while people were preparing to leave for vacation) we kept accumulating news about it. Pro-patenting circles said:
Learn the latest news on the Unitary Patent and Patent Court with Marcin Korolec (PL) along with his counterpart The Baroness Wilcox (UK)
Wilcox [1, 2] is once again doing a disservice to the public. Such people operate under the assumption that the more patents society has, the better off it will be. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet says:
#unitary #patent Negociators of #EU Parliament, Council & Commission have found an agreement
He also notes that: “#unitary #patent pb: some provisions are illegal => the #unitary #patent is already dead before having been voted!”
And “despite propaganda,” explains Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, “Spain & Italy still oppose unitary patent”
Some similar speculative propaganda comes from patent lawyers who ask without basis:
ksnh::law updated posting: Will Italy Join #UnitaryPatent and Ask for Seat of Central Division of #UPC in Return?
Here is more alleged “propaganda” that says:
Agreement by EU ministers today (5 December) on outstanding issues surrounding a unified EU patent would pave the way for the Polish presidency to claim success in the venture at a signing ceremony in Warsaw on 20 December, amid mounting optimism that the new regimes in Spain and Italy could drop their opposition to the idea.
In May, Italy and Spain complained to the European Court of Justice against the use of the so-called ‘enhanced cooperation’ procedure for the patent, which allows a group of countries to go ahead without the approval of all 27 EU member states. They claimed the move went against the spirit of the EU single market.
The proposals recognise English, French and German as the patent’s official filing languages but Rome and Madrid feared this would give an unfair advantage to companies from the ‘big three’ jurisdictions.
This site habitually quotes Microsoft lobbyists as though they are grassroots/independent. The president of the FFII, Benjamin Henrion, says:
With the Unitary Patent, the patent lobby got software patents for free, without having to justify themselves again
Here is what lawyers are saying: “Battistelli: The EPO doesn’t have substantive patent law competencies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have influence [...] we can influence patent harmonisation through projects such as translation, classification, PPH”
“Look at those EPO examiners granting software patents,” writes Henrion, pointing to EPO videos. The EPO blog is rooting for it very blatantly. To quote a noteworthy remark:
Seems that the EPO has censored my comment over this article
So the EPO is silencing opposition. So much for public service, eh? Henrion adds that:
The EPO deliberately avoids rejecting patents because they are “computer programs”, they keep spamming programmers with patent claims
Some of the vocal patent lawyers from Germany (clearly proponents of software patents) say that the “EPO President #Battistelli still confident on agreement on Unified Patent Court this year” (more on the outcome later) and here is a followup. Watch this funny remark from the FFII in the face of lawyers who try to hack/break the law with help from corruptible politicians whom we wrote about before (many politicians are themselves lawyers). It is like a form of entryism and Henrion writes:
The EU patent system is now fully captured by the patent lobby: Executive: captured; Legislator: captured; Judiciary: captured. CQFD
He also notes that “Software patents was not a victory, EU Parliament was remote controlled by big firms” (including Microsoft).
The system is controlled by lawyers and it shows in just about every country, They are easily influenced by software patents proponents like Philips [1, 2, 3, 4], whose employees help control public debates. There is also IBM, whose former employee is now heading the USPTO (IBM is in favour of software patents). IBM is associated with this company which is patents-dependent. To quote this new announcement,”Software LLC, an IBM Business Partner and proven leader in innovative, integrated solutions for IBM Cognos software, announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued patent number 8,073,863 for its MetaManager(R) technology.”
There is more here and IBM PR can be found in Watson form, as usual. “The insight platform uses data mining, natural-language processing and analytics to pore through millions of patent filings and biomedical journals to look for chemical compounds used in drug discovery.” That’s just whitewash. IBM is really just looking more business that it advertises for promotional coverage. It’s advertised as a fight against trolls (courtesy of IBM), which promotes software patents and can itself be classified as a troll at times. Here’s more of that PR line (“to battle patent trolls”):
IBM’s Watson is made of many parts: speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning, and data mining. All of these factors were perfectly combined to beat Ken Jennings in Jeopardy, and now each of these components are slowly finding their way into other applications. Health plan company WellPoint, for example, is using Watson to investigate patient records to improve diagnosis, and in a self-referential, possibly universe-destroying twist, IBM itself is using Watson to help sell Watson (and other IBM products) to other companies. Now, using Watson’s data mining and natural language talents, IBM has created the Strategic IP Insight Platform, or SIIP, a tool that will revolutionize medicine — and perhaps patent trolling, too.
IBM has been part of the problem as even in Europe it supported software patents. With IBM’s support, software patents in Europe continue to be a problem. IBM is not on the public’s side, that’s just boring PR. █
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Summary: How the secrecy everything is shrouded in when it comes to patents helps show that something is not just amiss, it is borderline illegal
OIN members IBM and Google were recently seen making a transaction whose details we do not know. Only the patents whose assignment got changed are a known matter. This was never announced by the companies, so it’s safe to assume that secrecy is part of the strategy. According to one columnist, this whole thing is yet more evidence of the patent system failing. Wasn’t the patent system originally all about disclosure? As in transparency? All we see coming from patents are a pile of NDAs and invisible taxation of everything everyone buys. Here is one remark of interest:
The new acquisition is while good news for Android players, it’s bad news for those who are concerned about the situation. The US patent system is flawed and is discouraging innovation and encouraging bullies to threaten smaller or newer competitors.
Another good news for Android players is that long-time Microsoft partner Intel has put its trust in Android and will be working closely with Google, which means yet another heavyweight to defend Android as and when needed.
It remains unclear how Android can defend itself from patents which the Microsoft cartel passes around to patent trolls like MOSAID, which may in turn be feeding patent trolls around itself. Based on this new report, another secret sale of patents has just taken place. All we know is the cost and the involvement of a patent troll:
Mosaid Technologies Inc. has sold off a handful of non-strategic patents to an undisclosed buyer for $11 million.
The Ottawa patent and licensing company said the sale, which the buyer will pay for over an undisclosed time frame, is part of Mosaid’s plan to focus further on areas of future growth. The five patent families involved were not being licensed by Mosaid and, as a result, were not bringing in any new revenues.
Well, why the secrecy? This usually indicates bad faith. The patent system has become an industry of collusion, retaliation, extortion, and back room deals. But copyrights are not enough according to patenting maximalists, so we must live with this burden apparently. Think of all the “jobs” that would be “destroyed” had patent lawyers not had anything to sue over.
The Harvard Business Review, which is known for its leaning towards big businesses and the mainstream line, has just published a criticism of that latest patent 'reform'. To quote the opening parts:
On Friday, President Obama will sign the America Invents Act, resulting in the largest overhaul of the U.S. patent system in over half a century. The primary result of the legislation will be to transition America from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-to-file” country. Supporters of the new measure argue that it will streamline the patent application process and harmonize America’s system with the rest of the world, and it will allow for more rapid approval and increased certainty in the validity of patents. But this misses the point entirely: the fundamental problem with current patent law has nothing to do with the process for obtaining a patent. The biggest problem is that nobody can tell what a patent covers until they’ve spent months or years working it out, often in the courts.
Some of the most rigorous research on U.S. patents has been conducted by Boston University’s James Bessen and Michael Meurer. They have gone beyond the anecdotes that so often characterize discussions of patent reform and have studied in detail just how patents function, what incentives they create, and how the system could function better. What they found is that America’s patent system only provides positive incentives for innovation in two industries: pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The value that a patent confers on its owner is outweighed by the cost of obtaining, asserting, and defending that patent for almost all American companies. Anyone innovating outside of those two industries would be better off if there were no patent system at all.
Indeed. And for our coverage of the Bessen study, see this post.
It is becoming abundantly clear that if the public understood how the patent system works, there would be an outrage, to use words similar to those of Bill Gates (when his convicted monopolist was s lot smaller). The secrecy is another symptom of a serious problem and it leads to a lot of congresspeople misunderstanding this whole subject. █
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Summary: IBM is proving yet again that it is working to spread software patents even outside the United States, painting itself part of the problem
IN A CABLE from Beijing we find more evidence of IBM’s lobbying for software patents, which is not surprising. But in this case, IBM joins the Japanese push to put software patents even in China. IBM is a proprietary software giant and increasingly a private bank (loans) that also sells services and patents (e.g. to Google). Here is the Cablegate cable in full:
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Brutal nature of patents
Summary: The upsides, downsides and the nature of Google’s defensive strategy which now includes more patent aggregation
WE seem to lack consensus on the subject of Google’s newly-acquired patents. We’ll therefore present a diversity of angles which are potentially contradictory.
Bloomberg‘s report on Google’s latest ‘purchase’ of IBM patents (just reassignment) states:
Google Inc. (GOOG) bought 1,023 patents from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) as the Internet search and advertising company bolsters its strategy of defending against smartphone lawsuits.
Transfers recorded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website yesterday show Google acquired the patents Aug. 17. Jim Prosser, a spokesman for the Mountain View, California- based company, confirmed the transaction today without providing details or financial terms. Chris Andrews, a spokesman for Armonk, New York-based IBM, declined to comment.
Secrecy. Got to love that, eh? So what does that whole thing mean. We discussed this in IRC throughout the morning and afternoon. Google will does not indemnify other Linux-based platforms and its move helps legitimise software patents. Those are probably the main drawbacks. Google also makes it harder to portray itself as a poor victim.
As a little bit of new background consider this news article:
In July, a consortium led by Microsoft, Apple and wireless industry players such as Research in Motion paid $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents from the now liquidated networking company Nortel. Last month, Google purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, in part to gain access to the company’s 17,000 patents. And Eastman Kodak, a company struggling to navigate the digital era, has multiple parties bidding to buy its patent portfolio.
Oh, no. Not another one. The costs are being passed to customers.
“These two seem to have a little coverage of what the specific patents were,” writes to us a reader. He provides links to this article:
The patents cover a wide range of topics from server architecture to wireless devices. Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea has taken a look at the patents involved and picked out a few that stood out to him. The ones that will probably be of most interest to Google are the ones related to cellular and mobile devices:
* Coordination Of Cellular Telephones In A Residential Area To Obviate Need For Wired Residential Service
* Method And System For Efficient And Reliable Mac-Layer Multicast Wireless Transmissions
* System And Method Of Making Location Updating Management On A Mobile Station, Mobile Station And Mobile Network
* Telephone Information Service System
Here is another article our reader recommends (there are many articles out there, some more useful and informative than others).
Just before 8 AM (GMT) Chips B. Malroy noted that “they bought another 1000+ patents from IBM…”
After I had expressed scepticism he said: “you [are] correct that software patents should be abolished [...] but maybe even Google does not have the pull with the US gov to do that [...] so in the meantime they buy patents [...]I lost the link, but in another story Apple asked to delay their lawsuit against Motorola [...] since they claim that since Google bought Motorola, that Motorola has no standing legally…”
“Perhaps Google exspensive plan to buy all these patents is starting to pay off in court for them and others using Androiders [...] The question is when MS will lose its gravy train of taxing (extorting) android OEM’s in court. [...] Maybe Google does not have to indemmify others, as long as they help them and show up in court, give a few patents like they have in the HTC case with Apple…”
“I am thinking that the days of MS and Apple trolling Android OEM’s is coming to an end.”
–Chips B. MalroyAnother person in IRC noted: “That’s what MS doest — tax OEMs.”
“I am thinking that the days of MS and Apple trolling Android OEM’s is coming to an end,” noted Malroy,
“It would take large action on the part of Google for the harassment of Android sellers to end,” remarked another anonymous person.
Malroy shared the link to the report about Apple stepping away. Is this working? Is Google’s strategy effective after all?
“It’s not the best solution for Google Android or FOSS,” stressed Malroy. “But with the way the US gov is these days, maybe its the best thing short term, as there is just too much money for our politicians to be made here from the lobbyists to keep the patent system” (a point with which i personally agree).
“Patents are out of control and hinder innovation,” writes Air VPN. This is probably something that everyone can agree with. █
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