Currently in the US there is some useless reform which mostly serves large corporations. it’s not about people’s interests and the only reason Congress passed it is that large corporations supported it (like they support Congress, financially). As one site put it: “As Congress gets ready to pass a greatly watered down patent reform act – watered down largely due to the lobbying of the two biggest patent trolls, IBM and Microsoft – and the Supreme Court begins to contemplate abolishing software patents, there are a few other news items.”
One FOSS site said: “This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted with a huge majority of 325 to 91, to pass the Innovation Act, which would put significant constraints on patent system abusers.”
No, only a particular subset of them. The U.S. House of Representatives would not have passed this (with considerable majority) if it did not satisfy the desire of large corporations which control Congress through lobbying and bribes.
We should really stop referring to this ‘reform’ as a real sign of progress. The real test is still ahead of us. The software patents-friendly Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is still expected to decide whether APIs can be copyrighted (even worse than patents) and SCOTUS, which almost always rules in favour of large corporations, is now the last resort when it comes to software patents. Despite some optimism, all it shows are decisions going into the wrong courts with all the biased (towards lawyers) judges, no jury in sight. As one pundit put it, “the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal on the Alice vs. CLS Bank case which is yet another case that looks at the patentability of software. The ruling in the Federal Circuit appeals court (CAFC) was one of the biggest judicial messes you’ll ever see. The ruling was 135 pages of different judges all disagreeing with each other. In all of that there is only one single paragraph that the court agreed on — one which rejected the patent as not being patentable subject matter. But as for why they did that? No one could agree. Chief judge Randall Rader has called that decision “the greater failure of my judicial career.”"
Rader has repeatedly shown his bias in favour of software patents, inside and outside CAFC. He even gives himself away to patent lawyers’ sites which lobby for software patents.
At the end of the day we are left sort of defending countries outside the US (including Europe) from the invasion of USPTO practices and SCOTUS rulings that permit software patenting. Nokia, which has become Microsoft's biggest troll, mostly uses hardware patents for now, but it shows the threat of big trolls, irrespective of the scope of patents. “EU warns Nokia not to become a “patent troll”,” says this article, but it is “too late” according to iophk, who is Finnish. When Nokia is left to become part of a US company (like Skype being passed to Microsoft) it will become an instrument of abuse inside Europe, embargoing and eavesdropping, respectively.
TechDirt, a US-based site which is highly critical of US policy on copyrights, patents, privacy and other matters, suggests this fix and yet another fix which tackles public funding. To quote: “For many years we’ve been incredibly critical of the famous Bayh-Dole Act, which was passed in 1980 with the idea that it would encourage greater innovation by pushing universities to patent the research they were doing. The theory — based on a rather ignorant view of innovation and research — was that patents would create a market, which, in turn, would enable easier knowledge transfer from academia to industry, leading to a research boom. The actual results have been a near total disaster. What’s actually happened are two very bad things. First, it’s seriously harmed university research, by guaranteeing much less information sharing between researchers. And, it turns out, that information sharing is a big part of how innovation and big scientific breakthroughs occur. Not surprisingly (if you understand basic economics), when you try to lock up each idea with a patent, researchers (and, more importantly, their administrator bosses), suddenly don’t want to share any more. The end result? Lots of important research stifled. What a shame.”
In other words, taxpayers’ money in the US (or growing national debt) goes towards feeding the problems which further increase national debt. How can politicians not see it and why is nothing substantial being done to stop this trend? It is almost a rhetorical question.
Change will come from people, not Congress, and as long as Congress is funded by corporations no change will be permitted, not when it comes to surveillance or even intellectual monopolies, as TTP shows. The latest TTP leak [1,2] shows people power  at work, almost stopping business takeover  and shameless attack on democracy .
To stop the patent maximalists we need some actions like leaks, perhaps even bold protests and lots of angry phonecalls to politicians. Anything else would be defeated by lobbyists and bribes. Politics is business and no level of logic will beat a large-figure cheque. █
On 13 November 2013 WikiLeaks released the draft text of the crucial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Intellectual Property chapter during the lead-up to a TPP chief negotiators’ meeting in Salt Lake City on 19-24 November 2013. Today, 9 December 2013, WikiLeaks has released two more secret TPP documents that show the state of negotiations as the twelve TPP countries began supposedly final negotiations at a trade ministers’ meeting in Singapore this week.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) enshrine the rights of Corporations under International Law, restricting future governments from overturning the changes through fear of costly legal action. They are the largest trade agreements in history, and yet are not open for review, debate or amendment by national parliaments or the public.
Posted in Action, Law at 11:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Summary: Putting in context the cycle of violence which the West uses to justify indefinitely detaining the domestic population, assassinating parts of it, and spying on everyone (even domestically, using loopholes)
TERRORISM is a real problem, although it’s exaggerated and a lot of it is the fault of the alleging victim. In Syria, for example, terrorists have been funded and assisted by the West for quite some time  in order to change the region  and, in that regard, some Western leaders can be accused of crimes similar to Assad’s .
Currently, the West helps recruitment of what it labels “terrorists” by illegally and unethically killing people without trial , expanding the scope of the kill lists , and then facing backlash even from CIA-bribed allies like Hamid Karzai  (reigning over a post-invasion country ). Now that Taliban leaders are being assassinated by CIA drones even when they try to establish peace  we should remember that a lot of it started when the CIA sent huge piles of weapons for the same people — including Obama Bin Laden — to fight the Soviets. Contrary to what officials claimed at the time, this was provocation against the Soviets, who had not invaded Afghanistan. People who were responsible for this now admit this as well.
The bottom line is that terrorism is often blowback and in order to stop blowback you cannot just assassinate more and more people, or else you end up looking no better than Assad and people turn against you. Illegal invasions by Western armies kill per year more than Assad killed overall.
“Terrorism” is a very big deal because those in power exploit it in order to crush dissent, journalism, activism, etc. Just watch today’s article, “British news staff may face terrorism charges over Snowden leaks” . Also remember that Nelson Mandela was labelled “terrorist” by the US until 2008 and UK politicians such as those run the country right now called for his execution . “Terrorism” no longer means what it used to mean. It’s an excuse, it’s a pretext, it’s a label to be used for political agenda. █
The civil war in Syria started in March 2011. And see this.
However, the U.S. has been funding the Syrian opposition since 2006 … and arming the opposition since 2007. (In reality, the U.S. and Britain considered attacking Syrians and then blaming it on the Syrian government as an excuse for regime change … 50 years ago (the U.S. just admitted that they did this to Iran) . And the U.S. has been planning regime change in Syria for 20 years straight. And see this.)
The New York Times, (and here and here) , Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, McClatchy (and here), AP, Time, Reuters, BBC, the Independent, the Telegraph, Agence France-Presse, Asia Times, and the Star (and here) confirm that supporting the rebels means supporting Al Qaeda and two other terrorist groups.
Indeed, the the New York Times has reported that virtually all of the rebel fighters are Al Qaeda terrorists.
Despite media pundits and political elites’ focus on “democracy versus dictatorship” and the international community’s “responsibility” to avert the “humanitarian crisis” in Syria, Nicola Nasser reports for Global Research that the real aim of US intervention in Syria was to protect the security of its ally, Israel.
The problems begin right at the top, where Robinson begins by conceding that “U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries may be militarily effective.” But, he asserts, “they are killing innocent civilians in a way that is obscene and immoral. I’m afraid that ignoring this ugly fact makes Americans complicit in murder.” Robinson does not compare the civilian deaths from drone strikes with those likely from other military options available to US forces to see whether they would be more or less “obscene and immoral”—or whether, indeed, drones might be the least bad option in terms of civilian casualties. He simply asserts that the use of a weapon that kills civilians as drones do makes us complicit in murder.
The Pentagon has loosened its guidelines on avoiding civilian casualties during drone strikes, modifying instructions from requiring military personnel to “ensure” civilians are not targeted to encouraging service members to “avoid targeting” civilians.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has again accused the United States of killing civilians in a drone airstrike, this time in a Nov. 20 attack on a border area between two eastern provinces where Taliban insurgents maintain strongholds.
In a statement released on his presidential website late Wednesday night, Karzai condemned the United States for an alleged drone strike that he said killed seven civilians, including women and children, in Nuristan province on the border with Kunar province near the Pakistan frontier.
The murder by a drone of a Taliban leader conducting peace negotiations with Islamabad has caused widespread protests in Pakistan. Fearing for the lives of its truckers, the U.S. has stopped the export of U.S. military cargo from Afghanistan through Pakistan. The U.S. denies that the use of drones is a violation of the international law.
Summary: How the General Public License can help fight the likes of Microsoft, whose only answer to GNU/Linux domination is now taxation of GNU/Linux (through patent extortion)
THE TABLET on which I’ll record Richard Stallman tomorrow dons a GPLv3 sticker. We wrote about the GPLv3 quite a lot back in 2007 when it was new. We needed the GPLv3 because of patent deals such as Novell’s. Microsoft was rapidly signing (or looking to sign) more extortion deals against Linux and in the middle of 2007 it announced a large-scale campaign to shake down all GNU/Linux vendors.
Towards the end of 2013 we have this moderate view from Dr. Glyn Moody. He explains today: “A theme that has re-appeared on this blog many times over the years is that of software patents. As I’ve noted before, they are perhaps the biggest single threat to free software, especially since the decline of Microsoft. Indeed, it’s not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.
“That’s already manifest in its Android licensing strategy. Note, in particular, that it refuses to discuss what exactly Android allegedly infringes upon. This means that it can sign secret deals with companies willing to go along with this ploy, giving the impression that there is a problem, without offering the slightest proof to that effect…”
“Indeed, it’s not hard to see software patent lawsuits being filed by Microsoft in the last, desperate stage of that decline in order to inflict the maximum damage on open source.” –Glyn MoodyMoody’s analysis then proceeds to explaining how the GPLv3 relates to all this. Now that Microsoft’s super-trolls and other trolls such as Erich Spangenberg [1, 2, 3, 4] are going after legitimate companies we must recognise that fighting patents with patents (like OIN does) is not a solution. Trolls cannot be confronted by a reactionary lawsuit and here we have a story of a patent troll winning again. To quote TechDirt, where Moody is a writer: “There’s a reason why patent trolls love east Texas — and big part of that is that the juries there have a long history of favoring patent holders, no matter how ridiculous or how trollish. That was on display last night, when the jury in Marshall, Texas sided with patent troll Erich Spangenberg and his TQP shell company over Newegg. As we’ve been describing, Newegg brought out the big guns to prove pretty damn thoroughly that this guy Mike Jones and his encryption patent were both not new at the time the patent was granted and, more importantly, totally unrelated to the encryption that Newegg and other ecommerce providers rely on. Having Whit Diffie (who invented public key cryptography) and Ron Rivest (who basically made it practical in real life) present on your behalf, showing that they did everything prior to Jones’ patent, while further showing that what Newegg was doing relied on their work, not Jones’, should have ended the case.”
Taking into account systemic corruption in law and politics (Chris Dodd shown below)
Summary: When law is controlled and composed (by proxy) by corporations and their lobbyists, a new strategy for reform is needed
WHEN the highest court (SCOTUS) relies on a broken Internet (where material just vanishes ) and judges are political and/or tied to corporations, it is no surprise and there is no reason to wonder why there’s reluctance to end bribery/corruption (euphemisms include “campaign-finance”). The ‘legal’ system is so broken that even innocent people who were unjustly punished oughtn’t bother suing  and guilty cults that defraud thousands and run their own prison system walk away free, despite being recognised as organised fraud in other, more civilised nations . It seems like in the eyes of this ‘legal’ system, dissent against crime or the pursuit of justice are now the real enemy. This is the sign of a a legal system entering a state of calamitous collapse. To blindly assume its moral higher ground would be unwise.
It has been about 2 months since we last covered patents on a regular basis. This is not a coincidence. Having campaigned against software patents since my days as a student, I hardly see any progress. In Europe, debate focuses on unification with US patent law (the typical cross-Atlantic treaty loophole), in New Zealand the fight against software patents never ends (even when the arguments are all settled), and in the US the debate is totally dead; all they talk about right now are “patent trolls”.
Fighting against a system which is inherently broken and does not permit progress — just fake Change® — is a tiresome exercise. It feels like a waste of energy. Larry Lessig tried to reform copyright law for years. He hardly succeeded. Corrupt politicians like Chris Dodd — those who literally bribe Congress — always get their way. Lessig understood this after years of campaigning regarding copyright law. Instead, after years of wasted effort, he turned his attention to fighting corruption in US Congress. it’s no simple task, either. Perhaps we too, at least in the coming years, will need to dedicate some time to fighting the patent issue from a political angle, not just a technical and logical angle. From the technical point of view, the argument was resolved a long time ago. Developers reached a consensus. But the patent lawyers and their lawyer/politician friends stand in the way and they will never give way to change unless they are named and shamed. SCOTUS and CAFC are part of the problem because their decisions continue to legitimise software patents. █
“Hyperlinks are not forever. Link rot occurs when a source you’ve linked to no longer exists — or worse, exists in a different state than when the link was originally made. Even permalinks aren’t necessarily permanent if a domain goes silent or switches ownership. According to new research from Harvard Law, some 49% of hyperlinks in Supreme Court documents no longer point to the correct original content. A second study on link rot from Yale stresses that for the Court footnotes, citations, parenthetical asides, and historical context mean as much as the text of an opinion itself, which makes link rot a threat to future scholarship.”
Last Monday, on the same day as the opening of the new Supreme Court term, the federal appeals court in San Francisco threw out a damages suit by a former Guantánamo detainee who alleged that his detention and his treatment while detained had been unlawful. The decision by a unanimous three-judge panel in Hamad v. Gates did not hold that the plaintiff’s rights hadn’t been violated; rather, it held that it lacked the power to even address that question because of a 2006 statute that appears to take away the jurisdiction of the federal courts in such cases. Although there are reasons to quibble with the Ninth Circuit’s analysis, the result underscores a far broader point about which there can be no dispute: In case after case, on issues ranging from Guantánamo to surveillance to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, the federal courts have been categorically hostile to damages claims arising out of post-September 11 counterterrorism policies. And as in Hamad, this hostility has been reflected in the courts’ reliance upon a host of procedural doctrines to reject the plaintiffs’ claims without actually adjudicating—one way or the other—the underlying legality of the government’s conduct.
Summary: Some of the latest self-explanatory stories about NSA abuses which are gradually embraced by politicians, corporations, and even state police; attempts to change the law to criminalise the acts of revealing these abuses
THE NSA‘S criminal activities are a phenomenon that keeps giving. Stories about it have been told for months and there’s no stopping it. Clever mechanisms like effective encryption inside chat and insurance files show just why the government hates encryption so much (not fake encryption which gives the mere illusion of privacy).
Some of the latest assorted story (below, not grouped by type) help reinforce the argument that terrorism — however one defines it –is not what the NSA fights against. The NSA is shown time after time to have engaged in strategic espionage, sometimes even inside the United States (where different rules apply).
This happens to coincide with media propaganda which tries to sell a war on Syria to the public (the war inside Syria has already been shown to be at least partly fuelled by the CIA). The UN is doing what it did 11 years ago in Iraq, trying to identify if there are weapons of mass destruction which merit invasion by other nations and now we know that the UN was among the victims of espionage (by the NSA). Moreover, recall US attempts to ban encryption in Syria (desperate and futile measures targeting FOSS repositories). This helps show the massive power of the NSA, which can also start wars. Jacob Appelbaum was right about it. In the wake of site shutdowns it is said in relation to Groklaw that:
Internet surveillance must be stopped or rendered ineffective with encryption
EU could make solid data protection regulations, but in the midst of debates it is becoming obvious that European political leaders aren’t willing to take serious steps in this direction, an MEP from the Swedish Pirate Party, Amelia Andersdotter, told RT.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) had bugged the United Nations’ New York headquarters, Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly said on Sunday in a report on US spying that could further strain relations between Washington and its allies.
Citing secret US documents obtained by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel said the files showed how the United States systematically spied on other states and institutions.
US fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden stayed in Moscow in late June and did not fly to Cuba because Cuban authorities would have denied him landing under US pressure, Russian newspaper Kommersant reports.
Acting in collaboration with the CIA, the daily claims that a “Special Collection Service-Team” makes use of equipment installed on the roof of the Vienna embassy to intercept communications, and in particular communications from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Neither the IAEA, or the Austrian Ministry of the Interior were willing to confirm this information…
Most of the focus on NSA surveillance has been the domestic fallout from the Obama Administration spying on ordinary Americans and then lying repeatedly about it. The international fallout is significant, however, with key US allies like Germany and Brazil taking the revelation of systematically being targeted poorly.
Public outrage over the federal government’s surveillance programs reached a fever pitch last week, with revelations that the National Security Administration illegally collected tens of thousands of non-terrorism-related emails from U.S. citizens, in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. With no end to the NSA bombshells in sight, at least some members of Congress appear to have grudgingly accepted that they are going to have to do something about the government’s expansive spying programs.
On July 30, 2013, I had the pleasure of having dinner with General Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency. Just a few weeks earlier, NYU Law Professor Christopher Sprigman and I had called the NSA’s activities “criminal” in the digital pages of the New York Times, so I thought it was particularly gracious of him to sit with me.
Liberty and security are the hard-won results of democratic process and limited government power. A system of mass surveillance puts innocent people at risk, and is, in itself, an abuse of liberty. Inevitably, it leads to further abuses. When the justification is counter-terrorism, and that’s your only concern, there is no countervailing interest that justifies slowing you down or stopping you. We are only beginning to learn all the ways in which good men are nevertheless failing to withstand the corrupting force of vast spying abilities. Indeed, the FISA court noted in that 2011 opinion that the government’s collection of tens of thousands of purely domestic communications, hidden from the court for years, could be a crime. (Footnote 15) The good people at NSA have literally pulverized the Fourth Amendment, government accountability, freedom of expression, rule of law, and so many other equally critical components of the American system.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend that documents supplied by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden prove the NSA spied on internal communications at the United Nations headquarters in New York City during the summer of 2012. The NSA has also targeted the European Union and the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to Der Spiegel .
Posted in Law, Patents at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz
An image by D. McGinnis
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada licence
Summary: Joel Spolsky et al. advance the notion of “bad” software patents, shifting the debate about software patents to ‘quality’ rather than scope
Fred Wilson, a VC who opposes software patents (he has opposed them for years for business reasons), says that famed developer and writer Joel Spolsky is going after a patent of his former employer (Microsoft), putting an end to it:
Yesterday Joel Spolsky, Stack’s CEO, wrote a great post about how he used Ask Patents to squash a bad software patent applied for by Microsoft.
Here is the original post which says: “The other 40,000-odd software patents issued every year are mostly garbage that any working programmer could “invent” three times before breakfast. Most issued software patents aren’t “inventions” as most people understand that word. They’re just things that any first-year student learning Java should be able to do as a homework assignment in two hours.”
But that seems to leave room for exceptions, as if some software patents are “OK”. And that’s not okay…
The other 40,000-odd software patents issued every year are mostly garbage that any working programmer could ‘invent’ three times before breakfast.”
Actually, all of them are garbage and should not have been granted. This whole notion of “Bad Software Patents” (classifying others as “Good”) can be found in the Forbes blog of an author we rarely agree on, this time writing about “Crowdsourcing The Fight Against Bad Software Patents“. Guess who inspires this false classification:
The basic problem is that the USPTO grants waaay too many patents on software, patents that don’t actually accord with the basic principles of what is necessary before a patent is justly granted. These two are that the invention must be novel and that it be non-obvious. If, just as an example, there are four wheeled cars, three wheeled, and motor bikes with two, there are also cycles with four and two wheels, then the idea of a three wheeled cycle is pretty obvious. Arguably a patent application for the tricycle would fail. The novel part is usually worked through by looking for prior art. Essentially, evidence that someone had descibed or even made something similar before. And prior art can come from anywhere. It wasn’t possible for anyone to patent the geostationary satellite because Arthur C Clarke described it in some of his popular science writing.
Actually, the problem at the USPTO is that it grants software patents, not that it grants “too many” software parents. It is important to pay attention to those who legitimise software patenting while pretending to be against them. Scope is the real issue, not scale of plaintiffs or ‘quality’ of particular software patents. █
Summary: A roundup of coverage about the menace which is patent litigation and the different angles chosen for tackling it
There is a perpetual disconnect and a considerable difference between what people want and what large corporations, which virtually if not practically control the US government, actually want. The large corporations want to see small companies/firms crushed, whereas the public in general wants to reduce spurious added costs, incurred by litigation and cross-licensing (shrewdly-disguised price-fixing by large corporations). The patent lawyers at some firm called “Armstrong Teasdale LLP” join the club of whiners over PTAB [1, 2]. They need to accept the rulings which crush software patents in the US, but they are in denial. Generally speaking, patents do not necessarily benefit the US, unless one considers in isolation smaller compartments of US commerce (patent lawyers or CEOs of large corporations). As a new paper’s abstract puts it:
We use a detailed data set to estimate the costs and benefits of United States patents. To estimate costs, we combine data from Derwent Litalert with a proprietary dataset of non-practicing entity (NPE) lawsuits collected by Patent Freedom, and use an event study approach to estimate losses suffered by alleged infringers during 1984-2009. To estimate benefits, we combine patent data from the USPTO and EPO with financial data from CRSP and COMPUSTAT, and use market-value regressions to estimate the value of patent rents for publicly-traded US firms during 1979-2002. We find that costs exceed benefits overall and that the gap between costs and benefits has grown across time. Surges in the number of NPE lawsuits, lawsuits filed over Computers/Communications patents, and lawsuits brought against non-manufacturing, software and telecommunications firms contribute to the increase in the gap. Growth in costs outstrips growth in lawsuits, in part, because events in these fast-growing categories have higher-than-
average per-event dollar costs.
There are leeches or non-producing players, which hurt customers a lot. According to this article, the “[p]olicy under President Obama is moving against aggressive assertion of software patents, posing significant long-term risk to the profitability of entertainment technology patent holder Rovi (ROVI).”
Whatever destroys trolls is good for the economy — that is — the collective economy which includes customers. Profit for businesses is the wrong yardstick to use if the businesses are ones of extortion, such as Intellectual Ventures. As Troll Tracker put it: “What’s going on is, as the issue of patent trolling attracts more and more attention in the mainstream media, the message is getting diluted and the waters are getting muddied.” There is also this observation about Lodsys:
Intellectual Ventures (Might Be) Tied To Lodsys: Wait, What?
It’s a proxy fight, and if Lodsys is successful in getting Mhyrvold to testify, something to that effect will surely come out. No wonder he’s fighting it so hard, he’s trying to avoid exposure. Trolls? This is what happens when you garner FTC attention.
“Lodsys had received patents from Intellectual Ventures, which we know to be using about 2,000 pseudo-companies as litigation proxies.”Mark Bohannon, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat (in other words, a chief lobbyist), ought the know the pain caused by trolls like Acacia (it got money from Red Hat several times). Bohannon says that the “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and a wide variety of witnesses highlighted the PAE problem in hearings last winter. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is working with Chairman Goodlatte and committed to working in a bicameral and bipartisan way to counter what they term ‘patent trolling,’ which “casts a pall on the system because it hinders innovation.”"
He also says: “A number of key issues “left on the cutting room floor” during consideration of the AIA—including the current unreliable, uncertain, and speculative method of calculating damages, correcting the standard for finding willful infringement, and venue—remain important elements of our broken patent system that play to the hands of PAEs and encourage abusive patent litigation.
“While action in these areas remains important, they are absent from the current legislative agenda. Given the widening attacks by PAEs, it is essential that Congress work to produce meaningful legislation on at least the issues identified above in order to begin to stem the tide.
“With many of the key players in Congress—joined by the Executive Branch—rowing in the same direction, let’s look for an updated draft of the House Judiciary bill that enhances its ‘first step’ proposal. And the Senate Judiciary Committee is well positioned to put forward a robust measure that builds on (and incorporates) the bills introduced by Senators Cornyn and Schumer.”
“Get rid of the patents to resolve the issue.”The problem is, the White House is still tackling the symptom, not the disease [1, 2, 3, 4]. Those bills are hardly the solution, they tackle a symptom really, one among several symptoms which they mostly fail to address. Todd Bishop, a Microsoft booster, shows Googleacquiring more privacy-infringing ideas, which is a problem in itself.
MariaDB, which recently joined OIN and OSI, will remain vulnerable to trolls and as the Oracle case against Google taught us, OIN membership is not enough to dodge litigation from giants, either. Get rid of the patents to resolve the issue. The large corporations are definitely part of the problem, but the White House is literally funded by many of those companies, so don’t expect reform in that domain. Expect the White House to go after smaller players, those that opportunistically sue many large companies. This one new example says that “ArrivalStar sued more than 200 companies and cities over bus-tracking patents.” Patent trolls like ArrivalStar are a problem, but they are not the only problem and when one looks at the actual patent, then it becomes clear that patent scope is the issue, not the plaintiff per se. As we saw many times before (e.g. Oracle, Apple, Microsoft), large corporations use equally ridiculous patents to extort other companies. According to this post, a troll we wrote about before is still busy in Texas, suing large corporations’ clients, so those large corporations get involved:
Earlier this week, we provided an update on the multitude of WiFi-related infringement lawsuits brought by non-practicing entity Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC against various hotels and restaurants in Texas, noting that IWS had dismissed these suits (albeit without prejudice). We had discussed that this was a decidedly “un-Innovatio-like” turn in the cases — but yesterday brought a development that makes this series of disputes much more like the ones in the Northern District of Illinois involving Innovatio: Cisco Systems Inc., a supplier of WiFi equipment for many of the hotels accused of infringement, got involved. And Just like it did with Innovatio, Cisco here filed a declaratory judgment action against IWS, seeking declarations of invalidity and non-infringement as to IWS’s three asserted patents.
It is not easy to kill patent trolls, as Gene Quinn’s recent piece indicates. Trolls cannot be sued, so it takes collective effort. The chairwoman of the FTC speaks about predatory tactics of patent trolls. To quote: “At an event co-sponsored by CCIA, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced that she would be asking the Commission to institute a Section 6(b) investigation of the patent troll business model. Senator Leahy also sent Chairwoman Ramirez a letter today, encouraging the FTC use its powers “to prevent unfair and deceptive trade practices in patent infringement allegations.”
“It is those large corporations which probably do far more damage than the trolls and the remedy lies within patent scope.”Edith Ramirez should ask her colleagues to look at patent scope rather than the nature of firms that sue large corporations. It is those large corporations which probably do far more damage than the trolls and the remedy lies within patent scope. Don’t expect any real reform in a nation where large corporations have politicians and government agencies in their pockets. Both political parties (including members of Congress) are controlled and bankrolled by the same large corporations, some more than the other. Always ask yourself when the White House debates trolls or some Congressperson brings up the subject, who are those people funded by? Also, notice who is backing all these pushes against trolls in the corporate sector. As always, money makes the world go round and large corporations are still writing everyone’s policies. The public deserves better than that. The corporations-controlled and corporations-run USPTO will continue to grant more patents than ever before (i.e. more profit), it’s just that those capitalising on those patents (monopolies) will be fewer and larger. Those patents are not there to encourage innovation, they are there to justify increases in prices, eternally-forbidding commoditisation, e.g. generics in medicine. █
Summary: Why the EFF should focus on eliminating software patents (like in Germany) and not just patent trolls or what it vaguely calls or alludes to as “stupid patents”
LEGAL SITE Groklaw shares this satirical video about patent trolls. It helps capture some of the patterns often observed when it comes to trolls’ attacks on practising companies, even if it’s a little Godwin Law-invoking.
The reality of the matter is, Germany is fighting to block all software patents. The EFF touches on “German Parliament Says No More Software Patents” — a subject we covered here before [1, 2, 3]. It says that the “German Parliament recently took a huge step that would eliminate software patents (PDF) when it issued a joint motion requiring the German government to ensure that computer programs are only covered by copyright. Put differently, in Germany, software cannot be patented.”
“The reality of the matter is, Germany is fighting to block all software patents.”There is a new article titled “EU banks face less threat of infringing software patents than those in US, says expert” and it helps show how the core problem is addressed. In Europe, patent trolls are barely existent. To quote the article, “EU banks are less likely to infringe software patents than their counterparts in the US but should still evaluate whether to undertake a freedom to operate (FTO) analysis before launching new products or services to the market, an expert has said.”
Everyone benefits from that.
At the same time, another part of the EFF is going after patents one at a time rather than work to eliminate software patents as a whole. Very ambivalent over there. It is Julie Samuels again (part of a long-observed pattern [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) and she says:
Working together we can protect the mesh networking community from overbroad, illegitimate patents that threaten to stifle innovation and access to technologies that preserve personal freedoms.
How about just working to end all software patents? What is happening at the EFF? There is another person there, another lawyer (Mr. Nazer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), who seems to be leading the EFF off focus. Well, lawyers being lawyers, they approach this subject from a point of view where patents are taken for granted. Just watch this latest article from Colleen Chien, which is posted in Wired (almost all the articles on patents there are written by lawyers).
“That’s the difference between organisations such as the EFF and organisations like FFII. The latter is run and managed by technical people.”This is not the first time that we point out and gently chastise EFF action for not being strong enough. The EFF ran a Web site to call for the end of software patents, but ever since it grabbed all the attention we see EFF staff actually working along the lines of the OIN, more or less. Well, just take a look at what Samuels is said to be: “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents” (like the term “bad” patents).
To quote the professional summary, “Julie Samuels, a Staff Attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at EFF, focuses on intellectual property issues. Before joining EFF, Julie litigated IP and entertainment cases in Chicago at Loeb & Loeb and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Julie spent time as a legislative assistant at the Media Coalition in New York and as an assistant editor at the National Journal Group in D.C. She was also an intern at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Julie earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University and her B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”
So she is a patent/copyright lawyer, not a technical professional to whom patents are potentially assigned, or to whom patents are a threat. That’s the difference between organisations such as the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and European organisations like FFII. The latter is run and managed by technical people.
As a big supporter of the EFF, yours truly worries that there there is an internal battle between those in the EFF who genuinely want to see software patents eliminated and those who get tugged along with contra-reformists, notably lawyers. Other European activists have spotted the same pattern and became outspoken about it. If we don’t name the culprits, nothing will be done to overcome this impasse. █