The only problem is the licence
Summary: The Microsoft-, Nokia-, and Apple-backed patent troll appears to have ruined the freedom assured by Google’s multimedia format, which was previously made free only after public pressure
Google is promoting VP9 and calling for fast adoption of VP9 as completion is imminent now, based on numerous Linux sites. As one put it: “Google has finally started talking publicly about the upcoming VP9 video codec that will be integrated into the FLOSS and patent unencumbered webm video container format. I’m a big webm fan and I have found the existing VP8 codec to be pretty darn good. webm with VP8 is way better than Ogg Theora (which is pretty good) but not quite as good as H.264. Google plans on changing that with VP9. Supposedly VP9 will be able to be 1/2 to 1/3 smaller than H.264 and provide as good or better quality. That is exciting.”
“This time too Google can hopefully listen and apply the necessary amendments to licence.”The problem is, the licence got worse. As one notable man, Simon Phipps, recently put it: “Google have released a draft agreement designed to help VP8 adoption by licensing a number of relevant patents on a royalty free basis. It sounds good, but the details of the license still need some work. Hopefully we’ll see some changes to this draft before the final license is released.”
So MPEG-LA, joined by Nokia‘s aggression, made things worse. Phipps says there is a per-user licence that Google should try to modify before finalisation,
Previously, the WebM licence was fixed due to (or contrariwise owing to) public pressure on Google. This time too Google can hopefully listen and apply the necessary amendments to licence. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Nokia is shown lobbying for embargoes while it is also suing — with limited success — Android handsets makers
The Microsoft mobile patents ‘subsidiary’ known as Nokia just can’t help attacking Linux. Not too long ago it attacked Android and free codecs [1, 2, 3, 4]. HTC tries to make deterrence and it “seems to have found a way to get over a courtroom loss to Nokia in Holland by scoring a legal victory against the Finns in Germany.
“Nokia wants bans on Android, so it is said to be lobbying right now.”“HTC said that on Tuesday the District Court of Mannheim, Germany dismissed a Nokia patent claim, ruling the complaint was “too poor.”"
Nokia was said to have gotten an injunction and Pamela Jones wrote: “Talk to the DOJ and FTC about it, and let them know you care about the attacks on Android from the non-Android vendors, using patents as the attack mechanism. The losers are you and me, the consumers.”
Here is a correction showing that Nokia did not get an injunction and a reminder that shareholders are getting tired of Elop, reminding him that Microsoft ideology does not come before profit.
Nokia wants bans on Android, so it is said to be lobbying right now. To quote: “They are lobbying on unspecified policy matters concerning intellectual property rights cases before the ITC. The federal agency can order U.S. Customs and Border Protection to block infringing products from entering the United States.”
Regarding the news that Microsoft signed patent deal with Chinese phone maker ZTE (Nokia was big in China) Pamela Jones wrote: “That’s what SCO Group said. Exactly. IP bullies must all attend the same prep schools. I have the same suggestion I offered SCO Group: Microsoft should reveal its allegedly wonderful patents and precisely how Android allegedly infringes, so we can all show proper respect. As I recall, when Barnes & Noble was targetted, they noticed the IP claimed was worthless and not something they wanted or needed. Unless Microsoft reveals such matters publicly, we’ll probably just continue to believe that the smartphone wars are designed to cow Android into submission, so Microsoft can make money inappropriately, which was, I believe, SCO’s dream too, to make money without earning it, off of someone’s else’s hard work.”
So Microsoft is working to tax while Nokia, the proxy, is working to ban. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Important observations about the nature of computer-implemented ‘inventions’, or software patents
Thanks to a recent decision against the patent troll called Uniloc we now know that “Even An East Texas Court Has Told Uniloc That It Can’t Patent Math”. The significance of this lies in the fact that software patents are characterised correctly for a change, even in the most patents-friendly places. There is a new “Math on Trial” book. It is not about patents but it’s about cases in the courtroom that are built solely on mathematics, or specifically mathematical errors. Let us hope that more literature and even courts will reinforce the position that mathematics have no place in the courtroom and software patents essentially correspond to monopoly on higher-level mathematics. Unless the judges are prepared to handle a whiteboard/blackboard, pick up a marker/chalk, and then analyse legal case in terms of equations and such, mathematics have no place on trial. Richard Stallman made the suggestion that software patents should be made unenforceable in the courts. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: How widespread coverage and talking points from the tiny minority which is patent lawyers have contributed to biased and at times utterly distorted reporting on the subject of software patents around the world
Skewed coverage is not so exceptional. Depending on one’s background and peers one shapes his or her views of the world. A programmer likes to develop software. A patent lawyer loves turning ideas into a formalised description of a process, sometimes acquiring a state-imposed monopoly on these ideas. In certain states (or continents) the patent lawyer may have to cheat a little in order to bypass limitations on the scope of monopoly. Not many places grant a monopoly on the process of computation for instance. It is about as concrete as one’s brain, where the brain is the equivalent of computation machine and the programming the equivalent of neural signals. In recent years patent lawyers have sought to solidify a loophole whereby all programming ‘recipes’ get accompanied by a computation device, even though a computer program can be run in one’s brain, perhaps with the aid of pen and paper. When the law on patenting excludes patents on software “as such” it generally means that patent lawyers just need to disguise software patents as something which they are not. This leaves plenty of room for battle over interpretation and therefore there is a multitude of views, where nobody quite agrees if software is patentable or not. It is the role of real journalists to distinguish between the views of patent lawyers (or their clients who are often managers of large corporations) and the views of software professionals. Since most judges are former solicitors it is expected that the former group will appeal to them, so where does it leave the press? Who is left to listen to the latter group? Certainly not the business press, whose interests are more closely aligned with those of large corporations. This post is a complete (not selective) summary of all the articles we saw generated by key events in 3 continents, showing that: 1) patent lawyers dominate the media on these matters and 2) the views of patent lawyers are very consistently in favour of software patent, as one ought to expect. This reduces certainty over the impact of rulings, bills, and parliamentary actions which clearly limit or altogether ban software patents.
“It is about as concrete as one’s brain, where the brain is the equivalent of computation machine and the programming the equivalent of neural signals.”The EU has much greater problems than patents at the moment, so not many people pay attention to software patents in Europe. These defy the law and they increasingly hurt software developers who are based in Europe. Interestingly, many of these patents are not even granted to European entities.
The government in Germany recently took steps against defiance of common patent law, so patent lawyers’ sites like IAM tried to portray those who reform/uphold the system as “pirates”. This type of characterisation continues, demonstrating to us just how venomous an element patent lawyers can be. They can be rude, not just deceitful for an agenda. Some of IAM’s stuff, as we covered it before, percolates onto other lawyers’ sites, helping to portray NZ’s exclusion [1, 2] of software patents in the relatively small island as some kind of illegitimate move. Other law-themed sites like Lexology asked about the NZ Patents Bill, “how will it effect software patents in NZ?”
The Bill is clear about it. It is not equivocal about it, the loophole that remains in the law set aside. Another article from the same site of patent lawyers helps shed doubt about the CAFC’s criticism of software patents in the US [1, 2, 3].
“The bottom line is, in the EU, NZ, and the US the patent lawyers continue to be instrumental in reality distortion field.”The headline says “Federal Circuit fails to clarify software patent eligibility” and this influences the business press which goes with headlines like “Patent Court Torn on Whether Software Deserve Patents”. Another pro-’IP’ site asks, “How CLS v Alice affects software patents” (the content deviates from the openness of the question).
Other lawyers who lobby for software patents say in their headline that “Federal Circuit deals blow to software patents, but fails to provide cohesive rationale” (criticism for expressing such a view).
A site that calls itself “Law Review” goes further than all the above by rushing ahead with the pretentious, poorly-thought out headline “Massive Growth in Software Usage the Real Reason for More Software Patents, Not Abuse” (very illogical statement of course, something along the lines of “many cockroaches give reason for breeding them,” as if quantity implies desirability).
The bottom line is, in the EU, NZ, and the US the patent lawyers continue to be instrumental in reality distortion field. We should take with a grain of salt what’s the result of seeding disinformation; think afresh based on the actual evidence. Software patents have been dealt a large blow and if this trend continues, patent lawyers’ spin aside, we might see them going away some time in the foreseeable future. Popular view is strongly against them, suggest polls even in the US. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Some more criticism of the patent system and software patents in particular, courtesy of Eugene Kaspersky
Several rather distinguished scholars have said that patents as a concept — not just software patents — are misguided. They provided evidence for this claim and the evidence was somewhat measurable. It is becoming increasingly accepted by many that the USPTO is a tool for helping large corporations hoard power and wealth at the expense of everyone else. “Innovation” is just a marketing technique, as in practice the USPTO does just about nothing to innovate, it just provides protectionism for those that can afford it (usually the wealthiest companies out there).
“Patent law is now just so far removed from common sense that it’s patently absurd; the whole system right down to its roots needs to be overhauled.”
–Eugene KasperskyEugene Kaspersky [1, 2], possibly the most distinguished security researcher in the world (judging by reputation), cites Techrights in his new post which says patents work against innovation. To quote him on these issues: “Today’s patent law regarding software is…well, it’s a bit like one of those circus mirrors where reality is distorted. Patent law is now just so far removed from common sense that it’s patently absurd; the whole system right down to its roots needs to be overhauled. ASAP! Otherwise innovative patents meant to encourage and protect will simply fail to materialize. (Good job, patent system. Stellar work.)”
He complains more specifically about software patents. He is far from the only security professional who thinks that computer security is compromised by a bunch of monopolies on strategies and methods which correspond to simple mathematics. █
“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”
–Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO
Send this to a friend
Summary: Hostility towards the practice of patenting software is seen in a nonprofit organisation, a corporation, and a government branch responsible for patenting
Dr. Glyn Moody says that “at last [the] EFF contemplates software patents abolition,” citing EFF positions in the essay “What’s At Stake in CLS Bank—Do Software Patents Hold Up The Sky?”
“Remember that i4i is a Canadian company best known for its lawsuit against Microsoft.”The essay comes from Mr. Nazer, whose positions we wrote about in [1, 2]. Earlier on he was targeting just trolls, not software patents. In his latest essay he says: “It is important to realize that software patents and the software industry are not the same thing. As Judge Moore’s own scholarship shows, patent issuance is “a poor measure of innovation value.” And there are straightforward economic reasons why patents and software are a bad fit. Far from being an incentive, software patents tend to operate as a barrier to entry and a tax on innovation.”
In other news cited by Moody, Newegg beat what some call a “corporate troll”. One summary says that “Newegg’s policy of not backing down from patent trolls, even ones as large as Alcatel-Lucent, continues to result in victory. Earlier this year, Overstock and Newegg successfully defended themselves with a jury invalidating Alcatel-Lucent’s main patent used to force companies as large as Amazon to settle. ”
Lastly for this week, Moody points out that there are more pushbacks against software patents, this time in Canada. As a short summary puts it: “The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has recently published two notices for patent examiners relating to patent interpretation, and in particular computer-related/business method type patents saying: ‘for example, what appears on its face to be a claim for an “art” or a “process” may, on a proper construction, be a claim for a mathematical formula and therefore not patentable subject matter.’”
Here is the corresponding article. Remember that i4i is a Canadian company best known for its lawsuit against Microsoft. There are other notable examples of patent parasites in Canada and we covered them before. █
Send this to a friend
Media coverup allegedly helps shelter the train wreck which is software patents
Summary: How press coverage of software patents in the EU and New Zealand (NZ) varies depending on the source; allegations that the US press tries to dismiss end of software patents by twisting an outcome of a major trial
THE EU, NZ, and the US: are software patents actually really banned there? It’s all about perspective, or so we may be led to think by the corporate press.
First of all, software patents in Europe are not an impossibility due to the “as such” loophole. As software patents continue to creep into the continent the German government steps in to stop the potentially illegal practice. “Siemens tried to enforce a software patent against a German webshop owner in 2007 http://ur1.ca/du5ku #swpat threat in Europe is real,” writes the FSFE’s founder, Georg C. F. Greve. The FSFE has just published a “response to German Parliament on #swpat ur1.ca/dtypk (German) Today @kirschner in Parliament hearing #endswpat” (here it is from the current head of the FSFE).
In Europe, the loophole which facilitates software patenting is virtually the same as in New Zealand, where software patents are still possible albeit officially denounced (we wrote about it twice before).
The patent lawyers’ sites which are more inflammatory (yes, IAM again) deny that software patents are banned in NZ and the NZ press focuses on domestic reactions like this one (ignore US press to dodge talking points of US-based corporations). One NZ-based site (not US site with NZ localised version like IDG’s) says: “The Government has announced a change to planned new patent rules today which has put an end to fears that computer software might be covered by new patent protection.”
There are “no patents on computer program “as such”,” says one person who is familiar with these matters. It’s not perfect, “but better than nothing,” says Glyn Moody in Twitter. Here is some other coverage of interest. NZ is in the same position that Europe is in. Software patents are not “officially” legal, but in practice one can get them anyway, defying the law using loopholes (characterising software as an inseparable part of a general-purpose, programmable computing device).
Over in the US, the corporate-dominated USPTO, SCOTUS and even CAFC (to a lesser degree) call the shots. These people don’t know how to use computers or program them. They know just the very basics. As one person puts it: “Out of touch Fed Circuit judges? Two are over age 75. None under 60. I’m guessing none ever wrote a line of code, or use Instagram.”
Another says: “Computers Compute i.e. do Maths. Maths isn’t patentable therefore Software shouldn’t be patentable – Simple”
And moreover from the same person: “Surely it can’t be difficult for the Patent Office to recognize that a Computer Computes Maths; says what it does in the name ”
Lastly: “The problem with most lawyers IMO is that they don’t have a clue about Programming & think it’s all Innovative when it’s not”
So the US press has been trying to decipher or spin the CAFC’s latest decision on this subject. Will Hill writes: “No matter what happens, the Microsoft press will say the results are unclear or favor software patents. Bilski seemed to be a rejection of software patents.”
Here is Crouch’s response, which we cited before. He insinuates that many but not all software patents may be dead given this decision and some allege that all software patents are dead in the US now. Another legal site calls it a “nightmare”. The business press dismisses this as a game changer. We wrote about it twice before, initially calling this a missed opportunity to reform the system. The British press is more optimistic than that, insinuating that software patents died in the US. Compare that to US news sites with headlines like “Mixed Ruling In Software Patent Case Raises More Questions Than Answers” (prevalent headline) and Australian perspective which focuses on the Australian company. A fairly independent US-based site summarised it all as follows: “Ten judges, seven opinions, 135 pages, zero legal precedent.”
Not everyone agrees. Rupert Murdoch’s influential corporate press continues to entertain this discussion in comments and polls at WSJ. Its coverage of the trial came under the headline “Long-Awaited Patent Ruling Yields Few Answers” (prevalent talking point in US sites).
Meanwhile, report some Russian journalists: “The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of biotech giant Monsanto, closing the door on a patent case that has pitted a smalltime farmer from Indiana against a titan of the agriculture industry.”
The US report was quick to dismiss claims that this may be applicable to software (here is AOL). The SCOTUS almost always rules in favour of large corporations. Justices are appointed by politicians that those corporations are bribing.
In the post “Diagnosis From USA Federal Circuit – Software Patents Are Sick” Canadian blogger Robert Pogson alleges software parents were crushed. He adds: “Isn’t that a hoot? Can you hear the patent-FUD rushing out of M$’s collapsing balloon? Can you hear the “partners” who have signed up to pay M$ per Android/Linux smart thingy calling their lawyers and accountants? Can you see the small cheap computers becoming even less expensive? I can.”
Who can be trusted? Legal sites that say software patents are affected (completely dead or partially dead) or corporate press which almost uniformly argues that there is no change whatsoever? The confusion or the mixes signals sure serve the status quo. █
Send this to a friend
In Soviet Russia, only Microsoft ever gets sued
Summary: Misleading article helps portray the aggressor as a negotiator, using patently false claims that are easily disprovable
The notion of SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) is well understood in the legal world. If the cost of defending oneself in court is higher than the cost of settlement and the outcome at the court is not so crucial (e.g. if you make Android devices but not Android itself), then the legal system can be perturbed and radically manipulated. It enables people in suits to call ‘business’ what really is the direct equivalent of the Mafia demanding ‘protection’ money from local shops. It’s akin to what some label “financial terrorism”, evoking particular detrimental behaviour through economic strangulations.
“It enables people in suit to call ‘business’ what really is the direct equivalent of the Mafia demanding ‘protection’ money from local shops.”Matt Asay, whom we sometimes refer to as Mac Asay for his advocacy of Apple products and Microsoft apologism*, has this article titled “Microsoft’s Mobile Patent Strategy: Threaten, Don’t Sue” (untrue, see TomTom and others, as it was definitely neither the first nor last). The article comes from a site formerly (until very recently) managed by an inflammatory anti-Linux man.
SLAPP tactics are not taken into account by Mr. Asay, so his hypothesis is misleading. It makes Microsoft look quite soft. Asay cites this article from many years ago and says “Microsoft has never been one to sue. In its long history, the company has only taken someone to court a small handful of times, and itself has had to pay out more than $9 billion in damages. Perhaps because of how hard Microsoft has been spanked by the courts, it has taken a different tactic with Google Android.”
This is nonsense. Microsoft sued plenty of times. We covered many examples.
“As reported by Reuters,” he continues, “Microsoft now makes far more on Android patent royalties than it does on its own Windows Phone OS. (For some this might make Microsoft a patent troll, but we’ll leave that for a separate blog post.) In fact, by some estimates Microsoft will clear $3.4 billion in Android royalty fees in 2013, and is on pace to top $8.8 billion within the next few years.”
“Truthfully, given Microsoft’s business practices, it deserves no real opportunity in mobile devices and its executives should be trailed for racketeering, among other abuses.”No evidence for that, as we noted the other day. These are mere guesses and FUD that Microsoft just loves printed/echoed in the media (it leads to intimidation against Android adoption by companies). There are numerous other issues with Asay’s article. He doesn’t use facts properly. But it it is easy to agree with his closing words: “It’s time to give Microsoft the chance to prove itself in mobile, too, rather than collect fees on others’ hard work.”
Truthfully, given Microsoft’s business practices, it deserves no real opportunity in mobile devices and its executives should be trailed for racketeering, among other abuses.
Gutierrez, Smith and other top lawyers, even Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates to some degree, are behind the racketeering. There is a law against racketeering and it should be put to use at long last. It was put there for a reason. █
* Asay, a former Novell employee, routinely communicates with Microsoft employees and he was also interviewed for a job at Microsoft at one point, later letting the company intrude the FOSS world via OSBC, OSI, etc.
Send this to a friend
« Previous Page — « Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries » — Next Page »