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07.22.15

Terminology of Patent Lawyers and Pro-Patents Media Serves to Mislead the Public

Posted in Deception, Patents at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An outline of stories where the language used to describe patents is grossly distorted so as to bias the reality and mislead the audience/readers

TECHRIGHTS often links to articles about patents, including some awkward ones from patent lawyers, but rarely does it nitpick or criticise the warped terminology, which with the art of semantics helps rig the discussion. Just like in politics, language defines the debate, and choice of words can either glorify or demonise an idea. Today we will give some examples that we set aside over the past fortnight.

“Trade Secrets” and Patents (Opposites)

A lot of articles such as this one began to appear some days ago, mixing or mistaking patents for “trade secrets”, which are inherently very different (patents were originally introduced in order to discourage trade secrets and encourage publication). It was very hard to get the story straight based on the large majority of articles (we checked about a dozen). Ford is being sued over some rare combination of reverse engineering/’trade secrets’ but also claims pertaining to patents, according to few of the reports, including this reposted article from Bloomberg, which said: “Ford allegedly began developing its own version of Versata’s software by reverse engineering, according to court papers. The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker is also accused of disseminating Versata’s proprietary information to unauthorized users to create “a copycat configuration technology.””

So this is basically a combination of reverse engineering and patents. It’s an attack on Ford over patents and claims of reverse engineering. A lot of the media does an extremely poor job explaining this. the word “theft” or “steal” is used sparingly, subjecting readers to a trial by media (theft is a crime, but patent violation is not the same as theft and reverse engineering should arguably be legal everywhere).

“Stealing”, “Intellectual Property”, and “Innovation”

One of the grossest blogs out there (IP Watchdog, which we sometimes call “Watchtroll”) really beat its record. It not only used a propagandistic photo of a violent/militant bandit but also used three propaganda terms in one single headline: “Does Stealing Intellectual Property Boost Innovation?”

What a loaded, ugly headline (and a question). Patent lawyers who promote software patents really don’t try to come across as professional, do they? See the photo too. It’s worse than the Daily Fail, a notorious UK-based tabloid.

Patent Stacking/Royalty Stacking

There is a practice by which one company or several companies are stacking up patents and working to increase legal costs so as to discourage challenging of the patents, or simply drive a product out of the market. Watch the lawyers’ media framing this ugly strategy as “consolidation”. To quote:

No consolidation was granted where the petitions involved some non-overlapping grounds and arguments. However, the Board used its discretion to coordinate the date of the oral arguments to lessen the burden on the patent owner.

Software Patents by Another Name

Software patents are quite controversial, especially after Alice, which makes them weak. We have seen software patents alluded to in all sorts of ways that dodge the bad connotation, but how about “Behavioral Analytics”?

Patents as Objects

Patents are now sold like fruit and vegetables. Watch this piece titled “Improved Auction and Online Marketplace Patents Available from ICAP Patent Brokerage” or another one titled “Sleep, Temperature Analysis Wearables Patents Available”. They treat these like food. To quote one of these ridiculous pieces: “ICAP Patent Brokerage announces for sale patents disclosing methods for monitoring wakefulness and body temperature, available from inventor Gaby Badre (Bader). This portfolio is offered as part of the Internet of Things IP Auction, with a bidding deadline of July 30, 2015.”

They are truly selling them like some kind of objects, even though the patentor is supposed to be the holder. What has the patent system turned into? They are clearly perverting the logic behind patents when they were first introduced. Are these justified anymore? The meaning of patents has changed profoundly.

Buying Patents Like Products

“We’ve filed over 2,000 patents,” says this piece, “which is actually a lot, and we’re acquiring patents.” The saddest thing? It’s about Hugo Barra, known for his work on Android.

Protectionism

Patents can be a waste of time, money, and effort. “Westerners zealously guard their IPRs with patents and copyrights and so on,” said this piece the other day. What is “IPRs” anyway? Intellectual Property Rights? It’s a meaningless collective term that alludes to many separable things. It’s a bit like “cloud”.

Any protectionism by law (for the rich) can rely on metaphors like “intellect”, “right” and “property”, but just as in the case of that “cloud” buzzword, the reality is very different. It can simply means lock-in, surveillance, entrapment, and financial extortion. Nebulous terms make people oblivious and hence more gullible.

On “Discovering Patents”

IDG thinks that patents are being “discovered” because it says “newly discovered patents”. As if there’s some finite number of patents just waiting to be discovered, like gold buried beneath the ground. How foolish can the author be? Chemical elements can be discovered. Islands can be discovered (or colonised, or attacked). Patents are just an abstract concept, they’re man-made and they’re more like a musical composition. We never say that musicians “discover” a song when they come up with a new song.

Monopoly as “Market Exclusivity”

Monopoly is an ugly thing and a lot of literature exists to explain why monopolies are collectively harmful. So, ProactiveInvestors.com uses the propaganda terms of monopolisers and calls these “market exclusivity”. To quote: “Market exclusivity is a critical component of valuation. Patenting strategies, regulatory data exclusivity and product life-cycle management will give about 10 to 15 years of market exclusivity to most novel drugs.”

In reality this often means that poor people are left to die from curable diseases, just so that few companies that are often subsidised by governments (i.e. taxpayers) get to increase their private profits (going into few private pockets). Watch this new lobbying from the New Jersey press, titled “N.J. biotech companies need patent protection from Congress”. What they probably mean is that they want monopoly and protectionism. Competition is something they cannot tolerate.

Patent ‘Owners’

The patent maximalists, as usual, refer to patent applicants as owners, in the same way that once upon a time men from Africa were considered “property” to be “owned” by white men in the northern hemisphere. This whole notion of “ownership” of ideas is perverse, but given enough repetition in the corporate media people might come to take that all for granted and accept it, just like many people used to happily accept slavery and deem it “just” or “necessary”.

“Intellectual Ventures Combats Malaria” Nonsense

Reddit, which is a horrible Web site (reportedly in steep decline this month), is now grooming the world’s biggest patent troll (and strongly Microsoft-connected, too). Watch this kind of advertisement disguised as discussion. A reader of ours told us that he got banned by the moderator/s for merely questioning such dodgy ‘advertisements’ for an evil, reprehensible firm. It attacks practicing companies while hoarding patent monopolies by acquisition. This non-practicing (and thus by definition not good-doers or even doer) is owned by Nathan Myhrvold from Microsoft.

“The last thing this company needs is another fucking [computer] language.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft (now Intellectual Ventures)

07.21.15

The Technology Sector in the US Has Gotten Fed Up With Apple’s Patent Aggression Against Android/Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 4:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Seeing the dark side of Apple…

Glass apple

Summary: Apple is desperately trying to stop Android from increasing its levels of dominance (in phones, tablets, watches, and so on), so Silicon Valley is lining up against Apple, antagonising its misuse/abuse of patents for anticompetitive purposes

APPLE became somewhat of a patent troll around 2010 when it filed its first anti-Android patent lawsuit, having threatened to do the same to Palm years beforehand (Tim Cook played a big role in these threats at the time). Microsoft and Apple are both bullies and they are not hiding it. They really hate Linux; they try to destroy it rather than adopt it like the rest of the industry, especially in Silicon Valley. With the exception of Microsoft, which habitually supports Apple’s court cases against Android, almost every significant company is now supporting Samsung‘s defence against Apple [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Engadget wrote: “Samsung has also found a powerful group of backers in its fight against Apple in court. According to a document unearthed by Inside Sources, Google, Facebook, eBay, Dell, HP and other big tech corporations have submitted a “friend of the court” brief on July 1st, supporting Samsung’s stance. The two companies have been embroiled in legal fisticuffs for years, ever since Apple first filed a lawsuit against Samsung for violating various intellectual properties, such as tap-to-zoom, sinle-finger scrolling and two-finger zooming, as well as edge-to-edge glass design, among other things.”

“Supporting Apple these days is supporting an arrogant bully, hell-bent on destroying Linux.”There is no “patent fight with Samsung” as some media puts it. It is Apple attacking Android by targeting a top Android entity other than Google (it is clear that Google has far greater an incentive to fight back). It is, by extension, an attack on Linux. Apple fans’ site keep bragging about new Apple patents, perhaps not caring to realise that they now support the equivalent of a giant patent troll, the world’s richest troll.

Google, by contrast, is trying to fix the patent system and to reduce litigation. As Mike Masnick put it a few days ago, “Google Revamps Patent Search To Actually Do What Patent Office Should Do” (that’s Masnick’s headline).

Masnick correctly recalls that this is not the first such effort from Google. To quote some background: “A few years ago, Google seemed to downgrade its patent search features, pulling away a separate “Google Patents” section and mixing it back into the main Google search. This seemed like a major step backwards, especially given how terrible the US Patent Office’s own patent search engine was. Google has tried to do a few things like launching a “prior art finder” and teaming up with StackExchange to help crowdsource prior art.”

Supporting Apple these days is supporting an arrogant bully, hell-bent on destroying Linux. Please don’t buy anything from Apple as it only makes this aggressor stronger.

Patents Regime in Europe: Mixture of Greed, Competition Abuses, and Propaganda

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From authority need not always come justice

Congress building

Summary: A roundup of the latest patent news from Europe, focusing on Italy, the UK, Germany, and Hungary

UPC and EPO

DAYS ago we recalled Italy's defeat on UPC. Italian politicians basically surrendered to patent maximalists and patent lawyers in Europe are expectedly jubilant. One wrote: “The renewal fees will be less than 5.000 EUR during the first 10 years of the patent. The cumulative total to be paid over the full 20-year term will be just over 35.555 EUR. Currently, the total amount of renewal fees for a European patent validated in 25 member states is 29.500 EUR during the first ten years and 158 621 EUR in total. In other words, the True Top 4 decision corresponds to a reduction of 78% compared to the current situation.”

It’s all about money, isn’t it? Even as the EPO continues to attack its own staff all that the management can wave as an excuse for this is money. Rather than a public service the EPO is now a greedy corporation. Who’s funding the EPO anyway? European taxpayers. It’s a form of subsidy or ‘welfare’ for a system that is headed by corrupt officials with astronomical salaries and relatives/friends/former colleagues in positions of power. We can become a laughing stock even in the eyes of Zimbabwe now.

Qualcomm’s Patent Abuse Under EU Fire

“Even as the EPO continues to attack its own staff all that the management can wave as an excuse for this is money.”In other news from Europe, Qualcomm faces new EU antitrust probes over patents [1, 2, 3]. Why did it take so long? We have written about Qualcomm’s abuses for quite a few years. As one publication put it, “European Union antitrust regulators are investigating whether one of the world’s biggest chipmakers, Qualcomm, uses illegal tactics to shut out rivals, six years after slapping a record 1 billion euro ($1.09 billion) fine on Intel for a similar offence.

“Qualcomm has been feeling the heat from regulators in Europe, the United States, China, Japan and South Korea in recent years in relation to its licensing model and the power of its patents in mobile networks and communications devices.”

Qualcomm is perhaps the only hardware giant that can rival Intel when it comes to scale of crimes (although Intel does criminal things in many more areas and aspects).

The whole Qualcomm situation ought to teach Europe — and this includes the antitrust officials — that patents maximisation is not what Europe needs.

Shaming the United Kingdom for Not Being Crazy Enough About Patents

Here in the UK we regret to see this patent propaganda titled “UK patent applications dropping as Sweden files 3.5 times more patents than the UK”. On the face of it, this sounds like exciting news, but the article is actually berating Brits for not amassing patents as though only when you acquire (buy) or get granted a patent your work becomes “innovative”. Here is the opening sentence of the article: “Bad news: the UK’s attitude to intellectual property remains dismissive, as new figures show that the number of patents filed were not just below the EU average, but actually falling.”

How is that “bad news”? That’s like saying that the UK having less nuclear weapons than Russia is “bad news”. England reportedly puts all of its nuclear arsenal (not to be confused with Trident) in Scotland and the Scots surely hate it, judging by the growing popularity of SNP. Perhaps they realise that nuclear waste and nuclear warheads on their soil not only fail to improve their security (Russia would view Scotland as a high-value target) but actually cause potential health hazards (see Japan and Ukraine). A lot of that is true for patents too, as they are basically weapons that either discourage innovation (deterrence) or assault Brits who come up with good ideas and implement them.

The article continues with this statement: “In absolute numbers, by far most patent applications come from Germany. With 22,800 filed, the country had over 40 per cent of all European applications.”

Well, the EPO is now based in Germany, too. Does it mean much? No, it doesn’t mean that Germany is most innovative, it just shows that many Germans (or German companies) like to pass money for Munich and other German cities to devour.

There is this constant obsession of patent lawyers. They want to delude technical people into believing that correlation between patents and innovation (or market leadership) is so strong that without them hiring lawyers their businesses will fail. Hiring patent lawyers is a waste of time and legal costs are often the cause for companies going bankrupt. In many cases, patent lawyers are just a burden that tries hard to market itself.

Patent Lawyers Promote Patents in Hungary

Today in the lawyers’ news/media we find “Shelston IP” trying to set the record on patents in Australia and in New Zealand, where technical people have been fighting for many years against patent lawyers and corporate lobbyists.

On the same day “Danubia Patent & Law Office LLC” tried to set the record on patents in Hungary (part of the EU), where resources for patent applications are far more limited than in Germany.

Does anyone in Europe (especially the less fortunate member states) think that this UPC hype will do them any better than German bankers did for Greece?

Patent ‘Reform’ in US Congress Still Under Attack by Patent Lawyers and Corporate Lobbyists

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 3:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US Capitol

Summary: The latest instances of assault on changes to the US patent system, demonstrated through an elaborative survey of the media (two days’ worth)

THE futility of a so-called ‘reform’ in the US patent system and our dismissive attitude towards it is due to corporations-led watering down of bills. What’s typically left in bills is nothing of substance, or too little of substance, just enough for the corporate media to state that the system has been changed and is thus ‘fixed’.

“Corporations and the millionaires (or billionaires) who own them are totally dominating political platforms.”Blake A. Ilstrup, who describes himself as “general counsel and senior vice president of business development at Kineta,” does not want the current patent regime to change. “Congress must keep trolls away from medical patents,” heralds another headline from someone working in Kineta’s field (or very similar). It sure looks like there’s a battle between lawyers and everyone else. Remember that many lobbyists are themselves lawyers. AmeriKat, a strong proponent of more patents in the US (and a proud proponent of software patents, so we assume that it’s a patent lawyer from the US), happily speaks of “US patent litigation boom” (more business for lawyers), not to our surprise at all. Sen. Gerald Ortiz Y Pino’s piece about “frivolous patent suits” continues to circulate while former Rep. Ron Klink (D-Pa.) pretends that this out-of-control patent system is good for workers (he published this in a site where lobbyists are abundant). This former Representative sure seems to be fronting for corporations here, not workers. There is also a lot of pro-patents propaganda (more lawsuits wanted) from patent lawyers who celebrate this horrible patents-maximising system, hoping that it stays in tact [1, 2, 3, 4]. With an arrogant grin in the latter two examples, patent lawyers actively work to derail patent reform. They are succeeding so far because, as the first of these highlights right in the headline, “House vote on Innovation Act could be delayed until after August recess” (delay works well for them).

Where is opposition to software patents in the media? We’re massively outnumbered now by patent lawyers. The corporate media is currently reposting a biased article from Bloomberg (booster of patents and so-called ‘IP’ for a number of years), showing us all that no chance of a ‘reform’ — however small — is being tolerated by corporations. Corporations and the millionaires (or billionaires) who own them are totally dominating political platforms.

07.20.15

Software Patents Are Still Being Demolished by US Courts, Google Makes Prior Art Searches Simpler

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source.”

Linus Torvalds

Summary: The real patent battle is fought not in Congress (with corporate lobbyists) but in the courtroom, with a growing number of outcomes which are favourable to Free/libre software

SOFTWARE PATENTS are severely damaged in the US, especially following the Alice case (ruled by SCOTUS one year ago). The latest cases, which we covered this month, serve to show that software patents are dropping like flies in the courtrooms, even when landing on courts that are historically very friendly towards software patents.

“District courts used Great Atlantic to invalidate patents en masse, much like is done today after Alice,” Patent Buddy wrote the other day. Nevertheless, the corporate media focuses on other matters.

“It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying.”Joe Mullin has revealed that yet more software patents have just died and not a patent troll was behind them. “Rovi,” he explains, “provides digital entertainment guides to cable companies and others and has long used its patents to enforce its dominant position in the market. That strategy has come in for criticism, with Rovi’s patents being viewed as covering the basic idea of an electronic TV Guide. That was especially true when Rovi used its patents to go after Internet companies that wanted to make their own guides and not take Rovi content, like Hulu and Amazon.”

Well, these patents are now dead and Wall Street-centric media says that the company is downgraded. “Multichannel video programming distributors may face the same struggles in court,” says the author, “but those patents are less abstract than software patents, according to analysts.”

Mullin wrote also about Newegg (yet again), showing that it won a patent case that had been brought against it by TQP. “Two weeks after online retailer Newegg filed a petition complaining about “excessive and unreasonable” delays in getting a final judgment in its patent case,” explains Mullin, “the judge in that case has handed Newegg a big win.”

It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying. Every death of a software patents can become precedent for future cases involving software patents and the higher the court, the higher the impact. One lawyers’ site tries to frame this as a “troll” issue, talking about “the projected cost [7 billion dollars] of litigation filed by non-practicing entities, or patent trolls, in 2015.”

What about non-trolls (or very big trolls that the media won’t call “trolls”)? Some media circles are trying to tell us that Microsoft alone makes billions of dollars from extortion against Android alone. The main problem is the patents, not the entity asserting these patents.

Speaking of Google, which is an important example because Microsoft is still attacking it using patents (trying to force Android makers to bundle Microsoft software), there is a new effort to combat patents using prior art. As corporate media put it, “Google is bringing its search powers to bear in hopes of doing what Washington seemingly can’t — roll back a wave of abusive litigation from companies that, according to their critics, simply want to line their pockets with ill-gotten settlement money.” There are many articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. In the form of sourse code, not just publications, it ought to be possible to demonstrate prior art and invalidate a lot of software patents. There is plenty of prior art and duplication in the field of software because a lot of people are able to practice it (requires just a keyboard, no manufacturing).

“It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance).”When patent maximalists (IAM) covered it they said Google’s “mission” it to “help raise quality standards”, but that’s nonsense. Google just doesn’t want this patent mess that is looming over Free software like Android. It’s not about “quality” of patents, it’s about patents. Google is still wrestling with Oracle (patents and copyrights) and as this new post put it a couple of days ago: “Out in the real world, the lawsuit between Google and Oracle is preparing to head back to a lower court after the Supreme Court said it would not take the case. At UC Berkeley yesterday, the repercussions of that decision were discussed, along with many other topics around patents and copyright law as they pertain to software, art and more.”

It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance). Large proprietary software corporations such as Microsoft and Oracle are abusing so-called ‘IP’ to impede if not altogether destroy their emerging rivals.

Even Watered-Down (by Large Corporations) Patent ‘Reform’ Bills Cannot Pass in Congress

Posted in America, Patents at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: US Congress is unable to pass even a bill that makes minor (insufficient) changes to patent law, demonstrating that patent policy is still steered by conglomerate interests, just like in the copyrights domain

FOR a number of months we have been writing about the so-called Innovation Act or PATENT Act [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. We last wrote about that four days ago. Not much has changed since then, except more lobbying and derailment. Eventually, people in power almost always get their way, maybe accepting some compromise and a rebrand that can appease (or fool) the vast majority of people. The overwhelming number of cases serve to cement this trend, showing that democracy is still rather elusive in the West.

Kevin O’Sullivan says that “Innovation Act Threatens Massachusetts Innovators” and patent maximalists at IAM say that “The Innovation Act is pulled, but uncertainty lingers and that’s bad for business”. There is a lot of press coverage about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and it serves to suggest that politicians in the US usually fight against patent reform, especially so-called ‘Conservatives’. As one article put it: “This week, the American Conservative Union blasted out an email warning against the Innovation Act” (because corporations do not like it enough).

“Eventually, people in power almost always get their way, maybe accepting some compromise and a rebrand that can appease (or fool) the vast majority of people.”As Watchdog.org put it the other day: “As the patent battle reheats on Capitol Hill before the August recess, several members of Congress are looking to stop a bill they believe will do more harm than good for the nation’s economy.”

IPWatchdog, a booster of patents (including software patents), claims “bipartisan bicameral disapproval” and the EFF blames this on “misinformation”. See its post titled “Busting Myths and Countering Misinformation From the Campaign Against Patent Reform” and another post titled “Patent Reform Under Attack, But Needed More Than Ever”. Reform is needed in another form, as this bill got subverted already (just like the PATENT Act). The EFF is meanwhile mixing patent trolls with software patents, focusing on one instead of the other even though there is a strong correlation. Here is what the EFF wrote earlier this month as part of its recruitment effort: “You’ll be obsessed with software patents before you know it. The specific position we’re hiring will work closely with the patent reform team, pushing for strong legislation in Washington and showcasing horrible trolls. Patents are a hot topic with huge implications on speech, innovation, education, and businesses big and small. We realize that many people applying to the job won’t have a background in patent reform. So don’t stress about that. If you care about civil liberties online and you’re excited about technology policy, then we can teach you about software patents.”

A bill we can really stand behind would have to deal with patent scope, but no such bill exists yet, so the above bills (“PATENT” or “Innovation”) are of more interest to corporate media (corporations) than to citizens who are directly harmed by patents.

In the next couple of posts we shall try to address the real issues that affect most people (the ‘reforms’ spoken about in the media these days are largely a diversion).

Patents Expansion in Europe May be Looming

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Unitary Patent (UPC), or “Unitary Software Patents” as the FFII’s President calls it, gets the go-ahead from one of its longtime resistors, Italy

“AS announced by Sandro Gozi,” says this post, “Italy communicated to the European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska its intention to request participation in the enhanced cooperation for the creation of unitary patent protection.”

“The EPO can radically expand patent scope (both scope of jurisdiction and scope of patents) if “Unitary Software Patents” — as the above calls it — is successfully passed in its current form.”This is troubling, albeit not too shocking (we heard similar things before) and as the FFII’s President put it: “Italy to join Unitary Software Patents #unipat maybe a good country for a legal challenge.” Italy’s stance was different four years ago, but just like Spain it is being lobbied, pressured, and sometimes even financially blackmailed into it. Remember what the IMF did to Greece just weeks ago.

The EPO can radically expand patent scope (both scope of jurisdiction and scope of patents) if “Unitary Software Patents” — as the above calls it — is successfully passed in its current form. Implementation may be years away, so there’s still time for reactionary opposition.

Our protests against this undemocratic (no referendum yet) expansion go almost 8 years back, or the Alison Brimelow days (2007), predating the current ‘branding’ of the change (back when Charlie McCreevy and Michel Barnier promoted it). This opposition might fall on deaf ears at the EPO’s management. As we pointed out last week, the EPO's management censored our site Office-wide and it seems to have led to self-censorship at SUEPO, which has just published this letter in German [PDF]. It is a letter from a SUEPO lawyer, who candidly speaks about keyloggers, cameras, etc. as he informs Heiko Maas.

A letter of complaint has been sent regarding the censorship of Techrights (no indication of a response has been publicised by now) and what we attach is below (all four pages, click for full size) serves to show just how arrogant the EPO’s management has become. It refuses to listen to European citizens, much like true tyrants who quit pretending to be benevolent.

A letter

A letter

A letter

A letter

07.17.15

Microsoft’s Ally in India Resorts to Patent Armament

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, Patents at 6:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wipro logo

Summary: Wipro cements its obsession with a proprietary mindset by putting patents — not sharing — at the centre of its strategy

IT HAS been quite a while since we last wrote about Wipro (see some posts from 2010, 2009, and 2008), but we have little reason to believe that the company changed its ways, despite using the term “Open Source” every now and then in the media (because the Indian government starts to require it and Microsoft must therefore pretend or lobby, even by proxy sometimes).

Based on numerous news articles [1, 2, 3, 4], patents hype and glamourisation is on the agenda at Wipro, so we seriously doubt Wipro will ever change. To quote one article: “Country’s third largest software services firm Wipro aims to significantly increase its rate of patent filing over the next three years.”

“Wipro must seriously think whether it wants to go down with Microsoft (as Nokia did) or join the future with Free software, meaning that patents should not be a priority at all.”I spoke to Simon Phipps, who now works for Wipro (they have hired him to boost some “Open Source” perception or change their actual strategy). I asked him about this in Twitter. He referred me to another department which did quite poorly at convincing me that this is benign. We already know what the likes of Wipro are doing to promote software patents in India and lobby the Indian government.

Wipro must quickly evolve in preparation for a post-Microsoft world where sharing, not patent monopolies, is paramount. Microsoft layoffs, which culminated earlier this month, show that Microsoft cannot be an eternal ‘partner’ to Indian IT firms. Redmonk’s take on this concluded that: “There’s the human cost of telling almost eight thousand people that they need to seek employment elsewhere, and there’s the public relations cost of telling the market the company you lead had effectively made a $7 billion dollar mistake.”

Wipro must seriously think whether it wants to go down with Microsoft (as Nokia did) or join the future with Free software, meaning that patents should not be a priority at all.

Here in the Indian corporate media we now see the World Bank’s propaganda being used to pretend that India needs more patents. What an utterly shameful lie. To quote this plutocratic piece: “Even official records of the Indian Patent Office cast a gloomy picture—while patent grants for foreign inventions increased by almost 300%, grants to Indian inventions grew by a mere 45%. In 2013-14, while as many as 42,951 patent applications were made, only 10,941 were made by Indian applicants. The Indian government spends less than five times of what China spends on R&D and the country attracts a mere 2.7% of the global R&D spend (China attracts 17.5%). India scores poorly in commercialising R&D from its universities, and its regulators often create antitrust and taxation hurdles in the effective exploitation of foreign-owned patents on Indian soil.”

They are basically trying to shame India based on some nonsense like patents. India is known worldwide for standing up against unethical patents, such as those that seriously harm life (medicine for example). It’s obvious why all sorts of oligarchs would want to disrupt India’s patent policy. In other news, published by the Washington Post three days ago, “Patents are a terrible way to measure innovation” (this is the headline).

“On the surface,” says the author, “patents provide an easy way to measure innovation. After all, patent statistics are readily available, they are objective and they are quantifiable, so you can quickly tally up the number of patents by company, city or nation, and immediately have a sense of how innovation varies by geography, industry or even time period. It’s no wonder patent data is often used as a leading indicator of innovation.”

It’s an indicator of how rich a country is, or how much time and money a country can spend on paperwork rather than real innovation. India shouldn’t be distracted by collection of patents — a practice which has become akin to amassing trophies in some Western (non-BRICS) nations. Wipro too would be wise to withdraw from these dumb statements which it made to the media the other day. Patents are not what Wipro needs.

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