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08.13.14

The Problem is Software Patents (and Scope), Not Patent Trolls Who Abuse Them Just Like Large Corporations

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 3:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just as weapons proliferation is an issue, not merely those who may use them

Fallout shelter

Summary: Reminder of the dangers of losing sight of the real patent problem, which is the patents themselves, not necessarily those who use them

Abusive, frivolous lawsuits against Linux by Apple and by Microsoft should make it perfectly clear that not only patent trolls are the problem. TechDirt now focuses on Innovative Display Technologies, noting that it is a troll, but what about Microsoft and Apple? Are they any better just because there are a few products coming out from them? Or because they are not based in Texas only for the purpose of litigation? As TechDirt points out, “Innovative Technologies, LLC of Austin, Texas doesn’t make any products or even have its own website. What it does have, however, is a handful of weaponized patents its parent company, Acacia, acquired from “we’re not a patent troll” Rambus. It’s using a handful of display-related patents to sue anyone who utilizes an integrated LCD screen. Its latest targets are cell phone distributors like Verizon, AT&T and Apple, but other lawsuits have also been filed against auto manufacturers (Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda), camera companies (Canon, Nikon) and GPS suppliers (TomTom, Garmin).”

“It is not too shocking to find that lobby groups of corporations would rather divert all the attention to trolls in an effort to distract constructive debates.”But how is this troll different from Apple and Microsoft? All of them abusively sue companies that succeed at selling products, usually in very large numbers. The problem here is the patent themselves, not the person or the entity using them. “Software patents called into question” is the title of this new article that mostly quotes patent lawyers (like asking BP and Shell about green/alternative energy sources) but at least, quite correctly, contends that software patents (the favourite weapon of patent trolls) are now in trouble. To quote from one among 3 pages that largely contain quotes from patent lawyers: “Last month’s Supreme Court decision in the case of Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. vs. CLS Bank International is one of the more interesting findings applicable to businesspeople among software cases, according to von Simson. It’s yet another decision showing that software patents are being cut back.”

Techrights has consistently opposed the line of reform that goes after trolls rather than the real problem, which is rather clear to see and very simple to resolve (provided corporations, which control the US government, wish to resolve it). It is not too shocking to find that lobby groups of corporations would rather divert all the attention to trolls in an effort to distract constructive debates.

Fraud in the USPTO and CAFC Helped Apple Launch Frivolous Patent Lawsuits Against Linux/Android, Based on New Withdrawals

Posted in Apple, Fraud, Patents, Samsung at 3:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Inherent corruption in the US system has aided Apple’s assault on east Asian electronics giants that use Linux at the core of their products

A COUPLE of months ago we showed that in fighting Linux/Android Apple relied on the corrupt CAFC and the corrupt USPTO (never mind gross overreach by ITC with its xenophobic embargoes). There was no real review of patent applications on the face of it (there was fraud at the USPTO). Upon actual look at the patents in question the “Patent Office Shoots Down Apple Infringement Claims Against Samsung”, but not before a lot of damage (never mind legal fees) was done. As reported by an Apple boosting site:

Apple just hit a stumbling block in its second U.S. patent infringement case against Samsung thanks to a Patent and Trademark Office ruling that rejects some of the iPhone and iPad maker’s claims. The ruling targeted the summary judgement Federal Judge Lucy Koh issued ahead of Apple and Samsung’s trial this spring, and relates to infringement claims for Apple’s autocomplete patent.

These patent attacks are not going to work if enough money is spent by Samsung showing that Apple merely copies the competition (prior art). In fact, Apple already lost its biggest Samsung case and dropped all of its cases outside the US. It’s quite revealing. Can HTC claim compensation from Apple (legal fees and potentially other fees, as well as various damages to reputation and sales)?

Now that Android commands the lion’s share of the key market (85% of all sales, according to one source) all that Apple can do is lie and rely on trolls who claim “Apple’s resurgence” for some hits/clicks bait. Here is a new example:

In recent weeks, a drumbeat has grown among tech analysts that Apple’s iPhone is poised for massive uptake while Android smartphone sales may have peaked in developed nations. Also, Android is threatened in the developing world from a Google creation called AOSP, which strips out Google’s services (where Google makes its money) and lets any device maker avoid paying Google service royalties. This is especially significant in China, the world’s biggest emerging market, where AOSP is the top-selling mobile OS and which accounts for 20 percent or more of global “Android” sales. At the same time, various analysts have noted that Samsung is being squeezed by both Apple and AOSP, and Samsung may have already peaked in mobile, with 2012′s Galaxy S III representing the high point.

This is all speculative mambo-jumbo bearing the headline “Android has good reason to fear Apple’s resurgence”. Thankfully there is already a rebuttal to this, which says:

Partisan holy wars are part of the history of technology, and there have been few as bitter as Android versus Apple. While Android has had an amazing run of success over the last few years, some analysts are beginning to think that an Apple resurgence is at hand that could do serious damage to Android.

[...]

However, I also understand the need for a horse race in the media. Writers are under pressure to deliver traffic and page views, and a platform battle between Google and Apple certainly offers articles with compelling clickability for readers. And many analysts simply seem to go whichever way they think the wind is blowing without looking deeper into what’s actually happening.

Just remember that a lot of these analysts probably predicted Apple’s doom over the last few years, and now they’ve switched to predicting Android’s doom. So take everything they say with a gigantic grain of salt. I’m sure they’ll flip back over to the other side at some point in the future if they think it will get them attention, clicks and traffic.

Apple is not doing well and even people inside Apple (or fans of Apple) know this. The recent revelations about iOS back doors, the China ‘ban’, etc. are just some of the symptoms and contributing factors/causes. Hopefully, as Apple continues to lose market share, its ability to just sue with patents (frivolously) is going to diminish and the same goes for Microsoft, which is doing what Apple did a couple of years ago (suing Samsung with crappy software patents).

Investigation Reveals That USPTO is Corrupt, Time to Abolish It or Annul Nearly a Million Patents

Posted in Law, Patents at 3:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

More fraud and abuse in the monopolies-granting bodies that large corporations are utilising

Kappos in Center for American Progress
Photo credit: Center for American Progress

Summary: Corruption is found at the heart of the USPTO and the USPTO works hard to hide it, despite attempt by whistleblowers to bring this corruption to light

OVER the years we have covered many issues and scandals in the USPTO. Not only the copyright system is rigged (managed by and serving the large copyright monopolies); the USPTO is more or less the same. It is a government body that is run by corporations and their minions (like David Kappos). Some months ago we showed that the USPTO was approving 92% of all applications, which makes it little more than a rubber-stamping establishment.

Well, how can it be that so much prior art and triviality got overlooked by the Kappos-run USPTO?

Perhaps now we know.

“For quite some time now, we’ve discussed how the USPTO had a massive backlog,” says Mike Masnick, “and that former boss David Kappos solved this “problem” by getting examiners to approve more patents faster, mainly by lowering their standards and granting more patents.”

“Whenever we write about this, we hear about overworked patent examiners who are really trying their best. Except, it appears that the system is actually rife with abuse and fraud by patent examiners,” Masnick added, linking to a highly-cited report.

To quote the report: “Prompted by multiple whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began an internal investigation two years ago of an award-winning program that’s been praised in and outside government: Employees are allowed to work from home.

“What the inquiry uncovered was alarming.

“Some of the 8,300 patent examiners, about half of whom work from home full time, repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do. And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top agency officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found.”

Here again we see whistleblowers in action and cover-up attempts by the USPTO.

The attempted cover-up attempts show that rather than deal with the abuses the USPTO became very much complicit. Perhaps it’s time to shut down the USPTO in its current form and annul all the patents approved in the past few years, revising and reviewing them as they may never have been reviewed at all, just blindly approved. To quote Masnick: “So, we just wrote about the fact that there was apparently fairly widespread abuse and fraud by patent examiners, mostly those working from home, in lying about the hours they put in and getting paid for work they didn’t do. However, what may be much more concerning was the fact that the USPTO tried to hide this from the Inspector General who was investigating this. As the Washington Post notes, an initial internal report detailed many more examples of fraud and abuse, which disappeared from the final report that was handed over. ”

The whistleblowers at the USPTO deserve some credit and they remind us the importance of whistleblowers, who so often rely on Free software.

The CCIA's Matt Levy now admits in his belated disclosure that “my wife is a patent examiner who teleworks.” Teleworking has been the source of abuse, but Levy keeps chastising “The PTO’s Culture of Poor Quality Patents” rather than corruption.

“The problem,” he says, “is not simply a bunch of crooked people trying to get away with something. There is clearly a cultural problem at the USPTO.”

No, the problem is that the USPTO — just like CCIA — is serving corporations. It does not serve public interests. Patent scope is one of the symptoms.

We currently talk to someone who wishes to blow the whistle on the EPO but it trying to set up encryption. It is clear that the NSA and its partners in Europe have done a lot to deter whistleblowers.

08.11.14

Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents, Site News at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EU too is besieged by corporations

EU

Summary: A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens’ interests

Some well-meaning people still focus on patent trolls, not on software patents. The world’s largest corporations engage in a coup or an occupation against policy-makers and it shows. This includes some who purport to be supporting FOSS, fair competition, etc. Melanie Chernoff, the Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, says that “North Carolina says ‘no’ to patent trolls”. To quote the article published this afternoon:

North Carolina became the latest state to take a stand against patent trolls when NC Governor Pat McCrory signed a new law last week aimed at preventing bad faith assertions of patent infringement. Patent trolls (more officially called “patent assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities”) are known for sending very vague letters, with often meritless claims, to other businesses in the hopes of extorting a settlement to avoid the nuisance of a lawsuit.

But this is not the thing to strive for. The real (core) issue is patent scope and even those who spend all their time diverting attention and/or arguing about “trolls” (front groups CCIA with its lawyers who are funded by giant corporations) increasingly — however rarely — recognise the issue of scope while still trying to shift attention to “trolls”.

The other day The Economist, widely recognised for its pro-Big Business agenda, published this article titled “Patents that kill”. To quote some of the relevant parts:

IN 1742 Benjamin Franklin invented a new type of stove, for which he was offered a patent. Franklin refused it, arguing in his autobiography that because “we enjoy[ed] great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.”

[...]

The pharmaceutical industry makes the best case for patents (and makes the most of patents when they are approved). Medical research and development (R&D) is costly. Moreover, although a patent application must be filed straight after a drug discovery, clinical trials necessary for drug approval may take several years. This shortens the effective life of the patent. As three economists argue in a recent paper this causes problems. In order to prove the efficacy of a drug, pharmaceuticals have to match the length of a clinical trial to the expected survival time of the patients. A clinical trial for patients with metastatic prostate cancer lasts only three years compared to an 18-year-long trial for those suffering from a milder, localised prostate cancer. Since a typical patent is in force for 20 years, firms only have two years of effective patent length left to commercialise a new drug against localised prostate cancer.

Here we deal with an issue that has nothing to do with patent trolls but with patent scope.

Dealing with the issue of European approach towards software patents, Glyn Moody put the words of some British patent lawyers in a frame of mind that assures us Europe is assimilating to the US (and USPTO), not the other way around. To quote Glyn Moody: “It would be easy to assume that the European Patent Office (EPO) stands in the same relationship to the European Union as the USPTO does to the United States, but that’s actually wide of the mark.”

There is corporate control of the USPTO, which is operating against the interests of US citizens (except the top 1% perhaps). The lawyers’ blog has apparently produced “a great piece, but its gentle humor exposes a serious point about the EPO: it is literally above the law.

“That emphasizes once more that the unitary patent system has been decoupled from the normal legislative and democratic processes of the European Union, and thus will be under no obligation to take heed of the economic interests of the European citizens.”

We are soon going expose corruption at the EPO, based leaks from a source which is pursuing encryption at the moment.

Moody continues: “There is no precedent in the political history of modern democracies where important property issues affecting the economic sustainability and development of a country, and the proprietary rights and business prospects of its people, were conclusively and exclusively taken by a judicial body at supranational level. A democratic policy-making process for the determination of patents as objects of property exists, of course, in all countries of the world, including the US, whose system the UPC tries to imitate. The difference is that the US unified patent system does not escape democratic control, and the economic policies that it serves are widely debated by legislators, judges, economists, lawyers and industry players, all of whom are residents of the same country.”

Finally, says Moody: “It’s still early days for the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, so it’s not yet clear how the new system will work, and how serious the problems will be. The danger is that Eponia might turn out to be not so much a quaint oddity in the European political landscape as a dangerous rogue state with serious negative consequences for the region’s businesses and citizens.”

The system is out of control at the moment. It gets worse as patents expand in terms of scope (especially in Europe but also in other continent) while the US merely makes baby-steps in the opposite direction, while much of the effort is being diverted towards “trolls” (small abusers), of course at the behest of large corporations, as usual in US politics as per the modus operandi.

08.05.14

“Patent Progress” Now Acting as a Front of Large Corporations (CCIA), Tells Michelle Lee (USPTO Deputy Director) About Trolls But Not About Software Patents

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Framing it as a scale — not as a scope — issue

Ed Black
Source: DECLAN MCCULLAGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Summary: The narrative put forth by CCIA, a Microsoft-funded front group, continues to present the patent debate as revolving around the size of extortionists rather than methods and the scope of patents

Trolls (small companies) are not the only patent issue. There are large companies like Microsoft, which still engage in strategic extortion using dubious software patents and NDAs. The goal is to drive companies away from Microsoft’s competitors and/or tax these competitors.

The USPTO almost had a patent extremist appointed to lead the way, but this is no longer likely to happen. In fact, the USPTO is now backing away from some of its extremism, perhaps much to the chagrin of David Kappos, its former head.

Michelle Lee, in the mean time, is being approached regarding changes in the USPTO. The other day we noticed that CCIA, somewhat of a Brussels- and Washington DC-based lobby group that’s open for corporations to join and does not reveal all of its corporate members and their relative contributions (Microsoft is among those who pay and its head, Ed Black, received millions of dollars from Microsoft), contacted Lee. Knowing that CCIA is clearly not a public interest group but a corporate front, representing the interests of very large corporations, we needed to check what was said to Lee. CCIA had received a lot of money from Microsoft and in recent years promoted Microsoft interests. In last week’s article at The Hill we found that “The Supreme Court’s decision to toss out some software patents earlier this year led to a swift change of operations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the agency’s deputy director said on Wednesday.

“Michelle Lee told the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property that the high court’s June decision caused an immediate flurry of activity.

“It does affect the examination of cases before us and as soon as the ruling came down we were in a position at the PTO where we had to offer guidance to our examiners,” she told lawmakers.’

The site called “Patent Progress”, which is run by CCIA's Matt Levy, hardly told Lee about ‘patent quality’ and instead focused on patent trolls (not even referring to them as such, usually alluding to them as “PAEs”). Lee, the Deputy Director of the USPTO, received this text:

The patent system plays an important role in promoting innovation in the United States. Patents encourage investment in R&D and facilitate technology transfer. But when patent assertion entities (PAEs), commonly called patent trolls, exploit low-quality patents to extort payments from America’s most productive companies and job providers, they harm innovation and the very purpose of the patent system. The solution to this problem is two pronged: the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) must improve the quality of the patents it issues, and Congress must pass patent reform legislation so that PAEs cannot leverage the high cost of litigation as a weapon against economic growth.

Ed Black signed this letter. Remember how much money he received from Microsoft. Not too shockingly, software patents are not even mentioned.

Ali Sternburg, writing in the same blog amid minor updates, said that “CCIA filed comments with the PTO on guidelines after Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.”

As the case was mostly about scope, why bother focusing on trolls at all?

On the brighter side of things, software patents did get mentioned as “computer-implemented inventions” (CII), which is a term some patent lawyers prefer to use (it’s a loaded term). Here is the relevant part: “Unfortunately, patents claiming computer-implemented inventions frequently have unclear boundaries. This is largely because, to date, some patents have been allowed to issue without much more than a description and recitation in the claims of an abstract idea implemented on a conventional computer system. The Alice decision makes clear that this practice is not consistent with 35 U.S.C. § 101, because such patent claims preempt all practical implementations of the abstract idea and stifle innovation. Further, the public notice function is best served by clear claims and a thorough prosecution history explaining the examiner’s understanding of those claims, as well as express statements by the applicant regarding the meaning of the claims. Computer-implemented inventions are too often patented using ambiguous, vague, or overbroad language. When such poor quality patents issue, they can become weapons in the hands of patent assertion entities, which currently drain billions of dollars a year from U.S. businesses.

“Accordingly, CCIA believes that it is critical for both the examiner and the patent applicant to create a clear prosecution history. In the context of § 101 rejections, the examiner should provide more than a conclusory rejection. Rather, any rejection should identify the abstract idea to which the claim is directed. Further, such a rejection should explain the examiner’s understanding of the claim’s scope, including why the combination of claim elements do not add “significantly more” to the abstract idea, either expressly or through interpretation under 35 U.S.C. § 112(f). This analysis should include an explanation of whether a claim qualifies as a “means-plus-function” claim under section 112(f) and why or why not.”

Well, “poor quality patents” not only “can become weapons in the hands of patent assertion entities” (to quote the above); it is often misused by large companies too, like the companies which are funding CCIA. Here is a new example of a small troll: “Personal Audio LLC is an East Texas shell company that gleaned national attention when it claimed it had the right to demand cash from every podcaster. The company was wielding a patent on “episodic content,” which it said included anyone doing a podcast, as well as many types of online video.”

Today in the news we have many articles about a much bigger troll: Microsoft. Here is an article which says: “Alleging that the company is being stiffed by Samsung, Microsoft turns to the courts.”

Microsoft “stiffed” because Samsung is not engaging with a racketeer/troll? Really? Microsoft sued Samsung because Microsoft can hardly sell any real products, let alone force them on OEMs. It makes Microsoft very similar to trolls. It’s a non-practicing strategy; it makes Microsoft and patent assertion firm. The BBC quotes Samsung as saying: “We will review the complaint in detail and determine appropriate measures in response.”

The BBC rightly points out that “[t]he case marks the first time that Microsoft has launched legal action against Samsung.

“The two companies have a long-running partnership, due to the Asian manufacturer’s sale of Windows PCs and Windows Phone handsets.”

This is why it’s a misguided move by Microsoft; it is likely to alienate Microsoft even further. Perhaps CCIA should stop promoting this narrative where only trolls are the problem and focus again on showing abuses by Microsoft, which is using software patents to abuse its competition or pressure companies to adopt Microsoft Windows rather than the competition (notably GNU/Linux, ChromeOS, Android, and so on).

08.02.14

Google Should Sue Desperate Microsoft Out of Existence for Misuse of Government Regulators and Patent Racket Against Android Backers (as Microsoft Sues Samsung Using Another Nokia Ploy)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Satya Ballmer
Satya Ballmer continues to sue Linux

Summary: Microsoft’s relentless attacks on Linux intensify from two angles: one is a bogus case against Android ‘abuses’ and another a bogus patent case, which is hinged on extortion in secrecy (divide and conquer with threats and racketeering)

Samsung has historically been an exceptionally close partner of Microsoft, with strategic collaborations ranging from patent payments (for Linux) to Windows pre-loads and from DRM to hardware (Samsung’s core business, where it is an international leader). Samsung and Microsoft have historically been so conjoined a pair that their relationship would be one that even the NSA would envy. It is essential to remember that Samsung was the first electronics company to offer Microsoft payments for Linux-related software it never bothered to even specify (LG, another Korean giant, soon followed suit). Samsung was the first electronics-centric company (Novell being the first on the software side) that we called for a boycott against.

All this may be about to change as Microsoft’s hostility towards Android goes up a notch, despite attempts to paint the company “friend of FOSS” with the new CEO appointment (there has been no change in policy). Samsung is already challenging Apple's legal assaults on Android using the SCOTUS ruling on "abstract" patents. Soon it may have to do the same to Microsoft, which has just declared war on Android from two fronts. As this heads into the courtroom we will need to support Samsung, not chastise it. It’s an alliance of convenience amongst Android supporters. Google should join this lawsuit, offering financial support, evidence, patents, etc. Samsung is a big target when it comes to Android and Google cannot afford to let this case be lost, especially not from a moral point of view. Google previously supported other such companies (besieged by patent lawsuits), including HTC. Better yet, Google should serve the antitrust authorities and the anti-cartel authorities in multiple countries, informing them of the extortion tactics Microsoft has been using (the lawsuit means that Samsung refused to buckle in the face of extortion).

There are two bits of news we wish to present today, sharing them among those who have not seen or heard those. The first is the antitrust lobby, which Microsoft invoked by proxy (Nokia is a European company, which makes it a convenient tool for pursuing antitrust action in Europe). Top European regulators have already warned Nokia regarding patents, so Nokia (acting as a Microsoft satellite) tried a competitive angle instead. Microsoft cannot do this without proxy due to hypocrisy.

So Reuters says that Google may face Android antitrust investigation in Europe and some sites cover this, citing Reuters with its sources. To quote: “According to a report yesterday from Reuters, which cited anonymous sources, European Union officials are now looking into whether the company is abusing its 80 percent market share for the Android mobile operating system by pushing its services on consumers.”

Having high market share is possible owing to technical merit. As the platform is Free software nothing prevents rivals and partners from stripping and adding other software. Just look at what Microsoft/Nokia did with Android. This whole case is bogus, but it was brought forth by Microsoft and its proxies. It’s an attempt to use regulators to tilt the market against Free software, using bizarre logic and a pretense of collective anger.

There is another report circulating right now. The Microsoft booster was quick to report on this, based on Microsoft’s version of the story. Writing in Microsoft-friendly media (where Microsoft agents of disinformation, partners, employees and ex-employees are among writers and commenters), Mary wrote:

Microsoft files Android patent-royalty suit against Samsung

[...]

Microsoft is seeking a ruling as to whether its acquisition of Nokia’s handset and services business negates its intellectual-property licensing agreement with Samsung that dates back to 2011. Microsoft also is seeking unpaid interest from Samsung, resulting from the period of time last year when Samsung withheld patent royalties from Microsoft — royalties which Samsung later paid.

Watch some people repeating the propaganda in the comments. “That’s big news,” said the first comment. “Everyone had assumed that MS was raking in Billions from Samsung because the their contract with MS.”

Who assumed that?

This all can be traced back to one single ‘analyst’ whom the Microsoft lobbyists kept quoting, repeating the claim without any substantial proof and flooding the media with it. We routinely showed that this is all speculation, but a speculation that grew feet very quickly and stuck in people’s minds.

Narg replies with: “Try again, the Contract was only worth a couple hundred thousand last I read.”

Samsung never said how much (if anything) it had paid Microsoft. We only knew that they had some patent agreement, most likely on FAT. Samsung has a vast trove of patents, so it might be more like a cross-licensing agreement. We just don’t know. Microsoft at one stage said that it sought $15 per phone from Samsung, but it never got its way (Apple sought about $50 per phone and ended up getting less than $1 from each).

As ZDNet is somewhat of a zoo of Microsoft ads and Microsoft boosters with direct Microsoft connections, salaries past and present, and even bribes like laptops, we probably should not entertain the commenters too much (some are terrible comments of low quality and poor grammar, but some are better). One comment further down says: “It’s just a veiled threat they’ve been using and getting away with for years.

“Somebody needs to stand up and let the entire world know that the largest patent troll in the world is the one that makes the worst OS in history and is headquartered in Redmond.

“I sincerely hope Samsung follows through, and doesn’t let this bully steal their lunch money!

“I smell desperation on Microsoft’s part… 18-thousand layoffs, geesh.”

These massive layoffs are a symptom of what Microsoft is going through. Well, based on the latest numbers [1], Microsoft’s sales in the mobile domain are negligible and don’t even make the latest count’s threshold.

Microsoft as a whole is collapsing and privacy concerns (e.g. back doors) play a big role in accelerating this collapse, based on Microsoft’s own admission (just look what happens in Russia and China). It’s no coincidence that in ZDNet — and just about nowhere else — former Microsoft employee Zack Whittaker (who likes to disparage Google and GNU/Linux without disclosure) is now releasing multiple puff pieces/placements seeking to paint Microsoft as a privacy champion, based on a court case that’s more like a publicity stunt from Microsoft.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Early view to Q2 smartphone market share numbers as we get data in

    (HTC did not kick Nokia/Microsoft out, they are under this number, and the other up-and-comings from China and India are not yet big enough to challenge for a Top 10 slot. Blackberry is nowhere even in the Top 12, they may fall out of Top 20 haha)

07.30.14

Ruling Against ‘Abstract’ Software Patents is Already Derailing Patent Attacks on Linux and Free Software

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

Summary: Patent litigation against Android/Linux impeded by the introduction of arguments that cite the Supreme Court

Dr. Mohan Dewan, Dr. Niti Dewan and Adv. Sahil Ahuja say that “Alice v. CLS Bank [is] another blow against software patents” (the headline of an article just published in a legal site). This is part of exciting developments around software patents. As a result of this ruling, which is still quite fresh and is reportedly impacting USPTO guidelines (Groklaw’s Pamela Jones broke her silence and came back to point this out), the patent cases against Linux, FOSS and other entities or projects like Android will be severely impeded. Samsung is in fact striking back against Apple using the precedence above:

When the US Supreme Court decided the Alice v. CLS Bank case last month, it was a signal that courts should be throwing out a lot more patents for being too abstract to be legally valid. Groups seeking patent reform and tech companies rejoiced, hoping the decision would knock out more of the patents wielded by so-called “patent trolls,” whose only business is litigation.

[...]

In legal papers (PDF), Samsung argues that both patents are attempts to “claim an abstract idea, implemented with generic computer functions that do not state any technical innovation.”

The search patent describes using “heuristics,” which an Apple witness described at trial as simply being “good ideas,” to “locate information in multiple locations.” Slide-to-unlock, meanwhile, “covers nothing more than the idea of moving an image to unlock the device.” Everything else in the key patent claim is generic computer language. “This simply is not enough to qualify for patent protection post-Alice,” write Samsung lawyers. “Both claims are invalid as a matter of law.”

Many thanks to Joe for his report. Nobody else appears to have reported this. Some people don’t agree with Joe’s “troll” classifier, but overall he is one of the best reporters out there on patent issues.

This is great news that shows how software patents were all along a major barrier to FOSS. Unlike Tesla with its PR stunts, FOSS backers do not play ball with software patents (Microsoft is a FOSS foe). As one site put it the other day:

Beware Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk’s patent pledge, say experts

[...]

Unlike pledges from other companies like IBM and Red Hat, Musk did not explicitly say that his promises were intended to be legally binding or irrevocable.

Microsoft uses a similar type of promise against Mono, reminding us that Microsoft uses “Open Source” for marketing purposes. It is not a FOSS supporter but an opponent.

07.29.14

New Optimism in the Age of Doubt Over Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Marching against software patents has finally paid off

Marching

Summary: As the tide turns against software patents, even in their country of origin, their opponents come out of the woodwork to celebrate

The CAFC, which brought software patents to the world (starting in the US), is now a disgraced and gradually-weakening institution because of scandals. Its legacy too — including software patents — is now in a state of disarray.

There are real changes afoot. The patent debate around around the world has quickly shifted (or been shifted) so as to focus again on software patents. Last year and the year before that the debate shifted from software patents to patent trolls after giant corporations had lobbied for a change that benefits only them. That was when we stopped covering the topic. We nearly gave up.

In Thailand, patent lawyers from this law firm called DFDL choose to focus on trolls and make the following observations about Tesla's PR stunt and about patent scope in Thailand:

Yet perhaps Tesla’s is a unique case, and one motivated by self-interest rather than altruism. For electric cars to occupy a prominent place in the world’s car markets there must be adequate infrastructure to support them (eg charging stations), consumer acceptance of the product and the unit costs of production must decrease. By providing their intellectual property to competitors Tesla may have decreased its potential market share, but it has increased the chances of there being a viable market at all.

The last troll you saw was probably in The Hobbit. But patent assertion entities, better known as “patent trolls”, are more threatening to your way of life than their mythical brethren. Patent trolls are in the business of buying up broad patents for the express purpose of suing infringers to obtain settlement payments or licensing fees. They neither produce nor invent anything, and they add to the costs of doing business for those who do. For example, an alleged patent troll has claimed that it has a patent that covers serialised downloadable podcasts and it is suing several of the top podcasting entities. The problem generally relates to software patents, and whether what is arguably just an abstract idea should be patentable. The big battle is currently occurring in the US, in the small, patent-troll friendly jurisdiction of Marshall, Texas, in particular. But the problem is global, which is another reason that the granting of patents requires careful consideration in each jurisdiction.

[...]

What isn’t patentable? Under Section 9 of the Patent Act, inventions are not patentable if they are (i) naturally occurring in microorganisms and their components; (ii) scientific or mathematical rules or theories; (iii) computer programs; (iv) methods of diagnosis, treatment or cure for human and animal diseases; and (v) contrary to public order, morality, health or welfare.

This article focuses on trolls more than it focuses on software patents, but it towards the end mentions patent scope as well. It is important that we do not lose sight of the real problem. It seems like the real enemy now is lawyers and lobbyists (of large corporations), to whom the debate about patent scope seems like a threat. They try hard to dodge the subject and divert attention to phantom enemies.

An article posted by Groklaw on Sunday, which recently became active again (see “Groklaw Stirs from its Deep Sleep”), covers new scope limitations at the USPTO, inspired by a case that Groklaw covered for a long time. Dennis Crouch writes: “Based on information from several sources, it appears that the USPTO is now taking a more aggressive stance on subject matter eligibility and is particularly re-examining all claims for eligibility grounds prior to issuance. This is most apparent in technology centers managing data-processing inventions classes (Classes 700-707).”

Pamela Jones, speaking online for the first time in about 8 months, writes: “Ask yourself: when the Alice Corp. case was first decided, is this outcome analysts told you to expect?”

The smiley face after that shows that Jones is happy. There are many victories these days, not only loses (to privacy, free speech and so on).

“I hope PJ comes back,” wrote a reader to us, “but it is more likely that she might be continuing just the NewsPicks.”

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