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Patents Roundup: Microsoft, Nokia, and McCreevy for Software Patents

Microsoft Fights Freedom, Uses Software Patents



Mentioned a day ago was Microsoft's 'bleeping' patent. Further coverage of this continues to emerge, along with warnings about its impact on freedom, and not just freedom of speech (censorship). It may seem like a premature battle, but who knows? Here are some posts and articles of relevance:

1. Microsoft patents speech censoring

Microsoft has been awarded patent number 7,437,290 in which an input audio data stream comprising speech is processed by an automatic censoring filter in either a real-time mode, or a batch mode.


2. Microsoft Patents Technology to Limit Your Freedoms

To those who are fans of Net Neutrality, and surrounding issues, such as DRM and the limiting of our rights, it may come as no surprise that Microsoft continues to champion against our rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press.


3. Holy f**k, Microsoft covers up ‘undesired’ words

It's not entirely clear where Microsoft's interest in this technology lies. But such a move could be looked upon favourably by the Chinese government, which consistently attempts to censor much of the web.


4. Microsoft’s New ‘What the @#%$*’ Censorship Patent

You can thank prudent network censors that we don't hear any of George Carlin's so-called "Seven Dirty Words" on broadcast television. But live television broadcasts can sometimes foil even the best of censors. They only have a seven-second delay to bleep words. But thanks to Microsoft, censors may soon be getting a new tech tool to bleep blunders and zap foul language.


5. Microsoft Patents Live Audio Censoring

6. Microsoft gets bleeping patent

Nokia/Symbian Spreads Software Patents



The Symbian assault on reasonable English law is still being discussed. Heise serves this reminder of the proprietor.

The Symbian group – which has since been completely taken over by Nokia – appealed against the decision to the High Court, which supported the appeal in March. The court then opined that on the basis of the EPC there was no reason to refuse computer programs in general the legal protection of commercial rights.


This is covered in lots of different publications, even many days after this actual disaster. It's a legal catastrophe.

This is definitely another reason to avoid Symbian. which pretends to be open source (probably just a marketing ploy and an attempt to attract free labour). Symbian is better off avoided as a matter of principle, particularly due to its views on (and lobbying for) software patents.

“Nokia's seniors foresee a future of DRM and software patents.”Nokia is till causing legal damage in Europe, but it's hard to treat Nokia -- Symbian's 'umbrella' -- in quite the same way because it also owns Qt and Maemo (Debian GNU/Linux with GTK).

Nokia is making a lot of noise about Symbian at the moment. It tries to generate buzz. It's said to be "seek[ing] world dominance" and, according to this article from Reuters, its path to that sought dominance is 'open source', but there is no mention of GNU/Linux.

Ari started a little confrontation with the GNU/Linux community over 3 months ago, around the same time Nokia kept flirting with that community. This was also before Nokia bought the whole of Symbian just to relicense it. Nokia's seniors foresee a future of DRM and software patents. Well, according to their not-so-bright vision, it's about lock-in and monopolies. A sad sham really.

Nokia, one of the most notorious lobbyists for software patents in Europe, is also porting Qt to a patents-encumbered and DRM-laded (Windows DRM) product known as Symbian. There are several articles containing the message of the press release and here is just one of them.

Nokia-owned Qt Software has accomplished a "pre-release" of the Qt GUI toolkit for S60 phones. The free download means that theoretically, device developers can for the first time enjoy Qt's "cross-platform" promise: building binaries for all the most popular device OSes from a single source tree.


As we said at the time of the Trolltech acquisition, Qt is not in better hands under Nokia.

'Community' Patent



Charlie McCreevy [1, 2, 3], one of the worst of dangers to European law at the moment, seems to be pushing further -- albeit in subtle ways -- for a back door to software patents.

That the commissioner still feels he has to make this point seems to me to be a further confirmation that the hoped for breakthrough under the French presidency which people were talking about earlier this year is in real danger of not taking place. And if it does not happen with France in charge of the European Council, then the likelihood of it ever happening must be pretty remote.


Here is the speech from McCreevy and here is some more related coverage that may present biased (one-sided) figures.

Commenting on the general outcome of the event, EUROCHAMBRES President Pierre Simon said: “The views of an individual business, especially a small or medium-sized one, are easy to ignore, but these 750 plus entrepreneurs convey the concerns of 23 million businesses across Europe, so their cumulative impact is enormous. Policy makers, starting with the European Council tomorrow, must take notice of their concerns and work with them closely in finding solutions that will enable Europe to come out of recession and compete globally.”


At times so saturated with such insanities, the following new insight from Glyn Moody is worth quoting:

After one of the worst economic crises in recent history, caused by pyramids of non-existent wealth being constructed on totally fictitious financial instruments, they now want to use "intellectual property" as "collateral" in commerce - that is, more totally ficitious financial istruments to create another pyramid of non-existent wealth.


How can we be so foolish and choose to live in a worlds of imaginary wealth and imaginary property? Edison would be awfully disappointed.

"I think that "innovation" is a four-letter word in the industry. It should never be used in polite company. It's become a PR thing to sell new versions with."

"It was Edison who said "1% inspiration, 99% perspiration". That may have been true a hundred years ago. These days it's "0.01% inspiration, 99.99% perspiration", and the inspiration is the easy part. As a project manager, I have never had trouble finding people with crazy ideas. I have trouble finding people who can execute. IOW, "innovation" is way oversold. And it sure as hell shouldn't be applied to products like MS Word or Open office."

--Linus Torvald

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