Bonum Certa Men Certa

New Software Patents for Novell

Hypocrites

Is Novell antagonising software patents? Clearly it does not. In the pipeline Novell still has many more, including this latest:

Administration of protection of data accessible by a mobile device, patent No. 7,478,420, invented by Michael Wright of Sandy, Peter Boucher of Orem, Gabe Nault of Draper, Merrill Smith of Riverton, Sterling K. Jacobson of Saratoga Springs, Jonathan Wood of Orem, and Robert Mims of West Valley City, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.


It has been only one week since we last mentioned Novell's attitude towards software patents. It's problematic in the Free software world, especially since Novell uses these patents to create fear of non-SLE* GNU/Linux distributions.

TechDirt has this good post about the desire of lawyers to have excessive patentability, whereas engineers don't need or want this (a point that was stressed before, using evidence).

The Cultural Gulf Between Lawyers And Technologists On Patent Law



On Wednesday I attended the Brookings Institution's conference on "The Limits of Abstract Patents in an Intangible Economy." The conference was organized by software patent skeptics, so that perspective has been well represented. But I was struck by the dramatic differences between the views of lawyers on the one hand (who made up the majority of the panelists and audience members) and the handful of technologists on the other.


Over at Linux Today, Carla has just called Intellectual Monopolies "a mental illness" -- a point that she explains thusly:

This whole "intellectual property" mania is a mental illness that deserves its own entry into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It's like that great movie, "Aguirre: The Wrath of God." Give yourself a treat and watch it; it's a wonderful film that takes place after the fall of the Incan empire. Lope de Aguirre, played by the perfectly mad Klaus Kinski, leads a band of Spanish conquistadors on a quest for El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold. The quest is doomed, of course, as they struggle through hostile terrain and hostile locals, pushed onward by their own greed and ruthlessness.

[...]

The tech industry is notorious for thuggish Tony Soprano tactics. How did this come about? Pepsi doesn't make you agree to a EULA. DeWalt doesn't tell you what you can and cannot do with your own DeWalt tools that you have purchased. The fashion and automotive industries copy each other openly, and don't waste time suing each other for poaching ideas. Instead they stick to the business of trying to win customers the old-fashioned way-- by making cool things that people want to buy.

The proprietary software industry nearly succeeded in killing off the second-hand software market, and then had the two-faced gall to whine about copyright infringement-- they tolerate it when it opens new markets and shuts out the competition, but sooner or later those bad pirates have to pay up. Every other industry has a thriving second-hand market, instead of this loony game of wink-nudge "piracy", and it benefits everyone-- it opens new markets, and reduces the financial risks of early adopters and customers who buy new.

Microsoft has devoted considerable energy to trying to kill off the second-hand hardware market as well by going after schools and non-profits that use old, donated equipment, and forcing them to purchase new software licenses. Most OEM Windows PCs come with crippled versions of Windows that can't be moved to different PCs, but are locked to the original.


We saw a very major example of this yesterday.

"Small Software companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?" —Marco Schulze, Nightlabs Gmbh



Steve Ballmer license
Image from Wikimedia

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