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Patents Roundup: Novell Still Applying for Software Patents (and Other Patent News)

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Summary: More articles on the role of intellectual monopolies in obstructing science

IT WOULD BE USEFUL to be reminded of the fact that Novell uses software patents to advance itself. Here is the very latest addition:

Techniques for dynamically establishing and managing authentication and trust relationships , patent No. 7,552,468, invented by Lloyd Leon Burch of Payson, Douglas G. Earl of Orem, Stephen R. Carter of Spanish Fork, and Robert Mark Ward of Highland, assigned to Novell,Inc. of Provo.


In other news, the Rambus case of patent ambush [1, 2, 3, 4] is mentioned by one who was defending the victims. Updegrove writes:

Most of these suits were brought by Rambus against vendors that refused to pay royalties when they implemented the standard, but these suits almost always resulted in vigorous counterclaims against Rambus, brought by those same implementers. And investigations into Rambus's conduct were also brought by both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, and by the European Commission in Europe. A separate string of cases related to alleged price fixing and other improper conduct by other vendors that participated in the same working group, which ended in record settlement amounts being paid by those vendors to the regulators.


What will the new USPTO director (David Kappos) have to say on the subject? More importantly, how about patent trolls, who are mostly lodged in east Texas? Or how about the abuse of trademarks?

First it was a trademark fight over potatoes, and now lettuce? Eric Goldman points us to a trademark fight over the use of the word "Lettuce" in the name of a restaurant. You see, there's a restaurant chain called Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, who apparently got the trademark on "LETTUCE" when used in restaurant or catering businesses.


UK-based lawyers are also wary of "trade marks" misuse.

The IPKat urges his British readers to take careful note of this sudden shift, for their own sakes and for the sake of their consumers. Merpel wonders why HMRC is spelling 'trade mark' as 'trademark'. Is this a major policy shift in terms of traditional British spelling, or merely the result of its eagerness to save time when sending important letters by omitting the spaces between words?


Who are these intellectual monopolies good for anyway (other than monopolists and lawyers)? The ACTA keeps coming under fire and quite rightly so [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. it is composed only by large companies.

Glyn sez, "The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement [ed: a secret, non-UN treaty that rich countries are cooking up that will criminalize copyright infringement, sending non-commercial file-sharers to prison; authorize border guards to search your hard-drive and personal electronics for copyright infringements; and require governments to give media giants the power to decide who should and shouldn't have Internet access, without having to prove anything in a court of law] has been making its way in secret for some time, a coalition of consumer groups have now demanded that the text of the directive be made public..."


In the United States, hotspot access is now a patent. Amazing.

Boingo Wireless has been awarded a patent covering the method and apparatus for accessing networks through a mobile device (patent No. 7,483,984).


Over in Europe, FFII's president managed to get a hold of Bilski's patent application, saying that it is "included here in the joint appendix" (In re Bilski, Joint Appendix No. 2007-1130). He also warns that Software AG is now lobbying for software patents in Europe.

Regional and national development of industry clusters are a fundamental component of modern strategic economic policy. Although Germany's Rhine-Main-Neckar cluster has one of the largest global concentration of resources it has not yet developed to the extent of similar clusters in the US, India or Finland. Impediments common to many European clusters include international awareness, access to venture capital, and lack of political support including an underdeveloped European software patent system.


South Africa too makes a mistake by assuming that more intellectual monopolies will advance research. It could not be further from the truth as it is very much the opposite.

[A] proposal in South Africa, that would potentially require patents on certain publicly funded research. While this seems totally backwards for any number of reasons (and many of us believe that publicly funded research should be available to the public since they paid for it), apparently some are concerned that "foreign multinationals" might "misappropriate" the research.


The obvious misconception here is that input will come from abroad and no output will be shared. It not only conflicts with fundamental notions of research but it is also short sighted to assume patents are good use of time. They sting both ways, eventually.

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