Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patents Roundup: Microsoft Stung, Microsoft's Troll Speaks to Facebook, Alternatives Considered, and USPTO Head Calls Patents “Monopolies”

Summary: Patent news from the past week or so

THIS is another long roundup of patent news that may affect software patents and patent trolls.

Patent Ambush and Extortion



Rambus, a recent pioneer in gigantic patent ambush [1, 2, 3, 4], has suddenly seen the red light, which is rare. It will not be getting its way with Nvidia.

Patent Office rejects Rambus claims against Nvidia



[...]

The additional eight claims are based on two patents that Rambus has asserted against Nvidia in litigation. This follows the USPTO's rejection last month of 41 other claims in seven patents that Rambus had asserted, Nvidia said.


This report from Eric Savitz talks about an extortion that has actually just worked.

Research In Motion (RIMM) this morning said it will pay $267.5 million as part of an agreement to settle all existing patent litigation with venture-backed Visto, which is now known as Good Technology.


FFII's president writes in response to this: "RIM pays 267 Millions USD to get rid of another patent troll [...] We need more patent trolls."

What he probably means to say is that by showing how utterly broken the patent system has become will there be greater pressure for change. Patent trolls are one symptom of an ill system

Some weeks ago we saw Microsoft's patent troll extorting Intuit, which is Microsoft's rival.

Microsoft



Guess who is buddies with Facebook's founder? It's the aforementioned patent troll, 'born' and raised (and funded) by Microsoft.

After leaving Microsoft, Myhrvold went into the patent business. His Intellectual Ventures works like this: Buy up patents, then use them to bludgeon large tech companies into forking over fees or making investments in Intellectual Ventures.

In the course of his short career, Zuckerberg, as a tipster reminded us, has accumulated a nice array of patents. They're related, as you might guess, to social networking and digital media. Could he use them against his rivals via Myhrvold, raising some money for Facebook in the process?


This is something to watch out for. Zuckerberg has been meeting and having fun with Microsoft executives for quite a few years.

Microsoft is not just a patent troll (by proxy). Here it is being hit from multiple directions, as the latest news ought to suggest:

i. Patent parasites sue Microsoft over Xbox Live (Microsoft too is a patent parasite)

Peter Hochstein and Jeffrey Tenenbaum (pricks) once patented a method of "communicating live while playing the same video game in separate locations" and have been milking their "idea" since 1994. In 2004, they went after both Sony and Microsoft, and in April of this year, scored a settlement with the former over the PS2's online gaming network. Now they want more, and are focusing on Xbox Live.


ii. Apple, Microsoft, others sued over touchpad products

A case started in a US district court alleging that Microsoft, Apple and a host of other defendants have breached a patent relating to touchpad technology.


iii. Apple, Microsoft sued over iPod, Zune controls

Apple, LG, Microsoft, and 20 other companies are being sued for patent infringement by a Texas firm that claims to have invented the touchpad.


It was disappointing to find some more "innovation" propaganda published as an article in BusinessWeek ("innovation" is almost synonymous with patents in some contexts). And guess what? Only in page two does it say who the author is: "Bill Buxton is Principal Scientist at Microsoft Research and the author of Sketching User Experiences..."

Common practice for the business press. They let corporations do the 'reporting' or 'independent' 'analysis'. The sad thing is that most readers would neither notice nor mind. Business press: from the corporations, for the corporations, passed on to ordinary people ("consumers") to absorb.

Other Approaches



Slated has written two essays, one of which is a general critique of intellectual monopolies.

In fact, I have often drawn this comparison before, because I see very little distinction between the practise of physical slavery, and the equally reprehensible practise of intellectual slavery. Indeed, the latter may actually be more sinister, since it assumes ownership and control of that which touches all of us, not just an unfortunate few, and is a form of subjugation which travels silently and invisibly throughout all of society, tainting us and compromising our liberties, infecting us with the disease of intellectual monopoly, thus assuming ownership of our minds. More bluntly, Intellectual Property is a cancer.


The second essay is his proposition of an alternative to patents.

Then every company in the world would be funding all research (and any other relevant industrial development included in the budget), and every company in the world would be entitled to utilise the results of that research without any further legal obligation or financial liability. No company would be at an immediate disadvantage due to R&D costs, and the need for patent protection would be completely dispensed with.

Even better, those who benefit most from this research, profit the most, and subsequently pay the most tax. This is not only demonstrably self-sustaining, but is even fair. And of course, it keeps capitalism under control too, thus stabilising the economy, and benefiting consumers.

The result is: No patents, no profiteering, a massive and guaranteed supply of research funds, academic freedom for all, and better prospects for industrial development and mankind's overall progress.

The only losers here, that I can see, are those who were unethically over-exploiting the current system anyway (patent trolls, and those engaged in the practise of so-called Hollywood Accounting).


There is also a new journal article about the peer-to-patent initiative. It takes an entirely different approach to tackling the real issues that are no longer just perceived ones.

The patenting of software has increased significantly. Regardless of any personal bias as to the existence of software patents, it is a trend that is unlikely to end anytime soon. As a result, the open source movement may be threatened by the proliferation of non-meritorious or overly broad patents. Peer-to-Patent provides a means for mitigating the limitations that may be placed upon the open source community by software patents, as the program allows the open source community to participate in the peer review of pending patent applications. Members of the open source community are knowledgeable, interested parties with a unique stake in the software patent debate and thus are capable of making a significant contribution to improving the current system.


USPTO Head: Patent Are Monopolies



The Mises blog asks, "Are Patents 'Monopolies'?"

On occasion you get some defender of patents who is upset when we use the m-word to describe these artificial state-granted monopoly rights. For example here one Dale Halling, a patent attorney (surprise!) posts about "The Myth that Patents are a Monopoly" and writes, " People who suggest a patent is a monopoly are not being intellectually honest and perpetuating a myth to advance a political agenda."

[...]

Now it is, indeed, clear that a patent is a monopoly grant to someone that permits them to charge above-market prices; this is exactly the goal of the patent law: to provide this monopoly profit to inventors so as to incentivize them to innovate and file for patents. And it is why, for example, Blackberry paid over $600 million to NTP in a recent patent suit; and it is why consumers will have to pay more for Blackberry services than they otherwise would, etc. Did NTP have "monopoly power" as defined by the government's antitrust scheme? I don't know. Probably not. But did they extort RIM/Blackberry by use of the government-granted patent monopoly? Of course.


David Kappos, the new head of the US patent office (whom we mentioned previously in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]), can be seen as responding to the above with the following immortal quote:

Mr. Kappos announced his opposition to business method patents last year by stating that "[y]ou're creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason." Thus, it is unclear where Mr. Kappos will attempt to draw the line between software and business method inventions worthy of patent protection.


Yes, that's right. Even the head of the USPTO openly admits that patents are a "20-year monopoly". Some proponents of software patents still deny this. Kappos is considered a strong proponent of the peer-to-patent initiative mentioned above.

Pro-Software Patents Lobby (Gartner et al)



Brian Prentice from the Gartner Group is an advocate of software patents, as we noted before [1, 2]. Whether it's part of the general policy at Gartner, well... it may hard to tell, but here he is again making it very explicit at Gartner.com: "Why We Need Software Patents"

I would much rather we embrace software patents and water down trade secret legislation than the other way around.


Microsoft's connection to the Gartner Group is a financial one by the way [1, 2, 3]. Gartner helps Microsoft fight against Free (libre) software.

Another Web site whose habitat remains rather similar is IP Watchdog, with the usual lobby for software patents, this time from another writer: "Is Software Patentable?"

As mentioned above, new, useful software is not always patentable. But some software must be patentable, or the long history of patents for manufacturing process and electronic devices cannot be sustained as software becomes central to these inventions.


There are more similar pieces (similar convictions) from the same site, e.g.:

i. Examiner Interview Changes Favor In Person Meeting

It seems that early last week a memo went out from the powers that be to the examiners handling Bilski-related applications, and in the memo it was explained that merely putting “computer implemented method” in the preamble of the claim is not something that will any longer work to overcome a patentable subject matter rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101. It seems that now you need to have “computer implemented method” in the preamble and there must also be positive recitation of “a computer” in the body of the claim.


ii. On the Road: Bilski Examiner Interview and CNN

I spent the better part of last week in Washington, DC conducting Examiner interviews for some of my clients that have pending software patent applications. The great news is that I believe we now have a handle on the ever changing Bilski ruling. I know it sounds like a misstatement to say that the Bilski ruling is ever-changing, but apparently, the reality of the situation is that when the Federal Circuit provides a ruling, it comes with little or no guidance for the Examiners to properly examine applications based on the ruling. The guidance comes from internal memos to Examiners from the PTO indicating how applications should now be examined based on Bilski.


As a site of lawyers, it is inclined to support more and more patents. The broader the scope, the higher the revenue. Science doesn't matter so much to them. Engineers are "pawns in the battle", to borrow a phrase from Microsoft evangelists.

Car Insurance Patent Trolls



There are reports circulating about patents that threaten even the car insurance businesses. [via Digital Majority]

Under a major decision handed down last fall, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit interpreted federal law to make it much more difficult to patent "business methods."

The so-called "Bilski" decision essentially ended a decade of looser standards the same court introduced in 1998 with a decision known as State Street. That ruling opened the floodgates for business-method patents like Amazon’s one-click process to buy goods online.


See how much positive impact the decision In Re Bilski has had. Law.com has some more information about this Amazon patent in its new article, which starts by stating:

Ten years ago, Amazon.com riled the tech world when it sued Barnes & Noble with a patent on "1-click" buying. Critics cried that clicking once to order a book wasn't really an invention -- and certainly not worthy of a patent. And it became the poster child for a patent system gone overboard.


Here is another new report about the car insurance patent. FFII's president remarks on it by saying: "Help Patent Trolls make their patents more resistant."

A Stamford patent agent and a Massachusetts actuary have paired to seek a patent on an insurance product aimed at promoting safety among teen motorists.

Mark Nowotarski, president of Markets, Patents & Alliances LLC, said today the U.S. Patent Office could rule by late June on their patent application (No. 20090063201) filed last October for the SoberTeen Driving Insurance product.


It's obviously a patent troll. On the "Ethics of Patent Trolling" (or lack thereof) The Prior Art blog has an article which states:

The nature of the claimed invention in these cases also raises serious questions about online rights. The Spangenberg companies, by suing hundreds of websites, have claimed a proprietary right over e-commerce itself. I'm not making that judgment based on an analysis of his patents—I'm making it based on the accusations in the lawsuits, filed against hundreds of companies that don't have anything apparent in common other than the fact that they sell stuff online. And while Spangenberg targets only big corporations, many of his imitators have no such scruples.


Patent trolls and software patents both need to go. Patent trolls are a useful excuse for reform that eliminates the latter.

Comments

Recent Techrights' Posts

Microsoft's Bing Falls to Fourth in the Europe/Asia-Based Turkey, Share Halved Since LLM Hype, Now Only 1% (Sometimes Less)
Turkey (Eurasia) is another example of Microsoft failing with LLM hype and just burning a lot of energy in vain (investment without returns)
Backlash and Negative Press After Microsoft Tells Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) People to DIE
Follow-up stories
Censorship as Signal of Opportunity for Reform
It remains sad and ironic that Wikileaks outsourced so much of its official communications to Twitter (now X)
The World Wide Web Has Been Rotting for Years (Quality, Accuracy, and Depth Consistently Decreasing)
In the past people said that the Web had both "good" and "bad" and that the good outweighed the bad
Comoros: Windows Plunges to Record Low of About 6% in Country of a Million People (in 2010 Windows Was 100%)
Many of these people earn a few dollars a day; they don't care for Microsoft's "Hey Hi PC" hype
The Mail (MX) Server Survey for July 2024 Shows Microsoft Collapsing to Only 689 Servers or 0.17% of the Whole (It Used to be About 25%)
Microsoft became so insignificant and the most astounding thing is how the media deliberate ignores it or refuses to cover it
Windows Down From 98.5% to 22.9% in Hungary
Android is up because more people buy smaller mobile devices than laptops
Microsoft Windows in Algeria: From 100% to Less Than 15%
Notice that not too long ago Windows was measured at 100%. Now? Not even 15%.
Microsoft Windows "Market Share" in New Zealand Plunges to 25%
Android rising
SUSE Goes Aryan: You May Not Use the Germanic Brand Anymore (It's Monopolised by the Corporation)
Worse than grammar Nazis
Gratis But Not Free as in Freedom: How Let's Encrypt is Dying in Geminispace
Let's Encrypt is somewhat of a dying breed where the misguided CA model is shunned
 
Fedora Week of Diversity (FWD) 2024 Attracting 0.01% of the IBM Staff "Was a Success"
They expect volunteers (unpaid slaves) to do the PR for them...
African's Largest Population (Nigeria) Approaching 80% Android "Market Share" Amid Steady Monthly Increases While Microsoft Has Mass Layoffs in Nigeria
Microsoft- and Apple-sponsored Western (or English-speaking) media chooses to ignore that or treat it as irrelevant (a racist disposition in its own right)
[Meme] The Warlord's Catspaw
Thugs that troll us
Microsoft Misogyny Will be the Fall of Microsoft (Covering Up for Misogynists is a Huge Mistake and Highly Misguided Short-term Strategy)
Microsoft's undoing may in fact be its attitude towards women
Red Hat Keeps Behaving Like a Microsoft Reseller (for Proprietary Stuff!), Microsoft Employees as Authors in redhat.com
In some ways this reminds us of Novell
UEFI 'Secure Boot' Once Again Bricking PCs and Fake Security Models Are Perishing in Geminispace
Let's Encrypt has just fallen again
Links 17/07/2024: New Attacks on the Press, European Patents Squashed Even at Kangaroo Court (UPC)
Links for the day
Gemini Links 17/07/2024: Proponents of Censorship and New Arrivals at Gemini
Links for the day
Links 17/07/2024: School Budget Meltdown and Modern Cars as Tracking Nightmares
Links for the day
This Should Certainly be Illegal, But the Person Who Helped Microsoft Do This is Still Attacking the Critics of It
perhaps time for an "I told you so post"
[Meme] A Computer With an Extra Key on the Keyboard Isn't Everyone's Priority
(so your telling me meme)
Africa as an Important Reminder That Eradicating Microsoft Doesn't Go Far Enough
Ideally, if our top goal is bigger than "get rid of Microsoft", we need to teach people to choose and use devices that obey them, not GAFAM
Billions of Computers Run Linux and Many Use Debian (or a Derivative of It)
many devices never get updated or even communicate with the Net, so exhaustive tallies are infeasible
[Meme] Microsoft is Firing
Don't worry, Microsoft will have some new vapourware coming soon
More DEI (or Similar) Layoffs on the Way, According to Microsoft Team Leader
What happened shortly before Independence Day wasn't the end of it, apparently
[Meme] Many Volunteers Now Realise the "Open" in "OpenSUSE" or "openSUSE" Was Labour-Mining
Back to coding, packaging and testing, slaves
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 16, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, July 16, 2024
[Meme] Ein Factory
A choice between "masters" (or "master race") is a false choice that results in mass exploitation and ultimately eradication (when there's little left to exploit)
Links 17/07/2024: Open Source Initiative Lies and Dark Net Thoughts
Links for the day
Media Distorting Truth to Promote Ignorance
online media is rapidly collapsing
Android Rises to New Highs of Almost 80% in Cameroon
How many dozens of nations will see Windows at under 10% this coming winter?
Links 16/07/2024: TikTok Ban in Europe and Yandex Split
Links for the day
Gemini Links 16/07/2024: On Packrafting and on Trump Shot
Links for the day
[Meme] Firefox Users Who Think They Know Better Than Mozilla
Enjoy Firebook
Firefox Used to Have About Half the Market in Switzerland, But It Doesn't Stand a Chance Anymore (Chrome Surging This Summer)
Mozilla has managed to alienate some of the biggest fans of Firefox
Microsoft's Biggest Losses Are in Europe This Summer
Microsoft's ability to milk a relatively rich Europe is fast diminishing
How to Make Software Suck and Discriminate Against People at the Same Time
ageism glorified
Bing Was at 2.6% in Russia When LLM Hype Started. Now It's Down to 0.8% (for 3 Months in a Row Already)
The sharp fall of Bing may mean that exiting the Russian market won't matter to anybody
[Meme] Microsoft Seems to be Failing to Comply With WARN Act (by Refusing to Announce Mass Layoffs as They Happen)
since when does Microsoft obey the law anyway?
Microsoft Layoffs Are Still Too Frequent to Keep Abreast of and Properly (or Exhaustively) Classify
The "HR" department knows what's happening, but whistleblowers from there are rare
Bahamas Joined the "5% Windows" Club
statCounter only traces back about 1 in 20 Web requests to Windows
Links 16/07/2024: Salesforce Layoffs and Microsoft's DMARC Fail
Links for the day
Antenna Abuse and Gemini Abuse (Self-hosting Perils)
Perhaps all this junk is a sign of Gemini growing up
Possibly Worse Than Bribes: US Politicians and Lawmakers Who Are Microsoft Shareholders
They will keep bailing out Microsoft to bail themselves out
The Software Freedom Conservancy Folks Don't Even Believe in Free Speech and They Act As Imposters (Also in the Trademark Arena/Sense)
Software Freedom Conservancy was already establishing a reputation for itself as a G(I)AFAM censor/gatekeeper
Djibouti Enters the Windows "10% Club" (Windows Was 99% in 2010)
In Africa in general Microsoft lost control
GNU/Linux Share Doubled in the United States of America (USA) in the Past 12 Months
Or so says statCounter
Even in North Korea (Democratic People's Republic Of Korea) Google Said to Dominate, Microsoft Around 1%
Google at 93.26%
[Meme] The Red Bait (Embrace... Extinguish)
They set centos on fire, then offer a (de facto) proprietary substitute for a fee
Shooting the Messenger to Spite the Message
segment of a Noam Chomsky talk
[Video] Boston Area Assange Defense (Yesterday)
It was published only hours ago
Guinea: Windows Down From 99.3% to 2.7% 'Market Share'
Guinea is not a small country
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, July 15, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, July 15, 2024
What's Meant by "Antenna Abuse" (Gemini)
syndication is not a monopoly in Gemini and if one doesn't condone political censorship, then one can create one's own syndication service/capsule
Microsoft Layoffs and Entire Unit Termination: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
What an announcement to make just before Independence Day
Links 16/07/2024: Old Computer Challenge and One Page Dungeon Contest
Links for the day
Microsoft Falls Further and Closer Towards 10% (Windows "Market Share") in Kuwait
more countries entering the "single-digit Windows" (under 10%) club
Gemini Links 15/07/2024: Antenna's Pro-Hamas Bias Revisited and Old Computer Challenge
Links for the day
[Video] Julian Assange, Over One Decade Ago, Cautioning About What the Internet Had Truly Become
video is not new
Homage to Malta
Malta is probably easy for Microsoft to bribe
IRC at 16
Logging has been used for us and against us
In Malta, Android/Linux Has Overtaken Microsoft Windows (According to statCounter)
statCounter milestone?
Links 15/07/2024: China’s Economic Problems, Boeing Under Fire
Links for the day
500 Days' Uptime Very Soon
Good luck doing that with Windows...
Windows Falls Below 20% in Tunisia
A month ago we wrote about GNU/Linux in Tunisia
Links 15/07/2024: Google Wants Wiz and Why "Sports Ruin Everything"
Links for the day
Gemini Links 15/07/2024: Old Computer Challenge and Sending Files via NNCP
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 14, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, July 14, 2024