Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patents Roundup: Microsoft Patents “Guardian Angel”, Subverts EIF; 20 Years Wasted on One Patent

Patents in Easter

Summary: New indicators of a failed patent system, with Microsoft playing a role in this failure; April responds to Microsoft's lobbying

'Tis the season to abolish ridiculous patents, such as patents on human life [1, 2].

Microsoft is one of the major barriers that continue to plague the world with software patents (sometimes exploiting loopholes that allow them to be filed almost everywhere). It's one of those things that make Microsoft a unique competitor and not "yet another" proprietary software company. According to this new post from the blog of Om Malik (whom Microsoft paid to secretly recite slogans):

....Microsoft has been granted a patent for a virtual assistant called “Guardian Angel.”

Based on the description in the patent (which was originally filed in 2006), Guardian Angel sounds like someone took the idea behind Bob and Clippy and turned the dial up to 11.

April, an advocacy group from France, writes to the European Commission about the EIF (European Interoperability Framework) which we wrote about earlier this week after repeated warnings from David Hammerstein that Microsoft had injected its patents agenda.

April publishes a letter to the European Commission supporting Commissioner Neelie Kroes' approach in favor of open standards and interoperability in the digital agenda.

At the European level, open standards and interoperability are endangered and could disappear from European Union's digital policy agenda. Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner in charge of Digital Strategy (and former European Commissioner for Competition), is currently drafting the agenda for Europe's digital policy.


These pressures come within a context in which proprietary software lobbies, Microsoft at their head, are trying to revise downward the open standard definition. See especially "EIF 2.0: lettres ouvertes à la Commission européenne pour sauvegarder l'interopérabilité".

In other patent news we have:

After 20 years, local physicist gets patent for magnet [via]

Roy Weinstein had given up.

To heck with the patent office, the 82-year-old physicist decided. After waiting two decades for a patent on his potentially revolutionary superconducting magnets, he'd had enough.

“As you might imagine, waiting 20 years is a pretty nasty chore,” said Weinstein, an emeritus professor at the University of Houston.

Don't Protect Patent Lying [via "Patent Reform Bill Would Curtail Lawsuits Against Those Who Falsely Claim Patent Protection"]

Without the cloak of behind-the-scenes corporate influence, it becomes immediately apparent that there is no rational explanation for the Senators' sudden rush to overturn a law that has been part of our country for over 150 years and whose only impact will be to help rid our marketplace of intentionally deceptive false statements.


Daniel Ravicher, who has been really active in these kinds of lawsuits -- and, incidentally, was also a major player in the Myriad gene patent case -- helping to get gene patents invalidated -- has an article up trashing the patent reform bill for "protecting patent lying."

Rejoice: It's No Longer Patent Infringement To Sell A Trading Card With Memorabilia

Justin Levine highlights the ridiculousness of the patent system today by noting that it took the court system eight years to determine that attaching memorabilia to a trading card shouldn't be patentable (pdf)... and even then, a CAFC judge dissented, claiming that the patents could be valid. The patents in question, 5,803,501 and 6,142,532 are pretty straightforward. Basically, they're about taking some piece of memorabilia and attaching it to a trading card (for example, attaching a piece of a jersey worn in a baseball game to a baseball card of the player).

We wrote about that last one in this post.

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