Bonum Certa Men Certa

Rob Tiller and A.J. Venter Explain Why Software Patents Are Bad, Apple Clarifies Patenting Other People's Software Ideas

"We've always been shameless about stealing great ideas."

--Steve Jobs, Apple



Summary: Latest evidence of software patents disdain and patent news about Yahoo, Apple, and Palm

In today's earlier post about patents we showed a lawyer, Professor Eben Moglen, opposing software patents. Rob Tiller from Red Hat is a similar case of someone who protests against software patents this week, despite him being a legalese type and not a developer. From his short article:

There's abundant evidence, though, that software patents serve this objective poorly. For example, as Bessen and Meurer explain in their book Patent Failure, the cost from litigation based on patents in some industries, including software, is several times the profits from patents. This means that for the software industry as a whole, patent costs exceed their benefits. This fact is still not common knowledge, but it is slowly sinking in, as patent litigation continues to grow.

Patent lawsuits (even meritless ones) can cost millions of dollars to defend. This reality creates an economic opportunity for non-practicing entities (a/k/a patent trolls) whose only purpose is to threaten and bring patent lawsuits. The large costs of defenses drive many defendants to settle by paying patent aggressors substantial sums taht are still less than the cost of defense. Such settlements may make business sense, but they divert resources that could be used for more productive purposes, like innovation.


There is another new piece from South Africa -- one which compares software patents to monopolies on numbers. Here is part of a long explanation:

So there you have it – not only is every program a number – they are all simple integer numbers that can be counted, and all the great skill and artifice of the programmer is really just a much more efficient way of finding the number we want – rather than counting through them all and checking if it is the one we want (which could take centuries to be honest).

You cannot ask for a more simple piece of proof that a program is in fact a number – that software is discovered rather than invented. The fact that we have very effective methods of discovering them does not change this and doesn’t change that you should not be able to patent numbers.

I still highly recommend reading the article I linked – especially if you are a lawyer or activist involved in the software patent field as it explains the underlying theories very clearly. Effectively it tells you how it came to BE that these numbers are useful, and how we derive their particular useful meaning from them. That process of derivation is what computer hardware does, and a better tool to do that with is patentable (which is why you should indeed be able to get patents on computer hardware), but go in with this basic understanding. That every computer program really is just a number, that those numbers can be reached by simple counting – I’ve proven this to you here, and all of computer programming – as wonderful and delicious and artistic a field of endeavor as it is – is really in the end – just a faster way to count to a number that we like. This does not reduce from programming any of it’s artifice, if anything it adds to the merit of the field because the processes by which we count are complex and fantastic and beautiful and we are always looking at ways to count even more effectively so we invent new programming languages and ideas like agile programming to help us do it even better – but in the end, the results is just a number that anybody could have counted to – and that is NOT an invention you can patent.


The company once known as "Yahoo" (now a shell of Microsoft with troubling history as "de facto pyramid scheme," according to a fascinating new piece from this prominent former employee) has just beaten a parasite and won a case involving software patents:

ITS A PATENT WIN for Yahoo this week as the web portal opens the champers after winning the Bright Response patent case.

Bright Response sued Google and Yahoo for nicking its '947 patent, which covers the invention of an automatic message interpretation and routing system.


Further to the FutureTap story [1, 2] (Apple potentially threatening a company that produced an application for its platform), there's "damage control" from Apple:

Apple Confirms They’re Not Trying To Kill Third-Party Apps With Patents



Reading over the comments on our post (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) about the Apple patent diagram fiasco last week, you would have thought Apple was the most evil company in the world. Many believed that Apple was attempting to patent ideas that third-party developers came up with. Essentially, the thought was that Apple was trying to steal from their own developer community — and were doing so that blatantly. I mean, people actually believed that.

As we noted at the time, this was not likely the case. Instead, Apple was probably just using diagrams of existing third-party apps for examples of other things they were actually trying to patent. Lo and behold, today comes word from the third-party developer at the center of all of this confirming this to be the case.


Why did Apple patent that if there is prior art and there is no interest in offence? Apple has, after all, decided to attack Linux-based phones using software patents. Apple sued over Android and it has already intimidated Palm (over WebOS) using patents. It turns out that Palm (HP) is now patenting what may have remained from Foleo.

That’s where Palm’s freshly-filed patent for “Compact removable voice handset for an integrated portable computer system/mobile phone” comes in. It takes the ill-fated Folio concept to a whole new level by turning the pre-netbook into a dock for the phone that acts as an input device, larger screen, and other magical things. The patent notes that while the connection is decidedly physical, the phone and computer could also communicate wirelessly.


It will be interesting to see what Palm does now that Hurd is out and Microsoft is in (in the form of a Vice President responsible for software). In any case, under HP's wing, Palm needn't fear Apple's patent artillery anymore. Apple is a patent aggressor whose patents are very often imitations of other companies. Earlier today we found this suggestion that governments should ban the Apple hypePhone. Linux on the contrary should be preferred for the ability to inspect code. As the author puts it:

Android on the other hand is secure by design as it is based on the most advanced kernel's in the world -- the Linux kernel. This is the reason most mission critical businesses now use Linux.

Unlike Android which is open source, the closed source nature of Apple technologies like iTunes makes it impossible for end users to know what is happening to their information and data.


As we showed days ago, Apple is also negligent when it come to patching its operating systems, all of which are proprietary.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Daniel Pocock: "I've Gone to Some Lengths to Demonstrate How Corporate Bad Actors Have Used Amateur-hour Codes of Conduct to Push Volunteers Into Modern Slavery"
"As David explains, the Codes of Conduct should work the other way around to regulate the poor behavior of corporations who have been far too close to the Debian Suicide Cluster."
 
Links 18/05/2024: Caledonia Emergency Powers, "UK Prosecutor's Office Went Too Far in the Assange Case"
Links for the day
Microsoft ("a Dying Megacorporation that Does Not Create") and IBM: An Era of Dying Giants With Leadership Deficits and Corporate Bailouts (Subsidies From Taxpayers)
Microsoft seems to be resorting to lots of bribes and chasing of bailouts (i.e. money from taxpayers worldwide)
US Patent and Trademark Office Sends Out a Warning to People Who Do Not Use Microsoft's Proprietary Formats
They're punishing people who wish to use open formats
Links 18/05/2024: Fury in Microsoft Over Studio Shutdowns, More Gaming Layoffs
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 17, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, May 17, 2024
Links 18/05/2024: KOReader, Benben v0.5.0 Progress Update, and More
Links for the day
Microsoft-Connected Sites Trying to Shift Attention Away From Microsoft's Megebreach Only Days Before Important If Not Unprecedented Grilling by the US Government?
Why does the mainstream media not entertain the possibility a lot of these talking points are directed out of Redmond?
[Meme] UEFI 'Secure' Boot Boiling Frog
UEFI 'Secure' Boot: You can just ignore it. You can just turn it off. You can hack on it as a workaround. Just use Windows dammit!
The Market Wants to Delete Windows and Install GNU/Linux, UEFI 'Secure' Boot Must Go!
To be very clear, this has nothing to do with security and those who insist that it is have absolutely no credentials
In the United States Of America the Estimated Share of Google Search Grew After Microsoft's Chatbot Hype (Which Coincided With Mass Layoffs at Bing)
Microsoft's chatbot hype started in late 2022
Techrights Will Categorically Object to Any Attempts to Deny Its Right to Publish Informative, Factual Material
we'll continue to publish about 20 pages per day while challenging censorship attempts
Links 17/05/2024: Microsoft Masks Layoffs With Return-to-office (RTO) Mandates, More YouTube Censorship
Links for the day
YouTube Progresses to the Next Level
YouTube is a ticking time bomb
Journalists and Human Rights Groups Back Julian Assange Ahead of Monday's Likely Very Final Decision
From the past 24 hours...
[Meme] George Washington and the Bill of Rights
Centuries have passed since the days of George Washington, but the principles are still the same
Video of Richard Stallman's Talk From Four Weeks Ago
2-hour video of Richard Stallman speaking less than a month ago
statCounter Says Twitter/X Share in Russia Fell From 23% to 2.3% in 3 Years
it seems like YouTube gained a lot
Journalist Who Won Awards for His Coverage of the Julian Assange Ordeals Excluded and Denied Access to Final Hearing
One can speculate about the true reason/s
Richard Stallman's Talk, Scheduled for Two Days Ago, Was Not Canceled But Really Delayed
American in Paris
3 More Weeks for Daniel Pocock's Campaign to Win a Seat in European Parliament Elections
Friday 3 weeks from now is polling day
Microsoft Should Have Been Fined and Sanctioned Over UEFI 'Lockout' (Locking GNU/Linux Out of New PCs)
Why did that not happen?
Gemini Links 16/05/2024: Microsoft Masks Layoffs With Return-to-office (RTO) Mandates, Cash Issues
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 16, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, May 16, 2024
Ex-Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier Did Not Retire, He Just Left IBM/Red Hat a Month Ago (Ahead of Layoff Speculations)
Rather than retire he took a similar position at another company
Linux.com Made Its First 'Article' in Over and Month, It Was 10 Words in Total, and It's Not About Linux
play some 'webapp' and maybe get some digital 'certificate' for a meme like 'clown computing'
[Meme] Never Appease the Occupiers
Freedom requires truth. Free speech emancipates.
Thorny Issues, Violent Response
They say protests (or strikes) that do not disrupt anything are simply not effective. The same can be said about reporting.
GNU/Linux in Malaysia: From 0.2 Percent to 6+ Percent
That's like 30-fold increase in relative share
Liberty in Liberia? Windows Falls Below 10% and Below iOS
This is clearly a problem for Microsoft
Techrights Congratulates Raspberry Pi (With Caution and Reservations)
Raspberry Pi will "make or break" based on the decisions made in its boardroom
OSI Makes a Killing for Bill Gates and Microsoft (Plagiarism and GPL Violations Whitewashed and Openwashed)
meme and more
The FSF Ought to Protest Against UEFI 'Secure Boot' (Like It Used To)
libreplanet-discuss stuff
People Who Defend Richard Stallman's Right to Deliver Talks About His Work Are Subjected to Online Abuse and Censorship
Stallman video removed
GNU/Linux Grows in Denmark, But Much of That is ChromeOS, Which Means No Freedom
Google never designs operating systems with freedom in mind
Links 16/05/2024: Vehicles Lasting Fewer Years, Habitat Fragmentation Concerns
Links for the day
GNU/Linux Reaches 6.5% in Canada (Including ChromeOS), Based on statCounter
Not many news sites are left to cover this, let alone advocate for GNU/Linux
Links 16/05/2024: Orangutans as Political Props, VMware Calls Proprietary 'Free'
Links for the day
The Only Thing the So-called 'Hey Hi Revolution' Gave Microsoft is More Debt
Microsoft bailouts
TechTarget (and Computer Weekly et al): We Target 'Audiences' to Sell Your Products (Using Fake Articles and Surveillance)
It is a deeply rogue industry that's killing legitimate journalism by drowning out the signal (real journalism) with sponsored fodder
FUD Alert: 2024 is Not 2011 and Ebury is Not "Linux"
We've seen Microsofers (actual Microsoft employees) putting in a lot of effort to shift the heat to Linux
Links 15/05/2024: XBox Trouble, Slovakia PM Shot 5 Times
Links for the day
Windows in Times of Conflict
In pictures
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 15, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, May 15, 2024