11.01.07

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(Software) Patent News: Getting Better, Then Worse, Then Better Again…

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 9:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lunacy makes a comeback

Lookie here! Our little 'friend', which is also Microsoft’s friend [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], is boasting its new and shiny product sheet of paper.

Acacia Research Corporation announced today that its Acacia Patent Acquisition Corporation subsidiary has acquired patents for projector technology.

Society has never known better development and innovation. The consumer will truly be pleased. Of course, we’re being sarcastic because neither the consumer nor the industry (so-called ‘inventors’) will benefit from lawsuits. Only lawyers will win and monopolies will have their fences in tact. Fortunately, as the following article reveals, a new coalition is formed to fight software patents, such as the ones used by Acacia against Red Hat and Novell.

What could make the Free Software Foundation (FSF), proprietary software companies, and at least one venture capitalist into allies? The End Software Patents (ESP) coalition, a new organization poised to swing into action next month under the leadership of Ben Klemens.

But, but, but… wasn’t there supposed to be a reform as well? It gets worse. Not only does the government face a lot of resistance to change, but it has also just fallen a victim to more tactless decisions.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from enforcing new rules that would impose some roadblocks on patent applications.

[...]

Critics of the current rules say continuation applications have been abused, and that the system is overburdened, and have generally supported the Patent Office’s move. For its part, the office says the changes would help to reduce a backlog of applications to be processed.

This is madness. According to one source, it is estimated that about 800,000 applications (quoting from memory) are yet to go through the USPTO ‘acid test’, which set its barriers far too low. With this absurd policy and a worrisome patent/lawsuit culture in place, we’re likely to find more unfortunate stories like the following two, which are new.

The stacks of legal documents flying back and forth come at a time when both companies are hitting their stride. HP has been the reigning No. 1 PC vendor in the world for the past year and continues to report strong quarterly results.

Wi-LAN Inc. (WIN.T) has started patent-infringement litigation in Texas against 22 major companies in two actions.

Wi-LAN said the companies include Acer Inc., Apple Inc., Atheros Communications Inc., Belkin International Inc., Best Buy Co., Broadcom Corp. , Buffalo Technology (USA) Inc., Circuit City Stores, Inc., Dell Inc., D-Link Corp., Gateway Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Infineon Technologies AG, Intel Corp., Lenovo Group Ltd., Marvell Semiconductor Inc., Netgear Inc., Sony Corp…

Related articles:

When Patents Threaten Science

Patents should not be used to protect laws of nature, products of nature, or mathematical formulas.

Patent Trolls: The Record Examines the Myths

Spencer Hosie of the Recorder this week examined the myths involved in what has commonly been termed “patent trolling”. The article comes in the wake of Bodog (an online gambling firm) losing its coveted brand name to a group that sued over patent infringement.

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