02.27.08

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The Latest News on the Fight Against Software Patents

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 1:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Ripple Effect of Business Method Patents

There has been a lot of discussion recently due to the case which revolves around business methods. There is hope is that a responsible reform addressing the issue will knock down software patents as well. Have a look at this new article from BusinessWeek.

A case before an appeals court could make it harder to win legal protection for business methods

Forbes Magazine, as obedient as ever to its business roots and motives, presents the view which favours monetisation at the expense of innovation.

Successful free enterprise requires an effective system of property ownership rights. Economists like Hernando de Soto believe that such rights are the underpinning of capitalism and explain how for decades America’s strong patent system has fostered economic growth and innovation in the face of intensifying international competition. Although many factory jobs have moved overseas, knowledge workers have enjoyed improved living standards in the United States.

That picture will change for the worse if the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (S.1145), now being considered by the Senate, is enacted in its present form. This bill, together with two recent patent-unfriendly Supreme Court rulings, represents one of the worst assaults on intellectual property protection in the 218-year history of our patent system.

[...]

Joe Kiani is the founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Masimo.

For another more visual perspective (a video), there is this recent one. The “knowledge worker” monopoly is spurring great debate. When it crosses over to software, this means that people in poorer nations are hardly allow to program (or distribute their programs). What’s next? Will people not be permitted to practice mathematics, turning it into a luxury of only the affluent?

The Fight for Cost of Products

There is this excellent new article from Wired Magazine, which analyses some of the effects of modernisation (and digitisation).

Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything “free” was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You’d get one thing free if you bought another, or you’d get a product free only if you paid for a service.

Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast.

When all else fails, litigate?

Acacia Carries on Trolling with Junk Patents

Acacia, with roots in Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], shows us that its trolling continues, uninterrupted. Watch this recent Acacia settlement (read: ripoff) [Kudos to Doug Mentohl for the links]

Acacia Research Corporation ACTG announced today that its Mobile Traffic Systems Corporation subsidiary has settled patent litigation against Cobra Electronics Corporation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

The licensed technology generally relates to systems and methods for transmitting, receiving and displaying traffic information on portable handheld and mobile devices. This technology is used to identify traffic congestion and can be used with in-vehicle navigation displays and portable handheld units such as cell phones and PDAs.

The patent is here.

United States Patent 5,497,148
Oliva March 5, 1996
Traffic information warning system

Assignee: Cobra Electronics Corporation (Chicago, IL)
Appl. No.: 08/297,969
Filed: August 30, 1994

Docket here.

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