05.21.08

Gemini version available ♊︎

Software Patents in Europe and Microsoft’s Huge Lobbying Budget as of Late

Posted in America, Europe, Finance, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Heaps don’t lie

Money, money, money. Everywhere you turn. If you look closely enough at the news — and only if you look very closely — you’ll find the trail of obligatory disclosures Microsoft reluctantly unleashes to give away clues about its lobbying activities. For the unaware, lobbying can be brutally described as the act of paying a middleman (independent or part of an agency) to spend time with politicians and either share this wealth or spend this wealth together, sometimes negotiating what is done in exchange for what else (favouritism, nepotism, legalised bribery, or whatever else you wish to call this). It’s disguised as something that’s done for the benefit of citizens (‘consumers’), but shouldn’t the one paying the bill be expected to benefit the most? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.

“Despite recession, the finding seems to suggest that the pace of obligatorily-disclosed amounts now trivially exceeds $10 million for Microsoft alone (annually).”As we are all being taught (or forced) to believe, software patents are being encouraged for the benefit of programmers when they get assigned and added to the employer’s portfolio and this thing called “piracy” (something about software and not about boats, apparently) costs the economy a lot of money, never mind the savings alternatives can offer.

There is nothing comforting about lobbying. The word “lobbying” sounds soothing though. You know, like ordinarily lounging in some hotel, spoiling oneself and generally having a good time. In reality, lobbying is so loathed by those who understand the practice and are secretly affected by it. It’s filthy. It’s subversive. It’s almost corrupt.

In the past few weeks alone the apparent backlash led to some new rules being ratified in the UK [1, 2] where lobbying is prevalent but probably not a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon (well, not just yet, based on what the authorities and watchdogs know). According to reports, the industry already exceeds a billion dollars in the United States and that’s just based on amounts that get disclosed, i.e. it excludes off-the-record, back-room/boiler room deals. Can you criticise Larry Lessig for his “Change Congress” initiative? He too realised that his country is run by corporations, which frequently use lobbyists as mediators? It’s polycracy, as Noam Chomsky would call it, not a democracy.

On a few occasions recently, we shared some findings about Microsoft lobbying and you can probably find some of them if you search this Web site. That said, here is the latest find from yesterday. Despite recession, the finding seems to suggest that the pace of obligatorily-disclosed amounts now trivially exceeds $10 million for Microsoft alone (annually). That’s a sharp increase, based on my personal memory and judgment. Among the activities of the lobbying you’ll find patents also (there’s no weighting in the breakdown).

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, spent nearly $2.6 million in the first quarter to lobby on competition in the online ad market and other issues, according to an amended disclosure report.

[...]

Microsoft also lobbied the federal government on numerous other issues, including Internet security and crime, privacy, health technology, patent reform, software piracy, immigration reform to help with recruitment of highly skilled foreign workers, high-speed Internet service through use of unoccupied TV channels, free trade and taxes.

There’s a lot more to be said about things like “immigration reform” for example. We alluded to this quite recently, but we ought not to explore this further in this post, whose sole focus is software patent.

About a week ago we wrote about McCreevy, who is said to be attempting to shove software patents into Europe, via the back door. It turns out that McCreevy’s spokesperson now denies this.

In its statement on the results of the Transatlantic Economic Council negotiations, issued last week, the council made brief reference to the intellectual property rights issue. A single bullet point in the statement references a roadmap issued jointly by the European Commission and US Patent Office aimed at advancing “global patent harmonization”.

[...]

According to FFII President Alberto Barrionuevo, in the TEC talks the commission overstepped its bounds with respect to commercial rights. “The European Union has neither a Community patent, nor a common material patent law.” The only exception is the Biotech Directive. For that reason Barrionuevo believes that, “Discussing a bilateral patent treaty with the United States is superfluous. It is the blind leading the blind.” He thinks that if the US really wants to fix its patent practises, it should first enact its controversial planned patent reforms and become a signatory to the European Patent Convention. McCreevy’s spokesperson stated that the treaty was not about software patents, “Something not approved here could not be recognised.”

It’s all staged, it’s all gradual, and it’s precedence-based. Remember that Novell denied that it had signed a software patent deal with Microsoft, insisting that it was all about interoperability (straw man). It was later that the two companies just “agree[d] to disagree” and less than a month ago that we found out “SUSE coupons” are now being called “patent royalties” and Microsoft discusses these with “[open source] community members.” All in all, the point to be made here is that McCreevy’s exemption is rather moot. It’s a matter of phasing in, not just direct intent.

For more information on this subject, consider the article “The patentability of software and business methods in Europe” [PDF], which contains a section on “Patentability of computer programs”. It was all found at Digital Majority where there is also a pointer to this article on cross-border patent litigation [PDF] (in Europe specifically).

Benjamin also extracted this quote from another article among the latest batch from IAM:

“The open source movement probably cannot achieve its original goals so long as patents exist.” — Tom Ewing, IP Value Added Consultant, Gothenburg, Sweden

This hopefully serves as an eye opener that justifies the fight against this monster, whose purpose is to defeat Free software not based on technical merits but through the introduction of new laws that essentially ban change and block disruption to the status quo. Refer back to the beginning of this post about the role of money.

Cheer Up, Patent Terrorist, It’s Your Birthday!

Whether Microsoft has truly got anything to be used effectively against Free software, nobody knows. Maybe Microsoft does not know, either. Eric Lai has just published this ‘celebration’ of the first anniversary of Microsoft's "patent terrorism" (“patent terrorist” is not our own phrase, mind you, and the t-word is notorious for its use as propaganda in law-making/law-setting). Here are some key bits:

“Claiming you have IP that folks are infringing isn’t the same thing as proving it,” wrote Pamela Jones, author of the open-source legal blog Groklaw.net, in an e-mail. “I think they [Microsoft] are in a weaker position *because* they did the [cross-licensing] deals. It makes them look needy, like they can’t make it any more without Linux.”

“The [legal] threat [to open-source] is no greater” today than a year ago, wrote Mark Radcliffe, a lawyer with DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley office and the general counsel of the Open Source Initiative, which oversees the approval of open-source software licenses, in an e-mail.

Take Redmond’s attempts to persuade vendors to sign cross-licensing deals that include protection from potential open-source patent lawsuits by Microsoft.

Loud Bark, No Bite

In other news, Microsoft has just lost another patent lawsuit. Let it suffer and maybe learn that its software patents are useless once the court weighs in, proving that there’s hope for sanity under the juridical system (as opposed to the USPTO, to which patents — not justice — mean business and money).

Microsoft loses U.S. patent suit vs Alcatel-Lucent

[...]

Microsoft had accused Alcatel-Lucent of infringing four patents for software in a system that integrates telephones with computers for calls, messages and videoconferences.

“A system that integrates telephones with computers for calls, messages and videoconference,” eh? It sure sounds like Microsoft has just become a troll, not an innovator. This seems like a sign of misery and it looks bad for the potency of Microsoft’s software patents, which it loves so much to rave about without disclosure of specifics (it just ran out of paper, it alleges).

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

4 Comments

  1. Quentin Crisp said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Gravatar

    “In reality, lobbying is so loathed by those who understand the practice and are secretly affected by it. It’s filthy. It’s subversive. It’s almost corrupt.”

    Indeed. We would all be better off if we didn’t talk to our elected officials, instead leaving them to form their own opinions on issues regardless of how much they did or didn’t understand the arguements, they could research questions using wikipedia if they got really stuck.

    Are you really suggesting that “talking” is a bad thing and should be frowned upon? What is this site other than part of a lobbying effort designed to get the word out around a cause that you (and others) care a great deal about?

  2. Almindor said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Gravatar

    Actually yes, lobbying is corruption made manifest. The “idea” is nice, “talk” to your officials, get them to see your side of the story. Nice in theory. Practice speaks.. money talks (no, not the porn motto).

    The bigger they are the more they can corrupt. Lobbying is just a nice word translated as corruption these days. Normal people have no way to do anything about it. We’re living in a corporatocracy, comments like the above one are either astroturfing or the peak of naivety.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Quentin seemed to be trolling here earlier, but regardless, he talks about “talking” which isn’t the same as hiring someone to accomplish a mission for some corporation.

  4. paul said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Gravatar

    At one point in my life I felt the same; ie, we’re all pitching something.

    But now I believe that lobbying is corrupt. Pure and simple. Right after we kill all the lawyers, we should kill all the lobbyists.

    The point is they are promoting their own commercial interest; ie, their primary purpose is profit. Many corporations do NOT care about negative results re the use of their products/services. They feel NO remorse about lying or spreading misleading information. They will deceive and subvert anyone they can to achieve their goals. These organizations are morally deficient and left to their primary purpose of gaining profit will damage society.

    Further, most corporations are oriented toward short-term gain with no care for long-term implications. Hence the environmental movement. (Re Greenpeace, emphasis on ‘mental.’)

    What we are doing on sites like this is _openly_ discussing the issues allowing anyone to read or comment. And hopefully, as a result, informing the people that read the article and comments. An informed society that actually uses its intellect when making purchases, can influence the businesses to make better decisions. Unfortunately, we now have an overwhelming number of people that buy things based on their ego.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Becoming Robust to Censorship is a Technical Challenge for Web Sites That Publish Suppressed Information and Supportive Material

    Being at the mercy of third parties indebted to corporate patrons (or banks), sometimes in "reputation" or "political correctness" or "safety" clothing, is a topological issue; we need to teach more people to self-host and exercise full control over speech and information (never let those with money and power decide who can speak and who cannot)



  2. Links 28/10/2021: Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Released and Mesa 21.3 Reaches RC3

    Links for the day



  3. [Meme] The EPO's “New Normal”

    The rule of law is being thrown out the window/door, people send rude letters, and we’re meant to think that this is the “new normal” (laws and regulations ceasing to exist); brought by the same people who try to force-feed people all around Europe the unlawful UPC



  4. [ES] Spanish: Richard Stallman's Speech From This Past Saturday

    The new bits (in Spanish) start at 14m:42s from the start



  5. This New Edward Snowden Video is Relevant to Media Cover-up in Service of EPO Management

    We’re long mentioned the 'conspiracy of silence' regarding EPO corruption (bribes and threats from Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos contribute to this silence), so the above video, which is new, seems relevant to us



  6. EPO Home-Working (or 'Remote' Working or 'Teleworking') Isn't an Act of Generosity But of Exploitation

    Contrary to what staff may be led to believe, allowing folks to work from home is just a workaround (as the law forbids some human-to-human contact/interaction) and pretext for screwing the workers a little bit more while crushing basic rights, such as strike and protest abilities (exercising or expressing dissent)



  7. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 27, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 27, 2021



  8. [Meme] False Choices and False Dichotomy Designed for Self-Harm

    The self-serving EPO surveys, which Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos design to justify their own policies, have severe flaws in them



  9. Links 27/10/2021: XOrg Server 21.1 and Makulu Shift Ubuntu Variant Released

    Links for the day



  10. Links 27/10/2021: Murena for /e/ and Red Hat Condemned for Its Nationalism/Racism

    Links for the day



  11. [Meme] EPO Presidential Surveys

    The 'social democracy' of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos as demonstrated by a controlled survey (controlled by the subject of the survey, EPO governance)



  12. 'Shaping the New Normal' Survey at the EPO Got 5,554 EPO Staff to Participate, But It Was Controlled by Liars With an Agenda

    Last year’s EPO ‘study’ (hogwash about “quality” and other unscientific junk) was likely biased by virtue of autocrats controlling it and exploiting it for nefarious agenda and brainwashing of national delegates. The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) has a new survey in the making.



  13. Many of the National Delegations (or Delegates) in the EPO's Administrative Council Have No Understanding of What They Vote on

    One must consider the possibility that ignorance or gullibility (which lack of qualifications may entail) possibly became a contributing factor — malice and bribery aside — in systemic failure of the EPO’s governance



  14. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXV: The Balkan League - Fresh Blood or Same Old, Same Old?

    We take stock of "captured states" that voted in favour of unlawful "Strike Regulations"



  15. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 26, 2021



  16. Beatriz Busaniche Speaks Up in Defense of Richard Stallman

    Beatriz Busaniche sent us this comment in July 2021. She wrote it originally in Spanish. Here are both the original text and our translation to English.



  17. Links 26/10/2021: SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro 5.1 and Multi-Distro Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  18. Links 26/10/2021: Vulkan 1.1 Conformance for Raspberry Pi 4 and Tor Browser 10.5.10

    Links for the day



  19. [Meme] Sounds Legit

    When not cheating on the wife, the EPO‘s “doyen” cheats in the exams and makes it into the epi Council, in effect working “[t]owards a common understanding [sic] of quality” with “patent attorneys nominated as “assessors” by the EPO, epi and BusinessEurope” (notorious lobbyists for dictators, litigation, and monopolies, neither business nor science)



  20. [Meme] Mayoral Patent Office Chief

    As it turns out, political 'double-dipping' isn't just a thing in North Macedonia, Austria, and EPOnia



  21. Romania's Patent Office (OSIM): Nine Different Chiefs in Just Eight Years

    The Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM), being the equivalent of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the sense that it covers both patents and trademarks, is a very flaky institution with no shortage of scandals; for our English-reading audiences we now have a summary of a decade’s worth of blunders and leadership changes



  22. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIV: The Balkan League - Romania

    Romania’s patent office has been in flux this past decade, occasionally led by people with no relevant experience, but rather political connections (like EPO President António Campinos) and sometimes forged documents and fake degrees



  23. IRC Proceedings: Monday, October 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, October 25, 2021



  24. [Meme] “Social Democracy” at the EPO

    Some comments on the current situation at the European Patent Office from Goran Gerasimovski, the new EPO Administrative Council delegate for North Macedonia and Social Democratic candidate for mayor of Centar (a municipality of Skopje)



  25. [Meme] António Campinos Visits the OSIM

    António Campinos visits OSIM Director-General Ionel Muscalu in February 2014



  26. [Meme] [Teaser] Meet the President

    Later today we shall see what Romania did for Battistelli



  27. Links 26/10/2021: Latte Dock 0.10.3 and Linux 5.15 RC7

    Links for the day



  28. Gemini Protocol's Originator: “I Continue to Care About This Project and I Care About the Community That Has Formed Around It.”

    'Solderpunk' is back from a long hiatus; this bodes well for Geminispace, which grew fast in spite of the conspicuous absence



  29. Bulgarian Like Bavarian Serfdom

    Bulgarian politics seem to have played a big role in selecting chiefs and delegates who backed Benoît Battistelli‘s unlawful proposals, which treat workers almost like slaves and ordinary citizens as disposable ‘collaterals’



  30. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIII: The Balkan League - Bulgaria

    Today we examine the role of Bulgaria in Benoît Battistelli‘s liberticidal regime at the EPO (as well as under António Campinos, from 2018 to present) with particular focus on political machinations


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts