07.27.08

Gemini version available ♊︎

Microsoft Open Sores (May Contain Patents)

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 5:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

T

o demonstrate the generality of software patents, consider this new find which relates to the description of a hierarchical (i.e. tree-based) filesystem structure as — wait for it — a tree! Yes, that’s a patent in the United States and it’s owned by Microsoft Corporation, the ‘innovative’ powerhouse that thought about representing a filing system as a tree, never mind prior art like Norton Commander which I personally used long before Windows 3.1 even debuted.

Remember the Tree-View mode in many file management applications? It’s shocking to know that this omnipresent feature was patented by Microsoft back in 1995 (granted in 1997). I’m not very sure about the implications, though. The patent is so general that it can be related to many things from tree-mode to virtual filesystems. Check out claim no. 3 of the patent for the most clear part.

If this is representative of the quality of Microsoft’s patents, then it’s clear that they should be trivial to have re-examined and then trashed. According to an article published at OSCON, Microsoft is not worried about open source patents, but let’s take a closer look at the context in which this was claimed.

One of the funniest exchanges between Ramji and the OSCON audience was the following:

“Do you feel like you’re screwing a porcupine and you’re one prick against thousands?” the OSCON audience member asked Ramji.

Ramji politely replied:

“It takes time to change and I knew that I’d be unpopular when I took this job…”

In other words, software patents are not his concern, but he was merely assigned to stand up there and smile in order for Microsoft to enter open source conferences, mitigate criticism in this way, and make preparations for future legal action, if not just some more threats and extortion.

“To Microsoft, it’s nothing but a strategic marketing ploy.”In essence, Ramji is the equivalent of a dunce entertaining an evil emperor and acting innocent because never personally issues an order to attack. He believes (or wants to believe) that it’ll keep conscience clear while he’s making lots of money and by all means helping Microsoft’s fight against Free software. Bill Hilf has already run away from this position and so did Martin Taylor. You can’t buy forgiveness and remorse by just swapping heads forever. They all inherit the same burden and guilt.

Ramji too should realise that obeying commands “from above” makes his equally guilty and after last year’s unsubstantiated smears against tens of thousands of developers, his hands are equally red. To Microsoft, it’s nothing but a strategic marketing ploy [1, 2, 3].

Having already surrendered to Microsoft, the OSI has to be more polite. It’s skeptical nonetheless.

As to the DMCA and so-called Trusted Computing, I think that the SE Linux project has made it pretty clear that one can build a secure operating system without resorting to secrets at the implementation or interoperability level.

In this new post, the OSI is asking Microsoft to help abolish software patents and also fight the DMCA. Are they dreaming? Tim, who wrote this post, works at Red Hat, which was attacked by what turns out to be a Microsoft-connected patent troll (at least one of them). Red Hat has posted this update on the situation.

Since the settlement of the Firestar lawsuit last month, we’ve been asked to explain why Red Hat settled the case, rather than fighting to invalidate the patent at issue in the lawsuit. The news some days back that the Patent Office had issued an initial, non-final action rejecting the claims in a re-examination of the same patent has inspired similar questions. Here are our thoughts.

[...]

But as Groklaw reported last week, the ‘502 patent “isn’t knocked out yet.” This office action is just an initial step in a proceeding that is far from final. The patent holder will probably argue to the examiner that the patent is valid over the prior art, a process that may repeat itself many times during the course of the re-exam.

For Microsoft to give up patent plot against FOSS, the solution needs to come (be imposed) from above. Having recently recognised some serious questions, the USPTO seems just a tad wobbly on software patents. To use its own words:

Computer programs are often recited as part of a claim. USPTO personnel should determine whether the computer program is being claimed as part of an otherwise statutory manufacture or machine. In such a case, the claim remains statutory irrespective of the fact that a computer program is included in the claim. The same result occurs when a computer program is used in a computerized process where the computer executes the instructions set forth in the computer program. Only when the claimed invention taken as a whole is directed to a mere program listing, i.e., to only its description or expression, is it descriptive material per se and hence nonstatutory.

Since a computer program is merely a set of instructions capable of being executed by a computer, the computer program itself is not a process and USPTO personnel should treat a claim for a computer program, without the computer-readable medium needed to realize the computer program’s functionality, as nonstatutory functional descriptive material. When a computer program is claimed in a process where the computer is executing the computer program’s instructions, USPTO personnel should treat the claim as a process claim. ** When a computer program is recited in conjunction with a physical structure, such as a computer memory, USPTO personnel should treat the claim as a product claim. **

Europe should be careful too, not just India. The patent trolls and their junk/software patents gradually cross the Atlantic. Seen a few days ago: [via Digital Majority]

A firm tries to patent online wish lists in Europe. Shall we stop them?

The patent No. 6,917,941, appears to cover the invention of creating a list of things in a database. It was issued in July 2005 (sometime after wish lists were invented on the Internet I believe) and defendants include a long list of startups like On My List, Remember The Milk, WishList and Zlio. Channel Intelligence is not suing Amazon or Ebay, probably because these are large companies which would send Channel Intelligence packing.

Making a living using pieces of paper is not the same thing is making a living writing programs. Some selfish people try to change the rules.

“There’s nobody getting rich writing software that I know of.”

Bill Gates

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.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 25/9/2021: Wine 6.18 and Chromium Complier Woes

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] When the EPO Watches Everything ('Dissidents', Media, Etc.) and Isn't Being Watched by Anybody

    The EPO is taking Europe for a wild ride; Everything is a vehicle for the very same agenda, with nobody left to hold it accountable or ask any tough questions… (even the media is in the EPO’s back pocket or back seat)



  3. Virtual Oversight

    “eMeetings” that simulate an impression of oversight are like ‘ViCo’ to simulate access to justice; will that ever change and will oversight be restored at EPOnia, Europe’s second-largest institution?



  4. The Corporate Coup Against the Soul of the Free Software Community Is Not Over

    The erosion of community role in the development of GNU/Linux is a growing problem; part of the problem is that large corporations target technical and philosophical (perceived) leaders in coordinated smear campaigns, led by media they own



  5. IRC Proceedings: Friday, September 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, September 24, 2021



  6. Links 24/9/2021: GNU Coreutils 9.0, BattlEye GNU/Linux Support

    Links for the day



  7. [Meme] 'Linux' Foundation is Greenwashing Microsoft Again, Misusing the Linux Brand Like Nobody's Business

    Microsoft has weaponised the Linux brand to dub a toxic company like itself (helping notoriously polluting companies and generating lots of waste, both directly and through planned obsolescence, inefficient software, DRM, etc.) as "green"



  8. Richard Stallman to Speak (in Person) in Poland, Dedicate the Talk to Medical Professionals

    Days after his talk in Ukraine Richard Stallman plans to do the same in Poland (just announced)



  9. Links 24/9/2021: 30 Years of Europe’s First Root Name Server, Repairability of Laptops Discussed

    Links for the day



  10. ZDNet Has Failed

    ZDNet is on the decline and its demise appears to have greatly accelerated in recent months; we take a quick look at this month's coverage and explain the conflict of interest (it's PR, not news, and it's far too shallow/blatant to simply overlook)



  11. [Meme] Some People Are Just Above the Law

    A lot of people are still flabbergasted or at least baffled/miffed to discover that some people are in effect above the law; not even Europol and Interpol can apprehend and hold them accountable; that needs to change. Had Benoît Battistelli worked for France Télécom S.A. (not the EPO), would he be arrested? What about António Campinos and his drunk son?



  12. NPR and PBS, Both Funded by Bill Gates, Try to Save Him

    Bill Gates continues to corrupt the media and corrupt social control media (such as Twitter) using his money



  13. The EPO Must Forsake Its Diplomatic Immunity and Quit Pretending It's About Patent Law (or Any Law)

    There's no sign of the EPO actually trying to obey the law and correct the mistakes of the past; to make matters worse, the existing administration adds yet more corruption to an already-massive pile while dismissing any form of oversight



  14. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, September 23, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, September 23, 2021



  15. Links 24/9/2021: Ubuntu 21.10 Beta, Istio 1.11.3, and More Milestones for Steam Deck

    Links for the day



  16. [Meme] President Campinos Addresses the Legacy of Battistelli's “Strike Regulations”

    A sequence of four EPO memes about those infamous and unlawful “strike regulations” that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos have exploited to abuse thousands of workers



  17. [Meme] Bill Gates Keeps Digging Himself Deeper in the Grave Each Time He Speaks

    These sorts of ‘interviews’ with Gates’ own propaganda mills (he also pays Twitter now) aren’t going to improve his image; people aren’t infinitely gullible (Source)



  18. Linux Foundation and Other 'Diploma Mills' Say There's Demand for Their Products in Their New 'Research' (Marketing)

    The so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation (LF), together with edX, are basically marketing their services and products, but this is disguised as 'research' (a false narrative widely parroted by shallow and paid-for media partners of theirs), piggybacking brands like “Linux” and buzzwords like “Open Source” (even when they promote proprietary things, e.g. memorisation of proprietary GUIs)



  19. [Meme] The EPO's Carte Blanche and 'Diplomatic Immunity' Card

    EPO staff is being taken for another ride by António Campinos and his cohorts, whose popularity among staff has likely gone down to sub-zero levels already (even faster than Benoît Battistelli)



  20. As Expected, Minimal Pseudo Compliance From EPO Management, Adding Insult to Injury

    SUEPO Central, the core of the staff union of EPO staff (almost 7,000 workers at the EPO, most of whom are SUEPO members), has strong words about the EPO's attitude and stance, which is perhaps unsurprising but still extremely disappointing



  21. Links 23/9/2021: PostgreSQL 14 RC 1 and MidnightBSD 2.1

    Links for the day



  22. Links 23/9/2021: More UPC PR Stunts and IBM (Poettering) TPM for Linux

    Links for the day



  23. The EPO is on the Run (Escaping Negative Press Coverage)

    Aside from tens of millions of euros granted to media and academia (to keep them complicit or silent about EPO corruption, which also implicates the EU) there’s also SLAPP and threats against staff representatives; but Members of the European Parliament are becoming interested in what’s really going on in Europe’s second-largest institution, so this utter waste of EPO money (manipulating the press and gaming universities’ research) might in itself become a scandal sooner or later



  24. [Meme] Lowering the Standards...

    It's time for another round of fluff at the EPO, this time without even travelling (PR-over-'ViCo')



  25. Gemini HTTP/HTML/Web Proxies and Self-Hosting Your Own Proxy

    Gemini protocol (gemini://) and the fast-growing Geminispace (expected to exceed 2,000 known capsules by year’s end, in effect quadrupling in a single year!) are possible to access using Web browsers, at least for those who do not have Gemini clients/browsers just yet; today we examine and give an outline of the options



  26. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, September 22, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, September 22, 2021



  27. Links 23/9/2021: GNU Parallel 20210922, Moroccan Propaganda From EPO

    Links for the day



  28. Links 22/9/2021: Google 'Upstream First' in Linux and New Maui Report

    Links for the day



  29. Links 22/9/2021: Mesa 21.2.2, GNOME 41 Released

    Links for the day



  30. Socially- or Corporate- or Centrally-Controlled Surveillance, Censorship and Throttling is Not Media

    The 'social control media' situation is getting out of hand; in YouTube, for example, there's a broad revolt against strict editorial control by Google and in Twitter it seems like ordinary users aren't shown so much to people who actually "follow" them


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