08.10.08

Gemini version available ♊︎

Software Patents: India, OIN, the Trolls, and the Monopolists

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

India a Matter of Urgency

The software patents situation in India is not good. That’s the result of a quick assessment from FFII anyway. We last covered this here and here. It’s progressing and exacerbating as Microsoft strives to stuff committees and steal the country's voice. Those who are not combative will simply leave room for neo-imperialists to take over that empty space. Revenue comes at the expense of people’s freedom.

In response to this atrophy which is software patents, the India press has published this article.

PATENTLY ABSURD

[...]

Here’s what Gates wrote in an office memorandum in 1991. “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. . . I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique.”

This was the year after Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, the first of its new operating systems that would become hugely popular across the world. Yet, three years down the line, Microsoft had changed from a kitten that was content with copyright protection to an aggressive patents tiger. In 1991, Microsoft had filed fewer than 50 patent applications whereas last year it was awarded 1,637 patents, almost a 12 per cent increase in the number of patents it received in 2006. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, the rise in Microsoft’s patents portfolio bucked the general trend in 2007 when the number of patents issued by the US Patents and Trademark Office dipped by 10 per cent. Apparently several thousand of the company’s filings are still pending.

All this may prompt the reader to conclude that there is indeed a direct correlation between IPR and growth — and wealth — as the company claims. Not true, says Mark H Webbink, a US Supreme Court lawyer who is a recognised voice on IT issues. Charting the company’s revenues, R&D spending and patent filings from 1985 onwards, he shows that the spike in patent filings occurred long after the Microsoft “had become well established and was being investigated for its monopolistic practices”. Webbink contends that patents did not spur the launch and rapid growth of the mass market software industry. On the other hand, patents have become a threat to software innovation, he warns.

This was also published here and it’s good to see such information reaching the mainstream press.

OIN Under Bergelt’s Reign

As mentioned before, the leadership of OIN had quietly changed, but there are some good initiatives lurking over the horizon.

Earlier this week we wrote about a sort of OIN equivalent for mobile Linux (‘fire blanket’ for patents). Well, it appears as though OIN itself will have a big announcement to make pretty soon.

In coming weeks, OIN will reveal more details of the site, which Bergelt described as “a production environment where we educate and train people to do this. We’ll work with them to make sure it’s put in a form that is acceptable.”

The effort will serve as a counterpart to OIN’s existing strategy, under which it provides its patents royalty-free to companies in exchange for a commitment that they won’t assert their patents against the Linux system. Its backers include NEC, IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony. Google, Oracle and Alfresco are among the licensees.

Bruce Perens, who is well aware of Microsoft's patent plot, had this to say:

Plain old published source code is at least somewhat protective, just look for “Perens” in a full-text search of the USPTO database to see an example of where it’s worked. There are a few patents there that reference Electric Fence as prior art.

However, you can make more claims in a defensive publication than might be exercised by your source code.

Of Trolls and Sharks

Digital Majority has found this article which talks about “patent sharks”. It is important not to phase out terminology like “patent trolls” as that’s just what culprits like Ray Niro would want [1, 2]. It’s token proliferation. It’s dilution.

Technology firms face a serious menace: patent sharks. These predators collect patents through acquisitions in bankruptcy proceedings, licensing agreements, or their own R&D efforts. They hide their intellectual property–to deliberately trap tech firms into inadvertent patent infringements. Then they sue.

And the awards are typically huge. Pure patent holding company NTP, for instance, sued best-selling BlackBerry maker Research in Motion in 2006 for violation of NTP patents. Under threat of an injunction that would have shut down the mobile e-mail service, RIM settled for over $600 million–even though several NTP patents were later declared invalid.

Here is another brand-new example:

Apple, RIM, Palm sued over vague GSM patents

Quick, you ever heard of WiAV Solutions? You know, the owner or exclusive licensee of several vague patents on the use of GSM tech in smartphones? The company that doesn’t make anything or even have a web site, but files so many patent lawsuits that some companies have taken to pre-emptively filing suits for declaratory judgment against it?

When will it stop? Can the USPTO put an end to this?

Big Boys and Their Intellectual Monopolies

Brand power (trademarks) and secrecy (copyrights) is not enough for everyone, so patent muscle and other notional things are soon summoned. Facebook is turning out to be a patent pest. It has quite a monopoly in its area and a new report has revealed that, some time in the past, Facebook actually wanted to buy the competitor that it’s now suing, instead. They are in direct competition and these are obvious ideas with plenty of prior art.

Before Facebook sued the German social networking site StudiVZ last month for copying its “look and feel,” it had been in talks to purchase the site.

Apple is no exception, either. It is a software patent pest and we previously showed how it directly harms GNU/Linux development. The Register claims to be having a patent duel with Apple.

Apple will fill in some long-awaited missing features from its iPod and iPhone mobile players, a patent application published this week suggests. There’s just one problem: Much of Apple’s “invention” was dreamed up by Reg readers several years ago – and one embodiment is already on the market.

The patent system is a mess. Serenity now.

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.

A Single Comment

  1. p.cole said,

    August 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Gravatar

    The short-term financial view of unethical corporate behavior practiced by the few monopolies (MS, Intel, etc.) will led not only to economic failure in general but will create a stigma against nationality, that is, the originating countries citizenship. We have seen this before; “The Ugly American, the Russian Fat Cats, the French Elite, the European Aristocrats” and so on.

    MS can see this coming but it’s taking a contrary road to the “new ecosystem”. Instead of working with GNU/Linux it it tries to sabotage it. Its transparent veiled of interoperability will not work no matter how much whore mongering it perpetuates through it payoffs.

    The so-called philanthropic Gates Foundation is nothing but a public relations backup to the Redmond giant among other things. Since when does a charity buy media outlets, invest in oil revenues, contributes unneeded funds to PACs and foreign lobbying efforts.

    Mother Theresa was a true philanthropist; Gates wouldn’t even qualify to be a pimple on her ass.

    Intel’s short-sightedness in helping to sabotage OLPC will come back to bite it. AMD, VIA, among others, will be flourishing (don’t forget “Lonsoon GodSon”. It doesn’t need to run MS software and GNU/Linux can port to it in a flash).

    People are not naturally dumb. Ignorance is a short term state that can be corrected through education with freedom of accessible information. Stupidity can only be fixed through violent trauma. In short, remember the Gandhi non-violent movement. FOSS steadily will move forward and will be the norm.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Linux News or Marketing Platform?

    Ads everywhere: Phoronix puts them at the top, bottom, navigation bar, left, and right just to read some Microsoft junk (puff pieces about something that nobody other than Microsoft even uses); in addition there are pop-ups asking for consent to send visitors’ data to hundreds of data brokers



  2. Daily Links at Techrights Turn 15, Time to Give Them an Upgrade

    This year we have several 15-year anniversaries; one of them is Daily Links (it turned 15 earlier this week) and we've been working to improve these batches of links, making them a lot more extensive and somewhat better structured/clustered



  3. Back to Focusing on Unified Patent Court (UPC) Crimes and Illegal Patent Agenda, Including the EPO's

    The EPO's (European Patent Office, Europe's second-largest institution) violations of constitutions, laws and so on merit more coverage, seeing that what's left of the "media" not only fails to cover scandalous things but is actively cheering for criminals (in exchange for money)



  4. European Patent Office Staff Votes in Favour of Freedom of Association (97% of Voters in Support)

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) at the EPO makes a strong case for António Campinos to stop breaking and law and actually start obeying court orders (he’s no better than Benoît Battistelli and he uses worse language already)



  5. Links 02/02/2023: Glibc 2.37 and Go 1.20

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 01, 2023

    IRC logs for Wednesday, February 01, 2023



  7. Links 01/02/2023: Security Problems, Unrest, and More

    Links for the day



  8. Links 01/02/2023: Stables Kernels and Upcoming COSMIC From System76

    Links for the day



  9. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 31, 2023



  10. Links 31/01/2023: Catchup Again, Wayland in Xfce 4.20

    Links for the day



  11. Links 31/01/2023: elementary OS 7

    Links for the day



  12. Intimidation Against Nitrux Development Team Upsets the Community and Makes the Media Less Trustworthy

    Nitrux is being criticised for being “very unappealing”; but a look behind the scenes reveals an angry reviewer (habitual mouthpiece of the Linux Foundation and Linux foes) trying to intimidate Nitrux developers, who are unpaid volunteers rather than “corporate” developers



  13. Links 31/01/2023: GNOME 44 Wallpapers and Alpha

    Links for the day



  14. Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) and KU Leuven Boosting Americans and Cancellers of the Father of Free Software

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and its founder, Richard M. Stallman (RMS), along with the SFLC one might add, have been under a siege by the trademark-abusing FSFE and SFC; Belgium helps legitimise the ‘fakes’



  15. Techrights in the Next 5 or 10 Years

    Now that I’m free from the shackles of a company (it deteriorated a lot after grabbing Gates Foundation money under an NDA) the site Techrights can flourish and become more active



  16. 60 Days of Articles About Sirius 'Open Source' and the Long Road Ahead

    The Sirius ‘Open Source’ series ended after 60 days (parts published every day except the day my SSD died completely and very suddenly); the video above explains what’s to come and what lessons can be learned from the 21-year collective experience (my wife and I; work periods combined) in a company that still claims, in vain, to be “Open Source”



  17. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 30, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, January 30, 2023



  18. Taking Techrights to the Next Level in 2023

    I've reached a state of "closure" when it comes to my employer (almost 12 years for me, 9+ years for my wife); expect Techrights to become more active than ever before and belatedly publish important articles, based on longstanding investigations that take a lot of effort



  19. The ISO Delusion: When the Employer Doesn’t Realise That Outsourcing Clients' Passwords to LassPass After Security Breaches Is a Terrible Idea

    The mentality or the general mindset at Sirius ‘Open Source’ was not compatible with that of security conscientiousness and it seemed abundantly clear that paper mills (e.g. ISO certification) cannot compensate for that



  20. Links 30/01/2023: Plasma Mobile 23.01 and GNU Taler 0.9.1

    Links for the day



  21. EPO Management Isn't Listening to Staff, It's Just Trying to Divide and Demoralise the Staff Instead

    “On 18 January 2023,” the staff representatives tell European Patent Office (EPO) colleagues, “the staff representation met with the administration in a Working Group on the project “Bringing Teams Together”. It was the first meeting since the departure of PD General Administration and the radical changes made to the project. We voiced the major concerns of staff, the organization chaos and unrest caused by the project among teams and made concrete proposals.”



  22. Links 30/01/2023: Coreboot 4.19 and Budgie 10.7

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 29, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 29, 2023



  24. [Meme] With Superheroes Like These...

    Ever since the new managers arrived the talent has fled the company that falsely credits itself with "Open Source"



  25. Not Tolerating Proprietary 'Bossware' in the Workplace (or at Home in Case of Work-From-Home)

    The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.



  26. The ISO Delusion: A Stack of Proprietary Junk (Slack) Failing Miserably

    When the company where I worked for nearly 12 years spoke of pragmatism it was merely making excuses to adopt proprietary software at the expense of already-working and functional Free software



  27. Debian 11 on My Main Rig: So Far Mostly OK, But Missing Some Software From Debian 10

    Distributions of GNU/Linux keep urging us to move to the latest, but is the latest always the greatest? On Friday my Debian 10 drive died, so I started moving to Debian 11 on a new drive and here's what that did to my life.



  28. Stigmatising GNU/Linux for Not Withstanding Hardware Failures

    Nowadays "the news" is polluted with a lot of GNU/Linux-hostile nonsense; like with patents, the signal-to-noise ratio is appalling and here we deal with a poor 'report' about "Linux servers" failing to work



  29. Microsofters Inside Sirius 'Open Source'

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been employing incompetent managers for years — a sentiment shared among colleagues by the way; today we examine some glaring examples with redacted communications to prove it



  30. Links 29/01/2023: GNOME 43.3 Fixes and Lots About Games

    Links for the day


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