09.01.08

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Patents Roundup: China, Theft, TiVo, and Microsoft

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Virtualisation at 7:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents Draft Amendment in China

While software patents are not mentioned (not explicitly anyway) in the following draft amendment, alternations to policies are outlined. [via Andy Updegrove]

Less than three months after the State Council put its stamp on the patent law reform blueprint, the government yesterday submitted the draft amendment to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislature, for first reading.

[...]

Another important change is the proposed removal of the statutory requirement for all Chinese individuals and entities to first file applications in China for inventions made in the country. The revision would allow Chinese individuals and entities to file their patents for the first time in other countries, not necessarily China.

Intellectual Pirates Attack with Arms, Break the Law

Intellectual monopolies fancy labelling their customers “pirates”, but they are often blind to their own behaviour which includes theft (confiscation).

German Customs officials have raided several stands at this years IFA trade show in Berlin, including Emtec’s, MSI’s, and Xoro’s. The officials are acting on behalf of Sisvel, which has a stand in Hall 2.2 at this year’s IFA.

We wrote about this a few days ago and it turns out to be a violation of the law. [via Digital Majority]

Berlin Court condemns Sisvel’s IFA seizures as ‘illegal’

[...]

Today Sisvel, Europe’s very own “patent troll”, was given a serious blow by a Berlin Court. Sisvel convinced German public prosecutors to provide some helping hands in pressing companies in the mp3 audio field to take licenses under patents, owned by Philips and other companies.

So, while they pretend to be enforcing the law by taking it into their own hands, what they actually do is break the law, unlike their innocent victims, whom they rob over software patents.

TiVoization, Software Patents, or Both?

TiVo’s affinity for patents is a problem which was brought up in the past. This unnecessary and confrontational habit carries on, which leads to more questions about the company’s commitment to the GPL’s philosophy (TiVo uses the Linux kernel).

Shares in TiVo dropped 23 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $7.73 in extended trading. Before the earnings report the stock had risen 5.7 percent to close at $7.96.

During a conference call, interim Chief Financial Officer Cal Hoagland said TiVo will face increased expenses in the current quarter, including holiday-related marketing and costs related to an ongoing patent battle with Dish Network Corp. A Sept. 4 court date has been set as TiVo seeks to collect on the $94 million it has been awarded in damages.

Akamai is another company that uses GNU/Linux and is not shy about patents.

Microsoft

A quick little search in Google reveals quite a few Microsoft patents that may contain the term “.NET”. Fortunately, for a few consecutive weeks now, KDE has not committed changes that contribute to Mono. It’s important to remember where Microsoft comes from.

The hypocrisy of Microsoft’s position in this issue is blatant – in 1983, Gates complained about theft of intellectual property:

“Imagine the disincentive to software development if after months of work another company could come along and copy your work and market it under its own name…without legal restraints to such copying, companies like Apple could not afford to advance the state of the art.” (Gates)

Meanwhile, Microsoft continued to build upon the PC-DOS / MS-DOS product with intellectual property stolen from others. An example of this can be found in Microsoft’s theft of intellectual property belonging to Stac Corporation:

“During that conversation, Mr. Chase admitted that, during Microsoft’s “normal due diligence process,” Microsoft had concluded that the DoubleSpace data compression utility of the MS-DOS 6.0 operating system software infringed Stac’s ’009 patent, one of the two patents in suit.” (Stac Electronics vs. Microsoft Corporation).

Microsoft was perfectly aware in advance that what they were doing violated a Stac patent, and yet they continued on their way. Ignoring the Stac patent afforded Microsoft the ability to add a useful feature to MS-DOS in a timely manner; the DoubleSpace technology in MS-DOS 6.0 was one of its major features (Huxford), especially for those with older or portable systems.

Despite its age, this article as a whole is recommended reading. It’s a story about a ‘pirate’ that grew and then started calling everybody else ‘pirates’. It’s the definition of hypocrisy at its finest. Microsoft also shouts out “monopoly” or "privacy offenses" at Google now.

“Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

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