09.03.08

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“Peace of Mind” Over Piece of S* Software Patents, Lobbyists

Posted in Linspire, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Standard at 2:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linspire sold FUD, whereas Novell claims to be selling “intellectual property peace of mind” [1, 2, 3]. They are both in the business of GNU/Linux fear, having become partners of Microsoft (Linspire is dead now).

Since this whole Web site began, E-Channel Line has always provided a lot of Novell coverage. Virtually all of it was positive, so there is likely to be bias there. It is now, after Microsoft's latest cash infusion, that the site also talks about software patents.

That IP peace of mind being customers need not fret over being sued by Microsoft as the deal also includes a patent protection. The protection extends to Novell’s Linux users and covers any potential infringement of IP that allegedly exists in Linux.

Sadly, many Novell apologists look the other way and pretend that if they don’t know about this, then it has no impact. But ignoring problems or brushing and sweeping them under the rug does not make them go away; au contraire! It helps them grow quietly until it’s impossible to combat them.

“But ignoring problems or brushing and sweeping them under the rug does not make them go away…”So whilst Novell contaminates everything with .NET and OOXML patents, for which it claims to have acquired ‘protection’, a lot of people are asleep at the wheel. Instead of waking up and steering off the groove, they are shouting about Novell’s financial results, which they crave to embellish. They make Novell even stronger this way.

In reality, many patents of Microsoft are toothless tigers because there is no complete duplication of technology and no originality. Take the Page Up/Page Down patent as an example [1, 2, 3]. This latest article explains why the cost of reexamination is the greater concern, not the validity. It’ll never come to court as that would rubbish the patent and make Microsoft’s portfolio less formidable. It’s about perception and inspiration of fear.

Microsoft’s patent claim says that prior to its invention, a computer user couldn’t easily punch the Page Up or Page Down keys to scroll exactly one page down or up; instead, those buttons would move up or down a variable amount within a document, depending on how magnified the document’s text was.

The patent dossier lists Timothy Sellers, Heather Graham and Joshua Dersch, all of Washington state, as the inventors, and Microsoft as the patent owner.

It is not clear whether Microsoft’s patent will be enforceable. Another company could implement the same scrolling method if it can show that the technology was generally available and widely known before Microsoft filed a patent application.

Microsoft will not be able to assert ownership over the scrolling method in Canada because it has not yet filed an application for the same invention with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Another argument can be made with respect to the invalidity of software patents in the vast majority of the world. Using lobbyists [1, 2], Microsoft intends to continue its fight for their expansion, which the world must fight against. [via Digital Majority]

Florian Müller’s book tells you the intriguing story of how we all managed to influence policy makers by telling the truth against a plethora of paid lobbyists from Microsoft, Siemens etc.

As a reminder to those who think that standardisation means “no patents”, here is a quick pick from the news. [via Andy Updegrove]

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed consent order and complaint against Negotiated Data Solutions LLC (N-Data). In that matter, the agency alleged that the technology company engaged in unfair methods of competition and unfair acts or practices in violation of Sec. 5 of the FTC Act by enforcing certain patents against participants in a standard-setting organization employing Ethernet, a computer networking standard used in nearly every computer sold in the United States.

Imagine complying with standards only to get sued. Therein also lies one trouble with the Free software-hostile OOXML.

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2 Comments

  1. Yfrwlf said,

    September 3, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Gravatar

    The USPTO is a horrible blemish on the face of the planet. While citizens in other countries may be grateful for that reason they don’t live in the U.S., it still of course reaches out and effects the whole world along with all the other business interests.

    I think the most uncontroversial problem to be fixed is the horrible review job done by patent office employees. By rubber stamping anything and everything as being approved due to it being completely unique and non-obvious by anyone working in the industry, when the exact opposite is true, they aren’t even correctly doing the jobs they are SUPPOSED to be doing, let alone the fact that their jobs are at least 90% harmful and shouldn’t be done to begin with.

  2. pcole said,

    September 7, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Gravatar

    The USPTO is a fast growing bureaucracy, about 1200-1300 employees and growing. They have a backlog of approximately 1.3 million uninspected patents and growing daily.

    http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/25467

    Patents are supposed to be for something tangible; not software. Computer programs are mathematical expressions, algorithms, sufficiently covered by copyright law. The excuse used for swpats was to protect and generate innovation. No one has any proof that swpats has spurred innovation. Software developers are against swpats.

    http://endsoftpatents.org/what-practitioners-are-saying

    The PTO, as it’s used for software, is a tool for monopolies, like “Microvell”, to stamp out competition and steal others ideas (PgUp-PgDn patent).

    With the massive lobbying dollars in Washington feeding American greed; Do we really expect it to get better?

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