01.09.09

Patents Roundup: Food for Thought

Posted in America, Bill Gates, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Patents at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AS WE HASTILY ACCUMULATE AND ORGANISE antitrust material (almost toiling), we find ourselves unable to keep up with the news, but here are some read-worthy items on intellectual monopolies, without particular emphasis on just software.

Philosophy

It is heartening to find more and more critics of our intellectual property regime, partly as a result of growing knowledge but more importantly, the growing critical reaction to the extreme excesses of the application of the law. A new voice for me is that of Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. whose book, THE CONSERVATIVE NANNY STATE; How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer, is available for download on line link here under a Creative Commons license. The book is about much more than IP, as the subtitle indicates, but this review focuses on the IP issues Baker covers. He calls the chapter, “Bill Gates Welfare Mom: How Government Patent and Copyright Monopolies Enrich the Rich and Distort the Economy”.

He begins by examining the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, and Microsoft, noting that it was not Gates hard work or brilliance, or the superiority of his software, but his government provided monopoly based on IP law that made him today’s Croesus.

An anonymous reader called our attention to a comment reposting some fantastic thinking on the dangerous trend of believing we can own, sell or steal ideas.

Light at the end of the tunnel: Will tough times bring on boom times for patent acquirers?

That’s what Joff Wild concludes in another article on this subject. Here’s the equation: Recession equals (patent-owning) companies going out of business equals auctioning off of these assets as companies try to raise cash to pay creditors equals more opportunities to acquire patents (both from bankruptcies and solvent companies that want to raise cash).

While this may be a patent troll/NPE’s (Non-Practicing Entity) modus operandi for building up a portfolio, any company that develops and sells products, seeks new technologies, and is willing to spend cash can do the same. According to Wild, it’s a great way to save R&D time and money.

Yes, tough times can sink a business. But just like in any other enterprise, IP investors can look for the silver lining – opportunities to turn financial turmoil to financial success.

Patent Trolling

Things are not helped by a Commission that often seems to hold contradictory views on IP (although Commissioners are set t be replaced in June 2009). What could change things is if European leaders get the bit between their teeth, as the seemed to in 2007. With so many other things to worry about, however, you have to wonder whether there will be time for patents in 2009.

[I]t does look like the Federal Circuit is at least somewhat paying attention to this issue, and recently transferred a patent infringement lawsuit out of Marshall, Texas, to Ohio, after noting that Ohio was “far more convenient.”

Reform Needed

While it’s taken quite some time, the EFF has had considerable success with its project to bust ten awful patents. The latest is that the USPTO has agreed to re-examine a patent from Seer Systems involving online music.

“Patent busting is a waste of time: even when successful, it takes too long [...] Need root and branch reform, not rollback,” writes Glyn Moody. The same goes for Linux Defenders [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

More about the case which we covered 2 days ago:

The last two years have seen plenty of patent litigation among storage companies, including a battle between Sun Microsystems and NetApp Inc. that is still ongoing. However, other patent lawsuits that have made a splash in the storage industry, such as Quantum’s suit against Riverbed, have been settled out of court or otherwise fizzled like this one. In the Sun case, at least one of the patents cited by NetApp in suing Sun has been taken off the table by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office due to similar enforcement issues. So far the lawsuits are looking like key talking points for those who argue the patent system in general badly needs reform.

Overall, it’s still a problematic situation.

“They [EPO examiners] claim that the organisation
is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents
as possible to gain financially from fees generated.”

—Expatica, European Patent Office staff on strike

FOSDEM Gets Flak Because of Novell Sponsorship

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Novell at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SOME OF US saw this happening in India [1, 2, 3, 4] and we’ve already voiced concerns about FOSDEM as well. It turns out we’re now alone. Here is a formal letter of complaint about Novell’s sponsorship of FOSDEM 2009:

The community is very important, and that is the reason why it shouldn’t blandly (pun intended) accept money from an element which has “bought” its way into the community with “dirty” money, using it as a sort of cheap good-will shop to increase it’s leverage in it. This is particularly bad as it is a close partner of a certain monopolist software company which has been trying to kill Free Software for over a decade.

[...]

Instead of making a single effort to calm the ocean waters, by rejecting community-dividing patent agreements, by enticing their top engineers to write community embracing comments instead of further dividing the community with extremely hostile comments (that apparently forget years of bad blood against the Free Software bore by Microsoft and incited upon it’s partner networks). Just notice how Novell doesn’t do a single action in this direction, but instead keeps announcing more and more Microsoft integration and support. What’s wrong with this picture?

In conclusion, please tell us how much do you need the community to help you, with hard cash, in order to replace Novell’s sad contribution. I’m sure that given a goal we’ll meet it, if not for 2009, then surely for 2010.

Here’s to a great FOSDEM’09 without proprietary software sponsors!

Maybe it’s a little bit like OSCON and OSBC. Those who accept Microsoft or Novell money are causing damage to their own conference/symposium.

Say No to Novell

Why Apple Supports OOXML

Posted in Apple, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 5:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IN response to this previous post about ODF support in AbiWord, one reader wrote: “iWork 09 have no support yet! shame on Apple!”

Although I’ve responded to this personally, I also sought points of interest in an old Microsoft-Apple engagement, which is similar to that of Microsoft-Corel and Microsoft-Novell, both being cases of companies that sold out to Microsoft and supported OOXML [1, 2].

“Steve Jobs essentially promotes duopoly with Microsoft on the desktop.”We’re deep-linking to a YouTube video here. Watch Steve Jobs saying (back in 1997) that “Apple plus Microsoft equals 100% of the desktop computer market. And so, whatever Apple and Microsoft agree to do, it’s a standard.”

The head of the Open Source Initiative sort of accused Novell of helping Microsoft create "Monopoly 2.0" (or duopoly), so the video above tickles a nerve. Steve Jobs essentially promotes duopoly with Microsoft on the desktop. He also ignores the existence of GNU/Linux (Apple always ignores it, to this date) and other operating systems from that time.

There was a similar incident where browser duopoly got promote by Jobs, who pretended that only Safari and Internet Explorer would exist. Apple also pushed Safari installations, slipping them by the back door (iTunes), just like malware writers typically do. In both cases, Mozilla complained publicly.

Apple’s treatment of OOXML is a subject that we covered before [1, 2] and there was a note about ODF as well. Microsoft actually cited Apple (repeatedly even) as “supporter of OOXML.”

Bob Sutor has meanwhile put ISO in the trashcan for being coprruptible. He totally ignores its existence. ODF, which is maintained by OASIS, will soon have this “ODF Congres” meeting in Utrecht (The Netherlands). ODF is where the world is going.

ISO Sold Out to ECMA

“ISO is dead for software standards. Do you need an official funeral?”

Benjamin Henrion, FFII

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 8th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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