04.09.09

Patents Roundup: OIN to Strike Back, Apple Clarifies, Lawsuits Continue, and Turnaround Foreseen

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, HP, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SUN at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

novell-chair

THIS is the latest part in an endless series which explores our software patents landscape. As Jose X put it in last night’s post, “software patents [are] poised to cripple the industry and shut out real innovation.” This affects not only Free software, but as usual, we choose to focus on GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and GNU/Linux

In what came as somewhat of a surprise to many, Microsoft may be forced to pay $388 million for patent infringement. It’s a surprise because this decision was not widely anticipated.

News Analysis. Some court rulings are just rich with irony. Today, April 8, a jury found that Microsoft infringed on Uniloc patents for product activation. Microsoft uses the technology to protect its software from theft. Who’s stealing from whom?

I expect to read lots of comments on this blog praising today’s jury verdict, which ordered Microsoft to pay Uniloc $388 million. Gauging from comments on past posts about product activation, many of you don’t much like it.

This sum of money and the nature of this case is somewhat reminiscent of the Alcatel-Lucent case (involving MP3 support in Windows). It has been a long, fierce battle [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

In other important news, there are more confirmations of the claim that OIN may strike back at Microsoft pretty soon (within weeks).

Indeed, Rooney quotes OIN CEO Keith Bergelt, who was interviewed by our sister site, LinuxDevices, shortly after the Microsoft lawsuit was filed, as saying that there could be a “response” to Microsoft from the open source community in the coming weeks. “It’s Newton’s law. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” Bergelt was quoted as saying. The story goes on to quote Bergelt’s assertions that the settlement “says nothing about the validity of the patent.”

Another report (or opinion) suggests that the TomTom case may indeed be used against Microsoft:

So in the short term, Microsoft didn’t gain very much by picking on TomTom. And in the long term, the company’s decision to sue could explode in its face.

TomTom may have stepped aside, but some much bigger and better-funded open-source players are now stepping up to the plate. The Open Invention Network, for example, is already pondering a counterattack that could include legal action designed to invalidate Microsoft’s FAT patent.

The next few weeks will be interesting. Microsoft opened a Pandora’s box.

Apple

Slashdot has just brought back what is old news (but still new to some) about Apple polluting the Web with its patents. The company has a formal response to that and it doesn’t sound too good: “While the current draft patent policy does state a “preference” for royalty-free standards, the ready availability of a RAND option presents too easy an alternative for owners of intellectual property who may seek to use the standardization process to control access to fundamental Web standards. A mandatory royalty-free requirement for all adopted standards will avoid this result.

Well, RAND and Free software don't work together. Apple ought to know this.

Victims of Communication

One recent patent victim which was mentioned a few days ago is Hewlett-Packard. According to this report, it bailed.

Hewlett-Packard has cashed out of a four-year-old Wi-Fi patent lawsuit from Australia’s national science agency that’s targeted a who’s-who list of big tech vendors with wireless products.

Communication is an area where the patent thicket has always been notorious and now there is another massive lawsuit:

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. and Circle K Stores Inc. were two of nine companies named in a lawsuit filed by Emsat Advanced Geo-Location Technology LLC and patent licensee Location Based Services LLC, alleging the defendants of infringing patents covering enhanced 911 services in cell phones, Law360.com reported.

[...]

The suit claims the telecommunications companies infringe patents titled “Cellular telephone system that uses position of a mobile unit to make call management decisions,” issued between 1999 and 2007, and covering location services for 911 calls, allowing for increased accuracy in determining the location of a cell phone user who has placed a call to an emergency operator, the report stated, citing the complaint. It also alleged the companies infringe a patent application filed January 2008, titled “Cellular telephone system that uses position of a mobile unit to make call management decisions.”

Why are such patents granted in the first place? It’s truly an embarrassment to the practice of patenting.

Turnarounds

As an update on the situation in India [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], someone who is trying to legalise them wrote this article which explains where the system stands. [via Digital Majority]

In India, for administrative convenience, four patent offices are located in metropolitan cities. However, the offices are inconsistent in their practice with regard to software inventions, mainly due to the lack of clear guidelines. While the Indian Patent Office largely relies on the practice of the European and UK patent offices, there have been instances where inventions claiming software methods with a technical effect that have been allowed by the European or UK patent office have nonetheless been rejected by Indian Patent Office officials on the following grounds:

• The term “technical effect” is not defined in the Indian Patents Act.
• The Draft Manual is not binding on the examiners, as it is only in draft form.
• There are no Indian precedents in respect of software inventions.

As a side note, here is another call for a “global patent”, which is somewhat of a euphemism (think globalisation, like Community patent, harmonisation or centralised court for increased damages, software patents, and so on).

Here is another new editorial about the proposed patent deform[sic] bill in the United States. It addresses the wrong questions and dodges common criticisms like those relating to software patents.

It isn’t often that you see heavyweights in the tech world duking it out in a high-stakes match, with Congress as the referee. It’s happening today over proposed reforms in patent law, which pits the software and information technology giants against their counterparts in biotech. The issues are as fascinating as they are thorny — and while each side paints the choices as black and white, there’s enough gray here to cover a fleet of battleships.

[...]

One reform everyone agrees on is the need to expedite patent applications. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has just over 5,000 underpaid and overworked examiners to review more than 400,000 new applications each year. It would take them two years just to catch up on the current backlog if no new applications arrived. This, too, is stifling innovation. The office needs the money for more staff.

One person opines that software patents, just like network neutrality, suffers from serious misconceptions.

Software patents may be going the way of network neutrality: an arcane policy problem once the preserve of a small circle of wonks is becoming a politicized slanging match. In both cases an esoteric but important research question has become a point of leverage for certain interest groups. In both cases the subject (“network neutrality”, “software patents”) is at best poorly defined, typically has multiple possible meanings, and at worst is so vague as to be useless. And in both cases, the poster child is the small-time innovator, while the sugar daddy is a big money player minimizing costs (e.g. content providers who love net neutrality, and VCs who hate software patents).

Assuming that it’s true and software patents are standing on their last leg, why can’t the Bilski test be invoked? Sun Microsystems has just heroically attempted this but failed due to some federal judge.

A federal judge has shot down an attempt by Sun Microsystems Inc. to use the Bilski test to invalidate two patents for product configuration software held by Versata Software Inc. that Sun is accused of infringing.

Here is an interesting new essay titled “Ten Reasons the Supreme Court Should Take In re Bilski.”

Erika Arner is the co-author of the Bilski petition for certiorari challenging the Federal Circuit’s limits on the patentability of method claims. She handles patent prosecution and litigation at Finnegan Henderson in DC. I asked Ms Arner to write this post.

The thing to look forward to at this stage is OIN’s response to Microsoft, but all in all, this only legitimises software patents rather than challenge them. IBM would not mind.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2009/04/09/oin-to-strike-back/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Bill Gates Exposed

    While publishers like ZDNet worked hard (on Microsoft's budget) to distract us from real scandals many nefarious things were happening; are we witnessing the fall of Gates?



  2. Welcome to ZDNet's 'Linux' Section...

    ZDNet, which defamed RMS to help distract from Bill Gates scandals, is doing what the sponsors (IBM, Microsoft, Linux Foundation) pay for



  3. Europe's Second-Largest Institution, the EPO, is Partly Based in the United States

    The EPO has outsourced its operations, including its 'courts', to the United States; this seems to be the so-called 'New Normal'



  4. You Look for Linux News and Instead It's Microsoft Noise and Openwashing

    Imagine trying to go about doing your own 'business', only to be confronted by paid-for plugs (sponsored) by the people trying to undercut/undermine your business; welcome to "Linux" in 2021



  5. Links 11/5/2021: Maui 1.2.2 and Tor Releases

    Links for the day



  6. The Next Generation of Free Software (or Software Freedom) Activism, Tackling Newer Problems

    New challenges as labour rights and human rights are further eroded, thanks to 'high' 'tech' with its very 'innovative' 'features'



  7. Mass Litigation Over the Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP), Basically an Attack on All EPO Staff, Even EPO Pensioners

    “Importance of a binding and unambiguous erga omnes declaration” stressed by staff representatives of the EPO in a new letter to Benoît Battistelli‘s successor of choice, António Campinos, who has done nothing so far except attacking (or robbing) EPO staff, even EPO pensioners



  8. EPO 'Dialogue' With Staff Representatives is as Dead as 'Dialogue' With the Union

    “Yet another failure of social [sic] dialogue [sic] for Mr Campinos,” according to staff representatives, who rightly bemoan the Office president not giving a damn about staff; things quickly deteriorate in Europe’s second-largest institution, which does even worse things than granting loads of illegal European software patents (harming software producers and users alike)



  9. The FSF Needs to Reject OSI (and Open Source) Along With Much-Needed Rejection of the GNOME Foundation (Not the Same as the GNOME Project)

    Response to a good little speech (unscripted apparently) by Geoffrey Knauth, who explained his position on Open Source about a year ago



  10. Links 11/5/2021: Bodhi Linux 6.0, Coreboot 4.14, and DragonFly BSD 6.0

    Links for the day



  11. IRC Proceedings: Monday, May 10, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, May 10, 2021



  12. Keynote by FSF President Geoff Knauth and Executive Director John Sullivan

    To quote the source: “FSF president Geoff Knauth became the president of the FSF in 2020, but has served on the FSF board of directors for over twenty years. FSF executive director John Sullivan started work with the FSF in 2003, and has never stopped since, with past roles including the FSF’s first Campaigns Manager and later the Manager of Operations.”



  13. Richard Stallman on Companies That Are “Only Pretending to be American Companies”

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, speaks about US politics being captured and dominated by large and multinational corporations in pursuit of just money and power



  14. Last Night's Talk by Richard Stallman About Software Freedom

    An inspiring new talk reminds many of us why loads of people continue to support the founder of the Free Software Movement



  15. Links 10/5/2021: Huawei's GNU/Linux Laptops and Kotlin 1.5.0

    Links for the day



  16. Richard Stallman on Writing rm, ls, and cp (Also Working on Bison)

    Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation's founder, explains what programs he developed in the eighties



  17. Raise the Roof

    Out comes the taxpayers’ subsidy, assured; with military the sky is the limit (and bailout guaranteed)



  18. Richard Stallman Replatformed 10 Hours From Now

    Link to the talk (when it goes live)



  19. [Meme] Bill Says, Bill Saves

    Bill Gates seems more likely to be indicted than to win a presidential election/term



  20. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, May 09, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, May 09, 2021



  21. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Gates’s Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein Caused the Bill-Melinda Divorce (While the Media Deflected to Dr. Stallman, Using a Phony 'Scandal')

    It’s becoming rather obvious that there’s real substance to accusations that Mr. Gates was in some sense enabling Jeffrey Epstein; while Gates-funded media told us that he was saving us from climate change and a pandemic (PR stunts for empathy and sympathy) Melinda worked really hard to distance herself from him, the father of her kids



  22. [Meme] Bill, What's Your Opinion?

    While it's ludicrous to insinuate that Mr. Gates somehow "started" COVID-19 he certainly "rode the wave" for reputation laundering purposes, profit, and distraction from scandals that precede the epidemic in China (and caused his marriage to break down)



  23. Links 10/5/2021: SystemRescueCD 8.03, KeePass 2.48 Released

    Links for the day



  24. How We Process and Upload Videos Hosted in Techrights

    With ffmpeg as the Swiss army knife (and various other utilities/programs ‘in between’) it’s possible to automate much of the pipeline associated with video production and self-hosting



  25. Richard Stallman's Free Software Speech in 2020 (FSF Turning 35)

    We've re-encoded (as WebM) the likely sole/only speech Richard Stallman gave about his movement last year; today seems like a suitable time to republish it because tomorrow a British university/group will replatform him (to use their term)



  26. The Chaos Theory

    Making GNU/Linux less stable and less predictable isn't good for GNU/Linux users; but it certainly helps sell Red Hat support contracts and vexation inside the community weakens Red Hat's competitors



  27. Gemini and Techrights: Still Growing in Gemini Space and Always Supporting/Loving the Protocol

    As we continue to expand in Gemini space (where our very large site became a very large and likely the largest capsule) it's worth explaining some of the overlooked merits of the protocol; unlike the World Wide Web (WWW) it does not impose things on the user/visitor, who is more or less in charge



  28. Links 9/5/2021: KDE Frameworks 5.82.0 Release and Patents Related to COVID Subjected to Waivers

    Links for the day



  29. Act More 'Professional' to Appease Mobs

    We should all think alike, dress alike, and like everybody (especially the business overlords)



  30. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, May 08, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, May 08, 2021


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