05.13.09

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Novell Still Validates Software Patents by Applying for More

Posted in Europe, Law, Novell, Patents at 2:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A discussion commences with Novell’s attitude towards software patents and proceeds to the situation in Europe and elsewhere

IT IS hardly news that Novell is part of the software patents problem [1, 2]. It keeps applying for more and more of them and here is the very latest from the news:

System and method for staggering the start time of scheduled actions for a group of networked computers, patent No. 7,533,188, invented by Thomas Greger of Lehi, assigned to Novell, Inc. of Provo.

That’s in the US, which as far as software patents are concerned is almost a lost cause (bar Bilski). Looking over at Europe, which is in a bad shape right now, Novell did not submit anything in opposition to software patents (even I did so as an individual). Novell simply does not care or does not oppose software patents (consent by silence for PR considerations), which it uses to its advantage. It’s a bit of a farce, even for a self-proclaimed mixed-source company. Here in the news we find others who are misusing the word “open” to characterise closed pools of monopolies with plenty of patents. There is nothing “open” about it.

There is actually a lot more to be concerned about at the moment. Also in Europe, we’re finding two good reports from IPJur.com, which warns about a new type of monster:

i. PCT II – A Step Towards A ‘World Patent’?

Recently WIPO has published Document PCT/WG/2/12 for the second session of the PCT Working Group to be held in Geneva from May 04 to 08, 2009.

The above-cited document contains a proposal by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a comprehensive revision of the international patent system which would result in the establishment of a new Patent Cooperation Treaty, PCT II….According to the Document it is envisioned that applications receiving a positive report at the end of the international/national processing would essentially result in automatic patent grants in all member States.

ii. Further News Concerning the EU Project ‘Enhancing The Patent System In Europe’

With Document 9549/09, on May 08, 2009, the Czech EU Presidency has addressed the EU Permanent Representatives Committee COREPER (Part 1) concerning the preparation of the EU Competitiveness Council of May 28 – 29, 2009 with regard to the project titled Enhancing the patent system in Europe concerning:

* Proposal for a Regulation of the Council on the Community patent, and
* Draft Agreement creating a Unified Patent Litigation System.

At its meeting on December 01, 2008, the EU Competitiveness Council had taken note of a progress report prepared by the French Presidency (Document 16006/08) and instructed the Working Party to continue work on the patent litigation system and the Community patent with a view to finding solutions and reaching agreement in both areas as soon as possible. In line with this Council mandate, the Czech Presidency has convened six Working Party meetings so far, with about equal time having been devoted to the unified patent litigation system and the Community patent.

The “Community patent” is an ongoing problem which is a threat to the real community (Free software community). A euphemisms-filled language is very deceiving, and it’s intended to be so. As this one person put it some days ago:

I think European government should be aware of this wolf in sheep’s clothing that patents may be for medium and little companies and they should avoid software patents to be approved.

To recommend some other new write-ups on this subject, here is an academic paper about patent trolls.

While each patent dispute is unique, most fit the profile of one of a limited number of patent litigation stories. A dispute between an independent inventor and a large company, for instance, is often cast in “David v. Goliath” terms. When two large companies fight over patents, in contrast, they are said to be playing the “sport of kings.” Some corporations engage in “defensive patenting” in order to deter others from suing them. Patent licensing and enforcement entities who sue have been labeled “trolls.” Finally, observers of the patent system call the use of patent litigation to impose or exploit financial distress “patent predation.”

Further to Intel's Grove spilling of the beans on the patent bubble, here is one reaction from a Microsoft MVP — one who may have taken pride in his beloved company’s misguided direction.

Last Saturday night there was a star laced event which included all of the big wigs of Silicon Valley. The guest speaker was a the former CEO of Intel, Andrew Grove, who painted a picture that Silicon Valley could be heading the way of Wall Street.

That comparison to Wall Street would probably be suitable. We wish to recommend the following famous documentary called “Money As Debt”. It is a must-see for everyone because it explores an important subject which remains a taboo.

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