12.18.09

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European Commission Plans to Allow Patent Imperialism, Authorises Microsoft’s Attack on Free Software

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michel Barnier
The man whose job is to pass
anti-Free(dom) software laws

Summary: The EU Commission wants Michel Barnier to make the Community patent a reality (“community” being a euphemism that would fascinate even Orwell)

André Rebentisch points out that in these documents from the EU Commission exists evidence that it actually strives — not just considers — to create a back door for software patents to enter the continent. Here is the man to watch out for:

Mr Michel BARNIER

Commissioner designate
− We should work to make real progress on free movement of services, beginning with a full implementation of the Services Directive. A review of the professional qualifications legislation will also be needed.
− As to public procurement and intellectual property rights, you will take the lead on our efforts to secure the adoption of a Community patent, and developing effective policy for the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
− Integrated, efficient and safe financial markets are needed more than ever to help the EU economy grow again. However, the EU’s regulatory framework and the supervisory structures must be strengthened, and you will have a key role to ensure this happens.
To help you fulfil your responsibilities, DG MARKT will be under your authority as well as the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM).

Rebentisch has also taken a look at the Commission’s latest deal with Microsoft (we covered it in [1, 2, 3]) and found evidence that OOXML is indeed the scam people have been warning about. From the summary:

Microsoft will document “additional information” to ECMA 376 and will comply with ECMA 376 1st January and shields the freedom to create software as a work of art pour l’art.

The next section says: “Now the patent pledge for open source… developers!”

It is worth seeing all the nasty verbiage that Microsoft has bundled so as to exclude Free software. It is truly appalling, so the FSFE, Groklaw, Glyn Moody and other parties that are familiar with these matters have publicly complained. Matt Asay, on the other hand, seems to have fallen victim to the PR. He is belittling Microsoft’s crimes, which are very unique, leading to some negative comments. “Matt seems to pity the tiger,” argues Neko Nata and Steve Stites wrote a long response which includes the following reference to Novell, Asay’s former employer.

The Novell contract was an agreement meant to bring Open Source under Microsoft’s control. Steve Ballmer was surprised when the Open Source movement defeated the contract by simply boycotting Novell.

Recently we’ve been finding claims that Microsoft deliberately settles with some patent trolls so that they proceed to terrifying the entire industry. Bill Gates and Microsoft happen to fund the world's biggest patent troll. Watch this latest consequence, which we mentioned just the other day.

Secretive Patent Holder Sues Lots Of Companies For Remote Activation Software

[...]

Obviously, none of those companies could have come up with ways to remotely activate software without this patent (yes, that’s sarcasm). As the Register notes in the link above, even some of the software products listed as violating this patent don’t seem to involve activation at all, raising serious questions about how they could possibly violate this patent. This sounds like yet another case of someone having read the book Rembrandt’s in the Attic and deciding to go trolling for companies to sue with a meaningless patent.

This system of high risk is problematic for Free software and Microsoft knows it (both lawsuits and perceived risk are harmful). That’s why Microsoft fuels it.

“Small Software companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?” —Marco Schulze, Nightlabs Gmbh

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8 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 18, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Gravatar

    As for Matt being out of touch, his background includes Novell. No telling what’s up with him now but a bad start like that in his career isn’t going to turn around slowly.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Gravatar

    The quote from Marco Schulze is great but it misses the larger group at risk: small and medium sized companies. If the issue were copyright, then the quote would be spot-on. However, the issue is usage of software, that’s what patents are about: usage. So the phrasing should be unquoted and corrected to take into account the real scope of the threat:

    “Small companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?”

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Don’t you just repeat the point he made?

  3. Jose_X said,

    December 19, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Gravatar

    We need to market patent problems much louder so that ordinary people realize their losses and petition their representatives.

  4. Jose_X said,

    December 19, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Gravatar

    I thought it was bad news when the FFII guy (sorry, don’t remember name) got that award. I think it was their way of getting rid of him while smiling for the cameras (let him have his moment in the spotlight while we get some votes of approval, they likely thought).

    Jose_X Reply:

    I hope this comment is not taken as disrespectful. Here is a link http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/about/founder.html

    >> Mr. Müller asked us to mention that he views those awards and honors as “a recognition of what our overall resistance movement achieved”. He stresses that he owes his nominations “to all activists and citizens who supported our cause, especially to the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure)”.

    What I am saying is that I worry that giving the award (directly or indirectly) was a way to make concession (tip hat) to a worthy foe but ultimately not give in.

    Jose_X Reply:

    The community patent might end up being a weak(er) law or it might not.

    I think the lesson to be learned is that this is a constant battle.

    What we have to show is that the more time passes, the more people dislike patents and associate the monopolies with an abuse of power, an infringement on people’s rights, a decrease in competition and in innovation, an increase in costs, a consolidation of power, etc.

    [I posted this the other day: http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/12/predicted-2009-patent-application-filings.html?cid=6a00d8341c588553ef0128765f242c970c#comment-6a00d8341c588553ef0128765f242c970c ]

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Right now he works with Monty on the MySQL situation.

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