04.12.10

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Patents Roundup: New Conferences, Oink of the Patent Lawyers in New Zealand, and TurboHercules’ Secret Home in 701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4200 Seattle, WA 98104

Posted in Europe, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 8:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TurboHercules

Summary: The latest software patents news from New Zealand, Europe, the United States, and an American Microsoft proxy that pretends to be European (near the Commission)

LATER this week — on Thursday to be precise — people will speak about patents at the 2010 Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. The list of speakers is interesting because it includes some lawyer types who do not oppose software patents.

The EPIP conference is also looking for paper submissions. Emphasis will be put on Free software and software patents, oddly enough (because the conference is in Europe).

This year an emphasis will be given to the issues of IPR and development and open source. Papers addressing the challenges encountered by developing countries in the context of the TRIPS (trade related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement, the protection of traditional knowledge, the issues of IPR and health and access to knowledge in developing countries, and the challenging view of the open source alternative to IPR will be particularly welcome.

Over in New Zealand, it’s mostly the lawyer types who stifle a necessary reform that would explicitly forbid software patents [1, 2, 3, 4]. Watch the following new video from New Zealand (NZOSS) and listen to the background sounds.


Direct link

Here is IDG’s latest update on the situation in New Zealand:

Commerce Minister Simon Power says the Government will back changes proposed by a select committee that will mean computer software can no longer be patented.

Parliament’s commerce select committee proposed amending the Patents Bill, which passed its first reading in May last year, after receiving many submissions on the controversial issue.

As we pointed out a couple of days ago, Judge Stevens is retiring and this is a big deal because of his involvement in the Bilski case. The president of the FFII, Benjamin Henrion, shows that a “Patent Attorney is afraid of Judge Stevens for writing Bilski decision, hopes he retires soon” (well, he got his wish fulfilled).

Henrion has also spotted IPKat’s new essay on what he calls “the UPLS attempt to validate software patents in Europe” (the former can facilitate the latter).

“Where are we now?” is the question on everyone’s lips when it comes to the long trek from national patents alone to the desired destination, the Promised Land of the single patent for the European Union and a centralised and harmonised patent litigation system. Explaining the background, Oliver Varhelyi (Head of Unit, DG Internal Market and Services, European Commission) described the legal bases on which the form and substance of the agreed new regime could be reached through a combination of unanimous and majority votes.

We cannot quite avoid speaking about the curious case of TurboHercules — a case that we’ve covered in :

  1. Microsoft Proxy Attack on GNU/Linux Continues With TurboHercules
  2. Eye on Security: Windows Malware, Emergency Patches, and BeyondTrust’s CEO from Microsoft
  3. IBM Uses Software Patents Aggressively
  4. IBM’s Day of Shame
  5. IBM Will Never be the Same After Taking Software Patents Out of Its Holster
  6. Thumbs up to Ubuntu for Removing a Part of Microsoft; TurboHercules Likely a Psystar-Type Microsoft Shell
  7. Why IBM Does Deserve Scrutiny (Updated)
  8. Patents Roundup: Fordham Conference for Software Patents in Europe, NZOSS Responds to Pro-Software Patents Lobbyists, and TurboHercules’ Ties With Microsoft Explained
  9. Florian Müller Seemingly Connected to CCIA (Microsoft Proxy)

Intel’s heinous crimes did not prevent HP from getting closer to Barrett this month (he is among the key people who attacked OLPC), but we were more interested in understating HP’s possible role in the TurboHercules case. Groklaw has just explained this relationship. It’s great work from Pamela Jones; in fact, many updates on her previous post show that TurboHercules used a simple trick to pull the list of patents from IBM. The closer one looks, the worse it looks for TurboHercules, whose location is elucidated as follows in one of the comments:

I am purposefully not making these links HTML clickable so there won’t be referring clicks from Groklaw. You can copy them into your browser to verify if you want to.

The TurboHercules website is at http://www.turbohercules.com where it is clearly the right site, talking about the TurboHercules emulator and founder Roger Bowler. The About Us page at http://www.turbohercules.com/about/ has their Paris, France address.

At http://www.turbohercules.com/resources/permalink/turbohercules-overview/ is a link to the PDF of a whitepaper http://www.turbohercules.com/uploads/main/TurboHercules_Overview_1.pdf “TurboHercules Overview: A Quick Overview of the TurboHercules System” which at the bottom of the cover page lists the address “TurboHercules Inc. | 701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4200 Seattle, WA 98104″

There is also a marketing brochure at http://www.turbohercules.com/uploads/main/Turbohercules_Brochure_IDF_1.pdf that has the same address. An interesting snippet from it: “TurboHercules has approached IBM to consider making available to its mainframe customers a license for IBM operating systems on the Hercules platform.”

As Groklaw shows, it is also a Windows company, not quite an “open source” company as Florian Müller and others from that same ilk want reporters to believe (Müller has failed to properly deny his role).

All in all, patent law is broken, yet some people mischaracterise the problem by pointing their finger in the wrong direction. Mike Masnick responds:

This is a problem that happens all too often in these discussions. Folks who don’t know much about how innovation really occurs in the tech world, and who falsely conflate concepts in tangible property with a completely different government-granted monopoly right — automatically assume that infringement is the equivalent of “stealing.” Are there cases where big companies “copy” an idea from a small company? Yes, absolutely. But it’s a lot more rare than many make it out to be. The really innovative ideas? Those are the ones that big companies don’t even realize are big ideas until it’s too late.

Very few people who are developers would deny their disdain of software patents; it’s mostly them who matter, but it’s rarely them who vote on the subject. The “Litigation Industrial Complex” runs this show.

“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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