European Debate on Patents Should Borrow Lessons From Apple vs. Samsung

Posted in Patents at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Updates on patents from Europe and some uses of the Apple vs. Samsung case to show why a US-style system is misguided at best if not truly destructive as a whole

CAFC was recently accused of legitimising software patents in the US, but who is behind the effort to bring these to the EU?

The “European Patent Office is not accountable to any democratic body in Europe,” says Simon Phipps, citing Karsten from the FSFE. He writes:

Now that software patents are back on the table, it’s important to understand how the European patent system actually works. You need to know this in order to discuss the unitary patent and FSFE’s demands with the MEPs you call and ask for support.

The most surprising point is that the European patent system isn’t actually in any way related to the European Union. Instead, it is run by the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg). This is an entirely different organisation from the EU. It is governed by the European Patent Convention. The EU and the EPOrg are two separate supranational bodies. The EPOrg is not subject to decisions of the European Union or the European Court of Justice.

The EPOrg consists of two bodies: The European Patent Office (EPO) as an executive body, and the Administrative Council as a supervisory body. The Administrative Council exercises very little control, so that the EPO basically runs itself. While the EPO claims that it merely administers existing law, it has over the years, little by little, reinterpreted the limits of the European Patent Convention.

The EPO has been suppressing critical comments and the FSFE is not alone in criticising the EPO, which is run by beaurocrats and patent lawyers.

We recently found a lawyers’ site trying to appear balanced while the patent lawyers lobby to storm the media and push for the loophole that facilitates a greater patent mess (i.e. business for lawyers) in Europe, especially after experts warn about this whole travesty. This is rather telling:

The AmeriKat urges readers to distribute these documents to your contacts in the media, government and industry. When the Max Planck Institute flexes their intellectual muscles and concludes that the unitary patent proposals have the potential to be worse than the current system, its time for politicians in Brussels and the Heads of State to listen.

There is more of this lobbying for the Unitary Patent in other patent lawyers’ sites. Resistance to it uses the Apple case as a cautionary tale:

For a couple of years, patents have hit the headlines with companies struggling to buy out portfolios of bankrupted competitors, with more and more ridiculous obvious patents granted by patent offices, or with “trials of the century” going on and on. This inflation of concerns around patents has culminated on August 24th, 2012, with Samsung being found liable for infringing some of Apple’s mobile patents by a Californian jury. This over one billion dollars fine has given concrete expression to Steve Jobs’ testimony, as laid down in his posthumous biography: “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product, I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

The New York Times article indicates that Apple said they spent millions to develop the slide to unlock. This is nonsense. It was invented millennia earlier. There is friction even within Apple:

Soon after, Apple and Google stopped returning phone calls. The company behind Siri switched its partnership from Phillips to Ricci’s firm. And the millions of dollars Phillips had set aside for research and development were redirected to lawyers and court fees.

When the first lawsuit went to trial last year, Phillips won. In the companies’ only courtroom faceoff, a jury ruled that Phillips had not infringed on a broad voice recognition patent owned by Ricci’s company.

But it was too late. The suit had cost $3 million, and the financial damage was done. In December, Phillips agreed to sell his company to Ricci.

Apple and Microsoft continue to arm themselves with Android- and user-hostile patents [1, 2] as the trial of most importance carries on:

The Apple v. Samsung battle is being fought just as hard after the trial as before it and during it. Maybe harder. If you’ve ever wondered how it would look if your lawyer really fought hard for you, this is how. Both sides are doing everything they can think of for their client, but particularly Samsung. It’s quite a sight, I must say.

This whole charade, from both sides in fact, has only helped show how patents hold innovation back.

Patent Debates After the Apple Debacle

Posted in Apple, Patents at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Couple chats

Summary: A collection of patent news, especially news about software patents and patent trolls which use these

THERE has been a huge number of articles about patents since Apple got a favourablealbeit corrupt — ruling.

Apple co-founder Woz disagrees the other co-founder, Steve Jobs, and his potential "thermonuclear" war on Android, wasting Google’s time and money, slowing down innovation and progress.

So-called ‘legal’ folks talk about software patents and FOSS folks like the OSI’s head, Simon Phipps, provide actual evidence. For instance:

Recent research supports view that patent troll activity is rising — costing America a fortune in wasted legal fees and lost jobs

A game widely known in the FOSS community has been hit:

Software patents: this needs to stop. X Plane is an awesome flight simulator, made by an independent developer who injects tons of innovations in his product and he is been patent trolled.

The EFF gets increasingly involved and the press too calls firms “patent trolls” even in headlines (but not the mainstream press). There are around 9,423 patents on the subject of WiFi alone and some trolls exploit this to create thickets. Some even put thickets around the Web:

The New York Times has decided to take on the noble task of battling the scum of the Earth: patent trolls.

Rather that cave into one troll’s ludicrous monetary demand for what essentially is the basis of the internet, the Times’ lawyers have headed for the court room, says the Associated Press. At issue? Hyperlinks in text messages.

Here is another troll which harms the Web. We recently found out that W3C people too had lobbied for FRAND. It’s just like RAND, but rather than sounding random it sounds like “friend” and the F stands for “fair”. It’s a propaganda term for software patents, championed by IBM, Microsoft, and so on. It is like calling war “for peace” and the W3C just embarrasses itself again [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Vista 8 Drives Away OEMs, Linux to Gain

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Covered by snow

Summary: Windows is having a hard time getting bundled with tomorrow’s hardware, suggest reports

The Vista 8 crisis and the collapse of the Windows monopoly sure affect OEMs. They are turning the other way and citing this report, BGR says:

Microsoft’s Surface tablet continues to ruffle feathers ahead of its imminent launch next week. According to a report on Friday from Digitimes, Microsoft’s partners feel their software supplier “will no longer be concerned about its downstream partners’ thoughts or complaints” following the launch of the Redmond, Washington-based company’s debut tablet. Instead Microsoft is focused on establishing its own hardware business and breaking into the tablet market that has eluded it thus far.

This is driving many companies to Android and GNU with Linux, e.g. ChromeOS or Ubuntu. Benioff says that this is the end for Windows [1, 2]:

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 will mark “the end” of the computer industry’s dominant OS due to increasing competition and choice sparked by alternatives, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff predicted Friday.

Windows 8 is a catalyst or “gambit” for CIOs, forcing them to say “am I going to Windows 8, or am I going to something else,” Benioff said during a question-and-answer session at Salesforce.com’s Cloudforce event in New York, which was webcast.

There is already fragmentation in Windows, not just in Windows file systems, and in turn this removes the inertia/advantage of applications compatibility. Hardware became a game changer. “Windows RT does not support running XNA applications,” quotes Patrick from Techrights. “You can still write an XNA game for Windows 8, but it won’t run on the Windows RT devices.”

“Microsoft,” he writes, “meet thy iceberg!”

There are other issues emerging:

Some claim confusion by consumers may have killed off GNU/Linux on netbooks. What will “8″ and “not 8″ do for WARM? I certainly cannot tell them apart from the “notStarting Up” and the “notStart” screens. I think */Linux on ARM is safe for now. I wonder if x86 is safe from GNU/Linux though? Consumers who will buy a PC with rectangular regions of the screen with widgets may well prefer it. If I were a retailer, I would stock up on GNU/Linux PCs just in case consumers run away from “8″.

We are at the cusp of change. The client side will soon be dominated by Linux.

Intel and Microsoft are so scared of ARM/Linux that they play dirty again, according to a blogger in Asia who writes:

As a government agency, SKMM has no rights in determining which software vendor’s solution should be used. Interestingly enough, it does not prescribe a preferred broadband service provider – which is the way it should be done.

The tender stinks of suspicion, especially looking at Microsoft’s poor records in using underhand tactics to promote it’s products. See for example, Microsoft’s indirect lobbying against OpenDocument Format (ODF) back in 2008, in Malaysia and the Phillipines.

Interestingly enough, Microsoft’s annual report declares how much of contribution to politicians it gives, down to individual House of Representatives and Senators’ names. Surely it can do the same on lobbying on a per-country basis?

Something similar happened in Thailand [1, 2, 3].

Canonical Does Not Want Critics, Mono Boosters Return

Posted in Mono, Patents, Ubuntu at 10:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Ubuntu’s founder, who calls critical Ubuntu users “trolls”, closes down some of the development process and suppresses voices which helped defend Ubuntu from bad policy like Mono inclusion by default

Techrights’ iophk has noticed that “there are still people trying to infect mono into Gnome and everything else,” to use his own words. Here is the evidence, which reminds of events from half a decade ago. We also learn about Mono infections in KeePass. To quote this one person, “I’ve been using KeePass as my password manager for some time now. It works on Windows and the Android, but on OS X it runs under Mono” (negative mention).

Not too long ago Canonical removed Mono under pressure from users of Ubuntu. The company is now closing down development, right after getting flak for not respecting privacy (by default) and many criticise the move. Mark Shutteworth is in ‘damage control’ mode right about now (see our Daily Links). Without public scrutiny or at better actual involvement Ubuntu might become more users’ rights-hostile. It is thanks to community involvement that antifeatures are kept out. This includes Mono. Watch Jan from Fedora as he spots the latest spin:

Reality Distortion, much? The future of .NET is Open Source! Whowuddathunk! http://haacked.com/archive/2012/10/21/monkeyspace-dotnet-oss.aspx

Microsoft drone Miguel de Icaza has been indirectly behind it:

MonkeySpace is a rebranded and refocused Monospace conference. While MonoSpace dealt mostly with Mono, the goal of Monkeyspace is to put the spotlight on .NET open source everywhere, not just on Mono. Obviously Mono is a big part of that. But so is Microsoft. But most of all, the many small “labor of love” projects from those in the .NET OSS community are a big part of this.

Canonical used to defend its Mono policy by saying it was Open Source, even though de Icaza admits an Open Core business model.

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