Bonum Certa Men Certa

Software Patents Again and Trolls on the Offensive

Assorted news on a new breed of trolls (software patents)

An issue close to our hearts is the nature of software patents, particularly their impact on Free software and relentless attempts to force the world as a whole (not just a handful of nations) to adopt, accept and and recognise them. So here is a roundup of news and picks.

Free Software Icons Comment on Software Patent



This new column piece from Jeremy Allison was aired by ZDNet and also appeared in Tux Deluxe. He uses an astronomical exploration analogy to explain why software patents are a bad, bad idea.

What innovations are we stifling right now with patents that lock out the scientists, amateur and professional, from research ? What new software can't be created due to these restrictions. We may never know what we didn't discover or create due to their chilling effects.

It's like people claiming ownership on particular areas of the sky, and just as absurd. “You can't look at that star, it's mine, I patented looking there. Here's a coin-operated telescope if you want to peek”. Good luck making scientific progress in astronomy with these restrictions.


Unless you are a lawyer or an economist, it's unlikely to that this is beneficial to you. Glyn Moody published his exchange on this issue with Mark Shuttleworth. It touches on software patents.

As for patents in software, I think society does a very bad deal when it gives someone a monopoly in exchange for nothing. The traditional patent deal was you gave someone a monopoly in exchange for disclosure of a trade secret. You can't really have trade secrets in software.

Of course, the entrenched interests like to frame this as "patents are all about innovation", when they really aren't. There's very strong, academic, peer-reviewed research that suggests that patents stifle the pace of change and innovation.

[...]

The real insight with patents is that what society is buying with that monopoly is disclosure. And so the real benefit to society is accelerated disclosure of new ideas - not convincing people to invest. People have ideas all the time. You can't stop the human mind from innovating. People do research and development to win customers, that's what it's really about. It's not to file patents. So the entrenched patent holders really aren't doing much of a service to society when they articulate their position in very flawed terms.


Watch what he then says about GNOME:

With regard to GNOME and Microsoft, I'm not concerned. My view is that to win, you have to have your own vision. You have to have a very clear idea of what you can deliver that's unique. You can't go around sort of chasing someone else's coat tails. So while I respect the people in the free software community who invest a lot of time in making compatible implementations of other people's technology, I don't think that's the real recipe for success for free software. We have to give people a reason to use our platform for itself, not because it's a cheap version of someone else's.


Let's emphasise this again: "We have to give people a reason to use our platform for itself, not because it's a cheap version of someone else's." Mono developers, are you listening? So while Mark is not overly concerned about legal aspects of this, the technical perspective is one to bear in mind as well. We showed this before.

"Efficient Data Processing" Patent



Another day, another patent lawsuits.

Hewlett-Packard does not agree with a jury's decision last week to pay damages to Cornell University for infringing on a patent, but the company declined to say Thursday if it will appeal the case.

HP was ordered to pay Cornell damages of US$184 million in the case involving a patent that boosts computer speed by enabling more efficient data processing.


Community Patent



A tireless push for the problematic Community patent [1, 2, 3] seems to continue, according to this new document [PDF]. Digital Majority identifies fragments of interest in the following article.

Funnily enough, national patent offices look like being one of the major remaining obstacles to the creation of a Community patent. At the same European Council meeting referred to in the FT’s trademark story, it looks like European ministers decided that if there are to be any major breakthroughs with regard to a Community patent and an EU-wide patent litigation system, these will not now happen under the Slovenian presidency. Instead, it will be down to the French to force the pace. While translations officially remain the major obstacle, it is also the case that a Community patent will mean significantly reduced income for most national patent offices in Europe as they will no longer receive renewal fees in the way that they do currently. So, although a Community patent may be what European industry wants and maybe what many of the EU member states want, individual countries have it in their power to hold things up or to derail progress altogether. In off the record conversations, Austria seems to get a lot of mentions in this regard, as does Spain, as does Finland. Whether this is fair or not I couldn’t say: one of the problems with these negotiations is that they take place behind closed doors and so no-one who is not involved can be certain as to what is happening.


Patent Trolling



Remember Patent TrollTracker, who was bullied and sued by patent trolls for revealing what they really are [1, 2, 3]? Here is an update covering the patent trolls' assault on the individual and the company he worked for. As you ought to expect, patent trolls are remorseless when it comes to the legal system; they exploit and take advantage of it. Sue, sue, sue, or at least intimidate to extract royalties. That's the business model.

Previously, I explained how Rick Frenkel was sued twice for defamation shortly after revealing he was the author of the now-shuttered Patent Troll Tracker blog. One of those plaintiffs is Johnny Ward, Jr., a Longview, Texas lawyer who's popular as local counsel in E.D. Texas patent lawsuits; he's also the son of federal judge T. John Ward, the judge largely responsible for building up the Eastern District as the nation's most popular (or infamous) patent venue. The other lawsuit was brought by Eric Albritton, another Longview lawyer who has partnered with Ward Jr. on many cases, including ESN v. Cisco, the patent litigation that is the subject of the allegedly defamatory PTT posts.


To give you an idea of how scummy patent trolls can get, watch this short report. [via Digital Majority]

Last year, we noted the trend for various patent hoarding entities to set up a group of shell companies with which to sue companies. Part of the reason for doing so was to make it that much more difficult for the companies being sued to even know who they were fighting against. However, one big patent hoarding organization had another plan too… which just backfired. Plutus IP is a somewhat secretive patent holding company that has set up a bunch of shell companies all named after stars — and apparently it tried to pull a little trick by shuffling patents around among the shells.


Nathan "Shell" Myhrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], how much does your former employer (Microsoft) love you?

Recent Techrights' Posts

Firefox Has Fallen to 2% in New Zealand
At around 2%, at least in the US (2% or below this threshold), there's no longer an obligation to test sites for any Gecko-based browser
 
Links 19/05/2024: Microsoft Investigated in Europe
Links for the day
4 Old Articles About Microsoft/IBM SystemD
old but still relevant
Winning Streak
Free software prevalence
Links 19/05/2024: Conflicts, The Press, and Spotify Lawsuit
Links for the day
GNU/Linux+ChromeOS at Over 7% in New Zealand
It's also the home of several prominent GNU/Linux advocates
libera.chat (Libera Chat) Turns 3 Today
Freenode in the meantime continues to disintegrate
[Teaser] Freenode NDA Expires in a Few Weeks (What Really Happened 3 Years Ago)
get ready
GNU/Linux is Already Mainstream, But Microsoft is Still Trying to Sabotage That With Illegal Activities and Malicious Campaigns of Lies
To help GNU/Linux grow we'll need to tackle tough issues and recognise Microsoft is a vicious obstacle
Slovenia's Adoption of GNU/Linux in 2024
Whatever the factor/s may be, if these figures are true, then it's something to keep an eye on in the future
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, May 18, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, May 18, 2024
Links 19/05/2024: Profectus Beta 1.2
Links for the day
Site Archives (Not WordPress)
We've finally finished the work
[Meme] The EPO Delusion
on New Ways of Working
EPO Representatives Outline Latest Attacks on Staff
Not much has happened recently in terms of industrial action
Links 18/05/2024: Revisiting the Harms of Patent Trolls, Google Tries to Bypass (or Plagiarise) Sites Under the Guise of "AI"
Links for the day
Links 18/05/2024: BASIC Story, Site Feeds, and New in Geminispace
Links for the day
GNU/Linux in Kyrgyzstan: From 0.5% to 5% in Eight Years
the country is almost the size of the UK
Justice for Victims of Online Abuse
The claims asserted or pushed forth by the harasser are categorically denied
[Meme] Senior Software Engineer for Windows
This is becoming like another Novell
Microsoft-Connected Sites Trying to Shift Attention Away From Microsoft's Megabreach Only Days Before Important If Not Unprecedented Grilling by the US Government?
Why does the mainstream media not entertain the possibility a lot of these talking points are directed out of Redmond?
Links 18/05/2024: Deterioration of the Net, North Korean IT Workers in the US
Links for the day
Windows in Lebanon: Down to 12%?
latest from statCounter
[Video] 'Late Stage Capitalism': Microsoft as an Elaborate Ponzi Scheme (Faking 'Demand' While Portraying the Fraud as an Act of Generosity and Demanding Bailouts)
Being able to express or explain the facts isn't easy because of the buzzwords
Links 18/05/2024: Caledonia Emergency Powers, "UK Prosecutor's Office Went Too Far in the Assange Case"
Links for the day
Microsoft ("a Dying Megacorporation that Does Not Create") and IBM: An Era of Dying Giants With Leadership Deficits and Corporate Bailouts (Subsidies From Taxpayers)
Microsoft seems to be resorting to lots of bribes and chasing of bailouts (i.e. money from taxpayers worldwide)
US Patent and Trademark Office Sends Out a Warning to People Who Do Not Use Microsoft's Proprietary Formats
They're punishing people who wish to use open formats
Links 18/05/2024: Fury in Microsoft Over Studio Shutdowns, More Gaming Layoffs
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 17, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, May 17, 2024
Links 18/05/2024: KOReader, Benben v0.5.0 Progress Update, and More
Links for the day
[Meme] UEFI 'Secure' Boot Boiling Frog
UEFI 'Secure' Boot: You can just ignore it. You can just turn it off. You can hack on it as a workaround. Just use Windows dammit!
The Market Wants to Delete Windows and Install GNU/Linux, UEFI 'Secure' Boot Must Go!
To be very clear, this has nothing to do with security and those who insist that it is have absolutely no credentials
In the United States Of America the Estimated Share of Google Search Grew After Microsoft's Chatbot Hype (Which Coincided With Mass Layoffs at Bing)
Microsoft's chatbot hype started in late 2022
Techrights Will Categorically Object to Any Attempts to Deny Its Right to Publish Informative, Factual Material
we'll continue to publish about 20 pages per day while challenging censorship attempts
Links 17/05/2024: Microsoft Masks Layoffs With Return-to-office (RTO) Mandates, More YouTube Censorship
Links for the day
YouTube Progresses to the Next Level
YouTube is a ticking time bomb
Journalists and Human Rights Groups Back Julian Assange Ahead of Monday's Likely Very Final Decision
From the past 24 hours...
[Meme] George Washington and the Bill of Rights
Centuries have passed since the days of George Washington, but the principles are still the same
Daniel Pocock: "I've Gone to Some Lengths to Demonstrate How Corporate Bad Actors Have Used Amateur-hour Codes of Conduct to Push Volunteers Into Modern Slavery"
"As David explains, the Codes of Conduct should work the other way around to regulate the poor behavior of corporations who have been far too close to the Debian Suicide Cluster."
Video of Richard Stallman's Talk From Four Weeks Ago
2-hour video of Richard Stallman speaking less than a month ago
statCounter Says Twitter/X Share in Russia Fell From 23% to 2.3% in 3 Years
it seems like YouTube gained a lot
Journalist Who Won Awards for His Coverage of the Julian Assange Ordeals Excluded and Denied Access to Final Hearing
One can speculate about the true reason/s
Richard Stallman's Talk, Scheduled for Two Days Ago, Was Not Canceled But Really Delayed
American in Paris
3 More Weeks for Daniel Pocock's Campaign to Win a Seat in European Parliament Elections
Friday 3 weeks from now is polling day
Microsoft Should Have Been Fined and Sanctioned Over UEFI 'Lockout' (Locking GNU/Linux Out of New PCs)
Why did that not happen?
Gemini Links 16/05/2024: Microsoft Masks Layoffs With Return-to-office (RTO) Mandates, Cash Issues
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 16, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, May 16, 2024
Ex-Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier Did Not Retire, He Just Left IBM/Red Hat a Month Ago (Ahead of Layoff Speculations)
Rather than retire he took a similar position at another company
Linux.com Made Its First 'Article' in Over and Month, It Was 10 Words in Total, and It's Not About Linux
play some 'webapp' and maybe get some digital 'certificate' for a meme like 'clown computing'