Bonum Certa Men Certa

Software Patents Roundup and What Novell Should Have Done

Yesterday we just passed on the news about Red Hat's settlement. We did this as quickly as possible without expressing a spontaneous opinion or studying the situation. A responsible lawyer's take was bound to be more valued than most.

It seems as though Red Hat did the right thing given the tough situation it was in. Here is what Eben Moglen said:

"Red Hat’s settlement of outstanding patent litigation on terms that provide additional protection to other members of the community upstream and downstream from Red Hat is a positive contribution to the resources for community patent defense. We would hope to see more settlements of this kind–in which parties secure more than their own particular legal advantage in relation to the third-party patent risk of the whole FOSS community–when commercial redistributors of FOSS choose to settle patent litigation. SFLC welcomes Red Hat’s efforts on the community’s behalf."


Noteworthy is also the comment "Novell needed this lesson".

This is what the Novell/Microsoft secret pact should have been - instead of throwing the rest of the open source community under the bus, Novell should have pushed for broader coverage and been open about it all. Look and learn Novell, don't be so slimy and see how the a real leader operates.


In light of this, there is also the obligatory rant about the sordid mess that is the Intellectual Monopoly system.

This is all wrong.

This is all in the line of the most idiotic pattern of the U.S. judicial system.

Someone sues you. Instead of fighting (if you believe you're right) and go to the stage where a judge reaches a verdict, what is the common practice in business?

Financial settlements.


Bureaucracy is indeed quite an issue here the the legal system seems unlikely to seek remedies. [via Digital Majority]

Patents for All: The System That Could Not Contain Itself



The myth of an all-seeing, all-knowing Congress capable of riding to the rescue is a well-used excuse for keeping bad decisions on the books. But the question of just what is patentable is far too loaded and complex for Congress to handle -- especially given all the other problems the patent system faces and the fact that even modest patent reform legislation has stalled.


Since Microsoft loves to paints itself "a victim" of the patent system. it's worth having a look at this one. Microsoft is clearly among those that abuse the system in the most shameless of ways.

Last Thursday, Microsoft filed patent application 2008/134,132, which describes a method of "Developing Software Components Based on Brain Lateralization." At first glance, this sounds quite impressive; direct neural programming interfaces, after all, is the stuff science fiction is made of. Closer examination, however, indicates that our dreams of writing C++ code without that pesky keyboard getting in the way remain elusive. Fancy wording or not, Microsoft is essentially attempting to patent something far more basic: the software Quality Assurance (Q&A) process.


As summarised by Digital Majority: "Read that over, and you'll notice it mentions neither the brain nor any sort of organizational/methodological principle that could be described as brain-like." This type of loophole is also exploited by Microsoft in order to pass software patents in countries where they are not legal. Words like "device" or "apparatus" are sometimes used to add a 'hard' aspect to an 'invention' that does not require it.

USPTOThe Intellectual Monopolies System seems unfair and broken beyond repair. It is created and maintained by a digital minority that is wealthy enough to afford this and in turn gets nurtured by the very same monopoly it shelters and legalises.

Related to this, some time ago we wrote about ACTA [1, 2], which is -- plainly speaking -- the output of a conspiracy of Intellectual Monopoly (IPR) owners seeking to enforce claimed rights at all costs, even it the impact is high enough to misplace and abuse basic human rights. There is an update on this. [via Glyn Moody]

A small group of countries opposing the inclusion of intellectual property-related issues in World Trade Organization negotiations has issued their response to an earlier “non-paper” that had called for IP issues to be integrated with the upcoming horizontal, or all-inclusive, negotiations at the WTO.

[...]

The paper is referring to a 26 May proposal, in the form of another “non-paper” seeking to ensure that three major IP issues are on the table for the horizontal trade talks.


None of this is up for public negotiation or scrutiny, which yet again proves that laws covering these issues are passed by few secretive elites. How can the software patent epidemic be cured if special passes are needed? Watch the older quote below and recall ACT's role in pushing for software patents in Europe.

"A report published by an EU task force on intellectual property claims that small businesses benefit from a patent system, despite lacking almost any participation by the small business community. Instead, the report, titled IPR (intellectual property rights) for competitiveness and innovation, was written up almost entirely by large corporations and the patent industry. [...] The report does note objections from the likes of patentfrei.de and Sun Microsystems, which were recorded at some length in the report. But this does not appear to have impacted the conclusion of the report in any way [...] Jean-Pierre Laisne, of ObjectWeb, an open source software community, said that he found the report useless: participants were told that all their contributions would be recorded but at the end only those of Business Software Alliance and Microsoft were used."

Big businesses boast of patent benefits, for small businesses

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