Bonum Certa Men Certa

Patents Roundup: Microsoft, re Bilski and Reform

Software Patents Turn Against Microsoft, United States



ONE week ago we showed two things: 1) Microsoft's apparent disregard for prior art; and 2) the lawsuit that hit Windows Vista. It did not bode well for Microsoft, whose policy on patent is -- quite frankly -- becoming somewhat of a joke in the blogosphere and even some media circles. It makes patents as a whole look like a circus.

Microsoft Employee Admits That Patent Disclosure Is A Myth



Defenders of the patent system quite frequently point out that one of the main benefits (some claim the only benefit) of the patent system is "disclosure." That is, because the patent system requires you to disclose your patent, the patent system is quite helpful in spreading ideas. This is a myth that's easily debunked on a few points.


This Microsoft employee has ironically enough been the person to get the myth dismissed. It has always been said that disclosure seems better on paper than in practice and here we have a testimonial.

The patent lawsuit that came from China is now being covered by The Inquirer.

A CHINESE Internet company has sued Microsoft for patent infringement over its use of RSS* in Windows Vista.


What goes around comes around... and bites those who are greedy in the rear. Glyn Moody goes a step further and suggests that this intellectual monopolies regime might have an effect at an international level.

In the 19th century, America was a by-word for piracy of British ideas. In the 20th century, as its industry developed, it embraced intellectual monopolies, and became the most fervent advocate of maximalist legal regimes.

In the 20th century, China was a by-word for piracy of American ideas. In the 21st century, as its industry developed, it embraced intellectual monopolies, and became their stoutest defender. The news story above is but the trickle that presages the torrent.

Soon, America will be deluged with such suits, as China tries to leverage its huge industrial power. The consequence? America will become one of the most fervent advocates for *minimalist* intellectual property regimes. Yes, you read that correctly: just wait.


Microsoft's (or Bill Gates') participatory role and investment in a massive patent-trolling firm seems to be confirmed by one publication which suggests Microsoft is among the funding sources, not just Bill Gates (at a personal capacity). Here is an interesting observation from Matt Asay.

Of more concern was the TechFlash's news that Bill Gates, Craig Mundie, and other top current and past Microsoft officials make a regular pilgrimage to the patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, to feed it ideas which it turns into patents. Regardless of what one thinks about patents, shouldn't Microsoft be feeding itself with patents, not another company? In other words, shouldn't it be the patent troll?


Microsoft is better off feeding shells, which cannot be counter-sued. The system is structured such that it permits trolls to exploit it endlessly (unless or until the system gets mended). An old myth spread by Bill Gates is that patents are alright because all the large companies can cross-license and live happily (never mind small businesses and the waste of time that patent applications are). Well, it doesn't compute anymore, does it? Further, says Asay:

Patents are short-term monopolies (20 years) designed to give inventors sufficient time in which to recoup their R&D costs and turn a profit. Open source turns the 20-year patent term into two years, if that. As a relentless, ever-growing competitior, open source keeps the proprietary world in check and on its toes to a degree that the industry has never before seen.


Reform: The Sooner the, Better



BusinessWeek, a somewhat notorious 'Wintel' publication that forbids linking to it (!!), is now entertaining an article that accuses the Patent Office of stifling innovation rather than promoting it.

Patent Office Stifles Innovation



Information Age innovators need not apply. At least that's the implied message being stretched like police tape across the door of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). The agency seems fixated on eliminating the last, true, sustainable American advantage: our capacity to innovate.


Sign of unrest, no?

Regarding business methods patents, even Microsoft resisted them, but much like IBM, it wanted to keep software patents in tact. Groklaw tells the story.

The Microsoft brief was filed along with Dell and Symantec, and it's an attempt to get the court to deny the Bilski claims while at the same time trying to keep the court from going all the way and deciding software should not be patentable. There are some logic bumps along the way, as you will see. The court diverged from Microsoft's argument about three-quarters of the way through, and it didn't directly address software patents, except in one footnote, mainly because Bilski wasn't about software. So it left unaddressed Microsoft's chief argument about why software should patentable, namely because of what it does to a computer.


The FSF has just put forth a press release celebrating what it calls "a victory".

As opinions form about the extent to which the Court ruling impacts the patenting of software, one thing is clear. The State Street ruling that in 1998 opened the flood gates to the patenting of business methods and software has been gutted, if not technically overturned.


Could re Bilski help the permanent burial of software patents in India, where multi-national companies continue to rely on loopholes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]?

Why, you may well ask, is the denial of patent to Bernie Bilski for a method of managing weather-related risk in commodities making the software open source community jump up in joy? A particularly happy lot is the lobby campaigning against software patents in India.


Analysis continues to arrive and it's very important as it may be used extensively as a reference in future cases. From Digital Majority and Groklaw we have:

1. Patent decision: New Roadblock to Software/Tech Patents

On October 30th a leading U.S. federal court decided the major case of In re Bernard L. Bilski. This 100+ page court case could have a major impact on software and technology companies, especially those trying to obtain or enforce software patents in the U.S.


2. United States: Long-Awaited “Bilski” Decision Restricts Patentability Of Software, Business Methods

The Bilski decision is significant because it may affect a patentee's ability to enforce existing patents, the prospects for pending patent applications and the decision whether to file new patent applications directed to so-called "business methods" and software-related innovations....


It has meanwhile come to our attention that Amazon is appealing the 1-click patent rejection. Is this not close to impossible given the re Bilski ruling?

For some background, see this old page

EPO rules for full revocation after a hearing in the opposition of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII e.V.) against Amazon.com's infamous patent on the online purchase of gifts. The patent EP927945 is a descendant of the controversial One-Click Patent, which was granted to Amazon in the USA but was partially revoked there due to lack of novelty in October 2007.


The patent seems to be somewhere in between software and business methods. The USPTO should reject the appeal, citing the Bernard Bilski case at the very least. Prior art is another strong argument and so is obviousness.

Parrot
In the Amazon, parroting is inventing

Comments

Recent Techrights' Posts

This Week's Letter to António Campinos About Mean-Spirited Line Managers at the European Patent Office (EPO)
Seems like a way to get rid of staff. Some will resign in anger.
 
Mark Shuttleworth and the Question of Liability (Debian Volunteers He Pressured Before the Suicides)
Humanity for me
Mark Shuttleworth's (MS) Canonical Running Microsoft (MS) Ads, Mischaracterising Mass Surveillance as 'Confidential' (the Usual Lie)
The money talks, so the facts are absent
Ads as 'Articles'
Money buys perception manipulation (or reputation laundering) campaigns
Abraham Raji & Debian, DebConf kayak death: search abandoned, evading liability
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 22/02/2024: Chatbots Failing 'Big Time' and More Condemnations Appear of Bill Gates
Links for the day
There May be Close to 100,000,000 Laptops and Desktops Running GNU/Linux Around the World in 2024
hard to track the number
Search Engine Market Share Worldwide Shows How Badly Microsoft's Chatbot Strategy (Hopes) and Vapourware Have Failed
Bing, which was marketed as the forefront "product" for chatbots (Microsoft paid the media a lot of money for hype campaigns), gained nothing at Google's expense
[Meme] Demoralising and Putting Down Your Staff
unproductive and dangerous approach
Software in the Public Interest (SPI) & Debian obfuscated structure fooled suicide victim's family: the ultimate example of bad faith
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Gemini Links 22/02/2024: What We Pass On and HTTP Header Viewer
Links for the day
Manuel Estrada Sainz (ranty), Andres Garcia (ErConde) & Debian Deaths overworking
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
GNU/Linux Rising to 8% of Desktops/Laptops in Jordan?
what statCounter shows
[Meme] If Iraq Launches an Investigation Into How Microsoft Bought OpenAI Without Paying for It
fake "money" from Microsoft
Windows Has Fallen to 13% Market Share in Iraq (It was 100% Just 15 Years Ago), GNU/Linux Rose Sharply in Recent Years
In recent years Iraq was developing its own GNU/Linux distro
Springtime is Next, Here's What We Plan for March and April
This month and next month we expect to publish something unique about EPO abuses every day
Studying the Freedom of firefox-123.0.tar.bz2
The "F" in Firefox
Abraham Raji, Jens Schmalzing & debian-private cover-ups after deaths, accidents, suicides
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Microsoft Bribes, Keeping Regulators at Bay
crime and corruption
[Meme] The Quotas Came From Above
EPO targets
EPO Talent Planning & Architecture is Another Attack on EPO Staff and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) Explains Why
ignore the flowery words
[Meme] Just Following Orders From "The Fu**ing President" António Campinos
Salary? OBEY!
Links 21/02/2024: China Working on West-less Tech Future, More Bounties on Patent Troll Leigh M. Rothschild (Which IBM et al Failed to Dismantle at the Root)
Links for the day
Links 21/02/2024: Encryption Backdoors Deemed Not Legal, Decentralised Web Under Attack
Links for the day
Games:Steam Audio as Free Software, Hazard Pay, ChipWits, and More
7 stories for today
Julian Assange, Wikileaks & Debian-private
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, February 20, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Links 21/02/2024: Microsoft Sued for Monopolistic Policies, More Layoffs Planned for Next Month
Links for the day
Gemini Links 20/02/2024: Time Management System and Communications
Links for the day
Techrights' Statement on Julian Assange Verdict (February 20th, 2024) - Updated Throughout the Day
Techrights observes today's disturbing attempts to extradite a journalist for committing acts of journalism
Links 20/02/2024: More GAFAM Layoffs, Assange Missing From His Trial for Heath Reasons (the UK's Own 'Navalny Treatment')
Links for the day
[Meme] But the Boss Said...
"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."
An EPC-Violating Patent Granting Process: Unlawful Orders, According to the Central Staff Committee of the European Patent Office (EPO)
One can hope there's another strike (work stoppage) planned
In Cuba, Windows Dips to 'Market Share' of 16.8% and GNU/Linux Keeps Growing (Now ~6% of Desktops and Laptops)
it's harder for Microsoft to push Cubans around
[Meme] Code of Conduct (CoC): Too Much Power in the Wrong Hands
Might makes right?
[Video] For Software Freedom Avoid Free Bait
do not take any of this for granted
[Video] Trouble at Mozilla Means Trouble for Firefox and for the Web
The era of the open Web is ending
[Video] Microsoft Layoffs: It's Worse Than the Media Makes It Seem
Microsoft's fraudulent accounting
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 19, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, February 19, 2024
Gemini Links 20/02/2024: Kids Cannot Write, Misfin-Server, and More
Links for the day