In a satire of OIN‘s stated aim “to promote the Linux system by using patents to create a collaborative ecosystem”, the FFII used the opportunity provided by April 1st’s traditional gag pulling to announce two new “initiatives”, labelled “Coin2Patent” and “Offensive Publications”. Directly playing on the names and concepts of two OIN programs “Peer-to-Patent” and “Defensive Publications”, the initiative descriptions closely mirror those of their OIN counterparts but with a hard satirical edge.
The actual Peer-to-Patent program describes itself as a “system that aims to improve the quality of issued patents” and Defensive Publications are called “powerful preemptive disclosure [which] prevents other parties from obtaining a patent on the product, device or method.” The FFII gag paints their alternative projects as crowd funding for patent trolls and “basically the patents themselves” respectively. Read Alexandra’s full write up in the ComputerWorldUK spot.
In InfoWorld today, Simon challenges the assertion some are making that Google’s sale of Motorola after such a short time is a sign of failure. Noting all the gains Google has made, both financial and strategic, he suggests actually the deal is both profitable and clever. Certainly it’s a deal for its time, focussing mainly on triaging the negative consequences of a patent system designed for an industrial age being misapplied to the meshed society. Read all about it.
In yet more intellectual property news, we heard yesterday that the US Supreme Court has agreed to consider a question arising from the Alice Corporation vs CLS Bank dispute over the patentability of software. The Federal Circuit court, which is known to have a bias towards patent holders, has referred the question to the Supreme court after an en banc hearing resulted in a divided opinion. The matter unresolved concerns agreeing on a foolproof test for whether a patent ought to be valid if it combines a computer and an unpatentable abstract method. Read more in Simon’s InfoWorld summary.
We delivered a workshop on defences against software patents at SFSCon 2013 in Bolzano, with travel sponsored by Open Invention Network. Here’s the video summarising the event
If you’d like to attend a similar seminar, let us know.
After looking at patents on Wednesday in relation to the Apple v Samsung ruling and applauding Obama’s actions against trolls, patents are popping up again today. We’re taking a look at some realistic changes that could be made to the patent system. Whilst in an ideal world software patents would be eliminated completely, that’s not something that’s really on the cards. So what steps could be taken within the system as it stands to improve the situation? Read some of Simon’s thoughts in today’s InfoWorld article.
Yesterday saw the unveiling of a new White House initiative to combat patent trolls. The measures are a welcome follow-through to President Obama’s online comments and could be a much needed step towards curbing the power of patents. The announcement correctly highlights the fact that patents are intended to encourage innovation and protect innovators. Patent trolls, in contrast, represent the very antithesis of patents desired usage and outcome; “costing the economy billions of dollars and undermining American innovation”.
Dealing with trolls needs to be a first step though. The patent system contains other flaws, equally damaging to innovation and competitive business practice . Yesterday’s other big patent news was of the ITC’s decision that Apple are in breach of Samsung’s patents Continue reading
Google have released a draft agreement designed to help VP8 adoption by licensing a number of relevant patents on a royalty free basis. It sounds good, but the details of the license still need some work. Hopefully we’ll see some changes to this draft before the final license is released.
There are a number of issues with the document as it stands. One key problem is that it’s not sub-licensable; every user wanting to benefit from the agreement would need to make an individual response. Continue reading
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit published an opinion last week in the CLS vs Alice case. You’ll recall this was a crucial hearing that has the potential to decide whether software is patentable in the USA.
The opinion published by the court — sitting en banc with all but one of the Circuit’s judges represented — found that the software in question was not a patentable subject. That’s very good news and if the finding stands could strike at the heart of the software patent problem.
But the story isn’t over here. The document actually includes six separate opinions by different groups of the judges. A majority of them were able to agree to the overall court verdict, but it is clearly inconclusive. As a consequence, it seems almost certain this finding will itself be appealed to the US Supreme Court. So celebrate, but hold back a little – it’s not over yet.
The patent system as it stands today could use a general overhaul. We need to see fundamental shifts in society’s understanding of the reasons for and uses of patents. But in the mean time there are all manner of companies, (from the small to the very large) facing patent threats right now.
What defences can be mustered against the trolls and the corporate aggressors defending their legacy control? Open Invention Network plays the broken system to protect the open source community from software patents. Read more in our InfoWorld article today.