The US patent reform bill kills small investors

A bill is on its way for President Obama to sign. It will grant a patent to the first person to file an application with the patent office, even if someone else had previously invented the same technology.

Welcome big corporations with big pockets and fancy lawyers, goodbye myth of lonely genius changing the world in a garage. Is this Obama’s new America?

via Mostly pointless patent reform bill goes to Obama for signature.

Samsung scores against Apple in NL

If you’ve been following the European version of Apple vs Samsung saga, here is a piece of news from a person I trust, the tl;dr version:

Apple has LOST all claims wrt the european patent 2098948. The court thinks that the european patent 1964022 is worthless and will be thrown out in reexamination anyway as prior art has been shown by Samsung. The only thing that remains is the european patent 2059868. And the claims of that patent can be circumvented in trivial ways.

Read the whole post by Jan Wildeboer about Samsung v Apple in the Netherlands.

Patents, Google and people that don’t get it

John Gruber rants about Google ranting about patents and especially the campaign to attack Android based on the absurd US patent system. If it wasn’t Google asking for a reform of the patent system probably Gruber wouldn’t ask these questions:

So if Google had acquired the rights to these patents, that would have been OK. But when others acquired them, it’s a “hostile, organized campaign”. It’s OK for Google to undermine Microsoft’s for-pay OS licensing business by giving Android away for free, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to undermine Google’s attempts to give away for free an OS that violates patents belonging to Microsoft?

Yes, exactly. Because those patents are absurd 99% absurd and the rest 1% is irrelevant. John: the US patent system is broken. I  know that Google saying it may sound like they just don’t want to pay but the truth is that Google is not the only one highlighting the level of absurd reached. I suggest you to start by reading this.

Microsoft cannot be trusted

My friend Gianugo Rabellino has a tough job trying to help Microsoft clean up its image of anti-open source company. The best comment I read about its latest attack on Android and Linux (the ebook reader is just an excuse, I agree with Steve J. Vaughan-Nichols) using the equivalent of nuclear weapons (software patents) is on TechCrunch:

Microsoft still has many talented people doing great things. Kinect and even Windows Phone the product, not the strategy jump to mind. But the suits and lawyers are burying all of that under 700 metric tons of bullshit

Read  Vivek Wadhwa’s Why We Need To Abolish Software Patents if you’re still not convinced that this is madness.

Patents have become landmines

After many years trying to export the US ‘intellectual property’ laws to the rest of the world, China has find a way to use the stupidity of the American patent system against Americans.

Finally, commentators admit that Chinese patents will serve as land mines for foreign businesses. Doh! Great comment from @vwadhwa on TechCrunch:

This is a battle we can’t win. The Chinese economy will be littered with millions of stumbling blocks for foreign business. These companies will have to offer up their intellectual property in exchange for Chinese intellectual property—in the same way that IBM and Microsoft trade patents. Or they will have to pay license fees to enter the Chinese market. And China may challenge the U.S. globally with its new patents as it plans to do with 4G.

This was mainly the argument we used at FSFE to push the European Union to the reject the US-sponsored directive that would have legalized software patents in EU. European citizens won that battle and I’m so glad I had the possibility to help win it.  The suggestion from the author is:

It’s best to disarm before it is too late.That means reforming the patent system. We really don’t need software patents, and we really don’t need patents in other technologies that evolve rapidly.

Read the rest: Let’s Compete on Innovation Rather Than Patents.

Il miraggio del brevetto comunitario

Stamattina ho trovato nella mia casella di posta un messaggio da una persona che cerca informazioni riguardo la brevettabilità delle idee. La domanda in particolare mi ha colpito, come sempre:

se ho ben capito le idee non sono brevettabili e quindi […] chiunque può rivedere la mia idea e ricopiarla con un altro marchio?

Mi colpisce sempre come qualcuno possa pensare di basare il vantaggio competitivo di un’azienda solo su un brevetto. Evidentemente la propaganda pro-brevetti fa breccia nelle menti di alcuni e certamente il mito del povero inventore che di colpo diventa ricco senza faticare è dura a morire. La dura realtà è che un brevetto da solo quasi non basta nemmeno alle aziende farmaceutiche per ottenere un vantaggio competitivo sostenibile. La recente battaglia tra Nokia e Apple dimostra che i brevetti oggi non servono affatto a stimolare l’innovazione, ma piuttosto a limitarla. Nokia ha smesso di innovare, Apple la sta superando ma la prima si è lanciata alla rincorsa con gli uffici legali.

Le ho consigliato di leggere il post di Seth Godin su come proteggere le ideee (non si può) e il libro The art of the start di Guy Kawasaki. A tutti consiglio anche di firmare la petizione di FFII per sensibilizzare i politici europei sui danni che il brevetto comunitario può fare alle imprese nazionali.