Microsoft infringes on all our innovation

ZDNet:s Mary-Jo Foley reports that Microsoft sues Sales Force for patent infringements. This is a new and offensive course for Microsoft. Exposing patents is more straightforward than just rattling them for payments as we are used see in these cases. I like that the supposed "innovation" shows after Apple did the same thing.

The Microsoft PR says:
"Microsoft has been a leader and innovator in the software industry for decades and continues to invest billions of dollars each year in bringing great software products and services to market. We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard that investment, and therefore cannot stand idly by when others infringe our IP rights."

So its time to review that leadership by looking at the patents in question. Can we expect Microsoft to prove its innovation claim?
-Well...  The patents are better described as an infringement on innovation. Its as horrible as we could expect. But could we have asked for more? ZDNet lists them (I add links for each of them):

  • 7,251,653 “method and system for mapping between logical data and physical data”
  • 5,742,768 “system and method for providing and displaying a web page having an embedded menu”
  • 5,644,737 “method and system for stacking toolbars in a computer display”
  • 6,263,352 “automated web site creation using template driven generation of active server page applications”
  • 6,122,558 “aggregation of system settings into objects”
  • 6,542,164 “timing and velocity control for displaying graphical information”
  • 6,281,879 “method and system for identifying and obtaining computer software from a remote computer”
  • 5,941,947 “system and method for controlling access to data entities in a computer network”
They are just as broad and trivial as in what you guess from the titles. Innovations... its just the opposite.

TechDirt: Microsoft Decides It Can't Compete With Salesforce.com; Sues For Patent Infringement Instead



The European Patent Office bites its tail in order blur whats patentable - again

This week, we finally learned that the questions The European Patent Office (EPO) sent two year ago to clarify what can be patented where inadmissible by its own patent high court, The Extended Board of Appeals (EBA). Its all the usual mess from EPO with slippery and indecisive wordings creating endless loops without clarifications.

EPO seems unable to repair itself...

EPO issues criticized software and business method patents even though its ruled by a convention excluding patents on calculations, information and software. The Appeals Courts of the EPO circumvented those rules by allowing something already known like a pen and paper to play that "non excluded" part. By separating whats "new" from whats "excluded" in patent claims they created a loophole rendering anything abstract patentable.

This has created an inflation in broad and abstract information and business patents flooding the European market, creating a legal mine field for anyone wanting to participate. Its a land grab for lawyers and patent trolls.

As EPO is clearly incapable making sense out of its own conventions and rulings, its high time for politicians to step in. These uncertainties cost an increasing risk to business in the European market.

To put an extra spin on this mess, the EPO PR interpret this non decision as a win for software patents. Hilarious and said, since this is just right - leaving questions unanswered and matters diffused is just what  made this situation from the start.

 Se also:
ComputerWorld UK

/Jonas Bosson