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FFII's "World day against software patents" on IPKat

3 September 2008 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in Software patents

First, I must tell that I’m a former FFII member (and a regular IPkat reader).

I understand that the somewhat dry style of the FFII release is uselessly offendant to IP lawyers around, and that this doesn’t add anything to the debate.

This said, I met many IP professionnals at FFII, so swpat involved people shouldn’t underestimate the depth of FFII analysis. It also means that not every IP lawyer is in favor of software patents, far from it.

I’m personally against software patent on the basis of economic arguments: software is fundamentally different from physical products in term of production (copy) and distribution time and cost: zero in the software world, most of the problem in the physical world. It thus makes no economical sense to grant a twenty years monopoly for software, much less an algorithm.

There’s however a thought I’d like to share about law firms (especially IP law firms), some light was shed onto by the derailing of the EC directive on the so-called computer implemented inventions, largely due to the FFII efforts.

Software patents essentially don’t exist in the EU law, and are under attack in the US. No one can predict where it will end. May be something close to the ill-fated directive on CII will be adopted eventually, may be software patent will finally be rejected in the US, hard to tell. To act in the best interest of their clients, law firms should make this clear, at the very least.

Unhappily, this is hardly the case, and I know of at least one IP counsel in France, not worse than any other, that took the adoption of the CII directive for granted (self delusion ?). Some of its startup clients, that I also know of, so advised, applied for patent on software terms. At least one of these startups were let down by its VC once the directive was rejected, on the basis the business plan was no longer sustainable with no way to protect the product. The point is that such episodes globally undermine the trust between startups and law firms, and this is never a sane situation.

If you’re a good IP lawyer, there’s ton of money to make in a world without software patents, so tell your client the truth: patents don’t make software defensible.

PS: I’m the happy owner of trade marks, and I’ve very good relations with my IP lawyers.

I wrote a transcription for Freeman Dyson's Let's look for life in the outer solar system at TED

11 August 2008 by Ch. Tronche | 1 Comment | Filed in Science & Technology

The original video is here.

You can see the subtitles on YouTube subtitler.

The full transcription.

IP blackmail, music new business models

1 July 2008 by Ch. Tronche | 1 Comment | Filed in brèves

If you threat someone on IP ground, be right, or prepare for retaliation:

Groundless patent threat over wine tap leads to Smurfit payout

“The industry’s efforts to salvage its sales-based revenue model have compelled it to resist consumer demand for full, unfettered, DRM-free access to music; blocked consumer electronics makers and technology firms from offering new products with next generation capabilities; limited the growth of webcasting and other digital audio services; chilled free speech and interfered with academic freedom on university campuses; caused distortions in the music licensing marketplace; relegated consumers to black-market services where adware, spyware, and privacy violations abound; and exposed consumers to ruinous infringement liability damages for conduct occurring in the privacy of their homes.”

Always good to read this from someone else. But there’s more. Intellectual property law attorney Bennett Lincoff looks for an alternative business models so artists can make a living out of their work in a world where copying can’t be stopped. Read Bennett Lincoff essay.

Good conduct when fighting for your ideas

21 August 2007 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in QOTD

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrong­ful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

Mart­in Luther King, Jr.

Software companies see themselves as losing money on patents, according to patent law blog

17 August 2007 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in Software patents

The Patently-O blog conducted an informal survey by asking its readers “Overall, has your company made money from the patent system?”

On the software side, more companies describe themselves as “losing money” rather than “making money” from patents.

The result on Patently-O.

Not surprisingly, pharma companies see the opposite.

SCO loses in court… and in stock market.

14 August 2007 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in IP

Judge Rules Novell Owns Key Software

This is part of my series “valuation of so-called intellectual property is much less than you may think” (at least, if you’re not one of my regular readers).
SCO was claiming “intellectual property” over UNIX software.

A federal judge rules otherwise.

In the middle of the day, SCO’s share was losing 72% hitting an all-time low of 0,35 $ a share, with volumes never seen before.

This is what you should be prepared for if you’re claiming your company is making money out of software “intellectual property”…

Qualcomm, Broadcom, and the valuation of patents.

14 August 2007 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in IP

You may remember that Broadcom claims Qualcomm is infringing some of its patents, and thus got a ban on Qualcomm patents based cell phone chips.

On the other side, Qualcomm kept secret it was holding video compression patents during the H.264 standardization phase, and then tried to blackmail make money from it. However Qualcomm was found guilty of “patent ambush”.

Qualcomm apologized (but will appeal).

The lesson ? Qualcomm gonna have a hard time enforcing its patent, which is perfectly good under US laws until proven otherwise. This once again calls into question the valuation of a patent…

Jeffrey Pfeffer on the obsession for cost, strategic planning and execution

10 August 2007 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in QOTD

“If location [of R&D] was determined by cost, Silicon Valley would be empty.”

“[strategic planning] is important (…). But doing that thing well—execution—is what sets companies apart. Every football play is designed to go for a huge gain. The reason it doesn’t is because of execution—people drop balls, miss blocks, go to the wrong place, and so forth.”

The thin line between IP and protectionism

8 August 2007 by Ch. Tronche | 1 Comment | Filed in IP

Ruling Goes Against Qualcomm In Its Broadcom Patent Dispute.

There’s a ban going on preventing import in the US of cell phones based on some Qualcomm 3G patents.
This is a power-saving (software) related patent, by the way.

In some sense, Qualcomm, who is by no way stranger to patent wars, only reap the whirlwind it helped sewed.

But frankly, I find hard to distinguish between alleged “IP” (legally enforced monopoly) protection and plain archaic protectionism in that case. US consumers won’t be able to get access to world top-class cell phones, while the so-called “broadband” access they get is already notoriously lagging behind that of Europe and Asia (more on this, and the OECD full report). And I don’t mention IPTV. The US brought the Internet to the world, but one may wonder what role this IP obsession is playing in the rather slow rythm of telecommunications technology penetration there.

22 July 2007 by Ch. Tronche | Comments Off | Filed in Divers

“Seul peut critiquer celui qui est prêt à aider.”