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[News] Convicted Monopolist Microsoft Tries to Distort Indian Law

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A method to the madness

,----[ Quote ]
| Thankfully, Indian judges need not venture down such a circuitous path. That 
| a Bilski sort of invention is not patentable in India is crystal clear from 
| section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, which prohibits a “business method” 
| from patentability.   
| Section 3(k) also excludes “computer programs” per se and algorithms from 
| patentability. In order to clarify the ambit of this exclusion, the 
| government is currently evolving guidelines via a patent office manual; a 
| process has spurred a fierce battle between proprietary software firms such 
| as Microsoft Corp. and open-source evangelists such as Red Hat, which claim 
| that the government is attempting to introduce software patents through the 
| back door.      



Software patenting

,----[ Quote ]
| In August this year, the US Patents and Trademarks Office granted Microsoft
| ownership of “page up” and “page down”. So in theory, no other company can
| scroll without permission and acknowledgement to Microsoft in monetary terms.
| A number of seemingly ubiquitous software ideas have been patented: the use
| of tabs to shift from one hyperlink to another on a web page, the “Add to
| Shopping Cart” function that appears on every online store, automated online
| loan requests, and even reducing image size to make a webpage load faster.
| “Most companies register defensive patents to protect themselves, not
| offensive ones,” said Sunil Abraham of Centre for Internet and Society. “Not
| many actively pursue patent infringement, but it is still very scary for a
| small-time entrepreneur.”
| At a time when the Indian Patent Office is in the process of putting together
| a new Manual of Patent Practice and Procedure, the Centre for Internet and
| Society is holding a one-day consultation on the issue of software patenting
| in the city. Participants include the Delhi Science Forum, RedHat, IT for
| Change, Open Space, as well as the Alternative Law Forum.


Will patenting take the byte out of IT here?

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| Picture this. Indian mathematicians came up with the concept of the “zero” —
| often touted as India’s greatest contribution to civilisation — and got a
| patent for it. By now they would have raked in inestimable amounts in
| royalty. Seems preposterous? Members of the Free Software community say that
| patenting every other algorithm would be somewhat in the same league.
| While there has been substantial discussion on how patents will affect the
| pharmaceutical sector, there has been little debate about its implications on
| the software industry. To the layman, software patenting sounds like an
| abstract issue applicable to an even more abstract domain. However, with a
| growing software industry which is trying to spread its indigenous roots, the
| issue becomes an important one.


The Free Software Movement

,----[ Quote ]
| Had been to Gnu/Linux Habba today, it elicited quite a good response from the
| student community, compared to what Im used to from my student days.
| Gnu/Linux is getting a fair bit of attention, since it is also being viewed
| as something that can get one a job. The Free Software Movement has grown
| phenomenally to say the least in the past few years, not least because of
| events like the Habba.


Techies press for digital freedom struggle

,----[ Quote ]
| The patenting regime was dominated by a form of lifelong royalty levy in
| which software was equated with any other artifact—one could patent just
| about anything: from a single-click buying business method to drop-boxes on a
| website. “India should avoid the mistakes of the U.S.”


Behind the doors of the Free Software Foundation

,----[ Quote ]
| In addition, the FSF is planning to hire a new manager for its End Software
| Patents campaign. In the near future, the FSF may also hire someone to work
| on its high-priority projects, trying to encourage the community to become
| more focused in filling in the gaps in free software.


Microsoft seeks India patent

,----[ Quote ]
| World's largest software firm Microsoft Corp is seeking an exclusive patent
| in India for an electronic data snapshot generator, which has been
| co-invented by an Indian associated with the company.
| [...]
| However, the static snapshot is generated by saving only static data
| associated with the file, Microsoft added.


Patent Manual Stake Holder’s Meet - Chennai

,----[ Quote ]
| With FSF and ILUGC friends, also representing our LoCo Community attended the
| Patent Manual - Stake Holder’s Meet held at Intellectual Property Office,
| Guindy, Chennai.
| The Manual has provisions for bringing in Software Patents in cases what it
| claims to be “Software combined with Hardware”. We expressed our concerns on
| it and the ambiguity over the term used.


FSF India's response to the Draft Patents Manual

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| Even if other countries made such provisions, India as the world's largest
| democracy should not create an society where people at large are excluded
| from participating in creative engagements. As a country with a large human
| resource, we have a bigger challenge of harnessing more creativity among the
| country, and that will happen by bringing each and every citizen under
| creative participation and not by bringing each and every invention under
| allowable patents category. India should lead the rest of the world by
| clearly stating in the manual that computer programs are not patentable in
| India by any other way and are per se protected only under copyright.


Freedom Walk - To claim, ensure and preserve Freedom

,----[ Quote ]
| Millions of people worked hard and even paid with their lives to earn us the
| freedom we enjoy today. Is our current generation aware of the value of this
| freedom? From the lack of social and political sensitivity and the lack of
| activism in our society it might seem that this is not so. It is as if we are
| devaluing freedom every day. With the commercialisation of almost every
| sphere of life, most people are not able to find any time to put in effort to
| fight this alarming trend. Most, but not everybody. At Zyxware, we have
| decided to focus our efforts to tackle this issue head on.


Let us say NO to software patents

,----[ Quote ]
| There are indications that the government is again trying to bring software
| patents, possibly covertly. The first indication of this has been in the
| draft Manual of Patent Practice and Procedure published by the Patent Office,
| India, in which they talk about "software per se" and software in association
| with hardware. This was repeated in the meeting held in Mumbai which was a
| consultation organised by the government with the public. Whether this move
| has been engineered by the bureaucracy or by the government under pressure
| from big corporates, this is not good for the software industry, especially
| the small scale sector, in India.


Candle light vigil against Software Patents


Say No to Software Patents - Candle light vigil in Bangalore

,----[ Quote ]
| Software patents are rejected by Indian Parliament in 2005 (Patent Amendment
| bill 2005). But Indian Government is now trying to push it through back door
| by bringing a Patent manual. Public consultations on this draft manual is
| going on in various metros in India. Bangalore Consultation is scheduled for
| the last week of August.
| The Candle light vigil to "Say No To Software Patents" is a occasion to raise
| civil society voice against this back door trojan to Indian patent system.
| On 23rd August 2008 in front of Town Hall near Corporation Circle, Bangalore.
| Publicity campaigns will be hosted in various places on 22nd.


Say 'No' to software patents

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| Nothing could be further from the truth. As explained above, software patents
| are bad for everyone other than large companies. Each software patent is a
| potential mine in the path to progress for small software companies. Allowing
| software patents in the country will be like strewing the path with mines.


“Say No To Software Patents” Campaign in Bangalore

,----[ Quote ]
| The Free Software User’s Group, Bangalore is co-ordinating a campaign to “Say
| No To Software Patents” in India.


Latha Jishnu: The mouse that bit Microsoft

,----[ Quote ]
| Here’s what Gates wrote in an office memorandum in 1991. “If people had
| understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were
| invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete
| standstill today. . . I feel certain that some large company will patent some
| obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm,
| application extension or other crucial technique.”
| This was the year after Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, the first of its new
| operating systems that would become hugely popular across the world. Yet,
| three years down the line, Microsoft had changed from a kitten that was
| content with copyright protection to an aggressive patents tiger. In 1991,
| Microsoft had filed fewer than 50 patent applications whereas last year it
| was awarded 1,637 patents, almost a 12 per cent increase in the number of
| patents it received in 2006. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, the rise
| in Microsoft’s patents portfolio bucked the general trend in 2007 when the
| number of patents issued by the US Patents and Trademark Office dipped by 10
| per cent. Apparently several thousand of the company’s filings are still
| pending.
| All this may prompt the reader to conclude that there is indeed a direct
| correlation between IPR and growth — and wealth — as the company claims. Not
| true, says Mark H Webbink, a US Supreme Court lawyer who is a recognised
| voice on IT issues. Charting the company’s revenues, R&D spending and patent
| filings from 1985 onwards, he shows that the spike in patent filings occurred
| long after the Microsoft “had become well established and was being
| investigated for its monopolistic practices”. Webbink contends that patents
| did not spur the launch and rapid growth of the mass market software
| industry. On the other hand, patents have become a threat to software
| innovation, he warns.


[ILUG-BOM] Software Patents in India

,----[ Quote ]
| and while we were asleep three patents have been granted to Microsoft
| by the indian patent office.
| Just reading the initial brief tells me it this a journalled fs
| coupled with some seek n sort.
| This one looks like DRM but could be SSH
| And this one hashes of loaded modules in mem to check that there is no
| trojan module. DRM? AV?


An Overview of Software Patenting

,----[ Quote ]
| According to Richard Stallman, the co-developer of the GNU-Linux operating
| system and proponent of Free Software says, “Software patents are patents
| which cover software ideas, ideas which you would use in developing software.
| [...]
| Indian Position
| With respect to computer software, in Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002, the
| scope of non-patentable subject matter in the Act was amended to include the
| following: “a mathematical method or a business method or a computer
| programme per se or algorithms”.
| [...]
| India for its part seems to have adopted the more conservative approach of
| the European patenting norms for software. But the Ordinance definitely has
| its use and relevance in today’s India, particularly for our growing domestic
| semi- conductor industry. This, along with judicial tempering might
| definitely ensure a judicious use of patent protection while allowing the
| industry to grow through innovations and inventions, thereby, mitigating the
| risks of trivial patents chocking the life out of real innovations and
| inventions. This is the reason a patent should always be treated as a “double
| edged sword”, to be wielded with caution and sensitivity.
| Now whether, in reality this will be implemented on a rigid basis or will
| become broad in scope through application (as in the U.S.), and, more
| importantly, whether the Ordinance would, in fact, result in increased
| innovation and inventions in the software industry, remains to be seen.


"Full text of Section 3(k) relating to software patents"

,----[ Quote ]
| Infosys was there and pushing for software patents. They are totally against
| the open source and free software.
| Symantec was there and also pushed for software patents.
| Microsoft was there.
| The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was also pushing for software
| patents.


Briefing Note on the Impact of Software Patents on the Software Industry in

,----[ Quote ]
| In other industries, research continues up to a point where further research
| costs too much to be feasible. At this stage, the industry's output
| merelyconsists of replacing parts that have worn out.
| However, in the software sector, a computer program that is fully debugged
| will perform its function forever without requiring maintenance or
| modification. “What this means is that unlike socks that wear out, and
| breakfast cereal that is eaten, a particular software product can be sold to
| a particular customer at most once. If it is to be sold to that customer
| again, it must be enhanced with new features and functionality.” This
| inevitably means that even if the industry were to approach maturity, any
| software company that does not produce new and innovative products will
| simply run out of customers! Thus, the industry will remain innovative
| whether or not software patents exist.


Intellectual Property Regime Stifles Science and Innovation, Nobel Laureates

,----[ Quote ]
| Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede
| the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent
| thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued
| for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure
| to encourage innovation, he said.
| Another problem is that the social returns from innovation do not accord with
| the private returns associated with the patent system, Stiglitz said. The
| marginal benefit from innovation is that an idea may become available sooner
| than it might have. But the person who secures the patent on it wins a
| long-term monopoly, creating a gap between private and social returns.


Infy, TCS lock horns with Red Hat over IT patent

,----[ Quote ]
| IT majors like Infosys Technologies Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
| are opposing the open-source community’s demand that the government drop a
| clause in the draft patent examination manual as it gives scope for software
| patenting under the Indian Patent Act of 2003.
| The IT majors made their opposition clear at a meeting in Delhi, called by
| the government’s department of industrial policy & promotion on Thursday. The
| dispute has been sparked by the draft manual that will guide patent examiners
| in their interpretation of the Indian Patent (Amendment) Act for software.
| Section 3(K) of the Act clearly says: “A mathematical or business method or a
| computer programme per se or algorithms are not patentable.”


Stakeholders Meeting on the Draft Patent Manual

,----[ Quote ]
| Yesterday, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry hosted a "Stakeholders
| Meeting on the Draft Patent Manual." Around 70 people attended this meeting.
| The audience was a mix of lawyers, industry associations like CII, FICCI etc,
| civil society organizations and industry.
| [...]
| At this point, the discussion became pretty heated and the chair of the
| meeting decided to call for a separate meeting on software patents. I'll keep
| you updated.


Microsoft India MD joins HP

,----[ Quote ]
| In a major setback to IT giant Microsoft, its India Managing Director(MD)
| Neelam Dhawan has decided to call it quits and will join Hewlett-Packard
| (HP).


What's up with Microsoft India?

,----[ Quote ]
| The CVP, MD and all her direct reports made this company a miserable place to
| work for! They created a feudal fiefdom for themselves.


Microsoft influencing partner NGOs to support OOXML in India

,----[ Quote ]
| Microsoft is encouraging its business partners to promote its Office Open XML
| specification (OOXML) to the Indian Bureau of Standards (BIS) and Ministry of
| IT. This move has incensed supporters of the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF)
| who fear that the "soft" Indian state may not be able to stand up to
| Microsoft pressure tactics.

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