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Two Conferences You Might Want to Attend
Friday, May 04 2007 @ 12:45 PM EDT

There are two conferences that some of you might want to know about. First, for those of you in Europe, the EUPACO-2's patent conference put together by FFII which will take place on May 15 and 16 in Brussels. And the second, in the US, the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, CA on May 22, 23.

I'd like to go to both of them, but I'm afraid of being kidnapped by SCO and waterboarded. Joke. Joke. Let me tell you what I think will be of particular interest at each.

The patent think tank should be fascinating, because much of the patent bully mountain in the US just fell into the sea with the recent Supreme Court patent decisions. It's a new patent world, where everyone now must completely alter all patent thinking and strategies, even in Europe. So that will be interesting in and of itself. But what is notable about the conference is that it will be a meeting that will include a broad spectrum of thought on the issue of patents. One keynote address will be by Ron Marchant, former Chief Executive, UK Patent Office. Another will be by William Kovacic, Commissioner, U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Yet another will be by Mark Shuttleworth, President, Ubuntu Foundation. The FFII press release mentions this diversity:

Joff Wild, editor of IAM Magazine, usually a critic of the FFII's policies, sums up his view of the EUPACO-2 event:
"When you are face-to-face and talking it is much harder to maintain entrenched positions and to ignore what other people are saying. It is hugely encouraging to see that representatives from industry, the FFII, the EPO and national patent offices, and the Commission will be sharing platforms at this event. The FFII deserves to be congratulated for this initiative which, hopefully, will get the support it deserves."

Here's the complete program for the conference. I see Dan Ravicher of PubPat is on a panel on patent quality, and NYU's Professor Beth Noveck of the Peer to Patent Project will speak on that subject too. Oh, Utah is represented. Professor Lee Hollaar of the University of Utah will speak. He filed an amicus brief in KSR v. Teleflex, which likely helped to tip the scale in the right direction, oddly enough. He will be proposing a change in patent law in his talk:

"I'm proposing a new, limited patent-like protection. It combines the disclosure and claiming requirements of patents, so that the current database of patented technology can be substantially expanded, with copyright's infringement defense of independent creation. Because protection comes into being only when a registered innovation is actually used in commerce, many of the problems with "patent trolls" are eliminated. And providing such an alternative would allow more substantial examination of regular patents through greatly increased application fees and more stringent requirements. The protection is particular suitable for software developers who have created new techniques. Without such protection, there is no way for an open-source software developer to keep those who don't want to share with the community from using their new technique."

I love this idea of an independent creation defense. And Amédee Turner, Queen's Counsel, Honorary Member of the European Parliament, will be speaking on the subject of mandatory patent litigation insurance:

"I hope practical interest in insurance for patent litigation will be aroused, and that this should be seen in the light of greater fairness in the practical working of the patent system in Europe."

Journalists get in free, and members of parliament, EU commission staff, and other such European Institutions are invited to attend as guests and in fact several are speakers, and the rest of us can register here. The fee covers lunch and snacks and a reception on the 15th. "Exemption of the participation fee is possible on a case-by-case basis."

Open Source Business Conference

For us stateside, there's the Open Source Business Conference. Here's the list of speakers. As you can see, it includes Marten Mickos, Eben Moglen, Matt Asay, Danese Cooper, Jonathan Corbet of LWN, Chris DiBona, Ira Heffan (he's on one of the GPLv3 committees), and Matthew Szulik. He is giving the keynote address, "The Evolution of Open Source in the Enterprise". Who better to speak on that subject? And he did it without compromising the GPL, which I seem to recall Darl McBride told us once is not possible. Nothing like success to speak for your concept's viability. That link gives you the complete list of keynoters.

Eben will be speaking ("Copyleft Business Models: Why it’s Good Not to Be Your Competitor’s Free Lunch") on GPLv2 and v3 and why smaller software-focused businesses will "soon be deserting Apache- and BSD-style permissive licenses" for the GPL, either version "and their successors". Marten's talks is "Open Source: Why Freedom Makes a Better Business Model".

Here's the part that particularly interests us, the legal issues that will be addressed in talks under the header "What's Legal?". One talk is designed for those thinking of acquiring companies. Nowadays, almost everyone has incorporated some Open Source code, so there are due diligence issues to be aware of. Ira Heffan speaks on "Developing an Effective Corporate Open Source Policy". Also there will be Stephen D. Gillespie of Fenwick and West speaking on "The Scope of Reciprocity/Copyleft Under GPLv3". Hmm. I'd like to monitor that one. Mark Radcliffe will speak on legal due diligence if you are thinking of open sourcing a proprietary product. There's a talk for nonlawyers too, "A Guide for Non-Lawyers: What You Need to Know When Moving to an Open Source Business License". Finally, on the legal track, there will be a panel speaking on "Open Source Enforcement Actions", but what they probably mean is the GPL mainly, and they'll go into the legal steps a company can take to avoid issues and how to handle it if issues nevertheless arise.

Yes, the list of speakers includes Justin Steinman of Novell, but we don't live in a perfect world. Kidding. There will indeed be a panel discussion on the Novell-Microsoft deal, "Is the Novell-Microsoft deal good for open source?".

Um. No. Not the patent peace part, anyway.

That panel seems heavily stacked toward a Yes answer to the weighted question, since Microsoft and Novell make up two of the four seats on the panel and what else can they say to the question about the value of the deal? We goofed? In retrospect we spent a lot of money for nothing? Well. I'd give a lot to be a fly on the wall at that panel, for sure. Allison Randal and Jonathan Corbet will be the remaining panelists, and Jonathan will have his hands full. Here's how the panel is described:

Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the Novell-Microsoft deal has had significant ramifications across the entire IT industry, and in particular, the open source software community. In this no-holds-barred panel, representatives from Novell and Microsoft will be joined by open source community leaders and enterprise Linux customers for a free-wheeling discussion about the agreement.

They wrote that blurb up prior to the Supreme Court pulling the bully rug right out from under Microsoft with the KSR decision on obviousness. Here are my questions for the panel:

  • How does the KSR decision on patent obviousness impact the deal's value?
  • Its impact on the marketplace?
  • Do you think due diligence would now include making Microsoft be very specific in terms of what patents are involved and covered by any proposed patent agreement?
  • Is Novell now reviewing the patents covered to evaluate if it bought a pig in a poke?
  • How much bullying can patent holders effectively do now to FOSS, would you say? Ask your lawyer.
  • Do patent agreements make sense post KSR, and if so, why?
  • Does Microsoft agree that distributing SUSE vouchers means it is distributing under the GPL? How about under GPLv3?
  • When will the revised agreement for noncommercial developers, which was earlier promised by Novell and Microsoft, be released?
  • What about the definitions that are missing from the agreements? When do we get to know about them? Do Novell's paying end users have those definitions?

I know. I'm having too much fun. Hopefully Matt Asay will attend and provide some balance. By the way, did Microsoft patent sudo???? Ah, how pleasant it is to write about such things basking in the warm sunshine of KSR v. Teleflex.

Obviously, I don't endorse all the views that will be expressed there at the conference, at either conference for that matter. But education is what we do, and it's another way to do it. So Groklaw is one of the media sponsors of OSBC. I'd certainly have some things to say if I could go, but I'm still not well enough to even consider it. So if you go, please write up what you hear and see, will you? And if you are interested in covering it for Groklaw, email me please. And I have a geek question for the conferences: is there any reason not to let us attend digitally? I'd pay, gladly. If the logistics aren't in place, please can you make the talks available in due time as video and audio (including for those of us on GNU/Linux operating systems)?


Two Conferences You Might Want to Attend | 242 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off Topic...
Authored by: webster on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 01:01 PM EDT
....and interesting.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections, if required.
Authored by: the_flatlander on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 01:01 PM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Two Conferences You Might Want to Attend
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 01:22 PM EDT
There is also the SCO Tec Forum 2007 to be held August 5-7 at The Mirage Hotel
in Las Vegas. This year's conference will provide attendees with technical
breakout sessions from SCO UNIX experts, hands on training by valued SCO
partners, and best practices birds-of-a-feather sessions that will directly
benefit SCO customers and their I.T. environments. With the stronger technical
training focus this year, SCO is changing the name to "SCO Tec Forum"
to note the technical emphasis. Participation and registration for SCO Tec Forum
is $300. This fee is waived for all attendees that stay at the Mirage Hotel
during the event.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Do we need this protection?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 01:32 PM EDT
... The protection is particular suitable for software developers who have created new techniques. Without such protection, there is no way for an open-source software developer to keep those who don't want to share with the community from using their new technique.
Since when did this become a concern?

Open-source isn't about preventing anyone from using anything; it's about preventing anyone from preventing anyone else from using the technique. And it's not about "techniques" at all; it's about code.

Did I miss something? I hope PJ's quote was out of context somehow and this guy's not as confused as he sounds. Fighting hoarders with more patents does not sound like the way forward.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Open Source patents
Authored by: stites on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 02:04 PM EDT

The article quotes Professor Lee Hollaar as saying the following about his idea for a new type of protection:

"The protection is particular suitable for software developers who have created new techniques. Without such protection, there is no way for an open-source software developer to keep those who don't want to share with the community from using their new technique."

I am under the impression that most of us do not want to block other people from using a new technique developed by an open source developer. When an open source developer develops a new technique he typically does not patent it. We do not want other people to then patent a technique that we already developed but I haven't seen any desire to block other people from using the technique in proprietary software.

We do enforce the copyright laws. But we don't seem to have any desire to file patents and use them against proprietary software.

The idea of open source patents may appeal to commercial companies that now sell open source software. They may want to release some of their patents to open source code while retaining the right to enforce them against proprietary software. In general I disaprove of this idea because it will inevitably draw open source software into the cross licensing agreements and thus into the software patent wars. I am willing to listen to suggestions whereby companies can release some of their patents to open source code while retaining the right to enforce them against proprietary software as long as the proprietary software patent agreements are not intermingled with the open source software patent agreements.

Steve Stites

[ Reply to This | # ]

KSR v Mcrosoft-Novell
Authored by: stites on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 02:18 PM EDT

"How does the KSR decision on patent obviousness impact the deal's value?"

Microsoft's software patent attack is based on the legal costs involved in defending oneself. Microsoft refuses to point out what software patents open source is violating. Instead Microsoft talks about how many patents they have and surely by the laws of chance open source software must violate some of these patents. Microsoft threatens open source with the huge legal expense of defendig ourselves against a large number of software patent claims.

The Supreme Court's KSR decision greatly reduces the threat potential of Microsoft's software patent portfolio. Many (most?) of Microsoft's software patents fail the new obviousness test set out in KSR. Also the judge in a patent case can declare a patent invalid in summary judgement instead of waiting for a jury verdict. The threat value of Microsoft's software patent portfolio has been greatly reduced.

Steve Stites

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Patents "sudo"
Authored by: ausage on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 02:54 PM EDT

I followed the links and read the patent. "Holy Cow Batman!!!" Not once in the patent did I see any mention for prior art, "sudo", Radius, Linux SE or IBM's RACS. or any other security control system.

The patent system is obviously broken and needs fixing if 20 year old technology can be claimed like this. We need to start lobbying our law makers to fix this system. Not just for software, but for all patents. Some suggestions:

  • Require that the "inventors", "assignees" and "lawyers" affirm under oath with penalty of perjury that the patent application is true and that all relevant information has been included.

  • Establish serious criminal penalties (2 to 5 years) for submitting false information, claiming ownership of a technique, method or invention that is not original, or omitting relevant information that is know or should have be known.

  • Upon conviction for submitting a false or misleading patent application, revoke all patents held by the same "inventors", "assignees" or submitted by the same "lawyers"

We need to create an environment where when the corporate lawyers come along and say, "Joe, we want to patent the program you just wrote" I will say, "No way, I copied that technique from something I saw in so-and-so's work. I am going to jail for you!"

We also need to create an environment there are very, very serious consequences for any corporation that tries to highjack the work of others.

Patents like this are corporate fraud and cause serious great harm to society. They should be treated that way.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Prof. Hollaar
Authored by: Detcidda on Friday, May 04 2007 @ 07:22 PM EDT
I remember Professor Hollaar quite well from my time as an undergrad in Computer Science at the U. of U. He taught the class on networking fundamentals. If you take a look at his biography, you'll notice that in addition to helping out with the KSR v. Teleflex trial, he was also "the lead technical expert in the antitrust suits Caldera v. Microsoft and Bristol v. Microsoft (both of which settled in favor of the plaintiffs), and was the technical advisor to the States during the Microsoft settlement negotiations and the remedies phase of the trial."

At the time (Fall 1998), the whole CS department ran on HP-UX and Sun Solaris systems, so all of our programming assignments were done using Unix system calls, and as I recall, he knew Unix networking inside and out.

[ Reply to This | # ]

patened sudo
Authored by: giskard on Saturday, May 05 2007 @ 12:48 AM EDT
more than just sudo, but much of init as well. many major operations in unix
require root access, a simple action such as shutting down a box consists of
signaling a root process to do so, as no ordinary user is able to perform it

[ Reply to This | # ]

Re: "mandatory patent litigation insurance"
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 05 2007 @ 04:43 AM EDT
Re: "mandatory patent litigation insurance"

It sounds like one of two things is happening from the side that wants this
insurance to be mandatory.

1 - Someone is in the insurance business and smells of a way to make money the
old fashioned way (force folks to buy insurance...

2 - Lawyers love insurance, as they see it as a pile of money to support their
billing loads (meaning, if insurance is in play, there will be a pay day).

Go figure - but mandatory - it sounds like to have insurance for businesses that
the Patent System is really broken, as to have to have protection from patents
(obviously, too many obvious ones), where such a number of patents exist where
you can not move right or left without stubbing you toe on one and getting
hurt... well, sorry folks, there can't be that many "genuine" and new
inventions out there so that this is needed. The patent business is now a churn
business for the lawyers. Note: Judges are lawyers, patent lawyers are
lawyers, patent examiners are lawyers... it is a whole food chain unto itself
and it has really gotten out of control when you have to buy
"protection" from patents that are waiting out there to kill your

For one: software patents should never exist as there is no way to read a
software patent and know exactly what it does, only by reading the code can you
know what the software does, the code is something that could be filed somewhere
in a copyright registration, and so it is easy to find out if another body of
code infringes, so... why have software patents in the first place?

Ban software and business method patents (software protection by copyright only,
limit term of protection of software copyright to only 10 years - up to 17 years

Why even have a need for this insurance. Once you need this mandatory insurance
it is OBVIOUS that there is a problem, the problem is software patents.
Eliminate the problem, and you eliminate the need for insurance. Software is
protected by copyright. Easy.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ms patents sudo - Two Conferences You Might Want to Attend
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 05 2007 @ 09:33 AM EDT
I noticed under comments on this that someone said they were going to patent
ones and zeros. Someone else commented on the fact that Microsoft had already
patented that. I've patented instead a new uncertainty value between one and
zero. While the concepts of the binary computer system is that you have either
a one or a zero, the reality is that all hardware takes a finite amount of time
to change state from a one to a zero or back again. During this transition
period the value may be considered either a one or a zero, or in fact a value of
"uncertain". Properly managing this value is key to all modern day
computers, so my patent will cover all machines. I will be collecting a very
reasonable royalty of only .00037 cents per binary digit. Please contact my
lawyer to arrange payment and avoid my new patent bomb.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why SCO's Revenue and Market Value Were Devastated
Authored by: sk43 on Saturday, May 05 2007 @ 10:47 AM EDT
In SCO Memorandum r.e. PSJ for Unfair Competition [908], SCO claims that
the impact of IBM's wrongful disclosures to Linux "was devastating
and immediate; SCO's revenue and market value plummeted following IBM's
wrongful conduct."

This wrongful conduct is highlighted in SCO Supplemental Response to IBM's
First Set of Interrogatories [103-1]. On p. 27, SCO states:

"SCO also has reasonable cause to believe that IBM is, and has since about
2001, continuously used UNIX Technology, including Protected Materials
embodied in AIX and Dynix/ptx, in ways that are not directly traceable to
specific transfer of source code to Linux"

SCO gives a Table illustrating where IBM was tracking the performance of

Table L: Linux kernel performance benchmarks
Linux Component
Disk I/O
Block I/O
Raw, Direct & Async I/O
Filesystem (ext2 & journaling)
Ethernet driver
Virtual memory
SMP scalability

By these actions, according to the Second Amended Complaint [108],
"IBM set about to deliberately and improperly destroy the economic value
of UNIX and particularly the economic value of UNIX on Intel-base ..."


Oh, wait. What else happened in 2001?

Community, Users to Benefit from Access to UNIX Intellectual Property"

"August 20, 2001-- Caldera International, Inc. (Nasdaq: CALD) today
announced it will Open Source the AIM PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKS ...""

Hmmm, what is this about?

"The AIM Multiuser Benchmark - Suite VII tests and measures the
performance of Open System multiuser computers."

"Job Timing Index - Tells you how predictable the system is when it
runs a test. Changes in a system's SCHEDULER are reflected in this

"Type Function Tests ... Large Database ... HEAVY FILE I/O, HEAVY SYNC
FILE I/O ... File Server ... HEAVY ASYNC I/O ..."

"link_test Tests FILESYSTEM PERFORMANCE while adding links to files."

"tcp_test IPC using TCP ..."

"signal_test Exercises POSIX SIGNALS."

"pipe_cpy Uses UNIX PIPES as an IPC mechanism."

"LARGE DATABASE MIX: workfile.dbase ... This mix assumes a large
MULTITHREADED application ..."

"brk_test System MEMORY allocations."


Er, never mind ... move along ... nothing to see.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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