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06.28.07

Patent Abuse: Greed’s Fight Against Science

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 8:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let us take a moment to discuss issues that are associated with patent-based racketeering. This will not be reiteration of the old same (and tired) story.

Newton's Cradle
We are often reminded that the purpose of patents is to spur advancement in science and technology by offering incentives. What happens, however, when these incentives are being collected not through funds, but from peers? What happens when a party earns exclusive rights to do something very basic? Surely, rather than following the Newtonian path and standing on the shoulders of giants, we just look for other small shoulders to stand on (that’s a Newton’s Cradle in the photo by the way; computer-generated and royalty-free). We do not collaborate; instead, ownership of knowledge (that’s the equivalent of culture) is being gained. From a scientist’s perspective, this may seem absurd, unless of course that scientist puts personal (not collective) benefit at the top of all priorities. Therein lies the conflict between the betterment of humanity and greed.

Another perspective worth mentioning here comes from an InfoWorld blog. The writer labels the situation that Microsoft has created a state of intellectual dishonesty.

The intellectual property racket must end. Intellectual property laws were designed to promote innovation, not to allow monopolists to stifle it. We have an entire generation that has been taught that new ideas have to be “protectable” to be worthy of consideration. Whatever happened to being faster and better than the competition? Do these companies really need a seventeen year head-start? Does Microsoft really need a government-sanctioned sledge-hammer with which to intimidate smaller companies?

It sometimes seems like Microsoft, which once truly engineered and produced some software (acquisitions increasingly replace homebred program), has turned to marketing, then lawyers, and then bullying. To give credit to them, the company saw some days when there was passion for software, not just anything that might produce money. Later on, engineers were replaced by businessmen. This probably happened when Gates and others gave place to some new leadership. That was also when patent applications began to be filed rather than be denounced, as Gates once suggested.

Even years ago, Richard Stallman highlighted the sheer hypocrisy and the transformation from science to greed. Look at some think tanks and panels every day and be disgusted by the manipulation of the system. Large businesses are in the business of destroying the smaller businesses. The patent system, rather than encourage diversity in the market, achieves the very opposite thing. It is not surprising, however, as those that write the law (frequently by proxy) are the large companies. A reform is needed or else we will continue to observe a world that combats sanity.

Linspire Sells Us Linux FUD, Not GNU/Linux

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Linspire, Microsoft at 8:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It looks as though Linspire’s CEO has joined the ‘Microsoft voice’. He made some tactless statements which might lead to further alienation. Groklaw serves him with some words of caution and advice.

Mr. Carmony [of Linspire] asked a question, will Linux split in two factions? The answer is no. Some Linux distros will limp along a while and then die off, because they misunderstood what folks want when they choose GNU/Linux and FOSS. You can see that already. Red Hat, which refused to sign any such deal, is flourishing, for example. It’s not about code that “just works”. Apple offers that already. It’s the freedom. And we’ve proven willing to put up with some temporary frustration in order to get it. In time, FOSS will win, and all those proprietary codecs and everything else will be made available on pleasanter terms, because market share does that.

The real purpose of this Groklaw writeup, however, was to herald the arrival of GPLv3, which has already being praised by some big names.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) today commended the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center for their significant work in introducing Version 3 of the General Public License (GPL).

This is a a excellent example which shows that GPLv3 is quietly welcomed. Microsoft and its allies (including Kevin Carmony) can carry on littering the Web with anti-GPLv3 messages, but all this disinformation must be ignored.

The wording which Mr. Carmony used to spread smear some filth (implying that those who do not sign deals with Microsoft are pirates) will further lead to the suspicion that Carmoney’s (sic) monetary rewards from the Microsoft deal were substantial.

There is further commentary on this matter in eWeek, in case you wish to know more.

So, here we are: Microsoft is making Linux partners. Microsoft is making patent claims. Microsoft is trying to stir up controversy. But, as my grandpa might have put it, “Microsoft is still bringing cards to a horseshoes tournament.” No matter how Microsoft tries to stack this deck, Microsoft is not going to win.

Finally, here’s just a quick word to Kevin: repackaging and selling packages that were coded (for free) by Debian developers is easy. Just don’t call them “pirates”. It won’t make you popular.

Microsoft to OIN: No Membership, Thank You

Posted in Deals, Formats, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Xandros at 2:42 pm by Shane Coyle

This should not be shocking to many, but Microsoft has stated that they are not interested in joining the Open Invention Network (OIN). The OIN is a group that licenses their spurious software patents to anyone who pledges not to leverage their own spurious software patents against GNU/Linux, and Microsoft just is not willing to make that pledge at this time. Shocker.

“We are always evaluating licensing opportunities but don’t have anything specific to say about OIN. However, we remain committed to building bridges within the industry,” he said.

That response is a little more vague than that from a Microsoft spokesperson who told eWEEK previously that “while Microsoft actively participates in a wide variety of industry organizations, the company has no plans to join the OIN at this stage.”

Much more interesting, to me anyhow, were the aspects of the article concerning Microsoft’s licensing negotiations – in which it is revealed that Microsoft does indeed take the time to review individual allegedly infringed Microsoft software patents with prospective licensees, something they repeatedly have denied occurred in the Novell deal, and subsequently have declined responding to numerous public requests for specificity due to the prohibitive amount of paperwork (but they can produce a 6,000 page office document specification – go figure).

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s vice resident of Intellectual Property and Licensing, countered that the software giant does disclose which patents are being infringed, but only during private licensing discussions with companies that are looking for good faith for ways of resolving the situation.

“We walk through a number of exemplary patents and go as deep as they want us to go. Our experience has been every time we’ve done that, it doesn’t take companies a long time to figure out that there is an issue here,” he said.

So how far into the 235 did Xandros and Linspire get before they capitulated, and why must these remain secret again? OIN CEO Jerry Rosenthal, who was also once vice president of IBM’s Intellectual Property and Licensing business, asserts that these meetings are usually not secret nor confidential, and I would tend to believe he would have some familiarity with the process.

Intellectual Property FUD Gets Fuelled by Old Red Hat News

Posted in FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 5:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s all about the timing: GNU GPL’s big day, Red Hat’s profit surge

Jim Finkle, the man who loves to ‘miunderstand’ and ‘misinterpret’ all things that embody freedom, comes back with a new swing. We ask you to take this with a grain of salt, knowing where it comes from.

According to this article, about a year ago, Microsoft discussed issued that are related to software patents with Red Hat. The article contains an element of mystery. The article also bothers to mention an important point towards the end.

An update to that license, version 3, is about to be implemented. It will forbid companies from distributing Linux software if they enter into patent agreements like the ones that Microsoft signed with Novell.

Be aware that on many occasions Red Hat clarified that it would not negotiate IP deals and never accept interoperability that is based on ‘innovation/interoperability tax’.

Is somebody trying to keep the FUD candle ablaze on the day of GPLv3′s finalisation and official release? It seems like an old story that gets unleashed at the ‘perfect timing’ by a man with questionable history on these matters. Also remember that Red Hat reported a 42% rise in revenue. That was yesterday. Whether strings are being pulled here or not (never trust the commercial media), we shall let the readers decide.

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