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11.01.07

(Software) Patent News: Getting Better, Then Worse, Then Better Again…

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 9:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lunacy makes a comeback

Lookie here! Our little 'friend', which is also Microsoft’s friend [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], is boasting its new and shiny product sheet of paper.

Acacia Research Corporation announced today that its Acacia Patent Acquisition Corporation subsidiary has acquired patents for projector technology.

Society has never known better development and innovation. The consumer will truly be pleased. Of course, we’re being sarcastic because neither the consumer nor the industry (so-called ‘inventors’) will benefit from lawsuits. Only lawyers will win and monopolies will have their fences in tact. Fortunately, as the following article reveals, a new coalition is formed to fight software patents, such as the ones used by Acacia against Red Hat and Novell.

What could make the Free Software Foundation (FSF), proprietary software companies, and at least one venture capitalist into allies? The End Software Patents (ESP) coalition, a new organization poised to swing into action next month under the leadership of Ben Klemens.

But, but, but… wasn’t there supposed to be a reform as well? It gets worse. Not only does the government face a lot of resistance to change, but it has also just fallen a victim to more tactless decisions.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from enforcing new rules that would impose some roadblocks on patent applications.

[...]

Critics of the current rules say continuation applications have been abused, and that the system is overburdened, and have generally supported the Patent Office’s move. For its part, the office says the changes would help to reduce a backlog of applications to be processed.

This is madness. According to one source, it is estimated that about 800,000 applications (quoting from memory) are yet to go through the USPTO ‘acid test’, which set its barriers far too low. With this absurd policy and a worrisome patent/lawsuit culture in place, we’re likely to find more unfortunate stories like the following two, which are new.

The stacks of legal documents flying back and forth come at a time when both companies are hitting their stride. HP has been the reigning No. 1 PC vendor in the world for the past year and continues to report strong quarterly results.

Wi-LAN Inc. (WIN.T) has started patent-infringement litigation in Texas against 22 major companies in two actions.

Wi-LAN said the companies include Acer Inc., Apple Inc., Atheros Communications Inc., Belkin International Inc., Best Buy Co., Broadcom Corp. , Buffalo Technology (USA) Inc., Circuit City Stores, Inc., Dell Inc., D-Link Corp., Gateway Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Infineon Technologies AG, Intel Corp., Lenovo Group Ltd., Marvell Semiconductor Inc., Netgear Inc., Sony Corp…

Related articles:

When Patents Threaten Science

Patents should not be used to protect laws of nature, products of nature, or mathematical formulas.

Patent Trolls: The Record Examines the Myths

Spencer Hosie of the Recorder this week examined the myths involved in what has commonly been termed “patent trolling”. The article comes in the wake of Bodog (an online gambling firm) losing its coveted brand name to a group that sued over patent infringement.

Critical Problem for Novell

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Novell, Security at 9:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yes, it’s pretty much as it sounds, but it’s ambiguous.

Hey, Novell, watch this flaw. It’s “Critical”. Heise Security says more:

The Novell BorderManager 3.8 network administration software includes a Client Trust agent for network clients, in which a security vulnerability has been discovered by the Zero Day Initiative (ZDI).

There’s a bit of a flamebait here. Indeed, it’s just a technical flaw and it’s not even a key Linux product, but Novell has some more critical flaws which will actually affect its future. Examples include:

  1. Microsoft’s betrayal against Novell
  2. Novell’s financial dependence on a Microsoft lifeline
  3. Departure of many SUSE developers
  4. Bad image

All of the above would have been avoid if Novell did not sign an insane deal.

Novell is losing

What’s in Microsoft’s Halloween Documents on Novell, ISO, OSI, GNU GPLv3, EC, and OSS?

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OSI at 9:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By this stage, you have probably stumbled upon the Halloween Documents, which reveal Microsoft’s predatory tactics against Linux and Free software. It’s not a ‘smoking gun’. It’s more like a ‘smoking shotgun’ with 4 barrels.

Here is what the OSI thinks about it:

We, too, have recently been forcibly reminded (by the Halloween Documents) that we have been targeted for destruction and dirty tricks by the Microsoft monopoly.

It is clear that Microsoft has some new documents lying about in Redmond, but unlike the Halloween Documents, nobody out there has got open access to them. Microsoft has a plan for the destruction of Linux (as we know it). There are many roles and factors here, which include, as the title indicates: Novell, ISO, OSI, GNU GPLv3, the European Commission, and various other companies, including Linux companies. If we don’t not respond, then Microsoft’s cookbooks will have a nicely-basked turkey by Easter. Matt Asay, referring to the Halloween Documents, takes an overview on Microsoft’s bizarre and complex strategy.

  • Microsoft is trying to look like it’s all about interoperability through futile projects like Mono, Moonlight, and patent agreements with Novell and also-ran Linux vendors. But these deals are really nothing more than a way to tax open-source innovation to ensure open source is hobbled by Microsoft’s fees.

And so on. Microsoft is much more open about its intentions vis-a-vis open source. That doesn’t mean it’s any more supportive of open source. It just means that it’s getting easier to glean from public documents how the company feels about open source.

We don’t need Halloween Documents to read the tea leaves on Microsoft and open source. We just need to pay attention to what the company is doing. In the open. On an increasing basis.

Edward Burnette has some insights as well and he’s focused on the OSI in his writeup which is titled “Halloween XII: What’s really behind those Microsoft licenses?”

Given the OSI’s stated desire to reduce the number of open source licenses, not increase them, I asked the OSI board why they had approved it. “We won’t approve licenses that are too similar to existing licenses”, board member Russ Nelson responded in an email. However he praised the licenses for being simply written, for addressing trademarks and patents, and for not naming a specific jurisdiction.

Is that enough to differentiate them? Not according to Greg Stein of the Apache Foundation, who is opposed to the creation and use of new licenses when existing, popular licenses already do the job. “License proliferation,” he writes, “slows development and discourages usage by making it more difficult to combine and remix code.”

The OSI refused to realise what Microsoft has been cooking when it accepted 2 more licences. We reckon that the OSI will come to regret this.

An Open Letter to eWeek

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Servers, Windows at 8:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dear Steven and Peter,

I will admit that I’m slightly concerned that you guys have apparently played “good cop, bad cop” recently. We’ve rebutted the latest example here, but had your original article been published properly (i.e. not with a ‘correction’ coming a week later), then none of this would be necessary. Additionally, damage to Linux would not be done so unfairly.

“…please get rid of those anti-Linux ads in eWeek, by the way, because they send mixed messages in Linux journalism.”This is not the first time that only hours apart, Steven and Peter ‘drop a bomb’ and then unleash an excuse/rebuttal to ‘extinguish the flames of explosion’ (or at best ‘diffuse the bomb’). I have many examples in mind, but I won’t list them. Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems like a John Dvorak maneuver split into two roles (and two people) with hopes of boosting traffic and ad revenue. Oh, and please get rid of those anti-Linux ads in eWeek, by the way, because they send mixed messages in Linux journalism.

In case you wonder about the “John Dvorak maneuver” bit, here is a video that explains it. Yes, John admits that he trolls, and this isn’t the first time he admits this either.

To put it simply and bluntly, this is irresponsible and juvenile. The damage has been done.

Next time, look out for people who balance the arguments before publishing the words of a Microsoft pal who uses selective figures, from a ‘study’ that was probably sponsored by Microsoft (without disclosure, as usual). Otherwise, you become part of the Microsoft FUD pipeline and that’s not journalism. Peter’s headline was moreover very deceiving because it grossly generalised an observation and incorporated no balance, which the body of the articles totally lacked anyway.

These are just my 50 cents and I hope you don’t mind constructive feedback.

Add MuleSource CEO to the List of Novell Slammers

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Quote at 8:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell gets slammed yet again, and rightly so.

Drawing a parallel to Novell, the company went from being a player in the Linux market, to an open source pariah as the focus changed from the software to their pact with Microsoft. Add to that the fact that Novell handled the situation rather poorly (with more obnoxious details filtering out all the time) and you find a company that lost its way.

Consider these older quotes (many more available upon request):

That these claims also could be taken to mean that Novell is developing a non-standard Linux, one that is skewed only towards working with Windows, appears to have escaped Novell.

                      from Novell uses Microsoft FUD to market itself

I am not even interested enough to finish this post. The whole thing is just so lame. We’ve already covered this plenty of times for those of you who think I am picking on Novell.

                      from Selling your soul is clearly worth the money (Novell)

Novell is running a “protection racket” with “Big Mikey” as the enforcer

                      from Perens blasts Microsoft/Novell ‘protection racket’

But the main takeaway, as they might put it, for me is that this is an anti-Red Hat deal, and Novell is thrilled about that.

                      from The Novell-Microsoft Wheeler Dealers Speak

It [Novell] should not (as it does – I’ve talked with its salespeople – and which it has gone on the record as noting that it does) use lame patent FUD and equally lame patent protection to sell that software.

                      from How much is Microsoft’s patent protection worth?

To sum it all up, Novell sold the soul of the GNU GPL and Linux only for money. Novell is greedy is selfish.

Mono is greed

Why You Should Not Listen to the ODF Foundation — for Now

Posted in Formats, FUD, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 8:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They imply that ODF is rejected even by its own former supporter, but it this not the full story.”The OpenDocument Foundation has been doing a lot of legwork around journalists lately. I was among those who had received heaps of information. The press, consequently, uses this as a opportunity to write stories filled with drama. They imply that ODF is rejected even by its own former supporter, but this not the full story.

To put things in perspective, the funding for a project run by the OpenDocument Foundation ended some time ago after very aggressive lobbying and bullying in Massachusetts. Microsoft had people thrown out of their jobs for ‘daring’ to stick to ODF. Some of the systematic manipulation you can read about even in the mainstream press, but the depth of coverage wasn’t as great as the story deserved it to be. At the time, Andy Updegrove kept best track of the issues.

Spread ODFAfter the funding ended for the OpenDocument Foundation’s, the OpenDocument Foundation was truly glued to a corner, so the wise step to take was to turn somewhere else. What would make a better publicity stunt than throwing dirt at the face of OpenDocument format? The press then listened and gave exposure to the OpenDocument Foundation’s future path, which is not ODF format. The OpenDocument Foundation had its goals serves and so did Microsoft. That was selfish and tactless.

Truthfully, these stories need to be buried because they fail to reveal the full picture. It’s the OpenDocument Foundation’s revenge, and it’s very biased for personal reasons, among others.

ODF is an excellent standard. It’s the way to go and it’s the future. Don’t be misled here. I’ll admit that I was wrong to fuel and give exposure to early signs of The OpenDocument Foundation turning the tables. They made some valid points, but their recent attack on ODF (public attack even) is not the way of a gentleman. ODF Foundation ought to have stepped out quietly.

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