“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio.”
Stop Feeding the USPTO
We carry on arguing that the patent system is dysfunctional because the entry barriers are far too low. What does the government do? Adds even more money to the USPTO’s budget.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has received a budget increase of about 9 percent for the government’s 2008 fiscal year, prompting praise from some tech groups.
So, research funding is down, almost all budgets are down whilst courts are claimed to be overburdened by lawsuits. Should more funding be allocated to researchers rather than patents that spur litigation, where only lawyers win? An already-overwhelmed patent office gets even more resources to accept software patent applications. Is this a move forward or a move backwards?
Stop Feeding the Trolls
Citing Patent TrollTracker, TechDirt writes about another lawsuit over the classic game of Solitaire (over the network). Does chess (over the network) have a patent as well?
However, perhaps the most interesting is the third case discussed by the Troll Tracker. It involves the somewhat infamous patents of Sheldon Goldberg, which got plenty of attention back in 2004 when he started claiming that computer solitaire was covered by his patents. The two key patents are for a network gaming system and a method for playing games on a network.
Start Feeding the EFF Instead
Some more junk patents have fallen victim to the EFF’s patent busting efforts. Here are some of the details.
In another step forward for EFF’s Patent Busting Project, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) last week issued an official rejection of all sixteen claims of the Test.com Internet test-taking method patent. The PTO granted re-examination last year after EFF submitted a petition that included several examples of prior art from a company called IntraLearn that had not previously been part of the PTO record. In light of that prior art, the PTO has now found that all sixteen of Test.com’s claims obvious and non-patentable.
Groklaw seems to be making an effort to squash an Apple patent which we mentioned last week. It has “prior art” written all over it.
We have another request to pick your brains regarding prior art. I guess I should set up a new subcategory just for prior art searching. It looks like we’ll be doing more and more of it. This time, the request is regarding the new patent application that Apple announced for wifi purchases over an iPhone. Journalist John Oram believes he’s found someone who has some prior art. Can you please take a look and if you know of other examples, comment on them here?
Microsoft carries on making patents for Orwellian things. We have seen many of them in recent months. That’s the company that used to warn about the dangers of patents before it became large and dominant.
Is this patent a harbinger of a dystopian future where computer users’ biorhythms will be monitored to increase efficiency? Unlikely. The idea, which was birthed at Microsoft Research, is simply a more advanced version of user focus group testing that Microsoft (and most other software companies) have been doing for years now. Still, if your employer asks you to patch on a pair of electrodes before sitting down to work in the morning, my advice is to find another company to work for.
It’s All About Disputes
The IBM-Asustek case, which was first mentioned last month, makes it back into the headlines.
The trade agency said in a statement that the case would be referred to an administrative law judge, who will hold a hearing and make an initial determination. That decision is subject to review by the ITC commissioners.
Will we be seeing more disputes and paperwork rather than actual development work? It sure looks like it because patent dispute are rising sharply in terms of frequency and severity. █
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The following new article from InfoWorld is worth a quick glance.
ODF Alliance reports that 12 countries and six regional governments have adopted ‘pro-ODF policies,’ and more than 40 applications now support ODF as well
Today, he noted, Microsoft’s DOC format, not OOXML, is still dominant. “If the question is ‘what is the future,’ clearly ODF has the lead right now,” he said.
Whatever happens, remember that ODF adoption will come from outside the United States and reach the United States at the end if all goes well. There are too many lobbyists and conflicting interests in the United States where a wealthy company called Microsoft has already had people sacked (2 of them at least, with some who abandoned in despair under heavy pressure) for supporting ODF. Look at the stories we have covered in the past for further reminders. The gloves came off a long, long time ago. █
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Shooting the messenger, not the message
Continuing yesterday's response to accusations like “Conspiracy Theorists”, “Paranoid”, “Zealots” and so forth, here is a nice little writeup from Hans, who combats FUD and addresses similar issues as well.
It is quite commonplace to talk about “the” FOSS community, but like I’ve stated so many times, there is no such thing as “the” FOSS community. As a matter of fact, there are many communities.
If we choose to research our blogs, you do not have the right to call us “obsessive”. If we are concerned about the FUD that destroys our work, you do not have the right to accuse us of “extreme paranoia”. If we are attacked and we react, we do not suffer from a “lack of civility and a quickness to give and take offense”. If we feel that “there can be no truce with [insert object of obsession here]” we have every right to vent that opinion. Or was the First Amendment repealed while I was sleeping? “Many of the sort of people I’m talking about know that ‘conspiracy theory’ can be negative term, and are insulted if you apply it to them”. Well, doesn’t everyone?
The same type of tactics are used extensively in politics. When you do not like someone who tells too much or if you fear a foreign leader, then start a smear campaign. Less than a month ago the following was published, which probably demonstrates US military-coordinated smear campaigns.
The activities uncovered by Wikileaks include deleting Guantanamo detainees’ ID numbers from Wikipedia, posting of self-praising comments on news websites in response to negative articles, promoting pro-Guantanamo stories on the Internet news focus website Digg, and even altering Wikipedia’s entry on Cuban President Fidel Castro to describe him as “an admitted transexual” [sic].
The proof Wikeleaks assembled includes the IP address and whois ownership record for public.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil, which is Guantanamo’s Internet gateway server, google hits on that IP address, a traceroute through a satellite downlink, the whois ownership record for that downlink, links to the defaced Wikipedia entries, links to comments posted at news websites, records of approximately 140 promotions of news articles at Digg, links and quotes about three alleged US military propagandists who are stationed at Guantanamo, and fourteen links to other Wikileaks articles about Guantanamo.
This is actually similar to what Microsoft has been caught doing a quite lot last year (astroturfing). About Digg, that’s another large story which is worth a separate post that will come one day. In short, Digg has become a chaotic mess filled with shills. You are encouraged to take everything you see there with a barrel of salt. █
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“There won’t be anything we won’t say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go.”
–Bill Gates (Microsoft’s CEO at the time)
Andy Updegrove has just completed and published the 5th installment of his excellent, in-progress eBook. In this chapter he explains what practically separates standards from non-standards — namely diversity and choice.
One of the two articles of faith that Eric Kriss and Peter Quinn embraced in drafting their evolving Enterprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM) was this: products built to “open standards” are more desirable than those that aren’t. Superficially, the concept made perfect sense – only buy products that you can mix and match. That way, you can take advantage of both price competition as well as a wide selection of alternative products from multiple vendors, each with its own value-adding features. And if things don’t work out, well, you’re not locked in, and can swap out the loser and shop for a winner.
Do remember that no software supports OOXML as it is laid out for ECMA. Not even Microsoft Office 2007 supports it, but Office is closest to matching these specifications, which Microsoft is likely to just ignore in the future in the name of more ‘features’ (more undocumented extensions) and larger profits.
The latest Microsoft Word for Mac is hot in the news at the moment. It is important that Apple Mac users are made aware that by embracing Microsoft Word (2008), all documents of these users are then only accessible using Microsoft Word (anything else would be lossy). Microsoft controls patching, upgrade pace, and pricing, rendering the user and his/her data a hostage. SJVN has just published an article about NeoOffice, which makes a brilliant ‘escape route’ for Mac users.
So NeoOffice, while it uses the OpenOffice.org 2.2.1 code base, has been customized for Mac OS X and Aqua. It brings to the Mac essentially all of OpenOffice’s functionality, which I find is approximately the same as Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac.
The article ought to mention ODF support as well. It is a most fundamental feature that secures the data, which immediately becomes portable (cross-application and cross-platform/device). █
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It’s easiest to launch an assault on the apathetic
Bruce Byfield’s subtle attack on our credibility was mentioned briefly the other day in a post about Acacia. The Managing Editor of LinuxToday (Brian Proffitt) seems to be mitigating Bruce’s message, so it’s worth you taking a quick look.
It is, admittedly, very easy to put the blame on companies out to do harm to Linux, free, and open source software. Because sometimes that blame is justified. When Mandriva’s CEO called Microsoft out for attempting to co-op Mandriva’s deal for pre-loaded Classmate PCs in Nigeria last November, the evidence was pretty overwhelming.
Now, there’s suddenly a lawsuit against the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project in that same country, claiming patent infringement on the part of OLPC, and demanding $20 million. “Conspiracy theorists” might say this is just one more attempt to protect Microsoft’s desktop share in Nigeria. Heck, I could get really crazy and point the finger at Intel, now that they’re on the outs with OLPC. Or even… (hushed whisper) Mandriva. We know how evil they are!
In all honesty, I have no idea what’s behind this lawsuit. It’s probably just for money, in the classic ambulance-chaser style, and I will let it go at that until I hear differently.
Byfield would have the people who accuse Microsoft or any other company of deception labeled as conspiracy theorists. That label has a negative connotation, but I understand its application in this instance. Where I disagree with Byfield is how bad such accusations and speculations really are.
Mind the latest post about the Nigeria incident (published just hours ago), which links to others with further information that escapes our scope and capacity. It is very clear that Microsoft cannot be ignored. Some say that it should be ignored with the exception of cases where it attacks Linux. Never mind its new products and its technical problems, from which it can suffer alone. Let it be stressed again:
This Web site does not contain Microsoft bashing. Detractor will try to recruit stereotypes like “zealot” and “fanboy” to shoot down our message. This site delves into affairs where Microsoft actively sabotages — directly or indirectly — the Free software movement. This includes ridicule of standards bodies, bribery, threats, litigation by proxy, and many other examples. Novell has a big part of this charade ever since the deal with Microsoft in 2006 and it is merely the raison d’être for the site’s existence.
We needn’t keep our ‘enemy’ closer as much as we need to understand why the ‘enemy’ is trying to get closer to us — only to do damage from the inside as we witness time and time again.
“We should dedicate a cross-group team to come up with ways to leverage Windows technically more.”
–Jim Allchin, high Microsoft executive
It figures. Are we 'paranoid', Bruce? Or is it a case of being realistic? █
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There’s positive news to tell (other than 2008 layoffs)
The past week seems to have been a quiet one for Novell, but here’s the fish (news) we’ve caught in our net:
SUSE Linux Desktop 1.0 reached the end of its support lifeline.
SUSE Linux Desktop 1.0 was released end of May 2003, making its lifetime 4.5 years.
Linux is said to be suitable even for young children. The GNU/Linux distribution which claimed victory was OpenSUSE.
My brother doesn’t know that I’m installing OpenSuSE 10.3 on his daughters’ PC. I honestly don’t think he will mind once he sees all of the cool applications and games on it. Hell, he’ll probably want to use it himself. I’ll tell the girls not to let him use it, because it’s the kids’ computer, not for adults.
Novell also continues its good work on the open source ATI (AMD) driver.
A new version of the ATI/AMD Linux display driver was released, for both x86 and x86_64 platforms. This release includes support for openSUSE 10.3 or openSUSE Live and Red Flag DT 6.0 Linux distributions.
In SLED/S news, the success story about ELCOT returns in the following article about 2008 trends.
‘Open source’ makes inroads
‘Linux’— a free operating system (OS) as opposed to Microsoft Windows or Vista — is fast making inroads in the country.
Novell along with the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) is installing Suse Linux in around 40,000 desktops in the state.
This is the second-largest implementation of Linux on the desktop – the biggest one being that of around 60,000 desktops in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India by Red Hat, which is estimated to have implemented over 200,000 desktop OS installations. Canara Bank too has around 10,000 Linux OS desktops.
There is a mention of SUSE/Novell-specific certifications here at ECT.
The trend today is for computer professionals to move away from proprietary software products in favor of developing their industry-wide skills, Lacy added.
Novell was mentioned briefly by Motley Fool. It’s all about its past glory.
Imagine buying into Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) shortly after the two Stanford computer lab support staffers made a networking breakthrough at a time when Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL) ruled the industry.
Novell was also mentioned in some SCO stories, including this one about derivative development work.
“Except for SCO, there really have been no claims for illegal derivation in the open source world,” Wacha said. We all know how that turned out. The problem for SCO was simply that it didn’t have reality on its side. It couldn’t defend Unix as its intellectual property because it wasn’t, and now it’s going to end up owing Novell lot of money it’ll never be able to pay.
Even if the software is open source, however, you still have to comply with the license. “Software is software. You can’t just pull code and do what you want with it,” Wacha said.
Here’s an easy prediction about SCO’s demise and things to come afterward.
Could Novell open-source Unix? What will OpenServer customers do? Can Sun claim some customers for OpenSolaris?
It’s going to happen. Some time in 2008, SCO will finally stop thrashing on the floor and die. Will it be Novell draining it dry of its last financial resources in the U.S. District Court in Utah? Or, will it be the bankruptcy court in Delaware divvying up the last bits and pieces of the once-proud Unix company?
That’s about all there was to report. Quiet week indeed, so it fits a single post nicely. █
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Linux set for a bad ride because of Novell
Here is how Novell helped Microsoft transform the way GNU/Linux is sold (attaching a charge to it regardless of the distribution used):
Microsoft currently collects royalties from some companies that use Linux in their computing environments, Gutierrez said. However, he declined to indicate the number, the dollar amount Microsoft receives from those payments, or identify any of the companies by name.
Courtesy of Cisco:
Apparently Microsoft has “taken limited steps to share users’ presence and availabilty [sic] information,” for fear of losing its ability to own all of the client.
Someone should tell Chambers that in reality it’s not so easy working with Microsoft.
Cisco’s CEO argued that Microsoft screws its customers every time, just like Apple.
If partnering with Microsoft is not a win-win then it must be a win-lose…in Microsoft’s favor of course.
That last sentence sums it all up. Novell is now stuck in a very bad ride. Good luck to Ron Hovsepian and his team, who have already ‘punished’ other Linux vendors and rewarded Microsoft, as the first citation shows. █
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Sad news again
Patents, patent, patents. How much do we love them? Let us count the ways.
Got a Wish? Pay Microsoft.
That’s right. Microsoft seems to be the proud owner of the wishlist idea.
Microsoft has been granted a patent for electronic Wish Lists. The patent, 7,315,834, was filed in April 2005 and granted on New Year’s Day.
This makes a nice addition to a portfolio of bizarre patents like the emoticons. Microsoft has truly turned from a patents skeptic into a patents lover.
Apple Keeps Filing Away
Patents from Apple keep flooding in. The quality of many of these is being questioned.
Apple’s always enjoyed patenting the near-absurd, just to get us speculating in the wrong direction or to give its thousands of patent lawyers something to do during a slow design cycle. We can’t really imagine Apple has this pair of “products” prepped and waiting in the wings of Macworld, but it’s still fun to look.
We have already shown how Apple patents are castrating decent features that are found in GNU/Linux.
LANCOR versus OLPC
LANCOR is a company whose head carries the burden of a very shady past and even a prison sentence. The company is currently attacking the One Laptop Per Child charity, which is undeterred (but nonetheless distracted). Once again patents are to blame and the case seems like more of an harassment with patents. It is not an actual solid case.
Here’s what OLPC says was hidden from the court:
* LANCOR has no valid patent
* OLPC hasn’t sold any XO laptops in Nigeria
* it’s a non-profit
* the beta XO laptops tested in Nigeria were not for sale and were not given away
* OLPC never signed a EULA
* OLPC never reverse engineered anything
* its keyboards that will be distributed use all public domain techniques and not LANCOR’s Konyin keyboard
Children of the world have been betrayed not only by patents, but also by other quiet forces. You are urged to follow the link and learn more about then story which the press does not cover properly (due to ownerships and advertisers). Here are some of the latest reports about Intel’s role in sabotaging OLPC:
1. One Laptop Per Child President Fires Back At Intel
“We got constant complaints from people in the field that they were being bullied by Intel,” said Bender. “That was the message we got from anybody and everybody working on these educational problems in the developing world.”
2. Laptop Project Blames Intel for Breakup
Negroponte said Intel even tried to undo a deal One Laptop had already sealed in Peru by citing flaws in the One Laptop “XO” machine and telling government ministers “we ought to know, because we are on the board.” Such hostile comments were prohibited, Negroponte claimed, under the July peace treaty that brought Intel into the One Laptop Per Child camp.
“I want to say we tried, but it was never a partnership,” Negroponte said. “There’s not one single thing in their contract or agreement that they lived up to.”
3. Intel’s OLPC moves blighted by the old paranoia
The OLPC project is not about raking in money or cut-throat competition, it is about getting those without connectivity an entry into the digital world. It is about empowering those without power. It is a non-profit for a reason. Didn’t you get this?
By pushing the Classmate, you are doing everything that you should not do. You are dividing a market that needs no division and you look like childish, tantrum-throwing bullies.
4. Laptop-Project Founder Faults Intel
Oscar Becerra Tresierra, general director for educational technology at Peru’s Ministry of Education, says that after the country recently agreed to buy 272,500 OLPC laptops for primary-school students, an Intel sales representative tried “to scare us” by claiming the machines and their power adapters didn’t work. “I don’t feel very happy about it,” he said. “We wouldn’t like the project to fail because somebody is spreading gossip about the machines that doesn’t turn out to be true.”
The short story is that Intel made a ‘special’ deal with OLPC under the strict condition that OLPC cannot say anything negative about Intel. It’s a form of “gagging for money”. Meanwhile, Microsoft was caught bribing (one among several recent examples) in Nigeria for a deal involving Intel’s Classmate PCs.
We have recently shown that there might even be yet another incident of lawsuit-by-proxy here. Remember that Microsoft and/or Intel seem to have scared Thailand, which then dropped its OLPC contracts/commitment. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, but little or no press coverage.
This is a very large and complex story which would certainly distract us and not fit the theme and focus of this Web site. If you want it to be covered more extensively here, please say something. I have already investigated this for a couple of years, but I publish my findings elsewhere. █
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