Patents: The Less, the Merrier; Software Patents: The None Means Merry

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 11:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital Majority has amassed some pretty good links, the first of which shows some of the roots of the patent dilemma.

Another practice that I find abhorrent is the BigCo “pay for patent application” approach where BigCo pays engineers a bonus (typical $1,000 to $5,000) for each patent filing. Not for the patents, but for the patent filing. This obviously encourages engineers to waste a bunch of their time not innovating but instead cranking out a bunch of stupid patent filings that clog the system.

“Blackboard promised it would not sue FOSS projects such as Moodle (an open pledge was made), but the company seems very willing to use its arsenal of junk patents offensively.”As pointed out last month, you have to be rich just to own a patent. This gets pretty horrible once you permit junk patents and software patents to pass because there is a seemingly infinite number of patents you can collect once you find the time and the money.

Several months ago, Blackboard made a lot of noise with its heap of junk patents, which put at risk various free content management systems (CMSs). The ‘bright’ idea of having different roles with different privileges on the system is supposedly Bloackboard’s invention (or so they wish you to believe anyway). Blackboard promised it would not sue FOSS projects such as Moodle (an open pledge was made), but the company seems very willing to use its arsenal of junk patents offensively. From the news:

The Blackboard patent infringement case against Desire2Learn goes to trial on February 11, 2008 in Lufkin, Texas. The trial is expected to last two weeks. Both sides will have no more than 18 hours to present their case.


By all accounts Blackboard’s patent is a stupid one and never should have been issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Here is Apple scooping another patent on user interfaces — a very questionable thing to do even in the area of software patents.

On January 31, the US Patent & Trademark Office published eleven of Apple’s patent applications in total. This particular report centers on Apple’s patent application titled User interface elements for hierarchical selection of items while listing several continuation patents. Apple’s current patent generally relates to user interface elements.

Surely yet quietly, Apple likes software patents, despite the fact that it suffers from them at times [1, 2, 3, 4].

How ECMA Dropped the Ball with OOXML

Posted in ECMA, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 11:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A new document, which is available for download/viewing as PDF, addresses ECMA’s failure to properly address comments. Open Malaysia contains the gist of it.

If there are awards to be given to categories of worst dispositions provided by Ecma in response to comments by National Bodies for the OOXML balotting on 2 September 2007, then the ODF Alliance’s list of top 10 (plus 1 bonus!) is a good one. The categories are:

10. Worst Ignored Request
9. Worst non-Answer
8. Worst use of XML
7. Worst Introduction of Security Holes
6. Worst ‘Back Door’ Tactic

We have criticised ECMA in the past for highly improper handling of OOXML (some links are appended). ECMA’s goal is not to scrutinise or to improve; it’s there just to sell. As for ISO, it was virtually 'hijacked' by Microsoft.

Related and recent articles (local):

Related and recent articles (external):

OOXML data vacuum

Software Patents Harm Phones, Again

Posted in Google, Patents at 11:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just over a week ago, a company somehow managed to patent the mobile computer. This ought to be one of the more prominent illustrations of the bad state of the USPTO. In recent days, it was also reported that Skype got sued by a lesser-known company.

Net2Phone, the pioneering Internet phone company that was destined to become a subsidiary of IDT despite objectons from some shareholders, seemingly has figured out a way to strike back against their enduring irrelevance.

Now, they’re taking Skype to court for patent infringement.

More on this in Techdirt. Meanwhile, Symbian, whose main backer loves software patents, got itself another patent.

A bit of a curiosity this one. If you go to Gauss, you can view the patent for the Symbian OS. As far as I can tell, the premise is that EPOC provides an efficient way of storing strings that, in turn, allows the OS to be created in c++ rather than c.

If you no longer recall this, see an explanation of how Nokia harmed Google's Android with its Trolltech acquisition. It is also worth pointing out this older article from DigiTimes that attributed Android’s delays to patent issues.

TI’s handset chipsets will find their way into the Google phone should the company decide to roll out an EDGE-compliant handset, but Qualcomm could turn out to be the winner if Google decides to bet on a 3G model, the sources noted.

Some of tomorrow’s more important computers will be mobile device. The field is becoming a legal land mine which hinders development.

Boycott Novell and Archival of Cited Sources

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 10:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have put together a script that goes through all pages in this Web site and makes local copies of all URLs cited (even external). It sorts them locally with levels (deep directory structure), proper URLs, full paths, etc. so that they are easy to locate. They will most probably be stored on an external hard-drive (this gets large in size over time) and a crontab will handle this cyclically. This ought to help preservation in case articles on other domains are removed some time in the future. Many thanks to some readers who made this suggestion.

The Web Archive is not enough to rely on, so at least one copy should be available although it’s not publicly available (could put it on ~/public_html, but that would probably infringe on copyrights).

Links 03/02/2008: KDE 4.1 Roadmap, Kernel Dev Pace, Git, X/OS 5.1

Posted in News Roundup at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 03/02/2008: Murdoch for Yahoo, SCO Dissolves, Free Software Impresses

Posted in News Roundup at 4:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Complete Site Archives, Posts as PDF Downloads

Posted in Site News at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boycott Novell

One reader has suggested that we make this Web site easier to download or explore in PDF format. An archives page was born just minutes ago:

Site archives

This is a large page, so be patient.

Each post can be downloaded as a PDF, but it remains rather complicated to produce PDFs for entire months, weeks, categories, or even one PDF containing the entire site. Would there be any interest in this? It requires a great amount of effort and time.

Microsoft’s OOXML Viral Marketing Reaches YouTube

Posted in Deception, FUD, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, Videos at 12:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Microsoft Propaganda Machine is quietly hard at work. A few days ago, Microsoft seems to have started throwing some of its infamous marketing videos onto YouTube. TechCrunch covered this ‘brilliant’ idea 5 weeks ago.

The more interesting aspect is that Microsoft would use the Google owned YouTube for such as promotion; it certainly demonstrates just how powerful the market position of YouTube has become over the last 2 years that Microsoft would use it to promote their products.

OOXML is part of this new charade. Microsoft is doing most of this deliberately and, as you can see, some of the recently-added OOXML-tagged or OOXML-tied videos are from Channel 9 (it couldn’t be more transparent than that). There is a similar brainwash campaign which involves the Silverlight lock-in, but that’s another story (I’m leaving strong comments on those viral YouTube videos, but then faced with what seems like corporate shills who immediately reply).

The only new videos that stand out in the cited page a couple of Pieter’s, including this one.

On a couple of occasions in the past we explained how Microsoft games (and even spams) search engines with promotional material. It’s especially Google whose results Microsoft subverts and it’s a shame that Google’s YouTube is becoming subjected to the same treatment.

Other examples of viral marketing from Microsoft include:

[Viral Microsoft Site:] August 22nd 2007 – Wassup?

A strange web site entitled ‘Site of Champions’ has appeared with Microsoft’s viral PR fingerprints all over it, together with plentiful references to August 22nd 2007.

[Viral Microsoft Site:] WhatsWrongWithU

The site is targetted to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea, with an abrasive attempt at in your face attitude. However, one has to wonder if the whole thing will come off as more than a little insulting.

Viral Marketing Leads to Mock Gunfight

The latest in a series of attempts around the world to mimic the segment that, according to media analysts, amounts to free “viral advertising” for Microsoft Corp.

The latest incident took place on Tuesday in the cafeteria at South Carleton High School when a crowd of students shot finger guns at one another and feigned death by either falling or slumping to the ground.

We showed this video here.

Halo 3 viral marketing begins, countdowns and flyers galore

reports that the campaign officially began this past weekend, with the distribution of flyers in New York City and London, bearing the apparent logo of the campaign, and the message “We are not alone.” At the moment, it’s unknown who’s behind the campaign, although the absence of the term “Alternate Reality Game” might indicate that it’s not 42 Entertainment, the viral veterans behind Halo 2′s ilovebees campaign.

Those Microsoft Vista ads are really bizarre

I know that Martin is a spokesman for the product, and he even starred in some of the spots, but they were very confusing and offputting, especially if you tuned into the special halfway through and didn’t hear anything about Microsoft Vista.

Actually, the whole idea behind the ads makes me think someone at the ad agency or Microsoft is a Lost fan. The old guy in charge of an odd secret organizations (The Institute For Advanced Personhood), telling you to go to a site that will help you get rid of your clutter, the retro look of the spots, the use of old footage and computers. Very Hanso-ish, very viral. But I wonder if they’re too odd to be successful?

Whatever Happened To The Origami?

Ultimately Origami is a classic example of how a viral buzz can work against a product release. Expectations were too high and the final product was puzzling and didn’t fulfill any specific consumer demand. By the time the systems were actually released the hype had died down and there was practically zero consumer awareness. I’ve actually considered the possibility that the viral Origami campaign was a warm-up for the Zune campaign that followed later in the summer.

YouTube has removed this (Microsoft Project origami) viral marketing video from Microsoft. It states:

This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.

Microsoft’s mystery game is Vista promo

A mysterious online countdown. USB drives containing cipher keys. Notes and videos from a woman who calls herself Loki. Bloggers’ reports of extravagant gifts, marked with a return address for Microsoft’s headquarters.

And all trails leading to a Web site for something called Vanishing Point.

After weeks of sifting through clues, bloggers, gamers and technology enthusiasts got some relief this week when Microsoft Corp. revealed that Vanishing Point is part of a viral-marketing campaign for Vista, the new PC operating system set for a consumer launch later this month.

The comprehensive article, “List of fictitious company names used by Microsoft“, was mysteriously removed from Wikipedia.

This image from Wikia is just a joke, but you probably get the point.

Also from Wikipedia (dynamic content): Notable examples of viral marketing

# ilovebees.com – viral marketing for Halo 2
# Hotmail, promoted largely by links at the bottoms of emails sent by its users, is the classic viral marketing example
# Microsoft’s Origami Project campaign
# Microsoft’s Xbox 360 campaign, called OurColony

Has Demetri Martin Jumped the Shark by Getting Into Bed with Microsoft? Clarification on ‘Clearification’ Marketing Campaign

When I first saw the Clearification website, I just thought it was Demetri’s new project. But I did wonder why the videos were of such high production value. Turns out that Microsoft is footing the bill to not only this site, but are also underwritting his current tour.

Stop Digital Amnesia: ‘Quattro’ Home Server viral campaign?

Another day, another Microsoft viral campaign. This time, The fake Center for Digital Amnesia Awareness has launched an online campaign called “Stop Digital Amnesia” (via Furrygoat) – a medical-like project discussing the problems and solution for a made-up disorder called “digital amnesia”.

Clearification just got a whole lot clearer

It’s been nearly two weeks since I first reported about Microsoft’s viral marketing campaign for Windows Vista called Clearification. Back then, the relationship between the campaign and Windows Vista was extremely vague and confusing. But now, Clearification has just posted the second installment of the “Demetri Martin finds Clearification” videos. Everything is clearer now.

For more information, see the "Evangelism is WAR!" memos from Microsoft.

Other companies do this too, by the way, but not quite so regularly. Recent articles include:

Intel goes in for viral marketing

Why spend a fortune on conventional advertising when you can do it by the back door.

FTC Moves to Unmask Word-of-Mouth Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships.


Word-of-mouth marketing can take any form of peer-to-peer communication, such as a post on a Web blog, a MySpace.com page for a movie character, or the comments of a stranger on a bus.

As the practice has taken hold over the past several years, however, some advocacy groups have questioned whether marketers are using such tactics to dupe consumers into believing they are getting unbiased information.

Bloggers must disclose sponsored posts

A company that helps advertisers connect with bloggers willing to write about their products for payment will now require disclosures amid criticism and a regulatory threat.

Corporate Propaganda Still On the News: Study Finds Local Stations Overwhelmingly Fail to Disclose VNRs

A new study by the Center for Media and Democracy says Americans are still being shown corporate public relations videos disguised as news reports on newscasts across the country.

The information that we have out there has sunk to a level of corporate prostitution and the sad thing is that Microsoft ruins even good things like YouTube in the process. Even ‘social’ networks (or so-called community sites) Microsoft simply cannot let be.

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