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02.11.08

OOXML Has Software Patent Problems; Iffy OOXML Business in India Again

Posted in Asia, Europe, Formats, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many OOXML-related events are happening as the BRM in Geneva draws nearer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. India is of particular interest and focus at the moment. It voted “No” back in September.

Mind the following new report from India:

In India, members of the Bureau of Indian Standards technical committee have raised about 82 technical issues, of which about 10 have already been resolved…

That makes a very unsatisfactory response, don’t you agree? As ‘many’ as 10 out of 82 technical issues have been resolved after 5 months of work. Does that stop India from persisting with a “No”? Well, it probably depends, but according to this new report, ASSCOHAM is prepared to say “Yes”, despite the following facts which are stated by the very same article:

Through the openness of the standard, the proprietary aspect of standards is taken out of the equation. No particular vendor can control or dominate the standard as the standardization process is open. This will enable other vendors to compete on equal terms because products can be developed freely (no IPR or royalty, open documentation) that adhere to the standard and therefore is “compatible” with existing products in the market.

Let us quickly run through some facts.

OOXML does have software patent issues (the article refers to this as IPR, much to Microsoft's convenience). We showed this time and time again and various links are appended at the bottom of this post to stress this more strongly. There are new additional sources that arrive at the very same conclusion.

Just last week (from a lawyer): IP Issues with OOXML (DIS 29500

Out of all the free and open source licences which are available, there are two which are disproportionately chosen by FOSS developers when licensing their software. Those two are the GPL and the LGPL. Of these, the GPL is disproportionately favoured over the LGPL.* If there are issues with GPL implementations then there are IP issues with OOXML. Any assurance that excludes implementation under these licences is just cause for the FOSS community to voice concern.

[...]

If there are issues with GPL implementations then there are IP issues with OOXML. Microsoft implicitly concedes there are issues with GPL implementations.

OOXML is badGetting back to the article at hand, the documentation of OOXML is far from complete. There is no single description of OOXML, either.

It is beginning to seem as though decisions are being made very poorly. We wish to remind our readers of past incidents in India, some of which we covered here before. Examples which immediately spring to mind include the possible role of strategic charity. Microsoft employees in India were caught lying, too. To give just a couple of examples that we covered here before:

1. Did Not Support OOXML Proposal: CSI

CSI wishes to clarify that at no point has CSI supported the proposed standard in its present form. In a communication to the BIS to clarify the issue, Dr. J.R. Arora, CSI’s representative in BIS, states that: “I also wish to draw your attention to a news item published in the Economics Times as has been brought to my notice by the Hon. Secretary, CSI. Quoting you, it is mentioned in this news item that ‘There was no need for voting as only Infosys Technologies and CSI supported Microsoft’. This statement is not correct, as CSI, in its written comments sent to BIS with a copy marked to you, has very categorically stated that it does not support the OOXML standard in its present form. In fact these remarks were read by the BIS official, Ms. Reena Garg, in the third meeting held at BIS. We are therefore shocked to read about the news stating that the CSI has supported the standard.”

2. MS, IBM-Sun slug it out on standard text format

A meeting has been called by the government in which members of both parties will meet. Microsoft India’s national technology offer Vijay Kapur counters Sun. He said OOXML was a completely open standard and its specifications were fully documented. He said there was no royalty charged and it works on a covenant of not to sue. He also said it did not recource to any proprietary information held by Microsoft.

That was of course a lie.

Getting back to today’s reports, watch the following response to ASSCOHAM’s unexpected steps. They didn’t contact other crucial parties. It is almost as though they simply work secretly, in isolation (shades of eastern Europe).

The Open Source Foundation of India would like to place on record its objections to ASSCOHAM’s stance on OOXML. Neither us nor the Open Document Format Alliance (www.odfalliance.in) nor the Free Software Foundation (www.fsf.org.in), which have been leading the fight for open standards were consulted before ASSOCHAM issued its press release. An industry body is expected to listen to all sides of a debate before arriving at a conclusion and we are disappointed that a respected body like ASSOCHAM, which has temendous credibility among policy makers has not followed this process.

Needless to repeat it, there is a disappointment here, but hopefully our readers from India can take this information further and make use of it.

Related links: (OOXML and software patents)

Sapna Kumar Explains the GPLv3 (Video)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Patents, Steve Ballmer, Videos at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer scared of GPLv3

The GPLv3 is important for the battle against software patents. It is also highly vital to the battle for prevalence of Free software. which is why Steve Ballmer (pictured above) looks rather worried.

If you are new to this debate, here is a good lecture that is balanced.

Sapna Kumar, Duke University Law School Faculty Fellow, discusses the differences between GPL 2 and GPL3 and the threat of software patents to open source projects and developement.

FSF GNU GPLv3The FSF is not trying to sell anything to you, other than your freedom and rights as a developer and user.

Acacia (with Former Microsoft Employees) is Suing Apple

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is most likely a coincidence, but a curious new case nonetheless.

New Acacia subsidiary Restricted Spending Solutions, LLC sued Apple last Wednesday in East St. Louis, Illinois, in the Southern District of Illinois. Acacia sued Apple last November in the Southern District of Illinois over the iChat feature, as I reported here.

In case you missed it, there was a strong suspicion last month that Apple got sued by a proxy assisting Microsoft. Go ahead and read Groklaw's analysis from that time. We already know for a fact that similar steps were taken against GNU/Linux (e.g. Tanenbaum, SCO and perhaps IBM too, not to mention Google where it is rather obvious. Acacia itself has Microsoft fingerprints all over it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11].

In other patent news, the despicable practice known as “lobbying” is being embraced by Autodesk.

Design software maker Autodesk Inc spent $180,000 in the second half of 2007 to lobby the federal government. The company lobbied on legislation related to patent reform, energy efficiency and intellectual property enforcement, according a disclosure form posted online Monday by the Senate’s public records office. Autodesk spent $260,000 in the first six months of 2007 to lobby on the same issues.

Autodesk happens to be among the victim on occasions, e.g. [1, 2], but remember that a reform is not always for the better. It’s only for the better for those who invest in lobbying. They certainly look for return on that investment; altruism and ethics happen to be a secondary nice-to-have and Free software a side-effect.

The Battle of Trafalgar
With each patent troll, an Armageddon (or battle of Trafalgar) is approached

Spotting the Odd Ones at the Mobile World Congress Trade Show

Posted in LG, Microsoft, Mono, Patents, Samsung at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Telling apart the ‘good’ phones and the ‘bad’ phones

An enormous number of press releases arrived from Spain earlier this morning. There is a large trade show there and Linux has a fantastic presence. However, in order to keep Linux an attractive and ever-growing mobile platform, there are dangers to be aware of.

Microsoft, well aware of its major losses in the mobile market (despite the new deal with Sony Ericsson) is trying to change the price of mobile Linux. This was last discussed only a week ago and the following new article from Reuters adds to this.

The world’s second largest cellphone maker Samsung, which has used Linux in its phones in 2006, launched new SGH-i800 phone model running on LiMo software at the Mobile World Congress trade show, while LG Electronics showed a prototype phone LG LiMo.

USPTOBe well aware of the fact that attempts were made (maybe still are) to push a patent poison called “Mono” right into LiMo, which can effectively then ‘infect’ other phones just like Novell infects other GNU/Linux distribution via GNOME (with Mono applications and an increasing number of loose dependencies).

You are reminded that LG and Samsung are both ‘patent buddies’ with Microsoft Corporation. Buying their products is therefore endorsing that Microsoft deserves a share of the profits made from Linux-based products. It supposedly gives validity to software patents in a vast number of countries where these are illegal and also gives a reward to a convicted monopolist for bluffing.

Patent protection expires

Links 11/02/2008: Linux 2.6.25 RC1, Conferences Kick Off, Microsoft Kicked Out (by Yahoo!)

Posted in Boycott Novell at 3:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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