Here is a new short report:
The representative of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) here in Geneva is Wemba Opota, a senegalese citizen,, who is responsible for Microsoft West Africa.
Remember what happened in other parts of Africa.
It’s not quite over yet. The news has reached the Sydney Morning Herald, which is probably one of the most read online publications.
Australia’s standards body has been accused of sending an inappropriate, though well qualified, delegate to a crucial international ballot on a controversial move by Microsoft to make its Office documents a world standard.
One industry figure says the move has left Australia looking like a “banana republic”.
For information about prior incidents in the Philippines, start here and follow the links forward and backward in time. We have accumulated a good deal of incidents.
Here is the latest good pick: [via Groklaw]
Earlier, Microsoft had flown foreign journalists—including staff members from two local newspapers (not Standard Today)—all the way to Redmond, to pitch OOXML.
I drew some belated attention from the local Microsoft office when I questioned the wisdom of using OOXML as an international standard earlier this month. They didn’t fly me to Redmond, but they did want to meet me so they could air their side.
I proposed they type out their response, instead—which they did. In the spirit of fairness, I am reproducing their arguments here, edited for clarity and brevity. My comments follow in italics.
Going back to Australia, here is an example from the Australian press where you can see Microsoft twisting the arms of journalists for favourable coverage.
“Microsoft expressed disappointment at our views and said “a better story” would have been the positive benefits OpenXML…”
–Microsoft pressures ITWire for better OOXML publicity in 2007 (more here)
This was far from the first time that they are caught twisting journalists’ arms. Mind our past writings about Microsoft bribing journalists in exchange for good publicity. it’s an obnoxious phenomenon which deserves to receive wider publicity. █
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It continues to amaze that a panel supposedly deciding on openness is actually a secret [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It never ceases to amaze that even a lawsuit can be brought against attendants if they speak out. What is this, Alcatraz?
Yes, we have been told not to broadcast the specifics of the BRM. Additionally we will be sued if we take and publish any pictures of certain delegates. It seems Switzerland has some super privacy laws. I guess thats why Swiss Banks are so popular.
I happen to be communicating with someone who attends the BRM and writes about it in USENET, but he stubbornly believes that OOXML is okay (and even expresses this conviction against a single real standard in a newsgroup focused on Linux). He refuses to speak out about the BRM, but still, why must it be a sin? Moreover, why are Microsoft lobbyists allowed to secretly infiltrate Geneva and do their thing? Is ECMA (Microsoft) trying to shut out opposition while at the same time its employees are running up and down Geneva, as well as meeting the delegates between sessions? This is astounding.
Watch Microsoft’s perspective of thew whole thing (Jason Matusow):
I know that many delegations are under specific guidance to not blog or discuss outside of the meetings. The BRM process was designed to promote the improvement of specifications, not to tear them down. I think this is a very important point to keep in mind throughout the week….
Shame on you, Jason. You now redefine the purpose of the BRM. This company has been redefining all sorts of things recently. █
“You know what Microsoft’s problem really is? They’ve lost the ability to feel ashamed.”
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“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”
In yesterday’s ‘news’ (as in corporate-driven news) you could find an SCO article that deceives. It almost does this deliberately based on the people whom it reaches out to for an opinion.
Rob Enderle, an analyst and founder of the Enderle Group, said Monday that… But IDC analyst Al Gillen, an expert in operating systems, said that…
The headline is telling: “Planned investor [in SCO] hopes to settle suits”
But settle what case? SCO has no case, but its actions may serve other companies. That’s just the heart of the problem. After over 4 years they failed to prove that they have a case. Mind the people whom the author approaches for comment. Enderle and Gillen both receive money from Microsoft.
Al Gillen is very close to Microsoft and it’s not the first time he deceives (even against Linux) in the press. Watch the citations to see how such deception gets ‘cooked’, through ‘studies’ that are biased by design (the methodology).
As for Enderle, where does one even start? He receives money from Microsoft (the company is listed among his customers) and he is said to have been embargoed from some publications after repeated complaints.
The author also discredits (via comments from the mysterious investor) critics of the suit, e.g. Groklaw. It’s very disappointing to see how the press gets poisoned by those who are paid by Microsoft (Gillen and Enderle in this case). █
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Blackboard Marks (Educational) Territory with (Patent) Urine
We last mentioned Blackboard just a week ago in light of its patent harassment and financial connections with Microsoft. This bond that they have might also be somewhat of a prelude to their monopolistic behavior, which can be seen in their use of software patents to starve competitors.
Blackboard turned out to be victorious in this long crusade against competitors. The consequences are clear:
“This is a signal event in educational technology,” said Alfred H. Essa, associate vice chancellor and deputy chief information officer for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “It means that the big boys are playing for keeps and will use their patent portfolio at any cost to crush and deter new entrants. As a community, it will take us a long time to recover from this mess.”
‘Protection money’ as in this case (or taxation, to put it differently) is also what Microsoft will clearly be craving. This is why it must be stopped as early as possible.
On the same day, the Denver Post reports that this issue continues to be realised by the courts, but will it be addressed? Will the root of the problem ever be targeted?
U.S. District Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch sanctioned attorneys Terrance McMahon and Vera Elson of the firm McDermott, Will and Emery, of Chicago and San Francisco, for “cavalier and abusive” misconduct and for having a “what can I get away with?” attitude during a 13-day patent infringement trial in Denver.
He ruled that the entire trial was “frivolous” and the case filed solely to stifle competition rather than to protect a patent.
This last sentence (part of a large article) illustrates the problem and justifies the renaming of such patents. Intellectual monopolies is what we really deal with here. Its disguised using words like “property”, “innovation”, “inventor”, “R&D”, “investor” and “security/protection” (whose protection?).
Rick Frenkel Meets Schoolyard Bully
A notorious head-hunting patent troll, Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], seems to have gotten his way by announcing a bounty on people’s identity. Niro will probably receive more ridicule than self satisfaction for this — and quite rightly so.
Live by anonymity, die by anonymity.
Yes, I have been unmasked. It happened quite the way this blog happened – I got an anonymous email, from the guy who probably collected the bounty, telling me I better tell everyone who I am (and he clearly knew), or else he would take care of it for me. The clear threat in the email is that he would do it in a way I wouldn’t be happy about. I don’t know what that means, but as I have been growing weary of anonymity anyway, here I am.
Someone may have made $15,000 or so from a bounty posted by Ray Niro on this one – not sure I’ll ever find out who or how. I don’t actually even care.
If the father of this abusive movement (patent trolling) is anything to judge by, then patent trolls can also be aggressive extortionists. It is, almost by definition, what they already do in the State of Texas. This has shades of Microsoft’s intimidation techniques and it’s truly appalling. It probably all boils down to ethics. █
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You can typically say that something is amiss when you begin to spot inconsistencies, denial and sudden changes in stories. And that, according to Groklaw, is what we are beginning to find in the latest mysterious investment in SCO.
PJ has the details:
Now this is interesting enough to highlight. It’s about the private equity firm looking to loan SCO money so they can sue Linux users again full speed ahead, Stephen Norris & Co Capital Partners, or SNCP. Timothy Prickett Morgan on ItJungle wrote a glowing piece about their connection to military contractors and Middle Eastern money and retired general Wesley Clark, and then something peculiar happened…
We summarised some of the most recent observations about this here. By all means remember the BayStar story (Microsoft asking BayStar to invest in SCO) and consider a possible new connection. If they did this before, might they be doing it again to fuel unnecessary legal battles? █
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We are not done discussing Rick Jelliffe just yet, and neither is the mainstream press. In our last coverage of this saga we saw the following comment from Rui Miguel Silva Seabra, who added:
Rick Jellife never approved a comment of mine in which I correct him when he said “Sun and IBM didn’t like the rules in Portugal”.
The rules were grossly disrespected in Portugal, and both Sun and IBM made some protest for this reason.
If this is not a demonstration of bias, what is? For some reading about the Portugal stories, start in [1, 2] and follow the links. Remember, in case you are new to this, that Rick Jellife is paid by Microsoft for consulting work and was also paid to edit Wikipedia in Microsoft’s favour. Despite all of this, he has flown over to Geneva where he now represent Australia.
Several companies, including the Waughs in fact, have criticised the move. From a new article:
Representatives from IBM, Google, Catalyst IT and Waugh Partners expressed their concern the appointment of Topologi director Rick Jelliffe to the delegation was not indicative of the wider industry view on OOXML standardization.
There is more in another new article.
Senior project manager at Standards Australia, Panjan Navaratnam, will head the delegation and shoulder the responsibility for all Australian positions. He will be supported in an advisory role by technical expert Rick Jeliffe.
Despite some concerns surrounding the objectivity of Jeliffe, Standards Australia insists that its delegates are not participating as an agent of any personal or organisational viewpoint.
Some would say that Rick Jellife is a scapegoat. It might as well be true because there are other people out there whose role is similar. Consider the Burton Group, for example, as well as various journalists who accepted free trips to Redmond and then issued Microsoft ‘press releases’ or ‘informercials’ as articles for the international press (e.g. [1, 2]).
Being part of a bigger problem or being able to blame others for corruption does not suddenly makes yours acceptable. It is very important to raise issues of misconduct where they exist because there are ongoing antitrust investigations into the abuse of ISO.
To name another interesting new observation, watch this catch from Glyn Moody:
Get a Life? – Get a Clue
I came across the following at the weekend:
Speaking at a Microsoft-hosted event, analyst David Mitchell revealed he used to lecture police on riot control, before eventually becoming the senior vice president of IT research at Ovum.
“I feel like getting hold of people and saying ‘get a life’,” he adds. “It’s only a document format. It’s just got too silly.”
Only a document format?!? How can someone who’s supposed to be an analyst be unaware of the larger issues? Document formats are the offline equivalent of HTML, and openness is just as critical off as on the Web. To say that “it’s only a document format” misses the point entirely.
“Missing the point,” as Glyn puts is, is means of diversion. It’s important to stay focused on the question Microsoft is trying to escape. It cannot answer these questions and it attacks the messengers instead. With another huge antitrust fine looming (probably to be announced tomorrow), it’s clear that Microsoft has plenty to hide. █
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Microsoft takes over the city
This is not an isolated incident and we spotted some warnings in advance. Despite the fact that the meeting in Geneva is supposed to be secretive and isolated from the outside world [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], Microsoft cannot just let anything develop naturally. Intervention is already being reported.
I had some time to burn, so I checked out the location of the hotel of the other Malaysian delegates, and was surprised to find that not only were they there waiting in the lobby, but I found the Microsoft Malaysia lackey in the same hotel sitting in the same lobby schmoozing the delegates. How come I didnt get the memo?
Anyway, his trip was wasted because this constant pressure by Microsoft on the Malaysian delegates are starting to take its toll. I mean how creepy is it to find this guy who has traveled the width and breadth of the Malaysian Peninsular with the intention of ‘updating each other’ and now to find him halfway across the world in your hotel lobby?
We are prepared to find more reports like this. Lobbying is one of the most harmful of things and even the legality of the practice is frequently put to question. What would Microsoft say? Is this within the rules? Would it pretend that it has no control over its employees? It seems like the latter, based of what we heard from Microsoft bloggers. Meanwhile, Microsoft also labels people like Vint Cerf ones to be ignored. What’s the worth of a good smear campaign when there’s so much money at stake? █
“Analysts: Analysts sell out – that’s their business model But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”
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