EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.30.08

Buying Consensus Short of Classical Bribery

Posted in Deception, ECMA, Europe, Finance, Fraud, FUD, ISO, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 10:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Briberies too have variants

A reader contacted us last night having been “studying police action on the case of Norway.” For those who missed the story about Norway, here is a new article that speaks about it very briefly.

In the run-up to this vote, there have been accounts of Microsoft employees or partners having undue influence on the results of national standards bodies, including Norway. Groklaw has a translation of a Computerworld Norge article, as well as accounts of close votes in Germany and Croatia.

Even before the end of voting on Saturday, participants and technology enthusiasts complained that Microsoft and other Open XML backers have exposed flaws in the ISO process. Ecma chose an accelerated fast-track process, which many view as inappropriate for a weighty technical specification that has what some consider unresolved legal questions.

Earlier stages of the multiyear standards bid reportedly raised questions with European Union antitrust regulators. The Wall Street Journal in February reported that the EU has looked into whether Microsoft misused its desktop software dominance in influencing the first attempt to certify Open XML at ISO in September, a measure which did not pass and precipitated Saturday’s follow-on vote.

We will touch on that latter point in the next post, but meanwhile let us consider what allows Microsoft to ignore votes just as it did in Norway. It was a hugely scandalous story.

Further, tells us the reader, “some commenter referred to this post on Slashdot. It mentions Durusau (c/f [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) and Miguel (c/f [1, 2, 3, 4]).

“Quite concerning. Its quite simple social-financial engineering any unscrupulous big business can play upon us if there is enough at stake.”

We’ve looked at this comment and so should you. Its title is: “How this kind of thing works – Soft Bribery”

I’m gonna repost this comment from another ooxml “sudden flipflop” story – I posted it too late to get any attention then but I still wanted it visible. AC for obvious reasons! Also please bear in mind that all numbers are just for example’s sake, but the general point is all too accurate. Also bear in mind I have no “inside” information on Durusau at all, I am just trying to tell you some backstory on how these deals can go down, including one I have specific knowledge of.

——-

I want to tell you Slashdot people something about how this kind of thing works. I don’t really know the name for it, but I call it “soft bribery”. You might also call it “economic alignment” or whatever. Here’s what happens.

A large, rich stakeholder wants a particular outcome – in this case, MS wants OOXML to be ratified. They have some adversaries – respected leaders of the OSS movement or ODF foundation, in this case. Note that there are always certain people with disproportionate voices – these people are really hurting them. How can they turn them around?

They can’t outright bribe them. That’s illegal and probably wouldn’t work anyway – people would feel insulted. So what they need to do is ensure that the “thought leader”‘s economic interest is aligned with their own.

We see this happen all the time – a previous strong advocate against something, in this case pro ODF and against OOXML, will suddenly get more concilatory. See Durusau’s change of tone for an example. Now I don’t know him, but I’m pretty sure here’s what happened.

He would be in constant contact with the OOXML team in MS just as a matter of course. One day, though, they’ll tell him to expect a call from a VP or higher – big guns. He’s excited to be able to reach higher up in the company. Finally, they’re taking him seriously. He might be talking to a billionaire!

He’ll get the call. “Wow, we’re really impressed with your work on this. My team is always telling me what a smart, together guy you are”, says the VP or Partner or whatever. “I just wanted to tell you that we really appreciate the work you’re doing and we can learn a lot from you. Say, when this is all over, if OOXML finally gets accepted – we’d love to get you in for some interoperability training and consulting, our staff could really use your insight. We pay pretty well, $500 an hour, and we estimate the contract would last for a year fulltime, but we’re flexible with your current work – we just need you on call. What do you think?”

There you go. That’s it. A year’s worth at $500/hr is close enough to a million bucks, the guy’s got a mortgage, game over. Of course MS wants it kept quiet or the deal’s off – that’s their “standard business practise”, and the contract has an NDA clause.

Game over. I’m sure this is what happened to Durusau. I’m pretty sure it’s what happened to Miguel. Unless you’re independently wealthy, not many people can say no to a few hundred thousand in “consulting”. Needless to say, he’ll never step foot in any Microsoft building. Hell, maybe it’s a lot less than a million – it was for someone I know.

I am going to be very vague here – sorry if you think I lose credibility, but I don’t want to burn my friend. He was the CEO/CTO (same guy) at a small systems integrator in the educational sector “somewhere in Asia”. A largish school deal was in the works, his company advised decision makers in favour of linux. A respected company, had a lot of sway with the local suits, it was looking like going their way. One day he gets a call to the cell phone – wow, one of the big guns!

“We really like the work you’re doing. Say, it looks like this deal isn’t going to go our way – but if it does, we’ll need a partner to help us interoperate with the existing infrastructure – you installed a lot of it, so you’re first in line and we’d like to book you in advance just to make sure we can get you. What are your rates? Well, we’d like to make sure we have you for at least six months and we actually pay a set rate in this area of $$$. Is that OK? We’ll fax over our proposed contract right now, we’re pretty eager to go ahead with this, so just to lock in our booking we’ll deposit the first 25% of the contract as soon as you fax it back to us, is that good with you? Refundable if we don’t get the deal of course. Commercial in confidence, naturally. Let us know ASAP, and good luck with the deal!”

The contract was over triple what the linux deal would have earned. He has a wife and kids – I’m not going to cast the first stone. They dropped their opposition, recommended the MS deal, and got paid a quarter of a million (equivalent) to do sweet fuck-all for 6 months. My friend feels like a sell-out, but his daughter’s now in a better school.

I don’t know how to stop this happening, but until it does, MS (or GM, or Exxon, or whoever) will win and win and win. Ask yourself how much your advocacy would sell for. Ask yourself how you’d explain to your wife that you were turning down enough money to send the kids to college because of your preferences for which software to use.

This is how it’s done people.

Interestingly, that seems to resemble the Burton Group story [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24]. Remember Peter O’Kelly's consulting work for Microsoft. He did some media brainwash too, resulting in, e.g. [1, 2]. Shortly after their ‘study’, this firm, which was already close to Microsoft and tied to its technologies, did a lot of Microsoft consulting on the face of it.

That story is rather unique and different from IDC’s OOXML/ODF report (not to mention misinformed former 'analysts'), which was practically paid for by Microsoft. It was Microsoft-commissioned, but disclosure was quite the ‘unimportant’ detail. IDC is deliberately sloppy with disclosure and sometimes willing to hide these altogether.

“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.”

Microsoft, internal document

“Consultants: These guys are your best bets as moderators. Get a well-known consultant on your side early, but don’t let him publish anything blatantly pro-Microsoft. Then, get him to propose himself to the conference organizers as a moderator, whenever a panel opportunity comes up.”

Microsoft, internal document

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. 2018 Will be an Even Worse Year for Software Patents Because the US Supreme Court Shields Alice

    The latest picks (reviewed cases) of the Supreme Court of the United States signal another year with little or no hope for the software patents lobby; PTAB too is expected to endure after a record-breaking year, in which it invalidated a lot of software patents that had been erroneously granted



  2. Patent Trolls (Euphemised as “Public IP Companies”) Are Dying in the United States, But the Trouble Isn't Over

    The demise of various types of patent trolls, including publicly-traded trolls, is good news; but we take stock of the latest developments in order to better assess the remaining threat



  3. EPO Management and Team UPC Carry on Lying About Unified Patent Court, Sinking to New Lows in the Process

    At a loss for words over the loss of the Unitary Patent, Team UPC and Team Battistelli now blatantly lie and even get together with professional liars such as Watchtroll



  4. China Tightens Its Knot of Restrictive Rules and Patents

    Overzealous patent aggressors and patent trolls in China, in addition to an explosion in low-quality patents, may simply discourage companies from doing production/manufacturing there



  5. Microsoft's Patent Racket Has Just Been Broadened to Threaten GNU/Linux Users Who Don't Pay Microsoft 'Rents'

    Microsoft revisits its aggressive patent strategy which it failed to properly implement 12 years ago with Novell; it wants to 'collect' a patent tax on GNU/Linux and it uses patent trolls to make that easier



  6. EPO Scandals Played a Considerable Role in Sinking the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

    Today's press coverage about the UPC reinforces the idea that the EPO saga, culminating in despicable attacks on Patrick Corcoran (a judge), may doom the UPC once and for all (unless one believes Team UPC)



  7. J Nicholas Gross Thinks Professors Stop Being Professors If They're Not Patent Extremists Like Him

    The below-the-belt tactics of patent trolls and their allies show no signs of abatement and their tone reveals growing irritation and frustration (inability to sue and extort companies as easily as they used to)



  8. The US Supreme Court Has Just Denied Another Chance to Deal With a Case Similar to Alice (Potentially Impacting § 101)

    There is no sign that software patents will be rendered worthwhile any time in the near future, but proponents of software patents don't give up



  9. Litigation Roundup: Nintendo, TiVo, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Philips, UMC

    The latest high-profile legal battles, spanning a growing number of nations and increasingly representing a political shift as well



  10. Roundup of Patent News From Canada, South America and Australia

    A few bits and pieces of news from around the world, serving to highlight patent trends in parts of the world where the patent offices haven't much international clout/impact



  11. Links 15/1/2018: Linux 4.15 RC8, Wine 3.0 RC6

    Links for the day



  12. PTAB is Being Demeaned, But Only by the Very Entities One Ought to Expect (Because They Hate Patent Justice/Quality)

    The latest rants/scorn against PTAB -- leaning on cases such as Wi-Fi One v Broadcom or entities like Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Apple etc. -- are all coming from firms and people who profit from low-quality patents



  13. If Ericsson and Its Patent Trolls (Like Avanci and Unwired Planet) Cannot Make It, the Patent Microcosm Will Perish

    The demise of patent-asserting/patent assertion business models (trolling or enforcement by proxy) may see front groups/media supportive of it diminishing as well; this appears to be happening already



  14. European Patent Office Causes Physical Harm to Employees, Then Fires Them

    Another one (among many) EPO documents about the alarming physical wellbeing of EPO employees and the management’s attitude towards the issue



  15. Battistelli Was Always (Right From the Start and Since Candidacy) All About Money

    “I have always admired creative people, inventors, those who, through their passion and their work, bring about scientific progress or artistic evolution. I was not blessed with such talent myself,” explained the EPO‘s President when pursuing his current job (for which he was barely qualified and probably not eligible because of his political work)



  16. “Under the Intergovernmental EPC System It is Difficult to Speak of a Functional Separation of Powers”

    An illustration of the glaring deficiency that now prevails and cannot be tolerated as long as the goal is to ensure democratic functionality; absence of the role of Separation of Powers (or Rule of Law) at the EPO is evident now that Battistelli not only controls the Council (using EPO budget) but also blatantly attacks the independence of the Boards of Appeal



  17. The Patent Microcosm Thinks It's Wonderful That IP3 is Selling Stupid Patents, Ignores Far More Important News

    IP3, which we've always considered to be nothing but a parasite, does what it does best and those who love stupid patents consider it to be some sort of victory



  18. Automotives, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 Among the Buzz Terms Used to Bypass Alice and the EPC Nowadays

    In order to make prior art search a lot harder and in order to make software patents look legitimate (even in various courtrooms) the patent microcosm and greedy patent offices embrace buzzwords



  19. Blockchain Becomes the Target Not Only of Financial Institutions With Software Patents But Also Trolls

    Blockchain software, which is growing in importance and has become ubiquitous in various domains other than finance, is perceived as an opportunity for disruption and also patent litigation; CNBC continues to publish puff pieces for Erich Spangenberg (amid stockpiling of such patents)



  20. EPC Foresaw the Administrative Council Overseeing the Patent Office, Jesper Kongstad Made It “Working Together”

    An old open letter from the EPO shows the famous moment when Jesper Kongstad and Battistelli came up with a plan to empower both, rendering the Administrative Council almost subservient to the Office (complete inversion of the desired topology)



  21. 2010: Blaming the Messenger (SUEPO) for Staff Unhappiness at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Tactics of SUEPO (EPO union) blaming go further back than Battistelli and can be found in the previous administration as well



  22. 2010: Deterioration of Working Conditions (e.g. Office Space) for EPO Staff

    Old EPO proposals which suggested the reduction of office space for EPO staff (among other things) — something which later happened to DG3, following the ‘exile’ to Haar



  23. Budget at the EPO Decided Before Consultation

    An old consultation meeting (GAC) at the EPO coincided with a meeting (MAC) which is perceived as ignoring the actual consultation — something which clearly should not be happening



  24. Less Than Half a Year in the Job, Battistelli Already Disobeys/Disregards Rulings From ILO's Tribunal

    As EPO President, Battistelli shows poor comprehension or lack of respect for the rule of law just months after taking the job



  25. Only Half a Year in the Job, Battistelli Breaks EPO Nomination Rules

    oing back to the dawn of the Battistelli era, irregularities appear very early on



  26. Patent Troll Finjan Manages to Defend a Patent (on Appeal) and the Trolls' Lobby is Loving It

    Blue Coat (now owned by Symantec) has attempted — and failed — to invalidate all of Finjan’s patents using Section 101/Alice; those who are in the business of trolling view that as particularly good news because the judgment came from Timothy Dyk and Todd Hughes (much younger and appointed a few years ago)



  27. Top Rank at USPTO Goes to the Biggest Patent Bully, IBM

    With 2017 figures coming to light (and to the mainstream/corporate media), we scrutinise what has received the most attention and why it's detrimental to the reputation of the US patent system



  28. Dr. Derk Visser's Book About the European Patent Convention (EPC) Explains What Battistelli Has Done

    With quality of European Patents (EPs) and of EPO staff in rapid decline if not a freefall, we look back at the best-selling book from Visser, who warned that the Council/Organisation and the Office would "have other priorities than the role of law" if the Boards don't enjoy true independence (which they no longer do)



  29. Late on a Friday is a Good Time to Spread Misinformation About Unified Patent Court (UPC) Without Being Challenged

    The new document from Winfried Tilmann et al (Team UPC) is being defended by Team UPC not only by publicly attacking UPC critics (like the complainant) but also blogs critical of the UPC



  30. The Patent Trolls' Lobby is Happy That Rep. Darrell Issa is Leaving Because He Fought Against Patent Trolls

    Darrell Issa, a man of patent reform in the United States, seems to be ending his political career and patent parasites are jubilant about it


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts