Advanced Investment Partners Llc completely dumped all -21,690 shares they owned of Novell Inc (NOVL) as shown by filings made public on 2008-05-07.
For what it’s worth, Microsoft is not doing too well, either. Although the stock (MSFT) seems stable, tens of billions of Microsoft’s cash reserves have been quietly injected into it, leaving Microsoft with just about $26 billion the bank and a market cap that fell by another $30 billion in just 3 months. More information about Microsoft financial health is here. █
Here is just a quick roundup of news which revolves around our ‘favourite’ patents trolls, our ‘favourite’ anti-Free software laws, and Microsoft’s latest intellectual monopoly offenses.
Only a week or so ago we wrote Nathan Myhrvold, a patent troll who comes from Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. He is probably worse than Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], which also comprises former Microsoft employees. An article from the New Yorker show just how busy he is exploiting the already-broken system.
Nathan Myhrvold met Jack Horner on the set of the “Jurassic Park” sequel in 1996.
But then, in August of 2003, I.V. held its first invention session, and it was a revelation. “Afterward, Nathan kept saying, ‘There are so many inventions,’ ” Wood recalled. “He thought if we came up with a half-dozen good ideas it would be great, and we came up with somewhere between fifty and a hundred. I said to him, ‘But you had eight people in that room who are seasoned inventors. Weren’t you expecting a multiplier effect?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, but it was more than multiplicity.’ Not even Nathan had any idea of what it was going to be like.”
The original expectation was that I.V. would file a hundred patents a year. Currently, it’s filing five hundred a year. It has a backlog of three thousand ideas.
This figure is, needless to say, rather ridiculous because it says something about the poor quality of these patents. It’s all about inspiring awe and fear for settlements (royalties). Look back at this talk about computer program ideas and this one about patent trolls.
Another short piece proposes the idea of making software patents usable only for defense purposes, knowing that promises which companies make about it are only valid as long as they do well. As soon as they struggle, it becomes their obligation to shareholders to use whatever weapon can be used to attack, even if it means going litigious like SCO (with or without the bogus claims). Public image becomes a secondary consideration, a negligible factor.
A friend of mine – who recently was “paid to file a patent” said he considered requesting that – if granted – the patent only be used defensively. I asked him why. He responded that he felt conflicted and thinks a lot of his peers feel the same way. He didn’t think the patent was particularly valuable, useful, or valid.
That last statement relates this fairly recent post which is titled “My Dumb Software Patents”. It said: “Many think that Software Patents are stupid. I conceptually agree with this statement. Having spent what seems like millions of hours constructing these, baby sitting them, defending them; it is really all wasted time and effort, at least in a conceptual sense.” In conclusion, even actual owners of software patents have no faith in the system.
The Economist meanwhile speaks of the possibility of software patents getting rubbished. It refers to Bilski again [1, 2, 3, 4].
…the court took the unusual step of calling for the parties, and anyone else with an interest in the case, to address not only whether the patent should be granted, but also whether the court should overturn the 1998 case in which it first held that business-methods patents could be awarded.
The Huffington Post also has this piece which criticises scope of patent laws. [via Digital Majority]
Should we allow patents on tax-avoidance strategies? Legal arguments? Mathematical algorithms? Toilet reservation systems? Negotiation tactics? Business models?
Trademarks are separate from patents, but to illustrate Microsoft’s disregard for what it calls “intellectual property” — an imaginary umbrella really — consider this news story about Microsoft policing use of language.
Unicaresoft loses MSNLock case against Microsoft
The Dutch version of Oxford English Dictionary, Van Dale, also mentions MSN as a generic term meaning to contact someone via an instant messenger.
This won’t do any good. It won’t recover Microsoft’s stagnant popularity in a country that's already moving to Free software and ODF while complaining about Microsoft’s “arrogance”. Recall how Microsoft ‘stole’ the “Open Office” term, among others [1, 2]. The IPocrisy (a term coined by Pieter, apparently) hasn’t bounds.
Merely by chance, Microsoft eats its own poison as it has just been sued over trademark as well.
Microsoft’s TerraServer-USA satellite imagery project has been slapped with a trademark lawsuit from a small North Carolina company with a confusingly similar name.
There are other recent examples where Microsoft does not honour other people’s copyrights and trademarks. Those examples include:
Over at MilkingTheGNU, a nice article has just appeared which deals with the notion of ownership and how it relates to the GPL.
Open source and implicitly the GPL (well explicitly but not everybody realizes it) question the very nature of property and ownership. If you’re skeptical, think about this: why are open source proponents almost always anti-DRM, always among the first ones to advocate for a free distribution of music, games and movies?
Note that the point here is to offer a new set of glasses to look at the world, not to make a political statement. Besides, asking people about the nature of property usually transcends traditional barriers. In the US for instance, it’s almost impossible to infer people’s opinion just by knowing whether they are Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians. How property must be controlled or by whom, is subjected to political debates but the very nature of property seems to trigger such a very personal, emotional response that opinions largely eludes partisan cleavages.
There is a rather amusing discussion also at The Register where copyrights around sporting events are put at stake.
Iain Connor, an intellectual property partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “A football match is not a performance for the purposes of copyright because you can’t reproduce it. It isn’t choreographed.”
A good and recent article on “Intellectual Insanity” you’ll also find here. It puts the whole problem in better perspective. At the end of the day, it’s all about perception, which comes from education. This is something that Microsoft too has recognised and I attempted to frame this as a risk factor to Microsoft with the following message from yesterday (mind Reason #3):
Subject: What Makes GNU/Linux Microsoft’s #1 Rival
Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 17:32:31 +0100
Reason #1: it forces Microsoft to lower its prices, regardless of market share. Microsoft adjusts its prices in order to remain relevant. Free software keeps it on its toes in that respect. Apple, on the other hand, makes sales for Microsoft (Office), keeps its prices up (fixing), and has Microsoft as a partner and shareholder.
Reason #2: Linux dominates the embedded space, which is very large (probably orders of magnitude larger than the desktop, in terms of CPUs). It also controls supercomputers that are increasingly becoming part of the more universal network, including search engines (Hadoop comes to mind, bigtable).
Reason #3: it shatters misconceptions about Microsoft’s foundations, which are intellectual monopolies and other nasties like DRM. That’s why Microsoft talks about ‘education’ (pollution of minds) as an anti-Linux tactic in its latest SEC filing.
Looking at (1-3) again:
* Linux lowers cost.
* Linux enables real innovation, performance, efficiency (environment)
* Linux enables people to be free and it democratises
“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?]
[Steve] Ballmer: Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that…”
The responses so far have been interesting. █
ODF is the future and OOXML is the past, claimed Bob Sutor last year
There is a lot of disinformative fuss at the moment with people claiming that OpenOffice.org 3 “supports OOXML.” It does not. The word “supports” has an active — as opposed to a negative — connotation. In reality, OpenOffice.org is all about ODF. The OOXML filter/importes are intended to help with converting Microsoft’s garbled mess (Office 2007 is not OOXML-compliant) into something standard, into ODF — for good.
Here is a nice way of laying out this situation: ODF implementations are already ahead of the existing elegant-yet-incomplete standard, whereas Microsoft is behind, never intending to actually obey its own broken specifications.
So what’s the difference between Microsoft/OOXML and OpenOffice.org/ODF ?
The difference is, that Microsoft Office is behind OOXML. OpenOffice.org is ahead of ODF. According to the ISO rules, a specification can only be approved as an ISO-standard, unless it has been implemented.
“37 letters with exactly the same words. Some of the senders didn’t even care to remove the ‘Type company name here’ text.
Simular letters has been circulating in Denmark as an e-mail from the Danish MD Jørgen Bardenfleth to customers and business partners.
I call it fraud, cheating and disgusting. If I wasn’t anti-Microsoft before, I am now. Disgusting !”
No-one’s killing anyone, yet
Recently, a few sources of tension between Novell and Sun were identified [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Examples revolve around Novell’s ridicule of OpenSolaris, exploitation (arguably so) of OpenOffice.org, and neglect of Java in favour of support for its biggest rival.
A couple of days ago, as we only briefly mentioned in one of the links digests, SJVN raised an interesting speculation about whether or not Novell can attack OpenSolaris using its ownership of UNIX. We recently discussed the possibility of Novell 'pulling an SCO', based on something that Novell said last week. SJVN may have taken it a little too far, but people carry on talking about his piece. In ZDNet UK, for example, you find this: Could Novell kill OpenSolaris?
Sun’s just opened its developer conference with the long-delayed launch of OpenSolaris, the open source version of its Solaris operating system. But after all this time, will it live?
It’s taken Sun since 2005 to turn OpenSolaris into a proper release, which Sun intends will stand alongside Solaris as a community operating system – like Fedora is to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Bill Beebe jumps to Sun’s rescue and gives a reasonable explanation in defense of OpenSolaris, which he has been happily reviewing. He also comments about Novell.
Considering how Novell professed at the time that that they had no plans to sue anyone over Unix, you have to wonder how they’ll square that position with the current comments coming out of the SCO vs. Novell trial that just finished. They can’t have it both ways. Especially when it looks like the only reason they might consider revoking Sun’s agreement is as a blunt anti-competitive business weapon against a formidable competitor. You know, behaving like Microsoft.
These discussions and speculations might be worth returning to in the future. Below are some more articles that readers may find handy. █
Related new articles:
To make it big in the enterprise, a platform must be on par with the Unix operating systems, the current meme says. And — interestingly — in this world view, OpenSolaris is not in the majors.
I’m not sure.
Sun first announced OpenSolaris in 2005 but they keep finding ways to announce ‘first releases’. Yesterday was one such release.
Yesterday Sun Microsystems officially released OpenSolaris and suggested that it’s going to go head-to-head with Linux as a Desktop Operating System. Solarisx86 is nothing new and has been around about as long as Linux but it is historically proprietary and closed source. It was also very hardware-finicky and performance was slothlike.
“Glassfish is dual licensed — CDDL and GPL. And as you’re aware, MySQL is GPL(2), as is the Java (runtime) platform itself. So three very big components of what’d be a complete OpenSolaris platform are available to the broader GPL community.
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