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

05.21.08

Software Patents in Europe and Microsoft’s Huge Lobbying Budget as of Late

Posted in America, Europe, Finance, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Heaps don’t lie

Money, money, money. Everywhere you turn. If you look closely enough at the news — and only if you look very closely — you’ll find the trail of obligatory disclosures Microsoft reluctantly unleashes to give away clues about its lobbying activities. For the unaware, lobbying can be brutally described as the act of paying a middleman (independent or part of an agency) to spend time with politicians and either share this wealth or spend this wealth together, sometimes negotiating what is done in exchange for what else (favouritism, nepotism, legalised bribery, or whatever else you wish to call this). It’s disguised as something that’s done for the benefit of citizens (‘consumers’), but shouldn’t the one paying the bill be expected to benefit the most? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.

“Despite recession, the finding seems to suggest that the pace of obligatorily-disclosed amounts now trivially exceeds $10 million for Microsoft alone (annually).”As we are all being taught (or forced) to believe, software patents are being encouraged for the benefit of programmers when they get assigned and added to the employer’s portfolio and this thing called “piracy” (something about software and not about boats, apparently) costs the economy a lot of money, never mind the savings alternatives can offer.

There is nothing comforting about lobbying. The word “lobbying” sounds soothing though. You know, like ordinarily lounging in some hotel, spoiling oneself and generally having a good time. In reality, lobbying is so loathed by those who understand the practice and are secretly affected by it. It’s filthy. It’s subversive. It’s almost corrupt.

In the past few weeks alone the apparent backlash led to some new rules being ratified in the UK [1, 2] where lobbying is prevalent but probably not a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon (well, not just yet, based on what the authorities and watchdogs know). According to reports, the industry already exceeds a billion dollars in the United States and that’s just based on amounts that get disclosed, i.e. it excludes off-the-record, back-room/boiler room deals. Can you criticise Larry Lessig for his “Change Congress” initiative? He too realised that his country is run by corporations, which frequently use lobbyists as mediators? It’s polycracy, as Noam Chomsky would call it, not a democracy.

On a few occasions recently, we shared some findings about Microsoft lobbying and you can probably find some of them if you search this Web site. That said, here is the latest find from yesterday. Despite recession, the finding seems to suggest that the pace of obligatorily-disclosed amounts now trivially exceeds $10 million for Microsoft alone (annually). That’s a sharp increase, based on my personal memory and judgment. Among the activities of the lobbying you’ll find patents also (there’s no weighting in the breakdown).

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, spent nearly $2.6 million in the first quarter to lobby on competition in the online ad market and other issues, according to an amended disclosure report.

[...]

Microsoft also lobbied the federal government on numerous other issues, including Internet security and crime, privacy, health technology, patent reform, software piracy, immigration reform to help with recruitment of highly skilled foreign workers, high-speed Internet service through use of unoccupied TV channels, free trade and taxes.

There’s a lot more to be said about things like “immigration reform” for example. We alluded to this quite recently, but we ought not to explore this further in this post, whose sole focus is software patent.

About a week ago we wrote about McCreevy, who is said to be attempting to shove software patents into Europe, via the back door. It turns out that McCreevy’s spokesperson now denies this.

In its statement on the results of the Transatlantic Economic Council negotiations, issued last week, the council made brief reference to the intellectual property rights issue. A single bullet point in the statement references a roadmap issued jointly by the European Commission and US Patent Office aimed at advancing “global patent harmonization”.

[...]

According to FFII President Alberto Barrionuevo, in the TEC talks the commission overstepped its bounds with respect to commercial rights. “The European Union has neither a Community patent, nor a common material patent law.” The only exception is the Biotech Directive. For that reason Barrionuevo believes that, “Discussing a bilateral patent treaty with the United States is superfluous. It is the blind leading the blind.” He thinks that if the US really wants to fix its patent practises, it should first enact its controversial planned patent reforms and become a signatory to the European Patent Convention. McCreevy’s spokesperson stated that the treaty was not about software patents, “Something not approved here could not be recognised.”

It’s all staged, it’s all gradual, and it’s precedence-based. Remember that Novell denied that it had signed a software patent deal with Microsoft, insisting that it was all about interoperability (straw man). It was later that the two companies just “agree[d] to disagree” and less than a month ago that we found out “SUSE coupons” are now being called “patent royalties” and Microsoft discusses these with “[open source] community members.” All in all, the point to be made here is that McCreevy’s exemption is rather moot. It’s a matter of phasing in, not just direct intent.

For more information on this subject, consider the article “The patentability of software and business methods in Europe” [PDF], which contains a section on “Patentability of computer programs”. It was all found at Digital Majority where there is also a pointer to this article on cross-border patent litigation [PDF] (in Europe specifically).

Benjamin also extracted this quote from another article among the latest batch from IAM:

“The open source movement probably cannot achieve its original goals so long as patents exist.” — Tom Ewing, IP Value Added Consultant, Gothenburg, Sweden

This hopefully serves as an eye opener that justifies the fight against this monster, whose purpose is to defeat Free software not based on technical merits but through the introduction of new laws that essentially ban change and block disruption to the status quo. Refer back to the beginning of this post about the role of money.

Cheer Up, Patent Terrorist, It’s Your Birthday!

Whether Microsoft has truly got anything to be used effectively against Free software, nobody knows. Maybe Microsoft does not know, either. Eric Lai has just published this ‘celebration’ of the first anniversary of Microsoft's "patent terrorism" (“patent terrorist” is not our own phrase, mind you, and the t-word is notorious for its use as propaganda in law-making/law-setting). Here are some key bits:

“Claiming you have IP that folks are infringing isn’t the same thing as proving it,” wrote Pamela Jones, author of the open-source legal blog Groklaw.net, in an e-mail. “I think they [Microsoft] are in a weaker position *because* they did the [cross-licensing] deals. It makes them look needy, like they can’t make it any more without Linux.”

“The [legal] threat [to open-source] is no greater” today than a year ago, wrote Mark Radcliffe, a lawyer with DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley office and the general counsel of the Open Source Initiative, which oversees the approval of open-source software licenses, in an e-mail.

Take Redmond’s attempts to persuade vendors to sign cross-licensing deals that include protection from potential open-source patent lawsuits by Microsoft.

Loud Bark, No Bite

In other news, Microsoft has just lost another patent lawsuit. Let it suffer and maybe learn that its software patents are useless once the court weighs in, proving that there’s hope for sanity under the juridical system (as opposed to the USPTO, to which patents — not justice — mean business and money).

Microsoft loses U.S. patent suit vs Alcatel-Lucent

[...]

Microsoft had accused Alcatel-Lucent of infringing four patents for software in a system that integrates telephones with computers for calls, messages and videoconferences.

“A system that integrates telephones with computers for calls, messages and videoconference,” eh? It sure sounds like Microsoft has just become a troll, not an innovator. This seems like a sign of misery and it looks bad for the potency of Microsoft’s software patents, which it loves so much to rave about without disclosure of specifics (it just ran out of paper, it alleges).

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

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

4 Comments

  1. Quentin Crisp said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Gravatar

    “In reality, lobbying is so loathed by those who understand the practice and are secretly affected by it. It’s filthy. It’s subversive. It’s almost corrupt.”

    Indeed. We would all be better off if we didn’t talk to our elected officials, instead leaving them to form their own opinions on issues regardless of how much they did or didn’t understand the arguements, they could research questions using wikipedia if they got really stuck.

    Are you really suggesting that “talking” is a bad thing and should be frowned upon? What is this site other than part of a lobbying effort designed to get the word out around a cause that you (and others) care a great deal about?

  2. Almindor said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Gravatar

    Actually yes, lobbying is corruption made manifest. The “idea” is nice, “talk” to your officials, get them to see your side of the story. Nice in theory. Practice speaks.. money talks (no, not the porn motto).

    The bigger they are the more they can corrupt. Lobbying is just a nice word translated as corruption these days. Normal people have no way to do anything about it. We’re living in a corporatocracy, comments like the above one are either astroturfing or the peak of naivety.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Quentin seemed to be trolling here earlier, but regardless, he talks about “talking” which isn’t the same as hiring someone to accomplish a mission for some corporation.

  4. paul said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Gravatar

    At one point in my life I felt the same; ie, we’re all pitching something.

    But now I believe that lobbying is corrupt. Pure and simple. Right after we kill all the lawyers, we should kill all the lobbyists.

    The point is they are promoting their own commercial interest; ie, their primary purpose is profit. Many corporations do NOT care about negative results re the use of their products/services. They feel NO remorse about lying or spreading misleading information. They will deceive and subvert anyone they can to achieve their goals. These organizations are morally deficient and left to their primary purpose of gaining profit will damage society.

    Further, most corporations are oriented toward short-term gain with no care for long-term implications. Hence the environmental movement. (Re Greenpeace, emphasis on ‘mental.’)

    What we are doing on sites like this is _openly_ discussing the issues allowing anyone to read or comment. And hopefully, as a result, informing the people that read the article and comments. An informed society that actually uses its intellect when making purchases, can influence the businesses to make better decisions. Unfortunately, we now have an overwhelming number of people that buy things based on their ego.

What Else is New


  1. Update to GNU Project Bleeding into Microsoft

    Update



  2. Microsoft is Going to Get Tired of Whining About “GAFA” and Accept That It's Just as Bad If Not a Lot Worse at Privacy

    Microsoft is being treated by the US government as if it's not abusing anything, let alone people's privacy; if anything, this demonstrates the degree to which Microsoft infiltrated or 'vendor-captured' regulatory branches



  3. Links 6/7/2020: LibreOffice 7.0 RC1, MX-19.2 KDE Beta 1, Linux 5.8 RC4

    Links for the day



  4. ZDNet's 'Linux' Section: Linux is Full of Problems and It Loves/Embraces Software Patents

    Software patents promotion and GNU/Linux FUD; your daily dosage of 'news' from the tabloid known as ZDNet...



  5. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 05, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, July 05, 2020



  6. Links 5/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Mate Beta and GNOME Gingerblue

    Links for the day



  7. Technological Progress? Only If We Assume The Wrong Things...

    When we're told that we're all dumb we're being given increasingly dumb technology (and they tell us dumber is better)



  8. Linux Foundation Still Owned and Controlled Largely -- and More Over Time -- by Surveillance Companies (Openwashing Services for Bad Practices and Bad Actors)

    The Linux Foundation‘s growing role in spying or the focus on data-mining operations is an eternal reminder or warning that the Foundation follows power and money, not freedom or ethics (it began as a salary-paying venture, crowdfunding among large corporations which conduct mass surveillance)



  9. Sharing is Caring, as Those Who Share Usually Care

    Going back to our human roots, people who cooperate and collaborate are vastly more likely to survive and thrive; Free software is almost guaranteed to become the norm when/once everyone demands it (proprietary software is too divisive, supremacist and even racist)



  10. Systems Can Crash and People Can Die by Changing Language (Even in Parameter and Function Space) to Appease Activists

    It seems clear that Intel takes the lead in trying to change Linux not in technical means but purely social means; even when (and where) that can compromise the robustness of the kernel (Intel is nowadays known for profoundly defective chips with back doors)



  11. António Campinos Should Speak to Peasants, Not Litigation Lawyers

    Mr. Campinos does not work for campinos but against campinos; he represents the people who sue or threaten them using ludicrous patents that should never have been granted (e.g. in Ethiopia)



  12. Christine Lambrecht (German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection) Ignores the Fact That Even Patent Experts Reject the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The debacle single-handedly caused by and attributable to Christine Lambrecht, who is eager to appease litigation lawyers, is made yet worse by the fact that people in this domain/profession reject what she's trying to ram down people's throats



  13. [Humour] The Linux Foundation is Not Even Using Linux

    The Linux Foundation does not support Linux except in name; it is important to remember that



  14. Microsoft Loves Power

    An explanation of why Microsoft says it loves this and that; Microsoft lacks the capacity to love or to express empathy as it's always about self gratification or coercion, nothing else



  15. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 04, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 04, 2020



  16. Indoors Society, Shut the Windows

    Times are changing in all sorts of ways; it seems like GNU/Linux and other Free/libre operating systems may emerge as winners when the 'dust settles'



  17. Allegation That Microsoft Adopted the Mentality of Suicide Bombers Against Linux, Leaks Reveal

    Looking at leaked E-mails from around the time Microsoft used Cyanogen as a 'proxy', we're finding some stunning admissions or speculation about the real motivations



  18. [Humour] A Union in Whose Interests?

    The union-busting 'yellow union' (the one that helped Benoît Battistelli marginalise SUEPO) is unable to represent staff any longer



  19. FFPE EPO Has Rendered Itself Obsolete by Liaising With Benoît Battistelli

    FFPE EPO has been left out of staff representation, demonstrating that liaising with the oppressor is a self-deprecating move which must be avoided (the only remaining potent union is SUEPO)



  20. Links 4/7/2020: LibreOffice 7.0 'Personal Edition', Atari VCS Coming Soon

    Links for the day



  21. [Humour/Meme] The 'New' Edge (Chrome Copycat) is Already Dead, So Microsoft is Trying to Just Kill the Competition

    Edge market share is so minuscule that it doesn’t even make it into this chart (it’s in “other”); no wonder Microsoft now bullies Windows users into using it, for users reject it even after months of endless advertising/AstroTurfing and aggressive exploitation/appropriation



  22. Fourth of July in the United Kingdom and the United States

    In these bizarre times Independence Day is still being celebrated, even as so many people are out of work, running out of hope and being fed xenophobia in social control media with a racist 'celebrity' president (the "user in chief")



  23. [Humour] Bigger is Always Better When You're a Deluded Maximalist

    The EPO totally lost sight of its mission; it's just speeding everything up, very carelessly, not minding quality and accuracy/certainty/legal validity



  24. 'Managing Intellectual Property' Managing to Become Uncritical Parrot of EPO Management

    Managing to amplify the EPO's lies isn't hard; one just needs to copy, paste, edit a little; then they call it 'journalism', irrespective of the proven track record of EPO management lying to staff and to the media



  25. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 03, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, July 03, 2020



  26. Monopoly Abuse, Still: Microsoft Pays Projects to Embrace/Move to C#, GitHub and Visual Studio

    Microsoft's greatest of efforts to lull regulators into inaction and fool us all into thinking that things have changed are undone by actual behaviour, which is abusive, anti-competitive and just... typical Microsoft



  27. Links 4/7/2020: Grml 2020.06 and diffoscope 150 Released

    Links for the day



  28. [Humour/Meme] Don't Let a COVID Crisis Go to Waste When You're Eager to Find Excuses for Many Layoffs and Shutdowns

    Microsoft business units that were defunct (long-failing, well before COVID-19) are being thrown out and Microsoft exploits a virus to rationalise these decisions while spicing up media coverage with "Hey Hi" (AI) and "virtual" experience or Facebook (to give the false impression that nothing really goes away)



  29. Free Software Tackles Political Issues. Political Tactics Are Also Being Weaponised Against Free Software.

    Divide-and-rule tactics seem to have been exploited to weaken collaborative work on Free/libre software; the response to these tactics needs to start with realisation that this is going on (even if it's done in a somewhat clandestine nature)



  30. Offence and Racism

    o those in positions of power and privilege (financial) you are controllable by guilt; dividing us and causing us to feel guilt and fear (over potential offence) is a powerful social control mechanism and pretext for dismissal, censorship, humiliation


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

Recent Posts