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.
  • 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

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. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 24, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, January 24, 2020



  2. Links 24/1/2020: GNU/Linux in Russia and More New Openings

    Links for the day



  3. When EPO Press Coverage Boils Down to Lobbying, Press Releases, EPO Lies, and Bribery

    Any attempts to properly assess and explain what happens in Europe's patent landscape are being drowned out by EPO-bribed and law firms-connected media; to make matters worse, the EPO's bribes have expanded to academia, so even scholarly work in this domain is corrupted by money of special interest groups



  4. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, January 23, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, January 23, 2020



  5. Links 23/1/2020: Qubes OS 4.0.3, EasyOS 2.2.5, GhostBSD 20.01

    Links for the day



  6. Passion of the Microsoft

    A rough timeline of Microsoft’s interactions with Linux and the Linux Foundation since 2015



  7. The Patent Microcosm is Really Panicking as European Patents on Life and Other Spurious Junk (Invalid Patents) Are Successfully Rejected

    European Patents (EPs) may be revoked en masse if what we're seeing is the gradual emergence of 'European Mayo' (and maybe soon 'European Alice')



  8. Distractions From Microsoft's Gigantic Tax Evasion and Contribution to Denial of Climate Science

    Microsoft (connected to oil companies) wants us to think of it as a "green" company; not only does it contribute to climate denial but it also evades tax, which is a serious crime that costs tens of billions of dollars (the public pays this money instead)



  9. Confirmation: System1/Startpage Offered Pay to People Who Pushed for (Re)Listing in Privacy Directories

    The debate is now settled; those arguing in favour of listing Startpage as privacy-respecting are in fact secretly 'compensated' by Startpage (in other words, they're Startpage 'shills')



  10. Vandana Shiva: “Bill Gates is Continuing the Work of Monsanto”

    A recent interview on what Bill Gates is really up to in that sham ‘charity’ of his



  11. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, January 22, 2020



  12. Extending Linux With DRM, Azure and exFAT

    An insufficiently 'conservative' Linux ceases to be freedom-respecting



  13. Linux Foundation (LF) Now Dominated by Lots of Microsoft People and LF Chiefs Join Microsoft in Smearing GPL/Copyleft

    We continue to see additional evidence which serves towards reinforcing our view that the so-called 'Linux' Foundation is actually hostile towards many things that are associated with Linux (unlike those looking to exploit/hijack Linux for proprietary ends)



  14. Links 22/1/2020: Wayland 1.18 Alpha, ODF 1.3 Approved

    Links for the day



  15. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 21, 2020



  16. Poor Excuses for Granting Poor (and Often Illegal/Invalid) Patents

    A quick look at some of the latest examples of software patents advocacy (not by actual software professionals, obviously) and why it's deeply misguided (or guided solely by greedy law firms)



  17. A Simple Plan For a Universal Free Software Community

    "For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom."



  18. Links 21/1/2020: Wine 5.0 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 Beta

    Links for the day



  19. Startpage/System1 Almost Definitely Pay for People to Lie About Their Surveillance

    A longterm investigation suggests that there are forces in the debate that aren't objective and are being super evasive and dodgy; this typically happens only when somebody has much to hide



  20. The Internet is an Appalling Medium for News and It Has Only Gotten Worse

    Something ought to change in the way people gather and assess news; at the moment — as proper journalism runs out of steam (and budget) — things only deteriorate and quality suffers; this rapidly exacerbates as people come to rely on — and then relay — hearsay, not fact-checked bodies of work



  21. Media Reactions to the EPO Coming to Grips With Fake Patents That It Granted (Spoiler: the Media is Controlled by Lawyers of Monopolists and EPO Partners)

    Appalling quality of reporting and truly awful bias in the media, primarily owing to the fact that it is dominated/manned not by actual reporters but the firms looking to patent life itself; they use their lawyers and operatives who are literally funded by these lawyers (wearing "journalist" badges to mislead)



  22. Links 21/1/2020: EarlyOOM Fedora Decision and AMD Zen 3 Microcode

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 20, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, January 20, 2020



  24. Links 20/1/2020: MNT Reform, Linux 5.5 RC7, KMyMoney 5.0.8

    Links for the day



  25. Mansion of Pedophilia – Addendum: Accessing and Assessing Court Documents

    How anyone out there can do the job the media failed to do (after an apparently unprecedented arrest at the home of Bill Gates)



  26. Mansion of Pedophilia – Addendum: Progress on Police Request

    9 updates from the police department of Seattle but still nothing material/concrete, only promises and major delays



  27. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 19, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 19, 2020



  28. Mansion of Pedophilia – Part VIII: More Than 4 Months of Waiting for Police Department to Send Over the Files They Claim to Have an Issue Opening

    The police department (PD) of Seattle is unable to open its own files about arrest for pedophilia at Bill Gates' home; it has been unable to open these files for several months, it claims...



  29. Starting a GNU Replacement for GitHub, Possibly Based on GitLab

    "It might be easier if we start from the GitLab software," Stallman said



  30. European Commission Pushes for Even Greater Patent Maximalism Instead of Rationality, Patent Zealots' Site Cherry-Picks China as Whipping Boy

    Fear of China is being leveraged to promote an agenda of patent maximalists; the general idea they promote is that granting millions of low-quality patents is the only way to compete, even if in reality that merely handicaps the whole market


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