Fraudulent minds think alike; sign software patent deals
e have been through this more than once before [1, 2]. Samsung was caught in the midst of a huge scandal and even its chairman was personally involved. He not only quit the company but he is now going to prison.
The ex-chairman of South Korean firm Samsung, Lee Kun-hee, has been found guilty of tax evasion in Seoul and given a three-year suspended jail term.
The charges followed a three-month investigation into alleged corruption at South Korea’s biggest conglomerate.
Lee, one of South Korea’s richest men, had headed Samsung for two decades before his resignation from the chairmanship in April.
Remember that Samsung signed a Linux-hostile deal under Kun-hee’s leadership.
A noteworthy thing is the similarity between Samsung’s business practices and those of Microsoft. For instance, information about Microsoft’s tax evasion you’ll find in [1, 2]. Lest we forget other mischiefs, including the recent crusade of corruption, all in the name of lock-in. There are some other questionably-criminal activities here and here. Windows Vista too is still blushing at the courtroom after collusions.
It almost seems as though there is more justice in Korea than in supposedly ‘more civilised’ parts of the world. Had justice prevailed in the west, governments would not handle Microsoft so submissively and cowardly. Then again, enforcement of the law typically boils down to political manipulation (or corruption). █
“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”
Disclosure: My father traded with and distributed Samsung electronics almost exclusively for 20 years, so there hardly any bias against the company.
Send this to a friend
month or so ago, Microsoft argued that ODF had won. It tried to escape this comment later, but Erwin thought (he wrote so in his last blog post at Sun Microsystems) that it was part of Microsoft's plan to get closer to ODF (and maybe poison it more successfully from the inside). That too is something that got Microsoft’s management pointing at Boycott Novell. They were concerned enough about our arguments to rebut, not to ignore.
Anyway, there’s a bit of a deja vu now that the Microsoft-faithful Alex Brown [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] publicly announces that ODF is in the lead.
OOXML will take second place following Microsoft’s announcement to support ODF, says Dr Alex Brown
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Dr Alex Brown
Alex Brown was convenor of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (OOXML) Ballot Resolution Process, and is convenor of the group overseeing its maintenance processes. He has recently been nominated to represent the publishing industry on the panel advising the British Library on handling digital submission of journal articles.
Why would he issue such a press release? Why bother? Why go out of his way?
Could he be trying to get people off his back? He got lots of flak, that’s for sure. At least one person called for his resignation following involvement in the BSI fiasco. For information about the BSI, see previous posts such as:
Either way, whatever Alex Brown’s motive was with his new press release, it’s akin to that “ODF has clearly won” remark from Microsoft. It makes an illusion of apathy and reduces scrutiny. It’s a dangerous apathy that neutralises hostility. Microsoft does this a lot when invading "Open Source" (if you reject their posturing they call you a “Microsoft hater” or use some other insulting labels that paint you as a fringe lunatic).
You also have to wonder why Brown still recommends that the British Library should use Microsoft’s OOXML. It was pointed out earlier today.
It is rather funny to see ISO officials denying wrong deeds and irregularities because Even Alex Brown argued that ISO directives had failed. He recently wrote:
Unlike ODF and OOXML, however, I am beginning to believe the Directives have got to a state where they cannot be redeemed by evolution and amendment. It may be time to start again from scratch.
Brown was not alone:
Let’s face it. OOXML is been a farce from start to finish. As The Inquirer put it a couple of days ago: The customer counts for nothing.
And as far as compatibility is concerned, you need not look further than Microsoft. It has been investing billions in its new wannabe-open format, which is actually a poxy pile of unstable zipped XML files – various bugs have been reported, especially concerning Excel. We should also mention that the document describing the standard is a six thousand-page monstrosity, which compares quite sadly to the less than one thousand pages description paper for the OpenDocument format.
It is important never to forget the truth about OOXML. █
“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”
–Richard Stallman, June 2008
Send this to a friend
Of agents of intellectual monopolies
For those who are new to this, Mccreevy is actually seen as a troublemaker for his attempt — whether deliberate and informed or not — to bring software patents to Europe. Sadly, this commissioner appears to be wreaking havoc also on the copyrights front. We rarely discuss these issue in this Web site (sometimes we do [1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but a few others like Larry Lessig and Glyn Moody definitely know how much political manipulation is involved here. Bribery isn't unusual, either. In response to the latest push, Moody writes:
Copyright is supposed to provide an *incentive* to create, not a *reward* for having created. Increasing the term of copyright protection will not suddenly make ageing rockers more creative. Moreover, the prospect of an extra 45 years’ protection is highly unlikely to make young rockers rush out and create more. So this is a pure loss for the public domain. Thanks for nothing, Charlie.
At this worrisome pace, DMCA will take over every single country. Software patents are another serious issue that not only threatens Europe. Another ugly thing to consider is government snooping, often justified using alarming words like “terrorism” and “paedophiles”. Here is a report from Germany:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the US government to protest the new Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) recently passed by Congress. The civil rights organisation believes that the far-reaching authority granted by the Act, which has now been signed by George W. Bush, is unconstitutional.
Nevertheless, the same broken laws are brought over to the United Kingdom. The government wants to archive all E-mails and phonecalls. Leaks, careless spendings, and misuse are — as usual — only to be expected.
A central database holding details of everyone’s phone calls and emails could be a “step too far for the British way of life”, ministers have been warned.
Going back to copyrights again, this one article about copyrights versus preservation is worth a look.
Although digital works are ubiquitous and easily duplicated, they also are ephemeral and are at risk of disappearing unless preservation efforts begin soon after they are created, according to a study by the Library of Congress and three international partners.
Libraries, archives and other institutions currently are hampered in preserving these materials by copyright laws geared toward more persistent, physical works. The study recommended that laws permit preservation institutions to preserve works according to international best practices, which includes making copies for administrative and technical purposes, migrating works to different formats as technology changes, and maintaining backup copies in multiple institutions to protect against catastrophic loss.
So herein the Library of Congress shepherds a study where others too are complaining about data loss and preservation.
Over in the United States, the Library of Congress has already been ‘violated’ by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. In the United Kingdom, the story is similar. Alex Brown is still ‘selling’ the British Library some OOXML lock-inware [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
Contrariwise, the Canadian Library Association seem to 'get' it. It chooses ODF. Here is another new example of ODF support. [via Bob Sutor]
This addresses a pretty big speed-bump that people were hitting while trying to share documents in Buzzword. Finally, we added support in this release for exporting documents in Open Document Format (ODF). We’re not done with this format, though! ODF import is coming.
It remains to be seen what GNOME is going to do. It must support ODF, but Miguel de Icaza, a fan of Microsoft’s .NET and OOXML, is still evidently involved in GNOME’s direction. █
Send this to a friend
Transparency is needed at all levels
Yesterday we wrote very quickly about Red Hat's settlement and why it was a bad idea in retrospect. The argument made by Béranger is that they fed the trolls — the patent trolls. Further, he writes: “Now, I don’t think Red Hat was paid by those patent trolls. Going forward to invalidate the patents would still have entitled Red Hat to ask for damages, and the public image of Red Hat would have been even better: hey, software patents can be invalidated, and here’s Red Hat doing it! But, IF Red Hat was indeed paid to shut up, THEN this is even criminal! It’s like making profits on the expenses of other operating systems (the BSDs, Solaris, whatever) not covered by this settlement!”
“The word “settlement” is often an embellishment, a euphemism.”This surely brings back some memories of Novell, but a comparison would be totally invalid. Either way, it serves as an example and precedence to entice more patent trolls and give them just what they want. Settlement = extortion. The word “settlement” is often an embellishment, a euphemism.
SCO too had Microsoft and Sun license UNIX from them (it later turned out to be in vain) just after they had sued IBM and others. All can be done purely for legitimacy. Both Sun and Microsoft could benefit from it. In the case of Microsoft, it was not only an opportunity to inject money; Microsoft went further and arranged a BayStar investment in SCO.
It’s the same with Trend Micro, which cross-licensed quite recently... with IBM. Ironically enough, in response to this, Barracuda then had to buy patents from IBM, which probably cost a lot. Trend Micro used IBM for legitimacy, so in that sense, IBM was part of this messy business. Had they never dealt with software patents, perhaps none of this would come abound. Here is what Barracuda’s CEO, Dean Drako, said quite recently:
“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”
The claims made above about Red Hat exposing Solaris and BSD seems to be contradicted by Groklaw:
Most of the agreement is typical language, but Tiller explains the parts that are specific to this agreement, which is groundbreaking. It’s living proof that the GPL can function as intended, and without compromise, while still dealing with US patent law.
Even such code distributed by Novell and Sun Microsystem is covered. Is that not refreshing? Note also that “Red Hat Product” includes “predecessor versions” of any Red Hat Products, including versions Red Hat or its employees had no involvement in developing. When you think about the Novell-Microsoft patent deal, what a contrast! That covered only Novell’s paying customers, and deliberately excluded the rest of the community. Red Hat, with a deeper understanding of the GPL and the community’s interests, in contrast responds with a very creative, GPL-compatible agreement that reflects how the community has always worked — competition on merit, not on exclusion or proprietary moves.
The press release contains this ugly bit.
Section 3 of the agreement is entitled “Payment,” but the material on this issue has been redacted here. This is because the parties agreed that this term must remain confidential.
What is this? BECTA and Microsoft? The equivalent of a Memorandum of Understanding [1, 2, 3, 4]? Novell too redacted the hell out of its formal agreement with Microsoft.
More analysis of this comes from Lisa Hoover, whose report ends with:
The 22-page document [PDF] contains affadavits and documents that outline the terms of the agreement, however specifics on any payments that changed hands have been redacted because “the parties agreed that this term must remain confidential.”
Sean Michael Kerner found some bits of this deal discomforting as well.
How can you be transparent about a settlement without discussing money? How much is a patent worth today? I certainly would want to know and I’d bet millions of others would too.
This is a fantastic thing. Now if Novell had been as community minded when it struck its patent covenant deal with Microsoft the biggest patent threat hovering over the Linux community as a whole IMHO would just go away.
From user ‘sandholm’ at Tux Machines:
Isn’t this moot?
Submitted by sandholm on Tue, 07/15/2008 – 11:17.
This is an interesting way for RedHat to try and “save some face”, after their “secret” payoff to Firestar on a patent that was dubious from the start.
Now that Sun has requested the Firestar patent be invalidated, and considering the response from the PTO:
I guess this is the only way that Redmond…Er…RedHat has figured to try and save some respect.
Linux Journal rightly gives credit to Sun.
Just over a month ago, we brought you the news that Red Hat had washed its hands of long-term patent litigation with Firestar Software over object-oriented software and relational databases. We now learn the deal came just a month too early, as last week the Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the patent in question — the result of a “brother-in-arms” effort by Red Hat competitor Sun Microsystems.
As for Sun and the Open Source community, it’s a victory for striking down one more prohibitive proprietary roadblock, as well as a protection for all from similar prosecution.
Jonathan Corbet has a good and comprehensive summary too.
Red Hat’s initial press release claimed that this settlement demonstrated the company’s commitment to standing up for the community in the face of patent trolls, and stated that it would discourage any future such cases. At this point it seems fairly evident that Sun has made a better show of standing up for the community and discouraging future cases. What Red Hat has done, though, is to show us how future patent problems could be resolved in the absence of obvious prior art. If one must pay the troll, one would do well to come out with an agreement like this one and, at least, keep the troll away from the rest of the community. Whether patent holders who actually have a legal leg to stand on will be willing to agree to such a settlement remains to be seen; the nature of the game is such that, unfortunately, we are likely to get an answer to that question sooner or later.
There are no easy answers here. For sure, what Sun managed to achieve was more valuable than what Red Hat had done. What Novell did was just selfish in every way.
It surely cost Sun some time and effort. Imperfect solutions seem necessary as long as the payment system is absolutely broken. The next post will discuss further perversion of the law by intellectual monopolies. █
Send this to a friend