“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”
–Jim Allchin, Microsoft Vice President
Watch this new press release and spot the odd bedfellow.
In addition to Actuate, Microsoft, Sun, Collabnet, TVM Capital and Ingres are also sponsoring the Paris Open Source Think Tank, which is the leading invitation only commercial open source brainstorm and networking conference of its kind in the world. More than 80 leading CEOs, CIO/CTOs, VCs, Attorneys and industry luminaries representing top Fortune 100 companies and other key organizations will convene for 3 days to discuss the state-of-the-industry of commercial open source and brainstorm together to advance individual and collective issues.
What can be seen here was previously named [1350 "destruction through assimilation."] Microsoft tries to steal the identity and meaning of everything that “open source” stands for.
“It’s about poisoning the minds (or the text) of those involved, pretending to be a participant.”A British magazine once showed how Microsoft and the BSA had distorted a think tank on patents and their impact on small/open source businesses. Other think tanks, which quietly were sponsored by Microsoft, attacked Linux.
There are many other examples. There were some such studies in Europe and the States. Here you can find Gerri Elliott of Microsoft making decisions using her multiple hats and watering open source off the education agenda.
In Vienna, conclusions from a study were distorted by Microsoft, so it should be clear that it’s not healthy to have Microsoft around. Microsoft fights for its proprietary stack. Its open source identity and participation is just a tool and opportunity to push things in that stack’s direction, prolonging the dependence on Microsoft cash cows. BECTA is a very recent example of this.
Glyn Moody was absolutely right last year when he predicated that Microsoft would "hijack" open source to do just that. It’s about poisoning the minds (or the text) of those involved, pretending to be a participant. █
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Patents news roundup
Most significant among the patents news is today’s demonstration, which we wrote about a few days ago and shall elaborate on over the weekend. The Stop Software Patent initiative has a summary accompanied by many photos.
On Thursday, 18 September 2008, staff members of the European Patent Office (EPO) demonstrated in Brussels for a reform of its supervisory board. Examiners are complaining about the broken governance of the Institution. Examiners do not trust neither members of the Administrative Council, neither their President Brimelow. A patent examiner confessed that most of them were against software patents but as civil servants they were not allowed to speak out publicly about their concerns.
This was also covered here, among other places.
The EPO staff are trying to make their voice heard by a series of actions against the undermining of the European Patent Organisation by its governing body and management (see below). In particular, on September 18th, a strike of EPO staff was observed by the vast majority at all four sites of employment, over 250 of whom travelled to Brussels to take part in a demonstration. The demonstration route went from Square Frère Orban to the Berlaymont, the seat of the European Commission.
Unrest does not prevail just in Europe. On we move to some problems concerning the US system, where NASA’s patents are outlined and then described for the unnecessary things that they are.
ReallyEvilCanine writes in to let us know that Ocean Tomo, the patent auctioning company has worked out an agreement to auction off a package of 25 NASA patents covering things like signal processing, GPS for spacecraft and sensor technologies.
There are some more thoughts about it here. [via Digital Majority]
Wow. Mike Masnick writes about NASA’s plan to auction off some of its patent portfolio to the private sector. When I read this I had to do a double-take: NASA has a patent portfolio?
This is absurd. The purpose of patent law is to promote the progress of the useful arts by giving inventors an incentive to invent. NASA engineers already have an incentive to invent: they’re being paid taxpayer dollars to do so. Accordingly granting patents to NASA is a pure dead-weight loss to the economy. It restricts the free flow of ideas with no offsetting benefit from improved incentives. Indeed, this is precisely why the copyrights on government-created works are immediately placed in the public domain.
Onwards we go to the most relevant target — one whose mode of operation includes predatory action against Free software, as opposed to a peaceful embrace or coexistence.
Yesterday we wrote about Nathan Myhrvold, the peripheral patent troll from Microsoft. Matt Asay describes his operation as a “massive patent pyramid scheme.” It’s not the first time.
Cisco and others have coughed up hundreds of millions of dollars to Intellectual Ventures, and have taken some steps to try to combat the company and its ilk. It’s a nice gesture, but Myhrvold and his investors apparently bring too much cash to the table, earning Intellectual Ventures the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest patent troll.
Speaking of financial pyramid schemes, Bill Parish wrote the following about Microsoft: “Sadly, many of these brilliant people have been blinded by the stock price and unable to see that Microsoft is also the key architect of the greatest financial pyramid scheme this century. It is not uncommon for participants in pyramid schemes to lose their emotional bearings. My close friends who work at Microsoft are particularly upset over my work and it is possible that even Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer do not realize the implications of their financial practices.”
“Myhrvold, much like his former employer and current investor, dislikes GNU/Linux…”Another smart mind, whose site is now “down for renovations and rethinking,” wrote this about Microsoft: “As with all pyramid schemes, it is important to get as close to tier 1 as possible. From a practical standpoint, usually only tiers 1 and 2 will derive significant long-term economic rewards from such schemes.”
Watching the assessments regarding Microsoft’s financial state (it is claimed to have lost a lot of money), one has to wonder what Microsoft might do next. Myhrvold, much like his former employer and current investor, dislikes GNU/Linux (see video). Some are even expecting lawsuits from this patent troll (Acacia, which is also somewhat associated with Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], has already done plenty of that).
Intellectual Ventures Getting Antsy; Expect Lawsuits Soon
So what is new in this one? Well, less than a year after raising a $1 billion patent hoarding fund, he’s out raising a new $2.5 billion fund. So it seems like he’s good at getting press and raising money — but not so much actually making money at this point (well, Myhrvold personally is doing fine, since the piece notes that he gets a 2% management fee, just like a VC). And that’s where the saber rattling comes in. The article notes that Cisco and Verizon have paid up between $200 and $400 million as licensees — though, to make it more confusing some of that is invested back into the fund for equity.
Cisco, which is a victim in this case and also a recent protester, actually sells hardware. So does IBM, as we pointed out very recently. There’s lots of money in this business.
To Microsoft, on the other hand, it’s hard to monetise such work differently. Due to competition, so-called “piracy” is a must to Microsoft. Free software is Microsoft’s #1 rival because it forces the monopolist to concede its margins or give away its software for free (gratis). It keeps Microsoft more humble. Here is a quote from 2007:
“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”
This one from the news is rather amusing.
Microsoft: 83 pct of Montenegro software pirated
Microsoft in Montenegro says that 83 percent of software in the Balkan country is pirated.
The company says illegal software cost the country US$7 million in 2007.
Microsoft paints itself as a victim, as if it couldn’t put an end to had it really tried harder. Microsoft loves (and sometimes even encourages) this so-called ‘piracy’. In this particular case, they try to warn the nations that it is the nations’ loss and therefore they should do Microsoft’s job. It takes some nerve.
The Xbox and Zune businesses, which were intended to formulate Microsoft’s entrance into hardware sales, have backfired badly, raking billions of dollars in losses. It’s interesting to find that, based on this new interview, Microsoft wanted to just buy Nintendo.
In the second part of an interview with The Guardian, Peter Moore has revealed that Microsoft considered buying Nintendo.
That would not be surprising.
“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.”
–Arno Edelmann, Microsoft Manager (2007)
The morbid patent obsession in the US is costing not only American businesses because Japanese global market leaders, in this case Nintendo, could suffer an embargo because of these ludicrous patents.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to look into Hillcrest Laboratories’ allegations that Nintendo infringed Hillcrest’s patents in making its popular Wii video game, the ITC said on Wednesday.
Are patents truly so wonderful? █
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Those who work at Novell and also sympathise with Microsoft sometimes say so. Those who work at Novell and dislike Microsoft (or Windows) would put their job at risk by criticising Novell’s big partner and new source of revenue. The same goes for .NET — and by association Mono — so we expect no public outburst or resentment towards this direction coming from inside Novell.
It is important to understand why Mono is dangerous. Mono is Novell and Novell is growing closer and closer to Microsoft as time goes by. As a reader points out, “we really don’t know, what is happening behind closed doors, but there is nothing good to be expected.”
The same reader has prepared a short document, which he thought might be useful for people as they try to give a clearer picture why exactly it is different comparing DotNET vs. Mono than DotNET vs any other technology.
“Like the Google comic, sometimes a picture says more than words and sticks in the minds better,” he wrote. So here goes:
Why .NET to Mono related to Patents is a different thing than e.g. .Net and Python…
DotNet gets you there, like doing a simple mathematical operation like 1+1 = 2 Mono does it in the same way, emulating DotNET as closely as possible. So MS could argue that Mono does not only resemble its “original” a great deal, It basically incorporates the same internals.
Let’s say that DotNET has a diesel as motor, so does Mono.
“Demanding royalties on so-called IP, knowing its competitor uses a derived model with the same internals to make it “tick”.”Generally, every car uses a some kind of motor. But it would be very much more likely to be successful to sue for a company. Demanding royalties on so-called IP, knowing its competitor uses a derived model with the same internals to make it “tick”.
E.g. if DotNet uses a special hybrid-motor, it would be more likely for MS to make its case in the public opinion (which is crucial for the moral acceptance if MS decides to sue) sound “legit”, than if it would try to sue “Python”, which also uses the “4-wheel-technology”, has a motor and brings you from a to b (e.g. also arrives at the conclusion that 1+1 = 2), but ultimately shares this with any vehicle and would make it much harder for MS to attack while not being viewed as an “SCO-like”-attack.
Then the risk of Python itself (as the inventor of the Python-model) suing other “car-makers” based on their Python-technology is infinitely smaller compared due to its open-source-nature as opposed to MS as the DotNET-car-maker regarding its Mono-Clone… █
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