Since the latest development at the European Patent Office had occurred, we’ve posted a couple of items to explain how deplorable it was [1, 2]. Glyn Moody wrote a critical article about it, as well. To quote just a fragment:
Court decisions on whether software patents are permissible within Europe have see-sawed wildly, with some decisions in favour being counterbalanced by others that confirm that software cannot be patented “as such”. Unfortunately, those meaningless weasel words “as such” have provided a tiny opening for proponents of software patents – typically large companies that want to use intellectual monopolies to stifle competition, and software patent lawyers who want more lucrative business – that the latter are constantly trying to widen.
One trick that has been tried by software patent lawyers is to define something called a “computer-implemented invention”, which is basically a repackaging of software to include a technical effect in order to be patentable.
Last week Marshall Phelps observed that Europe thinks it does not grant software patents, but that actually it does. When the enlarged board answers the president’s questions, maybe we can all have the same certainty as Microsoft’s VP of IP Strategy and Policy.
India’s Law Bypassed by Multi-nationals
It’s happening again, but this time around, Google deserves the blame. Previously it was Microsoft, Nokia, and BT. They are trying to obtain patents on software-implemented methods, despite the fact that Indian patent laws forbid it.
Google has filed for a patent in India, for a map based local search application. This appears to essentially be a patent for Google Local on Mobile, a service launched in 2005, and subsequently renamed/replaced by Google Maps for mobile.
This is a soft patent.
Indians needs to respond to it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] as the issue won’t just go away. In absence of opposition, it’s bound to get worse over time.
“Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. “Don’t bother us with politics,” respond those who don’t want to learn.”
Companies will always strive to seize ownership not only of physical things, but also content and even simple ideas. “Greed knows no bounds,” as Microsoft once exclaimed so hypocritically, so it’s time to stand up against this.
The Klausner Troll
A report from Reuters suggests that another patent troll got its way. It is a very silly software patent which this dispute involved. The patent was discussed (ridiculed) in several Web sites before.
Klausner said it granted Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group, a patent license related to voice message alerts.
Before you get uppity about having us call Klausner Technologies a patent troll, consider what they’ve been doing since their invention of the PDA: Suing everyone under the sun who has used visual voicemail.
As the post above shows, there is still resentment and denouncement of the term “patent troll.” It’s disappointing to find the IEEE entertaining defenders of patents trolls. Why would they sink to this level?
Frustrated by drawn-out development schedules, NetApp has put all its US-based engineers to work on merging 7G and GX, its two ONTAP operating systems.
In another sign of how far-reaching the economic downturn has become, NetApp on Monday said it plans to cancel its user conference scheduled for February next year.
Like several other struggling companies (e.g. Avistar [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]), they seem to be using their patents offensively, hoping to make a buck this way. The problem is that they attack Free/open source software projects. We covered this before. NetApp writes about this in one of its blogs. Witness the chaotic state of affairs (or general state) of the patent office, which has not yet suffered the wrath of budget cuts.
The patent office currently has a backlog of 730,000 patents, and they can’t hire fast enough to close the gap. Waiting could take years.
Government officials elevated the USPTO’s funding a few months ago, but is it sustainable in these difficult times? There seems to be unrest, lack of resources, and dissatisfaction from applicants. Over at Groklaw, this court case is being covered as well. The conclusion?
I vote for a new system, frankly. This one, as the NetApp-Sun litigation is just the most recent proof, is seriously broken.
Microsoft’s anti-GNU/Linux incentives are an issue that we’ve studied quite closely and carefully [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 9, 2540]. We must consider what’s sometimes referred to as "sort bribery" and realise that, realistically speaking, bribes can be made in all sorts of way. We even mentioned Novell in this context, even though it goes a good number of years back to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Bribes, or to put it more mildly — “incentives” — can be granted in a variety of artistic and original ways. Yesterday there was a timely story about it in the news. It’s a political story by its very nature, but the Senator who was accused and found guilty of corruption also battled against the neutral Web. He may have caused harm to the Internet.
In each case, there are gentler words and terms that describe the transactions involved. Words may include: “marketing”, “evangelism”, “gifts”, “rewards”, “incentives”, “favours”, “obligation”, “contracts”, “studies”, and “independent but Microsoft-commissioned.” We have seen it all before.
To get a glimpse at what Microsoft has done in Nigeria, here are some places to start [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. There is a lot more to be said about what Microsoft has been doing in the whole of Africa. It is no surprise that some local shops called for a boycott against Microsoft and Intel.
In Nigeria, Microsoft proposed paying $400,000 last year under a joint-marketing agreement to a government contractor it was trying to persuade to replace Linux with Windows on thousands of school laptops. The contractor’s former chief executive describes the proposal as an incentive to make the switch — an interpretation Microsoft denies. In Namibia and Nigeria, where it has sought government contracts, the company hired family members of government officials. Microsoft says they were qualified.
It was only a week and a half ago that we spotted a related incident. A relative of government officials (son of a former president) is attacking bloggers who are critical of Microsoft. This one is a particular example from Nigeria.
“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”
Anyway, further notes the article from the Wall Street Journal:
On Oct. 30, Mandriva announced it had won the contract to provide Linux software for the Classmates. Microsoft didn’t give up. The next day, it delivered TSC a revised draft agreement with an “effective date” of Nov. 1, documents show. It offered to pay $400,000 to TSC. In the revised agreement, there no longer was any mention of TSC having to comply with Microsoft’s code of conduct.
In an Oct. 31 email, TSC told Mandriva that there had been a “change in circumstances,” and that it “has recently reached an understanding with Microsoft to convert” the Classmates from Linux to Windows.
Mandriva’s chief executive, Francois Bancilhon, responded by posting “an open letter to Steve Ballmer,” Microsoft’s CEO, on Mandriva’s Web site. “What have you done to these guys to make them change their mind like this?” he wrote. “It’s quite clear to me, and it will be to everyone. How do you call what you just did, Steve? There are various names for it, I’m sure you know them.” Mr. Bancilhon declined to elaborate on his letter.
In the end, the joint-marketing agreement was never signed, and the Microsoft deal unraveled. Microsoft says it gave up after “it became clear” that the Nigerian government wanted Linux.
Microsoft is no gentleman. It is easy to show this, so below we include items from the news along with some links to previous developments that we would rather reference than repeat. These hopefully render an entire picture and shed light on ways in which Microsoft chooses to ‘compete’.
In reality, harming one’s competition using various means has proven to be a productive (yet subversive) tactic that demoralised and sank Microsoft’s rivals over the years. It’s a case of putting barriers and stifiling progress of a rival rather than making one’s own progress for the betterment of one’s own products. We shall start with Google.
A long time ago, on various occasions, we also showed how Microsoft and Viacom gave Google a hard time [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s a systematic behaviour. At the end of last week, Pamela Jones found this video, summarising it as “Viacom’s Dauman explains the Google lawsuit & creeps me out.” She explained why:
Viacom’s CEO Philippe Dauman, at last year’s O’Reilly Web 2.0 summit (video), explains the litigation Viacom brought against Google over YouTube and the principles he says Google will someday have to agree to, “voluntarily or involuntarily,” to protect copyright — the Viacom-spearheaded (with Microsoft on board, I notice) “copyright rules of the road”. It’s a bone-chilling performance, to me, because he clearly has no idea how the internet is supposed to work or the damage these old guys are planning to do to it if they can. And I say that as a person that believes in copyright protection. Not to be missed at the end is where a member of the audience asks him how he feels about Creative Commons. He seems not to know what it is, but he pretends to. He loves all creative people, he says.
On top of all this, Glyn Moody alerted that Professor Larry Lessig, the man behind Creative Commons, is now being attacked. AAP is libeling Lessig in order to keep him out of positions of influence. Although this refers mostly to copyrights and free culture, Free software lessons can be taken from it. Microsoft befriends the very same forces that battle against peer distribution of free (as in freedom) art, poetry, music, and film. We provided evidence of this in the past.
Microsoft Versus Yahoo
In more recent weeks (or months), Microsoft has played political games against Yahoo, whose lifeline was, in part, Google [1, 2, 3]. Those vicious attacks on Yahoo have actually gone on for a lot longer than this [1, 2] and they are very costly.
There are good reasons to suspect that Microsoft could be responsible for some of this pressure, which comes mostly from shareholders and the press. Microsoft spoke to some of them before. Carl Icahn, joined by some of his accomplices, are still sitting inside Yahoo (the board of directors) and it’s widely known that Icahn speaks to Microsoft. Some former Softies have just landed in Yahoo as well.
Microsoft Versus VMware
Microsoft’s Slog against VMware was documented in the past [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft has, without a doubt, crossed the lines of ethics.
VMware Inc. officials have objected to an assertion by IDC that VMware has lost some of its industry-leading market share to Microsoft Corp., claiming instead that Microsoft’s new Hyper-V product has barely made a dent in sales in the short time it’s been available.
DiPetrillo accused IDC of basing the 23% figure on OEMs’ unit shipments, but this does not appear to be true. The IDC survey did examine OEM vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., that offer servers that have already been virtualized. But that was a separate comparison, and there’s no indication in IDC’s report that the VMware/Microsoft market share comparison was limited to OEM sales. IDC analyst Brett Waldman explained IDC’s methodology in a phone interview Wednesday, saying the analyst firm determined market share by surveying more than 2,500 virtualization users from 35 countries, examining public filings and having conversations with vendors. IDC’s user survey looked at all new server virtualization licenses, regardless of whether they were sold through
Nonetheless, the story above is a classic example of using bogus methods to make up some bogus ‘conclusions’, then deceive the public and the press, making it widely believed that Microsoft is victorious and that customers see value in their products. C/f the following document about “The Slog”.
With the success of Fedora in Linux distributions, Fedora 10 is perhaps the most anticipated operating system from their library. A faster and advanced distribution is what is proposed by them. Fedora 10, codenamed Cambridge, is set for release on November 25, 2008. So before you go on and download this new Fedora version, let me give you a detailed idea about what benefits and changes are going to be there in this new Fedora 10.
64 Studio is a Linux distribution built upon Debian with both 64 bit processors, and the designer in mind. It takes the best of Debian, strips out the unnecessary extras, then rebuilds it as a one stop shop for those doing everything from print to web design.
Overall I like 64 studio. It’s certainly got a different way of doing things, but they’re things that are done for the good of the graphics and multimedia designer, things that could easily translate back to a normal end user if they wanted to try it, and didn’t mind the focus on multimedia design.
How do you feel about the current status, usability and stability of KDE 4? If the opinions of bloggers around the Internet are anything to go by, there are three groups of KDE users. The first is a small, though growing number of people who find KDE 4 an excellent and highly usable desktop. In the second group are those users who are aware of the new desktop’s limitations and bugs, but continue to use it in the hope that the problems and bugs will eventually be fixed. And then there is the third group – the one that absolutely refuses to go beyond the excellent, stable and feature-rich KDE 3.5. Which group do you belong to? And how long will it still take before the majority of KDE users finally move to the first group of highly satisfied KDE 4 users?
I will be talking more about Android applications, since they ARE written in Java, in my future posts. Besides, since they DO run on a Linux kernel, we just might end up talking about small Linux apps that can run on the phone as well. What do you think?