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


The OOXML Patent Kat is Out of the Bag

Posted in ECMA, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SEVERAL MONTHS after the unforgettable OOXML corruptions come out some documents which may confirm OOXML to be a discriminatory software patent trap without satisfying clarifications. Here are the details:

Microsoft excludes competitors with OOXML patent license?

ECMA has just published two documents related to the patent licensing of ECMA376v1 and ECMA376v2. Microsoft promises to give a patent license under so called “reasonable terms”. Reasonable for whom?


We have requested a commercial patent license in July, but radio silence since then on the Microsoft side. Yet another proof that the patent system does not work.

Is anybody surprised? Of course not. It’s easier to tell the truth now that’s too late. As Tim Bray put it, “What Microsoft really wanted was that ISO stamp of approval to use as a marketing tool. And just like your mother told you, when they get what they want and have their way with you, they’re probably not gonna call you in the morning.”

OOXML is a monopoly

Is ASUS Deliberately Discouraging GNU/Linux Now?

Posted in GNU/Linux, IRC Logs, Microsoft, OLPC, Windows at 11:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For a little bit of background, see:

Here is a portion of the IRC conversation that took place some minutes ago (some typos were manually corrected):

kentma Talking about eee, I’m looking at eee and acer aspire in Guelph Dec 21 15:35
schestowitz Microsoft EEEed the EEE too Dec 21 15:35
schestowitz Now they push for up-speccing Dec 21 15:35
schestowitz ASUS said they were closely tied up with Microsoft Dec 21 15:36
kentma There’re EEEs at a local store, but 678 for win XP version, and 778 for linux version Dec 21 15:36
schestowitz First they put Windows (like with the OLPC), then extend to pull out the ‘Linux; Dec 21 15:36
kentma That’s Cnd$ Dec 21 15:36
schestowitz Why the price difference? Dec 21 15:36
kentma But there’s an aspire for 378 which looks good Dec 21 15:36
schestowitz That’s the leading one. Dec 21 15:37
kentma I don’t know, the Windows version has a bigger SSD as well Dec 21 15:37
kentma 80g versus 40g Dec 21 15:37
kentma Still, I’m in on my N800 this morning.. With pidgin. Dec 21 15:38
kentma I’m amazed at home much the maemo repository has grown. Dec 21 15:39
kentma There’re so many apps for the N800 and n810, it’s extraordinary Dec 21 15:39
schestowitz Wait, but why is the Linux version more expensive? Dec 21 15:40
schestowitz It’s worth investigating because Microsoft is playing  dirty Dec 21 15:40
schestowitz This is not exactly new. Dec 21 15:40
kentma I don’t know, and worse, it even has the smaller drive, too. Dec 21 15:40
schestowitz So ASUS may then say that people don’t want Linux. Dec 21 15:40
schestowitz [maybe cause it's made more expensive and hobbled] Dec 21 15:41
kentma You have to pay a premium for the linux version, now.   It stinks of corruption. Dec 21 15:41
schestowitz Microsoft pressured ASUS a while ago and if they totally sold out, then it needs to be said. Dec 21 15:41
schestowitz The corruption occurred a while ago.. a form of kickbacks, IMHO. Dec 21 15:42
kentma Certainly, the prices are rising fast for the asus machines, and getting the linux ones is becoming yet more difficult.  It might be at the distributor level, though. Dec 21 15:42
schestowitz They raise if for Intel and Microsoft Dec 21 15:43
schestowitz With Linux they targeted low end. Dec 21 15:43
schestowitz As they go upwards with the specs, they punish Linux and pay more to Microsoft’s partner, Intel. Dec 21 15:43
kentma It’s daft, because the performance of windows on high end machines is not better than linux on low end machines. Dec 21 15:44

Patents Roundup (US): Apple Sued, Government Intervenes, Patents Killed by Bilski

Posted in Apple, Law, Patents at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple has just been hit by another patent lawsuit (there are many more), and Apple is far from alone in this. The aggressor is not a patent troll, but the patents seem like trivial software patents that should not have been granted.

The named US patents are 7,130,616, 7,142,934, 7,142,935, and 7,167,765, but we note that the final three are all headed ‘Audio converter device and method for using the same’, have the same abstract and are therefore clearly variations on a theme.

Some Mac sites offer further details.

Samsung has settled with EZ4Media for an unknown amount, Apple Insider said Thursday.

The lawsuit against Apple is similar to one brought by IBM. In that case, the technology company is alleging former executive Mark Papermaster could provide Apple inside information. A court has temporarily ruled Papermaster cannot join Apple’s hardware unit.

Government Steps In

According to this article, a restructuring of the patent system may soon come.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office needs to be overhauled if it is to come to grips with rising backlogs and a perception of declining patent quality, according to a report the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent to President-elect Barack Obama. The report available online calls for sweeping changes in the leadership and structure of the patent office…

The effects of this are unknown and it could certainly be just a lot of hot air. The NSA has just patented snooping, which shows that the government itself is not opposed to software patents. Already, the ITC has stepped up to threaten with another embargo.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to investigate three patent complaints — about semiconductor circuits, camera phones and flash memory chips — that could lead to products being banned from import into the U.S.

Microsoft too has already used the ITC to threaten a competitor with an embargo over patents dispute.

In Re Bilski Slaughters Patents

We have discussed this case in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33]. The decision was used back in November in order to fight software patents, but the outcome is not yet known. On the other hand, in the pharmaceutical industry, this ruling is assassinating patents already.

A set of pharmaceutical process patents for ‘evaluating and improving the safety of immunization schedules’ (Classen v. Biogen et al.; see US Patents 6,420,139; 6,638,379; 5,728,385; 5,723,283) were held to be invalid due to unpatentability. The decision was appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but was upheld with a terse citation to In re Bilski (which decision we discussed here).

There are some more details here:

For example, although Bilski states that a process claim is “surely” patent-eligible under section 101 if it complies with the machine-transformation test, this cannot be literally correct with respect to a naturally occurring biological process. Photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide and water into sugar, and in Bilski the Court specifically points to chemical reactions as the sort of physical transformation that will render a process patentable, but a claim directed to photosynthesis would clearly violate Supreme Court precedent which bars the patenting of natural phenomena.

Some people were angered by the loss of their imaginary intellectual property, whose value is turning to that of just paper. Here is another new analysis of this “post-Bilski era”.

The In re Bilski (545 F.3d 943 [Fed. Cir. 2008]; here’s a PDF of the decision) court decision placed significant new limits on so-called “process” or “business method” patents, which possible implications for many software patents.

The EEF asks, “Is it Patentable?”

Two months ago, in In re Bilski, the Federal Circuit rejected the notion that anything that produces a “useful, concrete, and tangible result” is potentially patentable. Instead, to be patent-eligible, an idea must be “tied to a particular machine or apparatus,” or it must “transform a particular article into a different state or thing.” (To qualify for a patent, it also has to meet various other requirements, such as being novel.)

As to transformation, the court noted that not just any transformation will do. The transformation “must be central to the purpose of the claimed process,” and the “articles” transformed must either be “physical objects or substances” or “representative of physical objects or substances.”

Very gradually but surely, the system is changing, but is it correcting itself quickly enough?

Supreme court

Patents Roundup (Europe): Confusion and Lobbying

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest against EPO

A FEW DAYS AGO we saw Microsoft and its fronts lobbying Europe to permit software patents inside standards and not to favour Free/open source software. Digital Majority has accumulated and highlighted some more bits of text from what was available. It can be found in:

All the usual suspects are lobbying for software patents, even inside so-called ‘standards’ (that only those who are rich are allowed to implement).

Also new from Europe is this list of 10 myths about the European patent system.

Myth 1: “The European patent system works well. Het European Patent Office is leading in a policy to prevent the adoption of undesired American elements into European patent law “.

Reality: The European patent system is becoming more an more a burden for firms. There is undeniably a tendency to follow the United States.

Myth 2: “Patents are indispensable for innovation – now more than ever.”

Reality: Occasional success stories are actually exceptions that proves the rule. The patent system moves competition from the market to the courtroom.


Over in the UK, where Symbian/Nokia did its damage, the consequences are not entirely clear yet and an important referral still pending [1, 2]. This results in a state of uncertainty.

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will still use a previously formulated test on software patents despite a court ruling which many took to be critical of its approach.

The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) has said that the IPO’s guidance could cause uncertainty and increase the cost of doing business in the software industry.


Many observers saw the ruling as a rejection of the IPO’s previous methods of judging software patent claims. The IPO has said, though, that it will continue to apply the Aerotel/Macrossan test to decide whether an invention qualifies for a patent.


The Symbian software was allowed a patent by the Court of Appeal because it improved the operation of the software in a mobile phone, which the court said meant that it had a technical effect.

The UKIPO is apparently almost ignoring what happened there with Symbian, unlike the Bilski case, which we’ll refer to in the next post.

Back in October, we were disappointed by a UK court ruling that effectively told the UK’s Patent Office that it had to stop rejecting software patents outright, and instead consider software patentable if it met certain criteria. Given the widespread evidence that software patents have done plenty of harm, and almost nothing to help the software industry, this is generally disappointing. However, it looks like the UK patent office may be trying to do its best to ignore the implications of the court ruling.

The patent system/s in Europe must resolve ambiguities — and fast! In the mean time, some are exploiting the confusion.

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway”.”

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft

The Threat of Mono as Basis of Applications (or: “Why GIMP is Different”)

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 9:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GIMP threatened with a software patent lawsuit

FURTHER TO YESTERDAY’S discussion about Mono, it is worth pointing out a comment which was made there about Mono being a threat because it sits at the bottom of candidate applications. This means that removing Mono or changing a feature can have a ‘tidal wave’ effect on many applications that are built upon Mono.

As a case of point, consider news that came up very quietly. Not many people know about GIMP being litigiously threatened, but it’s there in PUBPAT. It’s fairly recent news.

he Public Patent Foundation (“PUBPAT”) announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted its formal request to review a patent relating to photomosaics (large pictures made up of many smaller pictures) assigned to Mr. Robert Silvers, who has been aggressively asserting the patent against many individuals, small businesses, and even against an important open source software program (GIMP).

FFII caught the response to this, which can be found here in a low-visibility page.

The image mosaic plug-in for the GIMP is no longer supported or distributed. Mr. Robert Silvers, the holder of a patent related to the technology that was used in the plug-in, argued that the software would directly infringe his patent rights. It is not clear if the patent is applicable in this case. But I have neither the time, interest or money for legal action. So I complied with the cease and desist request.

PHOTOMOSAIC® is a registered trademark of Runaway Technology, Inc. The photomosaic process is patented (US Patent No. 6,137,498) and protected by the patent, copyright, and other intellectual property laws of the United States and other major countries.

Benjamin Henrion tried to raise the issue in the GIMP IRC channel, without much success.

20:15 < zoobab> hi
20:15 < zoobab> http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-114601/kirchgessner:the-gimp-plug-ins
20:15 < zoobab> mayeb you could add a news about the patent s* on gimp.org?


20:16 < zoobab> http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-114600/pubpat:government-finds-sunsta...
20:18 < zoobab> does someone has a copyf of this plugin?
20:19 < zoobab> http://www.kirchgessner.net/photo-mosaic.html


20:35 < rubikcube> zoobab: there's none at registry.gimp.org at least

Going back to Mono, imagine having to change something in its behaviour in order to dodge an explicit patent threat. It would not be merely a plug-in. It would be a whole stack that many other applications depend on. Moreover, the patenter is most likely to be Microsoft, which constantly attacks GNU/Linux. Even a cease and desist request, as in the case above, would be hugely problematic as it would disrupt development of many applications at the same time. Microsoft prefers to choke just one throat .

Keeping one’s head out of the sand

Links 21/12/2008: KDE 4.2 Raves; Linux 2.6.28 Before Xmas?

Posted in News Roundup at 7:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish


  • Stocks in focus for Monday [Red Hat to Impress?]

    Red Hat RHT is estimated to report a profit of 17 cents a share excluding stock option expenses in the third quarter.

  • Week 51: Desktop? What Desktop?

    But see, here’s the thing: whether Linux succeeds on the desktop is simply the wrong question to ask. The better question is where Linux has succeeded now and it will succeed in the future? For instance: Apache on Linux continually dominates the web server surveys on Netcraft. Yet we never hear 20-whatever is the Year of the Linux Web Server, even though you could make a case that the the 21st Century to date is the Century of the Linux Web Server. Why is that?

  • BBC iPlayer Desktop – Auntie, Why Do You Tease Me So?
  • New Compiz Animation: Bonanza

    School’s not been out but one day and I’m already doing something [mildly] useful with my life. I wrote this effect yesterday that looks like the window is burning from the inside out. Why did I call it “Bonanza”? If you remember, there used to be a western TV show by the same name that had an old-western-style map that also burned from the inside out. Every time I see this effect, the catchy theme song from the show runs through my head.

  • NVIDIA CUDA 2.1 Beta Released
  • LB – Episode 33 – Zenoss by Linux Basement
  • Kernel

  • Virtualisation

  • KDE4

    • A glance at KDE 4.2 beta 2

      So that would be what all I could notice in a day. With added stability, beta 2 is a must try. It has so much more than the 4.1.x releases that you will definitely be surprised and more importantly, pleased! It works like a charm on this old laptop of mine with a GMA900 onboard :D Now I’m eagerly waiting for the final release ;)

    • KDE 2008 fly-by.

      So what’s up next year? Personally, I’m hoping, actually being confident that in 2009 we see the rise of new technologies such as Akonadi, Decibel, integrated desktop search and the semantic desktop. I’m looking forward to seeing KOffice2 becoming available and maturing. Higher level concepts such as the Social Desktop will start to be integrated, and a wide variety of new and existing applications will make their way onto everyone’s desktops and mobile devices.

      More imminent, there will be the second KDE conference in the Americas on Jamaica in January, and a smashing Akademy during the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit in July.

      It’s been a smashing year, and we’re not even done yet.

    • Review: PC/OS OD 2009

      So, that’s PC/OS 2009. if you’re not sick to death of Ubuntu spin-offs it’s well worth a look, if only for its web-centric approach.

  • Distributions

  • Devices




  • IPv6 Makes Slow Progress
  • Why Internet & Infrastructure Need to be Fields of Study
  • Aussie System Admin Guild says NO to net filtering

    The System Administrators Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU) has sent an open letter to Australia’s Minister for Communications, stating that it is “unable to support the Federal Government’s proposed Internet filtering initiative”, explaining the reasons why and outlining its “significant concerns”.

  • Psychiatric treatment used to ‘silence’ Chinese critics

    Local officials in China appear to be increasingly using forcible psychiatric treatment to silence critics, a leading expert said today amid claims that at least 18 complainants were held in a mental hospital in Shandong province against their will.

    Authorities in Xintai district committed people who had pursued grievances ranging from police brutality to property disputes, according to the Beijing News, well known for its investigative journalism. Some were force-fed drugs.

  • Brave New India

    So when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says it’s the greatest internal security threat, it allows various state governments to pass all kinds of laws that could call anybody a terrorist. Say, tomorrow, they came into my house here. Just the books that I have would make me qualify as a terrorist.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Markos Moulitsas, creator of the Daily Kos on-line political magazine 01 (2005)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 20th, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts