Jacqueline de Rojas was appointed head of Novell UK a year and a half ago [1, 2, 3, 4] and now she’s leaving.
Software vendor Novell has appointed Sean McCarry to spearhead the UK and Ireland’s sales, marketing and partner strategies.
Replacing Jacqueline de Rojas, who is leaving to pursue other interests, McCarry has taken on the role of UK and Ireland country manager.
This come after channel turbulence at Novell. Novell’s EMEA president even quit the company.
Over at the OpenSUSE project, it turns out that one of the volunteers, namely a guy who ran People of openSUSE, is stepping down from this role.
Anyway, Carlos the previous maintainer of the series can’t do it anymore because of time reasons. It would be a shame if we let it die … If someone from the community is willing to do that job? It could be even a small team, there is no strict schedule when to release an interview, and everybody will love you
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An apparatus for stifling competition
THE LINUX Defenders initiative makes a small comeback [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] with this IDG article that puts it among the headlines. It doesn’t really present any new information, though.
Are you tired of hearing of patents granted for obvious innovations? Are you weary of hearing about old patents that are purchased by firms like Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro which “concentrates its practice in intellectual property law” and became notorious as a hugely successful “patent troll”? Do you think that the people suing Google, Apple and Microsoft for infringement of a patent ludicrously granted for “a system and method for iconic software environment management” that they claim covers thumbnail images should be granted their day in court?
Linux Defenders faces challenges not only from Linux foes like Microsoft but also from its trolls, which we’ll come to in a moment.
Microsoft has meanwhile patented the utterly trivial.
Microsoft has asked for a patent to protect its idea for a smartphone docking cradle that would turn your handheld into a mini-laptop.
This was also covered in:
The more one reads, the more laughable it seems. This is also covered here and it’s preposterous.
A few days ago we wrote about patent hawks and Microsoft. Well, here is a decent analysis from Mike Masnick, who is always hostile towards software patents.
Microsoft Claims Patent Holder Got A Job At Microsoft To Get Info Used In Patent Lawsuits
We see all sorts of strange patent-related lawsuits around here, but this one probably qualifies for the most extreme attempt by a patent holder to come up with info for the sake of a patent lawsuit. Apparently (and this is according to Microsoft), Miki Mullor, CEO of a company called Ancora Technologies, applied for a job at Microsoft while still working for Ancora.
There are still some more articles where Microsoft’s charges are being publicly denied.
Here is another silly Microsoft patent.
Last week, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office made public a new Microsoft patent application titled “Content Management System and External Data Storage System Data Synchronization.” (Interestingly, it specifically mentions SharePoint by name.)
Microsoft is basically trying to patent the idea of letting data synchronization be triggered by administrator actions in a content management system. According to the Abstract of the application: “In one example, an administrator creates or modifies an event at the content management system, and if the event is coordinated with the external data storage system, the content management system is synchronized with the external data storage system.”
The bigger among patent trolls, Acacia, is still on a mission to collect more software patents and then use them for extortion or litigation. It is a form of racketeering and it remains very relevant to us because Acacia may be close to Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] and it is not reluctant to attack Free software. Since if offers no products, it just hasn’t a reputation to harbour. Here is the company’s latest extortion:
Acacia Research Corp. (ACTG: News ) said its Hospital Systems Corp. subsidiary has entered into a license agreement with Intelerad Medical Systems covering a portfolio of patents that apply to medical picture archiving and communication system technology.
An even bigger troll (probably the world’s biggest troll) is Nathan Myhrvold and his company which is backed by Microsoft. We wrote about this Übertroll some days ago and now comes this report.
Transmeta IP sold to not-patent troll
IV said it grabbed 140 US patents and “a substantial number” of pending patent applications issued in the US and abroad. The firm intends to license the technology to other vendors on non-exclusive terms. IV is run by former Microsoft chief technology officer-turned-IP collector, Nathan Myhrvold. It claims to have more than 2,000 patents in the semiconductor field.
It’s funny how the press is scared of labeling IV a “troll”, despite all the extortions it quietly engaged in (e.g. with Cisco).
There is great deal of hypocrisy in Microsoft which used to dislike patents and began hailing them when it needed fences to defend a monopoly. The same goes for Apple, as the following good analysis shows rather vividly using actual quotes.
For all the talk among patent system defenders about how patents are most necessary for young startup companies that need to grow, most tech startups couldn’t care much less about patents (other than as a bogus currency to increase their valuation in talking to VCs). Startups are focused on actually building a product and getting it out to the market. Instead, what we see time and time again is that it’s the big, more established companies that use patents to stifle startups, rather than the other way around. Startups innovate, while big companies litigate.
The company was incredibly open in sharing ideas and concepts, and wasn’t going around threatening others for ripping off its IP (that did come later… especially with the graphical user interface, which Jobs himself admitted “ripping off” from Xerox… which had “ripped it off” already from SRI). It’s really only when you’re afraid of competing in the marketplace that you rely on patents. When you’re young and innovative you focus on the possibilities and opportunities in front of you, rather than on ways to block others from innovating.
These days, Apple is too busy supposedly “innovating”.
In a newly published patent filing (#20090022329) known as the “Method and Apparatus for Using a Sound Sensor to Adjust the Audio Output for a Device,” Apple is working on a system that automatically adjusts the volume of the iPhone, iPods, and Macs based on a combination of ambient noise and user feedback.
Does that sound sophisticated? Is it an idea worthy of ownership and assignment to a person or one company? As TechDirt correctly points out, Apple might be doing itself more harm than good by sheltering this antiquated attitude towards software patents.
After Palm showed off its new Pre smartphone, including the device’s multitouch interface, at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Apple made some threatening noises about how it would go after anybody who “ripped off” its intellectual property. As always, we didn’t see how this would benefit anybody in the marketplace, since competition pays benefits to consumers, and drives participants, even Apple, to continually innovate and improve their products. Now, a wireless industry analyst has called Apple’s threats into question. He makes the point that a long, drawn out IP fight won’t help Apple’s business in the long run: “Building on the company’s legacy as one of the greatest innovators in the technology industry may be a smarter business model than taking on the rest of the industry in a battle that may be impossible to win.”
Why does Apple make itself enemies?
More Patent Trolls
To demonstrate the failure of the patent system, trolls are pretty handy. Here are some new reports of interest:
1. Coughlin Files Major Patent Infringement Suit
Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP, the world’s leading plaintiffs’ law firm, representing IntusIQ, announced that it has filed a major patent infringement suit against Oncor, Reliant Energy, Comverge, Datamatic, EKA Systems, Sensus, Tantalus, Tendril Networks, and Trilliant on behalf of its client IPCO LLC d/b/a IntusIQ.
2. Will the ITC Become the New Troll Hangout?
Each year a growing number of IP lawyers heads to the International Trade Commission, asking officials there to enforce Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. That Depression-era law forbids various “unfair trade practices,” including the importation of products that infringe a U.S. patent–the goal is protecting domestic industries and jobs.
3. Troll Tracker update: Frenkel told the truth, says Cisco
There’s a lot of information here, but the takeaway point is this: Cisco says Frenkel’s articles were accurate. And in the United States, of course, you’re allowed to publish true information, even if it hurts someone. What Albritton said was defamatory was either true (the docket was altered), or fell into the categories of opinion and rhetoric (words like “conspiracy”) or just wasn’t about him, says Cisco’s lawyer, Charles Babcock of Jackson Walker.
For those who are interested, we already have a complete copy of the Patent TrollTracker blog, which was pulled because of the trolls. We also wrote about Rick Frenkel in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
Software patents may actually vanish from the United States rather than expand to other countries. Here is an interesting analysis.
As I noted at the time it was decided, people care about Bilski largely because of what it says about legality of software patents. Software patents are intensely controversial, with many geeks arguing that the software industry would be better off without them. What I found striking about the conversation was that both guests (and perhaps the host, although he didn’t tip his hand as much) took it as self-evident that there needed to be patents on software and business methods
Here is a more formal page about the Bilski petition and some new coverage about Peer-to-Patent, courtesy of Mark Webbink.
Earlier, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) opened the patent examination process for online public participation. With the consent of the inventor, the Peer-to-Patent: Community Patent Review pilot, developed by the New York Law School Institute for Information Law and Policy in cooperation with the USPTO, enables the public to submit prior art and commentary relevant to the claims of pending patent applications in Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security (TC2100).
The Enlarged Board of Appeal will be handling ambiguity or mixed messages with regards to software patents in the European continent. We’ve mentioned all this in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], but the main reports are in [1, 2]. Here are the latest two updates: [via Digital Majority]
1. G 3/08: Have your say
This month’s Official Journal of the EPO contains an announcement relating to the EPO President’s referral under Article 112(1)(b) EPC on software patents. As well as reproducing the questions first announced back in October 2008 (commented on by the IPKat here, here and here) and the composition of the board, the announcement says the following:
“It is expected that third parties will wish to use the opportunity to file written statements in accordance with Article 10 of the Rules of Procedure of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (OJ EPO 2007, 303 ff). To ensure that any such statements can be given due consideration they should be filed together with any new cited documents by the end of April 2009 at the Registry of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, quoting case number G 3/08. An additional filing of the statement and documents in electronic form would be appreciated (Dg3registry_eba@epo.org).”
2. EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal to Clarify Software Patentability
The President of the European Patent Office (EPO) has referred several questions of law to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) in an attempt to clarify the patentability of software-based inventions.
Patents are a partly philosophical issue. At the end of the day, let’s ask ourselves, what’s it all good for? Some people already ask this sort of question.
Are My Ideas Being Stolen? If So, What Then?
“…Folks, it’s not the ideas; it’s design, implementation, and especially hard work that make the difference.”
Considerable difference in opinion is also expressed in the Web site NewEconomyPatents.org.
After hearing oral arguments on May 8, 2008, in the patent case In re Bilski, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the Federal Circuit) reached a 9-3 decision on Oct. 30, 2008 to uphold the ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The appeal followed the rejection by the USPTO of a patent application for a process for hedge fund risk management, filed by inventors Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw.
In Re Bilski is not over yet. As FFII had correctly predicted, lobbying was bound to ensue. █
“IBM is proud of its patent portfolio, and the fact that they produce patents at a rate of 10 a day. With such an extensive arsenal of patents, backed by unlimited legal funds – what chances are left for the VC backed company? This is like the US going to war against Micronesia.” —Daniel Cohen, Gemini Israel Funds
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Genuine disadvantage, limited potential
SHADES OF EDGI SEEM to be ‘bolted onto’ Vista 7, which comes in some form of “EDGI Edition” (but better known as “Starter Edition”).
Microsoft’s delivery/promotional tool is presenting this message over at CNET where the role of Bill Veghte gets mentioned too. For those who cannot remember, Bill Veghte was involved in what we call the “analysts cartel” (examples in [1, 2]) and he also helped derails Dell GNU/Linux, along with some involvement in Intel’s anti-Linux [1, 2].
Anyway, here’s what we find in Vista 7:
Home Basic, which will be sold only in emerging markets, removes the screen size, processor, and open application limits and adds support for Internet connection sharing and the new sensor and location-based features.
It will be sold “only in emerging markets,” eh? Why might this be? Because Microsoft knows that GNU/Linux gains there tremendously? Only hours ago we wrote about Brazil getting hundreds of thousands more GNU/Linux PCs.
IDG has some more information about this news.
Windows 7 Starter Edition
The Starter Edition (SE) is mainly aimed at emerging market and netbook users. With SE customers will be able to run only 3 applications at the same time but will benefit from user interface (UI) improvements such as the new taskbar and JumpLists.
More details can be found here. It is also amusing to discover that sub-notebooks will have the option of running a heavily-crippled version of Vista**. Why not GNU/Linux? Because of Microsoft’s strangulation tactics [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]? █
United we stand against digital colonialism
** Roughly Drafted has just described Vista 7 as follows: “Microsoft is getting ready to relaunch Vista under the new “Windows 7” brand, in the hopes that Windows XP users find it worth the upgrade.”
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“I found this issue in a newsletter from an Italian political party that I think is lunatic,” says one reader, “but the issue is an important issue [...] the deliberate sabotage of motherboards to only work with Windows.”
This is a familiar issue. What Microsoft does in Italy is bordering the illegal, so below we are presenting this portion of text that was sent in by a regular reader.
On the substitution of operational systems of portable computers
Several Italian consumers declared the problem in acquiring portable computers furnished with pre-installed operational systems. In particular, when one decides to substitute the furnished operational system with an HP computer, there have been cases of technical impossibility in de-installing the pre-installed system (Windows Vista) and substituting it with a different one. Restoring disks furnished with the portable computers do not solve the problem and the only solution seems to be, in all its complexities, the substitution of the apparatus, often made impossible by the manufacturer. With reference to the answer already given by the EC in 2007, the Radical MEPs asked if the EC is in possession of data related to the percentage of portables sold with the pre-installed systems and if not, if it intends to gather information on the present situation; if it does not think that, independently of the trade agreements between producers of hardwares and softwares, consumer rights must be guaranteed in renouncing the softwares furnished with the purchase and change it as one pleases and if it intends to take an initiative against the incorrect practices of producers that constrain consumers’ choices. (L. Lipparini)
Microsoft still fights against unbundling [1, 2, 3, 4]. As its chief puts it, OEMs are Microsoft’s “delivery people”. █
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DESPITE Microsoft’s bad behaviour, some FOSS groups are successfully being lobbied to give room to this hostile company. It is a company that actively fights against Free(dom) software and one whose plan is to ruin by supposedly 'embracing'.
We used OpenBravo as example a couple of days ago and now comes similar tactlessness which relates Digium’s conference.
Instead of ignoring open source conferences, Microsoft continues to invade them. The latest example: John Frederiksen (pictured), general manager of Microsoft’s Response Point business, is scheduled to speak at Digium AsteriskWorld on February 3. Why is Microsoft paying such close attention to an event for open source IP PBX advocates? The answer is obvious.
Why is this happening? Did they not learn from disasters like Microsoft at OSBC 2008 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]?
As one commenter puts it (regarding the article about OpenBravo), the people are “on leave from MSFT”
I’ve often wondered how many Microsoft employees have been released on leave to get into other companies only to return to Microsoft with details for harming that other company. They have paid for partners to subvert ISO processes, they have assigned a dozen or so employees just to one reporter to ensure that reporter get Microsoft’s story told Microsoft’s way. And they’ve used various leverages to curtail their partners from profiting from non-Microsoft products.
I would trust a Microsoft employee as far as I could throw them. They have been that bad in the past and present.
Regarding the latter article (Microsoft speaker), says one person: “When will people learn?”
Here is another insightful remark that’s titled “why are they allowed to invade other companies conferences.”
Who are the morons who think anything a Microsoft rep is going to say is going to benefit the people at the conference? They lie in court, they pay people to flood industry standards org to get their way, etc ,etc etc. Microst is bad news to anyone doing open source and especially anything Gnu/Linux based.
So here we are with an Asterisk conference and Microsoft gets a session? They do not play with Asterisk, they play with their own platforms( Windows ) products and one they own. Now what kind of idiotic reasoning could someone have to allow them into the conference to speak to Asterisk customers and think those customers will be getting anything but lies, smoke, and mirror tricks and the normal Microsoft marketing pitch?
Microsoft is not a friend. It can’t afford to. It’s its obligation to the investors to steal from other people by causing them damage [1, 2]. Ultimately, as Microsoft's evangelism presentations state, they are all “here to help MICROSOFT.” It’s about turning competitors into serving allies, i.e. part of the Microsoft ecosystem.
Watch Novell’s Joe Brockmeier over at OStatic again. Never does he criticise a criminal company (with proven record), but he feels comfortable enough to publicly slam many of Microsoft’s rivals, this time Oracle. At least he appends a disclosure.
Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier is a longtime FOSS advocate, and currently works for Novell as the community manager for openSUSE. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist covering the open source beat for a number of publications, including Linux Magazine, Linux Weekly News, Linux.com, UnixReview.com, IBM developerWorks, and many others.
Perhaps because his current employer is a Microsoft ally, never does he really criticise Microsoft, even in FOSS Web sites. Just Apple, Google and on [1, 2]. Yes, they are the villains when Microsoft pays your wage. █
“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
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