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Patents Roundup: Microsoft Loses Visual Studio Case, Makes Acacia-Like Moves

Posted in Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Google, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 10:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IN AN IMPORTANT court case that we wrote about in [1, 2, 3], Microsoft sued WebXchange under a complex situation that more or less involved a retaliation to protect Visual Studio. Well, Microsoft has just lost the case and Law.com has this report:

For the last few months, Microsoft has been trying to pick a fight with a company called WebXchange, but Tuesday a San Francisco federal district court judge ruled there was nothing to fight about and dismissed the action.


Microsoft was seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not liable for inducement of infringement by customers that used its Visual Studio software, which allows companies to create their own business applications. The reason: In March 2008, WebXchange had sued three companies–Allstate, Dell, and FedEx–that used Visual Studio for infringement of three patents for systems that facilitate real-time transactions on the Internet. Those three companies asked Microsoft to defend and indemnify them in the suits.

Microsoft is represented by John Vandenberg of Klarquist Sparkman and Michael Bettinger of K&L Gates.

According to Wikipedia, “Notable K&L lawyers include Gates, father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former Republican Senator Rick Santorum and former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.”

Notice the inclusion there of Bill Gates’ dad and some politicians. Bill Gates’ dad was also involved in the Abramoff fiasco, so he may still be pulling a lot of strings behind the scenes (including SCO, from which he pulled money last year). We recently remarked on reports that Bill Gates’ dad leverages a lot of litigious powers and the effect is there for all to see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

“Notice the inclusion there of Bill Gates’ dad and some politicians.”Further to this, to repeat what is stated in Wikipedia, “As of December 4, 2008, K&L Gates was in merger talks with the Chicago-based firm of Bell, Boyd & Lloyd. The two partnerships agreed to merge on January 30, 2009. The combined firm will practice under the K&L Gates name and will dramatically expand the firm’s presence in Chicago and open an office in San Diego. According to legal blog Above the Law, the merger will be completed on March 1, 2009.”

If Bill Gates’ dad works with the former U.S. Attorney General, then it’s worth bearing in mind when a Microsoft-sympathetic antitrust chief gets appointed after publicly attacking Google.

This confirms some widespread allegations that Microsoft is more than just a company and somewhat of a "cult" (to borrow the word used by a Euopean government delegate) or a "political movement".

This case above was an important one also because it may have ramifications for Mono, as we explained before.

Microsoft Versus Free Software and GNU/Linux (Using Software Patents)

In other interesting news, Google’s embrace of GNU/Linux is beginning to transcend the server and popular mobile devices. Google’s Android platform is now being embraced for some sub-notebooks, so according to reports like this one, the monopolist might stifle GNU/Linux adoption using a last resort: software patents.

The problem Android creates for Microsoft is long-term. If engineers can create applications that do mirror what Window does on the PC, Redmond has a problem. But that development process could take years and could run into patent problems because of key IP rights that Microsoft has set up over the last two decades.

We have already seen the company's Bill Gates scheming to use software patents against OpenOffice.org (StarOffice at the time).

Google has another front to battle on, namely that of patent trolls. Here is a new article on the subject.

Google Inc. is going on the offensive to fight patent claims, a strategy the Internet search company says will deter frivolous lawsuits. The number of patent challenges against Google rose to 14 last year, from 11 in 2007 and three in 2006. The company wants to curb that growth by fighting rather than settling lawsuits, said Catherine Lacavera, Googles senior litigation counsel.

As was mentioned earlier, Microsoft is promoting the very same person who is engaging in the following type of behaviour:

Gutierrez, who has taken an increasingly active role in Microsoft’s intellectual-property strategy since moving back from Paris a few years ago, where he had served as Microsoft’s associate general counsel for Europe, Middle East and Africa (and where I first met him for hot chocolate and coffee), is well-known to the open-source crowd for his involvement in Microsoft’s accusations in 2007 that Linux violates 235 of Microsoft’s patents.

It is worth seeing how Microsoft wraps around ("schmoozes", to use its own terms) the very same people whom it threatens and abuses. The above is a confession from an open source company executive.

Horacio Gutierrez

Picture contributed by twitter

Acacia/Microsoft Patent Trolls

It is also important to keep track of patent trolls which accommodate Microsoft moles. Acacia is one of the bigger examples [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] and it has already attacked GNU/Linux. In its latest extortion, Acacia manages to squeeze out money from Johnson & Johnson.

Acacia Research Corp. announced that its Cardio Access subsidiary has entered into a license agreement with Johnson & Johnson covering a 1993 patent relating to medical devices.

What is going through the minds of people whose companies produce no products? The Earnings Call Transcript from Acacia (just days old) sheds light on the thinking inside firms that are all about extortion and exploitation (misuse) of a broken system.

Here is another new Acacia extortion which exploit patents on “e-commerce pricing”.

No “Change”

After appointing several pro-intellectual monopolies people to join the cabinet [1, 2, 3], Obama’s administration shows no concrete signs of that it has a roadmap for resolving this plague of intellectual monopolies.

Today IP-Watch has an amazing story of an Obama administration trip to Geneva to discuss intellectual property issues. Apparently the USPTO organized the trip, which included several Obama officials, plus these congressional staff…

There are some other articles that are worth a mention, e.g.:

i. How Reporters Contribute To Misconceptions About Patent Lawsuits

Joe Mullin has another fantastic post, discussing how way too many reporters, in covering patent disputes, mislead the public into thinking that the patent holder is accusing another company of copying its invention. The truth is that it’s very, very rare for a patent infringement lawsuit to actually involve a company that copied (or, as the patent system supporters would falsely claim, “stole”) someone else’s invention. Usually, it’s about companies coming up with a similar offering independently.

ii. The solution to the US’s patent problems are international, says former USPTO chief

It has become increasingly clear that offices all over the world face the same broad problems in getting fee structures right, deciding what requirements should be placed on applicants and dealing with the backlog. So the best way to tackle them is to work together to find solutions.

iii. Will 4G get stuck in the technology patent trap?

WCMDA offered higher capacities and more features than GSM, but operators could not substitute their 2G networks for 3G networks overnight. 3G handsets continue to support the previous generation of technology.

This trend will continue with LTE; there will probably never be a pure LTE handset – even data-only dongles are likely to be multimode. Next generation handsets will likely support LTE, WCDMA and GSM/GPRS, not to mention a number of other connection technologies such as Bluetooth, WiFi, WiMAX and RFiD.

Each additional standards-based technology will add incremental cost to the product in terms of technical complexity, but also royalty costs. The mix of other technologies expected in modern handsets such as MP3, cameras, DVB-H, GPS and touch screens increase this complexity further.

Chaos Galore

Until a solution is found and also devised, this patent system will continue to be a laughing stock. To give examples from the past few days, one company without products has patented text messages and another company has just patented underwater metal detecting. Kaspersky gets its own monopoly on software that removes viruses (i.e. a patent that can harm security) and TV guides too become the virtual ownership of one company. Security of card games is now a patent and so are universal remote controls.

Unsurprisingly, some of these trivial patents lead to spurious lawsuits which produce no innovation. They do not pass any value to customers, only additional cost.

On the brighter side of things, a patent on “asymmetric picture compression” has just been invalidated, proving that bad patents can still be challenged successfully. Why grant them in the first place though? Maybe because staff in the patent office is incentivised to accept and rarely to reject applications?

Quote of the Day: “Mono Simply Ratifies .Net”

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 8:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mono is an unnecessary implementation of the .Net platform. .Net is not a standard of any sort. Mono simply ratifies .Net. There is no need for Mono other than to ratify .Net.”

Troubling times for OpenSUSE: Discussion

Mono Microsoft brain

Bizarre ‘Marketing’: Microsoft and Novell

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Television to brainwash us all and Internet to eliminate any last resistance.”

Paul Carvel

“NOVELL does a Waggener,” explains one reader who refers to Microsoft’s giant spinner that was mentioned before in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. Specifically, the reader is referring to this bit of news about Novell hiring more PR firms to redo its public image, having recently hired one which is based in Yorkshire, England [1, 2]. So here is the latest firm whose job will be to deceive the public:

Hotwire wins Novell EMEA PR Brief

Hotwire, the international technology PR agency, today announced its appointment as the EMEA agency for Novell, a global leader in data centre, end-user computing and identity and security management solutions. The Novell pan-European account will be lead by Hotwire director Andy West and will be represented by an account team of over 25 across the region.

This is also covered in a site which is called PR Week.

Hotwire has secured a six-figure brief with global software company Novell, following a competitive pitch.

More information can be found here.

In addition to these public perception management firms which Novell is spending money on (while sacking or neglecting GNU/Linux developers), the company is tossing its commercials into YouTube. We saw many such examples about a week ago and the YouTube account called “Novell” has just added the following videos:

Novell’s PR blog has already acknowledged doing all this. They are trying to flood the Web with material that’s favourable to Novell, but they don’t use advertising space; instead, they exploit all sorts of ‘social networks’ to sneak in imposed ignorance, free of charge.

They don’t pay for it, so one can easily fall victim to the impression that this is a grassroots effort.

Microsoft too has thrown its viral marketing for OOXML into YouTube, but that’s not all. Rob Weir thinks that he found a lot more and it does not come from bribed journalists [1, 2] for a change.

Let’s start with the “Wet Paint Body Notes” blog, newly created, with only three posts. One is called “Microsoft Gets Foot in Mass. Office Door”. It starts:

In what could be a coup inwardly favour of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and a biff to the friendly wellspring league, the stipulate of Massachusetts personal added Microsoft’s Office Open XML norm to its document of give your declaration standards it will allow for elected representatives exploit.

This is a strange kind of English. It almost seems like a poor translation, or even a poor machine translation, of a document written in another language. But if you poke around a little, you find the this blog post is an unattributed garbled derivation of a 2007 article in Linux Insider. Not only was the original article in English, the reposted version truncates the article, posting only the first few paragraphs.

So what’s up with that? There are no banner ads or other obvious sources of revenue on the garbled version of the article. It is not a link farm. In fact it has no outgoing links. So why did someone bother?

Another example. The blog “75Software-News48″ has an new article “Microsoft shows support for ODF”, posted just two weeks ago, with the intro:

Amid organization hassle surrounded by wish of interoperability, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) protected Thursday announced the discovery of the Open XML Translator Project. The overhang will fry in the air permitted software to allow Word, Excel and PowerPoint to knob documents in contrary technology format.

Again, this reads like it is a poor translation from another language. But look further and you can find that the original article is actually in English, from a 2006 TechNewsWorld article.

Again, no obvious intent here. It isn’t a link farm, and there is no evident source of revenue. It isn’t informative and it certainly isn’t timely. So why did they do it?

One more example this time a LiveJournal blog called “All Microsoft”, again newly created, with a post called “Ecma Approves MS Office Format, IBM Dissents”. It opens:

Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Open XML bureau software format, broad of via the tech giant to chase near the Open Document Format (ODF), cleared a standards hurdle this week, successful approbation from the Ecma global standards article.

Same modus operandi here. Original source, unattributed, is from a 2006 Linux Insider article.

Given the Web shenanigans (spam techniques) that Microsoft or its ecosystem resorted to in order to promote OOXML, not to mention the fact that Microsoft bribes bloggers for positive coverage, one cannot help thinking of what the company calls “Effective Evangelist” [1, 2]. Those who are familiar with this confidential material have already realised that there is no level too low for Microsoft to stoop to. Microsoft even writes fake letters on behalf of dead bodies to support itself [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. It also enjoys what we refer to as "OOXML shills", not just professional goons inside ISO.

OOXML is fraud

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 21st, 2009 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 21st, 2009 – Part 1

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft’s Latest Web and Security Setbacks: A Summary

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell cloud

Silver Lie

MICROSOFT’S fight for the Web is an important one, but it is not working out too well because none of its technologies are properly adopted. Microsoft has already bribed people to boost its search engine (without success) and since Silverlight is scarcely adopted, Microsoft has resorted to “shovelware” techniques with the help of companies like H-P. Here is the type of things they do, based on the latest news.

It’s also relying on old tactics, like using Silverlight in Microsoft Web pages or to power Microsoft Web applications. For example, Microsoft uses Silverlight in its MSN Toolbar and in places like a presentation on the economic downturn on MSN Money’s Web site.

Novell too is helping Microsoft in this area, despite dismal demand.

Internet Explorer 8 (Test Build)

How well is it coming along? Here is something to serve as a clue.

All-about-Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley has reported that – out of the box – the current IE 8 release candidate will not work with at least 2,400 web sites. That’s “major” sites as defined by Microsoft and excluding many more considered too small or too niche by the company.

Microsoft continues to reinvent the wheel poorly because it implements its own rendering engine rather than decentralise the work like some other companies do (e.g. WebKit). What would Microsoft shareholders have to say, let alone Web developers whose sites arbitrarily ‘break’ every time Microsoft makes an IE release?

Internet Explorer 6

This Web browser is so obnoxious to users and Webmasters alike that people in the home or Opera work on some kind of a gentle boycott.

Norwegian web sites are campaigning to have users dump Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 for a modern browser.

This news is also covered here and here.

Internet Explorer 7

Microsoft’s current Web browser is IE7 and it’s under attacks at the moment.

Internet attack trackers and antivirus companies warn that a flaw in Internet Explorer 7 (but not earlier versions) that Microsoft just patched last week is under attack in the wild. The attacks appear to be targeted and small-scale right now, but will likely grow.

Trend Micro describes a somewhat roundabout attack that starts with an e-mailed .doc file that, when opened, exploits the MS09-002 vulnerability to download and install remote-control backdoor malware.

This was also covered in The Register.

More (In)Security

There is a lot more going in this critical area of security. Blame-shifting has not exactly worked charmingly for Microsoft because Conficker is causing great damage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and now come the mutant-variants which can probably dodge detection.

The criminals behind the widespread Conficker worm have released a new version of the malware that could signal a major shift in the way the worm operates.

The new variant, dubbed Conficker B++, was spotted three days ago by SRI International researchers, who published details of the new code on Thursday. To the untrained eye, the new variant looks almost identical to the previous version of the worm, Conficker B. But the B++ variant uses new techniques to download software, giving its creators more flexibility in what they can do with infected machines.

Other online services of Microsoft are being exploited by crackers. Xbox Live is one example.

Hackers target Xbox Live players

Xbox Live is being targeted by malicious hackers selling services that kick players off the network.

This is not the first problem of this kind. Previously, there was a massive blunder where people’s Xbox Live accounts were being hijacked and Microsoft couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.

Adding to the existing troubles Microsoft causes to E-mail, there is this:

Spammers have cracked Microsoft Corp. ‘s latest defense against abuse of its Live Hotmail e-mail service using a sophisticated network of hacked computers that receive encrypted instructions from a central server, a security company has reported.

Lastly, regarding reliability concerns, the Microsoft-dominated NHS, just like the Microsoft-dominated LSE, has crashed pretty badly.

The database that stores vital medical information on millions of NHS patients crashed last week.

Haven’t any lessons been learned by UK healthcare [1, 2]? Microsoft does not belong in critical operations where life is at stake.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

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