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

05.21.09

Latest Report About Microsoft’s Newly-Found Affair with Software Patents (as Anti-FOSS Mechanism)

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 3:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

Bill Gates (when Microsoft was smaller)

Summary: A roundup of news and observations about Microsoft’s exploitation of software patents

AS THE previous post showed, Microsoft and its offshoots may be paying politicians for software patents. One of the benefits (to Microsoft) which comes out of this is that it bans competition. Microsoft’s #1 competition is GNU/Linux and Free software and the company already sues this competition using software patents which is lobbies for. Microsoft views software patents as something that the GPL is naturally vulnerable to.

LWN.net has just made public its latest debate about the TomTom/FAT case, which represents Microsoft’s first legal shot at Linux. From the article:

When Microsoft filed its lawsuit against TomTom, it named two patents which cover the VFAT filesystem. That, naturally, led to a renewed push to either (1) get those patents invalidated, or (2) move away from VFAT altogether. But some participants have advocated a third approach: find a way to work around the patents which retains most of the VFAT filesystem functionality while, with luck, avoiding any potential infringement of the claims of the patent. But, as a recently-posted patch and the ensuing discussion show, workarounds are not a straightforward solution even after the lawyers have been satisfied.

There is a rather terrible and demeaning article in Ars Technica right now. It is about Microsoft's patent propaganda book and the reviewer plays right into Microsoft’s hands, maybe intentionally.

Far from being the evil monopolist, Microsoft has in many ways become the cooperative giant—and it’s all thanks to intellectual property. The company’s IP czar takes us inside the corporate transformation in a new book, Burning the Ships, to show us how it happened (and to take a few potshots at Richard Stallman).

Glyn Moody responds to the shallow take contained in this book review, which seems only to defend Microsoft’s offensive behaviour. Software patents did not make Microsoft nicer; they only made it more ruthless and anti-competitive.

To call this “collaboration” is a perversion of language: it’s about *enslavement*, pure and simple. It’s just that Microsoft has become subtler.

Moody also shows what Microsoft has done to the idea of patenting and Microsoft’s tactics of intimidation may be working because, according to this new article, some companies seek indemnification.

But for many large enterprises, potential intellectual property (IP) lawsuits and lack of support staff still keep open source tools out of data centers.

Indemnification is also mentioned in Bluenog’s new press release — being a company that more or less uses the term “open source” for marketing purposes.

“Bluenog is disrupting today’s enterprise technology space with Bluenog ICE, an integrated suite of CMS, Portal and BI software that offers the benefits of open source, such as access to source code, backed by indemnification and the comprehensive support typical of commercial solutions,” said Suresh Kuppusamy, chief executive officer, Bluenog. “It is no small feat to be selected among the best and brightest companies competing to be winners of the Red Herrin

Some of Microsoft’s patents are rather outrageous. Take this newly-approved patent for example. It’s hilarious, it’s an embarrassment to the USPTO.

“On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by ‘making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user’s ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer’ until an ‘agreed upon sum of money’ is paid to ‘unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.’ According to Microsoft, this solves a ‘problem inherent in open architecture systems,’ i.e., ‘they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.’ An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that ‘virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.’ Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft’s eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who’s been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges.”

Regarding this news, one reader writes to us: “Microsoft Openness, I don’t think so. It just goes to demonstrate how – they aren’t ever going to stop – until they own it all.

“This ‘patent’ a perversion of everything the technology is supposed to be about. Guess who the gate keeper of of this functionality is going to be. Not content with messing with the ever changing system calls, they now want to control the whole industry at the OS level.”

Now that XBox is struggling against Nintendo Microsoft also resorts to ‘copying’ and then patenting this:

In a newly disclosed patent application, naming Allard and others as inventors, Microsoft seeks intellectual property protection for a concept described, literally, as a “MAGIC WAND.” Although it was only made public a few days ago, the application was originally filed in November 2007 — about a year after Nintendo launched the Wii, with its distinctive, wand-style controller. (Update: Timing of Nintendo’s Wii launch has been corrected since original post.)

More coverage in:

Gene Quinn, a lawyer and proponent of software patents (the more patents, the more money for lawyers) says that In Re Bilski is not bad for software patents. The patent reform (deform), which is by all means a farce, seems to have negative impact in other places where equivalents crop up. Here is one from New Zealand:

Patents Bill

[...]

I will begin by looking briefly at software. The bill proposes that software should be patentable; the opposite direction to that being pursued by the European Union. This is a very bad idea. The foremost theorist in this area is Richard Stallman. Stallman eloquently argues that the use of software patents stifles creativity, massively reduces efficiency, and can lead to whole areas of software usefulness remaining unexplored. Software patents are a substantial cause of software incompatibility, for example. He draws an analogy with the composition of a symphony. Suppose someone had patented particular chord progressions, sequences of notes, or combinations of instruments playing at the same time. What sort of problem would Beethoven have had? We regard him as a brilliant and innovative composer, but he wrote symphonies using a musical vocabulary comprised of very many musical ideas developed by multiple composers. Stallman argues that even a genius software programmer must draw on a standard vocabulary of programming ideas. If software patents are permitted, then the programmer cannot draw on such ideas without infringing patents. The consequences are that whole areas of software development are avoided lest software developers breach patents, and in other areas inefficient or otherwise unsatisfactory programmes remain in use because it is not technically feasible to develop better options because of this restriction. In this area patents are clearly a brake and a hindrance on innovation.

In the United States, patents (monopolies) are seen as the notion with which to save the economy. [via Digital Majority]

IP Enforcement As US Foreign Policy

The United States Chamber of Commerce, the largest US business group, on Monday issued a release applauding a new bill introduced into the US House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (Democrat, California) that would “enhance State Department resources and training for intellectual property enforcement efforts in countries not meeting their international obligations,” the Chamber said.

In essence, this is competitive strangulation using pieces of paper. As we showed earlier, Microsoft being the example, even crippling of an operating systems is now a US patent. Here is another funny new patent which is consumer-hostile:

MLB Gets A Patent On Making It More Difficult To Watch Your Favorite Baseball Team Online

[...]

Limiting access by subscription levels has been around forever. Combining the two hardly seems new and innovative. This seems like it should fail based on general obviousness, as well as the new tests under the KSR ruling (on obviousness) and the Bilski ruling (on pure software patents). About the only “good” that comes of this is that perhaps it means other sports leagues won’t use such an anti-fan policy.

Where is this patent system going? And other than selfishness and infinite greed, what is it that motivates Microsoft to support it?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  2. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  3. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  4. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  5. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  6. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  7. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  8. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  9. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  10. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  11. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  12. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  13. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    Links for the day



  14. Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

    Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court



  15. Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

    Links for the day



  16. How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

    Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from



  17. Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

    The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software



  18. Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

    Links for the day



  19. With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

    Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced



  20. The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

    Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public



  21. Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

    It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States' USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?



  22. Links 14/10/2014: CAINE 6, New RHEL, Dronecode

    Links for the day



  23. Microsoft's Disdain for Women Steals the Show at a Women's Event

    Steve Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, is still too tactless to lie to the audience, having been given --through subversive means -- a platform at a conference that should have shunned Microsoft, a famously misogynistic company



  24. SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the 'Copyrights on APIs' Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

    Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas



  25. Patent Lawsuits Almost Halved After SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Software Patents

    The barrier for acceptance of software patent applications is raised in the United States and patent lawsuits, many of which involve software these days, are down very sharply, based on new figures from Lex Machina



  26. Links 13/10/2014: ChromeOS and EXT, Debian Resists Systemd Domination

    Links for the day



  27. Links 12/10/2014: Blackphone Tablet, Sony's Firefox OS Port

    Links for the day



  28. Links 9/10/2014: Free Software in Germany, Lenovo Tablets With Android

    Links for the day



  29. Links 8/10/2014: A Lot of Linux+AMD News, New ROSA Desktop Is Out

    Links for the day



  30. Lawyers' Propaganda About Software Patents and a New AstroTurf Entity Called Innovation Alliance

    Patent propaganda and deception from patent lawyers (among other parasites such as patent trolls) continues to flood the Web, intersecting with reports that prove them totally wrong


CoPilotCo

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 Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts