09.10.09

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Red Hat: Microsoft Marketed Its Patents for Trolls to Attack Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 7:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Breaking in

Summary: Red Hat reveals details about Microsoft’s marketing of anti-FOSS patents; other patent news summarised

RED Hat has already asked Microsoft to stop the patent racketeering, but Microsoft carries on with the usual FUD-based aggression while smiling and sending out PR drones like Sam Ramji [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and Robert Duffner. “Smiling” as in, “We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger,” to quote Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President, Jim Allchin.

“…Microsoft may be passing some patents for them to attack Linux without it appearing too suspicious and without Microsoft seeming like an involved party.”Microsoft has some big patent trolls at its disposal and as we argued yesterday, Microsoft may be passing some patents for them to attack Linux without it appearing too suspicious and without Microsoft seeming like an involved party. It was the same with SCO. Larry Goldfarb, a key investor in SCO, said that “Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.” He also said (under oath even) that Microsoft’s “Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”

Red Hat has just published some interesting details that are packed together right here:

Red Hat accuses Microsoft of patent FUD

[...]

Red Hat blogged that the patents acquired by OIN were being marketed by Microsoft to patent trolls.

“It also used marketing materials that highlighted offensive uses of the patents against open source software, including a number of the most popular open source packages,” Red Hat blogged. “This looked to us like a classic FUD effort. To unleash FUD, you assemble a lot of patents of uncertain value, annotate them with a roadmap for the companies and products to be targeted with the patents, put the lot in the hands of trolls schooled in patent aggression, and then stand back and wait for the FUD to spread with its chilling effect.”

Darryl Taft, who is sometimes sympathetic towards Microsoft, wrote about OIN’s reaction. In general, there is so much interest in this from the Microsoft crowd. For example, here is Microsoft’s de facto PR person (Fried) trying to set the tone and Mary Jo Foley doing likewise. Her colleague, the pro-Microsoft Gavin Clarke, opens up with the deceiving line which says: “Microsoft has placed a clutch of Silicon Graphics patents in the hands of those trying to defend Linux and open-source against trolls.”

It sure makes it sound like Microsoft does something nice, doesn’t it?

In the mailing lists that oppose software patents (and support their abolition), one person opined that “it just means that the patents are not worth much more than this PR stunt is for OIN…”

As a reminder from the news:

The Open Invention Network includes IBM, Cisco and HP. The group’s web site states that its mission is to work for a “positive, fertile ecosystem for Linux, which in turn drives innovation and choice in the global marketplace”.

Another person, whom we shall quote anonymously, argues:

Companies like IBM, RedHat, Canonical, etc. are acquiring as many patents as they can, either directly or with initiatives like OIN. From e.g. Nokia we know that what is at the beginning a defensive strategy can become an aggressive one at any time.

Maybe sooner than later the OIN members start asking ‘politely’ to provide free software throw them, but not independently. That would be the beginning of the end of the free software movement, and maybe what MS is looking for.

What will be better against FLOSS than to convince to as many FLOSS-players as possible that software patents are very profitable?

Will governments use Debian instead of RedHat if software patents are an issue?

Here is the original report in full and some more coverage of interest:

Microsoft Corp ( MSFT – news – people ) has suggested in recent years that companies using the Linux computer-operating system might be violating Microsoft patents. Now, in an effort to avert any legal threat that might discourage the adoption of Linux, a group of Microsoft rivals is about to acquire a set of patents formerly owned by the software giant.

More here:

# Pro-Linux group closes in on MSFT patents. The Open Invention Network, a group which supports open-source software and includes such giants as IBM (IBM) and Sony (SNE), is nearing an agreement to acquire 22 of Microsoft’s (MSFT) patents in an effort to avoid any legal threats that could discourage the adoption of Linux. Microsoft has suggested in the past that the Linux operating system may violate some of its patents. The patents are currently held by Allied Security Trust, which bought the patents from Microsoft earlier this year.

Other coverage did not add much to what was already known and the secrecy surrounding the OIN helps not at all.

Why did open source group buy Microsoft patents?

[...]

As well, since Microsoft licenses some of its patents to Novell (under their patent covenant agreement), those are the patents that I see as being key. It is unlikely that Microsoft has sold any of those core patents as it would invalidate the need for part of the Novell deal.

OIN, whose members include IBM, Red Hat and other key Linux vendors is all about making royalty-free patents available to open source developers.

Whenever the OIN decides to open up and actually be OPEN and talk to more media than just the WSJ, I’m sure the full story will come out (and I’ll update appropriately). Either way, this is a win for open source as it removes the risk from 22 patents to developers and users.

The risk will be properly removed (and perhaps permanently mitigated) when mathematics cannot be owned by people and companies. OIN is still legitimising software patents by taking this approach which it always takes. Maybe it’s better than nothing, but the companies behind OIN have sufficient influence to challenge the very legality of such patents; unlike the FFII, they typically choose not to do this.

The truth is that some of these companies exploit software patents and use them to their own advantage because they can afford it. As the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] neatly shows, big companies like Microsoft can also ignore software patents whenever it suits them. They are in control of this self-serving system. Here is the latest from i4i: “Plaintiff in Word case says that Microsoft destroyed its business”

It adds later that i4i now operates “almost entirely in the specialized niche market of the pharmaceutical industry,” but notes that some of those companies have been unwilling to purchase its product because they can get the functionality within the Microsoft word-processing program.

Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison has already said that Microsoft’s business strategy is to “copy the product that others innovate, put them into Windows so they can’t be unplugged, and then give it away for free.”

In other patent news, Glyn Moody emphasises that “intellectual monopolies [are] not [the] same as innovation,” linking to this article from EurActiv. At EurActiv, they often cite the wrong people when it comes to SMBs; for instance, Jonathan Zuck (Association for Competitive Technology) fakes being a speaker for their (SMBs’) interests; he is a Microsoft lobbyist.

Intel is another company that’s known for its aggression with patents, but even Intel’s Andy Grove can be seen once again criticising the patent system/practices. Mike Masnick points it out as follows:

Earlier this year, we wrote about a rather thoughtful analysis of the problems of the patent system by Intel founder and former CEO Andy Grove. His view was that patents separate the important part (the actual innovation) from the “asset” (the patent), and that allows for bad behavior. He compared it to mortgage-backed securities, where the underlying mortgages were completely separated from the “asset,” and bad behavior ensued.

Here is another story of a company that arguably revolves around a software patent.

Aviv Refuah, the young CEO of the public Israeli company Netex Corporation, has managed to score a US patent on an internet search option developed by the company he founded that could well force major Internet search players like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to cough up royalties for future use of the technology.

Refuah, who started the company 12 years ago when he was barely 17 years old, is careful not to overestimate the awarding of the patent and the possible outcome for now, but that didn’t stop the company’s stock from soaring yesterday.

Is licensing — as opposed to production and servicing — really valuable output? How about the novelty? What are the economic impacts and the effect on science and technology? These questions are rarely being asked.

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A Single Comment

  1. iviewit said,

    September 11, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Gravatar

    Perhaps the patent shuffle has more to do with the SGI and Microsoft involvement in Trillion Dollar lawsuit.

    IVIEWIT TRILLION $$ FED SUIT DEFENDANT PROSKAUER ROSE SUED IN GLOBAL CLASS ACTION RE STANFORD PONZI
    http://www.free-press-release.com/news-iviewit-trillion-fed-suit-defendant-proskauer-rose-sued-in-global-class-action-re-stanford-ponzi-1252249099.html for full press release

    IVIEWIT TRILLION $$ FED SUIT DEFENDANT PROSKAUER ROSE SUED IN GLOBAL CLASS ACTION RE ALLEN STANFORD PONZI

    Proskauer Rose Sued in Stanford Ponzi – Blood Oaths with Regulators – Iviewit Suit “LEGALLY” related to NY Supreme Court Whistleblower Christine Anderson Heading to Trial with Judge Shira Scheindlin

    Whistleblower Suit Set for Trial

    As the public federal trial of systemic corruption allegations inside the NY State Supreme Court Appellate Division First Department (First Dept) approaches, more bad news for the Proskauer Rose law firm erupted. Last week WSJ reported CFO of Stanford Financial Group, James Davis, involved in the $7 Billion Robert Allen Stanford Ponzi. Davis pleaded Guilty to fed charges while appearing to implicate counsel Proskauer & partner Thomas Sjoblom orchestrating a plan to Obstruct SEC & FBI investigations into Stanford & more. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/08/28/sjoblom-proskauer-rose-face-fallout-from-stanford-affair

    Christine C. Anderson a former Staff Attorney at the First Dept filed WHISTLEBLOWER allegations in a fed suit slated for trial Oct 13 in US District Court Southern District NY (USDC), Anderson v State of NY, 07cv09599. http://iviewit.tv/press/press1.pdf

    Anderson’s suit adjudicated by Judge Shira Scheindlin contains allegations of retaliation against Anderson for termination from her job of 6 yrs, after Anderson exposed systemic Whitewashing & Obstruction inside the First Dept, claiming favoritism by the First Dept for favored law firms & attorneys. http://exposecorruptcourts.blogspot.com/2009/04/andersons-10-million-lawsuit-proceeds.html & http://iviewit.tv/press/press2.pdf

    Anderson’s suit set to bring volcanic like testimony involving public office corruption & testimony by officials of the NY State Unified Court system, including Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Presiding Judge at the First Dept during the firing of Anderson. Along with Lippman will be Defendants in Anderson, First Dept Supervisor Sherry Cohen, Former Chief Counsel Thomas J. Cahill, Hon John Buckley, David Spokony & Catherine O’Hagen Wolfe, Clerk @ US Second Circuit Court of Appeals (USCA), an initial Anderson defendant in her former job as Clerk for the First Dept, now witness in Anderson. Anderson claims Physical Abuse & Harassment by Cohen for her heroic WHISTLEBLOWING, Anderson gave riveting testimony to the NY Senate Judiciary Committee headed by former Proskauer asst Sen. John L. Sampson. Anderson testimony @ 30min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HR8OX8uuAbw&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fiviewit%2Etv%2F&feature=player_embedded

    Prior to permitting Anderson to trial, Scheindlin marked 7 suits, including Iviewit’s Trillion Dollar suit http://iviewit.tv/press/press3.pdf legally “related” to Anderson.

    Proskauer Ties to Stanford, Madoff & Dreier

    The Stanford Ponzi investigation may be the card that knocks down the house of cards at Proskauer. Uncovering of the $65 Billion Madoff Ponzi led the SEC & FBI to intensify investigations into Stanford,

    ‘Perhaps the most alarming is that Stanford Investment Bank has exposure to losses from the Madoff fraud scheme despite the bank’s public assurance to the contrary’, said the SEC. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5759709.ece

    Ironically, Sjoblom worked for the SEC & now is implicated in FBI & SEC actions, advising client Stanford on “how” to lie to the SEC. Huffington Post on Feb 20, 09 claims,

    Sjoblom, a partner at law firm Proskauer Rose doing work for Stanford’s company’s Antigua affiliate, told authorities that he ‘disaffirmed’ everything he had told them to date…Sjoblom spent nearly 20 years at the SEC, & served as an Asst Chief Litigation Counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement from 1987-1999.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-h-green/mini-madoff-scandal-scale_b_168486.html

    Bloomberg on Jan 14, 09 states,

    The week after Bernard Madoff was charged with running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, Proskauer Rose…offered a telephone briefing on the scandal for its wealthy clients. With only a day’s notice, 1,300 Madoff investors dialed in. ‘This is a financial 9/11 for our clients’, said Proskauer litigation partner Gregg Mashberg…‘People are dying for information.’ http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aO32KOhrPtRw&refer=us

    Following the “client” call, investigations began into major “clients” involved in Madoff, Proskauer having perhaps the most Madoff “clients”, many who originally claimed to be victims may now be accomplice. SEC OIG delivered a stinging report on Madoff harshly criticizing lax regulators for overlooking the Madoff information from WHISTLEBLOWERS & others inside the SEC, for years. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/government/report-set-criticize-sec-madoff-scheme/

    Proskauer has further ties to Madoff according to TPM, in 2004 an SEC attorney, Genevievette Walker-Lightfoot, notified the SEC of the Ponzi but was forced out of her job, the SEC later settling a claim filed by Lightfoot. Upon termination, Lightfoot turned over the Madoff file to Jacqueline Wood who then presumably buried the report that could have exposed the Ponzi in 04. SEC OIG’s report mentions Wood of Proskauer throughout the entire report as a key figure in the regulatory failure. http://www.sec.gov/news/studies/2009/oig-509.pdf

    After leaving the SEC, Wood took a Proskauer partnership. http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/mrs_panstreppon/2009/07/bernie-madoff-sec-investigator.php?ref=reccafe

    Laura Pendergest-Holt, Stanford’s CIO, criminally charged in the Stanford investigation, then filed a civil suit against Proskauer & Sjoblom claiming they “hung her out to dry” before the SEC. Meanwhile, Sjoblom solicited a multi-million dollar retainer from Stanford’s Chairman, A. Stanford, the night before the events with Holt at the SEC. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=41707

    WSJ reports filing of a Class Action suit against Sjoblom & Proskauer in TX after Davis’ incriminating plea agreement implicated Proskauer, seeking damages for the entire $7 Billion in damages for Proskauer’s role Aiding & Abetting,

    The civil suit is largely based on a plea agreement that we mentioned in this post yesterday, which focuses in part of the alleged actions of Sjoblom, who became outside counsel for Stanford’s international bank based in Antigua in the Caribbean starting in 05. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/08/28/sjoblom-proskauer-rose-face-fallout-from-stanford-affair/

    Another defendant in the Iviewit Lawsuit, convicted felon Marc S. Dreier, found orchestrating yet another bizarre Ponzi, in the Dreier scheme, we find former Proskauer partner Sheila M. Gowan as bankruptcy trustee in the suit. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/01/02/former-ausa-selected-as-bankruptcy-trustee-in-dreier-case

    NY Attorney General Defendant in Iviewit Suit

    While acting as the NY Gov, Eliot Spitzer, former NY AG, reached out to his former Deputy AG Dietrich Snell who left the AG to take a Proskauer partnership, in order for Snell to act as defense counsel for Spitzer during the TrooperGate / HookerGate scandals, resulting in Spitzer’s resignation. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/10/13/2007-10-13_spitzer_hiring_city_lawyer_on_taxpayer_e.html

    Snell working for Spitzer at the NY AG when Iviewit filed complaints with the First Dept & NY AG against attorneys involved in the patent thefts. Spitzer a named Defendant in the suit, other Defendants include First Dept, law firms ( Proskauer Rose, Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Schlissel, Foley & Lardner ) & corp defendants include, Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Silicon Graphics, Inc., IBM, MPEG-LA, LLC, Crossbow Ventures, Wayne Huizenga, & many more.

    Cease & Desist

    Iviewit secured seed funding from billionaire Wayne Huizenga & Crossbow Ventures whose investments were two-thirds SBA funds. Iviewit signed & executed NDAs, licensing agreements & strategic alliances starting in 1998 with many Fortune 1000 companies. Companies with signed agreements include; Real 3D, Inc., ( a consortium of Intel, Lockheed & SGI ) Dell, Wachovia, Warner Bros., AOLTW, Raymond James, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, CIBC World Markets / Oppenheimer, Kodak, Motorola, General Instrument Corporation, Paine Webber, Pequot, Sony, MGM, NCR & more.

    Recent formal Cease & Desist & Demand Letters have gone out to major players Intel, Lockheed & SGI, who formed Real 3D, where leading experts & engineers from the companies tested & used the technologies. Iviewit filed a formal complaint to SEC Chairperson, Mary Shapiro against Intel & others. The complaints filed for possible violations of FASB No. 5 resulting from possible failure to report liabilities to Shareholders. Liabilities resulting from the Trillion Dollar suit they are named defendants in & failure to report liabilities resulting from knowing & willful infringement in violation of signed agreements for almost 10 yrs. Accounting for the liabilities should appear in the Annual Report to Stockholders as required under FASB. http://iviewit.tv/press/press4.pdf

    In recent patent disputes, settlement in excess of $600M was reached involving RIM Blackberry & NTP on the strength of an NDA. http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/03/technology/rimm_ntp/

    Microsoft was issued an Injunction that awarded hundreds of millions in damages to i4i, for willful infringement of technologies embedded in MS Word. The injunction also forces a product recall of ALL products with MS Word since 2003. http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=582697AC-1A64-6A71-CE533A73F07D7ED4

    Injunction in the Iviewit suit forcing a Cease & Desist & product recall would shut down internet video, reduce digital TV channels by over 75%, recall hardware & software that uses the technologies since 1998, a recall unparalleled in history. The Iviewit matters involve investigations ongoing with the DOJ, DOJ OIG Glenn Fine, Harry Moatz, Director OED US Patent Office, the FBI OPR, the SBA OIG, former US AG Michael Mukasey, current US AG Eric H. Holder, Jr & more. Feb 09 petition to President Barack Obama & Holder @ http://iviewit.tv/press/press5.pdf

    News

    http://iviewit.tv/press/index.htm
    Eliot I. Bernstein
    Inventor
    Iviewit Holdings, Inc. – DL
    Iviewit Holdings, Inc. – DL
    Iviewit Holdings, Inc. – FL
    Iviewit Technologies, Inc. – DL
    Uview.com, Inc. – DL
    Iviewit.com, Inc. – FL
    Iviewit.com, Inc. – DL
    I.C., Inc. – FL
    Iviewit.com LLC – DL
    Iviewit LLC – DL
    Iviewit Corporation – FL
    Iviewit, Inc. – FL
    Iviewit, Inc. – DL
    Iviewit Corporation
    2753 N.W. 34th St.
    Boca Raton, Florida 33434-3459
    (561) 245.8588 (o)
    (561) 886.7628 (c)
    (561) 245-8644 (f)
    iviewit@iviewit.tv
    http://www.iviewit.tv
    http://iviewit.tv/wordpress/
    http://iviewit.tv/wordpresseliot/

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