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Summary: Patent news from the United States, Europe, and a middle-eastern nation
Responding to a lawsuit brought against the company by Nokia, Apple® today filed a countersuit claiming that Nokia is infringing 13 Apple patents.
Apple’s response is covered in many news sites [1, 2, 3] and even the Web site of Miguel de Icaza, who refused the see the writings on the wall when Microsoft sued TomTom (and before the FSF made its famous statement regarding Mono).
Over in the UK, the government is doing something rather bizarre with patents:
On the assumption that this is not a practical joke, it now seems that the British government is set to tax the fruits of research and development in order to fund … research and development. What a wonderful incentive to invest, particularly when other countries are encouraging R&D by doing the exact opposite. Merpel says, don’t worry: Britain’s best tax brains will soon find ways of showing that the income in question isn’t derived from patents at all, and the government’s coffers will be none the fuller.
See the comment from Sun’s Simon Phipps (a Brit).
Another Brit, Glyn Moody, has found even more bizarre stuff:
Objectivists: ‘All Property is Intellectual Property’
In other words, if you take a principled approach to IP, you endorse a system that condemns society to stagnation and death. So most proponents, like Rand, realizing this, start making ad hoc, unprincipled, utilitarian exceptions to avoid the most obvious, harsh consequences of a principled implementation of their confused IP ideas.
“Greed knows no bounds,” claimed Microsoft some years ago. It was referring to lawyer fees.
Over in Israel too, the threat of software patents is now looming.
As I have explained in this blog in earlier articles, I consider the copyright double protection idea is problematic since copyright protects the embodiment of the idea and not the idea itself. Why shouldn’t a software invention be protectable against reengineering? Is a 70 year protection against copying of any value in a field where a generation is usually 2 years? Considering software not technical is ridiculous. software is rightly considered an engineering discipline. Since algorithms can be hard-wired into chips or by a machine with valves, the concept of software being different from hardware is somewhat arbitrary. Nevertheless, Lord Justice Jacobs has presented powerful arguments as to why software patents are not in the interest of promoting progress and there is a large open-source community.
Abolishers of software patents (led by the FSF’s Ciarán O’Riordan) have already built this resource page about the subject.
The Israeli Patent Office (IPO) has launched a consultation on whether or not to allow software patents, with a February 2010 deadline. I’ve put the details at the end of this post, but first some background.
* The IPO consistently rejects software patents and business method patents. Examples:
o The 2005 rejection of the 142049 website patent
o The September 2006 rejection of the 131733 sales coupons patent
* Patent Attorney Ehud Hausman, with the support of international pro-swpat lobby group AIPPI, has been trying since 2007 to change this.
* He claimed in May 2008 to have partly convinced the IPO to grant software patents (but no change on business method patents). I’ve no third-party confirmation of this.
Who is funding these lobbyists? They are working for their own wallets. █
“Plager said he regretted the unintended consequences of the decisions in State Street Bank and AT&T. Those rulings led to a flood of applications for software and business method patents, he noted. If we “rethink the breadth of patentable subject matter,” he said, we should ask whether these categories should be excluded from patent protection.” —US. Senior Judge S. Jay Plager, speaking at a symposium at George Mason University
Summary: A very recent discussion of the “communist” smear against Free software
Ignorance and amnesia, combined with spin and deceit, can really make people believe just about anything, including the ridiculous claim that a scientific development model has something against capitalism. But that’s just McCarthyism incarnated. As TechCrunch phrased it two days ago, “Microsoft users [are] more gullible” and Vista 7 is a recent example.
When it cut the numbers by operating system, Chitika a similar trend. Windows users are about twice as likely as Linux or Mac users to click on ads. All of this data comes from one advertising network, so I’d say it is more suggestive than scientific (I’d love to know if other ad network are seeing the same trends). But it is a large sample.
Summary: Action that was initiated by Free software companies against government procurement has yet to bear fruit
YESTERDAY we wrote about the situation in Switzerland, noting that the “lawsuit [against government/Microsoft did] not proceed as planned”. Well, there is an update from the Open Source Observatory and Repository for European public administrations (OSOR), which says:
The settlement negotiations between eighteen domestic and foreign open source IT service vendors have failed, the Swiss Federal Department for Building and Logistics (BBL) announced on December 9. Their dispute will now go to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court.
For context and background, see the posts below. █
Image from Wikimedia
Summary: Microsoft is attacking Linux using software patents (with US DOJ approval) while a Microsoft reporter spins the whole situation as “peaceful coexistence”
BACK in October we summarised Microsoft's pattern of push-polling using many examples as well as an admission from top executives. Bob Sutor from IBM warns that Microsoft is currently running a survey to inappropriately warp people’s understanding of the perception of “interoperability” (usually meaning software patents at the expense of standards, a la Novell).
Microsoft appears to be running a survey on “perceptions of interoperability.” I’ll let you decide for yourself whether this is phrased in a completely neutral and objective manner, but you might want to weigh in if you feel you want to help separate perceptions from reality.
To give previous examples of push-polling, other than suspicion alone (e.g. Forrester) we noted that “Microsoft does this all the time, e.g. against Google and in favour of the patent deal with Novell. The Microsoft-corrupted ISO did the same thing after very sheer corruption had led to formal complaints from several national bodies.”
In a step that was mentioned here twice before (earlier this week), Microsoft “urges Flash makers to pay fat dollar for exFAT format”
In March, Microsoft signed an IP licensing deal with TomTom, after the companies exchanged legal threats in court over patents related to the FAT formats. The pair eventually agreed to play nice, much to the chagrin of many in the open source world.
The role of Linux in this whole exercise is finally explained more properly. Microsoft is fighting it using software patents and our reader Oiaohm has shown us this new report which completes a circle in the strategy that came about with the EU Commission.
US DOJ lets Microsoft resume collecting protocol royalties
Microsoft may begin collecting royalties again for licensing some protocols because clear technical documentation is now available, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday.
The change comes after the DOJ issued its latest joint status report regarding its 2002 antitrust settlement with Microsoft.
The settlement required Microsoft to make available technical documentation that would allow other vendors to make products that are interoperable with Microsoft’s Windows operating systems.
Microsoft loses ground to Free software in France (despite abuses), but Microsoft Nick does some spinning around fakers like Ramji, pretending again that Microsoft is part of the very same ecosystem that Microsoft is attacking with software patents (and thus patent tax).
Microsoft recently lost one of its key open-source advocates when Sam Ramji, the company’s senior director of Platform Strategy, officially left to become interim president of the CodePlex Foundation on Sept. 25 (although considering that CodePlex is Microsoft’s open-source software project hosting repository, I’m sort of confused as to how Ramji “left Microsoft”). In a blog post at the time written by Bill Hilf, general manager of Windows Server Marketing and Platform Strategy, Ramji had pushed a vision of Microsoft coexisting peacefully “in a heterogeneous IT world.”
Nice try, Nick. But Microsoft does not want to ‘coexisting peacefully “in a heterogeneous IT world.”‘ Microsoft wants to subjugate its rivals until they play by Microsoft’s own rules and become Microsoft cash cows. That’s not peaceful coexistence, it’s racketeering [1, 2]. █
“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”
Summary: Several more advancements for ODF and another eye-opening reminder that poorer countries are discriminated against by the Microsoft-faithful crowd
LAST week we wrote about Slovakia and ODF. Supporters of open standards should be pleased to know that the international standard, ODF, is gaining ground very rapidly. Here is a small update from Slovakia: “SK committee for e-standards if the government agreed to change ODF 1.0 to ODF any version up to 1.2 (1.0,1.1,1.2)…“
And it’s not just Slovaks who are likely to enjoy the ability to access and share documents from almost any office suite. In Japan too there is great progress, as Murata says that the Japanese standard for ODF is finally released: “The ODF JIS has been approved finally. We trust in better maintenace by SC34/WG6 and the ODF TC…”
“The ODF JIS has been approved finally. We trust in better maintenace by SC34/WG6 and the ODF TC…”
–Dr. MurataFellow countrymen spread the word even further, but SC34/WG6 cannot be trusted for maintenance. We’ll come to this in a moment. One person from elsewhere says: “Good to see some practical changes — more colleagues will be using ODF format for docs, so much better for cross platform”
Another person argues that “we need to specific data format (e.g., ODF) not software suite”
This brings us to some ugly stuff involving Microsoft’s “Insider Friend, ‘the Fox’”, whose name in this case is Alex Brown. He has done a lot to deserve people’s disdain [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] because he seems more interested in Microsoft’s interests than in standards.
Several months ago Microsoft tried to kick IBM/Weir out of the ODF TC (technical committee). Jomar Silva, who helped expose the mischiefs of Alex Brown and his beloved Microsoft, is now being pressured out (along with his country) by Alex Brown. [same article in Portuguese]
Alex Brown wants Brazil out of the ISO !
As if the dirty things he did with Brazil during the OpenXML BRM in ISO wasn’t sufficient, now Alex Brown suggests in his blog that Brazil shouldn’t be a SC34 member at JTC1. Reason: Brazil did not send delegates to the SC34 WG’s meeting in Paris last week!
Brazilian people are rightly furious [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Microsoft and its minions would love to push resistance out of the table, leaving just the corrupt and the rich (some of the former funded by the latter) to discuss matters, all at the exclusion of the developing nations that dared to file formal complaints to ISO. In turn, ISO, which is also run by the rich and the corrupt, rudely threw away all these complaints.
Brown was baffled by it because he does not get British humour [1, 2, 3] (yes, it’s rather ironic) and Aslam from South Africa (which filed the first complaint to ISO) said that he “would watch the BRM re-run RT @fiberartisan: @BartHanssens #oasis I think some of them would make better reality TV shows…”
Boycott Novell has good record of the corruption that occurred at the BRM, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. Speaking of which, one reader sent us these thoughts a few days ago, in reference to Microsoft crime and inability to serve the industry:
Dumped in a landfill is even less ceremonious than dumping in a mass grave.
Where there are Microsoft partners and distributors, there are Microsoft products and the One Microsoft Way of thinking:
How much can be attributed to Sharepoint? LSE didn’t have much luck with Sharepoint. It’d be hard to imagine that a smaller budget would have better luck specially if they’re so ideologically driven as to ignore the established, faster, cheaper, better, easier FOSS solutions.
Another reader wishes to remind people of the real history of Microsoft Office, which Microsoft sympathisers try to rewrite:
Ah, now I see, it’s Joe Wilcox. This kind of thing is typical of his flamebait that I’d rather not draw attention to, but I thought I’d share my analysis.
While pretending to analyze a Microsoft failure, he creates a false impression of their products excellence as a means of success:
“Microsoft Office achieved two important goals by the mid 1990s. Established format standards that resolved problems sharing documents created by disparate products. Ensured that Microsoft file formats would become the adopted desktop productivity standards.”
Office did not work then and it does not work now. The success of Microsoft Office was the end result of hardware economics and targeted dumping. In the late 80s and early 90s, IBM hardware was all most people could afford and Microsoft made sure it came with nothing but Microsoft DOS. Microsoft did a good job of getting Office to people who would be in a position to ram it down other people’s throat. Those who actually did the work preferred Word Perfect and other superior products. I saw this every place I worked at the time. They used the same kind of panel stuffing that they would later brag about in their training documents and that was so obvious in the OOXML ISO process.
Wilcox should know better than this and actually includes the information he needs in the same article,
“‘Browsing the Web, you find almost no Microsoft file formats,’ Gates wrote. He observed not seeing a single Microsoft file format ‘after 10 hours of browsing…’”
Yes, in 1995 people with a clue were using other things. They still are today and, thanks to the Internet, we can derail Microsoft corruption. In all that time, despite great effort, Microsoft has yet to destroy Adobe’s document formats that actually work. It’s not from lack of trying, it’s from lack of product that works. Wilson ignores the rise of in house Wikis as a replacement for the usual, tedious Microsoft network and emailed revision train wreck.
Wilcox goes on to cover up Microsoft’s failure at “Consumer” as some kind of ordered retreat. In the last ten years Microsoft has wasted tens of billions of dollars trying to dominate media distribution. Windows Media Center, Zune, Xbox, various forms of Microsoft TV have all been colossal technical failures. In the competitive consumer market, where stacked panels don’t work, Microsoft was unable to win despite some key hardware format victories. Every cheap music player in the world works with Windows media formats but very few will do ogg vorbis, flac and other superior and royalty free formats. Microsoft blew that tremendous advantage with obnoxious digital restrictions and software that everyone hated. They failed there for the same reason they are failing elsewhere, Microsoft is just not competitive.
Microsoft PR outlaws iPhone talk
A Microsoft manager created a bit of a fuss by advising a journalist not to mention the iPhone at a Microsoft event in Germany, betraying frayed nerves in the MS camp.
The journalist was apparently guilty of expressing his opinion that no mobile phone was easier to use than an iPhone. We might disagree with that opinion*, but we wouldn’t demand he stop mentioning Apple products, as one Microsoft manager did.
This would not be the first time that Microsoft behaves in this way.
We wish not to end with a negative tone, so here is some good OpenOffice.org news, which ought to reflect positively on ODF too.
There are some nice (and rather major) changes coming to OpenOffice.org and KOffice too is supporting ODF with Nokia’s help and in collaboration with OpenOffice.org. The replies in posts like this one bode well for ODF and one person has published the article which is titled “ODF – The Future of Literate Programming?”
Which brings me to the ‘what if’ question. What if we leveraged the fact that there is now a non-proprietary standard XML representation for richly formatted office documents called ODF. What if we used ODF compatible tools like OpenOffice to write our programs? How would we extract the lines of code to feed to our compilers? We could just use paragraph styles that indicate Èfeed this to the compilerÉ.
For documentation, an embarrassment of riches would then be instantly available. We could use level heading to split up the code/documentation into hierarchical chunks. We could generate tables of contents from these level headings. We could insert pictures wherever we need them along with tables, cross references, index entries and so on. Heck we could even embed spreadsheets, photographs taken of white-boards at planning meetings, the whole shebang.
WYSIWYG literate programming with ODF? I do not see why not.
OpenOffice.org plans to reach a broader market under the slogan “open for business”:
Open for Business logo couple of years ago we came up with a slogan for OpenOffice.org – Open for Business – to get across a couple of messages:
* OpenOffice.org software may be used by commercial businesses completely free of any licence fees
* OpenOffice.org software is also a great platform to build businesses around – training providers, systems integrators, PC manufacturers to name but a few
Automated tests on milestone OO320m7 are finished. Automated testing team reported a ‘green state’ for all automated tests. Just a small problem in w_updt.bas bother the consistent picture of all platforms marked green in QUASTe. This issue wasn’t easy to find but at the end we solved the problem in showstopper CWS ‘jl146′ with issue 107038. Depending on desktop respectively OpenOffice.org window size the document is middle or left aligned with automatic view layout (which is default). This lead to the problem sometimes the objects in writer document were drawn outside of the documents area by autotest. Finally we found and fixed it by correcting view layout before testcases run. Some additional minor fixes for more stability were also done in this CWS. Punctually with release of RC1 next week the autotests are expected to deliver a ‘green state’ on initial testrun.
odsPhpGenerator is a small and easy library to generate OpenDocument Spreadsheets. It requires only PHP 5.0, DOM, and zip support.
Projects that support ODF just carry on coming. So, all in all, the real standard is winning. █
“ISO is dead for software standards. Do you need an official funeral?”
–Benjamin Henrion, FFII
Summary: The core of the Free desktop finds GNOME Planet incompatible with its philosophy
A disagreement between Richard Stallman and some people in the GNOME Foundation (whose director is a Novell employee, which means part of his wage comes from Microsoft) has led to tensions and severe action. GNOME is currently at risk of losing its GNU status and there is a news report about it already.
A senior member of the GNOME Desktop Project has proposed that the project hold a vote on whether it should remain a part of the GNU Project.
Senior GNOME developer Philip Van Hoof made the proposal in a post to the GNOME Foundation’s mailing list. He was seconded in this by GNOME Foundation advisory board member David Schlesinger.
His post was part of a long thread that began back in November when Lucas Roche informed members that the GNOME Foundation Board had received complaints from community members about some of the posts on Planet GNOME.
“Is this good or bad” was the question asked by a reader of ours who found this out via Slashdot. Well, from the point of view of GNOME, disconnect from GNU would be a major loss and damage to its status. It would put KDE in a favourable position among more Free software supporters.
“Just looking at news from the past few days, Novell’s Mono is not even targeting Free software anymore.”From the point of view of the FSF, maybe it would not be a total loss. It is actually KDE which often insists on using the term “Free software” and also abstains from supporting OOXML (unlike GNOME). Just looking at news from the past few days, Novell’s Mono is not even targeting Free software anymore. Novell aims Mono at the iPhone and others use Mono to advance the use of Microsoft’s Active Directory. The FSF has already distanced itself from Mono; it was an unfortunately-belated departure because here in Boycott Novell we have warned about Mono for almost 3 years. █
“[I]t doesn’t excuse developing proprietary software. A desire for profit is not wrong in itself, but it isn’t the sort of urgent overriding cause that could excuse mistreating others. Proprietary software divides the users and keeps them helpless, and that is wrong. Nobody should do that.”
“Today many people are switching to free software for purely practical reasons. That is good, as far as it goes, but that isn’t all we need to do! Attracting users to free software is not the whole job, just the first step.”
Summary: The Gates Foundation is also funding particular types of books now, not just press outlets
A READER of ours has sent us the image above, which he says is the “cover of Harper’s in [the] June 2009 issue.”
It leads nicely into today’s new observation that the Gates Foundation funds books on the feeding of poor people (with Monsanto-like monopolies; see gory details at the bottom), just like Microsoft funds books that spread lies about Linux and encourage lawsuits against this fine kernel
Gates may have moved on from computer monopolies to pharmaceutical and agricultural monopolies, but some methods apparently stayed the same.
So begins ‘Millions Fed‘, IFPRI’s collection of uplifting case studies of agricultural success, funded by the Gates Foundation. It offers an interesting science + private sector counterpoint to Ha-Joon Chang’s FAO book on role of the state (see previous blog).
Remember what Andrew Tanenbaum (creator of MINIX) said to the press a few years ago: “A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me… It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this…” █
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