Summary: New reasons for developers and defenders of Apple to reconsider their position and stand up to Software Engineering, not patent racketeering
NOW that Apple promotes artificial scarcity and DRM-laden products (e.g. iPad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], iPhone) by using software patent lawsuits against GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], this Web site is likely to cover Apple more than before. Last year we warned that developers who serve Apple are being stabbed in the back and mentioned twice already [1, 2] was the following new gem of knowledge that Apple had been trying to hide using threats of litigation:
How did the EFF get its hands on the licence agreement when developers have to sign in blood not to reveal any details? EFF spokesman Fred Von Lohmann wrote, “When we saw the NASA App for Iphone, we used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ask NASA for a copy, so that the general public could see what rules controlled the technology they could use with their phones. NASA responded with the Rev. 3-17-09 version of the agreement.”
The outfit had its lawyers give the Agreement the once over and thinks that people would be crazy to sign it. The agreement is not supposed to be made public, which is a sure sign that something is wrong with it.
Fortunately NASA wrote an app for the iPhone and the the EFF was able to use the Freedom of Information Act to ask the space agency for a copy of the license agreement dated March 17, 2009.
Apple insists that the agreement “prohibits developers, including government agencies such as NASA, from making any ‘public statements’ about the terms of the Agreement.” So it prevents developers telling the world+dog how bad it is.
We’ve certainly covered many different practices by Apple that harm its developers, from arbitrarily choosing what gets approved to arbitrarily shutting down apps with little or no explanation. Now, the EFF has used a Freedom of Information Act request to NASA (who recently released an iPhone app) to get a look at the amazingly one-sided agreement that Apple forces developers to sign. The reason that the EFF was forced to file an FOIA request to see and post the document is that part of the agreement itself is that you won’t make any “public statements” about the agreement itself, a la fight club.
“Apple Ready to Rumble with Rival Smartphone Makers,” says this article, but Apple chose to compete with lawyers, not with products.
Canonical’s new COO, an Apple fan, turns to OIN rather than call for the ending of software patents; maybe he should be trying to get Apple to join OIN, however unlikely that is to ever happen (Google is already in OIN). Whether he likes it or not, his beloved Apple is already suing his company indirectly. It started legal action against the code which his company uses. CNN counts the number of patents in this game, but it’s utterly pointless, claims TechDirt.
A bunch of news sites have been playing up a minor item in a Deutsche Bank note to clients about how Apple has a lot more patents than Google or HTC. I have to say, this is one of the most meaningless bits of data out there, and it’s getting way too much attention for its import. First of all, it looks like the report counted overall patents — not even patents just in the spaces where these companies overlap. Second, the number of patents one holds is absolutely meaningless when it comes to actually being able to enforce the patents.
Companies should abolish software patents, which are simply being used by large companies (and patent trolls) to secure their position. In a fair system, this would never endure. █