Microsoft and Its Front Group, Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), Organise Software Patents Lobby Events in Europe
Summary: The Microsoft PR effort to marginalise or illegalise Free software overseas carries on quietly (using proxies, as usual)
FEW days ago we wrote about Microsoft people engaging with and entering "Open Source", possibly in order to change its agenda (although it could innocently be just a side effect). This is known as entryism and if there is no shielding against it, then the outcome can be fatal. One has to be careful of the sort of 'monopoly' on Free/open source licence statistics from a Microsoft-sourced company called Black Duck for instance. (Dis)Information is power and this power tends to be misused when put in the wrong hands. Deception and advertising is how those entities make a living. Likewise, to let former Microsoft employees decide whose voice counts in “Open Source” is rather risky. Last year we showed that Microsoft lobbyists (notably Zuck from Association for Competitive Technology) managed to infiltrate an “Open Source” panel where they subverted collective opinion to affect policies. We took it up to the European Commission and wrote about this in:
- European Open Source Software Workgroup a Total Scam: Hijacked and Subverted by Microsoft et al
- Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck
- Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?
- The Illusion of Transparency at the European Parliament/Commission (on Microsoft)
- 2 Months and No Disclosure from the European Parliament
- After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen
- Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists
- ‘European’ Software Strategy Published, Written by Lobbyists and Multinationals
- Microsoft Uses Inside Influence to Grab Control, Redefine “Open Source”
The Web site called European Voice is currently promoting Microsoft’s lobbying event for software patents in Europe. At first we suspected that this Web site was something like OpenMainframe.org (Microsoft attack site against GNU/Linux), but upon closer inspection of previous articles we found just a mix of views, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
Nevertheless, why would such a site promote Microsoft’s agenda? It’s a Windows site and strangely enough, it is registered by The Economist:
Registrars.Registrant: The Economist Newspaper Limited 25 St James's Street London, SW1A 1HG GB Domain name: EUROPEANVOICE.COM Administrative Contact: Manager, Domain firstname.lastname@example.org 25 St James's Street London, SW1A 1HG GB +44.2078360070 Fax: +44.8700118187 Technical Contact: Administrator, DNS email@example.com 26 Red Lion Square London, WC1R 4HQ GB +44.2078360070 Fax: +44.8700118187 Registration Service Provider: Nom IQ Ltd (trading as Com Laude), firstname.lastname@example.org 44-20-78360070 Address for Legal Service: Nom IQ Ltd (trading as Com Laude), 116 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9SU. Com Laude is responsible for the registration, maintenance and management of this domain name. Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC. Record last updated on 12-Jan-2010. Record expires on 21-Jul-2012. Record created on 21-Jul-1999. Registrar Domain Name Help Center: http://tucowsdomains.com/help/ Domain servers in listed order: NSGBR.COMLAUDE.CO.UK NSUSA.COMLAUDE.NET NSSUI.COMLAUDE.CH Domain status: clientTransferProhibited clientUpdateProhibited
The event it is organising is supported by ACT (the Microsoft front group). The president of the FFII, Benjamin Henrion, publicly warns that “ACT continues to push for software patents in Europe, Innovation Summit at the end of the month in Brussels.” ACT is clearly a front for Microsoft and rather than deny this with counter arguments, Zuck and his colleagues repeatedly defame my character in their Web site. This attitude is telling and it is also used by Microsoft technical evangelists (sometimes a euphemism for AstroTurfers on the payroll). Defamation is what one gets for exposing Microsoft’s nature and modus operandi. Groklaw received similar treatment from SCO.
“ACT continues to push for software patents in Europe…”
–Benjamin Henrion, FFIINot only ACT supports this event though. Microsoft’s “eskills” project is there too. Here is some background (more in another page with proof that it’s a Microsoft project in this document/leaflet
[PDF]), which ties the project to “Jan Muehlfeit, chairman of Microsoft Europe and co-chair of the European”. We wrote about him in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] because of his lobbying in Europe. He is allegedly a former communist [1, 2], but that’s not the key point.
It is abundantly clear that Microsoft is actively working towards the goal of legalising software patents in Europe so that it can pursue Free software exclusion (taxing it or making it illegal).
The president of the FFII points to this new post and argues that “Neelie Kroes pushing for software patents in standards, Digital Commissioner Kroes proposes new EU policy of open standards” (she was lobbied by Microsoft).
From the introduction:
AN IMPORTANT POLICY PAPER, A Digital Agenda for Europe – A policy for smart growth and innovation in a digital society, HAS BEEN LEAKED OF WHICH AN EXCERPT IS BELOW. DIGITAL AGENDA COMMISSIONER KROES HAS PROPOSED A SERIOUS MOVE OF THE EU TOWARD OPEN STANDARDS AND INTEROPERABILITY. THESE PROPOSALS ARE ALREADY BEING ATTACKED BY HER COLLEAGUES IN THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION WHO REPRESENT ENTERPRISE, COMMERCE AND INTERNAL MARKET. NEVERTHELESS, THESE PROPOSALS DESERVE CONSUMER AND CITIZEN SUPPORT.
Neelie Kroes has been making many mistakes regarding software patents as of late [1, 2]. We also learn that “DG Enterprise is pro software patents, and hostile to real open standards. They defend patent holders such as Philips and BSA.” In the following new post we are reminded that in the UK at least, software patents are already forcing their way into the system.
In simplified terms the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) on the other hand follows law and practice in the UK instead where a patent for software can be granted only where the software has a technical effect.
In summary, Microsoft has not given up on changing EU laws to discriminate against Free software. This is a major issue that a lot of GNU/Linux-oriented Web sites continue to ignore. Sometimes, those who point this out are accused of sensationalism or FUD; such accusations are only proof of gullibility and they are counter productive. █
“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway”, —Marshall Phelps, IAM: Microsoft to have 50,000 patents within two years, Phelps reveals