Summary: Amazon implicitly parrots Microsoft rhetoric and discriminates against desktop GNU/Linux, which it does not support
LAST MONTH we saw Amazon selling out to Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. Amazon decided to allow Microsoft’s racketeering to receive legitimacy, after Amazon had accepted many Microsoft executives into its staff. Amazon was clearly transformed from the inside over time and although Kindle has run Linux for several years, we now find that it is supporting just two proprietary software platforms and ignoring Linux (on the desktop), which Amazon exploited to build the Kindle and its servers infrastructure. This is the attitude of a company that does not care about Free software in general and GNU/Linux in particular. It’s just a selfish user and this is not the only reason why we encourage readers to boycott Amazon, as some readers already do.
What Amazon is doing these days allows Microsoft racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] to carry on, along with the company's own patent troll, whose latest actions Glyn Moody has just explained. He calls him “King of the Trolls” and in our previous posts about this patent troll we showed just why (here is an index).
If you haven’t heard of Intellectual Ventures, you will do. Set up by ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold, with investments from Microsoft among others, it is basically a patenting machine – filing and buying them in huge quantities. Note that it doesn’t actually *use* these patents – except to threaten people with. In other words, Intellectual Ventures is a patent troll – or, rather the King of the Patent Trolls.
They don’t *invent* anything in the proper, deep sense of the word: they merely file and buy patents – with no intent of ever making stuff or solving real-life problems. It’s purely a cynical exploitation of the broken US patent system that grants very broad patents on often obvious ideas, which are then used to *impede* other companies’ activities.
This is the killer: Intellectual Venture’s business model is fear. “If IV breathes in your direction, take a license” – never mind whether their patent claims are valid, just roll over, because nobody messes with the King of the Patent Trolls.
Companies like Amazon and Microsoft have adopted software patents despite the fact that their existence — that of Amazon’s in particular — owes itself to the rejection of software patents by Berners-Lee. Moody writes:
Here’s a fine piece of hagiography, with a really excellent conclusion that touches on those diabolical software patents:
The founders of Google and Microsoft have made their fortunes out of the world wide web, as have numerous other dot-com entrepreneurs. Sir Tim, though, has never cashed in on his brilliant idea. He doesn’t have a yacht or a mansion or a private jet. But neither does he have any regrets about his lack of wealth.
Patent laws are not taking account of the culture that developed around technology. Thanks to the Internet, it is a culture of sharing and collaboration, not monopolisation and exclusion. Here is a funny new case about patents:
Tool Maker Loses Lawsuit For Not Violating Another Company’s Patents
Patent system supporters regularly point (slightly misleadingly) to the claim that the patent system gives patent holders the right to exclude others from using their inventions. And, thus, most lawsuits we see around patents revolve around cases involving a company manufacturing a product that includes a patented invention. But what about a lawsuit for a company that deliberately chose not to license or use a patented technology, because it was too expensive?
Welcome to today’s world.
Patents hamper society’s progress. But some rich companies with a lot of lobbyists love them. That is the subject of the next post. █