04.30.10

Gemini version available ♊︎

Steve Jobs: “A Patent Pool is Being Assembled to Go After Theora and Other “Open Source” Codecs Now.”

Posted in Apple, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 2:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tiger
Apple no longer a patent pussy, now a provocative tiger

Summary: Apple’s threat not only to Free/libre software but also to standards everyone can use is made more apparent because of new mail

APPLE’S legal attacks against Android and Linux go quite a way back when Apple used legal threats and sabotaged APIs to prevent access to its platform/s; Last month Apple took it up a notch and actually launched a legal attack. Hugo Roy from the FSFE has contacted Steve Jobs and received a nauseating response which he posted in full with maximal proof of authenticity

.

From: Steve Jobs
To: Hugo Roy
Subject: Re: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 06:21:17 -0700

All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Sent from my iPad

Based on some other messages from him, it sure seems like his style (the signature for example). What Jobs has sent from his hypePad seems to suggest that he knows something that others do not. Apple already invests in the world’s biggest patent troll and Apple is a key opposer when it comes to Ogg Theora as part of HTML5. Perhaps that explains it. Apple was also accused of ‘poisoning’ HTML with some patents it refused to relinquish control of.

Florian Müller’s interpretation of the letter from Jobs (which he mailed us a short while ago) was as follows:

According to an email of today, Steve Jobs wrote that a patent pool is being assembled to go after Ogg Theory and other open-source video codecs (codec = encoder/decoder software, such as a video player program).

While I can’t ascertain the authenticity of Steve Jobs’ email published on http://hugoroy.eu/jobs-os.php , the person who published it (along with the email delivery record) is a credible source. He’s a core activist of the Free Software Foundation Europe and received Steve Jobs’ email in reply to this open letter he had published on the web and sent to him by email: http://blogs.fsfe.org/hugo/2010/04/open-letter-to-steve-jobs/comment-page-1/#comment-72

As the founder of the European NoSoftwarePatents campaign and author of the “FOSS Patents” blog (FOSS = Free and Open Source Software), I hope you will find my following comments useful in your analysis of this matter:

1) Steve Jobs’ email doesn’t say who the patent holders are who will contribute to the patent pool that is going to be used against those codecs. Therefore it’s unclear whether Apple would contribute any patent(s) to that pool or not.

2) In connection with Microsoft’s patent licensing deal with HTC, a maker of mobile phones running Google’s Android open source (Linux-based) operating system, I believe there hasn’t been enough attention to an important fact: While Microsoft doesn’t try to force any Android phone vendor out of the market, Apple uses some of its own patents very aggressively in order to prevent such companies as HTC from providing certain functionality at all. I’s important to see the difference from the perspective of competitors and consumers: the worst thing that can happen with patents is if vendors, especially leading ones, use their patents for exclusionary purposes.

Should Apple be a contributor to the patent pool Steve Jobs mentioned, that would be very bad news because then the objective may very well be to prevent any commercial use and distribution of Ogg Theora and other open-source video codecs.

3) Multimedia codecs are one of the worst patent minefields out there, enforcement is aggressive and there’s no such thing as a video standard 100% unencumbered by patents. There are too many software patents out there to perform reliable clearance and patent offices often grant new patents on old ideas.

I wrote about these issues 10 days ago on my FOSS Patents blog:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/no-such-thing-as-multimedia-data-format.html

That blog post starts with the story that Google might release its VP8 codec (which it acquired as part of On2 Technologies) on open-source terms. My blog post argues that even Google with all its knowledge and resources won’t be able to guarantee that any such codec software is 100% unencumbered by patents. The post discusses the impossibility of reliable patent clerance and also talks about the aggressive enforcement of such patents (the confiscation of MP3/MP4 product samples is part of the annual routine at the CeBIT trade show).

4) This is not the first incident this month of patents threatening open source. IBM’s threat letter to TurboHercules, which I published and discussed on my blog ( http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/ibm-breaks-taboo-and-betrays-its.html ), shows that even a vendor claiming to be a friend and protector of open source (something that Apple never claimed) is determined to assert patents in order to protect a lucrative turf.

Florian’s words deserve a level of skepticism not because of IBM’s position (which we never supported anyway) but because of him standing up for the company that sidles with Microsoft. His history of fighting against software patents in Europe and also standing up against Microsoft lobbyists makes his analysis worthy of attention though.

Earlier today we showed more evidence connecting Apple’s attack on Android/Linux to Microsoft (more on that later today). Several months ago, former Microsoft evangelist Michael Gartenberg claimed that Apple was moving towards Microsoft, but Gartenberg too should be treated with extreme skepticism for reasons we gave in, e.g.:

Other Patent News from Europe

The president of the FFII, Benjamin Henrion, highlights this new page about UPLS (United Patent Litigation System). This comes from an FSF-backed project. Henrion tracks the UPLS as it may serve as a back door to software patenting in Europe (and Microsoft front groups already lobby for it). The following new ruling that he points to shows a software patent being revoked in France (around the same time Germany does the opposite). A site called Tangible IP (it’s like saying “solid solidity” about water) writes:

One of our interests on Tangible IP is the never ending story of software patents. Just to recap: the European Patent Office is currently considering the degree to which computer-implemented inventions are patentable. On the other side of the Atlantic the US Supreme Court has head arguments in the re Bilski case and we’re waiting for a decision.

[...]

The EPO Examiner initially rejected the patent on the grounds that it was not possible to determine the technical problem which was to be solved by the invention. The Applicant’s attorneys responded that the technical problem has been clearly described in the description and that this problem was solved by the claims. The EPO granted the patent.

“French Court TGI rejects search engine software patent EP1182581 based on subject matter exclusion (art52 EPC),” claims Henrion (information in French) who also found evidence [PDF] of what he claims to be “5.000.000 EUR for violation of a software patent.” Aren’t software patents already illegal in Europe? Well, there are loopholes that are being exploited.

“[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

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

9 Comments

  1. Agent_Smith said,

    April 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Gravatar

    This madness must end. What is he talking about ??? Open Source must be patented to be legal ??? What the F…??? Here, in my country (Brazil) the government broke the patents of the aids medicines, so, the poor population could be treated against Aids. And now, this… Free and Open Source being chased anywhere, HTC’s Android is not enough, those greedy sharks must come at everyone’s door…
    Stop the patent madness, this American craziness has gone too far…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, patents are worst when they kill people. It puts software in a humble perceptive.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Let me get this straight, Microsoft can raise the cost of Linux, of those that use Linux to make money, but when IBM (we’ll assume for a second) does the same to another company, IBM is super bad (enough to post without end for over a week)?

    Of course, IBM did not specify it was FOSS that was the problem. The company was pushing Microsoft technology (with some specially optimized “WinFOSS”) as their solution and IBM stated that such a platform was not licensed.

    BTW, Florian apparently completely eliminated some threads on his site and has not added them back. In some of the conversations, he defended closed source, and avoided any blame at all on Microsoft after I pointed out the double standard he was using and all the problems he was ignoring about Microsoft’s threat to FOSS.

    I would not be shocked to learn he anticipates rewards of some sort from Microsoft or from companies that don’t want Microsoft be put in a bad light.

    He was dishonest and then resolved the issue apparently by deleting various threads.

    [PS, I think point 3 is basically right, and since Jobs said so little it's difficult to know exactly what is going on there.]

    Jose_X Reply:

    I haven’t gone back to the comments I wrote, but I remember that he defended any type of software against patents. He felt proprietary was necessary and deserved as much protection as any other software.

    With this context, I supposed he would be upset at IBM not licensing MSware; however, he framed his entire attack on IBM as IBM attacking FOSS. He didn’t even bring up Microsoft (I think it was groklaw where I first heard it). And he gave no real reply when I pointed out some of these things.

    He always comes back defending Microsoft. And here we see that now, rather than to criticize Microsoft for being worse than IBM, he exculpates them because Apple did much worse. Of course, he wasn’t consistent wrt Microsoft and IBM across postings, but perhaps within the same posting he would have avoided mentioning IBM (but he didn’t, go figure).

    BTW, if Microsoft “bought” this guy, Microsoft would be well aware that they would win if Florian was respected and they would win if Florian was shown to be hypocritical or otherwise showing bad judgment. In one case, IBM looks bad. In the other, Florian’s good judgment over software patents is put in doubt.

    Oh well, maybe the guy was running short on dough. Fortunately, Florian is not the reason software patents are bad for society, individuals, competition, and most small to medium companies.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    BTW, Florian apparently completely eliminated some threads on his site and has not added them back.

    Wow. is that so? Last night he sent me several mails criticising Groklaw for censorship in the comments.

    Can you say more about this? Maybe there’s hypocrisy?

    [For the record, Techrights/BN never deleted any comments]

    Jose_X Reply:

    I’ll just mention one thread [I verified other threads were also nuked and even came across someone else who had also complained]. On April 11, I posted to http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/ibm-confused-and-confusing-but.html and eventually had 11 comments total.

    In that thread he had various comments as well. His first comment was in reply to me and begun like this:

    >> Your reference to Groklaw

    >> In the beginning you refer to Groklaw, and whenever IBM’s actions are concerned, Groklaw has over the years supported IBM. Groklaw’s founder even admitted in an interview that the objective of starting Groklaw was to assist IBM’s legal department. Therefore I strongly caution against trusting Groklaw on anything, especially anything IBM-related, without scrutiny.

    I don’t like beating up on people whenever possible, but we have to keep in mind that lies hurt people (potentially a huge lot and a great many), and it seems we have an attack on behalf of Microsoft (that is the effect whether there is an understanding between Mueller and Microsoft/partner or not). All he has to do to get people like me “off his case” is to stop giving Microsoft a free pass because that ends up in deception and then significant harm. [Let me just say that people have even waged revolutions to fight back against various forms of nonphysical harm. People quit jobs to leave serious headaches and conflicts of principles and to avoid taking actions that could really hurt others. I say this to pre-empt talk about "harm". Fact is I think Gates would call some very violent dogs if I went over to his house with intent to remove billions of dollars to pay back people, so obviously "harm" is a fine word to use here.] Now, IBM and everyone also plays other people for their own gain. I find Microsoft particularly distasteful and don’t like that specific company to be let off the hook until they have made amends for their crimes and stop the attacks. Making amends may not be possible since I doubt they are going to pass around the hat to major shareholders. And it is troubling to me when I perceive someone is trying to pass a greater harm for a lesser one. Deception is damn ugly. At least in art and history, deception has been used to bring down kingdoms and people.

    Jose_X Reply:

    I also want to mention that the last theme I hit upon before the comments disappeared was about how untrustworthy is closed source (proportional to its size, position, and backers), and the significant leverage position Microsoft has against the industry, against FOSS, against consumers, and against all third parties competitors (as could anyone else) by controlling such a large closed source platform(s).

    The turbohercules fight (it seems to me) is really between IBM and Microsoft over control of a particular platform. Closed source and open source are not “about the same” by any means.

    Mueller may very well have been honest about a number of things, but when it appears you refuse to acknowledge certain problems with Microsoft’s control, ambitions, and past harm, I start looking at you as an extension of that plague and major threat to FOSS and to fair competition that is Microsoft.

    I can think of at least one other person that perhaps had very good reasons to have a real beef with IBM and also did not look upon Microsoft as a threat. It’s difficult to know what people really think. In private conversation that person was interesting, polite, etc. Fortunately, we aren’t judging people by what they think but by what they say and do within context. Muller, as far as I am concerned, continues with the deception. He writes up a piece that lets Microsoft off the hook again and then also links back to this attack on IBM. Not good, especially when you don’t leave room for being wrong by allowing others to post their opinions and complaints.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’ll just mention one thread [I verified other threads were also nuked and even came across someone else who had also complained]. On April 11, I posted to http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/ibm-confused-and-confusing-but.html and eventually had 11 comments total.

    It seems as though he suspended comments everywhere in his blog (I took a look this morning).

    I am skeptical about him because I know Microsoft’s history of hiring/contracting people who are vocal Microsoft critics in order to shut them up, especially people in the legal field.

    I don’t think he is connected to Microsoft, but yesterday he sent me ~7 E-mails defending his position and it wasn’t sufficiently convincing.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Software, software controlled products, and products realized through software controlled processes affect the quality of life of a huge number of people in very strong ways. These products play a huge role in the health care industry for example. Is there any industry not tied up in “software”?

    If software and other patents were asserted more aggressively, we would see a lot more people dying much sooner and less developed countries might never get out of their hole (if they accepted the “infringement” rulings).

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 22/9/2021: Google 'Upstream First' in Linux and New Maui Report

    Links for the day



  2. Links 22/9/2021: Mesa 21.2.2, GNOME 41 Released

    Links for the day



  3. Socially- or Corporate- or Centrally-Controlled Surveillance, Censorship and Throttling is Not Media

    The 'social control media' situation is getting out of hand; in YouTube, for example, there's a broad revolt against strict editorial control by Google and in Twitter it seems like ordinary users aren't shown so much to people who actually "follow" them



  4. Links 22/9/2021: Panfrost's OpenGL ES 3.1 Conformanc and NovProg 3.2.0

    Links for the day



  5. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, September 21, 2021



  6. Agents of Monopoly: WIPO is Lobbying for or Reinforcing Microsoft Monopoly by Pushing Its Proprietary Software and Formats

    The World Intellectual Property [sic] Organization — like the EPO (where António Campinos outsourced IT systems to Microsoft) — is choosing the most notorious/corrupt ‘tech’ ‘company’ (cult) instead of open standards and, as the links above show, this is nowadays done inside the United States and outside the United States as well, raising legal questions/ire



  7. Links 21/9/2021: Windowsfx 11, New Chrome, and LF PR Noise

    Links for the day



  8. [Meme] The EPO-EUIPO “Good Brother” Network

    Jobs as bribes at the EPO and EU(IPO) are a lingering problem



  9. Links 21/9/2021: Samba 4.15 and Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 Support for 10 Years

    Links for the day



  10. Richard Stallman's First Public Talk (Delivered in Person) in Years, Now With a Free Format

    Full talk now available. The organisers of the conference have uploaded to YouTube, so we’ve converted everything to a free/libre format (and last night only an excerpt was published here).



  11. [Meme] The Best Quality Propaganda

    The António Campinos-led EPO is still a never-ending propaganda machine; the media isn’t fact-checking or investigating anything, so of course that propaganda goes largely unchallenged and the propagandists (like Joff Wild) profit from it



  12. Preparations for the Next Series and Further Improvements in IPFS and Gemini

    Gemini space (or Geminispace) continues to expand quite rapidly and we're utilising alternatives to the Web in order to improve access to information; at the moment EPO publications are our priority



  13. Links 21/9/2021: Peg-E 1.3.0, CUPS 2.4 Coming Soon

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Monday, September 20, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, September 20, 2021



  15. Links 20/9/2021: Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 4 1.00, DXVK 1.9.2, and NVIDIA 470.74 Graphics Driver

    Links for the day



  16. Richard Stallman's Talk in Ukraine Two Days Ago (in Person)

    Richard Stallman explains his stance on Invidious (released under the AGPLv3) in his new (in-person) talk



  17. Microsoft and the EPO: A History of Threats and Suppression Against the Free Press

    Bribed and blackmailed media isn't covering EPOnia's corruption anymore; somebody should, but that's not as easy as it may seem on the surface (not even for a distant outsider)



  18. [Meme] The B4 Summit: Baltic Benoît Battistelli in Belarus

    It should not be surprising that when Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos get to 'fix' their own election by the EPO‘s Administrative Council that very same Administrative Council will later rubber-stamp virtually every proposal of theirs, even unlawful proposals



  19. Links 20/9/2021: Telegram Desktop 3.1, Arcan as Operating System Design

    Links for the day



  20. [Meme] Looting Europe and Taking Away From the Office

    The staff of the EPO is being robbed by corrupt officials, who arrogantly assume that they can get away with anything (because they have facilitators all over Europe)



  21. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, September 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, September 19, 2021



  22. Formally Challenging the EPO and Microsoft for Apparent Efforts to Suppress Reporting With Evidence of Crimes, Including Violations of EPO Data Protection Guidelines

    The largest cross-institutional European den of corruption, the EPO, will be hearing from lawyers and hopefully from public officials too. The criminal behaviour is long overdue for review and the Administrative Council too should be investigated (for repeatedly abetting this behaviour, for personal gain).



  23. Links 20/9/2021: Linux 5.15 RC2 and pgAdmin 4 5.7 Released

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] Warning - Tree Felling in Progress

    Warming up for our next EPO series



  25. Links 19/9/2021: Sparky 2021.09, Whisker Menu 2.6.0, HarfBuzz 3.0, and gThumb 3.12

    Links for the day



  26. EPO Management is Hiding Under the 'Cloud' While Violating Privacy Laws

    Facing a barrage of scrutiny for outsourcing the EPO's systems to Microsoft, the EPO has just arranged yet another expensive PR stunt, looking to somehow 'normalise' the unacceptable and the likely illegal



  27. Maintenance and Development Updates

    We've been doing a lot of work on the back end (or operations) of Techrights, more so this past month, and we're almost ready to resume the normal publication pace



  28. [Meme] Microsoft Says Its Paying Clients (Like EPO) Don't Violate Privacy Law

    The ever-so-docile EPO will gladly oblige when companies like Microsoft lie about the legality of their industrial espionage operations, masked as “clown” computing (and other buzzwords)



  29. Coming Soon: EPO Series on Lawlessness

    Some time soon we’ll start an important series about the EPO, seeing that the management of the EPO is panicking and trying to put out the fire created by prior ones (more on that shortly)



  30. Links 19/9/2021: Jolla's Sailfish OS 4.2 and FreeBSD Technology Roadmap

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts