Summary: Steve Jobs turns out to have been personally involved in the over-the-top Gizmodo incident; even Apple advocates struggle to defend this
THE GIZMODO story/saga is one that we’ve covered in (chronologically ordered):
- Microsoft’s Phone Business as Dead as Zune, But Apple Too Loses Its Mind
- Apple’s Hounding of Bloggers Becomes a PR Disaster
- Apple’s Connection to Abuse of Gizmodo Employee Shown, EFF Fights Back
- Microsoft is Contacting Publications, Asking Them to Add More Anti-Linux Slant
- Does Android’s Chief Compare Steve Jobs to North Korea’s Dead Leader (Kim Il-sung)?
- “Behind the Open Codec FUD Attack, W3C Captured by Microsoft, Apple, Nokia and So On?”
- Firm of Bill Gates’ Father Gets Involved in Gizmodo Raid Case, Gizmodo May Sue
- When Brands Become Cults
A California judge Friday ordered the unsealing of the search warrant affidavit that led to a police raid on the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, who paid $5,000 for a prototype 4G iPhone.
It turns out that Apple had direct involvement in police action and threats from the top, going as high as Steve Jobs. Regarding this article, Pamela Jones wrote in Groklaw: “The affidavit clarifies some things I’ve wondered about. First, that Jobs tried to solve the matter quietly and directly first. And two, that the affidavit includes at least two sentences that seem, to me, to indicate they were at least looking into the possibility that the journalist also may have done something they considered wrong also: ‘Upon receiving the stolen property, Chen disassembled the iPhone, thereby causing it to be damaged. Chen created copies of the iPhone prototype in the form of digital images and video, which were subsequently published on the Internet based magazine Gizmodo.com’”
Groklaw often defends Apple for reasons we cannot quite grasp. But anyway, here is another report about the role of Jobs:
Jobs pushed Gizmodo for return of iPhone 4G
Apple CEO Steve Jobs intervened in the Case of the Purloined iPhone, personally contacting Gizmodo editor Brian Lam to ask for the return of the missing iPhone 4G prototype.
That tidbit – told by Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell to Detective Matthew Broad of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office – was revealed today by the unsealing of the search warrant behind the search of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home. A copy of the full set of search warrant documents can be found here (thanks, Wired).
Apple pressed local police to investigate the loss of a next-generation iPhone a day after Gizmodo published photographs, telling investigators that the prototype was so valuable, a price could not be placed on it, according to court documents made public Friday.
Ultimately, Gizmodo probably received a ton of publicity and sympathy out of it (this was added to Wikipedia as a section). As for Apple, even its loyal customers are starting to feel somewhat queasy (language warning). █
Summary: 80% of developers who target Apple’s platform (hypePhone App Store) are said to feel betrayed; thus, the value of software freedom is hopefully realised
“Apple rejects Wi-Fi sync app,” says this new article which reminds us that the “i” in Apple’s hype-labeled devices means “I” as in Apple’s (or Steve Jobs’). It’s all just extremely Apple-centric and only the gullible will run to Apple (and later feel betrayed).
Evans Data is one source which we consider to be quite reliable based on past output. According to some new work from Evans, as many as 4 out of 5 people who partnered with Apple as developers actually feel betrayed (it depends on how questions are phrased)
Eighty per cent of North American developers believe that the iPhone App Store’s revenue split is unfair, according to a new study from research outfit Evans Data.
How do people who manufacture hypePhones feel? Well, it would be harder for Evans Data to ask them because they live in a prison/factory where access is restricted and many of them commit suicide out of misery. Here is another new example:
Another suicide at Apple’s Chinese supplier
The Associated Press reports that the 24 year-old woman’s death brings the total of suicidal Foxconn workers to eight for the year. Bloomberg puts the total at six. The Taipei Times notes that two other Foxconn employees tried to take their own lives this year, but failed.
To be fair, it’s not just an Apple supplier. Microsoft too has something to do with it. Either way, people who work for Microsoft and Apple are often left betrayed and exploited. Those who work for Free software enjoy radical freedom and true control, which makes it harder for them to be disempowered and feel depressed. The manufacturing dilemma is partly resolved through reuse (no planned obsolescence). █
Summary: How Apple interacts with the media and with the world in order to ensure it gets positive reviews
Apple relies on a certain dosage of fake hype. It’s like those AstroTurfers of Microsoft whose job is similar to audience managers (or ‘plants’ or extras) in comedy-filming studios where they stimulate laughs among the crowd. We wrote about that around yesterday or the day before that (depends on time zones) and HypePad too was a good example of hype generation through selective gifting.
And, more recently, there were some concerns over the NY Times’ lack of disclosure concerning its relationship with Apple when reporting on the iPad.
Here is the older corresponding post from TechDirt.
Dan Gillmor shares these concerns, but notes an even more concrete conflict of interest — Apple’s advertising of the iPad consistently features a screenshot of the New York Times app, including of course the Times’ logo. Although Apple no doubt hopes to show that its device can be used to read the Times, surely attractive content to many of its target consumers, the image is also terrific advertising for the New York Times. Gillmor indicates that he has no doubt that Times’ reviewers truly believe the contents of their swooning coverage of the iPad, but argues that the benefit that the Times is receiving is a conflict of interest that ought to be overtly acknowledged and discussed by Times management. Yet, he reports, nobody from the Times has been willing to respond to his questions about the issue, such as whether the Times has received any compensation for the display of its logo on the iPad as shown in the ads. Gillmor raised these concerns a week ago, and the Times has yet to address publicly the possible conflict.
Now, watch this new post from Joe Wilcox, the Microsoft watcher who some years ago said “I’m a huge fan of guerrilla marketing.”
He argues that “Microsoft pays for enthusiasts Apple gets for free,” but it’s not entirely true that Apple gets all enthusiasts for free. Some of them are paid and Apple too has this job title called “evangelist” (which is akin to being an AstroTurfer).
On the one hand, I commend Microsoft for using company blogs as marketing tools and for doing some aggressive evangelism around Windows 7 products. Microsoft critics are quick to wave the monopoly flag — arguing that Windows sales are automatic. Oh yeah? Then explain the Windows Vista fiasco in terms of monopoly might. The majority of Windows XP users stayed put. Now their PCs creak at the bones and it’s time for some fresh Windows 7 blood. Given the large number of Windows XP users who should be easy Windows 7 upgrades — at least according to the monopoly might theory — Microsoft should be able to sit back and collect the license fees. Instead, Microsoft is marketing the hell out of Windows 7, which is evidence enough that monopoly has more limited benefits than critics admit.
But that was decades ago. Today, Microsoft engages enthusiasts from its Websites and by using social networking and sharing tools. The approach is good, but larger Microsoft brand and product problems hamper the work. Enthusiasts are any company’s best evangelists. Microsoft’s number has dwindled over the years, while Apple’s numbers increased — at least as measured by the volume hype. Noise about Apple is so much louder than for Microsoft.
In summary, hype is coming from agents of Microsoft and Apple too. In some cases, Apple receives reviews from people whom it pays in one way or another. Apple is nowhere near as bad as Microsoft, but it does require vigilance. A lot of Apple hype is fake or exaggerated. █
Summary: As Apple’s fight against Linux continues, new lawsuits against Apple arrive, new patents are granted, and Theora is affected too (Mozilla employees who uses Macs ought to rethink their choice of relationships)
IN THE mobile industry, everyone is suing everyone else these days (Fennec is potentially affected). As we mentioned the other day, Wired highlights this serious issue because there are no winners here except the lawyers. It makes no sense. Apple is among the aggressors, not the defenders. Nokia is the same and its case against Apple we have already covered in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].
There are some articles out there which describe HTC’s counter action against Apple as offensive. The Inquirer‘s headline says “HTC sues Apple again” (not again, that’s for sure). HTC is not the aggressor, but a lot of the mainstream press — MSBBC included — paints it that way. In the following video, the people in the studio get it wrong, but the lady whom they speak to corrects them.
Please someone explain how casio linux Qt-based pdas 12 years ago with touch screens did not infringe patents but todays Qt-based Nokias and Andriod Nexus does?
* Patent #6,999,800 – Method for power management of a smartphone
* Patent #5,541,988 – Telephone dialer with a personalized page organization of telephone directory memory
* Patent #6,058,183 (PDF) – Telephone dialer with a personalized page organization of telephone directory memory
* Patent #6,320,957 – Telephone dialer with easy access memory
* Patent #7,716,505 (PDF) – Power control methods for a portable electronic device
It is interesting to see HTC filing for US patents on software. It’s distributing Linux, isn’t it? Well so does IBM and so does Novell. More software patents from Apple continue to be pursued:
Apple patent filing portends Google ad war
Apple has filed a patent to enable info and apps to be automagically loaded onto your iPhone/Pod/Pad based on your location – but exactly how it would affect location-based ads remains fuzzy.
The patent application, “Location Specific Content”, was published by the US Patent and Trademark office this Thursday, after originally being filed in November of 2008.
Another interesting one says: “Ad company Virtual Iris riding the HTML5 wave”
As the web format battle between HTML5 and Adobe’s Flash heats up, the creators of an ad-building tool called Virtual Iris say they can deliver the rich media experience of Flash in HTML.
Much of the interest in HTML5, which is the latest update of the basic format of the web, has been fueled by Apple, which doesn’t support Flash on the iPhone and the iPad (leading to back-and-forth insults between Apple and Flash-maker Adobe). Apple has also announced an ad-building service called iAd, which will feature HTML5 video. Not wanting to be left off by Apple’s devices, startups like Scribd have abandoned Flash for HTML5, and ad-building startup Sprout, which was initially all about Flash, now supports both formats.
Apple uses these offensively and it also fights against Theora — a move that in turn harms GNU/Linux and Mozilla for reasons that we mentioned in:
- Microsoft Brings MPEG-LA-LA Land to the Web and Threatens GNU/Linux With Software Patent Lawsuits
- Patents Roundup: Red Hat on Patent Trolls; Apple Antitrust; Microsoft Attacks Theora, Which is Needed to Save Our Video Culture
- Behind the Microsoft Puppetmaster: SCO-Type Libel, Acacia-Type Patent Trolls, and Novell-Type Patent Deals to Make GNU/Linux Not Free (Gratis)
- Apple’s and Microsoft’s New Motto: Do More Evil, Together
- Steve Jobs: “A Patent Pool is Being Assembled to Go After Theora and Other “Open Source” Codecs Now.”
- Apple and Microsoft a Threat to Culture (Data), Not Just Software (Tools)
- “The fight has been around a long time, now the target of Microsoft is Theora”
- Symptoms of the Sickness of the Patent System and Apple’s Infinite Greed
- Apple Lies About “Open Source” (and More on Apple/Microsoft AstroTurfing)
“The Firefox project has opted to exclude certain features due to software patents,” posts the FFII’s president who points to this new article.
Wild Fox: Firefox Fork with H.264 Support
Mozilla, sticking to its ideals of the open web, decided long ago that support for the patent-encumbered H264 codec would not be included in any of its products. Not only is H264 wholly incompatible with the open web and Free software, it is also incredibly expensive. Mozilla could use one of the open source implementations, but those are not licensed, and the MPEG-LA has been quite clear in that it will sue those who encode or decode H264 content without a license. Software patents, however, are only valid in some parts of the world, so an enterprising developer has started a project that was sure to come eventually: Firefox builds with H264 support.
Wild Fox may be valuable (and legal) outside the US and Japan, but its main problem is that it would encourage webmasters not to choose and to spread Ogg Theora. Mozilla would have to pay about $5 million per year for MPEG-LA licences (mostly covering places where software patents are not legal) rather than use the same amount of money to pay 50-100 more programmers.
Here is a video of Stallman talking about patents and Free software
[Ogg] (thanks to tinyvid.tv, which is back to delivering Ogg).
The quality of this video is considerably high. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with Theora.
As a bonus point for Apple, the Theora FUDMeister and saboteur, here is another lawsuit that might teach them a lesson if not anger them:
Bear and Monkey smack Apple with patent suit
Apple has been slapped with another patent infringement lawsuit – but the suit says more about the festering sore that is the US patent system than it does about the individual patents involved.
The lawsuit was filed by Austin, Texas inventor Eric Gould Bear, President and CEO of interface design firm MonkeyMedia. The core of his infringement claim is that his patents cover a user-interface concept that he calls “Seamless Contraction” – essentially a set of techniques to narrow the display of information to that which is most “salient,” to use his term, to the user’s needs.
Might Apple ever join the fight against software patents? It’s extremely unlikely. Apple actively uses those patents to harm competition, notably Linux/Android at the moment. █
Did Apple Bully the Linux-based WePad Over ‘IP’?
Summary: WePad mysteriously renamed “WeTab” and reasonable speculation grows that Apple had something to do with it
AS PEOPLE MAY recall, Apple’s hypePad was a case of trademark violation that Apple eventually sorted out. While we cannot confirm that Apple has pressured the Linux-powered WePad to change its name (WePad is about us the customers, whereas hypePad is about “I”, Apple that is, due to restrictions abundance), it seems like a defensible guess.
“Jobs also tried to extort Sun over a project it made available to GNU/Linux.”For quite some time Apple has been bullying companies over the use of the “i”. Another example in Australia appeared last year, so despite Apple firing warning shots, some companies still try it and Apple hunts them down. iHate Apple? Sue me, Apple. iInsist.
Anyway, if it can be proven that WePad changed its name to WeTab only after Apple had contacted the company and made veiled threats, then Apple is going way too far. In Wikipedia, “wePad” already redirects to “WeTab”. Who owns “Pad” now? Could Apple have had a role in the following:
Then I found this. They’ve changed the name from WePad to WeTab. Speculation is that they are pre-emptively avoiding entanglements with a certain company that seems a bit more eager to sue competition.
In a statement, the German company said the name change was to “clearly differentiate our products within the international market for tablet computers.” A WeTab representative declined to comment on whether Apple influenced the name change.
Did they recieve a phone call from Steve Jobs? It’s not ideal to rename a product AFTER presenting it to the public, but I think they know for sure why they renamed it…
In a later part of this series we will show that Steve Jobs does make threatening phone calls. Jobs also tried to extort Sun over a project it made available to GNU/Linux. What an aggressive guy. For someone who was rescued by an organ donation, he sure could use some morals and ethics because he is suing Linux for no good reason. But anyway, that’s the subject of the next part. █
Summary: TiVo loses and Microsoft is losing in a major way after violations that it sometimes willfully commits; Microsoft’s patent attack on Android revisited
SEVERAL months ago Microsoft sued TiVo for patent infringement (TiVo is known for its use of Linux) after TiVo had resorted to patent aggression. According to Reuters, TiVo has just suffered a setback which TechDirt explains by saying that “Appeals Court Vacates TiVo’s Big Patent Win Over Echostar”:
Shares of TiVo fell as much as 42 percent on Friday after an appeals court set aside the company’s win in a patent battle over digital video recorders with rivals Dish and EchoStar.
TiVo’s lawsuit against EchoStar for patent infringement has been a mostly one-sided affair. TiVo appeared to win at every turn, to the point that there were stories suggesting EchoStar would have to start blocking the use of its own DVR. TiVo had celebrated these victories by suing others as well, and demanding ridiculous sums of money from EchoStar. Of course, it seemed odd to us that, while all of this was happening, the US Patent Office was admitting the patents might not be valid. Oops.
The more relevant news (to us) is probably about Microsoft though. Microsoft has just agreed to pay $200 million to settle its case with/against VirnetX.
Microsoft Corp will pay $200 million to VirnetX Holding Corp and obtain a patent license to settle litigation accusing it of infringing two patents for communicating over the Internet.
As we mentioned the other day, there are important developments in another patent case. Here is the press release about I4i vs Microsoft and a lot of coverage from Microsoft sites, the ‘Microsoft press’, and a variety of other sources with a lesser or greater degree of interest in Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. The Register summarises it as follows:
Microsoft’s request to have the patent claim it brought against Canadian software maker i4i examined has been thrown out by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
i4i said it was pleased that all the claims of US patent number 5,787,449 that belong to the company came out unscathed following a re-examination called for by Microsoft.
i4i has already told the British press that it would not settle with Microsoft. Will it change its mind? Was it playing hard to get? Microsoft sure does settle.
Again we emphasise that Microsoft is not the victim because it probably suffocates rivals to make billions of dollars using software patents (or the SCO case), which should not exist in the first place. Microsoft’s latest Linux-using victim is HTC (it was reported as a settlement, as opposed to an agreement). “HTC Will Pay Royalty To Microsoft For Using Android,” says this newer article.
The operating system of Microsoft is Windows. The license to use Windows on their cell phones many mobile manufacturers are being given the licence by Microsoft. Microsoft did not reveal what would be the amount of royalties that HTC is going to pay.
One prominent blogger asks, “Does Android Have a Target on its Back?”
Android is the hot smartphone platform currently, and that means the competition has it squarely in its sights. Apple fired the first salvo with its patent infringement claims against HTC. HTC is the largest maker of Android phones, so the suit is a shot across the bow of Android. Then we had HTC sign a deal with Microsoft that gives the handset maker protection over potential infringement of Redmond’s intellectual property (IP) for all Android handsets sold. No matter what you think about Apple’s claims, the HTC deal with Microsoft may have the biggest long-term impact on Android.
We will write about Apple’s case again HTC a little later. Basically, Linux/Android is doing very well, so all that Microsoft and Apple have left is litigation and intimidation (to settle without litigation).
Just how well is the Linux-based Android doing? We wrote about it in the morning (twice even [1, 2]). Watch how the 'Microsoft press' belittles it somewhat using NPD figures (there is a Microsoft connection). The following numbers are US-only, but the Microsoft sources do not state this. Moreover, they quote former Microsoft employee and current shill Michael Gartenberg without disclosure [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].
The open source Android smartphhone market just hit a milestone of sorts: it surpassed the iPhone in popularity, moving into the second overall spot behind industry leader RIM OS (BlackBerry).
NPD numbers are worthless. The numbers worth paying attetion to are based on whole numbers as opposed to US-only extrapolation from friends of Microsoft, reported poorly with quotes from Microsoft boosters who receive money from Microsoft. That’s the sort of media corruption that we mentioned earlier today. █
Backlash Against The European Patent Office (EPO), The Extended Board of Appeal (EBoA), and Trolls-Friendly Patent Systems
Summary: Why the EBoA does not resolve Europe’s problem with software patents; the patent systems continue to favour monopolies with imaginary arsenals, not inventors with concrete ideas
Indeed, I fail to see anything positive in this ruling.
Gary Barnett has assessed this and he writes: “Sheesh – EPO’s decision not to conduct review is apalling! Software is STILL patentable in Europe, rules are STILL inconsistent”
This week, we finally learned that the questions The European Patent Office (EPO) sent two year ago to clarify what can be patented where inadmissible by its own patent high court, The Extended Board of Appeals (EBA). Its all the usual mess from EPO with slippery and indecisive wordings creating endless loops without clarifications.
To put an extra spin on this mess, the EPO PR interpret this non decision as a win for software patents. Hilarious and said, since this is just right – leaving questions unanswered and matters diffused is just was has created this situation from the start.
Florian comments about the Defensive Patent Licenses (DPL) which was brought up by a Microsoft writer just over a week ago [1, 2]. He still dislikes IBM’s stance on patents (rightly so) and writes: “How useful the DPL is going to be remains to be seen. Being better than IBM’s and similar pledges is a low hurdle and I’m quite confident the DPL will set a far higher standard in that regard. The toughest test, however, will be inhowfar such a initiative can affect not only the decisions of benevolent parties but also those of malicious aggressors. Only getting the “good guys” to contribute to a defense initiative isn’t enough to make a really noteworthy difference if there isn’t going to be a major impact on the “bad guys”. That will be a key criterion for gauging the potential effectiveness of the DPL.”
He also wrote to us to say:
It will still take weeks if not months before the Defensive Patent Licenses (DPL) is published. This is a first look into the issue, to the extent that it’s possible to comment prior to having seen the proposal. So far, no compelling reason for anyone to contribute patents is visible, but maybe the final thing will offer one if its authors figure out a way to achieve an increase in retaliatory potential for those who join. Even if it might end up being unable to make any noteworthy difference, it’s at least a sincere attempt to solve a problem in part, unlike the “pledges” made by IBM, Sun and others.
Concerning the state of the anti-swpat movement, I had explained to you in a recent email how hopeless the situation is with those SMBs. The post on the DPL doesn’t elaborate on it in such detail but explains that absent a forceful push for abolition, defensive approaches should at least be looked into constructively…
That part about SMBs is noteworthy. Florian used to consult for them and they know the headache of software patents.
Meanwhile, the president of the FFII says that “Patent Trolls seems to be a sector specific issue” and asks, “high correlation with software patents?” Here is the data (“Ranking of Operating Companies by Number of NPE Lawsuits”) and here is what Patently-O wrote some days ago about “Patenting by Small-Entities”:
The number of small-shop innovators continues to dwindle. In a sample of recently issued patents,* only 20% claim “small entity” status. Of those, 30% (6% of the total) are held by the original inventors.** According to the PTO Rules, large universities and non-profits still qualify as for the small entity price-break so long as the patents-in-question have not be assigned or licensed to a non-qualifying entity. At least 12% of the small entity patents are assigned to universities or non-profits. These small entities include multi-billion-dollar operations including Battelle Energy Alliance, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and the Korean government funded ETRI. The remaining small entity patents are largely held by companies and partnerships such as Audible Magic, PixArt Imaging, and Alverix.
In other words, this confirms our long-standing allegation that the patent system serves large companies and harms the smaller ones. The system has lost sight of its original goals. Moreover, as we pointed out some days ago, this system is exceedingly tolerant of patent trolls and TechDirt provides yet more proof of that:
Court Won’t Move Patent Lawsuit Out Of East Texas, Despite Plaintiff’s ‘Ephemeral’ Connection To Texas
As has been discussed plenty of times, a disproportionate number of patent lawsuits are filed in East Texas, under the belief that the venue is the most friendly to patent holders (there is some debate lately about how accurate this is, but either way it remains, by far, the most popular place for patent lawsuits). This happened even in cases where there was clearly no reason for the case to be heard in Texas. My favorite is the story of two San Jose, California companies, whose offices were blocks away from each other… who ended up in an East Texas court to fight a patent battle. Two years ago, the Federal Circuit suggested courts should be more willing to transfer cases that don’t really belong in their district — a clear warning shot at East Texas.
This system favours lawyers/trolls and monopolies, not innovation. Unless evidence contradictory to this claim is presented (we have seen none), it seems pretty safe to establish it as truth. █