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07.26.10

On Hypocrisy, Müller’s Mass Mailing to Journalists, and Lobbying

Posted in IBM, Microsoft at 9:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The question of abolishment versus embrace of dysfunctional systems which impede freedom and civil liberties

Florian Müller (probably a lobbyist whom we definitely distrust but must track nonetheless*) is still spreading his controversial stuff en masse (by E-mail) to journalists who sometimes propagate his disregard for Microsoft opponents without realising that he’s just tweaking/personalising the same messages and sending them to tons of people who write for large readerships (just like ACT does). As the commenter says there, “You’re quoting Florian Mueller calling others hypocritical?

“Pot, meet Kettle.”

The one sense in which he’s right about hypocrisy from IBM et al. is probably lobbying. Here is a new press release from lobbyists who work on behalf of these companies to promote GNU/Linux and “Open Source” in government. This got some more press coverage following the press release.

Open Source for America (OSFA) an organization of technology industry leaders, non-government associations and academic and research institutions that aims at boosting the use of open source software in the U.S. Federal government, has announced that as the organization is going to celebrate its first anniversary, it has already achieved a number of feats within the first year of its establishment.

We have already argued [1, 2] in favour of abolishing the practice of lobbying (in the pure sense where it’s an occupation) rather than fighting lobbying with more lobbying. Likewise, it is hoped that IBM et al. will change their mind regarding software patents. It is better to just abolish software patents than to try and make them exist alongside “Linux” (where Linux mostly means the kernel).

If you spot journalists echoing Müller’s talking points, let them know (e.g. in the comments) that they are being taken for fools because he sends the exact same stuff to lots of other journalists, most of whom are not responsive. He is essentially lobbying and he is not lobbying for software freedom, to say the very least.
____
* Just minutes ago he mailed me again with a special disclaimer what he is mass mailing journalists today (he probably does not send them the same disclosure when he pushes them to publish such Microsoft party line). To give readers the idea of what he regularly sends, here it is:

EU launches investigation against IBM over mainframe practices

(this goes to multiple recipients but I didn’t want to use an undisclosed list because of potential problems with spam filters; nor do I use a mailer tool ;-)

I have some background for you on the European Commission’s launch of an antitrust investigation against IBM.

If you’d like to link to my comments, I published them on my blog:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/07/european-commission-launches-antitrust.html

Please find my comments and background information below (for your convenience).

Different agencies report that the European Commission today announced the launch of two formal investigations into IBM’s practices in the mainframe business, following complaints lodged by T3 Technologies last year and French open source startup TurboHercules in March:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-07-26/eu-investigates-ibm-for-suspected-abuse-of-dominant-position.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100726-705141.html

By coincidence, this announcement was made just a few days after IBM launched its new generation of mainframe computers, an event that shows mainframes are still big business and far from obsolescence. There are estimates that the mainframe business (including software) generates about half of IBM’s corporate-wide profits. The mainframe software market has an estimated size of $25 billion, about twice the size of the software market for Linux.

The Commission appears concerned about the tying of IBM’s mainframe hardware products to its dominant mainframe operating system, z/OS. This is reminiscent of the Commission’s previous objection to the tying of the Media Player to the Microsoft Windows operating system and the “browser case” that was settled last year and resulted in a browser choice dialog box for Windows.

In early April, I published a threat letter with which IBM tried to intimidate French open source startup TurboHercules SAS, whose founder started the Hercules open source mainframe emulator in 1999, with 106 patents and 67 patent applications. If you’re interested in the correspondence between TurboHercules and IBM — two letters from each company –, please look up

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/turbohercules-entire-correspondence.html

There is a possibility of the Commission also formally investigating the complaint brought forward by NEON Enterprise Software, on which I reported here:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/06/neon-to-lodge-antitrust-complaint.html

The other complaints were filed earlier, and there’s always some back-and-forth correspondence between a complainant and a defendant after a complaint. That process must still be going on with respect to NEON’s very recent complaint, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few months the Commission also picked up that case. Then there would be three parallel EU cases related to IBM’s mainframe practices in light of the suspected abuse of IBM’s dominant market position (a de facto monopoly, actually).

Moreover, the US Department of Justice announced in October that it investigated IBM’s mainframe practices. Since then, there hasn’t been any further announcement by the DoJ. It will be interesting to see if the DoJ makes a further announcement in the weeks or months ahead.

The open source aspect of the TurboHercules complaint and IBM’s use of patents are the reasons for which I recently learned a lot about the situation in the mainframe market. I’m convinced that customers are locked in and milked shamelessly by IBM, and I hope that the outcome of the process will result in more customer choice, including the possibility to use the Hercules open source emulator to run legacy mainframe applications on affordable Intel-based servers.

For some time, IBM has been lobbying the EU as a self-proclaimed advocate of open source and open standards. I can’t see how this antitrust probe will enhance IBM’s credibility in that context:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/07/openforum-europe-hypocrites-lobby-eu.html

Florian

[phone number omitted]

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A Single Comment

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    July 31, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Gravatar

    Personally, there is no reason why math should be patentable just because it is executed on a general purpose computer. This would kill a big category of software patents. The other categories, reform is enough.

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