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09.09.10

Gizmodo Glorifies Patent Trolls, Oracle Nods to Software Patents

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents, SUN at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Gizmodo sells out to Microsoft’s patent troll; Oracle pays NetApp for alleged software patents relating to the Open Source (ish) ZFS

JUST OVER A WEEK ago, someone in our IRC channels mentioned Gizmodo selling out to Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll which is groomed by Bill Gates, Microsoft, and Apple (all are founding and/or funding sources). We were going to post a rebuttal to Gizmodo, but decided it would be better to just never give attention to that puff piece. TechDirt has just caught up with this embarrassment at Gizmodo and responded by blaming “PR”.

A bunch of folks have been sending over this somewhat ridiculous love letter to Intellectual Ventures written up at Gizmodo (a site that usually is a lot more on the ball than what this post shows), which basically takes all of IV and Nathan Myhrvold’s favorite talking points (many of which make little sense) and simply parrots them back, acting as if the company is some sort of Willy Wonka chocolate factory of invention — but leaving out the hundreds of millions of dollars companies pay up as a sort of “don’t sue us tax,” and the incredibly sketchy nature of the over 1,000 shell companies set up by the firm and the entirely secret nature of many of its business dealings. Instead, the guy at Gizmodo is wowed by the fact that the company has computer hackers trying to cure cancer.

[...]

Why would that be mistaken? The article doesn’t say. Instead, the writer just seems wowed by the fact that IV has lots of old scientific equipment. What a shame. It would be nice if someone actually asked Myhrvold and his crew some actual tough questions, rather than fawning over the fact he once dug up dinosaur bones.

Nathan Myhrvold’s foolish patents are currently being promoted by Gates, for profit. It’s a mostly untold story, but one which we covered several times before. The above is yet another story of success in exploiting the media — convincing it to tell fairy tales, thanks to an army of PR agencies just like Gates’. Gizmodo should hang its head in shame for playing along with it. Just over a month ago Groklaw alleged that Gizmodo was getting close to Microsoft because it was riling people up against Apple and praised Microsoft projects at the same time.

Intellectual Ventures not only has a lot of PR with which to deceive the press; it also spends a lot of money lobbying governments, pushing for the obvious policies (allowing patent trolls, software patents, and so forth). Recently we showed how New Zealand’s patent law got subverted by foreign lobbyists, only for changes to eventually be reversed in some sense, as also explained in this new legal analysis.

Moving on to something a little different, Phandroid has this new article which characterises Palm as a gold mine of software patents, which is probably true.

After we figured HP was just about done with Android after their acquisition of Palm (which gave them full access to webOS and tons of neat software patents), rumors began swirling that those earlier suspicions were a tad bit preemptive and that HP still had plans to bring out an Android tablet.

It wasn’t long ago that Android came under a lawsuit from Oracle, not just from Apple (whose CEO is a close friend of Oracle’s CEO). Apple itself threatened Palm using patents and it is said to have withdrawn from ZFS because as we explained last year, patents killed ZFS to an extent. NetApp's aggression was a major factor and not much has changed because NetApp is now harassing Coraid for its use of ZFS. Watch how Oracle sells ZFS down the river, unlike Sun (paying ZFS so very submissively). That’s just another new example of software patents endorsement at Oracle:

IDG says: “Storage vendor NetApp said Thursday it has reached an agreement with Oracle to dismiss patent litigation stemming from a 2007 suit NetApp filed against Sun Microsystems, which.Oracle acquired earlier this year. Terms were not disclosed.” NetApp’s founder speaks at Oracle OpenWorld 2010, so it seems like an amicable resolution.

“[N]ot much to celebrate in this settlement,” said to us FurnaceBoy, a Solaris/ZFS expert. Legitimising software patents is possibly what Oracle does here, so the FSF’s denouncement of Oracle for its unnecessary patent aggression [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] comes at a fairly good time.

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