EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.10.10

Microsoft Pays Mobbyists Who Are Promoting Software Patents Tax in GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Charles Luciano

Summary: The mobile arena is being distorted by Microsoft and some allies who use software patent to increase the cost of phones (including Linux phones); they are using patents on software also to scare manufacturers, giving them the impression that Linux is not free

BACK we go to talking about the mobbyists, who sometimes express love for Mono and almost always seem to promote software patents, even though they may hide their motives*. For those who are still in doubt, Microsoft suffers very badly (debt is growing) and in order to survive for a while longer it is attacking its main competitor, Linux, using software patents. Many companies that use Linux sign a patent deal with Microsoft but only a small fraction of those companies would name Linux as part of the deals. On two occasions so far Microsoft announced a patent lawsuit and injunction against companies for their use of Linux. There is more to it if one considers companies whose attacks on Linux Microsoft is funding indirectly.

As Groklaw keeps filling some gaps in the SCO case filings, a look back from Updegrove’s point of view treats SCO as the copyright challenge that never materialised because no infringement could be proven and besides, Novell is said to own UNIX.

Perversely, SCO’s suicidal mission against Linux therefore ultimately served to strengthen the role of the Linux operating system kernel it tried to encumber rather than the opposite. Today, the reality of FOSS/OSS is far stronger than it likely would have been had not SCO destroyed itself in its vain quest.

While it would go too far to thank SCO for what it has done for FOSS/OSS, the saga that hopefully ended yesterday does serve to prove the wisdom once again of that old adage, “Something good comes of all.”

SCO has been successful in the sense that it bought Microsoft a lot more time, only to eventually show that the claims were all in vain. Microsoft has since then moved to a new target and it is amassing software patents right now. According to Geek.com, “Microsoft [is] granted patent covering to-do lists” (yes, it is shameful for the USPTO too).

The to-do list. It’s a common enough task that no one would ever attempt to patent it as a general process of making a list. But Microsoft has decided that a to-do list specific to programming is worthy of protection and filed a patent covering it.

Sometimes Microsoft relies on companies which it funds or companies which comprise Microsoft staff to shove software patents down Linux’ throat. Likewise is one examples that we gave and now it goes after Sun/Oracle customers (who will be better off using something similar without all the Microsoft patent tax).

“Either way, ACCESS is now paid by Microsoft, which is interesting because it employed a mobbyist who was disrupting GNOME, GNU, and at times defending/promoting software patents (his employer’s agenda).”Yesterday and the day before that we continued to show that Microsoft pays Acacia and ACCESS. Due to an article which claims ACCESS to be an Acacia subsidiary (to quote, ‘It said the software giant paid licence fees for “a portfolio of patents related to smartphones owned by [Acacia subsidiary] ACCESS Co, Ltd”.’), we had to look deeper into it all. We could not verify this, so maybe it’s a mistake by the author and we have informed her. Either way, ACCESS is now paid by Microsoft, which is interesting because it employed a mobbyist who was disrupting GNOME, GNU, and at times defending/promoting software patents (his employer’s agenda). According to this press release, there was Microsoft money on his table (at least indirectly because it’s an employer, who in turn passes a paycheque), which is interesting. “M$ Funds a Patent-Troll” says this headline from Pogson, who claims: “This time the patent-troll will be going after Androidy smartphone makers so “the enemy of my enemies is my friend”.” From The Register:

So perhaps, somewhat uncharacteristically, Microsoft was simply heading off any such headache by signing a licence deal with Acacia.

Interestingly Acacia, as previously noted by Groklaw, does have a history of hiring Microsoft veterans to work at its offices. It appointed ex-Microsoft Intellectual Property general manager Brad Brunell in 2007.

In July of that year the firm also took on Jonathan Taub, who Acacia promoted to the job of senior vice president just this month.

As Acacia points out in his corporate bio: “Prior to joining Acacia, he was Director of Strategic Alliances for Microsoft’s Mobile and Embedded Devices division and Business Development Manager for Microsoft’s Security Business Unit.”

So it’s hardly surprising to see the two companies play nice over licensing. It also means Microsoft, for once, won’t be under the patent sueball spotlight.

One piece of news that we mentioned some days ago is Ballmer’s push for a patent law “reform”, which he spoke about in LSE (England). Here is some dedicated coverage of the issue he raised in Europe:

Microsoft chief executive: patent laws need reforming

[...]

“Is the patent system perfect, or the world in which we live? Answer is of course not, the patent law was crafted in a day and age that preceded modern IT systems,” Ballmer said, pointing out that two of the biggest industries which use patent law – the pharmaceutical and software industries – did not exist when original patent law was written in the late 19th century.

“We think that the law ought to be reformed to reflect modern times. But if you ask me in general ‘are we better off with today’s patent system, or no system?’ We’re better off with today’s patent system,” Ballmer said.

Ballmer is using BSA propaganda to justify his agenda (BSA is funded by Microsoft and it also lobbies for RAND/software patents in Europe). Words like “piracy” are being used.

It’s clear that Microsoft cannot compete anymore, at least not in the mobile arena. Verizon rejects Microsoft’s products after being bruised as a disgruntled partner (“KIN”):

Asked by Cnet, here, whether Verizon will offer devices on its 4G LTE network, coming later this year, McAdam said: “I can’t really say which phones we’ll offer yet. We like our relationship with Microsoft. But clearly in the US there are three major mobile operating systems: RIM, Google, and Apple.”

Microsoft must already know deep inside that it cannot beat UNIX/Linux in mobile devices, so it goes raiding those who are fragile. “Why Is Microsoft Going After Motorola And Android?” That’s the question OStatic answers and analyses as follows:

Indeed, it is interesting that Microsoft went after Motorola and not Google. (Motorola’s Droid phones have a custom MotoBlur interface that sits on top of Android.) All in all, this move from Microsoft seems to be a Hail Mary from a company that has been marginalized in the smartphone business and is now going after very fundamental types of feature sets found in other manufacturers’ smartphones.

An important point which seems to be missing from the above analysis is that Motorola has had more financial issues, just like TomTom. Google would fight back and not run away to Windows, as pointed out in IRC by some regulars. So Microsoft goes after weak companies. What Microsoft has essentially been doing is act like a patent troll which assumes the attacked entity will settle without challenge and in other cases Microsoft funds or passes patents to patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], whose goal may be to elevate the cost of Linux-based operating systems. Dana Blankenhorn has an interesting take on it, too.

The FSF says that Vista Phone 7 [sic] is “the best choice for Patent Trolls” and we translated its article to Spanish because tomorrow is Microsoft’s big day.

On Monday October 11, 2010 Microsoft will release Windows Phone 7 software, backed by the largest phone marketing campaign in history: reports estimate costs at between 400 and 500 million dollars.

Why does Microsoft need to spend so much money promoting their latest proprietary software? Clearly they face strong competition, but marketing, especially for high end mobile phones, is about creating an image in the consumer’s mind; an image that they want to identify with.

And that’s the problem that Microsoft has. Who wants to be identified with Microsoft? Who wants to be identified with a corporation run by Steve Ballmer?

Windows 7 Phone Series: Another proprietary device designed to trash your rights.

Microsoft has a long history of unethical behavior in the software industry, abusing competitors and its customers alike. Steve Ballmer has long been recognized as the leading force behind this behavior at Microsoft. Yet amazingly he was promoted to lead the corporation when Bill Gates stepped down.

Worry not for a moment about Vista Phone 7. Even analysts who are paid by Microsoft admit this will fail and all that Microsoft can do right now is elevate the cost of its rivals and ensure that their profits become Microsoft’ own profits. It’s not an honourable way to compete. It is more like racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

“The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft

____
* In some cases they pretend to represent the very opposite side while they derail public policies, as in ACT’s case. Jeremy Allison has just described the latest exposé as “Great analysis of (wikileaked) plan to curb the free software in the EU. [...] Jonathan Zuck really is the mouth of Sauron.”

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 21/9/2014: xorg-server 1.16.1, Linux Kernel 3.16.3

    Links for the day



  2. Links 20/9/2014: GNOME 3.13.92, Android L

    Links for the day



  3. Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

    MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States



  4. If CAFC is Not Above the Law, Then it Should be Shut Down Now

    A long series of abuses in CAFC may as well suggest that this court has become broken beyond repair



  5. The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

    Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling



  6. Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

    Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia



  7. Links 19/9/2014: Another Red Hat Acquisition, Netflix Dumps Microsoft Silverlight and Brings DRM to WWW

    Links for the day



  8. Links 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

    Links for the day



  9. Web Site 'Patent Progress' Now Officially 'Powered by CCIA' (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

    After talking a job at CCIA, "Patent Progress" and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress



  10. Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

    Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up



  11. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  12. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  13. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments



  14. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  15. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  16. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  17. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  18. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism



  19. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  20. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  21. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  22. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  23. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  24. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  25. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  26. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  27. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  28. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  29. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  30. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts