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10.31.10

With Software Patents “Microsoft Claims to Own the Whole Field of Syncing E-mail Between a Cloud and a Device.”

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, IBM, Mail, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ActiveSync logo joke

Summary: Microsoft’s sick strategy of pointing at other people’s code and claiming it to be its own (because of software patents) is revisited, Apple’s new anti-Linux lawsuit is analysed further, and IBM’s general response gets analysed too

LAST NIGHT we wrote about Apple's lawsuit against Motorola for its Linux-powered phones. Feedback in Identi.ca about this post was okay, but in Twitter the site was told off for not discussing Motorola’s lawsuit against Apple. For those who are new to this landscape, here is an older bunch of mobile patent lawsuits maps. It has become hard to keep track without one. After some discussion it was almost agreed that, even as a Microsoft-sympathetic mobbyist put it, “Motorola vs. Apple was a preemptive strike.” According to what we learned, maybe Nokia too sued Apple preemptively. Dana Blankenhorn, who entertains the ideas that Microsoft and VMware are the main companies/parties who matter in Fog Computing (it is easily disputable as several others cannot be realistically counted out) and would fight like Novell and Microsoft once did (VMware may soon buy SUSE), also wrote this new post about the “smartphone patent thicket”. He correctly pointed out that:

…Microsoft claims to own the whole field of syncing e-mail between a cloud and a device. NTP claims to own the whole idea of wireless e-mail.

How does this spur innovation? It doesn’t. You’re patenting the idea of killing mice. We can’t create a better mousetrap until your patent expires, and then we’re stuck with the first new patent to hit the door.

In a sane world of software patents, you patent your implementation of wireless e-mail, or e-mail sync. You publish your code and if someone goes at it in the same way, they know they’re infringing. The code is the design, and if you aren’t willing to publish that through the patent office it should be no patent for you.

There is this new post which takes an FSF (Free Software Foundation) perspective and concludes as follows: “Software patents are the cancer of the industry. It’s a big claim to make, I know, but how much longer will it take for governments to wake up and fix the problem? I encourage everyone to join in the fight by contributing to the End Software Patents wiki, and by helping organizations like the Free Software Foundation encourage governments to abolish patents.” The FFII, whose approach is similar, has found this very recent post from IBMIP.com (IBM intellectual monopolies) and it wonders:

IBM going to revive peer2patent?

Peer-to-Patent had a bit of a resurrection just days before that. Like OIN, this project is a legitimiser of software patents and thus not a permanent solution (hardly even a temporary one). A few days ago we found NBS Technologies getting a “Canadian patent for smart card personalization,” according to this press release:

NBS believes that this patent recognizes NBS as a clear leader in the Canadian marketplace for smart card personalization. NBS holds many software patents for card issuance and card production equipment in several countries throughout the world.

This is a Canadian company and not a patent troll. Why does Canada grant monopolies on algoritms? There is a bit of a debate about it these days [1, 2, 3, 4]. Regardless, Canadian software companies sometimes get granted software patents. One of these is conveniently and famously threatening Microsoft’s cash cash, but it’s no reason to be sympathetic towards Microsoft (which deliberately took the idea of the patent holder, i4i, and then used it to bury the company).

“What we’re seeing though now can be loosely described as patent terrorism, where people are using their patent horde as a threat [...] It’s almost like a cold war stand over tactic; where I have these patents and if you breach these patents, I’m going to come after you and sue you.”

James Eagleton, systems product manager for Sun Microsystems

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7 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    October 31, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks for documenting Microsoft’s use of software patents to harm an innovative competitor. Microsoft knows that sync and input are critical to mobile device users.

    I’ve found a tenuous link between Microsoft and a previous patent attack on Palm which wrecked the PDA market a decade ago. Palm was forbidden to distribute Graffiti when they lost a software patent lawsuit by Xerox in 2001. Xerox was granted their patent in 1997, one year after the launch of Palm OS, and 120 years after the publication of moon type. As of 2005, Graffiti has been in the hands of the Microsoft proxy, ACCESS. [1][2] How intersting it is that a software patent attack that did so much damage to PDAs almost a decade ago would result in all of Palm OS being shuffled to a company that launched bogus personal attacks on Richard Stallman and worked to do other harm to free software. There are roughly seven years of Graffiti patent left where ACCESS can decide who gets to use it and who does not, and free software users will have to get it from outside the US.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I ranted about “Graffiti 2″ and Xerox patents long before I was active in the fight against software patents (around 2007). It only harms people’s work and productivity. So much for “spurring innovation”. My current PDA still has Graffiti (since before the dispute). Take that, ACCESS.

    twitter Reply:

    The result is obvious, everyone that respects US software patents were deprived of a useful input method and the market for PDAs collapsed. Neither Xerox nor ACCESS made use of Graffiti, until recently. ACCESS has licensed a Graffiti app for Android, finally. I wonder if they used the cumbersome Graffiti 2 that everyone hated. People outside of the US patent system are free to use single stroke input for portable devices. It would not surprise me if some kind of Microsoft mole at Xerox drove the whole thing.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    ACCESS gave Acacia patents and the patent which Acacia used to sue Linux in 2007 was from Xerox.

  2. twitter said,

    October 31, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Gravatar

    According to the Widipedia Palm OS page, Palm 2.0, released in 1998, had a network sync.

    I also remember Microsoft’s attack on Palm sync in 2002. I was a palm user at a Fortune 100 company which had drank a lot of Microsoft’s koolaid. Sometime around 2001, “security updates” broke sync between Palm and Outlook, which was the required email tool. With some effort, I was able to undo the damage, but I doubt many others would have bothered. Because a lot of scheduling comes by email, this was a crucial break that rendered Palm devices next to useless.

    These moves managed to destroy Palm but Microsoft has never been able to make a suitable replacement mobile system. The company is only able to retard and tax others.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft famously used games around trademarks to hurt Palm’s business. The same sorts of games were played against OpenOffice.org (twice, the second time against ODF).

  3. Ycvddf said,

    October 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    2011…

    Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem with your site in internet explorer, would check this… IE still is the market leader and a huge portion of people will miss your fantastic writing because of this problem….

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