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02.09.11

Copyright and Patent Battles Against Linux Carry on (the Usual Suspects)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flying bricks

Summary: Allies of Microsoft are still throwing bricks at the unstoppable platform which gradually takes over everything

LINUX is constantly under attack because it is winning (just look at all the anti-Android litigation). At Techrights we emphasise this all the time. As Linux goes very mainstream everywhere, malicious proprietary software companies like Apple, Microsoft, and SCO are certain and determined to attack Linux. All three companies already sue companies which sell Linux. They sue using intellectual monopolies, which are the weakest form of competition (all the other forms — including technical merit — have failed for them). The situation at Nokia is serious, but it is not fatal. Now, let us look at litigation — not entryism — which poses a risk and constitutes a factor that can slow down Linux and Free software’s triumph. Regarding the SCO sale to UnXis, Groklaw keeps an eye on it (as do we) and there is now a formal objection to the UnXis plan:

Novell has, as expected, filed an objection to SCO’s proposed sale of assets to UnXis. It’s terse in mood, but unless the judge is asleep, it should do the job.

The first basis for the objection is that SCO doesn’t have the “necessary consents” from Novell “for the assumption and assignment of agreements with Novell”. As Novell tells the court, “Original APA Section 9.5(c) expressly prohibits its assignment by SCO without Novell’s consent.” And Novell won’t consent this time either, just like last time.

Crossing over to the realms of patents, DistroWatch is advertising Centrify and Linux.com too has been advertising (for money) this pusher of Microsoft APIs and software patents. Such Microsoft proponents that are close to Microsoft are dangerous for the same reason Likewise is dangerous and based on this new press release about Tuxera joining the Linux Foundation [1, 2], the number of Microsoft pushers who promote Microsoft patents is growing inside the Linux Foundation (Linux.com is now owned by the Linux Foundation too). As a quick recap, Tuxera tries to extract/pass Microsoft patent tax from Android and Linux, using proprietary file systems that nobody wants or needs. Centrify promotes Microsoft protocols too and it is keen on software patents. One need not be baffled by the Linux Foundation’s admission because it’s hard to embrace exceptionalism at this type of open consortium and many of its most powerful members (with IBM's clear dominance) are proponents of software patents. Despite the use of the term “Foundation”, the Free Software Foundation differs enormously from the Linux Foundation and certainly the Gates Foundation, which loves patents more than the former two. That having been said, the Linux Foundation does a lot more than it should to endorse software patents, even with the OIN. The so-called ‘ecosystem’ it promotes involves a lot of patented and proprietary software, so the policies embraced by the Linux Foundation are at times incompatible with Linux itself. Carlo Piana, a respected lawyer specialising in Free/open source software, explained this problem to me last night.

I agree, and act, but how to achieve that? The lobbying is intense in the opposite direction.

Piana does not fully agree with Red Hat's stance on the subject (like the OIN, its legal team speaks of “bad patents” rather than “software patents” as needing to be abolished). Piana rightly insists that "the *only* solution is abolition NOW". Meanwhile, Microsoft Florian keeps tweeting me a lot about the subject. Last night he was still messaging me, trying to daemonise Red Hat’s stance. He generally daemonises Red Hat, GNU/Linux, and its business model in his blog, removing any pretences that he cares for “Linux” or “FOSS”. He hates OIN with a passion because OIN is a big deterrent/problem to companies like Microsoft and Mandriva in fact has just announced joining the OIN:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the company formed to enable and protect Linux, today extended its community with the signing of Mandriva as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, Mandriva has joined the growing list of organizations that recognize the importance of leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Mandriva is located in a region where software patents are theoretically invalid; however, malicious monopolies and their lawyers try to change this. “Feel free to explain what the author got wrong,” wrote the FFII several hours ago about this new post about the “EU patent” (path for inserting software patents into Europe).

Keeping track of threats is not FUD, it’s vigilance. Linux will need a lot of vigilance as it enters phones and tablets, not just servers, routers, and several other non-desktop market segments that are actually expanding.

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3 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Gravatar

    On another front, it looks like Microsoft has ruined the market for netbooks. Microsoft boosters are blaming the demise of sales on iPad or the form factor on the form factor itself as Windows 7 fails to sell them [2]. As noted at the time, once buzzing netbook departments quickly became customer free dead zones when Microsoft got in. Finally, the channels are stuffed and sales are reflecting it. One article perceptively notes that back to school sales did not lift Windows netbooks out of their funk and predicted that Christmas sales would be equally bleak.

    While both of these articles doubt $600 hype pad sales and netbook buyers inhabit the same demographic, it should be noted that both are ultramobile platforms which still commands a price of over $1000 on “traditional notebooks,” aka notebooks without Microsoft’s obnoxiously imposed hardware limitations. Neither article mentions how the 2007 EEE promise of a sub $200 notebook with Skype, Open Office, Firefox, tuxpaint and other great software was quickly corrupted into disfunctional, $400 XP and Vista computers. As predicted, Windows netbooks quickly broke down and left users with a sour taste. Customers won’t be back soon.

    Nor does either article mention the sad story of the OLPC or the harm done to Asus’ bottom line by Microsoft’s blatantly anti-competitive behavior. The battle is not lost, it has simply shifted away from losing ground, x86, to ARM where Microsoft has less pull. Microsoft might still have some retail block power, but it can’t last forever. At this point, retailers must be up to their eyeballs in Vista/Windows 7 failure debt. They will have to look for something else or go the way of CompUSA, Circuit City and others no longer with us. Analysts predict a flood of tablet computers that will blow out netbooks but they don’t mention what an uneasy slaughter it will be when cheap Android or gnu/linux tablets are pitted against $400 Vista 7 netbooks.

    As a side note, I actually bought a Vista 7 netbook from Toshiba for my daughter. It came with a dual core processor and Intel graphics that are excellent performers under the Squeeze version of Debian GNU/Linux. All of the hardware including the microphones, web cam, network card power management and accelerated graphics work smoothly and well. She now has a beautiful, composited E16 desktop with Cairo Dock shortcuts to the games and other things she likes to do. Windows 7 stickers were pealed off and the noxious original software was dd’d and gzipped without ever having been booted, just in case we decide to sell it to someone who insists on Windows. It did not perform as well as gnu/linux in the store. I’d gladly delete the image if I could get part of the nearly $400 purchase price back.

    Store staff seemed to think the next batch of these notebooks, which came with built in cell phone data modems and cost $100 more would be good sellers. I doubt it. Windows does not do what most people want an ultramobile computer to do and it is so restricted and bloated with DRM that the situation won’t change soon. The data plans are are the most expensive and restricted kind of internet access available and few people actually need it. If money starts to flow that way, it won’t last long as Google rolls out TV white space access.

  2. TemporalBeing said,

    February 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft’s tactics won’t necessarily work this time around…

    In the past, Microsoft quashed competition by either buying them out, copying functionality enough to put them out of the market, or outright blackballing them in the market place.

    However, with Linux any company that wants to do anything in computerized technology can use it. So now, instead of having a single company to destroy, they would have to take on the world to win – even Microsoft’s pockets are not that deep.

    So stay tuned to watch Microsoft self-destruct as they dump money into guaranteed losing businesses in order try to save their own monopoly. Or will their stakeholders realize the problem first and oust the management?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Or will their stakeholders realize the problem first and oust the management?

    There is hardly a need for it because the management is already leaving voluntarily, except Mundie the lobbyist and Ballmer the brute.

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