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02.22.11

Microsoft is Polluting the Codec and Mobile Space With Software Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google at 12:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Together with new partners like Nokia, Microsoft is trying to ensure that Internet video and the smartphones market are as toxic as possible for Linux

A FEW days ago we wrote about Microsoft banning open source licences. After some damage control (very much anticipated) it is said that Microsoft excludes licences which are against software patents:

Specifically banned are the GPLv3, Affero GPLv3 and LGPLv3. Any code that is released under the equivalents of these three licences is also not allowed in the Marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, the Microsoft booster Peter Bright adds an attack on the GPL. If it’s bad for Microsoft, then it’s bad for Peter too. They are in the same team.

Meanwhile, it is suspected that Microsoft wants Nokia’s patents (maybe it wishes to ‘pull a CPTN’ on Nokia, just like it did on Novell). The deal may be about more than just Vista Phony 7 [1, 2, 3, 4], which cannot do anything but harm to Nokia. What an appalling deal that was. To quote some bits from that deal’s statements, “Nokia’s history of innovation in the hardware space, global hardware scale, strong history of intellectual property creation and navigation assets are second to none…”

Combined with this article, it sure seems like Nokia has malicious plans that involve patents, with Microsoft on the side. “There are other mobile ecosystems,” the article says. “We will disrupt them.”

Disrupt, eh? Elop also said: “I am not a Trojan horse.”

It is ‘[s]ad when you have to say something like, “I am not a Trojan horse,”‘ claims Groklaw. ‘It’s sort of like Nixon’s “I am not a crook.”‘ Microsoft booster Matt Rosoff [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] based his analysis on this report (the source and focus of such an article is Elop boosting Vista Phony 7) when he showed that Elop sold all his Microsoft shares. The Microsoft camp is quick to jump to Microsoft’s rescue and hide evidence of entryism. What the boosters won’t show is that Elop buys Nokia shares only well after he crashed the stock, as more of a symbolic gesture. Chris Ziegler from Engadget spoke to Elop. “He seems to say MeeGo is the Nokia future,” Groklaw points out, surprised. “See what you think he means in this video interview.”

“The FSF should be commended for the work that it does to protect software freedom from software patents.”In relation to another article (“IBM’s post-Jeopardy Watson plans”) Groklaw asked: “Could you ask it who is behind all the legal attacks on Linux? What? Too simple?”

Let us remember Nokia’s lobbying for MPEG-LA*, which is attacking VP8, if not yet by actions then by words, as documented by the FSF-funded swpat.org. The FSF itself has just called for a Boycott of any company that signs onto the MPEG-LA patent pool. The FSF’s statement says: “we’re asking everyone who values a web free of restrictions and threats like this — and especially everyone who values the publication of audio and video files on the web — to sign a pledge that they will boycott any and all companies who sign onto this patent pool.”

Andreas K. Foerster (AKF) added the suggestion that the FSF “should also ask companies with patents that read on vp8 (if there are any) to set a good precedent and set them free!”

The FSF should be commended for the work that it does to protect software freedom from software patents. In a very recent debate on the subject (the FSF was there) it is said that software patent proponents won — a “win” that Satipera says simply means that “lawyers and patent trolls defend their living”:

Software is not just ones and zeros or math, they said. The binary code is representative of the underlying electrical impulses being used to run a computer device, and that control is just as important and unique as the device itself. Both parties had agreed that new forms of hardware were patentable.

A Web site which to a large degree is steered by Microsoft people (TalkStandards) keeps exploring ways of harming Free software using laws, e.g. how to put patents inside standards so as to poison everything for Free/open source software. Roberto Galoppini says that they now organise a forum to push these ideas under the fake umbrella of ‘standards’:

EU Standardization – From Formalism to Pragmatism? – Talkstandards.com will host an online open forum to discuss the recent EU policy developments related to Standardization.

It won’t be fair and balanced. It will be all tilted, based on the known convictions of the source. Speaking of convictions, Glyn Moody mocks this new advocacy of patents in relation to “Web M” [sic]. Apple is no better by the way as it also attacks/snubs WebM and the same goes for ODF. This new article from Cult of Mac is not just pro-software patents; there is OOXML in the bragging/rave image:

Now Apple has been awarded a software patent for a new OS X feature that could be an integral part of their future remote computing plans: it describes a way for users to secure vital files in a virtual ‘safe deposit box’ which would then encrypt them and possibly even upload them to the cloud.

Apple was not the first to implement such a thing. But Apple loves patents because they create bogus scarcity. Without such a scarcity, Linux and Android win easily, aided by open standards.

Microsoft mobbyists not only mock patents-free and possibly DRM-free formats like VP8 (or WebM) but they also bring a lot of attention to Oracle’s case against Google [1, 2, 3], probably because it can put a tax on a leading Linux-based platform named Android. Alas, Google may have found a workaround:

Re-examinations can actually take three or four years, and even longer, Daniels said in an interview Friday. “There have been re-exams in there for 10 years.”

Meanwhile, the re-examination process could potentially cause a substantial delay to the actual trial, as Google could ask the judge to issue a stay while the USPTO does its work, according to Daniels.

Over in France, Microsoft has been greasing up top politicians, so it recently saw Android copyright tax introduced (not applying to Windows for truly bizarre reasoning). The French president, Sarkozy (Sarko for short), was having a good time with Microsoft executives last week (yes, yet again, as he has been spending years with them). Here is an Ogg version of the video where Sarko is legitimising the Microsoft bully by giving him a medal.

Direct link as Ogg or Flash

In our new episode of TechBytes we made some fun of that by mentioning the medal’s relation to Napoleon, who sank vessels. Here we have another receiver whose main contribution is the sinking of rivals, using patents for example. Sarko should be ashamed for this. His friendship with people like Bill Gates and his vacationing in the house of a Microsoft executive also help explain why he lobbied for OOXML in France, even though he is not a technical person.
___
* It’s said to be the case because Nokia profits from it. It is also worth noting that the person from Nokia who opposed Ogg had come from Microsoft (he did contract work with them).

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