Original photo by Matt Buchanan; edited by Techrights
Summary: Proprietary software giants continue to use patents against freely-shareable software and regulatory agencies begin to react, acknowledging this anti-competitive problem
CPTN is a kind of cartel of proprietary software companies, unsurprisingly led by Microsoft. Three quarters of them have a recent, high-profile history of attacking FOSS projects using software patents and now they want Novell’s patents, too. Some of these patents may be UNIX-oriented.
We have no sympathy for Novell, which fuels Linux arch rivals. We have already alluded to the Apple lawsuit a couple of times (last time was this morning) and since Samsung pays Microsoft for Linux, we have not much sympathy for Samsung, either. Semi Accurate explains why “Apple suing Samsung is incredibly stupid”:
Apple (AAPL)suing Samsung over, well, who really cares anymore, is probably the dumbest thing that Apple could do. It could have more serious blowback than most pundits realize, including sinking the iGadgetmaker.
The situation goes something like this. Mobile phones are a brutally cutthroat business, with basically nothing to differentiate one company from another any more. There are only so many things you can do in a phone the size of a cigarette pack, and most of those have been done by someone or something in the past few years. Barring that, someone did it on a UNIX box in the 60′s, and there is a video out there to prove it. Nothing in computing is new.
Thanks to the best government money can buy, the US has a system of rather bogus software patent laws that allow things that any idiot would find blindingly obvious to be patented. Atari’s bitmap patents, Amazon’s ‘one click‘, and any of 73,000 Microsoft ‘innovations’ spring to mind. All these do is subvert the patent system in order to shut out competition, innovation, and anyone with pockets not deep enough to enrich a large legal firm. The system itself is broken and thoroughly gamed.
With that in mind, Big Fruit suing Samsung could be tantamount to suicide. All Samsung needs to do is suspend wafer starts for Apple and say, “See you in court Steve”. By the time it gets there, 2016 or so, will Apple be in business? How many months of no iAnything do you think it would take for Apple to dry up and blow away? Unlike graphics cards or memory, each ARM SoC is unique, needs a unique board, unique software, and has unique capabilities. The painful flip side of custom chips is that Apple can not make an iDevice with another part, period.
It sure seems like Linux-based platforms will dominate tablets (not just Android, maybe WebOS too) and the pathetic Apple lawsuits help validate this because we saw the very same thing happening in phones just before Android outpaced hypePhone in the United States. Lawsuits like this one are a last resort, they are a sign of desperation.
We previously explained Apple’s role in funding the world’s biggest patent troll (IV) and also its role in CPTN. Nasty stuff. See posts such as:
According to this important new announcement, regulatory bodies help in crippling the CPTN provisions, owing to complaints from the FSF and OSI (and maybe the FSFE too). In the interests of brevity, we are putting some responses of interest at the bottom of this post. From the announcement:
The Department of Justice announced today that in order to proceed with the first phase of their acquisition of certain patents and patent applications from Novell Inc ., CPTN Holdings LLC and its owners have altered their original agreements to address the department’s antitrust concerns. The department said that, as originally proposed, the deal would jeopardize the ability of open source software, such as Linux, to continue to innovate and compete in the development and distribution of server, desktop, and mobile operating systems, middleware, and virtualization products. Although the department will allow the transaction to proceed, it will continue investigating the distribution of the Novell patent to the CPTN owners.
How foolish must David Meyer feel right now, having paid attention to Microsoft Florian and published the headline “Novell patent sale clears US regulatory hurdle” some days ago in ZDNet UK. As Groklaw put it in response to these mobbyists, “I can’t resist. To my fellow journalists: did what Florian Mueller wrote about this turn out to be accurate?” His lobbying algorithm is flawed, the EPO should issue a refund immediately.
Microsoft Florian keeps ridiculing OIN this week (opposite of Groklaw, as usual). And also new from Groklaw: “Open Invention Network Takes on Mass – Facebook and HP Join”
The news today is that Facebook and HP have joinded Open Invention Network. In addition, Google is moving up from licensee to join Canonical as associate member, the second highest level.
What can the Open Invention Network (OIN) do to help against patent trolls? Groklaw ought to have some answers to these questions, especially with relevance to Microsoft and proxies such as SCO. In light of some additional text from the i4i vs Microsoft case, Groklaw is an important community site for the defence of Free software. Can anybody help us get those PACER-delivered court documents that Groklaw routinely obtains and HTML-ifies? What will the community do when Groklaw stops posting new articles? Upon closer inspection, its opponents usually turn out to also be opponent of the FSF and software freedom in general. the same goes for FFII opponents and many of our own opponents/hecklers.
The FFII’s mailing list has a new message about “Defensive patenting event [such as OIN] in Stanford”, quoting:
Stanford Law School, Room 280B
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA, 94305
Name of Speaker:
Jason Schultz and Jennifer Urban
Title of Event:
A Defensive Patent License Proposal
In other news about patents, it sure seems like people try to patent (or are already patenting) every little thing [1, 2] as this new example illustrates:
India has put in place a unique “global bio-piracy watch system” through which, whenever somebody files a patent application in any of the seven largest patent offices in the world, scientists sitting in India immediately get to know about it following which the application is checked “for prior knowledge”.
Who needs this garbage detection? Why assume this system which favours monopolisation is favourable in the first place? Even the Department of Justice is gradually realising that patents are used by cartels and need to be stopped/disarmed. █
Assorted responses to the CPTN decision:
The H: Department of Justice says Novell and CPTN must change patent deal
The Novell/CPTN deal was part of the agreement created in November to allow Attachmate to acquire Novell; before the $2.2 billion acquisition went ahead, Novell was to sell 882 patents to CPTN, a holding company owned equally by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC, which would then allocate and distribute those patents between the CPTN owners. In January, the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation jointly asked the DoJ to intervene in the deal saying that the confidential negotiations taking place could “be used to hide nefarious intentions”. The OSI had also written to the German Federal Cartel Office in December.
The DoJ, working closely with Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, appears to have agreed with the OSI and FSF’s view of the deal, and is requiring major changes. Most importantly for open source developers, the agreement now says that all of the Novell patents will be “acquired subject to the GNU General Public License, Version 2, a widely adopted open-source license, and the Open Invention Network (OIN) License, a significant license for the Linux system”. The announcement does not specify how these licences, especially the GPLv2 software licence, will apply to the patents. There would also be limits on CPTN, and it’s owners, from limiting which patents are included in the GPLv2 and OIN licensing process or influencing the process.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Microsoft gets Novell’s Patents rights but must share them with Open-Source Software
Well, this is almost certainly not the Novell patent deal that Microsoft and its CPTN Holding Partners-Apple, EMC and Oracle-wanted . The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced today, April 20th, that in order to proceed with the first phase of their acquisition of certain patents and patent applications from Novell, CPTN Holdings has altered their original agreements to address the department’s antitrust concerns. In particular, “The department said that, as originally proposed, the deal would jeopardize the ability of open source software, such as Linux, to continue to innovate and compete in the development and distribution of server, desktop, and mobile operating systems, middleware, and virtualization products. Although the department will allow the transaction to proceed, it will continue investigating the distribution of the Novell patent to the CPTN owners.”
Andy Updegrove (from the above): “This is a rather breath-taking announcement from a number of perspectives. Among others, the granularity of the restrictions imposed demonstrates a level of understanding of open source software in general, and Linux in particular, that has not been demonstrated by regulators in the past. It also demonstrates a very different attitude on the part of both the U.S. and German regulators, on the one hand, and Microsoft, on the other, from what we saw the last time that Microsoft was under the microscope. In the past, Microsoft was more disposed to fight than negotiate, and the U.S. and the European Commission were far apart in their attitudes. This announcement conclusively places open-source software on the U.S. regulatory map.”
Simon Phipps: Open Source Critical To Competition
News just broke jointly from the US Department of Justice and the German Federal Cartel Office that they have directed CPTN to change the way they acquire Novell’s software patents so that the open source community is protected.
This is landmark news for the software freedom community. The Open Source Initiative (where I am a director) and the Free Software Foundation both submitted opinions to the DoJ. Both agreed that the acquisition of Novell’s patent portfolio by a consortium comprising Apple, EMC, Microsoft and Oracle presented a threat to the ability of open source software to promote strong competitive markets. It seems the DoJ and FCO agreed with them.
To me, this establishes:
* Open source is a crucial market force, ensuring strong competition, and as such deserves regulatory recognition and protection;
* Software patents pose an anti-competitive threat that deserves regulatory recognition and action;
* OSI-approved licenses form a suitable basis for regulatory remedies;
* The collective action of the software freedom community – represented here by OSI, FSF and FSFE – can have an important effect.
Carlo Piana: via Identi.ca
Kudos to OSI and !FSFE for pursuing the #CPTN matter on the two sides of the pond. Seems quite an achievement for #antitrust #swpats
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Summary: The company which impedes cloning of SLE* spreads resentment against Red Hat for addressing the clones dilemma; Novell also puts proprietary software before Free/libre and Open Source software
EARLIER this month we showed that Novell was gunning for Red Hat customers, not Microsoft customers. We wrote about statements from Novell’s Applebaum, which are further fuelled by a press release and timely copies that say: “Support program adds more platforms, lengthens server lifecycle support time to 10 years; final service pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 packages improvements and supports latest hardware” (also see notes about service pack 4 of SLED 10).
“When it comes to Open Source stuff like OpenSUSE, Novell just sticks it in some wiki somewhere, almost as though it’s something to be embarrassed of.”Novell is not targetting (to harm) Microsoft but targetting Red Hat instead. As Gareth Halfacree put it in his article “Novell reveals its tactics for taking on Red Hat”, there is veiled belittling that we never see from Novell against Microsoft (a Novell ally). Halfacree writes: “A blog post made by Novell late last month – accusing one of its largest competitors in the commercial Linux space, Red Hat, of deliberately obfuscating its code to hamper third-party support efforts – raised some eyebrows in the community, so we sat down with the post’s author, Michael Applebaum, to find out what’s what.” Guess which server distribution has many clones and which one has none? As we explained some years ago (a series of posts, e.g. this in 2007), Novell impedes access to SUSE source code, but do not let the FUDmeisters have such facts slap them on the face.
Novell never disrespects Microsoft like this. It chose a side and that side includes IE8 and promotion/videos about Windows. Posted by Novell accounts we find stuff like this and some other videos [1, 2] which make no mention of GNU/Linux. Ross from Novell started advertising videos about Vibe [1, 2, 3], which is proprietary software made out of Open Source software (Novell turns free into proprietary). Proprietary software is definitely something which Novell can put its weight behind, even with paid press releases and extremely shallow coverage [1, 2]. When it comes to Open Source stuff like OpenSUSE, Novell just sticks it in some wiki somewhere, almost as though it’s something to be embarrassed of. The same goes for Novell vulnerabilities, which one needs to pursue by reading non-Novell sites [1, 2].
Novell is a shameless parasite. People who support GNU/Linux should give their money to other companies. █
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Summary: Microsoft and Co. sponsor another entity which shapes Open Source directions and policy
A reader has just passed us the E-mail above, which he claims to be evidence of Microsoft, Black Duck, and Olliance (now owned by Black Duck to run the Microsoft-sponsored Open Source think tank) sponsoring the “Future of Open Source Forum”. Sounds like another case of agenda-setting/pushing while analysts borrow a voice for a buck. Microsoft is still pushing software patents and patent litigation while doing all this PR work to deceive the public*. Here is Microsoft listed among the “2011 Survey Collaborators”.
In light of Microsoft’s lawsuits against FOSS, isn’t that just grand? Groklaw follows the i4i case closely and provides some links such as [1, 2, 3, 4]. Groklaw quotes this bit too:
“The current ‘clear and convincing evidence’ standard is actually harmful to innovation,” said Hungar, because companies are unable to use technology that has been improperly awarded patents, resulting in laying out licensing fees that should instead be spent on research and development.
Time to reboot the USPTO, right? But Microsoft needs the USPTO in order to extort Linux. █
* Speaking of PR exercises, think tanks are a good example of means for generating PR disguised as respected opinions, e.g. Microsoft as the "most ethical" company. The Gates Foundation does a lot of this stuff, paying about a million dollars per day to newspapers and other media to paint a famous felon, Bill Gates, as an ethical hero. It’s all PR. Bill and his wife keep praising Coca Cola in public talks (they also invest in this abusive company which murders union organisers) and according to this new report, “Big Soda Uses Philanthropy to Silence Opposition, Neutralize Soda Taxes”. Just like the Gates Foundation, which is used to silence opposition to Microsoft and help Gates pay no tax (he gets exempted while taxing everyone else, e.g. PC buyers who are forced to pay for Windows).
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“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have.”
–Steve Jobs, Apple CEO
Summary: Microsoft is still in catch-up mode; Apple is increasingly entering litigation mode against Linux, just like Microsoft
HYPOCRISY reaches new levels when a company insists on copying GNU or Linux and then suing it for alleged “copying”. Apple now uses more than just patents, resorting to other forms of intellectual monopolies as though Apple actually invented tablets. Apple invented the over-pricing model and excelled at that, but that’s just all it ever did. Actually, even that is not Apple’s invention as Steve Jobs’ good friends at Oracle, for example, do the same thing (but not on the desktop).
People who overcome the reality distortion field would probably be aware that copying of ideas is usually based on platforms like GNU/Linux and Free software in general — the areas where all the talented developers tend to go and work freely, expanding creatively their own environment (KDE is an excellent example). As Microsoft is ramping up Vista 8 (Vista 7 sales are poor in business and Microsoft counts XP sales as “7″), it is clear that the whole thing is just more marketing, not more substantial features. It’s like Mojave or Vista 7 all over again, relying on PR departments, not engineering. “Microsoft will allow USB key installs of Windows 8″ says this headline, boasting imaginary (yet to be seen to be believed) features that have already existed in GNU/Linux for ages. Should “Linux” sue Microsoft for copying? If it had adopted Microsoft’s and Apple’s modus operandi, it would, wouldn’t it? █
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Summary: The “1% market share” myth and other commons lies that paint Microsoft as just a scapegoat and its critics as “haters”
A firm called Net Applications is being paid by Microsoft and Apple (which are clients or even more) to keep doing its thing, pushing all sorts of figures which do not represent reality in the global sense. As Pogson explains, there is verifiable evidence with which to debunk the claims, namely Apple’s sales figures:
The stats he quotes are bogus. They don’t get MacOS share close and we know them precisely because Apple states unit shipments in it filings with the SEC. 4.143 million Mac shipments per quarter. The world is shipping 90 million personal computers in a quarter. That comes to 4.6% while NetApplications claims 5.25%. Similarly Forbes claims M$ has only a 72% attach rate these days. That leaves 13% for GNU/Linux. If the desktop war is over why is M$ losing share?
Net Applications also used to claim ~10% for Mac OS X. This was halved overnight. This just shows what a joke these figures can be, but it never stops anti-GNU/Linux trolls from pretending that the free operating systems hover around 1% market share. Take for example Internet trolls who go by a name like “hairyfeet”, who is promoting Mono in Slashdot and also posting venomous comments that are consistency hostile towards FOSS. As Pogson explains and shows that this troll is now smearing Groklaw and Techrights too:
One place on the web where my comments on things IT are published is Katherine Noyes, “Linux Blog Safari“. One of the contributors is a troll named “hairyfeet”. I suspect that’s just a cover for his scaly body. Only reptiles could be as cold in his comment about GROKLAW winding up:
“Good riddance, I say,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet opined. “Groklaw frankly became ‘Boycott Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL)’ in that EVERYTHING had to be an evil plot from Redmond.”
There is a tiny element of truth under there somewhere but it underlies the larger truth that M$ leaves nothing to chance in every release of every product to ensure success in the market and dirty tricks are one of a dozen “check-boxes” on their list of things to do in the year or so before a product is released. As we have seen in Comes v M$ or US DOJ v M$, dirty tricks are business as usual for M$. It is not paranoid for PJ at GROKLAW to look for bugs under every rock because M$ is out to get everyone. That is there prime objective. It is not paranoid behaviour if they are out to get you.
If people like “hairyfeet” do not like Groklaw and Techrights‘ Boycott Novell section, then it says a lot about what harms Microsoft interests. And it probably won’t be long before this “hairyfeet” troll repeats the claim that GNU/Linux has 1% market share — a claim that even Microsoft MVP de Icaza made in USENET. █
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Guess who’s still rubbing SCO’s back…
Summary: How SCO’s lies about Unix ownership are being propagated by the corporate press
THE SCO club keeps deceiving. Here is the erroneous claim that SCO owns Unix even though it’s not. See the headline [1, 2] “Las Vegas-based UnXis buys Unix operating system, service contracts from bankrupt SCO Group”, which pretends they bought Unix (sounds like the trademark is at stake, as the press release contained a lie [1, 2]). And also, the same deception can be found here. Are these articles being researched for?
SCO insider Maureen O’Gara repeats the false claims from SCO: “SCO, which retains the litigation, could still present a problem if the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver gives it leave to continue prosecuting its suit against IBM for fleshing out Linux with Unix code SCO thought it bought from Novell.” IBM was not “fleshing out Linux with Unix code”. Just repeating the allegation won’t make it any more true.
The SCO boosters, including those who visit the company and spread its lies, are still at it. To be fair, these people are also those who promote Microsoft’s agenda, so there is clearly an overlap. SCO boosters, including Rob Enderle, are currently attacking Google, attacking Linux, and attacking just about every threat that exists to Microsoft’s monopoly, as usual.
SJVN says that “SCO is dead, SCO Unix lives on”:
SCO, the anti-Linux lawsuit monster is dead. There are still twitches left in the corpse in the bankruptcy court morgue, but when even Groklaw retires from the field, you know SCO’s as dead as a doornail. But, SCO’s Unix operating systems, OpenServer and UnixWare, will live on under the aegis of a new company, UnXis.
This has some people, including Pamela Jones, editor and founder of Groklaw worried that UnXis might follow in SCO’s lawsuit crazy tracks. “Targeting end users? Uh oh. That has a creepy sound, considering the heritage of SCO, if you know what I mean.”
Interestingly enough, looking at SJVN’s ZDNet blog, it is all that’s left there which covers “Open Source”, with only a handful of posts in about 10 days. ZDNet almost stopped covering FOSS after firing Dana Blankenhorn, who had parroted Microsoft Florian anyway. We are currently investigating ZDNet’s ties with Microsoft as we found something of great significance during our research. We contacted ZDNet to give it an opportunity to defend itself before it’s published. █
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Summary: Overlap between Mono and Microsoft is increasing and Novell helps make Microsoft stronger
Microsoft has already become a contributor to Mono. Its own code is right in there and parts of Mono are licensed under Microsoft licences. Some members of the Mono team are former Microsoft employees, who still serve Microsoft’s interests; they find Android to push their APIs into, as we explained most recently (announcements come from Novell, which was paid by Microsoft). They advocate pushing more Mono also into Linux, the kernel. Yes, that’s just the most recent example of the former Microsoft employee recommending that Linux adopts C#.
Meanwhile, the Mono team is helping Microsoft by spreading the dying Silver Lie (why be so adamant to save Microsoft’s products?) and sites that focus on this area of Microsoft’s operation indeed give credit to Mono. Mono and Moonlight are closely related, as we have explained since 2007 (back when the Mono team denied it). Well, it’s quite telling that according to Microsoft MVP de Icaza, even Mono conferences are held on Microsoft’s territories. To quote his new Monospace rave:
The event will take place at the Microsoft NERD Center.
Yes, this is where the future of Mono is being determined. Mono is Microsoft. It’s Microsoft’s benefit, it’s Microsoft’s APIs, it’s Microsoft’s patents, it’s Microsoft fans. █
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