06.20.11

Lobbyists Against GNU/Linux Increasingly Use Patents as Weapons

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent stooges

Summary: A look at some of the latest lobbying against “Linux” and “FOSS” in light of the news and bogus ‘advice’ from pretenders

Microsoft’s FUD tactics have evolved. No longer must we see lies perpetuated about the capabilities of GNU/Linux (or that it’s like “communism”). The new FUD tactics paint Linux and Android as disrespectful of the law (so-called ‘IP’) and “not free”. The monopolist has been hiring lobbyists accordingly and we named some of these before. Few of them must disclose their funding sources in order to comply with the law (disclosure weakens them).

Any pundit or other entity which promotes Microsoft’s party line on patents can be seen as endorsing the blackmail Microsoft has been engaging in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]; it’s bad for PR and for one’s karma. Justifying what Microsoft does with patents is extremely hard, so such pundits often turn to daemonising Microsoft’s competitors. A few years ago we referred to this tactic as the “equally evil” troll, where basically one ‘defends’ what Microsoft has been doing by saying that a competitor like IBM, Google, or Apple is just as “evil” for some specified reason (which usually does not compute).

Last year a lobbyist came out of the woodwork promoting a company now partly owned by Microsoft. He got some special access to documents with which he daemonised IBM. He is happy enough to accuse companies that are not patent trolls of being "trolls" while leaving parts of the Microsoft cartel — Intellectual Ventures (IV) included — unaddressed. He not calling IV a troll, even though it is the world’s biggest patent troll. The name of this lobbyist — you’ve guessed it — is Florian.

At Groklaw, Pamela Jones asks, “where can you go where you will be safe from patent trolls?”

She wrote this in relation to Microsoft and patent trolls when she added: “Plus the problem is bigger than patent trolls. Remember when Microsoft tried to sell patents to use against Linux to patent trolls? So proxy patent trolls are a much bigger problem than just patent trolls. Remember where Lodsys got its patents from and the picture gets clearer. There is a disturbed ecosystem here, and the problem is that software patents should never have been introduced into the environment. Now they are overwhelming everything. The only true solution is for software and patents to get a divorce. And the only entity that can accomplish that is Congress.”

This was written in relation to a patent from IV being used against iPhone and Android developers (but no Windows developers). We also wrote about the origin of this patent in [1, 2, 3]. The only good thing about patents is that no matter how much they are passed around, the names on them do not change; neither does the changelog, to speak, or the change of ‘ownership’ (however bizarre the notion of ‘selling’ ideas may sound). So, it’s not too hard to show Microsoft in the details.

“Remember when Microsoft tried to sell patents to use against Linux to patent trolls? So proxy patent trolls are a much bigger problem than just patent trolls. Remember where Lodsys got its patents from and the picture gets clearer.”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw
Based on this item, “Lodsys LLC is a Marshall, Texas-based subsidiary of Lodsys Holdings LLC, a Delaware LLC. Some have speculated that the ownership trail leads to Intellectual Ventures” (yes, not news by now, not to mention that IV uses many other shells according to other reports, at least a thousand shells according to one source).

“Leverage If You Are Threatened with Patent Infringement (and why you should ignore FOSSpatents)” says the headline of a post about Microsoft Florian and the misdirection he gives to those sued by Lodsys; basically he instructs them to surrender and he neglects to tell them what IV really is and where it leads back to (Microsoft and Bill Gates, the patents maximalist who lobbies for patents even on poor people's basic food ingredients, for his own profit). Semi-truths and ill advice is what Florian is all about. As the blog post states, “Lodsys probably LOVES Florian’s analysis and opinions. (I have no connection or contact with anyone at Lodsys, Apple, and no longer any contact with Florian). He seems to be making all the arguments that support the troll’s business plan – you can’t afford to fight, don’t even try, the trolls arguments are decent, just give in and sign the license.”

To quote more:

Whatever you do, please ignore the advice of non-attorney commentators (such as Florian Muller @ fosspatents) because they can be shortsighted and are not qualified to provide the complex legal analysis and advice you will need. (e.g. from one of Florian’s latest posts about the Lodsys patents, any patent attorney should be able to recognize that Florian does not understand the law regarding patent infringement and numerous other issues.)

For example, some commentators (including Florian Muller @ fosspatents) are advising targets of patent trolls to roll over and pay the license fee; Florian is even advising you that the license agreement that has not been made public is acceptable for you to sign. I very much question the soundness of this advice, especially considering the above article at IP Watchdog. Contrary to the bad advice and legal analysis put forth by Florian, there are options available to companies threatened by patent trolls and even if the outcome is a license agreement, Florian’s legal analysis and advice is not solid. (I could write a white paper explaining why Florian’s analysis is messed up, but I don’t have the time right now. If anyone requests me to provide more detailed analysis, I will put it on my to-do list.)

For starters, in my opinion, Lodsys probably LOVES Florian’s analysis and opinions. (I have no connection or contact with anyone at Lodsys, Apple, and no longer any contact with Florian). He seems to be making all the arguments that support the troll’s business plan – you can’t afford to fight, don’t even try, the trolls arguments are decent, just give in and sign the license.

[...]

Any good negotiator (which IMO excludes Florian) will tell you that you do not negotiate with yourself. Thus, I have no idea why Florian claims to be supporting application developers when he writes analysis that attempts to shred their potential leverage arguments and advises them to pay what Lodsys is asking. If someone was truly supporting the application developers, they would be trying to bolster the application developers leverage arguments (as I have been trying to provide on this blog).

Some sites evidently fall for it because at least one writer wrote that the “best course of action for iOS developers faced with patent infringement suit threats issued by patent holding firm Lodsys earlier this month might be to play nice with licensing requests, according to one intellectual property researcher. Florian Mueller, who runs the FOSS Patents blog that posted an in-depth FAQ for concerned developers last week, says that indicating a willingness to play nice with Lodsys could be far less costly than the alternative, in the long run.” We have already challenged this FAQ, which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a trap. Smells more like a lobbying/marketing exercise…

“Later on it turned out that Florian was indeed wrong and his advice was worse than useless.”
Later on it turned out that Florian was indeed wrong and his advice was worse than useless. It was pure poison. As Jones put it, “this was Mueller’s advice when the story began. Now that Apple has stepped in, which every lawyer I know thought was inevitable from day one, how does that advice look to you? It’s important for developers in a particular legal situation to have a lawyer and not to listen to “legal” advice from those not qualified to offer it.” Or worse — from a lobbyist! He also advised companies which Microsoft and its proxies sued to just surrender and pay up. it’s exactly what Microsoft needs. In order for these pieces of bad advice to make it into the press, this lobbyist (not a lawyer or a patents veteran, yet he pretends everyone but himself is not qualified t speak on the subject), whose main skill is mass-mailing journalists, has been working behind the scenes to get himself quoted. We are saddened to see that many people think he is quoted in articles due to merit as opposed to his lobbying skills. He is a veteran lobbyist. He knows the tricks.

This man seems to have been lobbying in vain to paint Google as a patent aggressor because, according to this new report, Microsoft’s lobbying (part of the same party line) failed to incite US regulators to the point of blocking a bid for Nortel's patents.

“According to this article,” notes Jones, “Apple has thousands of patents, Nokia has more than 10,000 patent ‘families’ (same patents, different jurisdictions), Microsoft has around 18,000 patents, and Google has about 600, mostly search-related”, so over whom would Google have an unfair advantage?” Google has its reasons for buying — not so much applying for — patents. Microsoft has been attacking Google’s Android (and by extension Linux) from many angles in an attempt to tax Google’s work and turn that into a Mirosoft cash cow. As we have argued all along, one of the next players that may sue or at least extort Android is Nokia, which Microsoft pretty much conquered in nefarious ways.

“Dying companies try to use patents and copyrights. That’s who does it, as we saw in SCO’s saga.”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw
About the patent war that has been brewing in the mobile space, Jones writes: “It’s been going on for a while. Dying companies try to use patents and copyrights. That’s who does it, as we saw in SCO’s saga. Now it’s Nokia and Microsoft struggling to deal with a world that is passing them by. So out come the patents. If you find that nauseating, tell your Congresscritter. That’s who can change patent law.”

To quote some findings of interest, in case of “a breakup, Nokia’s three units may be worth about 21.9 billion euros, based on the sales multiples of its competitors this year. The breakup value may not include Nokia’s patents, which Tero Kuittinen, an analyst with MKM Partners LP, estimates are worth 5 billion euros. That would bring the total to 26.9 billion euros. Huawei, ZTE Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. (ZTCOF.PK) may also be interested in buying Nokia’s assets.” [via Groklaw]

“The breakup value may not include Nokia’s patents, which Tero Kuittinen, an analyst with MKM Partners LP, estimates are worth 5 billion euros.”
      –Seeking Alpha
Speaking of lobbyists, recall those employed by the company of Bill Gates’ father [1, 2] and then watch who is going after Apple according to the following report. So, who represents Kodak, which we previously wrote about in relation to the Gates dynasty [1, 2]? Answer:

Pickard and fellow Sterne Kessler attorney David Cornwell are representing the firm against Kodak’s subpoena; Pickard declined to comment. K&L Gates is representing Kodak in the New York case. Kodak spokesman Gerard Meuchner confirmed that the firm will also handle the litigation in Washington.

Interestingly enough, the new York Times has published this piece about the demise of Microsoft as compared to Kodak’s (both resorted to using patents as their products are no longer desirable or necessary):

Technology upends companies in different ways. It allows new firms to deliver better products and services in a more efficient way; it also creates new goods and services for consumers to want. Eastman Kodak, the fifth-biggest company in the S.& P. 500 in 1975, was almost destroyed by digital cameras and is no longer in the index. General Motors, fifth biggest in 1985, was hobbled by rivals that could make more fuel efficient cars. Microsoft still rules the PC desktop. But that will matter less and less as users migrate to tablets and more computing takes place in “the cloud.”

There is another lesson in Microsoft’s long slide. It is about how far corporate behemoths will go to stop technology that threatens their dominance. Ten years ago, Microsoft tried to use its virtual monopoly of the operating system to strangle potential rivals and their new technologies. Fortunately, it failed. But the new rising behemoths will likely try similar tactics on whatever new gizmo challenges them.

As the Microsoft boosters note, “The New York Times this weekend had an editorial comparing the current state of Microsoft with the plight of Eastman Kodak.”

Kodak too is a patent aggressor as we showed in older posts. Curiously, at one point Kodak complained about Gates' accomplice at Intellectual Ventures. Guess which lobbyist dare not really criticise it? Instead, he tries to attribute its deeds to Google. Astonishing claims; look no further than Florian for those bits of humour disguised as serious allegations. If it’s bad for FOSS due to patents, then it’s good for Mr. FOSSpatents.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

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

5 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 21, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Gravatar

    Groklaw had an article last week on what to do if approached by a patent troll.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “by Patrick T. Igoe, Esq.”

    Yes, Techrights noted this.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Yes, thanks. It is useful to bring it up again here.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    This site might have outgrown WordPress and need to move to some other CMS. There needs to be more convenient ways to track responses to comments and to search or browse through old articles.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    What other CMS does this better? Well, our Alexa and Netcraft ranks climbed recently, but much of the activity is in Freenode (IRC network).

What Else is New


  1. Nine Documents About the Financial Siege Against EPO Staff (Past, Present, and Future)

    Today we release dozens of pages of letters and documents (internal to Europe's second-largest institution); they all focus on the betrayal and skulduggery, crushing staff in spite of what was originally promised (and what workers actually signed up for)



  2. EPO Senior Management (Cabal) “Essentially Deaf to the Proposals From Staff Representatives.”

    Representatives of EPO staff feel like the management of the EPO is "deaf" and uncaring; there's hardly any meaningful progress (or none whatsoever) when it comes to truly honest dialogue with real participation



  3. EPO Management, Led by António Campinos, Attempted to Stifle or Prevent Staff From Being Surveyed

    Battistelli's cabal, which covers up a lot of fraud and corruption, is attempting to prevent the staff from expressing an opinion (for insiders and perhaps outsiders to assess) because things are really bad and autocratic measures are seen as necessary to keep the lid on issues/abuses



  4. The European Patent Office's Central Staff Committee: Office Cannot Recruit Fit-for-Purpose Patent Examiners Anymore

    One third of EPO recruits are 'locals' (Germans), 0.2% are Swiss, 1% Scandinavian; the EPO as an employer became unattractive and it's unable to attract the staff it needs (as was projected and planned when the EPC was agreed upon)



  5. IRC Proceedings: Friday, November 27, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, November 27, 2020



  6. Links 27/11/2020: Jolla is 7, Diffoscope 162, MNT Reform Production

    Links for the day



  7. The Time Coronavirus Helped EPO Management Prevent Staff From Protesting and Going on Strike (March 26th)

    "In view of the spreading of the New Corona Virus, the planned General Assemblies have to be cancelled," the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) wrote in the wake of the crisis across Europe back in March (weeks ahead of a planned strike)



  8. Guarding Your Privacy With E2EE: Primer

    "As with all security, there is assumed risk no matter how careful you are. There are no security guarantees but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try."



  9. Links 27/11/2020: Systemd 247 and Cockpit 233

    Links for the day



  10. A Free Speech Deficit Harms Software Freedom

    Free software and Software Freedom cannot possibly succeed if we keep accepting or even just tolerating systematic censorship of opinionated people in our community; failing to speak out on this matter (for fear of supposedly offending someone, risking expulsion) is part of the problem — complicity by passivity



  11. Perception of Difficulty

    New poem by figosdev



  12. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 26, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 26, 2020



  13. Cartoon: After Gambling With Workers' Savings the EPO Can Do Real Estate

    New EPO cartoon from EPO insiders (the one on the right certainly looks a lot like António Campinos and the one on the left can be his EUIPO ‘import’ or Benoît Battistelli‘s INPI ‘import’)



  14. Free as in Freedom Should Not be Associated With Cost

    It's important to remind people that so-called 'free' services (Clown Computing, centralised spaces that 'farm' their so-called 'users') aren't really free; we need to advocate freedom or free-as-in-freedom alternatives



  15. [Meme] UPC's Pyrrhic Victory

    Contrary to what Team UPC says, what happened earlier today is hardly a breakthrough



  16. Many Thanks to Free Software, the Demise of Software Patents (in Europe and the US), and So Much More

    On a positive note we're heading into the end of November, one month before Boxing Day; we take stock of patent affairs that impact software developers



  17. Links 26/11/2020: PHP 8.0, Proxmox VE 6.3, UNIGINE 2.13

    Links for the day



  18. 29,000 Blog Posts and Recent Site Improvements

    Over 29,000 blog posts have been posted here, but more importantly we've made the site a lot more robust and resilient, accessible in more formats and protocols (while improving transparency, too)



  19. [Meme] Trump is Out. Now It's Time to Pressure the Biden Administration/Transition Team on Software Freedom Issues.

    The Biden transition is in motion and tentative appointments are underway, based on news reports (see our Daily Links); now is the time to put pressure, e.g. in the form of public backlash, to ensure it's not just another corporate presidency



  20. Boycott ZDNet Unless You Fancy Being Lied to

    ZDNet's Catalin Cimpanu continues to lead the way with misinformation and lies, basically doing whatever he was doing to land that job at ZDNet (after he had done the same elsewhere)



  21. The UPC and Unitary Patent Song

    On goes the UPC symphony, as the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is almost here, always coming "real soon!"



  22. Open Letter to the German Greens on UPC and Software Patents: Don’t Betray Your Voters and Your Promises, or You Will Regret it

    Dear Members of the German Greens in the Bundestag. By Benjamin HENRION.



  23. [Meme] One Step Away From Replacing Patent Examiners With 'Hey Hi' (AI)

    If it's not legal for 'Hey Hi' (AI) to get a patent, why should it be legal for patents to be granted by those who are invisible (and sometimes in de facto house arrest)?



  24. European Patent Office (EPO) Reduced to 'Justice Over the Telephone' and Decree by E-mail

    The EPO is trashing the EPC and everything that the Office was supposed to stand for, as it wrongly assumes demand for monopolies (typically from foreign corporations) comes before the rule of law and Europe's public interest



  25. Making Free Software Work for Users

    The latest reply to a non-developer concerned about software freedom; guest post by figosdev



  26. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 25, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 25, 2020



  27. Links 26/11/2020: AV Linux 2020.11.23 and Blender 2.91 Release

    Links for the day



  28. Links 25/11/2020: GamerOS and Biden Transition in Motion

    Links for the day



  29. An Orwellian December

    With December around the corner and states tightening the screws on the population (or employers on employees) at least we can look forward to spring



  30. The Non-Technical (or Lesser Technical) Software User That Wants Software Freedom

    Assuming that Free software should care about what users — not only developers — really want (and need) it’s important to understand how they view the current situation (with growing waves of corporate takeover and compromises, even expulsions)


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

Recent Posts