Summary: Public opinion is quickly shifting against patents after a National Public Radio (NPR) piece and also some highly excessive activities from a shell troll of Nathan Myhrvold (shown above)
WE have just written a summary following the NPR coverage that led to some very strongly-worded comments about Microsoft’s patent troll who is the world’s biggest patent troll. A lot of people were not quite aware of the seriousness of this issue.
Professor Webbink has this theory about what Lodsys is doing with Myhrvold’s acquired patent (that he passes around for other non-practising entities to sue and absorb the bad press):
To really understand why Lodsys is doing what it’s doing, we thought it would be worthwhile to ask a patent lawyer to explain it, so we contacted Patrick Igoe, the lawyer who writes the Apple Patent blog and who has pointed out some real weaknesses in the Lodsys patents.
Why, we wondered, was Lodsys first going after the little people, so to speak, first and now hitting up Rovio and Electronic Arts? Is it like SCO, lots of headline seeking, hoping people will be so scared they’ll just pay them to stop? Is it all just so much “legal” theater, in other words, with analysts popping up and advising the little people to settle with Lodsys? I gather that didn’t work. If Lodsys was following a traditional playbook and hoped to use any licensees as a foundation to next go after the big fish, are they now acknowledging that failure and heading for the deeper pockets, in hopes that will work better?
And why only claim 27 of the ’545 patent, which is what Lodsys is alleging is infringed? What is claim 27, anyhow? How could a game violate it?
The head of the FFII meanwhile discovers that ‘Amazon [is] sued for patent infringement over transactions using “a receipt having payment remittance information.”‘ He also links to this item of news about Lodsys attacking Angry Birds — a subject that even the BBC covers right now:
But here is what I would want to have asked him. Is a system that appears to reward those who acquire patents and hire lawyers and punish those who simply try to make things really going to encourage innovation?
My contact is certainly not doing much innovating right now – he’s too busy worrying about the threat of an expensive lawsuit.
That comes from Rory, who in the past did a lot of Microsoft promotion. Maybe he softened with age. Either way, the news might not be so bad for Brits. After all, it is US-based users who are likely to be prevented access to software and Britain might also see developers leaving the US and come to a haven from patent trolls, a haven such as the UK (provided they don’t sell in the US).
As a direct result of NPR coverage, “Intellectual Ventures: Another American Mafia story” was published by Stefano Maffulli. “Intellectual Ventures is the company behind Lodsys,” he explains, “the company suing independent iPhone app developers for a silly patent violation. Lodsys has no employees, it’s not making any product, it’s not producing any innovation. It sues people that create jobs and deliver products.
“Did you think that patents were introduced to foster innovation? To give an incentive for inventors to bring new products to the society and solve problems? Think again. Companies like Intellectual Ventures are just a problem for startups and innovators. Venture investor Chris Sacca even said to NPR reporters that these trolls remind him of “a mafia-style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of your building and says, ‘It would be a shame if this place burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make sure that doesn’t happen.’”. The FSFE raised this issue in Europe many years ago. The US patent system needs to be reformed, now.”
Well, in several recent stories about patent FUD we highlighted the fact that almost nobody in today’s society should want patents. It’s the luxury of very few and it is beneficial to even fewer, maybe less than 1% of the population. In a new post titled “Android & Linux FUD”, someone asks about Oracle’s attack:
Do you think that patent issues and all this money changing hands has nothing to do with Linux? Just follow the money. While most of the legal attention focuses on Dalvik, the Android implementation of the Java virtual machine, the public perception of Linux is also tarnished to anyone who understands that Android is a Linux distribution. I can only imagine what cyanogenmod.com people think about what is going on.
Well, Oracle’s attack is already weakening and the Oracle case might yield nothing at all or only a fraction of what Oracle expected. To quote this new summary:
What If Oracle Loses The Android-Java Court Battle?
Contrary to the blog-based reports, Oracle has been at the losing end from the very beginning. The major setback was when the court ordered it to cut the number of claims from 132 to 50. Another major setback for Oracle was when USPTO rejected a majority of Oracle’s patent claims.
Oracle again faced a defeat when the judge earlier questioned the damage estimates of Ian Cockburn and asked both parties to name more experts to assess damages. An now the court has rejected Oracle’s 6.1 billion damage estimation. The court has asked Oracle to come up with a figure starting from $100 million.
Maybe the case will end in dismissal or some settlement at a low (and likely undisclosed) price. Who knows, maybe it will even go on for years like the SCO case, depending on Oracle’s stubbornness (or SCOracle’s vindictiveness). Either way, I’m away until August, so no more paten rants for a while. █
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Summary: Microsoft gives SUSE another soft bribe ($100,000,000) to help serve Microsoft agenda
WHEN Novell signed a deal with Microsoft it was the parent company of SUSE, which was not an independent entity. Unlike a blog called “Boycott SUSE” (yes, one existed), we were just “Boycott Novell”, seeking to expose the management of the company that sold SUSE out. A couple of years later, $100 million were paid to help Novell — “help” in the sense that Microsoft boosted the bribe to Novell/SUSE following the initial deal, as Microsoft was happy with the outcome of making money from GNU/Linux server sales.
In order to eliminate free GNU/Linux and push Microsoft-taxed versions of GNU/Linux instead, Microsoft has just persuaded the Attachmate folks who run SUSE (the new management is from Attachmate) to take some more money ($100 million again) and help against the freedom of GNU/Linux, pushing software patents instead (SUSE helps validate a debt to Microsoft).
Here is the press release and the new banner under which they hide (like MoreInterop, to hide the ugliness of the patent deal).
Rob Weir writes:
Novell/SUSE renews interop agreement with Microsoft, will work together to target RedHat http://prn.to/pn8tAB http://bit.ly/r5zs1D
The problem with IBM is that it continues to support SUSE with all that Microsoft tax, especially in mainframes. Try to pressure Sutor, Weir et al. to withdraw support for SUSE. It’s just a Trojan horse, also for Mono. █
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The Emdebian project works to bring Debian on embedded platforms, with repositories of custom distributions and toolchains to cross-compile software. I wanted to try their ARM toolchains, and coincidentally the Linux kernel 3.0 has been released in these days, so I tried to cross-compile it and emulate it on QEMU. These tests have been done on my Debian “wheezy” desktop.
Now, in the first section we stopped at: Now go to the timeline and move the white flashing line, then move the image in the composer one more time, then rewind and play the videoclip, you will be able to see the image moving on the video… looks good!
Pyrodactyl who released The A.Typical RPG are working on a new game called C.R.A.B which will also use emotions like with their last game and develop them deeper into “Mood”, “Content” and “Tone” which will offer much more combinations then in the usual cRPG.
There’s still no revised release plans from Unigine Corp on when they plan to officially release their OilRush cross-platform game (the last official update was this “summer” but acknowledged to me delays were likely), but they did put out a new beta version. OilRush v0.72 brings a number of new enhancements to better this inaugural title developed by the Russian company.
After giving Unity a try on Ubuntu 11.04 and hearing that GNOME2 will be dropped in Ubuntu 11.10, I’ve decided to find a new work environment. I tested a few desktop environments and window managers and decided on Fluxbox.
Mac users who don’t like the Lion changes don’t have that same kind of latitude. There aren’t really any alternative Mac distributions they can turn to.
Linux users are better positioned to embrace change, since it’s usually not too hard to walk away from changes we don’t agree with. So why not be a little open to changes? Why not give more UI changes an extended look before we walk away in anger or disgust?
K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)
Some readers might remember, some time back we talked about setting up stats for most of our KDE Websites. Yes, we did. And i thought it is time to share something of that with you, my highly interested readers
Let’s compile a chart of our most viewed sites.
It’s no surprise, our highly dynamics sites are ranking very high. But which and how?
There’s another noteworthy GTK+ development release in the road to GTK+ 3.2. This new GTK+ 3.1.10 release integrates the Gail module, re-designed file chooser features, theming enhancements, and bug fixes.
First update for distribution Calculate Linux 11.6 has been released.
* Fixed KDE-applet knetworkmanager.
* Fixed installation with the first version of Grub.
* Fixed permissions for samba server share distfiles.
* Fixed auto-install the video driver on to the USB-HDD.
* Fixed saving settings.
* To display the disk size using the binary prefix instead of decimal.
* Improved localization of the Bulgarian language.
* KDE updated to version 4.6.5.
The Zorin OS Team are proud to release the Zorin OS 5 Lite, the lightweight version of our operating system designed for Windows users using old and low-spec computers. We have released this version ahead of schedule. This new version of Zorin OS Lite is based on Lubuntu 11.04 and uses the LXDE desktop environment, which brings new and updated packages. Many program changes were also made for this release to increase size efficiency and to improve the overall experience. Most notable in this release is that in can now fit on a CD. We have removed WINE, VLC, a few games and other programs to save space and included them into our new and exclusive program, the “Zorin OS Lite Extra Software” which allows you to install these programs easily if you wish to do so. We have also included our other exclusive programs such as our Zorin Look Changer and Internet Browser Manager in Zorin OS 5 Lite.
Chromium is the only Web browser installed, but Firefox 5 and Opera 11.50 are available for installation. Adobe Flash plugin and Java JRE are installed, and with libdvdcss installed, Totem, the installed video player, has no problem playing encrypted video DVDs, Essentially, the system comes loaded with all the applications that most users will need. Need some application that is not installed? Use the package management system to search the repository and install it.
Red Hat Family
Do you know what CentOS is?
No, this is a not a OS which costs you only one cent to buy. Although, I bought a DVD with Linux OS for 0.01 GBP once, it was not CentOS.
CentOS is actually free Operating System based on RedHat Enterprise Linux. In other words, group of enthusiasts took out source code of RHEL, which they have to publish as part of Linux license, re-branded it as CentOS and published for open and free usage.
Enter the world of Ask Fedora. Of course this is just a test instance for feedback. So test it out, ask questions, provide answers and let me know how everything is working out for you. I am primarily looking at how well it scales and whether open id and your Fedora id is working as intended but any other feedback is welcome too. If you know Django and Python and want to help out, drop me a line. We are looking to add several features, fix some issues and provide excellent integration with Fedora including but not limited to auto linking to Red Hat bugzilla, theming it and providing its own logo!
However, I’m on my fourth day of using CrunchBang — also known in shorthand as #! — and, for once, the temptation to use it for longer that the simple “test drive” is overwhelming, to the point where it’s completely feasible that I may be using this for quite awhile.
Flavours and Variants
On a second thought, I am back into Kubuntu just to see how much I can endure it, I should say it is wow with all the effects as after rebooting it is with nvidia proprietary drivers and the effects are brilliant
Wyse Technology announced a Linux thin client based on Marvell’s new 1GHz PXA510 system-on-chip (SoC), with support for Citrix Receiver, VMware View Open Client, Wyse TCX and VDA, and Microsoft’s RDP (remote desktop protocol) 7. The Wyse T50 offers 1GB RAM, 1GB flash, DVI-I with a dual-display option, gigabit Ethernet, four USB ports, and support for 720p video within a browser.
As Android’s popularity grows its competitors look for ways to slow it down.
Things are looking a little rough for Android right now. Its increased popularity is not only attracting millions of new fans but is also attracting unwanted patent attention from competitors unhappy with its success.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) said a recent landmark decision throwing out a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart (WMT.N) means it should not face a wide-ranging case accusing it of systematic bias against women.
The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”
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Summary: The consensus is being shifted as the alleged benefits of patent systems come under question in the US, India, and elsewhere
The fight over many issues is typically fought out in the media, where public opinion can be shaped using words like “piracy”. Over the years we have seen many conformist views in the media when it comes to patents, but the consensus is now leaning towards the opposite, except in the corporate press (not the same as the mainstream, despite overlap). According to this one site, “Software patents come home to roost” now that India-based companies are trolling companies in the US, using the USPTO against its clients (showing how the USPTO harms the very same nation it is based in while India’s patent office holds back on such foolish ideas):
Most people have heard of online trolls, people who take joy in being rude and sometimes even abusive. You might not have heard of patent trolls, but they are wreaking havoc in the software business, and some developers are threatening to quit the US unless patent laws are reformed.
Patent trolls are companies that collect patents and aggressively pursue anyone they think has infringed them. Often, patent trolls have no intention of developing the technology outlined in the patents. Instead, they act opportunistically to maximise the income from their patent portfolio.
Mumbai-based Kootol Software Ltd has given notice to over 32 companies whom it claims has infringed on its US patent for “messaging, publication and real time searching technology”. Amongst the accused are giants Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon and IBM, as well as social media sites Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare.
“Software Patent Trolls In India” is another new headline that we found today. The article/blog post says:
Patent trolls are people or organisation that acquires a patent with the primary objective of non use of the same. Their main objective is to get maximum commercial benefit through licensing mechanism. They also intend to sue others for patent infringement and derive monetary benefits through compensation for the alleged patent infringement.
Software developers in US are frequently targeted by such patent trolls through cease and desist orders by alleging patent infringement. So bad has become the situation that software developers in US have threatened to leave US unless they are duly protected from such trolls.
So what is the position regarding the same in India. Patent Trolls and their Regulations in India is well founded says Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based IP and ICT law firm Perry4Law. Indian Patents Act 1970 “Prohibits” Unfair Trade Practices of Hoarding a Patent by not using the same and hindering its availability to general public, informs Dalal
Pranesh Prakash argues: “Non-practising entities shouldn’t be entitled to sue for patent infringement.”
Moreover, it would make sense to prohibit lawsuit against another company in another country. This would help prevent many of Apple’s lawsuits against Linux/Android. They all use coercive means like economic sanctions.
Over in New Zealand we find this new article which says about a very recent broadcast:
Also on The Court Report this week, if you create something original, shouldn’t you be able to patent it? The obvious answer is yes … yet in New Zealand computer software is not eligible for patent. For an industry that seems rife with illegal copying and downloading, that may beggar belief. Certainly large software developers want to see this changed; they’re lobbying hard to see their work patented. But there is a less obvious side to this argument … because equally there’s a large group of developers who believe in free and open access to software. How can you grant a patent to something that’s little more than a collection of zeroes and ones?
If any of our reader has a link/file to the video, please share. We have heard from people who were involved in this debate, but publishing a copy would be useful (and compliant with fair use doctrine).
Over here in the EU (see wiki for background), this is this claim about the legality of a system that would potentially bring software patents into the whole of Europe in one fell swoop:
Under close scrutiny, it appears that the legal basis of the regulation on the unitary patent is at best questionable. At worst, such doubts could very well mean that the regulation is simply illegal. In a situation where the enhanced cooperation procedure is already undergoing two appeals before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the future of the unitary patent cannot afford such strong legal uncertainty. Hopefully, some amendments to the proposed regulation could help the unitary patent to partly overcome this hindrance.
The site is actually on the bad side on this debate — that which helps large corporations outside of Europe without bringing benefits to Europe itself. Will democracy survive or will it be toppled by political abuse? █
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Summary: The lawsuits from Quest Software begin to make more sense given its new obligations to Microsoft, being a part of an “Alliance”
Several months ago we wrote about Quest's lawsuits against Centrify [1, 2, 3] and Likewise [1, 2, 3, 4]. We said that it validated concerns about using Microsoft APIs, like Mono does. Well, based on this new press release and coverage from Microsoft’s part-time booster Stephen Withers, Quest is in fact promoting its buddy Microsoft, so those lawsuits make more sense now. If Microsoft does not sue Xamarin for patent violation (the Mono project is no longer with Novell and Novell’s deal will expire in January), how can anybody assure that no patent troll will emerge?
Consider Acacia (connections to Microsoft and its former staff in there) and mind the preparation for yet more lawsuits, which conveniently exclude Microsoft. Microsoft pays Acacia, but has not sued in a while. On the other hand, Microsoft gets sued over Kinect after Microsoft ripped off the people with the idea…and even CIFS and Java to a great degree. █
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Summary: Amid growing pressure from Apple, Microsoft, and perhaps its drone Nokia, Google plans to buy companies for their patents, thus becoming part of the problem for the sake of “defending” Android
“Abducted by lawyers” is how we recently described Google, after it had clarified that it would not join the abolitionists*. Dennis Crouch meanwhile covers Apple’s and Microsoft’s latest cartel additions, i.e. patents accrued (Apple reported paid for about half for this assault on Android) and Professor Mark Webbink has this important update on the Oracle vs. Google case, showing of course the opposite of what pro-Microsoft lobbyists want the public to see. Oracle’s case is quickly falling apart. “Sorry for the movie analogies,” notes Webbink, “but these images keep popping to mind. The latest is Larry Ellison as Golum, grasping his “Java” patents and declaring, “My Precious.” This comes to mind because of the revelation yesterday that Jonathan Schwartz, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, praised Google and others for incorporating Java into Android back in 2007.
“But thanks to the Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine, Schwartz’ statement survives.”
–Mark Webbink“Then the patents fell out of Sun’s hands and into Oracle’s (My Precious), and Schwartz’ statement became an embarrassment. What to do? Why remove it from the internet, of course. But thanks to the Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine, Schwartz’ statement survives.
“Now the interesting question about this and other similar comments that were apparently made by Sun executives is whether the statements communicated an understanding to Google and others that they would not be threatened with Sun’s patents; statements upon which they relied. This is the legal doctrine of estoppel.”
Watch the screenshot too.
Some people are piecing together FUD pieces about Google, and not just lobbyists like Florian and those whom he mass-mails for placement in the press. Here is just one example and a reminder that Google’s plan is to buy patents as a response to this. This seems like more than a rumour now.
Search engine giant Google is looking to acquire mobile chip technology maker InterDigital, after failing to purchase Novell’s massive patent portfolio.
InterDigital, which has a market value of about $3.1 billion, saw its shares rise by 29 percent to $68.67 thanks to the takeover rumours.
It has been hinted even by Nokia itself — now that it is a Microsoft drone — that it might be next in its attempts to extort Google and raise the price of Android using patents. Just pay attention to this news report:
Nokia Oyj, the world’s largest phone maker by volume, posted better-than-expected quarterly profit thanks to a major royalty boost from settling a patent dispute with Apple.
Nokia reported a second-quarter underlying operating profit of 391 million euros, above all expectations in a Reuters poll, which ranged from a loss of 35 million to profit of 285 million.
Nokia is part of the same cartel as Microsoft’s, especially after the company got hijacked by Microsoft, with Microsoft’s big private shareholders appointed to become the company’s CEO. Symbian was taken proprietary by him and MeeGo, the Linux effort, virtually abandoned. █
* In software patents opposition — like in many other areas of activism — there are many factions and attitudes. Some classify certain software patents as “bad” and others as “good” (usually “theirs” versus “ours”), some want to get rid of patents altogether, some target only software patents, some target patent trolls, etc.
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Summary: Nathan Myhrvold comes under fresh fire as Lodsys ruins the industry; Icahn is said to be preying on Motorola for its patents
THE world’s biggest patent troll is back in the news and Dr. Glyn Moody has nothing but “ownage” for him, starting as follows:
There’s a column doing the rounds at the moment that is generating some interest. It comes from the King of the Patent Trolls, Nathan Myhrvold.
We wrote about this before. It is one of the most abominable operations in the United States and it causes great harm to the US economy. Well, the Bill Gates-funded NPR has just written about Bill’s mate, Nathan, the world’s biggest patent troll. It is not exactly flattering. It says that “80 percent of software engineers say the patent system actually hinders innovation.” About Nathan’s racket it says (Nathan’s cartel disagrees after Microsoft’s booster Todd Bishop “reached out to the company”):
The influential blog Techdirt regularly refers to Intellectual Ventures as a patent troll. IPWatchdog, an intellectual property site, called IV “patent troll public enemy #1.” These blogs write about how Intellectual Ventures has amassed one of the largest patent portfolios in existence and is going around to technology companies demanding money to license these patents.
Patents are a big deal in the software industry right now. Lawsuits are proliferating. Big technology companies are spending billions of dollars to buy up huge patent portfolios in order to defend themselves. Computer programmers say patents are hindering innovation.
But people at companies that have been approached by Intellectual Ventures don’t want to talk publicly.
“There is a lot of fear about Intellectual Ventures,” says Chris Sacca, a venture capitalist who was an early investor in Twitter, among other companies. “You don’t want to make yourself a target.”
Sacca wouldn’t say if Intellectual Ventures had been in contact with any of the companies he’s invested in.
One former IV patent was used by an NPE to sue 19 different companies, a broad assortment that included Dell, Abercrombie & Fitch, Visa, and UPS.
These companies all have websites where, when you scroll your mouse over certain sections, pop-up boxes appear. The NPE said, “We have the patent on that.” Which would make pretty much the entire Internet guilty of infringing the patent.
Another group of former IV patents is being used in one of the most controversial and talked about cases in Silicon Valley right now. An NPE called Lodsys is suing roughly three dozen companies developing apps for the iPhone and for Android phones. Lodsys says it owns the patent on buying things from within a smartphone app.
One interesting wrinkle about that case: The address for Lodsys is 104 E. Houston street, Marshall Texas, suite 190. The same exact address, down to the suite number, as Oasis Research.
It now turns out that this patent troll is suing the company best known for Angry Birds. The nature of the patent is unbelievable and Charles writes about vital context:
The makers of the Angry Birds app are being sued by a tiny American company which claims it owns patents on the method used to buy new levels inside the game – a move which has already put off a number of UK developers from selling mobile apps in the US.
Lodsys, apparently a one-man company based in Marshall, Texas, has named Finland’s Rovio in a patent lawsuit in a Texas court, and has also begun suing some of the biggest names in mobile gaming, including Electronic Arts, Atari, Square Enix and Take-Two Interactive.
The growth of lawsuits in the US by so-called “patent trolls” – which do not make anything but simply demand payments after asserting intellectual property rights – threatens to snuff out the booming mobile app market, which is expected to be worth £4.5bn this year and double that in 2012. A number of patent-owning companies have begun lawsuits in the US against more than a dozen software companies. However, many small independent developers find the costs of a lawsuit too onerous, even given that they could run into thousands of dollars.
Professor Webbink outlines the outrageous actions of Lodsys. “So the allegations of infringement and basis for infringement are all over the place,” he notes, “covering different fact patterns, in each of these. As a consequence, it will be hard to maintain these as just four actions. Defendants will insist that they be divided. It will continue to be interesting to see how this plays out.”
In side news, yesterday in IRC we began having a discussion trying to figure out if vulture investor Icahn is after Motorola for its patent or the Microsoft patent case over Android. Someone presented some evidence, but it’s work in progress. █
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Summary: The limited resources and coverage of the OpenSUSE project
While Google sponsors SUSE Studio-related projects and another release of OpenSUSE seems inevitable as it even gets small press coverage, based on the low volume of news it seems reasonable to say that OpenSUSE is declining. We recently wrote about its dependence on handouts. There might be another conference soon, but this time around sponsorship comes from other sources and while there is no parent company like Novell around, it will be hard to regain momentum inside the project.
Techrights advocates the use of any GNU/Linux distribution other than SUSE because Linspire, Xandros and Turbolinux are no longer truly around. Microsoft uses SUSE as a cash cow that legitimises its patent extortion against server and desktop GNU/Linux. █
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