07.25.11

Microsoft Partner Used Software Patents to Sue Microsoft Imitators

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Patents at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Closet mess

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.

Google is Looking to Join the Patents Cartel to Defend Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Java, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Barracks

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.

Connection Between Patent Troll Lodsys and Former Microsoft CTO/Microsoft Proxy Highlighted

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

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.

Sponsorships of OpenSUSE

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 3:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Towel

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.

Windows is Losing Ground, Linux-Hostile/Intolerant Service Pack Kicks In

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shutting competitors out

Cat behind the fence

Summary: In the operating systems battle, Microsoft appears to be losing and a new operating system update from Microsoft refuses to work alongside GNU/Linux

AS we showed some days ago, sales of Windows keep declining (for several consecutive quarters now) and it is reassuring to see that the corporate press too points that out (it was noted in quite a few places last week, along with the massive losses in Microsoft’s online and mobile divisions). In years to come we are likely to see the desktop becoming less important and Windows declining along with the desktop, whose channel Microsoft tames through kickbacks, predatory deals, and collusion (this site has provided evidence over the years, even leaks).

Daily news, some of which we publish even twice a day (bi-daily digests), ought to show that in the form of Android, Linux is starting to dominate not only phones but also tablets and now notebooks (Acer and ARM). In some sense, this dodges the OEM channel that Microsoft has distorted and sidelines Microsoft’s attempts to also impede dual-booting, as we showed here before [1, 2, 3, 4].

Steven Rosenberg helps show that Microsoft is still unwilling to play fair with GNU/Linux partitions:

Just when I’m thinking, “Windows sucks less than it used to,” here I am with my dual-boot system – Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit on one partition, Debian Squeeze 64-bit in LVM (with encrypted swap and home partitions) on another.

Everything has worked well until the arrival of Service Pack 1.

It just won’t install. It won’t install via the Windows Update mechanism. It won’t install after downloading a 900 MB file.

A 900 MB file. For a service pack. Let’s ponder that for a minute.

Perhaps that’s better than wiping the GNU/Linux partition/s, but why is it that after so many years Microsoft still refuses to support a co-existence like GNU/Linux does. Won’t antitrust-prone authorities step in and get involved to assure some sort of compliance? Microsoft does not lack the capacity to get this done. If one person working on GRUB can accomplish the task, so can Microsoft (but it does not want to). Regulatory intervention is probably required here, but in the US, the head of the respective department has just stepped down. Microsoft needs a closer look from federal investigators. They already seem to be missing the offences associated with patent extortion.

Fake Development ‘News’ Sites Promote Microsoft Only

Posted in Microsoft at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

News in door

Summary: 1105 Media runs several sites that push Microsoft agenda while trying to appear innocent enough

JUST as Rupert Murdoch’s Fox “News” is “fair and balanced” (it is currently under fire for potentially breaking US law), some development “news” sites pretend to be of general interest to all developers. One publisher in particular, 1105 Media, runs all sorts of apparent “government” and “virtualisation” sites that proclaims to deliver news when in fact they push Microsoft’s agenda a lot of the time. As we showed before, the company is close to Microsoft and by pushing what seems like objective news into news archives and feeds it can easily give the impression that Microsoft makes business (and government) sense while the rest get ignored and sometimes ridiculed. Let’s take one of their sites as an example. The site pretends to be about “Application Development Trends”, but what it really covers is not trends; it covers Microsoft development, and even Mono which is an extension of that. This type of new example is troubling (part of a pattern) because it illustrates the effect of having the pro-Microsoft ‘news’ network painting itself as independent and unbiased while promoting .NET, trying to lure developers into Microsoft’s walled gardens. Here is another new example from the same network/publisher, which is promoting Mono as usual, this time with Xamarin flavour. IDG does the same thing sometimes, but to a lesser extent. Who is that beneficial to? And why do we allow such sites to exist and thrive? Clearly enough there are some news sites which are pro-Linux but they do not hide this (or rarely hide this) and Linux is not a company, unlike Microsoft.

Novell Remembered as One of Several Proprietary Software Companies Where Products Die

Posted in Novell, Virtualisation, VMware at 2:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Death

Summary: Novell becomes an historical symbol of rapid business demise

IN MY DAYTIME job I happen to see the staged disposal of VMware as a result migration to Free software such as KVM, the preferred Linux solution which is also gratis, not just free/libre. As we pointed out before, VMware is now managed by former Microsoft managers and it is said to have been close to buying Novell last year. According to this new article, VMware and Novell have things in common other than the Microsoft connection. To quote: “So where does this leave Microsoft? As Wittmann pointed out in his analysis of VSphere 5, it feels like VMWare is becoming a bit like the Novell of old: Novell provided a dominant network operating system but let Microsoft creep up with features that were good enough and, most important, cheap enough to eventually win over IT pros and developers. VSphere 5 may be a great way to distance VMWare’s offering from the rest of the pack, but how long can the virtualization stalwart fend off other players, especially with the resulting community unrest over pricing?”

“As for Novell, some years ago it bought a virtualisation company (PlateSpin) whose heads quit Novell shortly thereafter.”Linux virtualisation solutions now have the same features as VSphere, so it will be hard for VMware to justify its prices. The other day we came across reports that suggest Hyper-V from Microsoft is not doing particularly well. In fact, we hardly hear about it anymore. Microsoft sure does not rave about it much. As for Novell, some years ago it bought a virtualisation company (PlateSpin) whose heads quit Novell shortly thereafter. Based on some new reports, PlateSpin is not dead yet, but the”remaining two PlateSpin products, PlateSpin Orchestrate and PlateSpin Recon, were apparently not enhanced at this time.” There is more information here. Is Attachmate serious at all about competing in this area? Maybe it is too early to find out, but there were layoffs. And in other news involving Novell, “Colin Byrne, EMEA credit and collection manager at Novell (Ire) Software Ltd, says: “Every day we have a new case of a customer delaying payment and it always relates to the knock on effect of them struggling to recover cash from their own customers. We do try to be flexible where we feel a customer needs a little elbow room. However, there are certain companies taking advantage of the “crisis” to attempt to push terms out unnecessarily – and these are the cases where we try to stand firm.

“Personally I’d like to see banks giving more support, particularly to the SME sector. But also, tougher sanctions on larger companies who are contributing massively to the cash slow down by deliberately paying smaller suppliers late. I cannot understand how this can be a genuine long term commercial strategy, given the blatantly obvious impact it is having.”

That’s just generally one of the dangers of having one’s servers dependent on proprietary products like VMware’s and Novell’s. How long can these two companies justify the expense?

GroupWise Abandonment Continues

Posted in Novell at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fleeing from Novell

Plane

Summary: More clients of Novell who are using GroupWise decide to tear down the lock-in and move to another lock-in instead

ONE of the issues that we covered here before is the escape from Novell’s mail services, which are an ancient and also a legacy part of Novell. Popular replacements appear to be from IBM, Google, and Microsoft (the big vendors) and they too, just like Novell’s, are proprietary, although only Microsoft’s are Windows-based. According to this new report, Novell/Attachmate has just lost another large client:

Previously, the district licensed Groupwise, an email and computer networking system from Novell, but on July 18, the plug gets pulled on that system and the district will move to Google for email and Microsoft for networking.

Renai LeMay reports another major dumping of GroupWise:

And St George isn’t the only organisation still using GroupWise. According to comments posted under our recent article on NSW Health’s decision to ditch the Novell platform, Queensland Health and the NSW Department of Finance & Services are also still tied to the Novell shackle.

Now, we don’t want to give people the wrong idea (after the sledload of criticism we received following our last GroupWise post). GroupWise, in its time, was a great suite, with a number of standout features that were ahead of its time. With its roots back in the 1980′s, for many years GroupWise was a leading collaboration suite. Web access to an email platform in 1996? Who would have thunk it?

Renai LeMay gives another new example of embracing Microsoft lock-in, having recently covered several large migrations away from GroupWise. Here is another new example:

Cloud Cures Hospital’s Ailing Email System

Most companies or organizations experience occasional email downtime. Grady’s aging Novell GroupWise email system was averaging an outage per week.

Some are choosing Google’s ‘cloud’ and give away their independence. Moving to Microsoft is a security risk, but then again, even Novell’s collaboration tools are vulnerable [1, 2]. Can GroupWise be rescued without new releases? Attachmate hardly mentions it at all. It’s neglectful.

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