EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.04.11

Microsoft’s Embrace of Linux is Deceitful, Malicious, a Likely Antitrust Violation

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 1:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lamb to the slaughter

Summary: Summation of discussions with two Keiths, one from Open Invention Network (OIN) and another who is a former Fedora member/packager

TECHRIGHTS certainly strives to accumulate new information, if not by researching written documents then by asking people who are familiar with what happens behind the scenes (where no documents are being produced). A long conversation with OIN’s CEO, for example, helped improve our understanding of the patents situation. Many of these issues are passed around verbally, but we basically wanted a clearer separation between FAT deals and Linux deals. From what I recall (I didn’t take any notes), Microsoft bundles some of those deals under meta-packages of sorts. One would be the file systems thing, another would probably be the Samba thing, and for Android we are told it’s really just ActiveSync, which is interesting because it’s easy to dodge this one dependency. We had it implicitly confirmed that $5 is the price tag on HTC phones (Microsoft tax). This number originally came from some banker/analyst in some report last year.

It’s all very vague to an outsider, so we are still trying to get all the numbers right. We wish this was public knowledge, but Microsoft prefers for it to be secret as that would intimidate potential Android distributors and prospective buyers. We already know that patent assurance from Xandros (DistroWatch declared it “discontinued” 5 weeks ago) is valued at $50, so we assume more or less the same for SUSE. We don’t know if Xandros still has that Web page with the $50 figure online, but we took screenshots at the time and Debian developers got notified by a reader of ours who is also a Debian Developer (DD). The same Xandros page now says “$149.99… Purchase Xandros Desktop without Microsoft patent assurance [which leads to a similar page with the $99 price tag].” (Update see Jose’s remark in the comments below)

There are serious issues regarding the legality of what Microsoft is doing. It not only deceives for FUD but it also extorts its competition under secret terms. As for FAT patents, Tridge wrote a patch for that within weeks. If one is aware of the patents (no secrecy), then they become simple to work around much of the time. Keith (not of OIN but Slated) asked:”So if there’s a non-infringing implementation then why aren’t companies using it? Does any Linux distributor still have to pay Microsoft for FAT patents or not? If not, then what are they (e.g. HTC) paying for?”

We reckon it might be ActiveSync. But it’s hard to be sure. Microsoft didn’t say and the OIN seems to suggest that it’s ActiveSync. The secrecy is not coincidental. It’s intentional. It’s for FUD.

Moreover, notes Keith (an opinionated GNU/Linux advocate), “I thought the EU Commission ruled Microsoft had to open the SMB spec and allow royalty-free implementations. Is Microsoft violating that ruling?

“So again, does any Linux distributor currently pay Microsoft for SMB licensing or not, and if not then what are they paying for? It’s not SMB, it’s not FAT, so what is it?”

The TomTom case says FAT, the Motorola case says a little more (but Motorola did not lose the case), and we generally don’t quite know for sure. There was some article around 2007 about Microsoft Licensing (external) and some entity they set up to manage SMB “licences”. Jeremy Allison complained about it. Maybe that prelades the Samba EU decision, but we suspect not. It was in December of this year that the EU Commission had a breakthrough and Easter of that same year when Novell submitted the redacted deal document, which then exposed some of what Novell had done with Microsoft in secret.

The OIN is trying to collect key patents that act as shield/deterrence. I have negotiated with someone who has key patents on tablets (Microsoft troll proxies tried to snatch these off his hands), who after speaking to me for weeks decided to donate them to “Linux and FOSS”. I directed him to the OIN and we’re still working on it quite privately.

The OIN is concerned about what Microsoft did to MeeGo and Nokia, which is now handing over its parents to a patent troll, MOSAID (which sued Red Hat last month), to sue Android. I told OIN’s Keith about apparent entryism at HP amid the news about WebOS. What shocks me personally is that many journalists went to sleep or vanished, so nobody seems to be covering this huge antitrust violations.

“It’s a big mystery,” continued Keith. “HTC pays Microsoft $5 per handset for “patents” Linux “violates”, but nobody seems to know what “patents” they are, and nobody wants to talk about it. Indeed, for some equally mysterious reason, they seem to need to sign NDAs before making those agreements, even though patents are required by law to be a matter of public record. So why would Microsoft need companies to sign NDAs if these are perfectly legitimate deals, and what are those deals, exactly? If companies are not paying for FAT patents, as they clearly no longer need to, and they’re not paying for SMB patents, since Microsoft is prohibited from charging royalties for it, then what exactly are they paying for, and why does it need to be a big secret?”

B&N did not sign the NDA and in fact it 'leaked' evidence of the extortion. Groklaw then published or republished the PDF and there was some press coverage that did not name patent numbers.

“Surely it should be up to Microsoft to provide that at the application level, and sell it on Apple’s app store / Android Market, not make boiler-room deals with smartphone manufacturers.”
      –Keith (Slated)
“An even more important question,” continued Keith, “is why do governments tolerate this blatantly obvious racketeering? Surely the Microsoft deceptions exposed by Barnes and Noble should have been enough to alert antitrust investigators to this corruption. So what is being done about it?”

The government — although taxpayers fund it — is an extension of Microsoft. Right now Techrights is going through Cablagate and publishing relevant cables that show the government acting as merely a lobbyist and marketer for Microsoft. Only if people stand up and demand action will something be done about Microsoft. See how the SEC systematically ignored bankers’ crimes (Taibi wrote articles about it) and a whistleblower explained that the SEC also destroyed evidence. That was last month. Microsoft and FTC/US DOJ are similar. The latter did not even investigate the CPTN debacle before it received several formal complaints. Government kowtowing is not unique to Microsoft, but that is irrelevant. It’s a systemic problem.

“Screw ActiveSync,” ranted Keith. “Let Office users sync through Google’s Cloud like everyone else. Surely it should be up to Microsoft to provide that at the application level, and sell it on Apple’s app store / Android Market, not make boiler-room deals with smartphone manufacturers.

“It’s bizarre. Android handset distributors are basically paying Microsoft for the “privilege” of bundling something that Microsoft could simply provide itself after-market, and would most likely do so for free anyway, for those few who actually need it. It’d be like paying Microsoft to bundle Internet Explorer. It’s just incredibly strange.

“Somebody needs to write a long, detailed exposé of this whole “Microsoft licensing” mystery, and I get the feeling the OIN knows more about it than most. Most importantly, we need to establish whether or not anything that’s being “paid” for genuinely has anything to do with Linux, because from what I’ve seen so far it certainly doesn’t. Mostly though, I’d like to get to the bottom of why Microsoft refuses to tell anyone what patents they’re actually charging “license fees” for. Why won’t they talk about it, and what do bodies like the FTC think about Microsoft’s refusal to talk about it? Am I the only person who thinks this is gangster-like behaviour?”

This problem is sadly enough spreading outside the United States too. The “EPO says Tetris computer game has technical features, thus the exclusion of computer program can be bypassed,” claims the FFII’s President. This fight just never ends, does it?

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.”

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

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

2 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    September 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Gravatar

    I would not be surprised if the Xandros deal was meant to convey that such a difference existed but where Xandros was not actually paying that difference. They get the “special” of $5 for agreeing to the $50 difference. [This is a guess obviously.]

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks, I’ve just fixed it.

What Else is New


  1. The Way Things Are Going in the Eastern District of Texas and Other US District Courts, South Korean Companies Might as Well Exit the US Like They Exit China

    Apple and Samsung conclude another major patent battle (after 7 years of chaos, taking up a lot of Judge Lucy Koh's time), but many patent battles remain, which means that lawyers at both companies receive salaries which otherwise engineers would have gotten



  2. The Patent Extremists Resort to Trump-Styled China-Baiting in an Effort to Destroy US Patent Policy

    The patent microcosm, in its non-ending pursuit of patent maximalism, uses China's truly misguided patent policy to alarm US lawmakers (based on false assumptions and deliberate misinformation)



  3. Letting the USPTO Decide on Fees Would Lead to a 'Battistelli Scenario'

    The US patent office, which ultimately profits from patent maximalism, is being given too much power/leverage over the laws/policy which govern its operations, enabling the Trump-connected new chief to implement rollbacks which would harm patent quality and empower patent trolls



  4. Another Week of Federal Circuit Supporting PTAB and Acting Tough for Patent Quality in the United States

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) maintain a productive cycle of patent elimination, except when the patents do have merit (e.g. when they're on physical inventions and not nature or code)



  5. The Irish Knowledge Development Box (KDB) is Just Another Tax Evasion Ploy

    Ireland — like several other nations across the world — opens to business by basically giving tax breaks to large companies under the guise of ‘innovation’ (as measured superficially by quantity of patents etc.)



  6. Software Patents Advocacy and UPC Lies Go Hand in Hand

    The push for UPC, which accompanies the lobby for software patents in Europe, is still based on a large pile of lies and false projections of commencement



  7. IAM Warns That China is Outpacing the United States at Granting Rubbish, Unproductive Patents on Abstract Things

    Sites that speak for patent maximalists tell us that we should envy if not fear or mimic China's self-defeating patent scope, which basically welcomes patents on just about anything under the Sun



  8. On Ethics of Patent Lawyers

    Ethics in the legal community, including the practice of patent attorneys/lawyers, are paramount; they need to live up to the notions of law and justice, not greed and extortion



  9. Techrights at 24,000

    Techrights has nearly reached 24k blog posts (just a couple of days away), marking the latest milestone in a long history of relentless activism/journalism



  10. Index for EPO and Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans" Series

    A roundup or an index of this past week's series about financial gambles at the EPO -- Battistelli's own dubious idea



  11. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": Quo Vadis EPO?

    In spite of the SIDRU “toxic loans” scandal in St. Germain-en-Laye, where Battistelli is Deputy Mayor, the EPO’s Administrative Council repeats similar mistakes with opposition only from one country — the only country that actually bothered to study the matter before voting on it



  12. Links 26/5/2018: Wine 3.9, KStars 2.9.6, Bodhi 3.8.0, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3

    Links for the day



  13. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": The SIDRU “Toxic Loan” Débâcle a Case of “Take the Money and Run...”

    The fourth part of the series exploring the debt crisis at Battistelli’s town (where he’s deputy mayor) in light of the EPO’s gambling with financial speculators, potentially adding to the many EPO scandals



  14. EPO, a Longtime Privacy Offender, Uses General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Day to Lie to the Public

    The European Patent Office (EPO) has the nerve to pretend to value privacy after all it has done; it's just exploiting the "GDPR Day" buzz to spread some more face-saving lies about the very subject it has become incredibly notorious for



  15. The Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC): This Week's Latest Spin and Lies

    The EPO has adopted a largely passive approach, choosing barely to comment at all on the UPC whereas Team UPC keeps repeating the same misleading if not patently untrue claims to perpetuate the notion that UPC is inevitable



  16. Links 25/5/2018: OpenSUSE 15 Leap Released, PostgreSQL 11 Beta

    Links for the day



  17. Privacy Statement

    Today, May 25th, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into full effect; we hereby make a statement on privacy



  18. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": The SIDRU “Toxic Loan” Débâcle and Criticism of Lamy From Local Opposition Groups

    The EPO‘s entrance into the “toxic loans” trap as of a few months back (just like in Saint-Germain) is a sign of potential trouble ahead; The SIDRU “toxic loan” débâcle is highlighted as per criticism of mayor Lamy (St Germain-en-Laye, where Battistelli is deputy mayor) from local opposition groups



  19. New EPO Caricature: The Rubber Stamp

    Cartoon which circulates in EPO 'circles', encapsulating the concern many people have about the quality of granted patents and unrealistic expectations from the management



  20. Links 24/5/2018: RIP Robin “Roblimo” Miller, Qt 5.11 Released

    Links for the day



  21. Walmart, Bank of America, Allied Security Trust (AST) and the Rush for 'Blockchain' Patents

    The hoarding of patents on novel-sounding code has reached ridiculous levels; very large corporations and even patent trolls arm themselves with such patents, hoping to make returns by means of litigation or an 'arms trade'



  22. Stupid Blogs, Stupid Lawsuits, and Stupid Patents

    The stupidity of the patent microcosm, which would like to see everything in the world patented and which would gleefully smear or even sue its critics (the EFF was sued several times for libel over its "Stupid Patent of the Month" series)



  23. Perpetuating the Big Lie That Unitary Patent (UPC) is About to Kick Off

    The (in)famous old lie about UPC being "just around the corner" is still being circulated, mainly if not only by patent law firms which stand to benefit from a litigation Armageddon in Europe



  24. EPO Validation in Former French Colonies That Have Zero European Patents

    The strategy of the EPO seems to be centered around the interests of Benoît Battistelli and his political career rather than that of the EPO; validation deals and dubious 'Inventor Awards' seem to be part of this pattern



  25. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": The Cautionary Tale of SIDRU and Its “Toxic Loans”

    The town where the EPO‘s President (Battistelli) is a deputy mayor has a track record of financial hardship and alleged financial misconduct, attributed to the same financial practices Battistelli has just implemented at the EPO



  26. Links 23/5/2018: DragonFlyBSD 5.2.1 and Kata Containers 1.0 Released

    Links for the day



  27. Masking Abstract Patents in the Age of Alice/§ 101 in the United States

    There are new examples and ample evidence of § 101-dodging strategies; the highest US court, however, wishes to limit patent scope and revert back to an era of patent sanity (as opposed to patent maximalism)



  28. PTAB's Latest Applications of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Obviousness Tests to Void U.S. Patents

    Validity checks at PTAB continue to strike out patents, much to the fear of people who have made a living from patenting and lawsuits alone



  29. France is Irrelevant to Whether or Not UPC Ever Becomes a Reality, Moving/Outsourcing de Facto Patent Examination to European Courts Managed in/Presided by France

    Team UPC is still focusing on France as if it's up for France to decide the fate of the UPC, which EPO insiders say Battistelli wants to be the chief of (the chief, it has already been decided, would have to be a Frenchman)



  30. Saint-Germain's Poisonous Legacy of "Toxic Loans": The Emperor’s New Investment Guidelines

    Details about a secret vote to 'gamble' the EPO's budget on "a diversified portfolio managed by external experts"


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts