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10.14.11

Confirmed: Linux-hostile Lobbyist Microsoft Florian (Müller) is Funded by Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 1:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft pays Florian Müller

We could easily tell that from what Microsoft Florian has been doing and saying since last year. Now it is Google’s Matt Cutts who writes:

Florian Mueller, the patent analyst (he’s not a lawyer) who often takes anti-Google stances, just revealed that Microsoft is funding Mueller to create a new study about patents.
FOSS Patents: Study on the worldwide use of FRAND-committed patents
Study on the worldwide use of FRAND-committed patents. Many of my consulting projects over the last few years have related to FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing obligations..

Well, of course. That also explains why he promoted all that he did. He is not alone.

Links – Lots of bad deals made behind closed doors.

Posted in Site News at 1:13 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reader’s Picks

  • Microsoft warns people not to install Windows and other non free software.

    Law #1: If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore. Law #2: If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore

    Most of the text behind that link is stupid and self serving but these two points are true.

  • Science

    • edwards@tevetron:~/ shutdown -h now

      Fermilab staff and users are deeply involved in experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. And other machines at Fermilab continue to circulate beams through underground tunnels. We’ll keep right on doing physics here.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Time for EPA to Get Moving on Risks of Drinking Water Contaminants

      The real fight raged long after Hollywood moved on to other blockbusters. The list of corporations that are responsible for the nearly 700 toxic waste sites with chromium contamination reads like a Who’s Who of the rich and powerful, including military and military contractors, pesticide companies, leather, plating, utilities, and chemical companies. These polluters successfully spent the past decade using every political maneuver in the book to delay regulations on this chemical and reduce their clean-up costs. … the EPA process is stalled on numerous dangerous contaminants in drinking water, including arsenic, perchlorate, and perchloroethylene (PCE). Attacks from anti-regulatory politicians will hinder EPA’s ability to protect the public from contaminants in the water supply.

    • House Passes Incinerator Bill That The EPA Warns Will Kill Thousands

      House Republicans argued that the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 was a “timeout” from long-delayed regulations aimed at mercury that threatened to raise costs on boiler operators and incinerators. But the measure also exempts smaller burning facilities from any regulation at all.

  • Anti-Trust

    • In IV’s New Lawsuit Against Motorola, The Devil Is In The Details

      The shell company called Pragmatus AV-which has now sued YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Yahoo-probably has a close relationship with IV. In the new lawsuit against Motorola, IV is represented by Feinberg Day, a small Silicon Valley IP firm, as well as Delaware firm Farnan LLP (both suits were filed in Delaware.) Those are the same two law firms that represent Pragmatus in the lawsuit it filed against Yahoo earlier this week, a suit we covered in The Patent Examiner yesterday.

    • Google+ traffic grew by 480% in one month, so press reports a 60% decline. Wait, what?!

      Have you seen the stories lately that Google+ traffic dropped by 60%? This figure represents not the decline of Google+, but the decline of newspaper trustworthiness.

      Elswhere it is reported that profits were up 33%.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • SCO and Attachmate backer smears 99% protests by funding “reporters”

      As the New York Times has documented, Paul Singer, a Republican activist and hedge fund manager worth over $900 million, has emerged as one of the most important power brokers within the GOP. Now, it appears that the reporters financed by Singer are at the forefront of efforts to tarnish the reputation of 99 Percent Movement demonstrators… The rise of Singer’s political profile can be traced to his work as a top donor to pro-Bush character-assassination groups like the “Swift Boat Veterans.” In recent years, he has quietly worked with the right-wing billionaire industrialist Koch brothers and Republican strategist Karl Rove …

      PJ adds, “Singer is head of Elliott Associates, which tried to buy SCO’s assets and finally settled for an investment role in the Attachmate purchase of Novell”

    • American Spectator Editor Admits to Being Agent Provocateur at D.C. Museum

      An editor for the magazine American Spectator infiltrated the Occupy Wall Street protests to discredit the movement. He created a violent confrontation at the National Air and Space Museum that got dozens of innocent people pepper sprayed and the museum shut down, then bragged about it on Facebook and in his magazine. It’s not apparent that the started to brag before or after Open News recognized his photograph from scenes of his intended riot. The American Spectator later changed the wording of the story, then removed it completely.

      This story reminds me of the SCO employee infiltration of a protest against SCO, where the SCO employees carried signs about “pirating music” and other things not related to the protest.

    • Wikipedia shuts Italy site to protest Berlusconi “gag law”

      Wikipedia has disabled its Italian website in protest against a privacy law drafted by Silvio Berlusconi’s government which would impose new restrictions on newspapers and Internet pages and curb police wiretaps. The online encyclopedia warned it may shut its page www.wikipedia.it permanently because of provisions in the law forcing websites to correct content deemed detrimental to a person’s image within 48 hours of a complaint, with no right of appeal.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • A partial listing of the systematic undermining of civil rights in the US over the last decade:

      The comment was in response to the story of some NY politicians claiming that we need a “more refined” interpretation of the 1st Amendment, in which free speech is seen as a privilege that the government can take away if they think you’re a jerk:
      “Are we also going to get a more refined 2nd Amendment that legalizes all guns but outlaws gunpowder? And a more refined 3rd Amendment that still disallows quartering soldiers in a time of peace, but since we’re always in half a dozen wars there never is a time of peace. The more refined 4th Amendment says they can search anything they want as long as it’s within 1000 miles of a border. The more refined 5th Amendment defines due process as a process you have to bay a due for. The more refined 6th Amendment says you get a speedy and public trial unless you’re a terrorist, which you are. The more refined 7th Amendment says don’t worry about those civil trials anymore, because we’ve made everything criminal and you’re going to prison. The more refined 8th Amendment says the death penalty is neither cruel nor unusual because we do it a lot and so far not a single person who’s been subjected to it has complained. Plus people cheered it. The more refined 9th Amendment says sure you might have other rights, but what proof do you have? The more refined 10th Amendment says, well, not the people. I mean, the States maybe, but not the people. What were we thinking?”

    • The dark side of Apple

      He interviewed scores of workers and toured the factories while posing as a US businessman and was shocked to learn that people were literally being worked to death to meet Western gadget lust. … [his] gripping monologue has made Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak cry and forced the company’s new chief executive into a strident defence of Apple’s supply chain, but now Mike Daisey has a message for Australian Apple fans: open your eyes. … when they choose instead to remain children playing with toys it’s infantilism of the highest order. …

      The current CEO of Apple is the man most credited with moving all manufacturing to China.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • As Expected, Alternative DNS Systems Sprouting Up To Ignore US Censorship

      What’s just as stunning as the fact that supporters of PROTECT IP still can’t figure out how this is really, really bad, is that they also don’t realize how this pretty much destroys any argument the US makes around the globe in trying to protest political censorship.

    • DNS experts including Paul Vixie, Dan Kaminsky and now-ICANN chair Steve Crocker said that the Protect-IP Act in the US would persuade many users to switch to offshore DNS servers. They warned that this would lead to a rise in cybercrime against consumers, as disreputable or insecure DNS providers send surfers to spoofs of banks and other sensitive sites. … BlockAid’s web site says that it may financially support itself in future by showing ad-laden web pages instead of returning NXDOMAIN errors, a much-criticized money-making tactic many ISPs already use.

      So far, BlockAid is only as disreputable as ordinary US ISPs who also run DNS that are often targeted by criminals.

    • DNS Bypass Systems Needed Now! — VeriSign Wants Right to Shut Down Domains for Pretty Much Any Reason

      While it is understood that long-term efforts are necessary to replace the existing increasingly co-opted and abused DNS with an entirely new, distributed system not subject to such abuses (e.g. “IDONS” or some other mechanism), it is also extremely clear that concerned organizations and individuals need to be working right now on short-term alternatives that can be brought into immediate action

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Microsoft Extorts Linux Again, Its Troll Intellectual Ventures Suggested for Antitrust Intervention

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Patents at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: More and more scrutiny for the Microsoft cartel as lobbying, extortion, and even lawsuits by proxy become more evident

IN THE previous post we showed Microsoft’s own reminder that it was lobbying for software patents in Europe.

To say more about Microsoft, “Alcatel-Lucent Told Microsoft Damages Award May Be Reduced,” says a Microsoft-friendly source in a new report which stresses that “Alcatel-Lucent’s patent-infringement jury award against Microsoft Corp. may be lowered to $26.3 million from $70 million, a federal judge said.”

The Alcatel-Lucent was covered here years ago as it was one of those cases Microsoft used to paint itself a “victim” of the patent system while continuing to attack Linux with extortion, either directly or through patent trolls. A couple of months ago someone who was evaluating Acacia contacted us by IRC. Some investors still try to put a worth on the patent-trolling business and Dana Blankenhorn too tries to assess their worth. “Regular readers here know,” he writes, “that Interdigital (IDCC) doesn’t make anything. Except money. Its patented technologies are at the heart of most major cell phones. It licenses those patents, and as the interest in software patents has risen, its stock has as well.”

A favourite patent troll of Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures, is now extorting quite hard for profit and becomes the subject of an antitrust-related appeal. Masnick had this to say about it:

If The DOJ Really Wants To Review Anticompetitive Patenting, Why Doesn’t It Look At Intellectual Ventures?

We were just noting the oddities of Intellectual Ventures suing Motorola Mobility Inc. as MMI is likely being acquired by Google — since Google is an IV investor, and supposedly immune from suits over IV’s patents. It would seem like once a deal closes, that the lawsuit would be moot. Along those lines, the folks at M*CAM, who spend a lot of time doing detailed analysis of patent quality, have written a compelling open letter to the Justice Department. You see, the Justice Department is investigating the Motorola Mobility buy to see if it would be anti-competitive. Now, pretty much everyone (including Google) has admitted that the Motorola Mobility buy is mostly about the patents, and patents are technically a monopoly, but they’re a legal monopoly. However, the pooling of patents can be anti-competitive. Either way, M*CAM can’t quite figure out the reasons here, noting that vertical integration isn’t seen as a problem by the Justice Department (see, Oracle, Sun)

For those who have not heard yet, Microsoft found another extortion victim. We will write about it separately because I had a post about it but lost it while editing on the Palm PDA, as usual. The key points were, Microsoft Florian carries on boosting Microsoft’s latest extortion deal (telling off Google), which targets Android and Chrome OS without mentioning any specific details. CNET also plays along with Microsoft’s racketeers and the coverage of this was extensive enough, although it suffered from lack of details (by design). IBM’s Rex Ballard, on behalf of himself only, writes in USENET: “It’s finally here – Microsoft Linux!!!

“Yes,” he writes, “Microsoft has finally found a way to use it’s monopoly power to extort more $billions from software it didn’t develop, doesn’t own, and has probably stolen.

“That’s right boys and girls who spend the last 20 years supporting Linux in hopes of breaking the Microsoft Desktop Monopoly – Microsoft has figured out that it can threaten to sue smaller companies for patent infringement. Never mind that Microsoft’s patents are on code that was released as GPL and LGPL code years and even decades before Microsoft ever filed a patent, or that several patents were filed on code Microsoft never published and protected with nondisclosure and trade secrets protections.

“Apparently, one of the 10 people who has ever seen the Microsoft code, who has worked for Microsoft and were never fired, somehow took the patented code and contributed it to Linux years BEFORE Microsoft even FILED their patents.

“Of course, Microsoft has a $2 billion a year legal budget, and if Microsoft files lawsuits against smaller companies like Quanta, the legal mess alone could drain their budgets, profits and any cash reserves in motions and other forms of attrition.

“I’m surprised that Google hasn’t just told it’s licensees that they would indemnify them against any Microsoft Patents. That would be two giants and in that scenario, Microsoft has far more to lose, because they have far more to keep hidden.”

Microsoft Lobbies for More Patents in Europe While Apple Blocks and Castrates Linux Devices in the EU

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft AstroTurf, Apple aggression

Grass

Summary: The duopoly of Linux foes is working hard not to outpace Linux/Android but to cheat and interfere with fair competition

THE CONSEQUENCES of what Halliburton [1, 2, 3] did are still discussed in British news sites. More and more people are becoming aware of the problem. This can help bring patent trolls to the UK along with more litigation.

There are new stories of software patents being used offensively, but these are mostly stories from the US. The danger is that by letting multinationals and patent trolls expand their lawsuits or their arsenal to Europe there will be less opportunity for European businesses to work in peace. Apple is already among those who harm Europe by denying access of certain products and certain features into the continent. “Samsung To Alter Smartphones To Skirt E.U. Ban” says a headline from IW and Apple evidently continues to innovate even after Steve Jobs' departure — innovating in the legal department by blocking Android tablets [1, 2]. Apple suppresses innovation having taken all of its ideas from others.

Microsoft too is a major problem because it lobbies for the EU Patent (allowing bans and fines to have their scope expanded). The other day we were not quite so sure what to do to counter all that lobbying, but Glyn Moody used his IDG blog to push a rebuttal to disinformation into public awareness. Quoting the article’s opening paragraphs:

One of the striking changes at Microsoft over the last twenty years is how savvy it has become in terms of lobbying and influencing political opinion. There was a time when, like most serious tech companies, it regarded this kind of sneaky activity as beneath it – something that only tobacco companies would stoop to. No more; today, it bombards everyone and anyone with a constant stream of carefully-crafted policy papers and posts designed to achieve its goals.

Here’s the latest one. It comes form the “Positions” page of Microsoft’s Digital Policy site in Europe. It’s called simply “Intellectual Property”, and is written in a deceptively simple style, as if it were some non-contentious statement of truths universally acknowledged.

“After failure of introducing EU swpats [software patents], the unitary patent idea has become the back-door way of achieving the same goal,” writes the FFII’s president, quoting the above.

There are patent boosters in the UK working to make FRAND (patents in standards) more commonplace. Moody wrote a great deal about this subject before, even in the very same blog. In the next blog post we will show how Microsoft uses all that lobbying to actively suppress Linux adoption and also to tax its use (Android and beyond, even GNU/Linux). This is an issue we have warned about for 5 years.

Microsoft Linux (SUSE) Still Wants to Absorb MeeGo

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World is mine

Summary: Freedom in mobile squashed by Mono and the Linux-taxing distributor (funded by Microsoft)

In a new blog post from Christine Hall she warns about this type of plug for OpenSUSE, where Jos Poortvliet tries to recruit people using MeeGo as the excuse du jour. Remember that Novell's main contribution to MeeGo was Mono applications. To quote Christine:

I have a feeling that Poortvliet is probably a decent enough sort of open source guy, but I figure he’s got a pretty serious case of denial going on. Does he realize that SLED has an indemnity agreement with Microsoft that’s only legal under the GPL because SUSE lies about their end of the bargain? Or that SUSE is like a kept lover, that Redmond regularly pours $100 million chunks of cash into the company?

So, when I hear the community development project openSUSE is opening their arms and offering MeeGo a home, I have to wonder if the suits at Attachmete, SUSE’s owners, are behind this. Then I wonder, what’s in it for them?

Maybe it’s simple and innocent. Maybe they realize their love affair with Microsoft is a public relations disaster and they’re opening up a home for orphaned open source projects as a way of building up some FOSS cred. That wouldn’t be so bad, but if that’s the motive I wouldn’t count on it lasting very long if I were involved with the MeeGo project. There’s also the possibility they have some idea of having a mobile OS that’s highly integrated with their server OS. I can see where that could have some potential value for enterprise customers down the line.

My fear, however, which may be entirely unwarranted, is that this somehow has something to do with SUSE’s close relationship with Microsoft. I have absolutely no idea what this could be, except I’m pretty sure that Windows Phone 7 would somehow be involved and that ultimately it wouldn’t be good for Android or any other open source mobile OS. In other words, I smell some sort of FUD attack in the making.

Will support for this platform too be offered by a site run by Microsoft to put a tax on Linux?

Only days ago we wrote about OpenQA because Jos, an employee of Attachmate, tried to recruit people to give their time away for free.

It’s not really Jos’ fault that his boss assigns him tasks like that, but with posts like these it just ought to be obvious what he is doing to remove the costs of testing OpenSUSE. The head of SUSE is quoted as touting Microsoft “interop” (or patent tax in disguise) as the key feature. Here is the summary of the new interview:

In an exclusive interview, Suse president and GM Nils Brauckmann talks about strategic partnerships, building clouds, and whether the economic downturn presents an opportunity for open source

“Strategic partnership” is a euphemism for patent deal that helps Microsoft makes money from GNU/Linux. People should avoid SUSE to get across the message that Microsoft is not entitled to make money from GNU/Linux.

The Free Software Foundation Takes Action Against Microsoft’s Abuses With UEFI

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Tivoization, Vista 8 at 11:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU father

Summary: The largest Free/libre software advocacy group issues a formal statement and call for action against Microsoft’s TiVoization push

ON SEVERAL occasions before we mentioned the situation with regards to UEFI for Vista 8 [1, 2, 3] and we are gratified to see the FSF getting involved because it has a lot of influence, so it can make things happen. From its formal statement:

Microsoft has announced that if computer makers wish to distribute machines with the Windows 8 compatibility logo, they will have to implement a measure called “Secure Boot.” Secure Boot is designed to protect against malware by preventing computers from loading unauthorized binary programs when booting. In practice, this means that computers implementing it won’t boot unauthorized operating systems — including initially authorized systems that have been modified without being re-approved.

Please go ahead and sign the statement.

This just helps show that the FSF was right all along about TiVoization. It had insight and foresight. Speaking of the FSF, its founder Richard Stallman has just told me that “My feelings regarding Jobs are about his work, not about him personally. What I said about Jobs was about his work.” This is worth clarifying for all those who took his words out of context (and we chose not to feed these by doing an article about it).

Links 14/10/2011: Fedora Web of Trust, Ubuntu Reviews

Posted in News Roundup at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Has IBM kicked OpenOffice.org to the curb?

      Hey, here’s one for you: would somebody explain to me why we’re at the point where statements like “OpenOffice.org can’t be allowed to die!” are being made?

      Those are the words of Stefan Taxhet, CEO of Team OpenOffice.org e.V., the German non-profit responsible for managing the fundraising for the Apache OpenOffice.org project. Taxhet made this statement in a press release Tuesday that announced new fundraising efforts for the project, which is apparently in need of a cash infusion.

Leftovers

  • Dennis Ritchie

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • No Privacy Without Net Neutrality

      In a ground-breaking opinion on Net neutrality, the European Data Protection Supervisor stresses that restrictions to Internet access inevitably harm privacy. As the European Parliament enters in the final stage of the negotiations on its resolution on Net neutrality, this opinion underlines that the EU Commission’s “wait and see” approach is bound to fail and is unjustifiable. Members of the EU Parliament – who will soon hold a crucial vote on the matter – must preserve citizens’ privacy by requiring strong regulatory measures to ban discrimination of online communications.

  • Copyrights

    • Evidence please

      The Government now has a chance to set out clear strategies for assessing the impact of infringement and the effectiveness of different enforcement strategies. Doing so is stage one in finding a way to bring the voices in this debate – be it rights holders, artists, or civil society – closer together to discuss practical, effective and proportionate policy.

    • Minute Meme “Credit is Due” Distinguishes Plagiarism from Copyright Infringement

      One of the most irritating myths promulgated by the entertainment industry is the idea that copyright is an ethical imperative because it’s bad to “steal other people’s ideas”. This is frequently combined with an illustrative story of plagiarism — in other words, a situation in which someone fraudulently claims credit for someone else’s work. Of course, this is nonsense. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are two completely different things. Although they sometimes occur together, there are many examples of either without the other. And if your eyes just glazed over — no problem: Nina Paley has made it easy with her new Minute Meme for QuestionCopyright.org, called “Credit is Due”.

    • ACTA

      • FFII urges EP Civil Liberties Committee to formulate opinion on ACTA

        ACTA is a multilateral agreement which proposes international standards for enforcement of intellectual property rights. According to the FFII, research has shown serious fundamental rights issues.

        A group of prominent European academics published an opinion on ACTA. They conclude that certain ACTA provisions are not entirely compatible with EU law and will directly or indirectly require additional action on the EU level. They invite “the European institutions, in particular the European Parliament, and the national legislators and governments, to carefully consider the above mentioned points and, as long as significant deviations from the EU acquis or serious concerns on fundamental rights, data protection, and a fair balance of interests are not properly addressed, to withhold consent.”

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