Patents Roundup: Microsoft Patents PR, Red Hat/Groklaw’s Response, and Apple’s Slide to Unlock Thermonuclear War
Summary: Microsoft pays more lobbyists to encourage software patents, Microsoft Jack defends racketeering, and Apple’s lust for patents becomes a serious issue
WITH THE seminal goal of pointing out and countering FUD, we are still naming people whom people should watch out for because of their funding sources or agenda.
One publisher that we mention quite a lot is IDG (parent of IDC). It appoints Microsoft boosters to run an “open source” blog and it shows. Julie, for example, is their latest writer to do a Ubuntu FUD marathon, succeeding Tony in a sense (he did that some months ago for 30 consecutive days). Julie also runs the Microsoft blog and has run it for years. It’s where she comes from and where she still writes primarily. Not so long ago she trolled Jim Zemlin in her headline. We wish we could keep the credibility index up to date, but people whom we add to it choose to feel insulted and then smear us, which makes it a somewhat unwise strategy. Julie is not alone in this. The pro-Microsoft bloggers from IDG (pretending to be pro-FOSS) carry on bashing Ubuntu in another new IDG marathon of Ubuntu FUD and now Android FUD too (using patents against Android). Expect more of the same. We wrote about those writers before, One of those Microsoft boosters from the same network is now infecting Ars Technica. People who are unfamiliar with his past repertoire will not understand that there is bias there. Unsuspecting readers tend to be unaware of affiliations and they can only ever assume that a writer on a particular topic has no conflict of interest. It is bad enough when publication get misused for promoting one’s agenda; it’s even worse when these get misused to attack the opposition’s agenda, under the veil of “objectivity” or “journalism”. This applies to both sides and there is no hypocrisy here. Most people probably know that Intellectual Ventures, for example, is very much tied to Microsoft and also to Lodsys, whose attacks by proxy on Android are not being overlooked by Groklaw, whose new editor does have a little conflict of interest because of the funding sources of Peer to Patent. None of this is secret and in his latest post he tackles Lodsys’ attack on Android (among others), summarising as follows:
New York Times v. Lodsys
This case has been dismissed without prejudice by the consent of the parties and by order of the court. New York Times v. Lodsys (N.D. Ill.) (38 [PDF; Text]) The Eastern District of Texas case between these parties remains pending.
OpinionLab v. Lodsys
As with the New York Times case, the parties have stipulated to a dismissal with prejudice of this case, OpinionLab v. Lodsys (N.D. Ill.). (45 [PDF; Text]) The Eastern District of Texas case between these parties remains pending.
ForeSee v. Lodsys
Instead of a dismissal, in ForeSee v. Lodsys (N.D. Ill.) the parties have stipulated to a transfer of venue of this case to the Eastern District of Wisconsin where several other DJ actions remain pending against Lodsys. (45 [PDF; Text]) As a part of the stipulation, Lodsys has retained its right to seek a further transfer of venue to the E.D. Texas where Lodsys’s complaint against ForeSee remains pending. The other interesting point in this stipulation is that Lodsys has stipulated that ForeSee’s DJ action could have been brought in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, which should help the other DJ plaintiffs in that venue (Wolfram, RightNow).
LivePerson v. Lodsys
The one case still remaining in the E.D. of Illinois is the LivePerson declaratory judgment action against Lodsys.
This piece is not about what happens should you lose your mind and decide to perform a zany, dangerous practical joke at the Hearing Officer’s expense. No, the “mental acts” the IPKat is concerned with are those mentioned in Article 52(2)(c) EPC among the exclusions from patentability, which were recently considered in the Halliburton decision from HHJ Birss QC (reported here).
British patent lawyers will find new victims to leech in their parasitical ways. It is sad, but there is not much that can be done about it other than protest. The plutocrats still write the laws that govern our lives and if multinationals along with their lawyers (lawmakers and politicians are usually lawyers) decide to screw over 99% of the population, they will.
This is not pure speculation. Watch how Microsoft pays Microsoft Florian to help them bamboozle politicians, gaming the system for some money. Yes, Microsoft pays him to do this (a bit like passing a bribe for the work he has done, under the guise of “consulting contract”) and the same goes for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which we now learn is lobbying again for software patents in Europe.
According to the president of the FFII, the BSA makes its move:
BSA lobbyist writing “studies” for the European Commission on software patents and standards ur1.ca/5i2it
The BSA is a Microsoft front group. There is also this subsequent update:
BSA lobbyist Benoit Muller writing “studies” for the European Commission on software patents and standards ur1.ca/5i2it
Microsoft Jack — just like Microsoft’s lobbyists — promotes Microsoft racketeering in blog comments in ZDNet right now. Apparently these people are not taught ethics in journalism school, so the cult of Microsoft comes first. We oughtn’t allow people like Microsoft Jack ‘normalise’ racketeering, making it described as a standard procedure in the “real world”. Some of those Microsoft lobbyists have a hard task of making crime seem like “business as usual”.
This is something that we wrote about earlier this week and last week. It’s like some sort of PR campaign and Jay from the 451 Group tries to look at the glass half full by writing this iffy response:
There’s been a lot of attention on the amount of money Microsoft is making from Android, including Microsoft’s own proclamations. Maybe it’s just that I’m more of a fan of Linux and open source software, or maybe I’m overly focused on the lawsuits and threats against Android, but I see serious downsides to all of those dollars for Microsoft from Android.
I believe Microsoft’s strategy to pursue patent licensing deals rather than sue, as we’ve seen from Apple, may prove to be a more effective strategy. Rather than limit or destroy Android, Microsoft is actually supporting its growth, meaning more Android devices and users in the market. Since it’s making so much money from Android, Microsoft may be less interested in limiting or attacking it, so that’s a benefit to Android. However, I do see some significant drawbacks to Microsoft’s Android strategy, all of which serve to limit Microsoft’s opportunity in the future.
Agree or disagree with Jay, what Microsoft does is extortion and it should be reported for the authorities to handle as soon as possible. This really requires US intervention because Microsoft is a US-based company. But need we hold our breath while the vast majority of Americans believe that money buys results and companies do whatever they want with their elected/appointed government?
We keep seeing patent promotion in press releases, vanity posts and announcements, realising perhaps that while the corporate press (with propaganda like this from Bloomberg) help reinforces an industry where ideas are”property” and are to be monopolised, then “sold” or “licensed”. This is the same corporate press which calls sharing “piracy” and refuses to accept that there is another perspective which is legitimate and even plausible.
There is news right now about Klausner (a patent troll) suing Oracle and HP over ideas. Red Hat is meanwhile sharing some thoughts on the software patents situation in the United States. Its blogger/staff writes:
Last week, I participated in a panel discussion at the Eastern District of Texas/Federal Circuit Joint Bench-Bar Conference in Dallas. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is the specialized appellate court for patent cases. My panel was on corporate counsel opinions of patent litigation and recent judicial and legislative patent reform. The discussion was moderated by Judge Richard Linn of the Federal Circuit. It was a great opportunity to present some views of the patent system, and to provide options for improvement to the very people who can enact judicial change.
In my remarks, I pointed out that while there have been some significant judicial changes over the last five years (regarding damages, injunctions, obviousness, indirect infringement, and willfulness), much is still needed. As my colleague Rob Tiller has repeatedly discussed software patents exact considerable costs to innovation in this country. Although we are still waging the war on patent coverage for software, other battles are also in play, which I present here.
Tiller and his colleague are sadly enough not proposing the elimination of all software patents. Maybe they just don’t want to aim this high in an event which is clearly affected by the cult of patents, to which Apple sites mostly subscribe (because the cult of Apple says so). Apple’s patents boosters still worship Steve Jobs’ patents while Android sites voice concerns about Apple’s “slide to lock” patent, arguing: “Using the words “convoluted” or “confusing” to describe the patent battles going on in the mobile space might be going a little easy on them. Everywhere it seems companies are suing one another over anything they can think of, while others collect license fees from device and software makers just looking to avoid ending up in court. Just about everyone owns a small number of the patents necessary to create a smartphone or a tablet, and they’re all constantly at war over them.
“But a new patent just awarded to Apple brings a whole new level of pain to the game. According to a story from ZDnet, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just issued Apple a patent for a design feature that’s found on every iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, as well as just about every single Android device currently in existence: “slide to unlock.”
“This is the feature on touchscreen devices that requires users to “unlock” the device by sliding a thumb over a specific section of the screen, where it looks like they’re moving a button from one position to another. The slide feature has been widely adopted because it’s both simple and genius – it’s hard to accidentally unlock your phone in your pocket and start making inadvertent calls with the “slide to unlock” feature in place.”
Apple has gone too far and Techrights takes this very seriously because Steve Jobs’ made it his top goal to obliterate Android/Linux. For a guy who disowned his daughter by lying about being “sterile”, Steve Jobs is far too widely admired. His real legacy, as far as we are concerned, is a "thermonuclear" patent war that harms Linux. █