Photo from Oracle Corporate Communications
Summary: There is no going back for Linux/Android domination, but Apple and Microsoft try to collude against it now, with patents, patent trolls, and Larry Ellison (who calls Steve Jobs his “best friend” and idol”)
THE ANTICS of Microsoft have pushed it further away from “patent troll” realms and more into the realms of organised crime. Racketeering is, after all, a crime. But provided one is big (as in rich) enough and sufficiently connected in governments and/or media, the laws do not get enforced properly or even regularly. The media can ensure the public opinion gets slanted and politicians need not take action to please the population. We see a lot of this in Occupy Wall Street.
“The media can ensure the public opinion gets slanted and politicians need not take action to please the population.”As we explained on numerous occasions last month, Microsoft has a bunch of lobbyists and corruptible ‘journalists’ whom it uses to spin what it is doing as “acceptable” and a matter of enforcing the law rather than breaking the law. Caution is required in the face of Microsoft lobbyists’ spin that seeks to portray Google as a patent aggressor. It is very far-fetched and it is clear that they try to paint Google, the victim, as a company deserving Microsoft’s extortion. As the SCOracle trial takes a break the Microsoft FUD resumes in a noticeable way. Those who cannot become competitive turn litigious and even extort companies. Why actually make stuff and compete when you can pay some lawyers to attack the competition and rip it off using legal instruments and illegal tactics that are a breach of the RICO Act? A company that copied other people’s work and then used illegal tactics to stomp on them falsely claims (owing to a Chronicle columnist who ended up helping Microsoft with a propaganda piece) that Android “stands on Microsoft’s shoulders”.
Yes, Microsoft is trying to claim that it owns Android and people need to go to Microsoft to “license” Android, Microsoft’s competition. How it that different from what protection rackets always were? It is not different. “It reads to me as though the MS lawyer is saying “It’s an Operating System, and we own Operating Systems”,” writes one person in USENET.
This type of nonsense helps ‘normalise’ extortion using a PR campaign which deceives even self-proclaimed FOSS proponents (who don’t even use Linux). For shame. This is how public opinion gets distorted.
“Yes, Microsoft is trying to claim that it owns Android and people need to go to Microsoft to “license” Android, Microsoft’s competition.”The MSBBC, as usual, bats for that same side and we cannot help wondering if Katherine Noyes actually wrote this headline (probably the editor’s choice). Racketeering is not a joke and Microsoft is not a “fan” of Android. Microsoft is attacking Android and someone in regulatory agencies should take action. “Software patents are legalised extortion” says this new headline from an opposer of software patents, who writes:
By refusing to kowtow to the US software patent racket, Europe could experience a new golden age of technology, says Mike Lee.
From its theoretical description, a patent system for software seems like a great idea.
Rather than keeping their best code to themselves, software engineers can register their creations with the government, creating a marketplace of functionality. Anyone creating new products can save time and money by licensing, rather than reinventing.
If the patent system actually worked anything like that, software patents would be a no-brainer, but it doesn’t, and they’re not.
In fact, quite the opposite. Instead, the patent office contains vaguely worded descriptions written and held by lawyers, not for accelerating innovation, but for taxing it.
Many proponents of software patents are parasites like watchtroll, who already has his own words of little or no value. Patent lawyers cannot speak on behalf of people who make the software that patent lawyers are trying to tax; generally speaking, people who never practised software do not deserve a voice on the matter unless they become producing parties rather than bullies (for hire) who help subvert competition and tax everyone. Timothy B. Lee put it well in the following new article which he posted in Forbes:
People Should Listen to Computer Programmers about Software Patents
So too with software. The people complaining loudest about software patents are the very people whose efforts software patents are allegedly designed to encourage. If most of them think they’d be better off without that “protection,” that should give policymakers cause for soul-searching.
I doubt it’s a coincidence that this Sullivan reader is a patent law professor. While software patents don’t benefit the average computer programmer or software firm, they’re tremendously beneficial to the lawyers who make a living prosecuting and litigating software patents, and the law professors who make a living training the next generation of patent lawyers.
In Microsoft’s case, much of the lobbying comes from patent lawyers and managers, not developers. And there are no patents mentioned because they know they can achieve more by empty threats than by truthful means that are not dubious and even borderline criminal. Microsoft’s friends at Blackboard also leveraged patent FUD and got a lot of flak for it. Here is a little update about that:
The last time Techdirt wrote about the learning company, Blackboard, was in the context of its attempt to enforce a ridiculously broad patent on the field. Even before the patent was thrown out completely, Blackboard made an unusual move: it offered to exempt open source projects and those who contributed to them from its patent attacks:
As part of the Pledge, Blackboard promises never to pursue patent actions against anyone using such systems including professors contributing to open source projects, open source initiatives, commercially developed open source add-on applications to proprietary products and vendors hosting and supporting open source applications. Blackboard is also extending its pledge to many specifically identified open source initiatives within the course management system space whether or not they may include proprietary elements within their applications, such as Sakai, Moodle, ATutor, Elgg and Bodington.
Commitments to limit potential patent protection are uncommon, particularly for enterprise software companies. The Patent Pledge — in terms of its sweeping scope, strong commitment and public nature — is unprecedented for a product company such as Blackboard.
A proper action to take would be throwing away this patent altogether. Such patents, broad software patents to be more specific, should not exist. Some companies are bragging about these because the USPTO allows this to happen. We need to also strike at this root, the institutional failure, in order to prevent companies like Microsoft from fraudulently claiming ownership of Linux. Speaking of which, Microsoft’s partner Tuxera is still enabling Microsoft to tax Linux through file systems. Companies like Tuxera and Novell too are part of the problem we ought to tackle.
It’s not just Microsoft though. Its allies from Apple are attacking too. All that Apple can do now is sue, sue, sue. It has failed for over a year. So has Jobs’ “best friend” Larry Ellison. Samsung is tired of playing defence, so it “demands Iphone 4S source code” as things get more abrasive:
KOREAN ELECTRONICS GIANT Samsung is demanding the source code for the Iphone 4S firmware in its latest spat with Apple over patents.
Incidentally, Red Hat’s Open Source site had a new blog post about “Patent reform and patent totalitarianism”. To quote:
Touted as the most extensive revision of the patent law since 1952, the America Invents Act of 2011 was signed by the President on September 16. You might think in light of the celebration and rhetoric, that the Act was tackling the big problems such as patent trolls, broad and abstract patents, the billions squandered in the smartphone wars, or opportunistic litigation against users. You might think that. But you would be wrong.
It is not just about smartphones, either. But the smartphones market has become a good symptom of a broken system. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: UEFI spin occupies part of the media as attempts are being made to describe GNU/Linux users — not Microsoft — as the offending party
THE SUBJECT of UEFI was covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and we provided antitrust material to show that, based on history, Microsoft does many such things deliberately in order to impede competition (while planning to market everything to the public as a “feature”, even DRM). Over the past few weeks, Microsoft boosters (with a proven history of sheer bias) have been trying to daemonise those who complain about UEFI and here is an example of a site that took the bait although it also wrote: “On that reading, Microsoft is spitting in the eye of their own customer base and it occurs to me that Microsoft’s secure boot would also prevent Windows users from using recovery and diagnostic software too (though frankly, I can’t muster much sympathy for people who pay for the privilege of being persistently shafted. They’re being digitally bitch slapped.) Even people who do not use GNU/Linux (or even proselytize for it) will have spotted straight away that European anti-trust laws forbids abuse of market dominance in one area to obtain it elsewhere. Already Linux Australia is considering petitioning the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the basis that it is anti-competitive. OEMs will be in the picture too if they lock down secure booting (even if under duress from Microsoft). Cartels aren’t popular. Or legal. It has even be mooted, that “hacking” the UEFI may even breach the DMCA.”
We also saw Ubuntu Forums trying to keep quiet in the face of people who raise concerns about this problem. A reader sent us links to show this. When people who argue in favour of GNU/Linux are supporting this “jail boot” scheme, they effectively argue for locked-down Linux and a major loss for software freedom, which is just what Microsoft might want (unintended achievement).
Over at Christine’s good site there is one among several claims that UEFI is already here:
Secure Boot Problems for Linux Users Are Here Already
More disturbing news on the UEFI/Secure Boot situation. Evidently, we don’t have to wait until the release of Windows 8 to find GRUB locked out of the boot sector on new computers. On Monday, Benjamin Kerensa reported on his blog that he’d received the following email regarded a failed attempt to install Linux on an HP PC:
“Recent articles regarding UEFI and Windows 8 suggest the problem of the former blocking Linux bootloader installation is a matter that will appear at the introduction of the latter. That is not the case. It is on Win 7 machines and blocking GRUB installation now.
“My friend recently got an HP s5-1110 with Win 7 installed. UEFI has prevented the installation of GRUB on this machine. I could find no way in the BIOS to disable the feature and so far, as I work my way up the HP tech support ladder, I have found no HP techs who have a clue what I’m talking about.”
Kerensa says that he’s looked further into this issue and has found that UEFI is already in use on some Dell and HP laptops. Evidently the folks over at Ubuntu are already aware of this problem and have posted some possible workarounds.
We need to make a lot of noise about this issue to convince the OEMs it would be to their advantage to take a position on this that doesn’t only benefit Microsoft.
We saw similar claims elsewhere, e.g. In Google+ (sent to us by readers). Microsoft boosters spin this in Ars Technica and in IDG (no links as that would feed them, but good ol' Microsoft Ed is one of them) while using the classic Microsoft talking points, also many quotes from Microsoft itself. This helps wash aside more balanced articles on the subject. Trying to live by Microsoft’s rules in the GNU/Linux world is not the solution, as we easily learn from past abuses with the MBR (we see Microsoft deliberately vandalising it, then speaking about it internally). Microsoft is again being allowed to get away with anti-competitive moves that it spins as “features”, just as it managed to get away with crimes related to Web browsers by agreeing to let other browsers be installed alongside its own (not instead of it). Here is a new article about this:
Microsoft abuse of dominant position
Certainly the software giant from Redmond, Washington, has invested huge capitals in research and development of desktop software, but it is quite arguable that that alone could justify such a prominence in the market. Network effects can lead a company to dominate over its competitors, especially when there is a time advantage in reaching a market (for instance, see ). However it is well documented that Microsoft Windows gained at least part of its overwhelming market share through unlawful practices.
Microsoft has been accused of abusing its dominant position multiple times, both in Europe and elsewhere, resulting in some of the highest ﬁnes ever handed out by any court. In 1993-1994, following a complaint by Novell Inc., Microsoft was found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour by requiring manufacturers to pay a Windows license for each computer sold, regardless of whether or not it carried Windows on board. In 1998 Sun Microsystems argued that Microsoft was not disclosing key information needed to achieve interoperability of Windows NT with concurrent systems and programs. Following this complaint, the EU further investigated the way in which streaming technologies were being integrated in Windows.
In 2003 the European Union ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without Windows Media Player bundled to it, so as to open the market to competing media player software. In 2004 the European Commission stated that Microsoft’s practise “constitutes by its nature a very serious infringement” of European Treaties and added a ﬁne for €497.2 million. Additional sentences followed this decision due to Microsoft appeals and to its limited compliance to the 2004 sentence. These led the EC to ﬁne Microsoft for €280.5 million in 2006 and €899 million in 2008.
The article as a whole misses some of the key points which we covered a couple of years ago and that’s a shame. Free Software Magazine actually disappoints with some of these latest articles, but it is possible that the PR efforts from Microsoft had it deceived. There is too much junk posted on the Web as “news” and also a PR campaign going for extortion of Android, but that will be the subject of the next post. █
“Never wrestle with a pig—you get dirty and the pig likes it”
–Sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln
Send this to a friend
Summary: A few more words about Apple, whose new phone is having technical issues and former CEO gets criticised for misplaced credit and patent aggression
SOME unnamed reader privately expressed concerns regarding our posts about a deceased CEO. But it is not about his death, it is about what he did beforehand. He promised a war against Android/Linux, willing to invest $40 billion in this war. We cannot just simply ignore this. We’re not some PR entity (to whom reality distortion is the business model), our goal is to explain the harsh truth even if it warrants a bunch of screaming trolls and inconvenient (in the short term) backlash.
The Apple hypePhone is receiving some less flattering reviews lately. Among the latest articles we find:
The extent of the issue is unknown. Apple has not commented publicly on the problem and company representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
We also wish to draw attention to this new article/column titled “Letter: Jobs and the patent issue”. From its concluding words:
Jobs defiantly refused to cross-license Apple’s patents, even for free, as companies with large patent portfolios typically do to avoid costly legal battles.
Steve Jobs idolized Hewlett-Packard cofounders Bill and Dave, but he never adopted their humble ethic of crediting visionary innovation to standing on the shoulders of giants.
As we shall show later on, Microsoft too has this same type of megalomania conflict, which has it claiming credit for things is did not invent while also discounting the many ideas and work it took from others. Linux/Android is unstoppable now, so all Microsoft/Apple can do now it cheat and collude. █
The garage in Palo Alto where Hewlett and Packard began their company
Send this to a friend
Summary: An OpenSUSE-derived distribution/spin is looking for other stewardship (if any found)
LAST week we wrote about the situation with OpenSUSE and its siblings, which lost a lot of momentum when it comes to “community”. This leaves mostly Microsoft-funded employees running the show.
Although there was a conference planned (organised and funded by AttachMSFT) and there is pretence of crowd-sourcing in the OpenSUSE Web site, it is clear that “community” is walking away, this time taking another project down with it:
a) Due to lack of time (i’ve began my Master Studies abroad) i’ve to give up from the project. I think that there are people who are able to lead the project and have more time available.
We are going to cover some more SUSE and Novell news quite soon. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Government of New Zealand and other lawmakers need to be reminded of the will of their people, not a load of tripe from foreign occupiers and their lobbyists
EXPANSION overseas is what enables many companies to grow and expansion of one’s laws is sometimes required to usher the arrival of foreign companies. Now that we learn about the latest militant patent being granted on software and the latest action from a US embargo agency known as the ITC (for blocking rivals from overseas and impose US patent restrictions on them) we can easily show that there is not much good in patents, certainly not for companies outside the US. But for quite some time now Microsoft has been pretending to be the small companies of New Zealand in an attempt to legalise software patents there.
A writer for IDG in New Zealand seems to be doing something a little treasonous by pushing viewpoints that align with that trick. To quote:
The Patents Amendment Bill, waiting for its second reading after the election, includes a superficially simple clause “a computer program is not a patentable invention”. This is already being hedged about with guidelines from the Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) suggesting that software will still be patentable if it produces a physical effect on machinery.
Now, go to the Web site of the company named as favouring software patents. There is not a single product there.
The article also fails to highlight the points of view of developers in New Zealand, who are overwhelmingly (based on survey) against software patents. A lot of the support for software patents came from Microsoft, its lobbyists, and patent lawyers (who just profit from legal wars that benefit society in no way). Developers in New Zealand should keep alert. █
Send this to a friend