US Citizens: Contact Your Representatives, Seeking Prosecution of Microsoft Executives for Perpetrating Extortion Racket
Because racketeering is a crime
Summary: Kind request for the RICO Act to be upheld and enforced now that federal agents are under active pressure from Barnes and Noble, Google, and others
MICROSOFT has engaged in a new type of crime for about 5 years now. A lot of it happens behind closed doors. Extortion rackets are not legal, but they can be spun or painted as something else provided that the perpetrators are rich enough to buy the press, to buy lobbyists, to buy politicians, and to change the law with all of those things. The tide is beginning to turn against Microsoft now that the extortion racket has grown too big to be ignored.
While Groklaw does not look at the Oracle vs. Google case (its main focus these days [1, 2, 3]) it looks again at Microsoft and then covers what we covered here before. Microsoft lobbyists such as charlatan/crook Florian Müller and Novell will collude with Microsoft and try to get regulators off their back. Who can blame them? Microsoft pays their wages to do this. They are aiding crooks because it’s profitable. One tactic has been to divert attention to the victim, Google, portraying it as an aggressor. Here is one article among many about pursuit of “DOJ probe into Microsoft patent tactics”. “The overview, in the slides, of Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior is the following,” writes Pamela Jones, who then quotes:
* Publicly Claiming Control of Android and Other Open Source Operating Systems
* Requiring Potential Licensees to Enter into Overly Restrictive Non-Disclosure Agreements
* Demanding Royalties Commensurate with Owning the Entire Android Operating Sysem (and Similar to Royalties for a Windows Phone License) Even Though Microsoft Only Owns Trivial Patents
* Imposing Licensing Provisions Unrelated to Microsoft’s Patents and Designed to Prevent Competitor Innovation
* Filing Frivolous Patent Infringement Actions Against Companies That Refuse to Enter Into Anticompetitive Licensing Agreements
* Deal with Nokia Includes an Agreement to Engage in a Coordinated Offense Use of Patents Against Open Source Software
* Purchasing Patent Portfolios that Threaten Open Source Software
“It’s almost as Martin Niemöller said,” writes Pogson, “First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
It is time to call out this nonsense and actually make Microsoft afraid of the law being enforced. What it is doing almost certainty violates the RICO Act, it’s just that nobody bothers to actually enforce the law and Microsoft uses NDAs to hide evidence of its criminal activities, just as it hid OOXML bribes to ensure it can corrupt ISO without the watchdogs sending anybody to jail.
Microsoft commits crimes of extortion and only gets away with it because of crooked political systems and a PR campaign it funds to whitewash its behaviour. If you are are US citizen who is tired of this, make sure you let your government representatives know (Microsoft is based in the US, so it has to be done there). A talented writer says that an expert claims regulators are “slow to catch up” to Microsoft patent bullying. In a sane system, Ballmer and his buddy Horacio would possibly be put in prison for a very long time, but as Timothy B. Lee makes apparent, the government is too afraid to take legal action against billionaires (we see this in Wall Street, too). Well, nobody wants to say that the emperor is naked because the PR campaign keeps talking about the garments, not the obvious absurdities:
Expert: Regulators “slow to catch up” to Microsoft patent bullying
Google and at least one of its Android partners—Barnes and Noble—have been agitating for a government antitrust investigation of Microsoft’s patent licensing practices. Last month, Barnes and Noble submitted a formal request for the Department of Justice to launch a probe.
According to Barnes and Noble, Microsoft claims to have over 60,000 patents. Fewer than 20,000 of those were granted by the patent office; Microsoft presumably purchased the other 40,000 from other firms. The result is one of the world’s largest “patent thickets.” Microsoft has so many patents that it’s difficult to build a software product as complex as a mobile operating system without infringing dozens, maybe even hundreds, of them.
And Microsoft is taking full advantage of that fact, approaching each Android-based phone manufacturer in turn and demanding stiff licensing fees—fees that are allegedly at least as high as the fees Microsoft charges for its own Windows Phone 7 operating system. Microsoft has also been cagey about identifying the specific patents allegedly infringed by Android vendors. Some observers (including me) have characterized the process as a shakedown.
So does Microsoft’s conduct run afoul of antitrust law? Michael Carrier, an antitrust scholar at Rutgers-Camden, is skeptical. “I’m concerned by a lot of this conduct,” he said, but antitrust law has “limited tools” to deal with it. And antitrust regulators tend to be slow to adapt to changing market circumstances.
Nobody suggests an “Occupy Redmond”; we only ask US citizens to demand enforcement of the RICO Act, which was not put in place for mere ‘decoration’ or symbolism. It is the legal rights of US citizens to contact their elected officials and at the very least share with us their responses. We need to apply pressure. The president of the FSFE calls this whole thing “extortion” in one of his latest tweets, but he cannot do much about it. To quote:
Barnes & Noble: Microsoft trying to make #android as expensive as Windows Mobile through patent extortion
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote one of the best articles about this. To quote:
While Google has been fighting with Oracle over Java’s intellectual property (IP) and Android, it hasn’t been doing a lot for its Android allies who have been being whipsawed by Apple, Microsoft and patent trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. That may be changing. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said today in Taiwan that Google will stand by the phone vendors firms in any Android patent lawsuit.
According to Focus Taiwan, Schmidt said, “We disagree with Microsoft that anyone needs to pay Microsoft a royalty fee for products they didn’t build. I want to emphasize that Google built these products [Android and Chrome], not Microsoft. We tell our partners, including the ones in Taiwan, that we will support them.”
It’s not just Microsoft though that Schmidt is giving notice to that Google won’t be sitting back in patent lawsuits. “For example, we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple because we think that the Apple thing is not correct.”
I also suspect it’s because, as Google gets closer to sealing the deal that will bring it Motorola Mobility. Google will be able to use its Motorola Mobility patent arsenal against Android’s enemies in the courtroom.
Pogson cited this and added:
Some other nuggets:
see Oracle v Google where the judge has seen patent claims and copyright claims whittled away to almost nothing compared to the $billions Oracle made. Google’s lawyer stated in court, “when Android was announced in 2007, Sun didn’t throw up their hands and say, oh, my gosh, you’re infringing, Sun congratulated Google on Android, welcomed Android to the Java community, put Android on Sun products, asked Google how they could help Android.”
see A suggestion that the ugly Apple v Samsung global war was actually the result of Steve Jobs’ vanity and may soon be resolved.
The world of IT needs this war to be short and decisive. There is hope.
According to a new article from Reuters, “Google offers support to Android firms in lawsuits”. Well done:
Google Inc will continue to offer support to firms using its Android system that are involved in legal disputes, its executive chairman Eric Schmidt said on Wednesday, as the Internet giant looks to cement alliances in the face of toughening competition.
It would be unfair to name only Microsoft for its extortion of Android. Apple’s former CEO too vowed to use up to $40 billion just trying to kill Android in the courtroom, as though the courtroom is just a little playground for him — a playground by which to subvert competition, maybe even by liaising with his best friend Larry Ellison. Watch this new patent from Apple, the company which only pretends to innovate. When it does ‘innovate’, it’s stuff like this:
Apple has been awarded a US patent on an embedded SIM capable of switching between mobile network operators under command from Cupertino, assuming the operators comply.
The patent places an embedded SIM within the secure element which one would expect to see managing electronic payments, which is why it was spotted by NFC World. Its editor, Sarah Clark, realised the significance of the patent and how it validates last year’s rumours that Apple was planning a cross-network SIM-less handset.
We discussed that idea almost exactly a year ago, coincidentally on the very date the patent was filed. We pointed out that in Europe the legally mandated GSM standard requires a removable SIM, and that Apple would have to get the standard changed before would be allowed to sell such a device. That change is now in process, but we didn’t expect Apple to patent the idea too.
It has been suggested elsewhere that Steve Jobs' own words should be used to report Apple too — not just Microsoft — for abusing the legal system for anti-competitive purposes, incidentally colluding with Microsoft at the same time. The bottom line though is clear; it is time to actually use the law the way it was supposed to be used — to serve justice, not to derail competitors, extort competition, bankrupt competitors, intimidate competitors, and present fake evidence to block imports of the competition.
US citizens: the Barnes and Noble complaint text can be (re)used to contact representatives without having to do much work. If you hear back, please let us know and share. █
Summary: Patent lawyers still love and promote software patents while customers and developers are hurting
Dennis Crouch, writing in his pro-patents blog (he is part of this meta-industry and therefore there is bias), harps about “Patentable Subject Matter” and puts forth another great example of how broken the patent system is (not that he would admit that). To quote:
In Ultramercial v. Hulu, the Federal Circuit held that Ultramercial’s asserted Patent No. 7,346,545 fit within the subject matter eligibility guidelines of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and was not merely an unpatentable abstract idea. The patent claims a method of distributing copyrighted products (such as a movie) over the internet. The novel idea is that the copyrighted product be both (1) offered for sale and (2) delivered for free if the consumer agrees to view an advertisement. The district court held the patent invalid under section 101. On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit reversed – holding that the patent claims a “practical application” of the idea that “advertising can serve as a currency.” An important element of the decision was the finding that “[v]iewing the subject matter as a whole, the invention involves an extensive computer interface.”
Watch this other laughable new patent and a “Patent Suit Target[ing] Companies Using Tokens as Micropayments”. This is not innovation, it’s extortion. And those who support this type of system are most typically patent lawyers who are after a quick buck. As one patents critics put it a couple of days ago:
Software Patents Make The iPhone Less Useful
A post by 9-to-5 Mac notes that the iPhone’s text-entry system has a hidden auto-correct feature. As the user types, the phone displays a list of possible completions of the partially-typed word in a row just above the keyboard. The user can tap one of the words to select it. Unfortunately, there’s no officially-supported way to enable this feature, users must hack the low-level configuration files on the phone.
The Register suggests a plausible explanation for this: a company called T9 holds patents covering the concept of auto-correcting text in this manner. So rather than pay royalties to T9—or risk a patent lawsuit—Apple decided to just make the iPhone less useful than it would otherwise be.
This is not making products any better. It doesn’t make innovation reach customers. Who does this system really serve then? And why is the government plugging its ear shut when the citizens complain? We understand the root of this problem and it remains to be decided what to do about it. █
Summary: The influence of money does its thing again, this time potentially affecting another GNU/Linux distribution
Cloudera is a startup that builds a GNU/Linux distribution. Just like some companies that serve Microsoft or turn from Linux focus to Microsoft (or Citrix), Cloudera is now getting financial dependence on Ignition, whose Microsoft roots we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4]. To quote the press release:
Ahead of its Hadoop World 2011 conference in New York City, Cloudera Inc., the leading provider of Apache Hadoop-based data management software and services, today announced it has closed a $40 million Series D funding round led by Frank Artale of Ignition Partners and joined by existing investors Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and In-Q-Tel. To support aggressive growth and increased momentum in the marketplace, Cloudera will use the funds to further expand its marketing and sales operations, and support key strategic initiatives.
At the moment, Hadoop is “making Linux gobble big data”. To quote this new article from The Register:
The Hadoop big data muncher has grown into more than Yahoo! conceived when it open-sourced its search engine indexing tool and its underlying file system back in 2009. And it has become exactly what open-source projects aspire to be: a centre of gravity around which a maelstrom of innovation coalesces.
It would not surprise us if Hadoop turned towards Windows (as least partly) after this cash injection from Ignition. See what Novell did for Microsoft in other "open" cloud efforts. █
Summary: Lawyers hijack people’s laws (for their own financial benefit) and the FFII issues an announcement of sorts
THE PATENTS ‘industry’ is one of patent lawyers and elevated lawyers (aka judges), who are extracting a lot of money from a real industry, essentially raising the prices of everything to justify their own parasitical existence. “Patent judges wants [sic] the last word over patent law in Europe,” writes the president of the FFII, “afraid of “unspecialized” European Court of Justice” (in IRC he told us that “patent judges wants EU monopoly over patent law”).
Here is the Microsoft Word document that shows this. We pulled the text out of this binary enclosure that requires Microsoft code/patents:
Prinzregentenplatz 7 D-81675 München
Tel: +49 89 92 80 50
Fax: +49 89 92 80 5444
29 October 2011
Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court
The European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW), comprising lawyers with many years of experience in European patent litigation, has been following closely the preparatory work for and the legal discussions regarding the creation of a European patent court system. In cooperation with the EPO Academy EPLAW has been organizing since 2005 the Venice Judges Forum, and several of its board members who are also members of the EU Commission’s Group of Experts have participated in shaping the texts of the relevant international documents. EPLAW members represent both large multinational corporations in all fields of technology as well as SMEs with very small patent portfolios.
As a result of discussions on the Draft Agreement on a United Patent Court and the Regulation on a Unitary Patent at the 7th Venice Judges Forum on October 29, 2011 which was also attended by the representatives of the Polish Presidency and the EU Commission EPLAW has concluded as follows.
Regulation on Unitary Patent Arts 6 – 8
EPLAW had requested in its Resolution of 27 September 2011￼ urgent amendments of the Agreement on a United Patent Court and the Unitary Patent respectively which has been explained and discussed in Venice in detail. Judges and litigators all agreed that what in EPLAW’s Resolution under par. II.f) had been described as the most serious drafting error, namely including Arts. 6 – 8 of the Regulation into the text of the Regulation on the Unitary Patent, must be corrected.
Supported by a legal opinion of Prof. Krasser, one of the most prestigious German scholars of patent law, EPLAW referred to the extremely negative consequences of the insertion of Art. 6 to 8 in the Regulation for the users which Prof. Krasser has explained in detail. The EPLAW Board has confirmed in Venice that its members fully approve also Prof. Krasser’s interpretation of Art. 118 TFEU. The following citations and key conclusions from the Opinion highlight the arguments which the judges and attorneys who are members of the Commission’s Expert Group had unanimously concluded already in their first discussion on this question in April of this year in Brussels.
3. The minimum requirement for the application of the authorisation is, according to Art. 118 (1) TFEU, merely that an intellectual property right is created by Union law. This itself achieves the necessary minimum harmonisation at least if the subject matter and core effect of the right in question is established identically in the law of the (participating) Member States….
..For this reason, the proposed Regulation can be restricted to creating the basis for the grant of unitary patents for the participating Member States….
..It is sufficient for the uniform protection required by Art. 118 (1) TFEU and the “same effect” of Art. 3 (2) of the proposed Regulation that the aforesaid core effect is unitary..
5. To date, it is undisputed that Art. 118 (1) TFEU, in the event that a unitary patent under Union law is created, does not require the preconditions for the grant to be regulated under Union law. On the contrary, the provisions of the EPC will continue to apply, and the EPC is not part of Union law…
..It would be logical to word the Regulation … in such a way that questions of the content and limits on the effect of such patents cannot give rise to a submission to the Court of Justice.
EPLAW is of the opinion that even if there may be legal reasons why one could come to the conclusion that including rules of substantive patent law into the Regulation, such rules are not required. Their rejection by the great majority of member states and practically all users results from the promise by the Commission and the Council that only judges with the highest qualification and experience in patent law should deal with patent litigation between private parties, so that an involvement of the ECJ beyond the EU legal order as it exists today should be avoided, otherwise the entire project could be endangered. Users request an efficient and predictable procedure before highly experienced judges which they would not get in proceedings which would include referrals on substantive law to the ECJ.
The bottom line is, the legal system in Europe does not serve its citizens. It seems to be serving either the patent lawyers or the multinationals whom they make money from (to distort the competition). Klaus-Heiner Lehne is a good example of that. █
Most of the top contributors to open source projects had early access to computers as kids. But many kids live in communities where access to computers is not guaranteed. The Kids on Computers project is a non-profit using donated computers and Linux to provide access to disadvantaged kids.
THE LATEST POLL we’ve run at The INQUIRER on Linux left readers divided on what they thought a world without the UNIX-like operating system would be like.
The PCI-E ASPM patch that went out yesterday and was written about on Phoronix over the night has addressed the ASPM issue on all hardware I have tested so far. It changes when ASPM is enabled/disabled, so that this PCI Express power management feature should be restored on most hardware like it was in pre-2.6.38 kernels while being switched off for problematic hardware.
The Extio F2208 and Extio F2408 KVM extenders and Extio F2408E Expander units from Matrox Graphics support a range of Linux operating systems with remote multi-display flexibility using a minimum of fibre-optic cabling.
In a move to open new markets for its machine-vision products, Cognex has added Linux support to the CVL (Cognex Vision Library) software developer’s kit. The new CVL 7.0 CR7 release works with Linux kernel versions 2.6 and later and can be used with Debian, Fedora, Red Hat, and Ubuntu Linux distributions.
What’s new in this release (see below for details):
– BiDi text support in the multi-line edit control.
– Support for pattern brushes in the DIB engine.
– A number of MSXML fixes.
– Improvements to the PostScript driver.
– Various bug fixes.
The GNOME developers are working on new application designs for Music, Photos, Chat, Transfers, Weather, Web, Mail, Calendar, Videos, Maps, Boxes (application for accessing other computer systems or images) and Notes as well as a redesign for Documents and Contacts. Here are a few very interesting mockups:
The Chakra project linux distribution is originally forked from Arch linux. And The Chakra linux is based on K-I-S-S [keep it simple, stupid!] principle. This comes with the KDE desktop environment with better PLASMA desktop. It also available for 32-bit and 64-bit architecture.
Fabio Erculiani proudly announced last evening, November 9th, the immediate availability for download of three new Sabayon Linux 7 editions, for the LXDE, Enlightenment 17 and Awesome desktop environments.
Red Hat Family
To lead people, listen first to their ideas and concerns. Then let them propose steps they can take to follow through.
At Red Hat (RHT), a provider of open-source technology based in Raleigh, N.C., employees collaborate with colleagues in other departments to achieve company objectives. This fosters a lively, problem-solving culture.
“I like to make sure people have a voice,” said Craig Muzilla, vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s “middleware” business unit which makes software that helps build applications. “But it’s not just having a voice. It’s having a recommendation or plan on how to improve or change things and taking ownership of particular issues.”
Nov 11, 2011 (SmarTrend(R) Spotlight via COMTEX) — SmarTrend identified an Uptrend for Red Hat (RHT) on October 10th, 2011 at $43.82. In approximately 1 month, Red Hat has returned 15.11% as of today’s recent price of $50.44.
9th November 2011, Sabeo Technologies, an Ireland based IT services provider, systems integrator and Consultancy Company that works with clients to maximise their business efficiency through the optimisation of their IT environments, is hosting a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 – Breakfast Seminar, in conjunction with Red Hat, on the Wednesday 23rd November 2011 at The Westin Dublin Hotel, Ireland.
Canonical is distributing two new kernels – 2.6.32-35 and 2.6.38-12 – for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS via the Ubuntu repositories. Kernel 2.6.32, the kernel used when Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was first released in April 2010, remains the default kernel.
Flavours and Variants
Clement Lefebvre, father of the Linux Mint project, announced a few days ago that the upcoming Linux Mint 12 (Lisa) operating system will feature a new desktop interface built on top of the GNOME 3 desktop environment.
So, we’ve downloaded a development version of the Linux Mint 12 distribution and took it for a test drive, to see that amazing new interface everyone is talking about, that Unity killer.
To our surprise, it appears that Linux Mint 12′s new interface, called MGSE (Mint Gnime Shell Extensions) is actually a small modification of the GNOME 3′s GNOME Shell interface.
You have two panels: the one on top is GNOME 3′s one, which can’t be removed (but it can be improved), and the bottom panel was added by the Linux Mint developers, providing a stylish Launcher Menu with built-in search and favorites, as well as a desktop switcher and notification center.
Motorola’s $300 Droid Razr is pricey, and its non-removable battery doesn’t last long. But in every other way, this thin, cutting-edge design breathes new life into its manufacturer’s legacy, according to this eWEEK review.
MIPS Technologies is collaborating with OS developer Sysgo to port its embedded virtualization technology to MIPS32 processor cores, writes Richard Wilson.
Sysgo has a novel combination of real-time operating system (RTOS) and virtualization layer.
Its PikeOS RTOS is a hypervisor virtualization platform that allows several applications and operating systems such as Android and Linux to run securely in parallel on a single hardware platform.