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12.12.11

Lodsys, Microsoft Patent Trolls, Apple, and Microsoft Nemesis

Posted in America, Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 9:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[written in 05/12/2011]

Halloween

Summary: A view on the arena where Android is targeted by Apple, Microsoft, and trolls who are associated with them

THE patent situation affects GNU/Linux more than it affects most operating systems because of the cost and distribution aspects. We have stressed this point for years.

Over at Groklaw, an analysis was published this month to keep track of Lodsys, which had sued Android developers among others. It used patents from Microsoft’s patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

“Things continue to progress slowly on the Lodsys front,” explains Prof. Webbink, “At this time all of the declaratory judgment actions brought in the Northern District of Illnois against Lodsys have been closed, with several of them having transferred to the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In addition, DriveTime has dismissed its declaratory judgment action against Lodsys in Arizona. With those changes all of the pending cases are now in either the Eastern District of Texas (the infringement actions brought by Lodsys) or the Eastern District of Wisconsin (the declaratory judgment actions brought against Lodsys) with the one outlier being the declaratory judgment action brought by ESET against Lodsys in the Southern District of California.”

There have already been stories of companies that pay Lodsys to go away, pretty much as a Microsoft lobbyist foolishly advised. if the patent troll gets fed, it will never go away.

It ought to be noted once again that iOS (Apple) developers are among those which Lodsys was suing. Apple did not explain to those developers that some of the patents came from a troll which Apple had helped fund. Apple does not seem to mind patent trolls and Apple itself “Demands Recognition As A Patent Troll,” to use Pogson’s headline. He showed this article about Apple’s war to embargo Linux/Android devices. To quote: “Some fools still have this delusion that software patent and product design wars have something to do with some mythological real value of intellectual property (IP). While there are indeed cases involving a better mouse-trap, most such cases are about nothing but extorting cash from people who create real products, or, in the case of Apple vs. Samsung, Apple trying to preserve its market share against a would-be competitor.

“Apple makes great products, but you wouldn’t know it from the way it’s attacking Samsung. Rather than let the marketplace decide whose products are better, Apple wants the courts to decide. Specifically, Apple is slugging it out with Samsung in a minimum of 19 lawsuits in 12 courts in nine countries on four continents.

“Let that sink in for a minute. Apple is trying to use intellectual property law as a bludgeon around the world to protect its sales.”

Techrights was never a friend of Apple because nobody ought to be a friend of a company that disrespects fair competition, presents fake ‘evidence’ to the court (in an attempt to block sales of Linux-powered devices), and generally disregards the law whenever something does not comply with its cult doctrine.

Not so long ago we found Apple firing an employee for ‘daring’ not to fancy Apple’s products and in an update on the resultant saga we discover that “Apple has been upheld for sacking one of its employees after he posted negative comments about the firm and its products on Facebook. Apple specialist Samuel Crisp was fired from his job for writing a series of posts on Facebook about the company and its products. An employment tribunal ruled in favour of Apple after Crisp appealed what he alleged was an unfair dismissal.”

What a nice company, eh? But let’s not forget Microsoft, either. Microsoft’s extortion of Android hit the brick wall when B&N fought back. Based on some articles, “Barnes & Noble has hired David Boies to join its legal team in a fight with Microsoft at the US International Trade Commission over alleged Android patent infringements.

“Boies, chairman of the Boies, Schiller & Flexner law firm, represented the US Department of Justice back at the turn of the millennium in its successful antitrust case against Microsoft, and his sustained questioning of senior executives such as Bill Gates was regarded by many as significantly damaging to Redmond’s cause.”

Gates was bobbing back and forth like a demented child the last time this man did his thing. When people commit crimes and think they can get away with it (racketeering is one of them) it takes a bold group of people in an insular room (no PR and press) for truth to come out under pressure. Gates is busy buying himself a new image, but the legacy he puts in patent lobbying and trolls should also come out for all to see. Sooner or later justice might be served. Groklaw has some analysis related to the news:

Google’s filing is eye-opening. It seems Microsoft is trying to compel Google to respond to a very broad subpoena. Google is not a party to this ITC matter or the litigation. Microsoft’s motion “goes far beyond the threshold for reasonable third-party discovery in Section 337 investigations,” Google says. What is it that Microsoft is asking for? — information concerning Google’s “strategies for responding to Microsoft’s patents and patent infringement claims.”

It is good to see Google and others finally fighting against Microsoft’s behaviour. The European regulators are meanwhile investigating Apple’s behaviour, so there’s a glimmer of hope. More up-to-date information will be posted this week.

The Age of Speaking Out Against the Patent System

Posted in Law, Patents at 9:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[written in 05/12/2011]

Courthouse

Summary: A few more examples of notable figures that grew tired of the patent system as it stands, especially in the United States

EARLY in the month Russia Today interviewed Richard Stallman. We saw some very good answers from Stallman, even to seemingly hostile questions.

One article which was written around the time of the interview concentrated on Stallman’s take on patents. To quote: “Muktware: Do you think USA is becoming hostile to innovation and competition as the companies like Apple and Microsoft are gaming the system?

“RMS: I have to point out that innovation is not my highest value. Human rights are my highest values. So I don’t to get into the dialogue that treats innovation as a primary goal.

“With software patents the US has become a dangerous place for software development, including innovative software development, because when a program is innovative, that means it has some new ideas in it. But it also has lots of well-known ideas in it. A large program combines thousands of ideas. So if you have some new ideas and you want to use them, in order to use them you have to combine them with a lot of other ideas that are well-known. And if you are not allowed to do that because those other ideas are patented, you can’t use your new idea.”

Stallman might be described as eccentric by some, but what about business people like Mark Shuttleworth? Well, he too holds a similar opinion on the US patent system, as noted here before. One article which was written about it says that the whole patent system is a sham, according to Shuttleworth. And for those who cry foul and say that patents are only disliked by ‘freeriders’, let us remember who Shuttleworth is:

Mark Shuttleworth is probably best known for three things. Selling the certificate authority Thawte Consulting to VeriSign for about $575 million in 1999; using some of that money to become the second self-funded space tourist; and using some more of it to found and sustain the Ubuntu version of GNU/Linux.

So here we have a rich businessman detesting patent. Even Bezos recently attested to a similar experience. The trend is telling.

Microsoft’s OEM Stranglehold at State of Legal Risk

Posted in America, Antitrust, Microsoft at 9:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[written in 05/12/2011]

Statue of wisdom

Summary: By moving to mobile devices Linux is working around the OEM trap — a trap which Canadian courts are to look into

MICROSOFT does not sell Windows to Windows users. Microsoft sells (“licenses” actually) Windows in bulk to OEMs, and it uses potentially illegal tactics to block or suppress usage of GNU/Linux in this way, removing the end user from the decision-making process. We have written many articles over the years and also presented relevant evidence.

Mr. Pogson shows us the decline of Windows (which is mostly caused by the decline of the OEMs) and to quote part of his argument:

I am not writing about money, which is all M$ really cares about, but share of “seats”. M$ can raise its prices for years to come to keep the money rolling in from the suckers but they cannot lock in more users it seems. Consider this. In October, Wikimedia records 91% of visits were “non-mobile”, mostly that other OS. 9% were “mobile”, mostly not that other OS. In October a year ago, the numbers were 95.2% and 4.8%. M$ is losing 5% share per annum on the move to mobile alone. In 2010, M$ had 84.29% share but now have 78.38% share, down about 6% per annum. Now that Android 4 is out and Android will make a big move in tablets, the slide for M$ will be faster simply because more mobile devices will be produced.

This is a known trend and one that B&N mentioned in its complaint about Microsoft extortion.

More importantly, however, based on the Canadian press (Pogson too is Canadian), actions in the OEM level is also possible:

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave to appeal two decisions by the B.C. Court of Appeal that the final consumers of a product cannot sue the producers in a class action law suit if they did not purchase the product directly from the producer.

The decision involves efforts to set up two Canadian class action law suits; one involving high-fructose corn syrup producers Cargill Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), for conspiring to fix the price of the sweetener; and Microsoft Corp., for creating agreements with the manufacturers of computers that required them to buy only Microsoft products.

Therein we might finally see some action that sets precedence for other countries to unbundle PCs and Windows.

OpenSUSE: Poor Quality, Deficient Support, and Microsoft Dependence

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 9:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[written in 05/12/2011]

Floral background

Summary: A week old summary of SUSE news and why OpenSUSE support is insufficient

WITH further posts about OpenSUSE [1, 2, 3] and even some additional reviews we are seeing reversals in assessment. But the key point remains that SUSE provides nothing that cannot be found in other distributions (or comparable tools).

Among some reviews we also find evidence that things are getting worse as we argued before. “Even Worse” is the title of the review from Dedimedo, who probably produces some of the most detailed GNU/Linux reviews and articles out there. It is an underrated site in general.

“For that reason, Debian and LTS releases of Ubuntu are still well ahead.”The world of SUSE intends to swap some people in the board, but the core of the project is still run by people who are paid by SUSE, which is in turn dependent on Microsoft and therefore cannot be trusted, never mind the nature of the anticompetitive patent deal.

Over the past few years we have seen the SUSE project transitioning into a short span of times, with a broadened lifecycle or release cycle that nevertheless left product support too short for practicality. For that reason, Debian and LTS releases of Ubuntu are still well ahead. Like Fedora, SUSE is not useful in the face of Novell’s security issues, which are abundant when it comes to proprietary software for Windows. There is a lot of Novell software for Microsoft Windows, such as this new example.

When software gets maintained over the short run, it is not surprising that it has rough edges even in the eyes of its makers and given that OpenSUSE 11.3 is a month away from dying, it is no wonder that SUSE can no longer be viewed as a leading option among distributions. There are those who use a long-supported version of KDE that could in theory breathe life into very old distributions. “As KDE3 is again part of the official openSUSE 12.1 repositories,” says one post, “I took the chance to create an installable livecd. Besides a preconfigured KDE3 desktop, it contains additional software like Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice.”

The problem is, not so long from now there will be no more updates in the repository. The bottom line is, support for OpenSUSE is lacking (too short), the quality is low (even SUSE people complain), and there is the deal with Microsoft that gives little or no reason to approach SUSE.

The Non Free Future of Windows

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Microsoft at 7:06 pm by Guest Editorial Team

App Store Rules Make Microsoft Intentions Clear.

all your hardware are belong to us

Defective by Design

Non free software owners are creating practical mechanisms to exclude competition and exercise the power they have long claimed over users. Microsoft and other non free software companies have always demanded the right to terminate your use of their software at any time for any reason. In time, EULAs added language about being able to search and delete user files too. Recently the Windows 8 logo requirements revealed that the next generation of Microsoft ready x86 and ARM hardware will be unable to run anything but code signed by Microsoft [2]. As noted by Mr. Pogson, Microsoft also tried to bully the entire ARM market to use their boot mechanism but has so far failed because the Microsoft way impractically restricts OEM trade. To further clarify their position, Microsoft recently announced the rules of their App Store:

We [Microsoft] may change or discontinue certain apps or content offered in the Windows Store at any time, for any reason. … we may refund to you the amount you paid for the license… If the Windows Store, an app, or any content is changed or discontinued, your data could be deleted or you may not be able to retrieve data you have stored. We have no obligation to return data to you.

This is the logical conclusion of Microsoft’s attempts to control “open” software on Cheap Off the Shelf Technology and users. From the beginning, when Gates rode IBM’s coattails into market dominance, Microsoft abused their position to sabotage competitors like OS/2, DRDOS and Word Perfect. All along, the monopoly bully portrayed itself as a champion of free enterprise. If OEMs accept Microsoft’s outrageous restricted boot scheme and anti-trust regulators don’t intervene, the only way to get software on x86 and ARM will be through Microsoft’s App store. All other software and OS will be locked out at Microsoft’s discretion. People who want their software freedom will be forced onto more expensive PowerPC and under performing MIPS hardware. Microsoft knows that the control they have over hardware translates directly into money they can charge people.

Prior successes of this model have all been tied to other monopolies and success is not assured because people hate being bullied and extorted. Tivo and iPod depended on big publisher monopolies on movies and music. iPhone and other non free phones have all depended on telco spectrum monopolies. Microsoft and Apple have both previously taken advantage of media format monopolies. Apple’s iPad depends heavily on software and design patents but is swiftly being overrun. Previous Microsoft tablet and PDA efforts have all went the way of Zune. Xbox sponged off the once mighty world of PC gaming and mostly killed it. For these few successes there have been many failures. At this point, with most business software firmly XP focused, it is not clear what Microsoft has to offer developer and vendors to go along. Users have nothing to gain and should demand software freedom. If everyone ignores the new hardware, vendors will be forced to offer things people want.

Links – Bill Gates the Chinese Nuclear Engineer, Medical Method Patents, Anti-Trust and PR

Posted in Site News at 3:21 pm by Guest Editorial Team

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