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02.25.12

Microsoft and Its Lobbyists Push FRAND to Kill FOSS in Europe

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Helicopter man

Summary: Additional details about Microsoft’s propaganda campaign for flat fees on Free software

IN HIS many remarks on the subject, the president of the FFII continues to express concerns about FRAND — an issue we’ll spend more time covering, especially now that Microsoft pays scum like Florian Müller to promote it. This is perhaps the #1 barrier to FOSS, which some charlatan who goes by the name “FOSS patents” is trying to promote in order to suppress or kill FOSS. Talk about importance of names…

“IMCO is the leading committee,” writes the FFII’s presidet, “there are no amendments to remove FRAND, so it will probably go through [...] Too late. Greens even tabled AM260 which supports FRAND. Crazzy when you think Greens should be against swpats.”

They are perhaps being deceived, in part by Microsoft lobbying (though proxies like BSA as well).

Having watched this very closely for years, later on he wrote: “FRAND will become EU law, unless there is a mobilisation against it.” And moreover:

AM260: Greens supporting the undefined FRAND term in EU law on standards, the anti-free weapon

Finally he wrote:

Greens supporting the undefined FRAND term in EU law on standards, where are we going?

We are going into FOSS as “illegal” (or incompatible as matter of law). This must be stopped.

Making GNU/Linux More Expensive With Lawsuits and FRAND/RAND

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, RAND, Red Hat at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trolls line up

Silhouettes

Summary: How patent trolls and FRAND, which Microsoft hired lobbyists to promote, are gradually putting GNU/Linux under more of a siege

NOW THAT Red Hat is a GNU/Linux leader (Google does well with Linux/Android) and SUSE is rapidly declining, it becomes more imperative for Microsoft to hammer hard with lawsuits on Red Hat. MOSAID and Acacia have Microsoft ties and they both took a punch at Red Hat.

Just before the weekend we found this new press release about a new lawsuit against Red Hat.

According to the lawsuit, Red Hat and Gluster have infringed the patent by making and selling infringing software products for managing data on computer networks.

Twin Peaks is represented by intellectual property attorneys Christopher Banys and Richard C. Lin from the Palo Alto, Calif., office of The Lanier Law Firm.

Not to be confused with Microsoft's troll Lanier.

In other news, another patents hoarder, RPX, will give us “More trolls!” (Microsoft is a member) because as patent folks put it: “RPX Corp revenues rose over 60% during fiscal year 2011, the defensive patent aggregator announced on Monday. GAAP net income was up by over 100% to $29.1 million, while the firm spent $99 million on patent acquisitions.

“The FFII presents a paper on the proposed recognition of ICT specifications from consortia.”
      –FFII’s statement

“What with the announcement of the Alcatel-Lucent deal last week and a share price that has climbed by 46% since the start of the year, it has been a pretty decent start to 2012 for RPX. Some, at least, believe the good times could be set fair for a while yet.”

What does RPX make? Nothing.

Industry is having hidden taxes added to it. Some people are getting very rich at the expense of everyone else and the FFII fights back by stating: “The Consumer Committee (IMCO) within the European Parliament is considering an overhaul of the current standardisation system in Europe. The FFII presents a paper on the proposed recognition of ICT specifications from consortia.”

This relates to what we wrote earlier about FRAND. The goal is to make Free software more expensive, Red Hat included. More on that in the next post…

More Microsoft Lock-in Under the Guise of ‘Standards’

Posted in Australia, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Binary as a standard

LED

Summary: A format which is detrimental to preservation, control and inter-operability is being picked by the Australian government

WHEN Microsoft was corrupting standards bodies all across the world we wrote about it a great deal. There were numerous formal complaints from nations, too, including very large nations. It is sad to see that Microsoft’s atrocious behaviour persists with apparent entryism. Based on the latest from Australia, OOXML, which is proprietary, is being considered as a format for government use:

  • Reviewing the Common Operating Environment Policy

    Just over 12 months ago, we published the first version of the Whole-of-Government Common Operating Environment (COE) Policy on this blog. Unexpectedly, it resulted in the largest number of comments we have ever received on a single post. The surprise was compounded as we had sought comments on the draft policy twice in the preceding months, to little effect.

    Most of the discussion was on a small aspect of the policy: the prefered document standards for interoperability within government. This was a little frustrating as only a small number of correspondents identified that the policy neither drove any new expenditure nor affected citizens or business. Readers will see that we have tried to better explain the situation this time.

  • Government of Australia Revists Document File Formats

    Clearly, the Australian government, not unlike many others is not high on expertise in IT to even consider taking another step on the Wintel treadmill. They need educating and perhaps this latest round in requests for comments will educate them. We can only hope.

  • Australian Govt re-kindles office file format war

    The Australian Government’s peak IT strategy group has issued a cautious updated appraisal of currently available office productivity suite file formats, in what appears to be an attempt to more fully explain its thinking about the merits of open standards such as OpenDocument versus more proprietary file formats promulgated by vendors like Microsoft.

    In January 2011, the Australian Government Information Management Office raised eyebrows globally when it published the first draft of its Common Operating Environment Policy. The document contained a number of guidelines restricting how departments and agencies across the Federal Government should set up desktop PCs, including a stipulation that Microsoft’s Office Open XML file format become a standard.

  • Office format war: AGIMO faces horde of critics

    However, most alternative office suites cannot write documents in the standard. The ODF Alliance, which is supporting a rival format, claimed last year the Office Open XML format was riddled with “Windows-platform dependencies” and essentially tied users to Microsoft Office, and some organisations, such as the National Archives of Australia, have picked the ODF standard instead in the long-term. AGIMO subsequently defended its decision, stating it had no vendor bias.

    On Friday last week, AGIMO noted in a blog post that its policy was now complete, but it wanted to re-open the debate about the issue, as this might inform future policies. The result was a sea of criticism directed at the agency for its decision to standard on Office Open XML instead of the rival ODF format.

We have had some discussions about this in IRC. In short, this decision should not be permitted because it makes the nation a hostage of one overseas company — one with a very abusive past and deals that are economically unsound. Since at least one of the people deciding ‘on behalf’ of Australians used to work with Microsoft, there’s room for complaints here. We hope that our Australian readers will take action.

While Attacking Android/Linux With FRAND and Lawsuits Apple and Microsoft Pretend to be the Victims

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, RAND at 10:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chess game

Summary: Patents and new laws are being used by Apple and Microsoft in order to marginalise Linux, as evidenced by recent news

OUR focus on patents means that we will continue naming the culprits, wherever they are. There is more to it than Apple and Microsoft, but Apple and Microsoft are the prominent culprits.

Symantec with its spurious patent lawsuits joined the list of shame and FOSDEM looked broadly at the subject. To quote a new roundup:

On a legal aspect of the Free software issue I could see the presentation of the End Software Patent organisation. They militate to exclude software from patentability, claim for the EU to stay away of the temptation to give existence to software patent via court decisions and closely follow the interpretation of the judges when they come to decide what is patentable and what is not. There were concerned about the influence of patent lawyers from software patent owners on the courts decisions for their benefit, in particular in some court assessments in the US and in the UK , which recognise software patent and justify it by the need to follow the decisions from ”others” (experts from the European Patent Office- who is no jurisdiction-, or lower courts) in order to avoid controversy… Avoid controversy. What an arbitrary criteria! A higher court basically says: ”I decided this because others decided it so”. This seems to be a kind of negation of the independence and impartiality of the law. I am amazed this argumentation even appears in official case law documents. I have never seen something similar. Of course, Higher courts do sometimes follow experts and lower courts decisions but they always need to legally justify this by explaining why it was correct to do so. Then they talked about the future, possible unitary EU patent and the creation of the EU patent court. The project does not exclude software from patents and it gives substantial new legal powers to the European Patent Office, that is already delivering many software patents, see the concerns of Richrad Stallman. When End Software Patent warns against a kind of current risk of arbitrary ”expertisation” of patent law interpretation, to the benefit of software patent owners, we could be rather sceptical of the motivation behind such initiative.

There is also some new hammering [1, 2] from MPEG-LA, which is run by a patent troll. It is backed by Apple, Nokia, Microsoft, and several others. It’s merely a proxy like the MPAA or RIAA. When large companies risk being sued they band together under a sort of cartel that only large players are able to join. They are pooling ammunition in there. This includes companies like Apple, which while disrespecting trademarks (like in this new example) is also promoting a monopoly on media codecs. How convenient for a company with strong ties at the ‘entertainment’ industry. As a side note, ABC very recently did an appalling whitewashing report for its ally Apple — in this latest case it was revisionism over Foxconn (we won’t go into it now). Here is an Apple-funded (through advertising) Web site painting Apple as a victim of patents:

The voice mail system on Apple’s iPhone has once again become the target of a lawsuit from a company claiming infringement on one or more software patents.

Apple deserves this because Apple is perhaps the biggest aggressor right now when it comes to patents. It’s Steve Jobs' ugly legacy. There are a lot of software patents in the news [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but nothing compares to the embargo war Apple has launched against Android/Linux.

Google may have some patents of its own [1, 2], but Google has no history of patent aggression.

While the patent buzz persists in the news we find that, based on Pogson’s interpretation, Oracle is not managing to make its patent case work against Google just yet:

The parties have now filed their joint statement on patent marking (721 [PDF;Text]), but it is hard to say they are any closer than before or that this entire exercise has substantially streamlined the issue of patent marking for trial. That’s the pessimistic view. The optimistic view is that they at least agreed upon a series of conditional stipulations, i.e., if Android is found to infringe, then the specified Oracle products also practice the patent and required marking. Perhaps that is the best they can do. In any case, there are clearly differences that remain as to how the claims are to be read and applied, and those issues will only get resolved at trial.

Here is more bad news for Oracle:

The parties filed a joint update with the court regarding the pending reexaminations of the asserted Oracle patents before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (722 [PDF; Text]) Not surprisingly, Oracle has taken yet another hit. This time it is on previously reexamined patent number RE 38,104.

On February 16 the USPTO issued a non-final rejection of all of the claims of the ’104 patent that have been asserted by Oracle in this case. Oracle has until April 16 to file a response. Given the track record of Oracle’s responses in these reexaminations, don’t be surprised to see this reexamination result in a final rejection of all of the asserted claims of the ’104 patent.

Oracle takes a step back. As one journalist puts it, “Oracle has removed the last claim of one of the patents it has accused Google of violating, and downsized the amount of damages it estimated from Google’s alleged infringement of Oracle’s Java software.

“According to Groklaw, Oracle has withdrawn its claim against US Patent No. 6,192,476. The validity of the patent was in much doubt anyway after the Patent Office issued a final rejection of 17 of the 21 claims of the ’476 patent.”

“The Commission would remind the Honourable Members that the Unified Patent Court is envisaged to be established by a treaty between the EU Member States.”
      –Michel Barnier, patents maximalist
Apple is meanwhile pushing for FRAND along with Microsoft. It would impede Android through pricing. To quote: “Apple is attempting to stop the use of “standards essential” patents on 3G technology as legal bludgeons against smartphone competitors. To make its case, the company has gone directly to the standards body behind 3G wireless networking, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). In a letter to ETSI dated last November (but only recently uncovered by the Wall Street Journal) Apple suggested that patents offered as part of wireless networking standards should be governed by standardized royalty rates and barred from being used as the basis for legal injunctions.”

What this would mean is a patent fee. It is not compatible with Free software and Apple knows this. Over in Europe, the FRAND debate is very much alive right now and the unitary patent might play a role because it’s a form of treaty, expanding laws in one fell swoop. “EU will not be a contracting party to this treaty,” we learn from correspondence. “Consequently, the Commission does not comment,” quotes the FFII’ president who shows an unhelpful formal response. It says: “The Commission would remind the Honourable Members that the Unified Patent Court is envisaged to be established by a treaty between the EU Member States. The European Union will not be a contracting party to this treaty. Consequently, it would not be for the Commission to evaluate, recommend or decide on the possible candidacy of Milan for the seat of the central division of the Court of First Instance.”

How convenient for them. So while Microsoft lobbyists help Microsoft and Apple push for FRAND in Europe and Don Reisinger misleads with a wrong statement in the headline (“Microsoft sues Motorola Mobility, claims FRAND abuse”) we are led to believe that the Commission is not in a position to intervene. There is clearly an abuse here. After interference from the likes of Florian Müller it is not surprising that there is a FRAND push in the press, impacting Europe as well (it’s part of the propaganda from Microsoft):

Microsoft is the latest tech giant to take aim at Motorola Mobility–and thus, by virtue of its $12.5 billion acquisition, Google–in a FRAND (fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory) patent abuse claim.

The software giant today filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission against Motorola, arguing that the company is not offering essential patents on fair and reasonable terms. The complaint involves patents Motorola holds related to Web video and the way in which certain devices, like Windows PCs and the Xbox, access and play it.

The hypocrisy here is astounding. Essentially, the gangster calls its victim “rogue” in an attempt to justice its own abuse. As one good analysis puts it:

‘The crow calling the kettle black!’ as someone wrote in the comment section of the blog post of Microsoft where the company wrote about filing a competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google.

Dave Heiner, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Corporate Standards & Antitrust Group, Microsoft, says, “We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards.”

[...]

Nice job Microsoft when it comes to signing bogus patent deals with Android players its NDA but when an Android wants Microsoft or Apple to pay its FRAND.

Now, who should be crying foul here?

The regulators should investigate Microsoft’s racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], Google is merely the victim here. In later posts we are going to write more about Microsoft’s FRAND propaganda, which is paid for. It’s an ongoing lobbying/PR campaign.

Open Logic for Proprietary Thinking

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some homework

Summary: The latest venture from OpenLogic, a firm managed by a former Microsoft guy who sells proprietary services (and FUD) around FOSS

This news article about OpenLogic is based on this press release that describes proprietary solutions to an open problem. Quoting the press release: “A flexible and open PaaS cloud solution, CloudSwing offers complete customizability, enabling application developers to quickly deploy and operate cloud platform stacks using any open source or proprietary components on the cloud of their choice. “

CloudSwing is not Free software. It’s Fog Computing on AWS or Rackspace. We are increasingly seeing this attempt to push Free software into Fog Computing — a trend that backers of the so-called 'think tank' would like to make a norm.

SUSE: Brain Drain, Partners Down the Drain

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Drain pipe

Summary: A look at the state of SUSE about a year after the sale of Novell

THE RECENT anniversary of SUSE (the company) is still being mentioned in some news sites and there is a discussion about an ARM port of OpenSUSE (Ubuntu and derivatives won the x86 space). Other than that, everything is quiet. The VAR Guy makes news out of nothing by speaking about SUSE partners — unnamed partners other than Microsoft:

Despite SUSE’s progress, plenty of challenges remain. Attachmate is privately held and doesn’t disclose financial results, so it’s unclear if SUSE-related profits are growing. Plus, some customers and partners lost faith in SUSE during the long Novell sale process, which consumed much of late 2010. And many Novell managers, some of which focused on SUSE, exited the company upon the Attachmate buyout. Net result: SUSE partners and customers had to navigate a lot of change in 2011.

Meanwhile, rival Red Hat continues to gain momentum on multiple fronts — promoting Linux, Jboss open source middleware, open source storage, open source virtualization and cloud computing, just to name a few. Red Hat is expected to deliver another round of strong quarterly results when it announces financials on March 21, 2012.

This was expected by us. Except for this press release, there is no news from SUSE. It merely talks about support from a developer, not a new client. To quote: “Azul Systems, the award-winning leader in Java runtime scalability, today announced the general availability of Zing 5 with support for an additional Linux distribution. Effective immediately, the Zing Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is now fully qualified on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11.”

Here is an article about it. To quote:

Azul Systems has announced general availability of Zing 5 with support for an additional Linux distribution. Effective immediately, the Zing Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is now fully qualified on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11.

But will anyone choose "Microsoft Linux" to run this on? We are sceptical. Some will, but not many. Several years ago SUSE got some major clients, but we don’t hear such stories anymore.

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