Summary: News analysis and patent lawyers’ take in light of some encouraging developments in the fight against algorithmic exclusions
THE past year has brought a lot of press coverage that’s hostile towards software patents. Increasingly, people are being informed and are brought into the side of real justice, not what’s written on paper because some lawyers (typically politicians) help fellow lawyers.
“You really can receive a software patent for almost anything these days,” says this new article from CNET. The context is this: “This time, Facebook is countersuing Yahoo, charging that Yahoo violated 10 of its patents. This move, of course, comes less than a month after Yahoo sued Facebook for allegedly infringing on 10 of its patents.
“Facebook’s countersuit shouldn’t surprise anybody; it was always going to fight fire with fire, especially since Yahoo started this unnecessary fight. It’s the same reason Facebook purchased 750 patents from IBM last month — it needed more ammunition in a patent arms race that is quickly escalating.
“But I’m shocked by some of the patents over which these two companies are suing each other. One of Yahoo’s patents focuses on the “optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage”, while Facebook has two patents that cover a “system for controlled distribution of user profiles over a network.” Yahoo owns the patent for a “method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network”, but “generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network” belongs to Facebook.”
A lawyer and proponent of software patent seems concerned about the following new development:
Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a curious decision in Ergo Licensing, LLC v. CareFusion 303, Inc. This decision should send chills down the spine of everyone who has patents in the software space, and needs to be carefully considered by all those who draft patent applications in the software space.
It does seem like, provided more people are made well-informed about software patents, the lawyers who run for office will need to deliver real change and remove software patents. Engineers never approved the emergence of such patents, it was never really for them but for the leeches.
With this good news we return to Easter idleness. More patent news will come soon. █
Apple and Microsoft whine that Motorola is stepping on their toes
Summary: A glimpse at patents that affect Linux at present and the situation Microsoft strives for
THE file system patents from Microsoft may be on the verge of collapse. Nonetheless, companies like this one called Paragon — not just Tuxera — help spread those patents to Linux. Equipment running Linux gets a Microsoft tax penalty this way. Former Microsoft staff adds a tax to FOSS through licence compliance placebo — openwashed proprietary software from a company with “Open” in its name. We just know the trick (c/f OpenLogic).
Microsoft is still trying to penalise Android through Motorola, which is now becoming more like Google. But Microsoft tells a story that’s a complete contradiction and reversal of reality. Microsoft dares to complain about patent abuse from Motorola. Yes, the hypocrisy is astounding and this whole charade acts as a distraction from Microsoft’s anti-competitive behaviour, an “extortion” one might say.
The European Commission’s anti-competition division has opened two formal investigations into Motorola Mobility after complaints from Apple and Microsoft about how it uses its patents against them.
As Pogson puts it:
Apple and M$, two of the biggest monopolists in IT (personal computing certainly, and branching out), are accusing Motorola of doing what they do… The irony makes me chuckle. M$ and Apple have been suing the world and don’t want to be sued and injuncted in return. Bullies hate it when someone has the nerve to stand up to them. It makes being a bully difficult when the herd stands and fights.
Google’s Larry Page Blasts the Patent Wars
It’s worth remembering that before Google decided to make its largest ever bid for a technology company in the Motorola Mobility play, it had just lost in an effort to buy the patent portfolio of beleagured telecom company Nortel. That patent portfolio went to a consortium of companies that included Apple and Microsoft–both of them companies that are very seasoned in fighting intellectual property battles.
When Page announced the Motorola Mobility acquisition, he was quite clear that it was a patent play. “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.” It’s worth noting that he singled out two of the companies that had just outbid Google for mobile patents.
Here we are 5.5 years after this site was conceived and we are dealing with the patents issue more than ever before. Now that software freedom spreads, all that the old guard can do is pull software patents to strike back. Some companies just learned to accept change, instead. █
Summary: Hardware issues at Apple are ignored and the evidence is being buried
THE news may be busy speaking about Apple/Mac “Trojans” (blame proprietary software for this), saying that it has reached far and wide, but the real news is Apple’s problem on the hardware side. Apple strives to quickly get rid of the evidence by removing defects from the market:
Information provided by Cupertino to support staff and Apple Store employees across the US, snapped by a worker and send to 9to5Mac, shows the company is now replacing iPad 3s brought in by customers who claim to have found the device’s wireless networking facilities wanting.
Would Apple have done that if nothing was amiss? And how can replacing one unit with a unit of the same kind actually resolve anything (unless there are manufacturing defects and poor quality control)?
Meanwhile, notes this one article, there is a group out there that truly believes that Apple products are the best of their kind. To quote the opening:
iPhone users are elitists. It’s one of those things that we’ve always suspected — including iPhone users themselves — but to maintain the status quo and to prevent high tech culture devolving into all out war, we dance around the issue by using euphemistic terms like hipster. The fact is, many iPhone users consider themselves a cut above the rest. They sneer at unresponsive Android devices, laugh derisively at crippled BlackBerrys, and guffaw at Windows Phone 7′s lack of apps. When they buy an iPhone, they’re buying into a way of life and an elevated, entitled echelon of society — the upper class of the technorati, if you will.
I have personally met some of those so-called “elitists”. I once dated one. What’s common to all of them is that they buy iStuff for the brand, not because they think it’s necessarily the best (in technical terms). They expect people to think highly of them because of affiliation with the brand. That’s a really bad reason to choose one product over another.
The iPad 3 sucks big time. It sucks big stonking ones. It sucks flaccid ones. It sucks so much, it has to buy Listerine by the gallon.
Summary: How Microsoft gave the illusion of putting many lines of code inside Linux and what this code really does
THERE were many stupid ‘reports’ recently — so-called “news reports” about new statistics from the Linux Foundation. We link to the original reports but ignore as a matter of principles the poor news coverage. Many journalists got it wrong. Many of them were spinning the real report and painting is with the “Microsoft” brush (Novell too played a role)– something along the lines of Microsoft as a top “contributor”. Putting aside all that we wrote before about what those patches are and what they achieve, let it be noted that Microsoft stole he thunder from real Linux contributors for reasons that people who blog fail to mention. As Joab Jackson explains, “Microsoft tallied so many code contributions to Linux due to fact that its original Hyper-V code needed fixing,” Here is a proper report about it:
In the latest study by the Linux Foundation, Microsoft only just misses out on a spot among the top 20 groups and companies contributing to the Linux kernel. It has, however, achieved this only by dint of delivering bad code and then slowly improving it.
It ought to be notes that Microsoft hired Novell developers whom it previously paid (through Novell) to help contain Linux inside Windows. That’s what those patches are about. They are about controlling Linux, using proprietary software from Microsoft. There is nothin g to commend Microsoft for; the adherence to GPLv2 is a matter of requirement, not goodwill or corporate reform.
Here is a nice new video on the success of Linux, which can help GNU in the same way that Ubuntu helps GNU/Linux and Android helps Linux. █
SUSE is a legal trap
Summary: A few updates on SUSE and OpenSUSE (aka “Microsoft Linux”)
THE OPENSUSE project plans a “summit”, which will of course be assisted in part by Microsoft funding, through SUSE the company. The project’s leadership makes improvements by integrating other companies’ work and OBS adds some features. The OpenSUSE project still supports both KDE and GNOME (latest versions) and based on the experience of some:
When I started this blog, I intended to make it my step by step log of the trials and fixes experienced in openSUSE so that it may be a benefit to others. However, when I first tried 12.1 with KDE it was such a terrible experience that I rolled my machines back to 11.4. But this time I went with Gnome instead of KDE; since I had experienced some of the speed improvements in the newer KDE I knew that rolling back would make it seem even worse than it really was. And in any event, I needed the experience with Gnome in order to help others. Indeed, I learned the Gnome way and it was good. Brilliant actually, we have a FANTASTIC Gnome implementation. But now, I have recently acquired a new (to me) laptop with which to be a little more risky and experiment on. So, after trying a few distros I have come back to openSUSE 12.1, but this time with Gnome 3. And I must say, it is fantastic.
OpenSUSE does come with a diversity of packages, but let’s remember who develops GNOME 3. It’s mostly Red Hat.
SUSE has generally become the sort of company which doesn’t do much for GNU/Linux. It does, however, do a lot for Microsoft (notably taxing GNU/Linux). No matter how it’s judged on technical grounds, SUSE harms software freedom and supporting it by usage is unwise. I sacrificed years of my life explaining to people why they should boycott Novell. Now that Novell is dead the job is not done because Microsoft provided the bribes through SUSE. In the next post I will provide a new example of what those bribes achieve. █