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04.17.12

Microsoft is Attacking Free Software and Standards in the UK, Behind Closed Doors

Posted in Microsoft at 7:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ACT Microsoft

Summary: Leakage of dirty tricks from Microsoft in the UK, promoting patents to impede Free software and standards

THERE was a debate recently about whether lobbying is always a form of corruption or bribery at times (we linked to that at the time). As we saw a few years ago, Microsoft pays people to change legislation. Here is a reminder.

Amid the UK’s open standards consultation, Glyn Moody told us: “I’m sure you know about this, probably already made a submission. But it would be really great if you could encourage your readers to do the same.

“Microsoft’s fear and the primary threat is real choice in the market.”“I’m hearing from multiple sources that things are going really badly – Microsoft’s lobbying is working, and the government is moving towards adopting FRAND licensing for RF. We need to get lots of people explaining why this is bad idea for open source and thus bad for the UK government in terms of achieving their goals of promoting a level playing field and saving money.

“Any help you can give would be appreciated. Deadline for submissions is 3 May.”

Microsoft’s fear and the primary threat is real choice in the market. People are not fond of Microsoft products, but many are left without choice. By meddling with paper Microsoft is hoping to just obliterate competitors, as it has done for decades. One out of IRC regulars recalls what landed Microsoft in the federal courts. Before Microsoft came there was real choice:

So when exactly did this all start? The first reference I can find for Microsoft Windows is from 1993 when Radio Shack introduced windows to it’s customer catalog. Of course before that there was the rise of Microsoft DOS, used by almost every “PC” starting from the original IBM PC released in 1981, the infamous model 5150.

Naturally there is a far older history that doesn’t get talked about much from when computers used kilowatts and sometimes even megawatts of power and filled cavernous rooms with their bulk. The oldest preserved computers date back only to 1959 and the Ferranti Pegasus. Since then there has been a trend towards computers becoming more affordable and more homogeneous.

Right now in Munich the success story (getting rid of Microsoft) is being told and Microsoft cannot manage to squash the truth (it also tried paying Munich to derail this, it even sent out the trolls). Quoting a European Commission site:

Switching to a vendor independent desktop based on open source reduces costs and results in fewer calls to help desks, show figures provided last month by the Mayor of Munich, Christian Ude. Replacing the current almost ten thousand open source desktops by a proprietary system would increase costs by some 25 per cent, the Mayor shows in his response to questions from a city councillor.

FSFE leader Karsten Gerloff from Germany is pleased to see that Glyn Moody has just gotten a treasure trove of yet more Microsoft dirty tricks:

Wow, two thumbs up to @glynmoody for obtaining & processing files on Microsoft lobbying UK Cabinet Office. Keep the reports coming!

A regular on IRC says that in light”of [Microsoft] fight against open standards, it tries to re-define them. Moody comes close to hitting on that (with the FRAND example) but does not explicitly point it out. It’s a tactic M[icrosoft] uses again and again.”

“1st report on a treasure trove of FOI documents I have on MS lobbying” calls it Glyn Moody, who blogged some details in this first part. Investigative journalism at it finest:

Regular readers may recall that I was not a little taken aback by an astonishing U-turn performed by the Cabinet Office on the matter of open standards. As I pointed out in a follow-up article, this seemed to bear the hallmarks of a Microsoft intervention, but I didn’t have any proof of that.

So, without much hope, I put in a Freedom of Information request through the wonderful WhatDoTheyKnow site (highly recommended), asking for details of all the meetings that Microsoft had had with the Cabinet Office on this subject. To my utter astonishment I was sent a real cornucopia of briefing notes and emails that Microsoft used to lobby against Restriction-Free (RF) open standards and in favour for standards based on FRAND licensing of claimed patents.

Over the next few days I shall be presenting some of the astonishing things that Microsoft has been saying behind closed doors in its attempt to derail truly open standards. These are extremely timely given the current UK government consultation on open standards, which I’ve already urged you to respond to several times.

First of all, I have to say how impressed I am with the Cabinet Office’s response. Aside from redacting a few names from the memos, for entirely understandable reasons to do with preserving private information, the documents are essentially complete.

[...]

The tenor of the current document – and of Microsoft’s whole attack on true open standards – is that RF open standards are somehow unnatural, or unfair on big companies, and yet by its own admission it has contributed technology to open standards on RF terms not once or twice but dozens of times.

So the question has to be: why is it objecting now? Is it just so that it can exclude open source from future UK government tenders? Or could it be simply that it thinks it can bully the UK government in a way that it couldn’t bully other organisations? This is certainly something that the Cabinet Office should be exploring with Microsoft when they next meet, since the above statement undercuts the company’s position that it can’t work with RF open standards.

[...]

Nobody is suggesting that GSM phones, say, should be banned from UK government use, as Microsoft’s letter seems to insinuate. For a start, these are hardware standards, and not about software interoperability at all; secondly, there are no comparable RF open standards that could be used, and even if there were, there would be clear business reasons why GSM phones should still be purchased. There simply isn’t a problem here.

This straw man attack on non-existent difficulties is symptomatic of Microsoft’s general assault on the idea of RF open standards, and in subsequent posts I shall be exploring other examples of arguments and techniques that it deployed last year in an attempt to turn the UK government against the idea of producing a level playing field for UK procurement through the introduction of truly open and truly fair open standards.

British citizens can contact their authorities and help reveal the truth if not expose this disgraceful behaviour from Microsoft as well. Apple is also a foe of standards by the way, for many reasons including this latest: [via]

Apple Computer came under fire for back-pedaling on its support for IPv6, the next-generation Internet Protocol, at a gathering of experts held in Denver this week.

Presenters at the North American IPv6 Summit expressed annoyance that the latest version of Apple’s AirPort Utility, Version 6.0, is no longer compatible with IPv6. The previous Version, 5.6, offered IPv6 service by default.

Apple also supports OOXML. What we are dealing with here is an assault on a government’s natural inclination to choose software it controls and trusts — software that the population would approve.

Microsoft’s Love/Hate Relationship With Germany

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 6:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Germany's flag

Summary: A collection of patent news involving Microsoft, Motorola, Germany, and also New Zealand

THE EXTORTION racket of Microsoft is being glamourised in a pro-patents site, which agreed to give a platform to Microsoft’s extortions guy Horacio Gutierrez. A German patent lawyer is meanwhile doing what he can to promote software patents in Europe, ignoring all common sense and how the world really works. In a 2007 paper titled “Ignoring Patents” we see quite clearly that patents are not honoured by anyone, not when it comes to other companies’ patents. The EPO uses Siemens for some PR, as usual (Siemens is one of the patent fiends in Europe).

In a patent lawyers’ site, it is revealed that Sweden too makes moves that constitute a threat to a status quo of no software patents. Will a central court be set up in Germany as some officials hope? In Germany there’s some precedence for software patents, probably the strongest one in Europe. To quote patents boosters:

The AmeriKat was again struck by how little we know regarding the negotiation process and the UK Government’s position. Although one cannot expect to know every detail of the substance of the Member States’ negotiations on the unitary patent package the radio silence as to the progress, where they are taking place, who with and/or deadlines is somewhat disconcerting. The only signs of life on this issue seem to have come from the House of Commons and the European patent profession, including signs of disquiet in Sweden by way of a letter sent to the Confederation of Swedish Industries to their Ministry of Trade on 17 February (here) which stated that they and the Swedish negotiating team wished for Articles 6 to 8 to be deleted from the Proposed Regulation. In addition, and somewhat ironically given last year’s push to finalize the unitary patent proposals under the Polish Presidency, there are reports that sections of the patent profession in Poland are also unhappy with the proposals (see report here).

As we will show in the next post, Microsoft too plays a role in promoting software patents in Europe while fearing the status quo of Germany being unfriendly to such patents (compared to the US). As Glyn Moody explains:

It’s striking that Microsoft isn’t such a big fan of patent courts — especially efficient ones that produce their judgments rapidly — when it is on the receiving end of patent lawsuits, rather than the one making the threats.

It’s also pretty rich that Microsoft should complain about the possibility of an injunction being granted against it by another jurisdiction when that is precisely what it is trying to do by filing an action against Motorola in the International Trade Commission as well as in a US District Court. If Microsoft says German courts shouldn’t get involved in its dispute with Motorola, it’s equally ridiculous that an international trade body should be dragged into a domestic dispute between two US companies, as Techdirt has noted before.

Basically, Microsoft is just whining because it thinks it’s going to lose in Germany, and has gone running to the US judge in an attempt to subvert that country’s judicial system. It’s a huge pity that he acceded to this ridiculous request: it creates a terrible precedent that’s likely to lead to more such interference in the legal systems of other countries — including foreign courts ordering companies not to obey US rulings — and a general weakening of respect for the rule of law around the world.

Microsoft is also sending some paid lobbyists from Germany — ones who lie about their intentions (business model). Moody will be mentioned also in the next post and a few days ago he drew attention to an article from New Zealand (NZ). Written by Stephen Bell (as usual), the article shows how American lobbyists interfere with NZ’s decision to ban software patents:

NZRise president Don Christie says he is disappointed with delays to the passing of the Patents Bill and questions some of the explanation given by Commerce Minister Craig Foss.

“We keep hearing that this Bill is important for the knowledge economy,” Christie said. “What the minister is saying now is different from what his predecessor, Simon Power was telling us; he was writing letters [to NZRise] last year, telling us the government was pushing the Bill through.”

Despite having been in the Parliamentary process since 2008, the Patents Bill still languishes well down in the Order Paper (No 47 as at Monday April 2), and is awaiting Parliament’s consideration of the Commerce select committee’s report, followed by the Bill’s second reading.

The committee’s report contained a contentious clause barring patents on software. Though there has been some attempt at qualifying this to admit patents on software-controlled machinery and the like, the core clause states “a computer program is not a patentable invention.”

Not only Microsoft is behind it; Intel too is among the multinationals that seek to harm NZ.

Links 17/4/2012: Wine 1.5.2 Released, Raspberry Pi Starts Shipping

Posted in News Roundup at 5:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux Features Prominently at This Year’s CES
  • How Linux defines success and innovation

    Based on that incredibly important criteria, I hereby declare that Linux has reached the pinnacle of true success. Send the marketing folks home, ladies and gentlemen, we’re done here, because everyone and their brother is now officially trying to the “the Linux of” whatever the sector within which they are seeking to succeed.

    The latest company to hang this label on their product line is VMware, which has declared via CTO Steve Herrod that their new Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) will be the “Linux of the cloud.”

  • More FUD About Security of GNU/Linux

    The truth is you are thousands of times more secure with GNU/Linux than that other OS. The count of malwares proves that. The incidence of malware infections proves that. The prevalence of GNU/Linux servers on the web proves that. The fact that M$’s servers are becoming more like GNU/Linux machines with time is another. Heck, M$’s 2008 server can even run GUIless and uses scripting. Where have we heard of that? Oh, GNU/Linux back about 1995.

    It is a standard military manoeuvre to seek out an enemy’s weakness and exploit it. If you are trying to run IT are you charging the enemy’s centre with it’s heavy artillery, enfilade fire and mines or are you going to flank him and cut his supply lines? We must do the same in IT. M$ has proven thousands of times that its software is insecure. We should run GNU/Linux. It’s the smart thing to do.

  • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 195
  • Don’t forget the newbies!
  • Linux and Open-source news overview for week 15-2012
  • Server

    • Ubuntu-Friendly HP Cloud Enters Public Beta

      According to survey results released earlier this year, Ubuntu still has a lot of room to grow in the cloud space. But it seems to be doing just that, the latest indicator being HP’s release of cloud products based partially on Ubuntu. Here’s the scoop, and why it matters for the Ubuntu world in particular.

      Last week, HP announced the public availability beginning May 10 of its HP Cloud platform, which began life as a private beta about six months ago. Most of the HP Cloud features are not very unique — it’s the same basic deal as other popular hosted cloud infrastructures, like Amazon EC2 — but one of the characteristics HP seems to be pushing is the open-source technologies on which its solutions are built, freeing users from vendor lock-in.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calligra Project open source office suite released

        /li>

      • Managing Users with KDE

        KDE Plasma Workspaces provide a graphical interface and lots of eye candy for the desktop Linux experience. Many would argue that it is equal to or even better at this than Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. KDE, however, is not only a graphical frontend for Linux. It comes with a set of applications and also with a set of system administration tools that can help power users take control of their desktops or laptops without dropping to the command line.

  • Distributions

    • Slackware Needs Your Help

      For Slackware, it’s been no exception. Some of you faithful Slackers may have noticed lately that the Slackware home page has been offline. I posted about this at Jeremy’s Linux Questions forums. Alien Bob (Eric Hameleers) replied stating that it was an old hardware/lack of funds issue. This is sad. :(

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s reaction to Microsoft’s open-source spinoff: Welcome! (mostly)

        There were a number of points in Cormier’s blog post, however, that could be interpreted as being less complimentary toward the Redmond giant. A reference to Red Hat having attained its current status “not without opposition” may well be a veiled dig at Microsoft, as could a line asserting that “some of the new entrants [to the open source world] are surprising.”

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux celebrates 10 years of Enterprise Linux

        While Red Hat might be one of the largest open source providers in the world, Jim Totton, vice president for the company’s platform business unit, is surprisingly coy about mistakes the company has made and learnt from in the decade since it launched.

        Coming up to its 10-year anniversary in May, Totton is in Australia from the US to celebrate. However, discussing mistakes Red Hat has made over the years doesn’t appear to be on the agenda.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project News – April 16th, 2012

        * Debian project leader elected
        * Registration open for DebConf12
        * Personal BSP initiatives
        * The state of Debian s390x
        * Interviews
        * Other news
        * Upcoming events
        * New Debian Contributors
        * Release-Critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release
        * Important Debian Security Advisories
        * New and noteworthy packages
        * Work-needing packages
        * Want to continue reading DPN?

      • Siduction 11.1

        Siduction 11.1 is a fork of the Aptosid distro. Siduction comes in KDE, Xfce or LXDe spins. You can get 32-bit or 64-bit versions of each spin. Siduction is based on Debian Sid and includes Linux Kernel 3.1-6 and X.Org server 1.11.2.902.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Speed up your computer with Ubuntu

            Windows is great, but after a while, it can get cluttered up with too many programs and become intolerably sluggish. Backing up your files and reinstalling it can help, but an alternative is to try the free Ubuntu operating system. Ubuntu isn’t too demanding and can make even a lowly netbook seem sprightly compared with running Windows on it.

          • Job Posting Reveals Canonical’s Plans for Ubuntu Phone OS
          • Ubuntu wants to be your cloud and data-center Linux
          • Ubuntu/Canonical Goes Global

            Ubuntu GNU/Linux has been global on the web but Canonical/Mark Shuttleworth has a larger project in mind. So far they have created business relationships with most of the large OEMs and provided cloud services and content-distribution portals.

          • Ubuntu Phone OS Takes A Step Closer?
          • Canonical is not interested in the Linux kernel

            Two weeks ago a Linux Foundation report showed that since version 2.6.32, Microsoft had committed more code to the Linux kernel than Canonical. Since then, Canonical has faced claims from rivals that it does not contribute to Linux as much as it should given its popularity.

          • Adopt An ISO

            We need to ensure we get total coverage of our different ISO images; the different images that you can download and install from. Each of these images has a small set of mandatory tests that we need to run through to ensure everything is working. We want to ensure all of these mandatory tests are run so that we can find any problems before the release and get them fixed.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Installing Linux Mint 12

              Y’all should know by now that I’m a Linux user. I write in Linux, I game in Linux, heck, my house has been Microsoft-free for about three years and I’ve never looked back. (The only exception being my day-job laptop. I’m stuck with Windows there.) The only thing that really bugs me about Linux is the uncertainty of upgrades.

              I’ve been using Linux Mint for a while now. Since version 8, I believe, when I changed over from Ubuntu. I find Linux Mint more user friendly than just straight Ubuntu and this is important. I’m a very plug-and-play kind of person. I don’t want to sit around installing drivers and slogging away at software installs. I want to plug it in, turn it on, and have it work. When I installed Linux Mint 8 for the first time, it did just that.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi $35 mini system starts shipping

      Raspberry Pi, the $35 Linux system about the size of a credit card, is fully baked and ready to eat… er, ship.

      The system was designed by a British nonprofit with the idea of encouraging people everywhere, particularly young people in developing countries, to become more interested in programming.

    • First Wave of Raspberry Pi Units Arriving in Users’ Hands
    • Delivery begins for first units of Raspberry Pi’s $35 Linux computer
    • Raspberry Pi fetches over the odds on Ebay
    • Conquered: Raspberry Pi Starts Shipping

      Free Software is resilient, Raspberry Pi has proven it again. After a month full of challenges and hurdles whether it be wrongly soldered LAN port or requirement of getting a CE mark the tiny devices are now shipping. For those who missed to order, the Raspberry Pi boards from RS and Allied are priced at £21.60 plus a shipping charge of £4.95 to any destination worldwide, plus VAT and import duty as applicable.

    • Raspberry Pi Gets New Arch Linux ARM Build
    • Phones

      • Android

        • HTC Golf Images Leaked To Press
        • Rooted Kindle Fire screenshot tour

          This screenshot tour was created to accompany DeviceGuru’s forthcoming post describing how we rooted and tweaked an Amazon Kindle Fire. The tour comprises more than 100 screenshots, which showcase the Kindle Fire’s standard homescreens and settings, the utilities and process we used for rooting and tweaking it, and the overall end result.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Cisco Cius Android Tablets & AppHQ: At Cisco Partner Summit?

        When Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers and other executives take the stage at this week’s Cisco Partner Summit, The VAR Guy wonders: Will Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) executives be armed with Cius tablets? The answer to that question could reveal how Cisco is feeling about its purpose-built tablets, which run Google Android and leverage the Cisco AppHQ app store.

        Cisco Cius tablets don’t seek to compete in the consumer tablet market. Rather, the devices are designed for corporate executives who leverage unified communications and video applications. Cisco Partner Summit 2012 (April 16-19, San Diego), could provide a prime stage to update partners on the Cius.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Networking Foundation Set to Advance OpenFlow

    One of the most exciting up and coming trends in the world of networking in the last few years has been emergence of Software Defined Networking (SDN). At the core of the SDN revolution is the open source OpenFlow protocol which has helped to define the entire SDN space.

  • Netflix to Open Source Army of Cloud Monkeys
  • Netflix Pledges to Open Source Its “Monkey” Cloud Utilities
  • Netflix open sources cloud tools in hopes to attract people
  • How will open source react to Microsoft?

    The hits just keep on coming for the Android mobile operating system–albeit this time from European telecom vendors that are insisting the Linux-based operating system would help prop up the flagging Lumia smartphone sales… if only the Lumias ran Android instead of Windows Phone 7.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • MySQL founder’s latest MariaDB release takes “enterprise” features open-source

      MontyProgram AB, the company formed by MySQL creator Michael “Monty” Widenius in the wake of his break with Sun Microsystems, has released the latest version of MariaDB, a “drop-in replacement” for MySQL built on the MySQL 5.5 codebase. MariaDB 5.5.23, which according to developer Colin Charles has “1.5 million additional lines of code compared to MySQL,” pushes forward the development of an open-source database with features that aim to match those of Oracle’s commercial-only MySQL releases.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice/OpenOffice//Calligra

  • BSD

    • A look at FreeNAS 8.0.4

      A few weeks ago I asked if readers would be interested in seeing reviews of network-attached storage (NAS) projects. The feedback was really positive and so I present the first of what I hope to be a series of reviews covering NAS solutions. This week we will be looking at FreeNAS, a FreeBSD-based project sponsored by iXsystems.

      Before we get started I think it’s only fair that we address the question of why we might want to run a dedicated NAS operating system rather than a generic server system. For instance, this week we’re looking at FreeNAS, what motivation do we have for using it instead of FreeBSD or a popular Linux server distribution? The answer is largely one of specialization. People looking at network-attached storage are looking for a place to store files (usually a lot of files) and aren’t interested in other features a server operating system might provide. A NAS box will be focused on storing and transferring files, it’s probably not going to serve up e-mails or websites or provide DNS services. With that in mind, a NAS should come with all the tools we might need to easily add new disks, take snapshots, perform backups and, being focused on these tasks exclusively, it can cut out any extras, providing a lightweight solution.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Hacking IT systems to become a criminal offence

      Cyber attacks on IT systems would become a criminal offence punishable by at least two years in prison throughout the EU under a draft law backed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. Possessing or distributing hacking software and tools would also be an offence, and companies would be liable for cyber attacks committed for their benefit.

  • Civil Rights

    • Expert: New CISPA Bill Isn’t SOPA, But Still Attacks Constitutional Rights

      Congress’ latest attempt at a bill that affects the way people use the Internet has many scared, with some calling the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is “worse than SOPA,” the bill that caused widespread Internet outrage and blackouts before ultimately being shelved. Experts say the danger level associated with CISPA depends on the answer to one question: Which Constitution amendment do you care about more, the First or the Fourth?

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google’s Sergey Brin

      The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

      In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world”. “I am more worried than I have been in the past,” he said. “It’s scary.”

Sony and Philips Have Protection From Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Patents at 4:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Simon Phipps in Stockholm (2007)
Photo by RightOnBrother

Summary: Simon Phipps on Sony and Philips

THE patent wars are not getting any better, but one very important observation that we missed is the following from Simon Phipps:

Open source patent defense Open Invention Network recently expanded its patent protection for Linux. Good news, sullied by the discovery that founder members Sony and Phillips carved out exceptions so they didn’t face competition from Linux in their consumer products. Open is good as long as we don’t have to be.

Very interesting. We wrote about Philips’ patent trolling before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. With friends like these, need Linux have enemies?

Disclosure: My brother is a software engineer at Philips (CT equipment).

Patent Trolls Funded by the French Public

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

INRIA

Summary: News from France showing that INRIA lost its way

ACCORDING TO some articles in French, INRIA is entering a shame list. Here is one such article in French and those who speak French comment as follows:

INRIA becomes a french patent troll thanks to France Brevets

This is unfortunate because INRIA does good work in my professional field. Will INRIA start attacking with patents? INRIA is not a producing company. Here is another article, which is interpreted as saying that:

France Brevets’s founder was inspired by Intellectual Ventures

Way to go. Inspiration comes from the world’s biggest patent troll, bankrolled in part by Microsoft and founded by Microsoft folks.

More Pressure to Eliminate Software Patents in the US

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pressure is mounting

Mechanics' room

Summary: A collection of items from the past month, all of which show the need and desire for a serious patent reform

THE USE of patents against software products is getting very widespread, especially in the lucrative mobile arena (lawsuits en masse with multiple defendants). Julie Samuels from the EFF urged SCOTUS to do something (we already covered the nonchalance of the SCOTUS) and so did CATO, which wrote:

In his famous essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Friedrich Hayek argued that the socialists of his day falsely assumed that knowledge about economy could be taken as “given” to central planners. In reality, information about the economy—about what products are needed and where the necessary resources can be found—is dispersed among a society’s population. Economic policies that implicitly depend on omniscient decision-makers are doomed to failure, because the decision-makers won’t have the information they need to make good decisions.

In a new paper to be published by the NYU Annual Survey of American Law, Christina Mulligan (who drafted a recent amicus brief for Cato) and I argue that the contemporary patent debate suffers from a similar blind spot. A patent is a demand that the world refrain from using a particular machine or process. To comply with this demand, third parties need an efficient way to discover which patents they are in danger of infringing. Yet we show that for some industries, including software, the costs of discovering which patents one is in danger of infringing are astronomical. As a consequence, most software firms don’t even try to avoid infringing peoples’ patents.

There is more and more scholarly work pointing out the obvious (e.g. newest study from Bessen and his co-workers), but decisions to permit patenting of algorithms are not fact- or evidence-based, they are lobbying-based.

A month ago someone wrote this essay which says:

Impractical Software patents

[...]

Software patents are utterly impractical to promote innovation. Here are a few American articles that we recommend you to read to broaden your clear understanding of numerous and inextricable software patents issues. The multiplication of insane litiges is an additional proof that software patents are an inadequate tool. In reality the patent establishment is the main pushing force towards software patentability in Europe with the support of some major IT companies. Their main and sad aim is not to promote but to impede technology and distort markets.

Yahoo employees were furious at the time as “Aspiring Patent Troll Yahoo Shakes Down Facebook” with patents from engineers who never wanted software patents anyway. Yes, even many of those who earn software patents are fundamentally against it; their employers prod them for it. Why are those patents legal in the first place? Who are they really for? There is "institutional corruption" at play — a disparity between reality and practice, public opinion and existing law.

Apple and Microsoft Are Losing Share to Google

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Office Suites at 4:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Graphs

Summary: Bits and pieces from the news about phones and office suites

THE duopoly from the West Coast has met Linux and it doesn’t like what it’s seeing.

Android makes the hypePhone less desirable and analysts notice this. “Walter Piecyk, an analyst with BTIG Research, issued a rare downgrade on shares of Apple Inc. on Monday,” says a pro-Apple site, “moving his recommendation from “Buy” to “Neutral.” In a research note to clients, Mr. Piecyk said that changes to aggressive carrier subsidy policies will result in fewer smartphone upgrades. He also expressed doubt about Apple’s ability to wrangle US$600 per iPhone in emerging markets where carrier subsidies are few and far between.”

Microsoft itself is deep in the gutter of mobile platforms, as a matter of course.

Microsoft has been relying on people buying a computer with Windows or OS X on it, then paying for a copy of the cash cow, Microsoft Office. Now that more people move into mobile computing (and off Windows) this cash cow is in danger. Even Microsoft-affiliated publications like Slate dare to call for the death of Office (or Word). The crux of the argument:

Nowadays, I get the same feeling of dread when I open an email to see a Microsoft Word document attached. Time and effort are about to be wasted cleaning up someone’s archaic habits. A Word file is the story-fax of the early 21st century: cumbersome, inefficient, and a relic of obsolete assumptions about technology. It’s time to give up on Word.

People prefer to be given URLs to access work through. This is why Microsoft plays catchup with Office 360 (5 days downtime).

Cash cows like Office and iPhone are losing share to Google, so it’s no wonder that the duopolists attack Google together.

Collateral Damage in Oracle’s Case Against Android

Posted in Google, Oracle, Patents at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gates

Summary: News analysis and preparation for patent news catchup

THE lawsuits against Red Hat and Google help teach us that once someone is making money with Linux, patents come knocking on the door in pursuit of a share of the profits. As Simon Phipps recently explained, everyone loses from this practice (except lawyers). He speaks specifically about the Oracle case and it is summarised as follows:

Besides Google, biggest loser is free culture in general and open source in particular. Here’s your guide to what’s at stake

As a former manager at Sun (of Java fame), Phipps understands what’s at stake and in the rest of this month we are going to catch up with patent news that we missed in March and April (due to personal reasons).

The new Android case kicks off and Groklaw provides detailed analysis while the less legalese-savvy press follows the lead. As Pogson puts it, “Oracle [is] is clutching at straws,” for reasons we covered here before.

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