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Android Under Patent Attacks From Nokia, Microsoft, and Oracle

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Military boat

Summary: A roundup of patent news involving Android and the US patent/copyright system, which facilitates ridiculous patents or lawsuits over APIs

THE moment that Nokia started suing Android vendors with patents we knew that it was just the beginning of Elop’s ugly strategy. Nokia now uses 45 patents against HTC and Viewsonic, which are responsible for many Android devices. Nokia is not going to sue Microsoft because it has been acting more as a proxy for Microsoft since signing a bizarre real that led to lawsuits against the management.

“Nokia is not going to sue Microsoft because it has been acting more as a proxy for Microsoft since signing a bizarre real that led to lawsuits against the management.”Now that Oracle directly supplies Java updates for Apple platforms, it sure seems like Oracle has also been acting as a bit of a proxy for Apple with its anti-Android lawsuit. Oracle’s CEO considers Apple’s spiritual leader to be his “best friend” after all. Oracle has not quite been getting its way so far. “Google vs Oracle court case reached a milestone today as the jury gave its verdict,” claimed a recent article. “The verdict is clearly in favor of Google as in this phase Oracle gets nothing out of this expensive court case.”

The same source says that “Oracle has already lost the first round of its battle against Google’s Android as only 9 lines of code found to be infringing which amounts to $0 in damages.”

There is a lot of coverage in Groklaw (with a lot of comments), but it’s very much aimed at lawyers. CNET speaks of Google’s stance:

Google sums up: No ‘shred of evidence’ for patent claim


Google’s counsel followed up with its closing statements in phase two of its legal battle against Oracle at the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Tuesday morning.

CNET is also summing up Oracle’s arguments and it mentioned Europe's stance on copyright on APIs right here. CNET has a lot of coverage on this subject and it is actually not too bad. Ars Technica writes this piece about the stance of glorified lawyers (judges):

Top judge: ditching software patents a “bad solution”

For decades, the courts have struggled to decide what types of innovation are eligible for patent protection. For much of that time, the central institution in that debate has been the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the appeals court that has jurisdiction over patent cases.

The Federal Circuit has been strongly pro-patent since its inception in 1982. It was the court that opened the floodgates for software patents with a series of permissive decisions during the 1990s. And it was the court that gave the green light to patents on medical diagnostic techniques, only to be overruled by the Supreme Court in March.

Why is the Federal Circuit so enthusiastic about extending patent protection to new fields? The court’s current members are understandably circumspect, but retired judges can be more candid. So on Friday, Ars Technica traveled to Princeton University to hear a keynote address by retired Judge Paul Michel, as part of a conference on patent law. Michel served on the Federal Circuit form 1988 to 2010, and was its chief judge for the last six years of his tenure. His comments shed light on the motivations behind the dramatic changes in patent law over the last two decades.

Judges ought not to rule on those matters because being lawyers — not productive workers — they serve an agenda other than the public’s.

Over at IDG, Dr. Glyn Moody, a scientist by background and trade, explains why software patents are bad and ties that to Microsoft’s lobbying:

VideoLAN shows how real that problem is. There simply aren’t many free software projects implementing video standards, say, because it’s impossible for them to comply with FRAND licensing. The only software that has flourished in this sector – VLC – has done so because the project is located in France, with laws there that it believes allow it to use those video standards without needing any licence at all. And as the project’s final comment makes clear, VideoLAN is not claiming that its users are covered by any licence. On the contrary, it explicitly warns them that it takes no responsibility for any “illegal use” of its projects.

I suggest that in many parts of the world, open source programs like VLC are indeed being used illegally, for the simple reason that VideoLAN has no licence to implement the video standards that are subject to patents in some parts of the world. Contrary to what Microsoft would have the Cabinet Office believe, the presence of FRAND-licensed standards has had a chilling effect on the production of certain classes of free software, precisely because of this problem.

VLC’s billion downloads are a testimony to the fact that people are keen to run high-quality open source software on the desktop, even though – perhaps unbeknownst to them – their use of it in certain jurisdictions is almost certainly illegal. Allowing FRAND-based standards in the UK would ensure that even more open source software is throttled at birth; or, if written in other jurisdictions that do not recognise the need for any licensing, that it is used by people ignorant of, or indifferent to, the letter of the law – hardly something the UK government would want to encourage.

If you want to help minimise the use of restrictive FRAND-based standards in the UK, you still have time to make a submission to the consultation on open standards, which closes on 4 June. I urge you to do so.

The SCOTUS and the USPTO, just like the UK-IPO, are run by lawyers, not people whose career is really at stake here. It should not be surprising that the USPTO covers its own back by defending software patents from Oracle:

The fact that this patent is now valid for inclusion in the lawsuit means that the number of patents Oracle can leverage in the proceedings has increased from two to three. The USPTO had declared the patent invalid on 7 February, a decision that Oracle appealed. The fact that Oracle has won this appeal and managed to get the patent declared as valid again could allow Oracle’s lawyers to make a stronger argument in court than if it had not been re-examined as it has already been challenged with prior art.

Following the borderline retreat of Oracle from patents this may mark a return to that awful strategy which the EU would not endorse. Just as patents were put aside the bureaucrats from the USPTO came out again with more complications at hand:

As Oracle’s litigation against Google over copyright and patent violations in Android goes on, all sides seem determined to end the lawsuit sooner rather than later. Judge William Alsup has overruled the jury in another matter of copyright infringement, and the patent phase of the suit is expected to end some time this week.

And further, says the same source:

Although Oracle’s lawsuit against Google is now well into the patent phase, several motions have been filed over the last few days that pertain to the matters of alleged copyright infringement from the earlier phase of the trial. Google has also moved to drop the damages part of the case, which would leave the judge to decide applicable damages by himself.

Regarding the latest ruling, it may get overruled and in the mean time developers will suffer:

Developers fear they’ll be stifled by judgement in Oracle-Google suit

If Oracle prevails in its contention that APIs can be copyrighted, software developers could be stifled in how they work and innovate, say observers of the ongoing Oracle-Google trial, in which Oracle claims Google improperly used Java technology in the Android mobile software platform.

The case of Microsoft vs. Motorola can help defuse some of the aggression from Microsoft (through deterrence, such as blocking Vista 7), but the Oracle case is probably a bigger issue right now. As an Android developer myself, this has an effect on me too. The simplest fix, which is also most rational, is to invalidate all software patents and amend copyright laws (modernise them).

Helping OpenSUSE is Helping Microsoft Tax GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Useful idiocy

Raking leaves

Summary: A short wave of calls to refrain from OpenSUSE promotion, which through the upstream is helping Microsoft, the sponsor

THE spreading of Microsoft file systems by Tuxera (‘little Novell’) has helped Microsoft tax Linux while Novell’s SUSE has the same effect on products or companies which foolishly go for this unnecessary option.

Muktware gives some lip service to OpenSUSE by speaking to the Project Manager of the Open Build Service (see this page), but the false supposition that helping OpenSUSE is not helping SUSE was recently shattered quite explicitly by Mr. Jaeger, whose words are interpreted as follows:

In a blog post today Jaeger explained some of the process of development at a commercial/community entity. He said that changes either come from the community edition and pushed upstream or done by the SLED team and pushed downstream. He also thinks it’s good practice to push all changes upstream and let them decide to use it or request changes.

In other words, praises like this one for OpenSUSE indirectly help the Microsoft-taxed distribution of GNU/Linux. People who say that helping OpenSUSE is not the same as helping SUSE (indirectly controlled by Microsoft) are simply not paying attention.

Microsoft May Face Federal Action for Blocking Rival Web Browsers on ARM

Posted in Microsoft at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Asa Dotzler
Asa Dotzler, via WIkipedia

Summary: Mozilla’s call for action is taken seriously by people at The Hill (Washington)

A SHORT while ago we mentioned how Microsoft was using an ARM transition to block competitors (at the OS and application levels).

Mozilla spoke firmly on the subject (thanks, Asa) and according to this report, it may have worked: [via]

The Lede: Senate Judiciary Committee staffers plan to take a look at allegations that Microsoft has made it difficult for competing Web browsers to run on a certain version of Windows, an aide to Antitrust subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) told The Hill Thursday.

The Mozilla Foundation, which makes the Firefox browser, and Google have accused Microsoft of hindering their browsers’ ability to run on Windows devices with ARM processors, which are popular in mobile phones. They say that only Microsoft’s Explorer browser is able to run on the devices.

Swapnil Bhartiya wrote:

Microsoft’s decision to block competitors will raise antitrust concerns. Mozilla warns, ” If Windows on ARM is simply another version of Windows on new hardware, it also runs afoul of the EC browser choice commitments and seems to represent the very behavior the DOJ-Microsoft settlement sought to prohibit.”

Will similar action be taken to address Microsoft’s action against Linux on ARM [1, 2, 3, 4]?

Links 16/5/2012: 125,000 GNU/Linux Machines for Pakistani Students, Android 4.0 Rollouts

Posted in News Roundup at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Pixar’s Toy Story 2 was Nearly Lost because of a Linux Command

    In ‘The Movie Vanishes’ short animation film by Pixar, Oren Jacob and Galyn Susman tell how a big part of Toy Story 2 was almost deleted because of an accidental Linux command ‘rm’ and poor backup system.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Virginia Firm Sells Gun Targets Resembling Trayvon Martin

      An online gun retailer has been criticized for promoting an advertisement for shooting targets that resemble 17-year old shooting victim Trayvon Martin. The target depicted a hooded figure holding skittles and tea with crosshairs on his chest. Martin was reportedly holding skittles and tea when he was shot dead — in the chest — by George Zimmerman in Florida in February 2012. The horrific shooting of the unarmed youth led to a national conversation about the NRA-crafted Stand Your Ground/Shoot to Kill law and the role the American Legislative Exchange Council played in spreading the Florida law across the nation.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • LISTEN: Occupy Wall Street Gets an Album and Everyone Is On It
    • Gupta seeks calls thrown out of U.S. insider trial

      NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta, the most prominent corporate figure indicted in a U.S. crackdown on insider trading, has asked a judge to throw out more than two dozen phone conversations that the government has sought to present as evidence at his trial.

    • Goldman Traders Tried to Manipulate Derivatives Market in ’07, Report Says

      Company documents show traders led by Michael J. Swenson sought to encourage a “short squeeze” by putting artificially low prices on derivatives that would gain in value as mortgage securities fell, according to the report yesterday by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The idea, abandoned after market conditions worsened, was to drive holders of such credit-default swaps to sell and help Goldman Sachs traders buy at reduced prices, according to the report.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • CMD Special Report: New Documents Confirm Koch Was on ALEC Crime Task Force Led by NRA

      ALEC announced it was dropping that task force in the wake of the controversy over the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin and so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws. However, the co-leader of that task force, Rep. Jerry Madden (R-TX), revealed ALEC’s announcement to be a PR maneuver when he reassured The Christian Post that his task force’s work would continue through other ALEC task forces.

  • Censorship

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • US Supremes hammer final nail into Psystar coffin

        The long and sordid Psystar saga creaked to its anti-climactic close on Monday: the US Supreme Court has refused to hear the hackintosher’s request to review an appeals court’s September 2011 decision not to overturn a December 2009 permanent injunction preventing the Florida company from selling Mac OS X–based clones.

      • Music labels force pioneering MP3tunes into bankruptcy

        MP3tunes, a music locker service that has spent years locked in litigation with major record labels, announced last week that it was closing up shop. The startup scored a partial victory in court last year, helping to establish the legality of cloud music services in the process. But founder Michael Robertson says that “four and a half years of legal torment” forced his company to file for bankruptcy on April 27.

      • Who Needs SOPA When Courts Will Pretend SOPA Already Exists?

        Back in November, we wrote about one of a series of cases we had seen where trademark holders were going to court with a list of domain names that they insisted were selling counterfeit goods and getting the courts to issue injunctions that appeared to be quite similar to what SOPA would have allowed had it passed. That is, basically upon request, a trademark holder was able to get domain registrars to kill domain names, while forcing search engines and social networks to put in place blockades barring such sites from being listed. It appears that more trademark holders are taking notice. Jeff Roberts has the story of (regular IP extremist) Louis Vuitton trying the same thing.

      • IP-Address Can’t Even Identify a State, BitTorrent Judge Rules

        The mass-BitTorrent lawsuits that are sweeping the United States are in a heap of trouble. After a Florida judge ruled that an IP-address is not a person, a Californian colleague has gone even further in protecting the First Amendment rights of BitTorrent users. The judge in question points out that geolocation tools are far from accurate and that it’s therefore uncertain that his court has jurisdiction over cases involving alleged BitTorrent pirates. As a result, 15 of these mass-BitTorrent lawsuits were dismissed.

      • MCA, the DMCA, and stifled collaboration

        Earlier this month, the world lost a music pioneer when Adam Yauch, a.k.a “MCA” of the Beastie Boys, succumbed to cancer at the age of 47. A founding member of the Beastie Boys, Yauch expanded upon his success in the music industry to exert his considerable influence and contributions outside music. He had a strong interest in film, which resulted in him directing several of the Boys’ music videos and in 2008 led to him founding Oscilloscope Studios, which produces and promotes independent films. In the 1990s, Yauch adopted Buddhism and began getting involved socially and politically in a variety of charities and activism.

      • ACTA

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