Activism Against Software Patents and Patent Trolls

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 11:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amplifying the protest


Summary: Interesting new calls for action and some news with special involvement from Microsoft and Apple (trolling by proxy)

FRENCH activism seeks to stop software patents in Europe now that there are new politicians in positions of power. To quote a site which battles the unitary patent:

The next Competitiveness Council will be held on May 30th and 31st 2012. François Hollande’s government will be attending it for the first time1. April calls upon the French president to take this opportunity to act against software patents and to bring up the flaws and the issues of the current unitary patent project.

This is basically a call for the new French president to “Stop software patents”. The FSF and APRIL join in:

The next Competitiveness Council will be held on May 30th and 31st, 2012. François Hollande’s government will be attending it for the first time. April, the French free software group, calls upon the president to take this opportunity to act against software patents and bring up the flaws of the current unitary patent project.

The Against Monopoly folks (opposing patents in general) share this story about patent doubts:

JAY VADIVELOO, who is a mathematics professor and also works as an actuary for an insurance company, writes in the New York Times about how he got a patent and makes it sound easy…

He describes his invention: “Generally when an insurer performs certain calculations, it includes data from all its policies. If it has a million policies, that means a lot of processing as various scenarios are considered. Sometimes, the work can take days. I believed I had a solution to this cumbersome and costly process: create subgroups from the database, sample policies from each, repeat the process several times, then combine the results. My technique provides results similar to those from studying all policies, and saves time and money.”

The same site also shares a link to religious point of view on intellectual monopolies: [via]:

As we all know, the concept of intellectual property rights is a criminal activity, one of many, that the state engages in, by virtue of the fact that the practice is contrary to natural law. Further, the regime is ultimately enforced by violence, which is in violation of revelation, “thou shalt not kill.”

Some patents do lead to unnecessary deaths (in the name of profit).

In an article which we mentioned here before (see this printer-friendly version) Mike Masnick finds good backing for his claim that patents (or patent trolls) destroy jobs too (thus income source of families):

Last fall, after years and years of bickering and fighting, Congress and the President finally got together to pass what they called a “patent reform” bill. While the bill made a few changes to how the patent system works, it almost completely ignored the issue of patent trolling or just how destructive patents are to innovation. Even more ridiculous is that the President insisted that the new bill would create jobs.

Microsoft and Apple are said to have armed 4,000 patent warheards in a new article which says:

In many ways, Scott Widdowson is your typical electrical engineer. Most days, when the weather’s good, he bikes the 15 miles along the Ottawa River to his company’s offices in the west end of the Canadian capital. Once there, he settles in for a day of reading technical specifications, poring over computer textbooks, or prying apart consumer electronics — logic probe in one hand and a soldering iron in the other.

But Widdowson is a specialist. He’s one of 10 reverse-engineers working full time for a stealthy company funded by some of the biggest names in technology: Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion, Sony, and Ericsson. Called the Rockstar Consortium, the 32-person outfit has a single-minded mission: It examines successful products, like routers and smartphones, and it tries to find proof that these products infringe on a portfolio of over 4,000 technology patents once owned by one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.

When a Rockstar engineer uncovers evidence of infringement, the company documents it, contacts the manufacturer, and demands licensing fees for the patents in question. The demand is backed by the implicit threat of a patent lawsuit in federal court. Eight of the company’s staff are lawyers. In the last two months, Rockstar has started negotiations with as many as 100 potential licensees. And with control of a patent portfolio covering core wireless communications technologies such as LTE (Long Term Evolution) and 3G, there is literally no end in sight.

So here we have another example of the costs of trolls. Behind them we find companies like Apple and Microsoft. This shows that trolls do not quite operate alone. See MPEG-LA for another example. The complex network of patent proxies/trolls has made everything harder to police. To give another example, B&N complained about Microsoft’s use of MOSAID, but Microsoft then paid B&N to shut up. It’s like bribing one’s way out of punishment for crime.

When Windows Runs Only on Old Form Factors (Desktops)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 11:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Antiquated operating systems will perish

Lady and bike

Summary: A look at what’s coming from Vista 8 and why Windows is relegated to just stay (and decay) in an ageing market

A couple of days ago I went to several shops looking for a tablet. I ended up getting an Android-powered Archos tablet at the end of yesterday (Android 4.0). During this shopping exercise I learned that Windows is never an option; in some shops, Android is the only choice (there’s no Apple gadgetry on the shelf). For Microsoft, it has become harder to appeal to shops, even in the UK where Microsoft is usually stronger than usual. When they control products excessively the customers and OEMs alike just cease to show interest. Or as put by Linux User:

The software ecosystem has interesting tentacles, says Simon Brew, as he investigates the trend of selling icons onto increasingly bloated Windows computers…

On the tablet and the phone there is no room for bloat. This is why Vista 8, for example, will never succeed in this space. As shown in the news recently, Windows 8 will “disappoint” as “analysts cut price targets on HP, Dell” (an expected development).

It’s worse than people may realise because the software is very buggy and “clicking ‘preview’ [in Vista 8] may wipe computer hard drive” according to this report. To quote:

A new warning for Windows users hoping to get a sneak peak at the Windows 8 operating system. Clicking on ‘preview’ may wipe your computer’s hard drive of all information.

There weren’t many articles written about it, unlike for instance the way in which Microsoft is repelling developers and pushing them to use undesirable GUIs. Here is a FOSS angle on this branch of news (it was originally about Microsoft’s development tools and tolls):

New obstacle for open source on Windows 8

Microsoft has published its product lineup for Visual Studio 11 and open source developers are noting that the new line up will cause particular problems for creators of open source desktop applications on Windows. The company is planning to drop support for desktop-style applications from the free-of-charge Visual Studio Express, meaning that developers will only be able to develop Metro applications with it.

SJVN already names some ways to avoid Vista 8:

Some people are still sure Windows 8 is going to be the cat’s meow. I’m sure Windows 8 and its Metro interface will be more like a cat’s yowl of pain. The more I look at Metro, the more I’m sure that Microsoft’s new desktop will flop as badly as the Facebook IPO.

It’s not just me. Business analysts, who couldn’t care less about technology but care a lot about what customers think, are saying things like “Windows 8 will prove to be a disappointment.”

It is worth noting that Microsoft finally admits publicly that Vista sucks, but only because it tries to sell Metro:

Microsoft must really love Windows 8, or hate its legacy install base.

The Aero interface introduced with the hated Windows Vista and perpetuated with the loved Windows 7 is being canned from Windows 8, the company has revealed.

In another achingly long Windows 8 blog post, Microsoft called the Aero interface it once championed and poured so much love upon “dated and cheesy”. Yes, Windows 7 peeps, it’s official: you’re using a cheesy-lookin’ piece of software.

Tim had this to say the other day:

So this leaves the question, what is the real reason for the deal. Barnes & Noble have signed up with Microsoft, which if they didn’t have problems before, they certainly will have now. The details of that deal involve Microsoft ebook readers on its WP7 platform and presumably Windows 8 products, which means they are already doomed – just look to Nokia for how well struggling business fares with a Microsoft partnership.

The B&N deal was more about passing a bribe for a court case to be dropped (leaving Android weaker than before on the patent front). B&N would have to be insane or suicidal (or bribed) to actually choose Windows rather than Android/Linux for eReaders. The same goes for Nokia. We know how that went. Nokia might even be bankrupt in a year or so (when cash savings will have run out).

Microsoft Linux (SUSE) Developed More Closely With Microsoft

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

Large lizard

Summary: Microsoft’s mischievous moves in Germany and how it has managed to intervene with the direction of Linux and FOSS

SOME of Novell’s developers have moved to Microsoft and the company known as SUSE seems to be serving as somewhat of a proxy, with Microsoft projects delivered via Novell or SUSE for the outside to be less suspicious. Watch this item is news:

Microsoft announced a new beta product at the Open Source Business Conference that integrates SUSE Manager with the Microsoft System Center data center management platform. The product will allow IT departments to manage Windows and Linux environments as one.

For those who are still in denial over Microsoft’s influence in SUSE ($100,000,000 aside), this is yet another piece of the puzzle.

Here is some of the other stuff SUSE is doing:

The future of the enterprise will most certainly include the cloud, and SUSE plans to remain a major player in this space.

Any thoughts that the Nürnberg-based Linux distribution vendor might be failing under the umbrella of its not-so-new owner Attachmate are pretty off the mark, if their plans for the cloud are any indication.

Not really. We gave some examples to show what happened internally, well inside the company.

Also in Germany, Microsoft does its usual thing:

Microsoft’s sponsorship of LinuxTag 2012 is very present both on their web-site and in physical form at the event. Microsoft was also widely advertised at LinuxNacht, their usual evening reception for the event, with table-top Microsoft tri-folds and their logo on the projected slides. On Thursday during LinuxTag, there was also a Microsoft session entitled “Microsoft and Open Source: An Update on the Journey.”

We wrote about Microsoft in LinuxTag before. See posts such as:

It’s part of Microsoft’s controlled opposition ambitions, which more Microsoft propaganda from Mary Jo Foley seeks to establish. The end goal is to send in moles like this one to speak on behalf of Microsoft, under the disguise of speaking for FOSS (the above infiltration helps when the mole gets ostracised). OSBC 2012 was also impacted by Microsoft and its spinoffs, as usual (see the list of sponsors in their Web site). They change the message at the events about “open source”. It’s happening by design, so do not underestimate the viciousness of Microsoft. “You want to infiltrate those,” Microsoft's chief evangelist once said, referring to the press and the opposition.

“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”

Microsoft's chief evangelist

Google Beats Oracle’s Patents, But the Plague of Software Patents Remains

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Oracle, Patents at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eating away at innovation


Summary: Quick analysis of the verdict from the Oracle vs. Google case and a few other bits of news, showing quite clearly that it’s part of a much broader problem

THERE IS hardly any need for us to point out what even the MSBBC has already stated by coverage. As a technical news site put it:

Just over a week ago, the jury began deliberations on the ongoing patent infringement case between Google and Oracle. After waiting in the wings, with bated breath, the verdict is finally in, as Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court of Northern California dismissed the jury this afternoon after a unanimous decision that ruled in favor of Google’s mobile OS — declaring that Android did not in fact infringe on the Oracle patents in question.

Here is the coverage from Pamela Jones:

The jury verdict is in. They found no infringement of the patents!

Linus Torvalds had something to say as well:

Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux writes on Google +, “Prediction: instead of Oracle coming out and admitting they were morons about their idiotic suit against Android, they’ll come out posturing and talk about how they’ll be vindicated, and pay lawyers to take it to the next level of idiocy.

Sometimes I really wish I wasn’t always right. It’s a curse, I tell you.”

Richard Fontana from Red Hat has a new analysis and so does SJVN, who wrote:

Oracle loses its patent claims and so Google has almost completely defeated Oracle in its vain attempts to squeeze an intellectual property payoff from Google and Android.

This is all very happy and encouraging, but it won’t be the end of the bigger problem.

According to this article, SCOTUS might have a key ruling on a software patents redone:

The United States Supreme Court signaled skepticism about broad software patents Monday when it ordered reconsideration of an online advertising patent. The high court asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reconsider its decision approving the patent in light of a March Supreme Court decision restricting patents on medical diagnostic techniques.

The online ad patent, granted to a company called Ultramercial, covers the concept of allowing users to watch a pre-roll advertisement as an alternative to paying for premium content. Ultramercial has demanded licensing fees from several online video sites, including Hulu and YouTube. One target of Ultramercial’s legal threats, a company called WildTangent, challenged Ultramercial’s “invention” as merely an abstract idea not eligible for patent protection.

if this is carried onwards, maybe one day we’ll see all software patents — not just Oracle’s — put to rest. Until then, Apple will be “Heading To Court” with charges against companies it is unable to compete with fairly (no compromise). It still makes senses to suspect that Oracle’s attack on Android was in part motivated by Ellison’s “best friend”,Steve Jobs. We are dealing with aggressive megalomaniacs here.

Microsoft Versus Downloads

Posted in Microsoft at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Microsoft funds an entity which aims to destroy BitTorrent as a medium

TORRENTS are essential for downloading GNU/Linux distros and FOSS, especially where size (of any one download) or amount (of downloads) is high and the distributor is not well funded. Decentralised distribution may in fact be a cornerstone in the fight for software freedom. Independence and autonomy come through peerage.

Microsoft is threatened by software which people can freely share and software which cannot be policed or tamed, e.g. with patent tax. Microsoft once tried to charge Sun per download of OpenOffice.org. As part of Microsoft’s fight against what cannot be controlled it is funding an entity which tries to kill BitTorrent traffic altogether:

The Russian based “Pirate Pay” startup is promising the entertainment industry a pirate-free future. With help from Microsoft, the developers have built a system that claims to track and shut down the distribution of copyrighted works on BitTorrent. Their first project successfully stopped tens of thousands of downloads.

So much for the ‘new Microsoft’…

This is the same unethical company we have come to know. It’s not the so-called “social” Microsoft, which is so antisocial while still trying to rebrand itself. As my co-host Tim put it:

Cast your mind back to November 2011. For those readers here they may remember an article I wrote about a rumored social networking site Microsoft was developing. As Microsoft desperately throws mud at the wall in the hope something will stick, it seems that there is no stone they won’t leave unturned (figuratively speaking). With that in mind, summoning an image of a stone might be a good comparison for Microsoft’s latest venture with, I believe very little chance of being anything other than cold and and lifeless. My original article from 2011 can be found here.

It was only a few years back that Microsoft threw its hands up in the air with its blogging service, leaving thousands of blogger refugees who were picked up by the charity of Word-press when they offered (with Microsoft’s blessing) and easy way to migrate their blogs.

In Microsoft’s vision, a network which is federated and controlled by a monolith is “social”, whereas a network which everyone can control (like BitTorrent) must be destroyed. This is why Free software promotes greater harmony in society, whereas Microsoft does the very opposite. [HT: Will for the link]

Gates Watch

Posted in Africa, Bill Gates at 10:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gates at Harper's Magazine

Summary: Update on Gates in Africa (bringing corporations to the black continent) and a call for help

OUR Gates-watching efforts (see Gates Foundation Critique) have suffered from the lack of time dedicated to them. Priorities changed somewhat. For the uninitiated, Gates is a missionary who instead of spreading monotheistic religions is spreading the culture of greed and exploits population under the guise of “sacred works”. Here is a good new article about it (sent by a reader):

Another missionary in Africa: the Bill Gates myth

Bill Gates is a walking talking Bill Gates commercial. It matters not that he retired from Microsoft. The Bill Gates image is still very serious business. Arguably his most famous quote is “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” He dresses the part: very casual with the preppy uniform of khakis and blue. His prepiness and nerdiness follow from his prep school background. But not too many nerds drop out of college, as Gates did. College is the place to find nerds; that’s where nerds get their revenge. Gates constructed the Microsoft company environment like a college campus. It’s part of the myth of that gentle, coed, carefree, nurturing, professorial and now the giving, philanthropist Bill Gates. It’s all very disarming.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) leads the push to bring nutrition and health to Africa. But this move requires some scrutiny and a determination as to whether this is another image builder or worse: an attack by a modern day missionary on another unsuspecting indigenous population. Yes, some Africans are an indigenous population too.

CMD/PR Watch used to do a lot of watching of rogue foundations including Gates’. But they too seem to have lost this sort of focus and even their new coverage of Monsanto and others in Africa is just very limited and brief. To quote:

How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals like Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, PepsiCo and Others

Driving through Ngong Hills, not far from Nairobi, Kenya, the corn on one side of the road is stunted and diseased. The farmer will not harvest a crop this year. On the other side of the road, the farmer gave up growing corn and erected a greenhouse, probably for growing a high-value crop like tomatoes. Though it’s an expensive investment, agriculture consultants now recommend them. Just up the road, at a home run by Kenya Children of Hope, an organization that helps rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families, one finds another failed corn crop and another greenhouse. The director, Charity, is frustrated because the two acres must feed the rescued children and earn money for the organization. After two tomato crops failed in the new greenhouse, her consultant recommended using a banned, toxic pesticide called carbofuran.

Gates is behind some of this, but it is not being discussed above.

Those who are interested in helping our Gates-watching efforts will hopefully get in touch. We could use more contributions. Gates has a lot to do with the patents culture that we challenge. Patents are monopolies protected by patent laws. Companies like Monsanto heavily depend on those.

Government of Slovakia Sells Out to Microsoft (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Slovakia's flag

Summary: Reports from Slovakia suggest that another outrageous government deal has been signed with the monopolist from Redmond

“Yesterday [the] Slovak government approved controversial MS deal: 52 mil EUR for (mostly) useless licenses,” wrote to us a reader some days ago. “Subsequently,” he added, “Slovakia has been chosen by MS as testing country (market) for their new (unspecified) products.”

“Slovak language only articles so far,” claimed the reader, who also informed us of this thing before. We’ll post an update if/when we receive more information.

Update: We have received additional information from our source:

…some info about recent issues in Slovakia:

1. MS agreement

- this is the only news article in English language I was able to find
- source – TASR (The news agency of Slovak republic)

- it’s very good analysis made by SOIT (The Society for Open
Information Technologies)
- unfortunately only in Slovak language
- I’ve asked original authors to write short info in English language
for you (but I’m not sure they will do that actually)

2. Slovakia as testing ground

I have written recently:
“Slovakia has been chosen by MS as testing country (market) for their
new (unspecified) products.”

I’m sorry, It looks like it’s not 100% true. The truth is that Laura
Ipsen (MS VP) was 23.5.2012 here in Slovakia and she’s met with
government officials from the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak
republic. She was probably just lobbying for MS agreement approval (#1
issue), but they had to tell news reporters something else of course,
so they told them they were discussing an opportunity for Slovakia to
become a testing ground for new products. But MS refused to comment or
confirm this statement.

Related article in Slovak language:

3. Eura Slovakia

- a couple of articles about an older issue:



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