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07.03.12

Links 3/7/2012: KDE on the Raspberry Pi, Linux 3.5 RC5

Posted in News Roundup at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Twitter’s Load Generator, Iago, Now Open Sourced

    If you needed something to test your website for traffic load before you publish it to production environment, Iago is a perfect choice for you.

  • 6 Meritorious Free Linux Modelers
  • Website creation: Dreamweaver v open source

    Recent years have seen huge changes in internet use, and therefore in the challenges presented by modern website design. Software developers are consequently racing to catch up and provide website design, creation and management tools that address these changes.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Opens Voting For Best Splash Screen Contest

      The LibreOffice team is getting ready for the next release and things have been getting exciting. This week, LibreOffice Design team has opened a poll for best splash screen to be included in LibreOffice 3.6. Weeks ago, LibreOffice developers hadd started a contest and best splash splash sreen selected from them are open for public voting.

    • LibreOffice 3.5.5 RC2 Released
  • CMS

    • WordPress 3.4 Update

      With the latest version of WordPress just arriving, version 3.4, I’m sure people who are using the self-hosted version of WordPress are interested to know what is included with this update. Along with the usual bug fixes, included are many improvements and additions that will benefit both designers, developers and end users. Let’s take a look and see why.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF’s new operations assistant

      Hello, I’m Chrissie Himes, the new operations assistant, and I’m excited to officially be with the Free Software Foundation. I handle sales, donations, and general office operations.

    • Two job openings on the FSF campaigns team

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a Massachusetts 501(c)(3) charity with a worldwide mission to protect freedoms critical to the computer-using public, seeks *two* motivated and organized tech-friendly Boston-based individuals to be its full-time campaigns managers.

    • GNU C Library 2.16 Brings Many Features (GLIBC)

      Version 2.16 of glibc, the GNU C Library, was released on Saturday afternoon. This update to the de facto C library for GNU/Linux systems brings many new features. There’s x32 and ISO C11 support along with performance optimizations.

    • Free Software Foundation: Ubuntu’s Secure Boot Plan Won’t Fly

      There’s still no end in sight to the ongoing Secure Boot saga arising from Microsoft’s Windows 8 plans, and just recently we’ve seen both Fedora Linux and Ubuntu Linux respond with two very different approaches to working around the problem.

    • ‘Secure’ boot: Ubuntu goes one worse than Red Hat

      After Red Hat revealed how it would kowtow to the overlords at Redmond, it was only a matter of time before Canonical would genuflect as well over the issue of secure boot.

      But Canonical, which is best known for its Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, has come up with a way of getting its distribution to boot on PCs certified for Windows 8 that is even worse than that devised by Red Hat.

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Who Killed the Open Set-Top-Box?

      A few years ago, I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With my trusty Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 I enjoyed the ability to watch and record Comcast TV on my desktop computer — and even to occasionally edit and re-upload it to YouTube along with fair use critical commentary. When I moved across the river to Boston, Comcast required me to pay for a set-top box that would tune channels on my television. However, when I plugged my PVR-150 into the cable connection, it got almost no channels at all. As it turns out, the Comcast system in Boston had been migrated to use mostly digital signals, but my tuner card worked only with analog cable signals. Fair enough, I thought, I’ll buy a digital cable tuner. As it turned out, that wouldn’t help much. The cable companies had implemented encryption to fight “service theft” of most channels that subscribers had not paid for. As a result, I lost the ability to view channels I had paid for on a device of my choosing.

  • Programming

    • Death to Javascript: CNN Edition

      Some weeks back I wrote “Death to Javascript”, in which I related the problem my wife has reported, of web pages that tie up her computer. She’s been seeing this more and more often lately. But today we got lucky: she was able to identify a specific page, on CNN.com, that causes this to happen.

    • jQuery 2.0 to drop support for older IE versions
    • Pymothoa: JIT’ing Python Over LLVM

      As explained on the project’s web-site, “Pymothoa extends the Python language by adding JIT compilation without any modification of the interpreter source code. Pymothoa lives at the application level. It uses the AST generated by Python. Therefore, users write in the original Python syntax but with a new contextual meaning in some cases using the new dialect provided by Pymothoa. User uses the decorators provided to mark Python functions for JIT compilation. Pymothoa uses LLVM for the JIT ability. Comparing to writing C-extension to speedup Python, Pymothoa is less cumbersome and easier to distribute as the user does not need to compile the C-extensions. Programming in the Pymothoa dialect is similar to writing in C. Variables must be declared and are statically typed. Despite a few extra constructs, the syntax is the same as raw Python code.”

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The FFmpeg/Libav situation

      One year and a half ago, an important part of FFmpeg developers decided to change the way the project was managed. This led to some kind of takeover, mainly to get rid of the old maintainer dictatorship, but also to change development methods, redefine objectives, etc. Then, for various reasons I will quickly explain, these people made a new project called Libav.

    • W3C forges ahead with Selectors API

      The Web Applications Working Group at the W3C has published a last call working draft of the Selectors API Level 1 specification. Widely used in CSS, selectors are patterns that match a set of elements in a structure tree. As accessing elements in HTML documents using DOM methods such as getElementById or getElementsByTagName can quite laborious, frameworks like jQuery have developed simple CSS selector methods. Many browsers offer querySelector and querySelectorAll functions that also use these selectors.

    • Google Web Toolkit now under a steering committee

      Google has released its grip on the development of the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and moved it under the control of a steering committee comprising developers from Google, Sencha, Red Hat, ArcBees, Vaadin, mgwt and other GWT advocates such as Thomas Broyer, Christian Goudreau and Daniel Kurka. First released as open source in 2006 and controlled by Google, GWT will now be under the control of a committee which will set out a direction for future GWT development, approve new committers, review code, administer releases, adjust the GWT development processes and work as master committers on the GWT project.

Leftovers

  • Gmail Becomes World’s Largest Email Service; Google Continues To Unseat Microsoft

    Gmail’s growth has skyrocketed since its public introduction in 2007, but this year in particular, Google has been successful in attracting millions of new users. In January, Google mentioned in its earnings call that it had about 350 million monthly active users on Gmail; six months later, about 75 million more users had flocked to Gmail, growing the total number to 425 million monthly active users. By this measure, Gmail has dethroned Hotmail.

  • ‘Leap Second’ Bug Wreaks Havoc Across Web

    Reddit, Mozilla, Gawker, and possibly many other web outfits experienced brief technical problems on Saturday evening, when software underpinning their online operations choked on the “leap second” that was added to the world’s atomic clocks.

  • Minitel service shuts down

    TOMORROW at midnight is the end of an era –Minitel is shutting down.

    After 20 years of service, owner France Télécom is pulling the plug by switching off the “X 25”, the network over which the service works.

    A precursor to the internet, Minitel gave a dial-up information service over phone lines via special terminals, consisting of a screen using text and basic graphics, with a keyboard and modem. Long before the World Wide Web, people could use it, for example, to reserve trains, search for phone numbers, buy online, pay bills, play games or chat.

  • U.S. Supreme Court Deals Blow to Unions, Shows Preference for Corporate “Rights”

    A little-noticed U.S. Supreme Court decision from June 21 has dealt a blow to public sector unions and demonstrated the conservative majority’s preferential treatment for corporate “rights.” The decision in Knox v. SEIU could have an impact on future election cycles.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Explaining the Legalese of the US Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Affordable Care Act ~ pj

      I was offline most of yesterday, and I returned to see long threads about health care and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling [PDF] on the Affordable Care Act [PDF]. That surprised me, because I didn’t think you would be greatly interested. That’s why I didn’t even put it in News Picks, let alone write about it. But now I see I was wrong, that many of you are interested, and I also see a lot of misunderstanding of what the ruling actually says, not only in your comments but in the media. I also see a lot of FUD in the air. So I thought I’d take the time to explain it. If nothing else, it fits our purpose for doing Groklaw, since antiFUD is very much what we set out to do, and we have covered Constitutional issues before, albeit in the First Amendment context usually.

    • Americans for Prosperity Rally Calls for “Nullifying” Health Care Law (with Help from ALEC)

      The evening after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Wisconsin chapter of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity held a “Hands Off My Health Care” rally to plan next steps in their effort to defeat “Obamacare.” The plan apparently involves American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation.

  • Finance

    • Completing The Circle: Meet The US Ambassador To Germany

      Everyone knows that Italy’s unelected PM, Mario Monti, is a former Goldman Sachs International ‘advisor.’ As such, it is only natural that being part of the banking cartel he would do everything in his power to promote an inflationary agenda, one that seeks ECB bond monetization intervention, (another central bank headed by a former Goldmanite of course, who just happens to be Germany’s most hated man), perpetuates the status quo, and one that naturally contravenes everything that German citizens have been pushing for in their desire to avoid the risk of another hyperinflationary episode. Especially if, as is well-known, resolving Europe’s problems, however briefly, facilitates an Obama re-election campaign because as conventional wisdom is also catching on, should Europe implode before November, Obama’s reelection chances plunge accordingly. And yet, even as Goldman’s tentacles had spread all over Europe (as seen here), conventional wisdom was that Goldman’s influence in Germany was relatively muted.

    • CFTC Skips `Intergalactic’ Power in Dodd-Frank Guidance

      JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and other banks won greater ability to fall under foreign regulations when they trade swaps overseas under guidance proposed for the Dodd-Frank Act’s international reach.

      Commodity Futures Trading Commission members, in a private vote, unanimously approved proposing interpretive guidance allowing for so-called substituted compliance for branches, subsidiaries and other overseas affiliates of U.S. banks when foreign jurisdictions have comparable rules. Banks have spent two years lobbying against efforts to automatically apply Dodd- Frank to their overseas operations, saying doing so would hurt their ability to compete.

    • Western banks ‘reaping billions from Colombian cocaine trade’

      While cocaine production ravages countries in Central America, consumers in the US and Europe are helping developed economies grow rich from the profits, a study claims

  • Censorship

    • Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Part VIII: Charles Carreon Gets Sued, Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen Joins The Fray

      Everyone knows what you do when someone like Charlie the Censor sues you. You lawyer up. If you’re very lucky, you have funds to hire a good lawyer, or you can get the backing of extraordinary advocates like those at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

      But what do you do if someone like Charlie the Censor just threatens to sue you at some unspecified future time or place, but doesn’t yet? Do you simply wait and see? Do you live your life under that cloud?

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Three NSA Whistleblowers Back EFF’s Lawsuit Over Government’s Massive Spying Program

      The three former NSA employees with declarations in EFF’s brief are William E. Binney, Thomas A. Drake, and J. Kirk Wiebe. All were targets of a federal investigation into leaks to the New York Times that sparked the initial news coverage about the warrantless wiretapping program. Binney and Wiebe were formally cleared of charges and Drake had those charges against him dropped.

    • Cops in USA to drive around in pornoscannerwagons, covertly irradiating people and looking through their cars and clothes

      American cops are set to join the US military in deploying American Science & Engineering’s Z Backscatter Vans, or mobile backscatter radiation x-rays. These are what TSA officials call “the amazing radioactive genital viewer,” now seen in airports around America, ionizing the private parts of children, the elderly, and you (yes you).

    • Twitter Ordered to Turn Over Data on Occupy Protester

      Twitter has been ordered by a New York judge to hand over the account information and tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester…

    • Megauploads, WikiLeaks and Independence Day

      Wednesday is the Fourth of July, the day when we in the U.S. celebrate whatever we perceive to be the vision of our founding families. This would seem to be a good time to wonder what the framers of our constitution would think about the way we’ve been applying, or not applying, due process to the Internet.

      There are two cases in the news these days that are quite disturbing. For starters, there’s Megaupload.

      The only things that Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz, appears to have done wrong was to start Megaupload, a hugely successful file hosting service. The feds see it differently. They’re convinced, mainly by circumstantial evidence, that’s his website has made him the biggest pirate of movies and music online, an allegation he denies.

      Federal authorities were evidently waiting for SOPA to pass before making their move against him and his site. On the same night that public opinion forced SOPA to fail, however, the feds decided to act anyway. They took down his website and had Dotcom taken into custody by the New Zealand authorities. They seized most of his assets, without proving anything in court, and are now attempting to have him extradited to the United States.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • A Politics for Open Networks

      The essence of a network is its connections and, indeed, the multiplicity of those connections. While there are many ways of networking (putting up a card in the newsagent’s window still works fine!) we can not avoid at this point of the 21st century that the network of networks is the Internet.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The USPTO: Where Up Is Down, Expensive Medicine Saves Lives, And Cheap Alternatives Violate International Law

      Well, this is unfortunate. We’ve written a few times about how various countries, under the TRIPS agreement are able to break patents on important medicines in the interest of public health. Most recently, we wrote about how India did this with a cancer drug made by Bayer called Nexavar. Despite the fact that Bayer has more than made back the money it spent bringing Nexavar to market, it’s been pricing the drug at an unaffordable $70,000/year. After India allowed a small bit of competition, the price has dropped. We’ve seen that the USPTO doesn’t like this at all and has tried to claim that high priced drugs are good for one’s health, but that’s beyond ridiculous to anyone who actually thinks.

    • Copyrights

      • ACTA

        • This Week We Kill ACTA – Or Get Locked Down In Monopolies For Decades

          This is it. This is the week when ACTA lives or dies, globally. We have seen it coming. Now is the time for the very final push in contacting the European Parliament. On Wednesday, in the session between 12 noon and 14:00, the European Parliament votes on ACTA. If the European Parliament kills it, it dies globally.

        • Down with ACTA! The EU must protect our commons

          Joint press release by 55 European and International organisations to invite Members of European Parliament to reject ACTA, and beyond, engage in a positive reform of copyright and patents.

          ACTA threatens fundamental freedoms online, Net neutrality, innovation, access to and sharing of free/libre/open technologies, education, culture, essential medicines and seeds.

        • We Want to Share Books, Music, Films With You!

          La Quadrature du Net felt the urge to share works with the Members of the European Parliament and their assistants ahead of the ACTA vote, and in order to shed light on the urgency of reforming copyright. Some of these works aim at enjoyment and others at extending knowledge or enriching the public debate. All of them innovate in content, ways of distribution, economic models and relationship between authors, contributors and users. All citizens can do the same, and share pieces of digital culture with their elected representatives!

Microsoft Moles in FOSS World

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 1:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mole

Summary: How Microsoft staff gets to speak ‘on behalf’ of Microsoft’s idealogical opposition

A couple of months ago we wrote about a Microsoft mole getting caught [1, 2]. Sometimes the financial relationship is not so shallow, but sooner or later it becomes apparent (consider Microsoft’s mole “Foss patents”). Here is a May report about intrusion into an open standards debate in the UK:

Software heavyweights filled the first meeting of the UK’s extended public consultation on open standards last Friday, closing down telecoms patent advocates whose arguments had threatened to derail government policy.

Deputy government CIO Liam Maxwell had the night before extended the consultation for a month after discovering Microsoft, lead opponent of the UK’s open standards policy, had been paying an independent Cabinet Office facilitator to help formulate its case. Government supporters had till then shown a lacklustre response to the consultation, while the policy, and open standards, had looked lost for the UK.

By Friday lunchtime the tables had turned.

Linda Humphries, Cabinet Office official, told a meeting of around 30 mostly software experts that the fields from which the government’s opponents had been drawing their evidence was out of bounds for the consultation.

“The consultation is focusing on open standards in specifications for software interoperability, data and document formats,” she said, with Maxwell looking on.

“It doesn’t go into hardware, telecoms or software IP. There are some people concerned we are trying to run away with [their] IP. That’s not the point at all. What we are talking about is standards,” she said.

Over the weekend we found Microsoft’s pro-”patents in standards” spin from its employee Stephen R. Walli, acting as a sort of “journalist” in IDG. Here is the spin — a terrible case of controlling the opposition. The Microsoft front groups that masquerade as OSS are to FOSS are what “intelligent design” is to science. It is gross and manipulative. Groklaw has been resisting this entryism for years; right now Novell and SUSE are pretty much controlled (in part) by Microsoft through financial strings and Pamela Jones reminds us of the really nasty relationship between those two companies.

We are up to day 10 of the Novell v. Microsoft antitrust trial transcripts, so we are about a third of the way through. Today starts with Robert Frankenberg back on the stand, because cross examination was stopped before he was done on the stand the day before. After his extended testimony, Novell played three video deposition excerpts, those of James Allchin, Douglas Henrich, and Steven Sinofsky, one of the ones who just gave the demo about Microsoft’s new tablet/PC named Surface. Well, the alleged new tablet. We’ll see. This is Microsoft, after all.

Old Novell’s lawyers recognise Microsoft's criminal activities, but the younger generation falls prey to the pretence; therefore it opens up to entryism, aiding the disruptor. Talks about “tolerance” and “hatred” are self-serving nonsense and are tools of guilt and blackmail. If FOSS loses its voice and identity, it will grow irrelevant, just like trademarks. As president of the OSI, Simon Phipps needs to do something about infiltration and misuse of the "open source" brand.

Nokia is Already Fighting Android With Patents, at Microsoft’s Behest

Posted in Patents at 1:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Once a maker, now a troll

Nokia phone

Summary: An accumulation of reports about the kamikaze manoeuvre of Stephen Elop

DR. Glyn Moody explains “Why Patent Injunctions Are Even Worse For Open Source” than for proprietary software. Recently we saw a number of injunctions issued against Android devices and Nokia seems to be taking aim at Android via proxies such as MOSAID.

Nokia does not deny that it plans to focus on its patents. Some Microsoft PR from a former Microsoft employee, who does not disclose this conflict of interest when he reports for CNET, says that Microsoft’s moles (at Nokia) have a “contingency plan” with Microsoft. It doesn’t even say what the contingency is, it’s just deceiving companies (maybe RIM) so as to lure them in rather than having them run away. Is this a patent-centric contingency? Here is a recent headline:

Nokia turns patent troll

[...]

Nokia is to be feared as a patent troll as it has one of the widest patent portfolios in the industry, along with Ericsson and Qualcomm.

The patents are for technology like synchronising information, including calendars, between the smartphone and mainframe computers, extending battery life and allowing mobile phones to be compatible with different systems.

Based on Google’s complaint to the government [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], Nokia does in fact target Android with its patents, maybe behind the scenes (a lot of extortion starts like this). To quote that last article, “Beleaguered Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announces that it is amenable to selling a portion of portfolio of some 30,000 patents, to help raise needed cash.”

This is accompanied by propaganda from Elop and his gangster friends at Microsoft [1, 2]. It’s akin to Ballmer’s “balance-sheet liability” remarks about GNU/Linux. Elop is a troll, not just a mole, and his bosses at Microsoft are unlikely to face prison time for a conspiracy that destroyed many jobs (and will continue to destroy many more).

Nokia is not the only company which is gradually becoming nothing more than a patent troll. Watch what Openwave is doing based on articles from April

Updated: Openwave, ‘Inventors Of The Mobile Internet’, Sells Software Biz To Focus On Patents

Mobile messaging, in its traditional sense, is on the decline, and the patent world is hot, hot, hot, and today one company that plays in both areas showed where it sees its stronger ties at the moment. Openwave, which calls itself the “inventor of the mobile internet” for the early role it played in developing mobile data technology, today announced it was selling its core software business — messaging and mediation operations — and will instead concentrate on its patent holdings in smart devices, cloud technology and unified messaging.

There are other such parasites coming into sight — companies that act as a pile of patents rather than producers. Here is Intel arming itself with wireless patents by acquisition [1, 2, 3, 4]. Being the abuser that it is, Intel will use those patents to extort competitors (usually behind the scenes, not in the courtroom).

Patent troll Acacia has been arming itself too (“Acacia Subsidiary Acquires Rights to 6 Prominent Patent Portfolios Comprising 68 Patents Covering a Wide Range of Software Technologies”), leading to the extortions that tend to be characterised as “settlement”. Those are becoming more prevalent. It’s sad to see Nokia joining the ranks of those abusive companies that have no social right to exist; they are parasitical.

Corporate Press Defends, Denounces Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mainstream media coverage of the patent issues

Morning coffee

Summary: Articles from April and May talk about the role of patents, in particular ones covering software

THE “social networking patent” which many people spoke about and feared has finally been invalided, but there are many more just like it. There are also, as the Guardian put it several weeks ago, notorious patents that “threaten web freedoms” because of abstract matters they claim to cover. Uniloc, a company-turned-troll, speaks out in favour of patents and there was propaganda to say startups need patents [1, 2, 3] just a couple of months ago. Here it is in a worse form. When one reads those articles it seems clearer that the patent system needs to change, but at the same time it is evident that the problem runs very deep. It will not be resolved overnight.

The corporate press gets the guts to sometimes criticise patents but meanwhile refer to “patent wars” as “The curse of innovation” as if patents are necessarily innovations. To quote:

Patent wars plague Internet Age, add ‘innovation tax’

The Internet Age is becoming as known for patent litigation as it is for online innovation, but some tech entrepreneurs believe patent spats are damaging the industry.

From the makers of computer chips to creators of smartphones and designers of videogames, rivalries have spread from marketplaces to courtrooms with combatants warring over rights to use technology.

The Washington Post published this opinion piece which calls for the elimination of all software patents:

Let’s ditch software patents

Our lives are cluttered with unnecessary traditions, ideas and institutions. Warm weather came early this year, but there’s still time for a good spring cleaning. After purging old receipts, broken appliances and unloved outfits, what else should we toss? Outlook asked 10 writers what they thought we’d be better off without. From the Cabinet to premium gas to chick flicks, here are their picks.

The Financial Times stayed more conservative with headlines such as “Reserve software patentability for clear inventions” and “Too vague patents created the monster”.

Donald J. Trump Jr. wrote about “Defending innovation in America”, referring to the downgrade of patents. “Let me introduce you,” he wrote, “to the digital world’s latest hobgoblin: the patent troll. Kin to the cybersquatter, trolls are entities that hoard software patents with the sole intention of leveraging them in court for a quick payday. What is troubling about these entities is that they manipulate and abuse the spirit of the patent protection system by masquerading circumvention and other ancillary matters as true innovation. Undoubtedly there is a proper context for patent protection and litigation which protects true innovation, however these trolls produce nothing but headaches, and can unfortunately bring business to a grinding halt. In recent months, an angry storm has swept through the tech world over these gremlins. The vitriol doesn’t surprise me; as a longtime champion of hard work and building value, I share it. But I was surprised when a company that I have supported, MacroSolve, was unexpectedly thrust into the role of standard-bearer for patent defense, and suddenly found itself caught in the crossfire of the patent wars.”

Over at NPR there was a reference to the sheer number of patents:

Another Ridiculous Number From The Patent Wars

[...]

The ridiculous number of new patents means that, even if a software company wanted to figure out whether it was infringing on any patents, it would be impossible to do so.

Dana Blankenhorn mentioned this number as well, over at The street:

At the heart of the problem is money. The patent office is understaffed and overworked, says Gregory Aharonian, whose Web site is called BustPatents.com. It can cost hundreds of thousands to research a single software patent and there are 40,000 new ones approved each year.

Another noteworthy recent piece calls patent abusers “gangsters”. To quote:

The gangsters of Silicon Valley

President Obama has been touting patents as a way to create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. “These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created,” he said of patent applications last September, “somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company.”

The President is mistaken — at least when it comes to the patent system as it relates to software patents. These patents — and the patent system — aren’t creating innovation, they are inhibiting it and, by extension, job creation. Why? Because the breakthroughs aren’t in the patents, they are in the way ideas are commercialized and marketed. Because of flaws in the patent system and government leaders’ misunderstandings, there is an arms race of sorts happening in the tech industry that is sapping billions out of the economy and crushing technology startups. This system is enriching patent trolls — companies that buy patents in order to extort money from innovators. These trolls are like a modern day mafia. Given this, I argue software patents need to be eliminated or curtailed.

Lastly, the matter of innovation and software patents was raised and debated here:

Do Software Patents Stifle Innovation?

[...]
This is only the tip of the iceberg. This diagram from Reuters shows the complex battlefield of mobile patent and significant portion of these patents are for software.

Patents lead to litigation, not innovation. This is by definition what they do. We lost sight of the original purpose of patents. It is refreshing to see large Web site pointing this out; it gives hope that something will change. Our continued observation of headlines about patents (for over 5 years now) suggests that the public is starting to really ‘get’ it.

US Political Pressure Used to Spread Software Patents

Posted in America, Asia, Australia, Patents at 9:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Imperialism through law

An aqueduct

Summary: India, Australia and New Zealand lobbied by some corporations-backed US politicians to approve US patent monopolies

CABLES from Cablegate have shown us how diplomatic pressure is put on nations in order for them to embrace a US-style rule of law. Recently, the US tried doing this in Australia and/or New Zealand, bringing software patents there, amongst other things. The following article may be mixing copyrights with patents, but it does show how US pressure is applied to india’s law making:

- Patent proceedings: The United States displayed concerns over inefficient streamlining of patent opposition proceedings and ineffective system for protecting against unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure of test or other data generated. It has urged India to take additional steps to improve coordination with enforcement officials of certain state governments within India, address its judicial inefficiencies and to strengthen criminal enforcement efforts by imposing deterrent level sentences and giving IPR prosecutions greater priority. The report added that the United States will monitor developments concerning compulsory licensing of patents in India following the broad interpretation of Indian law in a recent decision by the Controller General of Patents, while also bearing in mind the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health found in the Intellectual Property and Health Policy section of this Report.

Over in New Zealand this is happening as well and we wrote about this at the time. So did others:

In its latest 420-page National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, the USTR expresses concerns at Australia’s National Broadband Network, and government concerns at offshore storage of personal data; while New Zealand is in the crosshairs for legislation currently before parliament that would ban software patents.

They use blackmail to impose software patentability. Here is criticism of the TPP, a vehicle for wiping many existing laws in one feel swoop:

This week, San Diego is hosting the latest round of talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Australia and New Zealand are at loggerheads over this secretive new trade treaty spanning the Pacific Rim. The rift between the neighbours over the Trans-Pacific Partnership was revealed after the investment chapter of the agreement was leaked to the public.

Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson has argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the first step toward a regional free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific. But Australia, it appears, has refused to submit to the “investor-state” tribunal system in the negotiations over the agreement.

A while ago there was this Australian forum on software patents and Australia’s IDG sites asked if software patents harm innovation:

Do software patents stifle innovation?

Software patents are stifling innovation and should not be applied to computational information processing, according to a Victorian software developer.

At least they quote those whose opinion matters the most.

The lawyers got their way in Israel based on this piece from Australia:

The patentability of software and computer implemented technologies has been a veritable hotspot in patent law over recent years in many countries. The Israeli Patent Office has now, after lengthy deliberations, settled on a formal policy….

Given US influence on the nation, this is not shocking.

Over in Poland, which we mentioned before in relation to software patents, Glyn Moody claims there is something rotten going on:

Earlier this year, Poland played a crucial role in igniting street protests that pretty much stopped ACTA in its tracks. That’s not the first time it has had a major impact on European tech policy. Half a decade earlier, it derailed a proposed EU software patent directive, which had sought to make software patentable in Europe — something that Article 52 of the European Patent Convention had appeared to rule out. That led to a later vote in the European Parliament where software patents were decisively rejected.

The polish presidency did a lot of harm when it comes to software patentability [1, 2, 3, 4]. At the end of the day, it’s clear that European citizens have nothing to gain from such policies; it’s for multinational corporations, many of which are headquartered in the US. If only there was as much popular resistance to software patents as there it to ACTA…

Banking Sector Suffers From Patents Too, Goldman Sachs Getting Well Armed With Patents

Posted in Novell, Patents at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coins pile

Summary: Software and business method patents in the financial meta-industry

THE patent litigation frenzy has been carrying on. Non-producing companies like the infamous fraudsters from Goldman Sachs are also arming themselves with patents. To quote:

By one estimate, Goldman Sachs holds 387 patents and patent applications, of which many no doubt relate to trading algorithms and general software processes.

A few months ago there was coverage of the patent lawsuitagainst USAA and some sources said:

Developer of bank apps to fight USAA patent infringement suit

Mitek Systems Inc., the software developer that has fallen by half since a customer accused it of misappropriating check- imaging technology, said it has the resources to fight the lawsuit filed last month by insurer USAA.

Mitek Systems has “sufficient resources to pursue this aggressively,” Chief Executive Officer James DeBello said in an interview April 9. The San Diego-based company continues to work with San Antonio-based USAA, he said. “We are a core part of the key product offering.”

This one affects software developers the most. They are being devalued. Generally speaking, the fake ‘industry’ of hedge funds and the likes of them helps devalue everything except itself. Patents are just more fake ‘assets’ to gamble on, pretending they have value to back loans with. It was a hedge fund that mercilessly destroyed Novell, for those who forgot (links below). Novell’s patents got funnelled to monopolists.

Related posts:

Amid Layoffs, Microsoft to Publicly Report Quarterly Losses

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 9:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enron Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft struggles to publicly hide its financial pains; “Reality eventually catches up with Enron-style accounting,” iophk notes

EVERYONE speaks about financial scams in banks, but few people seem to remember that large companies too are a bit like bankx; being so, they use many financial tricks, such as deferrals, revenue-shaping, inside-trading, hidden loans, misinformation, pyramid schemes (e.g. with people’s pensions) and so on. Techrights has
covered and accumulated evidence of Microsoft’s own dirty financial tricks and highlighted the fact that Microsoft has debt.

“I’m not sure how they can compensate for the damage they’ve done to the ‘ecosystem’ and to the legal systems.”
      –
According to this new article from Reuters, Microsoft will report a loss. To quote the summary alone: “Microsoft Corp admitted its largest acquisition in the Internet sector was effectively worthless and wiped out any profit for the last quarter, as it announced a $6.2 billion charge to write down the value of an online advertising agency it bought five years ago.”

Both tessier and iophk brought up this article in the IRC channel today. tessier wrote: “MS is going to report a LOSS? As in, the whole company?”

“Wow,” he added. “Has this happened before?”

“Yes it’s happened before,” iophk wrote, citing this article which says: “the firm made a loss of $18 billion, according to Smithers.” (Source: The Economist)

“Reality eventually catches up with Enron-style accounting,” iophk notes. “I’m not sure how they can compensate for the damage they’ve done to the ‘ecosystem’ and to the legal systems. But the Enron-style accounting cannot be kept up for ever.” No wonder Microsoft continues to lay off employees, as last reported just months ago.

Apple’s (and MPEG-LA’s) Fight Against Diversity

Posted in Apple, Patents at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[A] patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.”Steve Jobs

Skyscrapes

Summary: An update on Apple’s aggression with software patents and an update on the MPEG troll which Apple uses for protectionism

THE legal aggression from Apple led to a provisional ban, but it also led to a wave of calls to boycott Apple (the #boycottApple tag is trending). People are truly fed up and Samsung is appealing the ban. To quote Muktware: “Samsung has filed an appeal to overturn the preliminary Galaxy Nexus ban granted to Apple last week. US District Court judge Lucy Koh granted Apple ban on two Samsung devices within a week the old Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus.

“Apple is unable to compete based on merit, so it wants to shoot the competition.”“Apple has sued almost every Android company calling for bans on their devices fearing competition. Unfortunately the flawed patent system, where USPTO keeps granting patents, and the legal system enables compaines like Apple to stifle competition and discourage innovation.”

There are competition issues at hand here. Apple is unable to compete based on merit, so it wants to shoot the competition.

Several years ago we saw NERO calling for investigation of the MPEG cartel, of which Apple too is a member (Steve Jobs used it to FUD several free multimedia formats). In a press release that appeared in some places, there was a mention of settlement. To quote:

MPEG LA, LLC and Nero AG have recently settled the litigation between them, which was pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court. MPEG LA and Nero are pleased that this has been resolved to their mutual satisfaction by agreement of the parties and that Nero will continue as a Licensee in good standing under MPEG LA’s MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License, MPEG-4 Visual Patent Portfolio License, AVC/H.264 Patent Portfolio License and VC-1 Patent Portfolio License.

Here is more:

Nearly two years ago, German multimedia software company Nero filed an antitrust case against patent licensing body MPEG-LA. This organization basically licenses patent pools, covering essential patents required for use of the MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Visual (Part 2), IEEE 1394, VC-1, ATSC and AVC/H.264 standards.

That means pretty much any device or piece of software even remotely related to video needs a license from MPEG LA, which is an entirely private organization – for the record. Licensors include companies like Apple, Microsoft, LG, Dolby, Siemens, Sony, France Télécom, Samsung and others.

This morning, Nero and MPEG LA announced that they’ve settled the litigation between them, which was pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court, “to their mutual satisfaction”.

Apple continued collecting infamous software patents that got coverage from pro-Apple sites. Apple is not the exception, but Apple is the one which uses patents aggressively, unlike for example Nintendo and its patents that it gets while fighting against trolls only (they attack Nintendo quite frequently). Remember that we urged people to boycott Apple because while it generates high (but undeserved) profits it is attacking smaller companies, unprovoked, and tries to ban their products. It doesn’t get any more arrogant than this.

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