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10.12.12

Even Patent Maximalists Sometimes Complain About Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 2:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Max

Summary: Those who promote software patents are reluctantly revealing their dilemma

Dennis Crouch, a patents maximalist, writes an interesting post about software patents. He states: “I recently asked the courts for a decision on whether software is patentable. In my short essay, I argued that we have a de facto system that allows the issuance of software patents, but only after the innovative software elements are “hidden by innuendo and obfuscation.” This makes software patents “harder to find, harder to examine, harder to understand, and thus much more problematic than they need to be.””

So even software patents proponents admit this. It is important as it helps weaken their position. There is an anonymous account on Twitter which took the hastag swpats and currently uses it to promote software patents. The Financial Post and patent lawyers do not agree with the New York Times piece that Hugo of the FSFE summarises.

Here is a new example of the impact of patents on Cisco and Motorola, which became victims of a patent bully. As Masnick puts it: “Last year, we wrote about a crazy patent troll, named Innovatio, who had sued a ton of restaurants and hotels, claiming that anyone who used WiFi was violating its patents. It was even claiming that individuals who use WiFi at home infringed too — but that it wouldn’t go after them “at this time.” Instead, it preferred to focus on shaking down tons of small businesses, offering to settle for $2,500 to $3,000 — which is cheaper than hiring a lawyer to fight it, no matter how bogus. We noted at the time that Motorola and Cisco had gone to court to try to get a declaratory judgment to protect its customers.

“Well, it seems that the effort to stop these lawsuits has been taken to the next level. Cisco, Motorola and Netgear have now filed an amended complaint which rips Innovatio apart, and doesn’t just seek a declaratory judgment of non-infringement, but outlines a parade of lawbreaking by Innovatio, arguing that it’s actually involved in racketeering and conspiracy among other things.”

Motorola is often named as a patent aggressor (by foes like Apple and Microsoft), but the above helps show that even a company with a heap of patents is getting fed up, alleging “racketeering and conspiracy”.

Samsung May Be Trying to Reduce Microsoft Patent Tax With F2FS

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 2:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Picking oneself up from the mud

Abstract

Summary: The purpose of F2FS is analysed in light of the patent litigation mess that has hit Samsung

The Germany-endorsed FAT tax which Samsung has paid Microsoft for years did not upset Google enough to halt partnerships.

In fact, Samsung seems eager to get rid of FAT. To quote one news article: “The most prolific and “universal” file systems (i.e. FAT16, FAT32) are also archaic ones, predating today’s enormously spacious, rewritable flash devices. In fact, most file systems aren’t perfectly suited for flash media, although many have been trying. Some alternatives are encumbered by potential patent time-bombs or royalties (e.g. exFAT), so F2FS may be Samsung’s attempt at giving industry players a free (and safe) way to navigate the field.”

In our daily links we’ve included many articles such as this — pieces that mention it without touching the patent question. incidentally, Samsung swings back at ban attempts that Groklaw covered while Apple and Microsoft liaise in FUD (FRAND style) over Google patents.

“Google spoke privately to Samsung about the subject of patents.”Samsung betrayed Linux some years ago, but let us hope that flash memory ambitions [1, 2] can reverse this trend. At the moment, Samsung does fight for Android in the court room. Motorola does that also (Google bought to inherit the lawsuits) and “Injunctions by Apple and Microsoft appear to have persuaded Motorola Mobility to pull all of its Android phones and tablets from the German market,” says Charles Arthur. This author quotes Microsoft lobbyist Florian Müller to spoil the article, calling him “patents blogger” rather than lobbyist. Groklaw says: “The judge in the Seattle Microsoft v. Motorola litigation, the Hon. James L. Robart, has ruled on Motorola’s motion for summary judgment with a summary No. This judge wants to help Microsoft out, it seems, and so he will. I do believe, however, after reading this ruling, that on appeal it will be a different story, once Motorola gets out of Microsoft’s home court.”

They should tune into Posner’s verdict [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. He compared Apple to an animal due to its litigation against Android. The trial is just harassment, it should be dismissed. Here is what Google’s CEO recently had to say. As an introduction, “Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is in Seoul attending the launch of the Nexus 7 in Korea Thursday, and he’s been very talkative on a number of topics, as he was in Tokyo earlier in the week. This time around, he spoke out about patent problems, the search giant’s relationship with Apple, and Samsung…”

Google spoke privately to Samsung about the subject of patents. Hopefully they can fight on this front together. Samsung has one of the biggest patent portfolios or patenting pace in Europe and the United States, so it is an asset for defence.

Now That Netflix Is Decoupled From Microsoft, Will GNU Linux Users Get Served?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 1:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Conflict of interests apparently gone

PBX

Summary: Steve Ballmers takes a paycut, Netflix CEO quits Microsoft’s board, so operating systems policy in Netflix might soon change

Despite its recent openwashing attempts (claiming to release open source code), Netflix is worse than just proprietary; DRM makes data, not just code, closed. The DRM maze and user-hostile facilities are often drawing complaints and Linux hostility at Netflix is another point of contention. Netflix had its CEO at Microsoft until now. This is changing: “Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is quitting Microsoft’s board of directors after 5 1/2 years. The departure announced Tuesday will become effective Nov. 28 when Microsoft Corp. is scheduled to hold its annual shareholders meeting.”

Well, he’s still a former Softie, so no Linux clients for Netflix, only workarounds . A reader tells us: “It works for Android/Linux it would be a small step to get it also working for GNU/Linux…”

But they just won’t do it, will they?

“When the technology is clearly already available, and demand is there, one wonders what the real reasons behind the hold-up are,” say Ubuntu fans.

Speaking of the Netflix CEO quitting Microsoft’s board, Microsoft’s CEO suffers a paycut that IDG spotted, writing: “Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer received compensation valued at $1.32 million this year, according to documents filed this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. His total package is down 4% compared to 2011, when he received compensation valued at $1.38 million.

“Ballmer’s 2012 pay package consists of a $685,000 salary and a $620,000 bonus. He also received a modest $13,128 in perks.”

Things are changing. Will Netflix change its policy? Microsoft has not much clout anymore and Android might soon (within years) be the most widely used operating system.

Intel Turns to Linux Through Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 1:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An electronic board

Summary: Intel is unhappy with the state of Windows, so it explores alternatives with Google and Android

Microsoft went to great lengths to kill Linux development at Intel. We provided hard evidence in posts such as these. The relic known as Vista 8 was slammed by Intel in September and it is now confirmed that even the CEO disses it. As SJVN put it: “It’s been reported — and Intel isn’t denying it — that Intel CEO Paul Otellini told his Taiwanese staff that Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready. This is shocking only in that it suggests that there were people who thought otherwise.

“Yes, it is somewhat shocking that Intel is talking smack about its biggest partner, though Otellini softened the blow by adding that he was sure Microsoft would patch Windows 8 up to acceptable levels after its release. But then you consider how Microsoft has been treating all its hardware partners lately.”

Intel flirts with Android or Google (Motorola) and tries to make money that way (expectations were recently lowered as x86 sales fall).

Matt Asay speaks of more who slammed Vista 8: “Of course there are doubters. Valve CEO Gabe Newell called Windows 8 a “catastrophe” for gaming, citing the Metro interface and Microsoft’s closed app store. The former concern is overblown – you don’t have to use the Metro interface if you don’t want to – and the latter is head scratching: doesn’t Apple do pretty well with a closed app ecosystem?”

So game makers hate what’s happening with Windows and then they turn to Linux [1, 2, 3], now it is Intel doing something similar. As we’ll show later, Microsoft has some self-evident collapse at the top. The Windows monopoly is hurt by almost half a billion Android devices and this, in turn, rattles Office because of self-destructive platform discrimination.

Imposing OOXML and Microsoft Lock-in on Android Users

Posted in Microsoft, Open XML at 12:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Closed doors

Summary: Microsoft brings proprietary lock-in with OOXML to Android

TECHRIGHTS has explained Google's bad decision to spread OOXML rather than ODF and some ask: Why Is Google Not Supporting The Open Document Formats?

This is a true story: “Today my wife forwarded me an email from her Nexus S asking if I could open the attachment as she could not. I replied, “where is it not opening – your Android phone or the Chromebook?” She replied, “Either.”

“I looked at the email, it was a presentation from her friend in .odt format. A friend who we recently converted from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice.”

“hat this means in practice is that it’s going to be really difficult to displace proprietary formats like .doc and .xls, even with the best will in the world.”
      –Glyn Moody
I had a similar experience this month. Now Microsoft makes the Office lock-in worse at the expense of the Windows lock-in.

“It’s clear that Google is aiming at the huge repository of users of M$’s office suite rather than GNU/Linux or FLOSS users,” writes Pogson. Later he wrote that Microsoft sacrifices the Windows cash cow to save the Office cash cow.

Glyn Moody, being timely enough, addresses the issue of network effect impeding open formats like ODF. To quote: “As the research notes, this is a indication that networks are very powerful – exactly as we might have surmised given the experience in the open source world. What this means in practice is that it’s going to be really difficult to displace proprietary formats like .doc and .xls, even with the best will in the world. It also shows the importance of getting governmental affirmative action that explicitly recommends open formats in order to overcome these network effects – or at least speed things up.”

ODF/OOXML remain an important topic here; it doesn’t get the amount of coverage it deserves from the press.

Microsoft Breaks the Web and Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coffee time

Summary: How Microsoft uses ‘security’ to exclude Web sites and GNU Linux distributions

Microsoft does not comply with the Web. It does not adhere to standards, either. It rejects fine keys and prominent Web folks complain about it.

One writer explains that “[a]s of Oct. 9, 2012, longer key lengths are mandatory for all digital encryption certificates that touch Windows systems.

“That must make Microsoft some new foes.”“This means that Internet Explorer will refuse to access websites that do not have RSA keys with minimum lengths of 1024 bits. You won’t be able to exchange encrypted emails, run ActiveX controls or install applications on Windows. This isn’t new, as Microsoft started making announcements about this well over a year ago.”

Then there is this about Microsoft blocking Flash based on a private whitelist: “Yeah you read that right. I just received an interesting email from Brightcove (the video delivery guys) about issues with their Flash based solution and Windows 8 running the new Internet Explorer 10.”

That must make Microsoft some new foes.

These things are actually less malicious than plugging proprietary software hooks into Linux to discourage use of Free and open source virtualisation even in GNU/Linux, not to mention UEFI, which Debian agrees is a very malicious move (there is no solution to it yet). Microsoft is knowingly complicating the process of installing GNU/Linux and ways exist for spinning it as benign or beneficial.

James Bottomley, who used to work on some Microsoft stuff on behalf of his former employer Novell (e.g. on Hyper-V), speaks of a new workaround that bloggers try to grasp.

Pogson states correctly that this should not be legal. Stallman agrees. To quote Pogson: “I don’t like any solution that depends on M$. If they can revoke that key, GNU/Linux falls down. They have messed up keys before either deliberately or through incompetence. Someone should sue M$ over this mess. It’s clearly anti-competitive. Also, this doesn’t look like a solution for servers.”

Why should anyone be asking Microsoft for permission to use a computer which does not even have Windows?

“Pogson states correctly that this should not be legal.”News about it sometimes misses the point, but Varghese writes: “Fifteen days from today, Windows 8 will go on sale; only hardware that is certified to work with this system will be able to boot it, with signed keys being used to determine whether a genuine system is being booted.

“This will put those who boot other operating systems at a disadvantage. Given this, the Linux Foundation has come up with a means of bypassing secure boot to enable users of open source operating systems to continue to boot on hardware certified for Windows 8.”

He later criticises this, as he did several times in the past. It is an important issue that even conferences cover. Here is what one UEFI apologist wrote: “The plan for supporting UEFI Secure Boot in Fedora is still pretty much as originally planned, but it’s dependent upon building a binary which has the Fedora key embedded, and then getting that binary signed by Microsoft. Easy enough for us to do, but not necessarily practical for smaller distributions. There’s a few possible solutions for them.”

Techrights‘ position on this is that UEFI is anticompetitive and antitrust should therefore be pursued. Let is all remind us that there is no reformed Microsoft, it is still the same unethical corporation.

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