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Microsoft Vultures Under Research Campaigns

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Patents at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pigeon hawk

Summary: Tracking the latest of Intellectual Ventures, Black Duck, and Ohloh, which were all founded by Microsoft veterans and executives

We recently discovered that attempts are under way to make public a lot of information about about the secretive patent troll that Microsoft created to extort a lot of companies behind closed doors. Mr. Masnick’s great Web site says:

We’ve written about patent trolling giant Intellectual Ventures many times, including how it is notoriously secretive about almost everything. Its deals with companies (often involving them forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to not get sued) are hidden away behind strict non-disclosure agreements. It also hides the various patents in over 1,000 shell companies. At other times it “sells” patents to independent trolls, but most people believe that it still gets a cut of any revenue that comes out of those trolling operations.

An operation called IP Checkups — a “patent analytics firm” — is trying to shine some more light on IV’s secret patent portfolio and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to investigate the company’s patents.

We have already gathered a lot of information about it, and much of it is bound together by our wiki. We correctly identified this racket as a source of future abuse back in 2007. Another firm that got our attention is Black Duck because that too is a company founded by Microsoft folks, who later hired yet more Microsoft folks (Ohloh) and used as their main output GPL-hostile messages (every few months for years). Some of the Microsoft veterans boast code search, but they had always been Microsoft-leaning, even before Black Duck acquired them. Here is the latest:

Black Duck Software today announced enhancements to Ohloh, the world’s most comprehensive developer resource for evaluating and tracking open source projects, contributors and code. Organizations can now aggregate their open source contributions across many projects, providing new visibility into community growth and top contributors. In addition, Ohloh Code, the leading open source code search engine, has graduated from beta, providing fast access to the world’s open source code base.

As we showed years ago, Ohloh is saturated with C#. Be wary of companies set up by people from Microsoft. The problem is, the vast majority of people do not know which companies those are. Another such company, founded and run by an ‘ex’ Microsoft manager, is called OpenLogic. It too has spread GPL-hostile messages while selling proprietary software (not “open” like the company’s name).

Techrights is not out to daemonise companies or individuals; it strives to alert when FOSS-hostile forces masquerade as pro-FOSS (e.g. Microsoft Florian on Microsoft’s payroll), so it’s merely a reactionary force. It’s self defence.

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