All eyes on Europe tonight
Summary: Action against Amazon’s one-click monopoly and unintentional action against FRAND, which helps legitimise software patents as part of ‘standards’
DESPITE HEAVY lobbying, software patents in the EU are in principle not legal, but Amazon managed to cheat the system. The FFII takes action and in a new press release the FFII says:
For Tuesday the European Patent Office (EPO) scheduled a hearing on the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure’s (FFII) opposition to the legendary “one-click gift order” patent from online retailer Amazon.com Inc.
In 2004 the FFII e.V. filed an opposition to Amazon.com’s “one-click gift order” patent grant.
FFII board member Stephan Uhlmann: “Software patents hinder innovation and our digital economy as whole. We took on a show case of a software patent while European officials told us software patents were not existent.”
Three years later the EPO revoked the patent because of non-inventiveness. After Amazon appealed the decision in 2008, the EPO restored its validity and remitted the case to the first instance. Tomorrow, more than four years later, the EPO’s opposition department will once again review the case.
Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, a leading opponent of the unitary patent, notes that UK courts rejected some software patents after they had approved Symbian’s some years ago [1, 2].
#swpats software patents still rejected by UK courts http://ur1.ca/ciswd will #UPC follows this interpretation or #EPO ‘s practices?
Here is the corresponding article which says:
This was an appeal to the High Court of a decision by a UK Intellectual Property Office Hearing Officer not to grant two patent applications (one directed at human subjects, the other to animals). The invention in this case relates to the field of genetics and was directed towards a screening method for differentiating between copy number variants (“CNV”s- repeated sections of DNA) which are associated with a particular condition or phenotype, and CNVs which are present in the population at large, and do not appear to cause disease.
Those patents got trashed again. So perhaps Europe is still somewhat under control and in a state of relative sanity.
Now, what about the US? And on what grounds did DOJ oppose some standard-essential software patents? We said it was for corporate reasons (against FRAND, selectively) and as Masnick’s site puts it, “USPTO And DOJ Shocked (Shocked!) That Companies Abuse Patents, But For The Wrong Reasons”. Here is more:
In a move that struck some by surprise, the US Patent Office and the Department of Justice put out an interesting statement arguing that companies need to stop abusing promises for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licenses (pdf) for standards essential patents (SEPs). They argued, quite reasonably, that lawsuits over SEPs can stifle innovation and block competition. Well, duh. While many are interpreting this as having to do with the FTC/Google settlement, which touched on exactly this issue, the DOJ/USPTO letter seems much more focused on trying to knock some sense into the International Trade Commission (ITC) concerning how it deals with the patent cases it hears. As we’ve been discussing for years, patent holders get two (entirely) separate cracks at using the legal process to slap down those they accuse of patent infringement. First, there’s the federal court system, which is what most people think of when they think about patent disputes. The second is going to the ITC and seeking to ban the product from entering the country (i.e., getting an injunction).
Ironically, it was Microsoft lobbying against Google that weakened an anti-Linux weapon. Watch what Apple is doing with FRAND:
Apple has given notice [PDF] that it has appealed to the Federal Circuit Judge Lucy Koh’s order [PDF] denying Samsung’s motion to seal certain Apple documents. Apple had filed materials in support of Samsung’s motion, but Judge Koh refused to seal some of those materials in her November 29 Order.
This issue has been going on since July, and the judge stayed her orders so the parties could appeal, which Apple has now done. Interestingly, it’s Apple appealing, not Samsung, so that is who really cares.
So what is it Apple wants kept from the public? I’ll show you in detail, but the big items appear to be Apple’s internal customer research, specific financials, and certain license agreements.
After the order, Apple filed Exhibit 2 to the Robinson Declaration, its calculations that it is suffering $399,196 a day in supplemental damages, or $50 per infringing Samsung unit sold, from October of 2011 to the end of December 2012, with a total estimated supplemental damages figure of $101,167,892. Are they kidding? $50 for each phone sold. Can you imagine?
Apple is the one who has been telling courts that if it had to pay $6 per unit, or 2.4% royalties, per phone for FRAND patents, it would go out of business. But here it is asking for $50 per unit from Samsung for patents, at least three of which are under a cloud at the USPTO in reexaminations.
Yes, Apple alone wants fifty dollars for each phone that does not even use anything from Apple, it uses Open Source and Linux. Some ‘justice’ eh? Microsoft wants to do the same. It’s the act of patent stacking and it’s collusion. A Microsoft patent troll, Paul Allen, wants yet more money from Android devices and here is the latest from this case:
When we last looked at the case of Interval Licensing v. AOL, Apple, Google, Yahoo! and others, the case was headed for the Markman hearing on claims construction (see, Allen v. World – The Fight Over Claim Construction) The claims construction issues have now been decided, and a key interpretation has substantially cut in favor of the defendants.
Those defendants already lose in the sense that they must lose focus and spend money in court. Microsoft also sends some patent trolls to fight Android as their toll on the industry grows. From the British press today:
Patent trolling is a “cancer” that poses an “existential threat” to US business – especially startups – according to a panel of experts at last week’s CES 2013. But there are plans in the works to fight back.
“There’s a great quote from Scientific American,” congressman Peter DeFazio told his audience at a CES 2013 panel. “They say, ‘It is almost as though we have taken our collective creativity and placed it in a lockbox, where the main benefactors are lawyers and profiteers’.”
Don’t forget monopolists who hire those lawyers and bankroll or arm trolls to help distort the market. Either way, by eliminating software patents we can assure that a lot of the trolls will go away. A lot of (F)RAND too will be rendered obsolete. █
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Summary: A timely reminder of the threat of losing one’s voice to one’s biggest enemy
Patent parasites, or patent lawyers like Manny W. Schecter, will continue to promote a lot of patents no matter what scholarly work shows. Evidence does not matter to lawyers; to them, “evidence” only counts if it helps their case, i.e. it they can make money from it. They have been stacking many online debates and panels (offline) recently, so they are essentially hijacking the voice of people who actually produce stuff.
“As a patent attorney…”
That is how how Schecter starts his argument as if being a patent lawyer makes him an inventor. Just let lawyers explain to us how science should work and why we should keep lawyers as our middlemen, right? Here is a new group called Application Developers Alliance. Hopefully it will represent developers when it speaks on software patents. To quote the FOSS-hostile SD Times [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] (a misnomer):
It said it plans to host a separate series this year on software patents, as well as additional conferences, summits, workshops, meetups, hackathons and webinars.
Who is funding the group and what policies will it adopt? A new group which calls itself Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) seems to be a front for proprietary software companies (trying to pass themselves off as “open source”), just like other think tanks which are dominated by proprietary software companies and call themselves “open source”. Black Duck, proprietary software seller and booster, GPL basher, software patents proponent etc. (created by a Microsoft marketing senior) is openwashing itself again. Need we say a word about Adobe trying to openwash Flash by using Apache as a shell for Flex?
Let’s acknowledge that we have got a problem when our voice and identity are lost in the mist. I received a message from the OSI’s President about it. I gave him examples yesterday. Unlike “Open Source”, there is no central authority to manage views on software patents. We need to be loud, we need to expose those who try to speak ‘on our behalf’. █
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Red Hat’s launch of Fedora 18 impeded after Christmas sales produce many defective, Microsoft-laden boards
Summary: Although or because the desktop loses its old relevance, Microsoft makes it abundantly difficult to install non-Windows operating systems
MONOPOLIST EXTRAORDINAIRE Microsoft forces obsolescence by tying hardware to software, adding yet more evidence to its abusive track record. We had a lengthy guest post about this recently. It frightens Microsoft when people control their hardware. Here is another new report about it:
Microsoft is suddenly serious about tackling RT Jailbreak, a slick tool that unlocks Surface tablets using a hack publicised just days earlier.
A spokesperson for Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group, tasked with Windows security, told The Register that Redmond is “actively investigating” the RT Jailbreak Tool v1 cooked up last week. Microsoft will take “appropriate action as necessary”, the spokesperson said, but provided no further details.
Let’s just say that if you bought hardware from Microsoft, then you can — as long as you do so responsibly to reduce risk to others — burn it in a big fire. Or less radically than that, you can install whatever you wish on the disks/memory, but this is becoming hard. Microsoft relies on all sorts of crazy laws like DMCA to try to police what one achieves with hardware one supposedly owns, challenging the very premise that you own something when you buy it (physical product, not the licensing of copyrighted material). This is where customers suffer. It is a serious idealogical war whose purpose is to give all power to the super-powerful (retaining power), always at the expense of the rest. People who do this with their lobbyists rely on apathy or the sense of helplessness which reduces potency among the opposition. Every little would help to challenge the idea that machines are produced and sold in a state which deliberately excudes Linux. And why? Because Microsoft lawyers crafted some outrageous contract and then forced it on OEMs (or bribed them to accept it) so as to make the market less competitive. Legal manoeuvres don’t make “fair” competition, they make collusion, extortion, and sometimes corruption (or authorisation, i.e. legalisation, thereof).
Similarly, Microsoft and Apple have been trying to normalise (as in make people perceive as “normal”) the practice of patent extortion, “ownership” of algorithmic ideas, “ownership” of shapes like rounded rectangles, or even the shape of an apple.
Dealing today with the subject of UEFI, the new Fedora is still unable to boot on some hardware which is Microsoft-tainted:
Three days before its scheduled release, Fedora 18 still has some issues when confronted with a computer that is running Windows 8 with secure boot enabled, if one goes by the latest testing image available online.
The Fedora project announced on January 9 that it would be releasing Fedora 18 on January 15, US time.
While the image mentioned above can now be installed on a secure boot-enabled machine unlike the last time I tried with the previous testing image, one cannot reclaim space from a hard drive, that has plenty to spare, for installation.
During the installation procedure, once one chooses the option of reclaiming space, one is presented with the hard drives in one’s machine.
But after choosing one of these, and then selecting any partition on said disk, the reclaim space option remains greyed out. The only option available is to delete the partition – and this cannot be done unless one wants to blow away Windows 8 altogether.
Jan Wildeboer says: “A Linux user struggles with Windows. No live CD? No package management? Driver issues? Boot loader madness? While this…”
Jan is part of Fedora and the post he promotes in Google+ says: “I called a friend of my friend’s I knew had some experience with Windows before. He told me that I could download a free copy off torrent sites, and get a matching “activation key”. I don’t know what that is, but I thought free is still better than paying $200 for a system I know nothing about.
“So I got an .iso file. I was lucky enough to find a copy that already includes this “activation key” thingy. I decided to boot it and see what it does.
“Unfortunately again, the bootloader did not offer me the live version at all, and went straight on to install the system. The installer was easy enough…. or so I thought until I reached the partitioning software. “What is this thing?” I thought to myself. It didn’t recognize any Linux partitions. There was also no option of resizing a partition to make room for Windows.
“Not discouraged by the poorly conceived middle-ages partitioner, I rebooted into GParted Live and quickly resized one of my partitions and made two 10GB partitions. One for user files and one for system files.”
So Vista 8 makes it hard to install GNU and Linux in more ways than before. To quote further:
Friend plugged his USB stick in, and… you are guessing. Yes! Windows had to install yet another set of drivers for the new stick. What on earth is wrong with that OS…
We installed a whopping 18MB of codecs, and then the trusty VLC video player, and we enjoyed the show for a while.
It was time to do some work. I’d already come to terms with the fact that Windows didn’t have a terminal emulator, didn’t come with Firefox, and Vim was somehow not as nice as it was on Linux. But what about mail? I couldn’t get Outlook to import my email. I asked around, but nobody was able to help either. Friend finally took off, saying he had better things to do than fiddle with an OS he knows very little about.
Someone has to rewrite all this crap. No LiveCD? No codecs? No software? No package manager?!?!?! Hello, this is like 2013, not 1993. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I had to compile something from source. I have no idea where I would find a compiler…
My tablet can do many things better than Windows desktops, which do not even have basic codecs. Microsoft’s partners at Gartner confirm a Windows decline, as does Canalys, which predicts a sharp fall. The growing market of tablets is not working out for Microsoft, which is being left out in the cold; it is being rejected in this market segment, leading to yet another type of downgrade (there are more this month):
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s fiscal second- quarter earnings will be less than previously expected due to weak demand for personal-computers and the company’s new tablet, Surface, according to Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS AG.
This was also covered here and Samsung may be fleeing the market:
Uh-oh, Windows RT, Samsung’s got second thoughts
Mike Abary, the head of Samsung’s PC and tablet business in the U.S., tells CNET that the company will not be releasing its Windows RT device in the U.S. because retail partners don’t see strong demand and because the value proposition for Windows RT isn’t clear to consumers.
Windows on phones brings yet more failure to the world of mobility, where BSoDs become a reality and phone users are asked to reinstall:
I have always found BSOD errors on large screens to be amusing, but there was never any WTF factor for me as I had experienced many and knew they are fairly easy to figure out. This is different.
Late on Friday I spotted a tweet from F-Secure CRO Mikko Hypponen that I found absolutely hilarious. He had posted it in the morning, and it essentially it showed a Windows Phone with a standard error message.
Here’s the line that caught his eye: “Insert your Windows installation disc and restart your computer.” Really, and where exactly would one do that?
Check it out for yourself….
A phone asks for a disc. Priceless. Microsoft has become a joke without even intending to. █
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