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02.10.13

Patent Lawyers Love the Status Quo, Hate GPLv3

Posted in FSF, GPL, Microsoft at 8:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer scared of GPLv3
Microsoft too daemonises GPLv3 because it helps remove restrictions

Summary: Some FUD from patent lawyers and a badge of honour for the GPLv3 (our enemies’ enemy)

The patent lawyers, known for their systematic lying, win another case. They always win, no matter which side gets a favourable ruling. It’s like arms industries during war. So lawyers alone got nearly £10,000,000, enough to buy 100 cheap houses. This is just what we see as the result of one single lawsuit. And yet, with patent debates we usually just see lawyers everywhere. Here, as part of a long-running rigged ‘debate’, is a lawyer at Wired with “It’s Time to Make Vague Software Patents More Clear” (link). Yes, we see calls for more of the same. And no, we oughtn't listen to lawyers when it comes to patent policy and this latest suggestion is definitely not the solution to the problem, it’s a distraction.

Other patent lawyers are currently smearing the GPLv3 for what they call “patentleft” (oh, the horror!), showing to us just how apathetic they are towards software freedom. To quote:

The much publicised patent litigation between Apple and Samsung (reportedly the highest-value claim in patent litigation to date) has served as a reminder that software patents are increasingly important. Thus, it is essential to protect patent portfolios from negative impacts – which could be caused by the ‘patentleft’ effect when dealing with open source software.

Some other patent lawyers cite Kappos, another lawyer, as figure of authority and the UK’s Open Source Consortium responds thusly:

Departing #uspto director shows fine sense of #irony “we need to fix #swpats”

This is the same man who has defended software patents (swpats) while he was heading the USPTO. What we really need right now is GPLv3 in EFI/UEFI restricted boot as it would help eliminate FAT patent threats universally. Intel EFI was released under the BSD license or Eclipse Public License (EPL) as TianoCore. EFI was also used to deter against the use of GPLv3, under the premise that it would be incompatible with restricted boot.

FAT is Free (Gratis) as Long as You Serve Microsoft’s Agenda

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 8:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just so you know who’s in control…

Privacy

Summary: What EFI teaches us about Microsoft’s use of software patents

THE emergence of UEFI restricted boot is probably the latest major attack on computing freedom, or merely the denial of users’ control over their computers (booting control is Microsoft’s, not the users’). UEFI restricted boot helps Microsoft control what people are allowed to do with hardware, not just with software. This is a serious antitrust issue, but it was never pursued by those who are affected in this way. UEFI going mainstream (with FAT as part of) helps Microsoft only as long as Microsoft controls and uses it to tax every device formatted with FAT (when it is used widely by Linux-based devices). And we are talking about software patents that should never have been granted in the first place. TomTom‘s mistake is that it used Linux in conjunction with FAT, which is a Microsoft trap. This whole episode helps teach us that, for monopolists, patents have nothing to do with innovation and everything to do with control, i.e. power over others. The OIN’s CEO confirmed to us that FAT is Microsoft's method of taxing just about any Linux vendor which is claims to be paying for Linux. I recently talked about this with Dr. Garrett, who kindly provided some pointers to the role of FAT patents in UEFI. It’s similar to what we saw in Novell with patent traps like Mono, OOXML, etc. and it should be noted that the Linux Foundation — unlike the FSF — serves Microsoft’s agenda by letting former Novell staff prop up Microsoft with UEFI. SUSE does too. James Bottomley is not alone in this, but here he is in a new article from SJVN:

  • Linux Foundation releases Windows Secure Boot fix

    James Bottomley — Parallels’ CTO of server virtualization, well-known Linux kernel maintainer, and the man behind the Linux Foundation’s efforts to create an easy way to install and boot Linux on Windows 8 PCs — announced on February 8 that the Linux Foundation UEFI secure boot system was finally out.

Please don’t do this. Please file a formal complaint. And as one follower put it in JoinDiaspora.com:

This may come to you as a shock, but I’m not particularly happy with Linux Foundation going that route. Not that I don’t want to have new hardware working with GNU/Linux. It’s just that Linux Foundation is playing Microsoft’s game from now on, and they’re gonna have some pretty tough time playing it later. Once you’re cached you’re actually dead. Never allow yourself to play the game of your enemy. It’s their rules, they know the tricks and they know better than you how to destroy the enemy.

Sad, but true IMHO.

We have studied the UEFI FAT licence and found some information of relevance in Wikipedia

Disk device compatibility

In addition to the standard PC disk partition scheme, which uses a master boot record (MBR), EFI works with a new partitioning scheme: GUID Partition Table (GPT). GPT is free from many of the limitations of MBR. In particular, the MBR limits on the number and size of disk partitions (up to 4 primary partitions per disk, up to 2 TiB (240 bytes) per disk) are relaxed.[19] GPT allows for a maximum disk and partition size of 8 ZiB (270 bytes).[19][20] The UEFI specification explicitly requires support for FAT32 for system partitions, and FAT12/FAT16 for removable media; specific implementations may support other file systems.

[...]

OS loaders are a class of UEFI applications. As such, they are stored as files on a file system that can be accessed by the firmware. Supported file systems include FAT32, FAT16 and FAT12. Supported partition table schemes include MBR and GPT. UEFI does not rely on a boot sector.

There is also a talk about it in Wikipedia:

I’ve also left the information regarding FAT issues on the talk page below. These are certainly an issue for providers of EFI systems and Open Source operating systems, but I don’t think that an article describing EFI needs to get bogged down in a patent discussion: it’s certainly not an issue particularly specific to EFI as compared to any other computer technology. You wouldn’t include a huge patent debate in a digital camera article, even though they use FAT, too…

Tmassey 20:06, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Regarding FAT, many links are included there too:

According to this presentation from WinHec 2004 (page 15), the EFI System Partition (ESP) is FAT-32: EFI And Windows “Longhorn”

And Microsoft just won the case about the FAT patents: Microsoft’s file system patent upheld

So to use FAT you need to license the IP from Microsoft: Microsoft FAT license (Broken link?)

But you can do that for free if you are implementing EFI, here:

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/platform/firmware/fatgen.mspx

The standard doesn’t say anything about other partitions than the ESP, so that doesn’t rule out MacOS.

So FAT is OK when it puts Microsoft in charge, but it’s a patent trap otherwise. The whole thing is about control, it’s not about innovation, ‘respecting’ patent law, or whatever Microsoft claims it to be. The Linux Foundation must stop being submissive and acknowledge the problem for what it really is. Complicity has no excuses.

Appeals Court Gets Another Chance to Abolish Software Patents in the United States

Posted in Google, Patents at 8:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Art museum

Summary: The Federal Circuit appeals court (CAFC) is taking some major steps that can help end software patents and Google plays a role in it

THE corporate/political campaign to change the patent system is gathering more steam. The Federal Circuit appeals court (CAFC), which we criticised before, is prepared to re-consider software patents; meanwhile we also learn that Google plays a role in asking for change:

The world’s largest search-engine company contends that too many other software patents hurt innovation more often than they lead to viable businesses. Google, along with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Yelp Inc. business-review site, say they need to be able to quickly resolve cases in which a patent owner sues a large number of companies over widely used software features.

An appeals court specializing in U.S. patent law will consider the issue tomorrow, in arguments about when software programs represent legitimate innovations and when they simply computerize ideas that couldn’t otherwise be patented. The question is important because challenging an invention’s eligibility for a patent can be quicker and cheaper than contesting a patent’s validity on other grounds.

The issue was considered at the end of last week and coverage of it depended on the messenger. SCOTUS Blog, i.e. lawyers, was bickering over this, whereas Groklaw, a more progressive legal site, had progressive people at the scene. Just being non-conformist does not make one “wrong”. Abolishing software patents is actually quite the norm in the software world, putting aside lawyers, MBAs, etc.

Here is some corporate press coverage and a bit from Rupert Murdoch’s main paper. IDG said that “Appeals court considers software patents,” potentially affecting the USPTO:

U.S. companies shouldn’t be able to get patents on abstract ideas when they combine those ideas with a computer process, a lawyer argued in an appeals court Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should invalidate four patents held by electronic marketplace Alice because the process described in the patents can be done in a person’s head or with a paper and pencil, argued Mark Perry, a lawyer representing CLS Bank, which was sued by Alice for infringement.

IDG also had this report which said:

Should an abstract idea written into software and run on a computer be patentable? That’s one question a U.S. appeals court will consider Friday when it hears arguments in a case with broad implications for software patents for companies as diverse as Google and Red Hat.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is unlikely to invalidate all software patents in the CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. case, but it could force tech companies to narrow their claims when applying for software patents, some patent experts said.

Simon Phipps, writing for IDG, called it “turning point in war on software patents” and his summary was as follows: (no ads)

A seemingly unassuming court hearing today could be the beginning of the end of software patents as we know them

At TechDirt, the leading headline was “Key Case About Software Patents May Hinge On How You Define ‘Significantly More’” and it says:

Last year, we wrote about the next important lawsuit concerning software patents, the CLS Bank v. Alice case, which the full Federal Circuit appeals court (CAFC) heard today. Our last post on the case provided the background, but the short version was that it involves some software concerning doing a “shadow transaction” to see if there are really enough funds to complete a transaction, before completing the actual transaction. The district court found that this was just a representation of an abstract idea, and thus not patentable. CAFC, using a typical three judge panel, reversed that decision, saying that it was patentable subject matter. However, CAFC agreed to rehear “en banc” with the entire 10 judges, because there was some concern about the original ruling (which was split 2 against 1).

[...]

While Sachs was disappointed that there wasn’t a clear attempt to define what constitutes an “abstract idea,” I’m not as sure that’s an issue. In fact, it almost seems oxymoronic to say that you need a strict definition of an abstract idea. The reason an idea is abstract is just that: it’s abstract. But, at the same time, I can understand why patent lawyers would generally prefer a brightline, objective rule that can demarcate what is and what is not patentable. Either way, lots of patent lawyers will be waiting eagerly for this ruling.

Here is another report:

A federal appeals court is set to consider a case closely watched by Google Inc, Facebook Inc and other technology companies that could determine how far the patent system should go in protecting software inventions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, will hear arguments on Friday over whether patents should be granted for business methods whose main innovation is that they require the use of a computer.

Many of our readers have probably read about this news already because it’s everywhere, including major news sites. But it’s worth keeping our own summary/record of this major development; surely it’s not the end of it. In Re Bilski, for instance, lasted years.

Links 10/2/2013: Ubuntu on Phones This Month, Linux Year on Desktop

Posted in News Roundup at 12:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Shock! Horror! Some People Want To Change The Linux Console
  • Desktop

    • Chromebooks Pick Up Steam with CDW Deal
    • Winning The Desktop Wars

      Chris Hall over at Foss Force wrote an article that I’ve been mulling over writing myself for quite some time. Chris claims that Linux has won the “war for the desktop”, and on top of that, won it a long time ago with Android. However, I’m not quite as enthusiastic about his claims of open source superiority. Did open source really win, or have we been hijacked?

      Let’s take a second and think about the nature of the open source movement for a few minutes. There are several reasons why we would want the software we use to be open to examination: fewer bugs, control of the machines we own, the ability to modify and redistribute programs, the list goes on. However, I believe that the core ideal of open source is not actually freedom per se, but control. We want to be able to control when and how our machines are used, and when and how our data is used, and to ensure that control access to the source code is necessary.

  • Kernel Space

    Free Software/Open Source

    • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

      • Rethinking the office suite

        I’ve spent much of the last week exploring the recent releases of Calligra Suite and LibreOffice, and listening to the unlikely rumors of a Linux version of Microsoft Office. I haven’t concentrated on office suites so intensely for years, and, as I examined Calligra Suite’s and LibreOffice’s very different layouts and approaches to productivity, I found myself thinking: What should a modern office suite consist of?

      • If Office Suites Are Not Broken, Why Change Them?

        He has some reasonable observations but IMHO office suites work well. They are more or less perfected. There’s no reason at all for restructuring or slapping on rafts of new features. That’s M$’s business-plan to force constant updates/new licence-sales. We don’t need that with LibreOffice. Improving its efficiency, fixing bugs and making small changes to UI/features make sense. Rethinking to the extent of adding “the ribbon” or linking to clouds is not needed and not useful. We can run an office suite as a thin client already. What more do we need?

    • Funding

    • BSD

      • BSDs Struggle With Open-Source Graphics Drivers

        While there’s plenty of code pouring into the Linux world for bettering open-source graphics drivers from desktop graphics cards to ARM SoCs, in the *BSD world they are struggling with their graphics driver support. Matthieu Herrb gave a presentation on the (rather poor) state of graphics on Unix-like platforms outside of Linux.

    • Project Releases

    • Public Services/Government

    • Openness/Sharing

      • Open Access/Content

        • Aaron Swartz and the Corrupt Practice of Plea Bargaining

          If Ortiz thought Swartz only deserved to spend 6 months in jail, why did she charge him with crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 50 years? It’s a common way of gaining leverage during plea bargaining. Had Swartz chosen to plead not guilty, the offer of six months in jail would have evaporated. Upon conviction, prosecutors likely would have sought the maximum penalty available under the law. And while the judge would have been unlikely to sentence him to the full 50 years, it’s not hard to imagine him being sentenced to 10 years.

          In this hypothetical scenario, those 10 years in prison would, practically speaking, have consisted of six months for his original crime (the sentence Ortiz actually thought he deserved) plus a nine-and-a-half-year prison term for exercising his constitutional right to a trial.

        • The inside story of Aaron Swartz’s campaign to liberate court filings

          And how his allies are trying to finish the job by tearing down a big paywall.

    Leftovers

    • Security

    • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Cablegate

    • Finance

      • Governments Save By Paying Down Their Debts

        I think this over-states the case against the US government buying equities, but the deeper problem is that it ignores the government’s $11 trillion in national debt. If a heavily indebted individual wanted to save for the future, a financial advisor would probably tell him the first step is to pay off some of his debts. And the same point applies to the United States. It will be a long, long time before we run out of bonds to retire—so long that it’s silly to worry about what we’d do if we retired the national debt and still had more money we wanted to save.

      • Goldman Sachs hedging its bets: Is more economic pain on the way?

        Investment bankers – can’t live with ‘em, and can’t live without ‘em.

        At least that’s how it seems in these tough economic times. We tend to hang on their every word, as if they truly know how big money intends to manipulate financial markets in the foreseeable future. But we also tend to blame these financial powerhouses for creating the worst recession since the Great Depression.

        [...]

        …1 trillion flowed out of equities during the month of January.

    • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

      • The Gates Foundation and Coca Cola at Odds or Legitimate Bedfellows?

        Sanjay Basu, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, recently wrote a blog post that caught our eye about public and nonprofit leaders who sit on the corporate boards of major soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Using one of the tools that make such information readily available, NNDB Mapper, he argues that there appear to be institutional conflicts of interest occurring. In particular, Basu calls out Cathleen Black, chancellor of New York City Schools, and several key Gates Foundation leaders, for sitting on Coca-Cola’s board. In addition, he notes that the former president of the Ford Foundation and the CEO of Duke Health System sit on the board of Pepsi.

    • Censorship

      • Russia blacklists site hosting blogs of prominent journalists

        The Russian government has blocked access to a blog-hosting site that publishes reports from at least two prominent independent journalists often critical of the Kremlin. The site has been added to the country’s recently established official “internet blacklist.”

        LJRossia.org, also known as InsaneJournal, is “a non-profit project created to support freedom of speech, civil society and encourage the free exchange of ideas.” The site was censored today, reportedly over two posts that contained “child pornography elements.” But instead of blocking or removing the two posts in question, the entire site is inaccessible on at least one Russian ISP, RosTelekom.

    • Civil Rights

    • DRM

      • A Brilliant Parody of DRM

        But this post, in which he defends his decision to disallow cutting and pasting from his website, brings to mind another theory: Quinn is secretly an advocate of copyright reform, and has adopted the cartoonish “IP Watchdog” persona as an act of satire. Disabling cutting and pasting is such a ludicrous idea that it can’t be a serious business decision. But it brilliantly lampoons the fallacies that have caused major content companies to employ similar (and similarly ineffective) copy protection schemes.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

FRAND Still Used by Microsoft and Apple Against Google, FOSS, and Android

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chess game

Summary: Updates (mostly from Groklaw) about FRAND lawsuits of Microsoft and Apple

FRAND battles against Android have been waged by Microsoft and Apple, the patent allies (or conspiracy), for quite some time. It’s unfair and unreasonable. There are some updates about it in links shared by Groklaw, which in many of its relevant news picks talks about Apple ‘s fight against Motorola:

Motorola and Apple are currently facing off over patent-related issues in several ongoing judicial proceedings, including multiple appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. One of these Federal Circuit appeals was brought by Apple over Judge Crabb’s dismissal of Apple’s claims that Motorola violated the antitrust laws and breached its contracts with SSOs in conducting its SEP-related licensing and enforcement activities. But on January 25, Motorola filed a motion with the Federal Circuit to dismiss Apple’s appeal (or transfer it to the Seventh Circuit), asserting that the Federal Circuit lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. While at first blush this seems like just a mundane dispute over civil procedure issues, a decision on this motion may have significant consequences for future FRAND-related proceedings.

Pamela Jones alludes to this case but still focuses on Microsoft, which chose its back yard, Seattle, for this biased and hypocritical FRAND plot. Here is the latest:

Judge James Robart in the Microsoft v. Motorola litigation in Seattle has ruled now on Microsoft’s partial summary judgment motion that they held the hearing about last week. He has — surprise, surprise — once again ruled for Microsoft. He has not yet ruled on the other issue the hearing was about, the issue of the Google license agreement with MPEG LA.

Aided by Microsoft boosters (some are Gates-funded) who had flooded the court, Microsoft won those biased trials before. Trial by media much?

Federal Reserve Economists Want to Abolish USPTO, Unrest Reaches Unprecedented Levels Due to Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”

IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz

Summary: Signs of massive backlash against the US patent system as patent trolls spread collective damage

TThe previous post spoke about the low standards of the USPTO. Something has got to change. Zach Carter has this amazing news, adding to Nobel celebrities (in economics [1, 2]) who slam the US patent system. He writes:

Patent Reform, System Should Be Abolished, Fed Economists Say

Two economists at the St. Louis Federal Reserve published a paper arguing to abolish the American patent system, saying there’s “no evidence” patents improve productivity and that they have a “negative” effect on “innovation.”

The research suggests that President Barack Obama’s 2011 patent reform legislation — one of only a handful of major bills to clear Congress with bipartisan support in recent years — was wrong-headed.

A popular political site berates the system for the trolls it harbours and money has just been granted for a law professor to study the subject. To quote: “Santa Clara Law’s Professor Colleen Chien has received a $35,000 research grant from the New America Foundation to expand her work relating to “Start-ups and Trolls”. This grant will fund an expanded survey to determine the impacts of Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) on the operations, growth, and innovation of startups. This version of the survey will also explore trends in patent purchasing, strategies for responding, and the market for “troll solution” providers.”

Watch what RIM has had to say on the subject after its very existence was compromised by trolls.

‘$30B’ spent on patent battles

Heins also spoke on Tuesday at Toronto’s Empire Club, making a point to discuss how legal battles over patents, especially in the United States, have been detrimental to the mobile technology industry.
“This past year, our sector spent almost $30 billion in courtrooms — particularly in U.S. courtrooms — defending cases against non-practicing entities — or ‘patent trolls’ — who produce nothing,” he said in prepared remarks.

“Patent trolls hold genuine innovators hostage and patents have become weapons in an international technology arms race. This is crazy. We have to shift our resources from litigation back to innovation, investment and job creation.”

BlackBerry holds over 3,400 U.S. patents, making it one of the top patent-holders in the country.

RIM is actually not a patent aggressor. It’s more like Google in this regard and in a later post we will show that Google now seeks to abolish software patents.

“IP is often compared to physical property rights but knowledge is fundamentally different.”

IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz

USPTO Patents Are Comedy, EFF Strives to Change That

Posted in America, Patents at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hand idea

Summary: The latest new examples which show that the US patent system is not hinged on reality; a call for action

The US patent system, protected by the USPTO and SCOTUS as validator, coercing others through the courts and ITC, serves as protectionism for corporations at the expense of people and to the benefit of patent lawyers.

SCOTUS Blog bloggers talk about gene patenting, one of the most controversial types of patents. Rather then seek a ban, a symposium is organised and one can bet it will be stacked by lawyers. This system is rigged. Watch USPTO patent #8,370,951, granted February 5th, 2013. It is titled “Securing the U.S.A” and it is not a satire. A Seattle blog tells us that lending goods online is also a granted patent now, assigned to Amazon along with this ‘milkman’ patent. USPTO quickly becomes a source of comedy, but it’s not funny to those who get sued. There are some more new reports that show laughable patents and the EFF reportedly fights an infamous patent on podcasting:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, is declaring war on a company claiming it made the podcast possible.

EFF said Tuesday it was organizing companies that face threats from patent trolls – a derogatory term for companies that earn most of their money from patent licensing or litigation.

The EFF no longer busts just one patent at a time. It now runs a well-funded campaign to eradicate software patents as a whole (in the US).

New Zealand is meanwhile resisting attempts to expand US patent law — a subject on which Dr. Glyn Moody had this to say:

Let’s hope Mr Foss listens, and New Zealand programmers can continue to focus on creating great software, rather than needing to look anxiously over their shoulders all the time for fear that they might accidentally infringe on a software patent that has been granted to some deep-pocketed software company or – even worse – a predatory patent troll.

We must destroy software patents in the US or else they might spread elsewhere, e.g. through trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific ‘free’ ‘trade’ treaties. There is need for global action because US policy usually become universal or global policy, shows history. The clock is ticking and patent lawyers fight against developers’ interests.

IRC Proceedings: February 3rd, 2013-February 9th, 2013

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: February 3rd, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: February 4th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: February 5th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: February 6th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: February 7th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: February 8th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: February 9th, 2013

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