EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.19.13

How Apple Attacked (and Marginalised) the Linux-powered WebOS

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palm Pre with WebOS and Palm OS

Summary: Professor Michael Risch talks about WebOS, responds to our criticism

There is a fascinating story about WebOS, the operating system built on Linux and optimised to work well on the Web, using some portable framework that is Web-compatible (a growing trend in SDKs). Apple’s devices are poor at Web browsing, so WebOS (now open source as we hoped but unfortunately patents-encumbered) and some platforms like Android, which now has Chrome, have had a huge potential for growth, mostly at Apple’s and Nokia’s expense. Android is well ahead of Apple in technical terms and “Samsung [is] Innovating Faster Than Apple” claims a minister. So anyway, after Apple threatened Palm with lawsuits [1, 2] we find out in Risch’s rant about the already-controversial SHIELD act that WebOS was derailed by Apple:

Consider Palm, which developed WebOS, and made stuff. Consider HP, which has spent billions of dollars in research and development. HP bought Palm, and made WebOS tablets. For various reasons, maybe in part due to patent claims from other tablet makers like Apple, HP decides to stop selling WebOS tablets. HP then decides to enforce Palm’s patents. Mind you, HP didn’t just buy the patents, it bought the company. And then it made stuff, it researched, it developed, and it has even licensed WebOS out to LG try to resurrect it for televisions. Is HP a troll now? It falls under the text of this act. I think that just cannot be right, and yet there it is, in black and white.

Pamela Jones wrote: “Apple did that? I didn’t know that. If so, then I spit in their general direction. I love WebOS, and Apple needs to cut it out. It can’t be the only tablet maker in the universe. The more they sue and threaten, the more determined I am never to buy anything from them again.”

Wired had Risch (prominent in the debate over patent trolls) as a guest in a debate full of lawyers whose opinions omit the obvious solution (here is
another recent example) and after our criticism of his suggestions he wrote to me to say: “Thanks for reading, even if you don’t agree. I’m glad to hear that I’m even slightly controversial, as I usually see myself as plain vanilla.

“I outside us was a bit surprised by your characterization of the op-ed, though. For one thing, I quote Stallman’s editorial. For another, my very first suggestion was: ” More patents should be rejected, and especially weak software patents. Limiting these should continue regardless of who – troll or product company – owns those patents.” I realize that this doesn’t go far enough for those who would abolish software patents, but it’s hardly a defense. Indeed, at least one person shared this sentiment as the takeaway from the op-ed on twitter. I actually had a lot more written about software patents, but they limited me to 1100 words, so anything not core to the primary argument got slashed – so it goes.”

I replied by saying that “I do believe that we need to end software patents as a whole.”

“I hear you,” he said, “I know a lot a people feel that way. Even though I disagree, at least that would be owner neutral!”

That’s why it’s a debate. Every debate has some factions on each side. Anup Malani, writing this paper about patents, says: “Counter-intuitively, we propose raising the stakes of patent litigation by providing enhanced rewards to victorious patent holders and imposing enhanced penalties on owners of patents that are invalidated at trial.” This is not the obvious solution, either. It evades the obvious fix which is related to scope, not legal action.

Stephen Ornes, a writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote this article in the New Scientist yesterday. He opposes software patents on the ground that they are akin to patenting mathematics. To quote:

AT SOME point in their career every mathematician comes up against the question, is mathematics invented or discovered? The query makes some cranky. The answer doesn’t directly affect their work, after all, and the discussion often leads nowhere useful. Spending time debating the ultimate nature of mathematics takes away from actually doing it.

Some scholars take issue with the terms themselves. In his 2008 essay Mathematical Platonism and Its Opposites, Harvard University mathematician Barry Mazur called discovery and invention “those two too-brittle words”. One might be tempted to defuse the question altogether with a merger: perhaps maths involves inventing new relationships between things we have discovered.

It’s a metaphysical query, a nerdy way to ask whether or not some pre-existing truths underlie our existence. Here we bump up against theology. If mathematical ideas are discovered – the Platonist position – then a proof is a real-world encounter with an immortal truth. But then where, exactly, is this ethereal pool of truths? Did prime numbers exist before the big bang?

If, on the other hand, mathematics is invented, then proofs spring from human intelligence a bit like art or law. But then why do mathematicians across time and space always agree on what’s right and wrong?

The question about invention versus discovery flares up every few years, often in a different guise. The latest incarnation concerns something very down to earth: money. In this case, the discovery versus invention question has profound consequences. In fact, there may be no mathematical question with higher stakes. That’s because mathematics powers the algorithms that drive computer software, and software is big business, worth over $300 billion a year to the global economy.

If we start with the hypothesis that algorithms are reducible to maths — which they are — then it becomes apparent that the patent system is inherently broken in the scope sense. Talking about damages in litigation is not the point. We must identify and address root causes, not symptoms.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Patent Scope at the EPO is Totally Out of Control, UPC Will Make Things Worse

    A look at the practical issues with the EPO, where patent scope and litigation scope have been vastly extended so as to benefit multinational corporations and possibly patent trolls



  2. Links 26/5/2015: Reviews of Kubuntu 15.04, Linux 4.1 RC5

    Links for the day



  3. Süddeutsche Zeitung Says Talking Helps While EPO Management Back-stabs Other Side of the Table

    German media gives the impression that there is peace and harmony now that Benoît Battistelli and his circle of power speaks to staff, but nothing is said about simultaneous (albeit covert) attacks against that staff



  4. Large Corporations Call the Shots in US Patent Reform

    A reminder of where we stand on the issue of patent 'reform' in the US and who is controlling or shaping it



  5. Microsoft Puts Proprietary Windows and Hyper-V Inside the Free Software-Centric OpenStack

    OpenStack, which celebrates rapid growth in this month's event in Canada, is facing a proprietarisation threat from Microsoft



  6. Microsoft's Secret Lobbying, Bullying, and the Long History of Blackmailing Politicians Around the World

    British media covers Microsoft's abuse in the UK, but there are many similar incidents, and not just in the UK



  7. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Benoît Battistelli and Four EPO Suicides

    German press article from April 2015 (with translations)



  8. Links 24/5/2015: CrossOver 14.1.3, NTFS-3G Vulnerability

    Links for the day



  9. Links 23/5/2015: Fedora 22 to May 26th, Netflix in SteamOS

    Links for the day



  10. The Patents Production 'Industry' (Patent Lawyers) Still Fights Hard to Salvage Software Patents

    A review of recent writings about software patents and patents on business methods in the United States, demonstrating that patent lawyers have gotten very vocal and sneaky (trying to evade the rules)



  11. Patents as a Marketing Strategy: USPTO Now Part of the Advertising Industry

    The existence of publicity patents, or patents whose sole purpose is to advertise some products, serves to discredit the US patent office, which was originally set up to promote science and technology



  12. Microsoft Blackmails and Extorts British Politicians Over Open Standards and Free Software-Leaning Policies

    Microsoft's digital imperialism in the UK getting defended using blackmail, reminding a lot of Brits that Microsoft is just as evil as ever before



  13. Microsoft Gives Another Bug a Name, This Time Logjam™

    The Microsoft crowd is good only at marketing, even when it comes to small bugs in software



  14. Links 22/5/2015: Fedora 22 Final Release is Near, Canonical IPO Considered

    Links for the day



  15. More Utter Shame Unveiled at Battistelli's EPO: Intimidation Tactics With Help From 'Control Risks'

    The unaccountable thugs who run the EPO have hired London-based spooks to help silence their opposition and their critics



  16. GNU/Linux Still Under Attack From Apple and Microsoft, Patents Remain the Weapon of Choice

    A timely reminder of the importance of patent matters, for they are being used to eliminate the zero-cost advantage of Free/libre software and make it more proprietary, privacy-infringing, and user-hostile (as a result of blackmail)



  17. Gartner Group and NASSCOM: Will Lie for FUD, on Behalf of Microsoft and Proprietary Software

    Some of the latest arguments against Free/libre software turn out to be arriving from couriers of Microsoft and its agenda



  18. Windows is a Franchise in Demise, Don't Believe the Hype

    Ongoing propaganda about Vista 10, 'cloud', and other buzzwords or brands are put in perspective



  19. Links 21/5/2015: Fedora 22 RC2, CERN Chooses OpenStack

    Links for the day



  20. Microsoft is Again Showing Its Hatred of Free/Open Source Software by Lobbying the Indian Government to Drop a Rational National Policy

    Microsoft decides to attack Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in India, where the corporate media is very much complicit in misleading the public



  21. Links 20/5/2015: Containers, OpenStack, and EXT4 Corruption

    Links for the day



  22. The PATENT Act, Distraction of Trolls, and Lobbying for Software Patents by Protectionists

    Only large corporations and their lawyers are able to formally change the US patent system through public officials and politicians, despite recent rulings from very high courts



  23. Corporate Media and Friends of Microsoft Are Still Lying About the Cost of Vista 10

    In a desperate effort to beat operating systems that are Free (libre) and free (gratis), such as GNU/Linux or Android, Microsoft shores up the illusion of 'free' (gratis) Windows



  24. Links 19/5/2015: Linux 4.1 RC4, Thunderbird 31.7.0, OpenStack Event

    Links for the day



  25. Links 18/5/2015: Russia Chooses Jolla, Many New Distro Releases, Meizu Devices

    Links for the day



  26. Even Converting an Image to Greyscale is Now a Patent

    Simple mathematics becoming patented as Fujifilm claims 'ownership' of photographic conversion to greyscale



  27. Grooming of the World's Biggest Patent Troll, Nathan Myhrvold of Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures

    UCLA and Microsoft-linked media are framing big thugs as heroes, doing a great disservice to both academia and journalism



  28. The EPO's Fight to Bring Software Patents Into Europe is One Step Closer to a 'Victory' (for Multinationals)

    Opposition to the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being crushed and Italy is one of the latest actors to have fallen in the battle



  29. Microsoft's 'Former' Staff Continues With His Anti-Google Rhetoric at CBS

    A Microsoft intern, who has moved on to journalism, is still showing his affinity for Microsoft with apologetics and spin



  30. More of Microsoft's False Claims About Cost of Vista 10 and More Layoffs

    Vista 10 is still being marketed using lies and Microsoft may be going down the same route as Nokia


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts