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05.20.13

Links 20/5/2013: First Salifish Smartphone, Mageia 3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Logitech Adds ‘Linux Compatible’ Option to Product Site; Sign of Good Things to Come?

      As rich as the Linux OS is, one of its sticking-points is that a lot of companies don’t properly support their products for it. Your Logitech mouse might work just fine under the OS, of course, but it wouldn’t be the company to thank; rather, the support comes from the efforts of developers who share the same passion for the OS as you do. My ASUS Xonar audio card works brilliantly under Linux, but ASUS had nothing to do with it.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 3 Released with Steamy Goodness

        he third official release of, the popular Mandriva fork, Mageia is now available. After months of delays and a mountain of challenges, Patricia Fraser said, “We still can’t believe how much fun it is to make Mageia together, and we’ve been doing it for two and a half years.”

        Like every new release, Mageia 3 comes chocked full ‘o upgrades. Some of these include Linux 3.8.13, Xorg X Server 1.13.4, GCC 4.7.2, KDE 4.10.2, GNOME 3.6, LibreOffice 4.0.2, GIMP 2.8.2, and Firefox 17.05. But a few new surprises await as well.

    • Debian Family

      • Review of Debian GNU/Linux 7.0

        Debian GNU/Linux is one of the oldest surviving Linux distributions and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary later this year. The venerable project is home to hundreds of volunteers who maintain over 35,000 software packages. Debian has expanded over the years and currently supports nine hardware architectures, displaying an unusual level of flexibility for a Linux distribution. Debian isn’t just a long lived Linux distro, the project also maintains ports which allow developers and users to experiment with running GNU software on top of alternative kernels, including Hurd and the FreeBSD kernel. This amazing diversity, along with Debian’s reputation for stability, has caused many developers to base their own projects on Debian.

        Dozens of the world’s most popular and widely used open-source projects (including Ubuntu, Linux Mint and KNOPPIX) can trace their ancestry back to Debian. Apart from being one of the largest existing open-source projects Debian is also a social experiment. The project is run as a democracy, a rarity in the open-source world, where developers vote on important changes and are guided by a constitution. For the reasons given above, more so than the anticipated features, the release of a new version of Debian sends ripples through the open-source community. Debian may be a famously conservative project, but everything its developers do affect large portions of the open-source population. I was quite eager to see what Debian 7.0, code name Wheezy, would offer.

      • How to transform a Debian based system to a Debian Edu installation

        Debian Edu / Skolelinux is an operating system based on Debian intended for use in schools. It contain a turn-key solution for the computer network provided to pupils in the primary schools. It provide both the central server, network boot servers and desktop environments with heaps of educational software. The project was founded almost 12 years ago, 2001-07-02. If you want to support the project, which is in need for cash to fund developer gatherings and other project related activity, please donate some money.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Development plans for Ubuntu 13.10

            Among the topics discussed by the developers at Ubuntu Developer Summit 13.05 were the planned new features for Ubuntu 13.10. The next version of the distribution, code-named “Saucy Salamander”, could include early versions of Ubuntu’s Mir display server and have the Qt-based Unity Next desktop environment for testing. However, the default configuration will continue to include the graphics stack of Ubuntu 12.10 with X11, Compiz and Unity 7. By 2014, Canonical plans to unify the code base for Ubuntu’s smartphone, tablet and PC desktops, based on Mir and Unity Next.

          • Ubuntu Touch: the (natural) next step in personal computing?

            I don’t think many people have realised that we are on the verge of a technological revolution. The computing world is changing, and this is the first time GNU/Linux is catching the revolution as it begins. Computers are getting smaller and smaller, while phones are getting bigger and bigger. Everybody can see that they about to converge — but in what form? Well, the answer is: GNU/Linux — before anybody else. The ingredients? A great GNU/Linux distribution, a leader with the right vision, and a few very bold, ground-breaking choices. Mix it well: the result is Ubuntu Touch. Let me go through these ingredients.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 15 “Olivia” gets release candidate

              The Linux Mint developers have announced a release candidate for the upcoming version of their distribution, Linux Mint 15. The release, which is code-named “Olivia”, is being built on Ubuntu 13.04 and is billed by Linux Mint founder Clement Lefebvre as “the most ambitious release since the start of the project.”

  • Devices/Embedded

    • OpenPandora review, part two

      Welcome, Willkommen, Bienvenue! To the second article in my Pandora series. As you recall, several weeks back, I received a test unit from Michael Mrozek, of the world’s smallest, most-powerful gaming micro-computer. In the first installment, we talked most about initial impressions, the look & feel, specifications, and a brief taste of the variety of its capabilities, technologies and interfaces.

      Now, we will dig deeper. In this article, I will focus on firmware refresh of the test unit, trying to bring the system to a newer edition, as well as dabble in the ins and outs of the Xfce desktop environment. I will leave the gaming-oriented MiniMenu and the Android mod for the third and last part in this would-be trilogy. Follow me.

    • Arduino launches Yún for WiFi connectivity under Linux

      THE SINGLE BOARD MICROCONTROLLER Arduino has been revamped to offer WiFi connectivity under Linux, in order to make connecting to complex web services much easier directly from the device.

      Named the Arduino Yún, which apparently is Chinese for “cloud”, the microcontroller claims to be the first of a family of WiFi products combined with a customised version of the Linux operating system (OS) distribution OpenWRT called Linino.

      Designed in collaboration with chip firm Dog Hunter, Linino provides signed packages to ensure the authenticity of the software installed on the device and, according to Arduino, Linino is the most used Linux distribution for embedded devices.

    • Phones

      • Jolla announces first Sailfish-based smartphone

        Finnish startup Jolla has announced its first smartphone, which shows off its Sailfish OS on a 4.5-inch screen.

      • Jolla announces its first Salifish OS smartphone
      • Here Comes Jolla, Yet Another Deviant Linux Smartphone
      • Sailfish OS phone “Jolla” debuts, available for preorders
      • Ballnux

        • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review – A surprise

          Holy shit! What you, Dedoimedo, you sellout, you hypocrite! Wait, calm down. All is well. There’s a reason why I decided to buy a tablet. One, I can afford it. Two, I really wanted to see what makes the retards get so excited. Three, I had an actual business need for this, but more about that later. Anyhow, this is my very first experience with a tablet. Honestly. I’ve never used one before. So it should be definitely most interesting. I’ve dabbled in Android a bit now and then, and overall, I was not really impressed. The x86 version for netbooks was ok but not magnificent, however, on the other hand, my smartphone experience was, overall, quite frustrating.

          Let’s how a pretentious old git like me managed to cope with this new modern technology. Better yet, why a pretentious old git like me would ever want to buy a device that is operated by touch only. Finally, this is a proper, thorough review of the Samsung tablet, probably of a higher quality, relevance and greater depth than anything else out there, because after all, it’s Dedoimedo writing this stellar review. Avanti.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why We Need Open Source: Three Cautionary Tales

    Open Enterprise mostly writes about “obvious” applications of open source – situations where money can be saved, or control regained, by shifting from proprietary to open code. That battle is more or less won: free software is widely recognised as inherently superior in practically all situations, as its rapid uptake across many markets demonstrates. But there are also some circumstances where it may not be so obvious that open source is the solution, because it’s not always clear what the problem is.

    For example, in the field of economics, there is a well-known paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff entitled, “Growth in a Time of Debt.” The main result is that “median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower.” Needless to say, this has been seized upon and widely cited by those in favour of austerity.

  • Open source browser based code editors

    The humble browser. Its main purpose, for many years, was to serve up simple HTML documents and provide information on just about any subject you could think of. In the last decade, with broadband taking over from dial-up, and net connections getting ever quicker, websites have increasingly provided applications usually restricted to the desktop.

  • CMS

    • Open Source WordPress Grows on Yahoo Tumblr Buyout

      The big news in the tech world that emerged over the weekend is that Yahoo is set to repeat its decade old mistake and acquire Tumblr (Geocities redux) for $1 Billion.

      I’m not a fan of Tumblr, but I am a fan of freedom and WordPress, both of which are apparently now ‘winning’ as a side effect of this deal. While it’s still unclear precisely how Yahoo’s ownership may/may not affect Tumblr, users are already voting with their blogs.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Five Star Movement urges Italian city of Bari to move to open source

      The administration of the Italian city of Bari must increase its use of free and open source software solutions, say local representatives of the Five Star Movement. Switching to open source will be part of the movement’s election programme for the municipal elections in 2014.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • An Interview With Dr. Joshua Pearce Of Printers For Peace

        Joshua Pearce, PhD, is a researcher at Michigan Tech who rearches open source and low-impact solutions to engineering problems. He is also the founder of the Printers For Peace contest, an effort to bring together clever 3D-printed ideas that have loftier aims. You can win one of two 3D printers if you submit a winning project.

Leftovers

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin developer chats about regulation, open source, and the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto

      With Bitcoin all the rage and startups popping up left and right, it’s hard to know who’s an expert in the virtual currency and who just has an opinion. Most people would put Jeff Garzik in the former camp.

    • The world is rich – the rich are the problem

      There’s no shortage of food, no shortage of wealth to solve social crises. The problem is a system that enriches a few and starves the many. We hear day in day out about the massive poverty and hunger that exists in the world. NGO’s and various non-profits have been around for decades appealing for assistance in feeding the world’s poor. Some experts think it is simply an overpopulation problem and it is the poor that are to blame; if only they’d have fewer children, they advise. It is not too many people that are the problem. It is not the lack of medical knowledge or technical expertise that leads to staggering infant and adult death rates in some parts of the world. It is the lack of social infrastructure and the political will needed to provide it.

    • TV presenters, bankers and government advisers among 1,000 Britons linked to tax havens

      - Broadcaster and former footballer John Fashanu on list

      - Trade adviser Alpesh Patel also named on leaked database

      - It also includes Goldman Sachs and Coutts, The Queen’s bank

      - Data has been leaked in tranches by a whistleblower since 2009

      - HMRC keen to clamp down on wealth sheltered in tax havens

    • The IRS Scandal: It’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Dissent or Terror: New Report Details How Counter Terrorism Apparatus Was Used to Monitor Occupy Movement Nationwide

      DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy today released the results of a year-long investigation: “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street.”

      The report, a distillation of thousands of pages of records obtained from counter terrorism/law enforcement agencies, details how state/regional “fusion center” personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012. Personnel engaged in this activity at fusion centers include employees of municipal, county and federal counter terrorism/homeland security entities. Such entities include local police departments, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (including U.S. DHS components such as the Transportation Security Administration).

    • Dissent or Terror: How Arizona’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate Interests, Turned on Occupy Phoenix

      Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a nationwide “counter terrorism” apparatus emerged. Components of this apparatus include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), ODNI’s “National Counterterrorism Center” (NCTC), and state/regional “fusion centers.”

      “Fusion centers,” by and large, are staffed with personnel working in “counter terrorism”/ “homeland security” units of municipal, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement/”public safety”/”counter terrorism” agencies. To a large degree, the “counter terrorism” operations of municipal, county, state and tribal agencies engaged in “fusion centers” are financed through a number of U.S. DHS grant programs.

  • Privacy

    • Lawmakers eye regulating domestic surveillance drones

      Amid growing concern over the use of drones by police and government officials for surveillance, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to limit the use of unmanned surveillance “eyes in the sky” aircraft.

    • Council debates banning drones from Evanston’s skies
    • Weaponized Drones used for Law Enforcement across America: How Your Town Can Stop Drones

      When Charlottesville passed a resolution against drones in February of this year, I heard from people all over the country again. Since that time, to my knowledge, one little town in Minnesota called St. Bonifacius has passed something, while dozens and dozens have tried and failed. The problem seems to be that drones can have good uses as well as bad. Of course, that’s grounds for halting the lawless and reckless spread of drones until we can figure out any ways in which their good use can be compatible with our Constitutional rights. But that would make too much sense. When there’s money to be made, technology to be played with, and terrorists to destroy our freedoms if we don’t hurry up and destroy them first, the American way is full steam ahead. But I actually think I might have at least a partial answer this time.

      [...]

      …drones armed with rubber bullets and tear gas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Goodman Affair: Monsanto Targets the Heart of Science

      Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, has jested that instead of scientific peer review, its rival The Lancet had a system of throwing a pile of papers down the stairs and publishing those that reached the bottom. On another occasion, Smith was challenged to publish an issue of the BMJ exclusively comprising papers that had failed peer review and see if anybody noticed. He replied, “How do you know I haven’t already done it?”

Microsoft Corruption (Illegal Tenders) Stopped by European Court

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 9:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Europe stops illegal Microsoft-leaning ‘tenders’, US should follow suit (SCOTUS hallway imaged below)

SCOTUS hallway

Summary: Microsoft cannot bypass public tenders, based on a ruling from a court of law in Europe

Microsoft’s many offences are diverse in their nature. Just about any imaginable offence Microsoft has committed or is still committing. Right now Microsoft is offering lock-in in exchange for some gifts/cash, in liaison with Forbes. This, however, does not qualify as a bribe like this one which bypasses the public and uses politicians. As the Gates Foundation certainly knows, the best way to assure annual profit (or bailout) is to lobby politicians to hand over taxpayers’ money to corporations you have investments in (the Gates Foundation is a tax-exempt investment instrument). This has rendered many corporations political in nature and heavily reliant on lobbying. Microsoft is no exception.

“To Microsoft, anything that’s non-Microsoft is unfair.”On the one hand, what Microsoft does when it comes to government contracts is not so unique. On the other hand, notes ESOP, Microsoft has been engaging in several other illegal activities in Portugal. And the latest ESOP press release is titled “Court Annuls Public Tender for MS Software in Municipality of Almada” (there are usually incentives for officials who play along, i.e. bribes). The press release says: “Following a legal action brought by ESOP to the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Almada, public tender no. 31A2012 regarding licensing and maintenance of Microsoft software costing up to 550.000,00 EUR was annulled. The tender, now deemed illegal, was launched by the City of Almada and prevented all the competing solutions from being supplied.

“It is the first court decision of this type in Portugal. The court confirms that, according to the Portuguese Law, public tenders must include functional requirement and must NOT include specific brands.”

Moreover, says the text: “Compliance with public procurement rules will enable the City of Almada to receive more and better proposals for the supply of software, including solutions based on Open Source.”

Fair competition is not a term that Microsoft understand. To Microsoft, anything that's non-Microsoft is unfair.

If only more countries, including the UK, had the guts and the activist spirit to do what ESOP did in Portugal…

Not Satire: Microsoft Wants to Show the World How Security is Done

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Standard at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft tries to paint itself as “fighting the bad guys”

Musketeers

Summary: Software security ‘standard’ to be led by the company which made insecurity an acceptable engineering practice?

According to this new report (criticised heavily in this LXer thread), Microsoft is trying to lead security standards as if Microsoft is the master of security. Oh! The vanity!

“Previously, roughly half a decade ago, Microsoft fonts also enabled remote hijacking of one’s Windows-running PC.”Microsoft is not just bad at security but also at patching security flaws; many people, especially in businesses, won’t install updates from Microsoft without qualms because these tend to break the software every now and then, even weeks ago. As IDG put it: “The saga of botched patch MS13-036 takes new twists and turns — including a problem with Multiple Master fonts” (familiar story, not the first of this kind).

Go on and wonder how poor modularity must be if a security patch can impact fonts. Previously, roughly half a decade ago, Microsoft fonts also enabled remote hijacking of one’s Windows-running PC.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Microsoft is Struggling to Maintain Industry ‘Standards’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, Windows at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The world has moved on and beyond the “desktop”

Scapshot

Summary: With Microsoft’s common carrier and browser share down considerably Microsoft finds itself increasingly irrelevant and it tries subversive means of making another comeback

According to this new article from IDG, Forrester has no faith in Vista 8, despite Forrester ‘research’ (for a fee, for agenda) being Microsoft-funded for years. To quote: “Windows 8, the most significant upgrade to Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 95 and one of the most important products in the company’s history, will not achieve enough adoption in enterprises to be considered a standard, according to Forrester Research.”

“Even the Microsoft boosters have ceased trying to lie about Vista 8 sales.”Britain’s leading Microsoft booster can offer damage control no more. He wrote: “Those who upgraded to Windows 8 aren’t the only ones unhappy with the new touch-driven operating system – Wall Street is too. Just don’t expect any of the criticism hurled at Steve “Teflon” Ballmer, Microsoft’s shy and retiring boss, to stick.

“The chief executive is under fire from money men who responded to tech reporters trolling the markets for blistering opinions on Microsoft’s leadership, given that: PC sales are crashing; Windows Phone 8 smartmobes are in fourth place in the US mobile OS market; and Windows 8 Surface gadgets are barely on the worldwide tablet sales charts. The new touchscreen-friendly Windows has not been that well received, resulting the software giant undoing decisions made at the highest levels.”

Here are his closing words: “Arguably, Ballmer’s pain has been postponed. Microsoft’s Windows growth isn’t coming from new Windows 8 PCs sold to consumers, rather sales of Windows 8 licences to distribution channel partners and volume customers. Actual Windows 8 machines haven’t moved in any significant numbers. The PCs that are selling run Windows 7.”

Even the Microsoft boosters have ceased trying to lie about Vista 8 sales. Android already became far more of an industry standard than Vista 7 and 8 combined. Android will soon celebrate one billion activations. It sometimes seems like Google has helped harm many Microsoft de facto standards, including multimedia ones, not just operating systems. The hardest part to knock down is Microsoft’s most profitable monopoly, Office, which relies solely on format-induced lock-in.

According to this piece from the pro-Microsoft 'news' site ReadWrite, “Google is Prepping a Sneak Attack on Microsoft Office” and the author says: “Google sources also say they’re confident that Microsoft won’t be able to block QuickOffice with licensing issues or other legal threats. Eventually, these individuals say, QuickOffice will become the foundation of Google Apps, although that’s still a ways off.”

“The hardest part to knock down is Microsoft’s most profitable monopoly, Office, which relies solely on format-induced lock-in.”Pamela Jones responded as follows: “I hope Google doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that building your business on a Microsoft “standard” format that includes a right for Microsoft to add proprietary doodads is going to work out for them. And if they don’t include ODF, Microsoft will be correct that then Microsoft will be more open than Google in that one area. On the other hand, if the lawyers are in this decision because Microsoft is a litigation bully and competes in courtrooms instead of in the marketplace, who knows what has gone into the decision? Dealing with Microsoft is a headache, and it causes others endless troubles for absolutely no good reason with folks ending up doing things to protect themselves from attack that they’d otherwise never have done.

“And speaking of openness, what’s with ReadWrite’s new policy of making their articles impossible to copy and paste? This is the Internet, and there are principles and a culture, and they are violating them.”

Recall how Microsoft resorted to corruption for OOXML, which Google, for some reason, no longer opposes as fiercely as it used to, partly due to Microsoft's pollution in formats space.

“Google has made good progress on weaning Microsoft lock-in, but the job is not done yet.”According to a post about OGC, Microsoft is now trying to ‘pull an OOXML’ again, this time not against video chats through Web standards, namely WebRTC (a threat to Skype) but against another common standard. As one person put it: “Most (all?) current OGC web service standards to date have an Open Source reference implementation, which was often (always?) part funded by OGC testbeds, and open source implementations were tested against proprietary implementations during OGC testbeds. As far as I’m aware, there has been very little up-take from the Open Source community of the “GeoServices REST API”, and I’m unaware of any testing of non-ESRI applications during OGC testbeds. (Someone may be able to correct me here).”

Here is the source. Pamela Jones, who fought against OOXML, calls this “Another OOXML,” noting that it is “a “standard” proposed when there is already a FOSS overlapping standard in use. ESRI lists Microsoft, Oracle, Novell and SAP as partners.”

In order to starve Microsoft, a longtime abusive monopolist and patent racketeer (Microsoft tries to extract money from devices using FAT patents in exFAT), one needs to erode its lock-in. Google has made good progress on weaning Microsoft lock-in, but the job is not done yet.

Microsoft Entryism and Bribery Get the Microsoft Way Implemented

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SCO at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Violent revolution by Microsoft, CIA style

Canon

Summary: A recollection of very dirty tactics from Microsoft, which uses money to oppress, overthrow, and even hijack its opposition

Paul E. Singer (aka “Elliott“, a misnomer for a bunch predatory investors) can be accused of letting Microsoft grab Novell’s patent portfolio through CPTN. More recently we saw this vulture preying on another company and now we see it destroying BMC for personal gain. The Microsoft booster (only occasional) at the Financial Times says: ‘The deal marks a success for Elliott Management, the activist investor that accumulated 9.6 per cent of BMC shares and won two seats on the company’s board.”

That’s entryism. Pamela Jones wrote about it that “Elliott Management forced the Novell deal too. Since Microsoft was involved in all that, what is the real purpose of all this?”

Novell is no longer a focus of ours. We mostly ignore articles about SUSE, taking a passive approach. But Novell’s patents and the tactics of entryism cannot be ignored. Microsoft is now doing to Nokia what it did to Novell and at the end of the day we are left dealing with just another SCO. Here is some more coverage about Novell and SCO, courtesy of Jones:

What we have learned from those two cases is that Microsoft can turn opponents (like Nokia) into allies using entryism, essentially an infiltration and/or bribe. Microsoft funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars for Novell to change teams after Novell had become a fierce antitrust opponent of Microsoft and Microsoft paid tens of millions of dollars to SCO when it attacked Linux with empty copyright claims. More recently Microsoft also bribed Barnes & Noble to defect from legal action against Microsoft to a Microsoft alliance or even a sale to Microsoft (see [1, 2, 3] for background). Not too long ago Barnes & Noble complained about the patent system and shortly thereafter Microsoft tried to abduct and silence the company for good. Regarding the news that “Microsoft Mulling Nook Media LLC Purchase For $1 Billion” Pamela Jones wrote: “And so Microsoft kills off another Linux-based offering in the market, just as its deal with Nokia killed off another. Anti-trust regulators, are you noticing the subtle strategy?” Regarding the news that Microsoft claims to be making billions from Android ‘licensing’ (extortion), Pamela Jones wrote: “To regulators: please notice that it is Microsoft and Apple who are claiming that Motorola is asking for unconscionable amounts of money. But Microsoft is making much, much more per device. Remember that they claim if they had to pay Motorola less than this per device, somewhere between $3.50 and $4.00 per unit, they couldn’t stay in business. So, the question before you has to be, is Microsoft using patents to destroy its chief competition? And NO ONE has tested these patents to determine if they are even valid. It’s all done by bullying. Barnes & Noble revealed that the patents shown to them by Microsoft were junk, that they didn’t want them, use them or need them. Please look into this. Thank you.”

What Microsoft does is almost certainly illegal, but since it takes a lot of lawyers and lobbyists to enforce the law against criminal corporations, it is unlikely that anything other than a large corporations can successful press charges against Microsoft executives, leading to a jail term (e.g. for racketeering, bribery, and so on). We see this quite frequently in the energy and banking sectors. The law is not being practised (or practised only in one direction), hence it’s just relish.

Patent Policy Laundering in the European Union and New Zealand

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Policy globalisation

Laundry in Paris
Doing laundry in Paris, by LWY

Summary: How the so-called ‘free’ trade agreements help spread patent policy which favours software patents

The subject of software patents in Europe returned to the headlines in light of the Unitary patent, which this new paper calls a matter of playing with fire. Basically, the EPO’s overreach may prove counter-productive, not just contradictory to law (the EPO already disregards the law). Here is the EPO promoting the Unitary patent and Unified Patent Court, which are basically mechanisms for overriding the legal mechanisms of over a dozen nations (the UK already prepares for this policy laundering). It’s micro-globalisation, or the first stage of a broader assimilation all around the globe.

“It’s micro-globalisation, or the first stage of a broader assimilation all around the globe.”Ante from the FFII writes about cross-Atlantic treaties that have a similar effect of policy laundering. He writes: “With the software patents directive the Commission told us it was only about computer implemented inventions, not about software patents. Looking at the text, we knew that was not true.”

It seems like patent system globalisation is taking place (as we covered here many times before), jeopardising laws that ban software patents quite explicitly. In NZ (c/f software patents in New Zealand), for instance, the TPPA is believed to have impact on software parents policy. From the introduction of this very detailed post: “But how come the TPPA is connected with intellectual property (IP) and copyright law? The fact is that free trade and investment agreements have almost nothing to do with trade as we understand it. Their rules are designed for, and indirectly by, the most influential corporations in the countries involved. And guess who dominates? Major American corporations ranging from the world’s biggest drug companies and banks to Hollywood comprise almost 600 cleared advisors that get to see the secret text and lobby for their interests. Getting their demands into trade agreements is part of a general move towards “forum shifting” and “policy laundering” which refer to moving debate away from places where there is at least some requirement for public input and transparency, such as elected parliaments. Librarians, artists, writers, Internet businesses, schools, universities, museums, scientists and Internet users in general are all concerned about what the IP provisions of the TPPA will do to New Zealand’s copyright law.”

Scroll down to the following part: “Extending Patents To Software

“Ante from the FFII writes about cross-Atlantic treaties that have a similar effect of policy laundering.”“Another major issue is software patents. In New Zealand software is currently patentable merely because the Patents Act 1953 predated the widespread existence of software, and therefore does not specifically exclude it. In 2010, following submissions from a large number of software developers during the review of the Patents Act, the Commerce Commission Select Committee, recommended unanimously to the then Minister of Commerce, Simon Power, that software be specifically excluded from patentability in the resulting updated Patents Act. He and his successors have publicly supported this recommendation. New Zealand software developers saw this as a huge victory for common sense and for the future of innovation in New Zealand. But despite multi-partisan government support, the Patent Bill with its software patent exclusion has not yet been passed into law. Although the Government has made assurances to the contrary, many in the software industry wonder if the delay in passing the Patents Bill into law is due to the IP chapter in the TPPA being incompatible with a software patent exclusion.

“It is worth noting that IP claims are infecting other “non-IP” chapters of the TPPA. In fact a lot of the public health concerns relate to pharmaceutical patents blocking access by generic companies to their products, thereby delaying their availability on the market.15 This is part of the plan for undermining Pharmac. It was interesting to hear intellectual property being invoked as the basis of the case for Phillip Morris’ challenge to the New Zealand and Australian governments about their proposals for plain packaging of cigarettes.16In a completely Orwellian turn of events/phrase it seems that even the most corrupt of businesses – in this case Big Tobacco – are able to claim some weird moral ground through claims of IP and copyright.”"

So now we know that those ‘free’ trade agreements may actually be cross-continental bridges for patent policy.

Ongoing Focus on Patent Litigation and Patent Trolls Reduces Focus on Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Out-of-focus reform

Text focus

Summary: The problem with increased focus on the players that use software patents litigiously and the litigation itself

The United States harbours almost every large patent troll. Not too long ago Masnick’s site said that for “some background. Spangenberg has built up quite a business for himself by buying up awful patents and suing tons of companies” (we wrote about this troll in [1, 2]). His site also highlights this new tool for analysing the history of any given patent in the courtroom. Identifying trolls and weaponised patents won’t do enough to address the core problem though. One of the more outrageous stories as of late speaks of patent lawyers (non-producing) who demand £700 or so for the use of a scanner. That’s the per employee fee, as covered by Joe Mullin and Mike Masnick not so long ago. Another patent troll goes after large companies with Microsoft cash in its pocket. As another manager says “Don’t Turn My Company Into A Patent Troll!” it is becoming clear that patent trolling is an issue, but it is also the symptom of a bigger issue. At Yale they are focusing on trolls rather
than software patents
and several companies are doing the same, losing sight of the patents themselves and instead focusing on the users. The trolls expert Joe Mullin previously showed that in the overwhelming majority of cases patent trolls use software patents, which may help explain why this problem is almost unique to the US. He recently said that “Apple’s intervention can’t stop the lawsuits [of smaller trolls]—five more were just filed.”

The problem is the patents themselves, not the smaller player that use them (Apple is a large entity which uses patents like a troll). Several propositions are put forth, but any solution which frames litigation or trolls as the problem (not questioning patents themselves) is not a long-term solution and probably not an solution at all. It’s inherently a scope issue.

Andrew Y. Schroeder Shows That Patent Lawyers Are Sociopaths

Posted in Patents at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Andrew Schroeder

Summary: Bully and law misuser is trying to get his way with foul language, intimidation, and sheer lack of professionalism

The USPTO is not totally detached from the subculture of patent lawyers. One article from patent lawyer Quinn shows everyone (no link, on purpose), quite revealingly, that applicants worked closely with an examiner for several decades, passing a lot of software patents through him. If this is professionalism, then the term professionalism is now meaningless.

“Mr, Schroeder thinks he is above the law, making a temper attack of his even worse than before and making him look like the type of arrogant lawyer you should never ever hire.”The USPTO also claims to be open for comments, but its roundtables [1, 2] exclude people with views it does not agree with. This is censorship. It’s an echo chamber.

More importantly, helping to show lack of professionalism at the USPTO, applicants are given communication channels with examiners (they make themselves available for contact). And watch what this leads to. It’s bullying and intimidation, as covered by Masnick’s site. “There’s a lot of anger directed at the US Patent Office,” it says, “but it mainly originates with people frustrated by the office’s “rubber stamp” approval process that has littered the road to success with hundreds of trolling speedbumps, each one waving a stack of overly broad patents and demanding that actual innovators hand over enough cash to cover the rent on their empty East Texas offices.

“Patently O has uncovered some anger directed at the USPTO, this time coming from the opposite direction. After a client’s application for a telescoping sprinkler was rejected for not being anything the patent office hadn’t seen before, patent attorney Andrew Schroeder fired off an apoplectic set of “remarks” to the patent examiner. It starts by suggesting the examiner has a drinking problem and then sinks even lower. Way lower.”

“Many in his field are rude, arrogant, and self-serving to the point that there have zero tolerance to people who actually produce the work they leech off.”There is also this followup: “Our friends over at Above The Law have alerted us to the fact that Schroeder is back… and is he ever pissed off about people knowing just how pissed off he is. In what may be one of the worst-designed blogs ever made (and, warning, it’s so badly designed that it doesn’t even work at all if you have javascript turned off) Schroeder has announced that first, Dennis Crouch is the “Dickhead of the Year” for 2013 (I’m wondering who the past winners are) and (even better) that he believes Crouch violated the CFAA in finding and publishing his rant.

“Both posts are filled with poorly designed graphics, mostly mocking Crouch, which Schroeder proudly takes credit for late in that first post. These aren’t even “bad in an ironic way” graphics. They’re just bad. In the way that someone is when they first discover how Photoshop works and suddenly thinks they’re a master of design bad. But the rant is just as wacky. He never apologizes for the language he uses, beyond noting that it was “less than flattering.” No, his focus is on the claim that his insane rant — in which he accused a patent examiner of taking drugs, being drunk, not reading the patent application, of having to write with crayons and a variety of other euphemisms to suggest that the examiner has mental problems — was a “confidential” communication between himself and the examiner, and revealing it involved both (a) illegal hacking into the USPTO site and (b) being a “dickhead” for thinking it might be entertaining to highlight his ranting.”

The CFAA is used to criminalise just about anything done with a computer. Mr. Schroeder thinks he is above the law, making a temper attack of his even worse than before and making him look like the type of arrogant lawyer you should never ever hire. CBS did a piece about it, thankfully shaming this sociopath. Based on some experience with Techrights, Schroeder is not the only patent lawyer who is a sociopath. Many in his field are rude, arrogant, and self-serving to the point that there have zero tolerance to people who actually produce the work they leech off. There is more about this story here. Schroeder’s ridiculous-looking Web site is dressing everything up — including a map of the United States — as a US patent. Mental!

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