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12.03.13

Apple and Microsoft Claim Patent Tax on GNU/Linux, Red Hat’s Response Too Weak

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 10:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Racketeering — like bank bailouts — increasingly seen like “business as usual”

Rob TillerSummary: GNU/Linux is said to be among the targets for illegal extortion, but even self-professed backers of GNU/Linux aren’t interested in addressing this problem

Apple and Microsoft are only alleged to be making money from Linux; nobody knows for sure, but analysts who are close to Microsoft (or Microsoft lobbyists) try to tell us that somehow they know what's behind NDAs, almost as if they relay the official party line on behalf of Microsoft. What’s probably most disturbing about it is lack of an effective response from the likes of Google and Red Hat. IBM is a lost cause because when it comes to patents IBM is more or less in the same camp as Microsoft (they cross-license and they lobby for software patents around the world, not just in the US).

Mr. Pogson, who tends to find interesting stuff every now and then, picked up this link from sec.gov and as iophk points out, “”commenter “IGnatius T Foobar” picked up on the fact that M$ is including income from Android patent extortion as Windows Phone revenue.

“Follow the link and scroll down to “Windows Phone, including related patent licensing; and certain other patent licensing revenue;” The only way I can think to interpret that is that it is income from extorting Android. Because that is a lot of money it can be hiding a really bad situation for Windows Phone, up to and including losses.”

According to this new report, “Apple’s secret deals with mobile operators are squeezing smaller companies out of the market and driving up costs even for those who don’t use their products, according to Register sources across the industry.

“”In my opinion Apple are in a grey area,” one legal expert with first hand experience of the contracts told us.”

If this is true at all (and evidence is still absent), then this is extortion and we need to bring it to light in order for legal procedures to follow. Some company needs to leak out information, potentially breaking an NDA. That’s how Edward Snowden helped hold the NSA and GCHQ accountable.

One would expect companies like Red Hat and Google (most affected by such extortion) to do something about it, but Google hired patent lawyers and is now accumulating software patents. Red Hat follows a similar trajectory and its lawyer Mr. Tiller keeps on talking about trolls rather than about giants like Microsoft and software patents in general. The other day he wrote: “With patent reform legislation moving forward, an impressive group of law professors weighed in last week in favor of reform. The group submitted a letter to Congress that effectively demonstrates the seriousness of the problem of patent assertion entities (PAEs) and supports pending legislation.

“This issue is timely, because the Innovation Act (HR 3309) was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on November 20 with a strong majority (33-5) in favor. There is a good chance that the full House will take up the bill this week.”

As iophk points out, Tiller is doing “[e]verything except removing the actual problem: software and business method patents. All those that write but dodge the question of software patents themselves just feed the problem. I’m disappointed that some choose not to look for the base cause and buy into the PR from the lawyers.”

We find more or less the same in FOSS Force, which writes: “We find it very heartening that some firms are now fighting back rather than rolling over when the patent trolls come knocking. We especially like the hardball route being taken by FindTheBest. After all, when we were growing up we were taught that the best defense is a good offense.”

Personally, I more or less gave up (for the time being at least) on the cause against software patents because the scene got abducted by large corporations and billionaires who fund laywers (even EFF lawyers) to tell us that the problem is “bad” patents or “trolls’. That’s not the problem, it’s just a decoy and the real debates are being crushed by this corporate hijack of grassroots movements against software patents. The real problems here are patents on algorithms (reducible to mathematics) and extortion/racketeering, which is of course against the law. Here we are dealing with very high levels of criminality, where companies are engaging in racketeering and nobody goes to prison, just as those same companies illegally spy on people in exchange for government contracts/favours. Back doors seem to become more common (home routers now have back doors), showing the high degree of collusion between government and business [1]. Never count on corporations to serve people’s interests; they serve particular people’s interests: shareholders and government officials (with a huge budget and an open door to favouritism). Red Hat too helps the NSA.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Stallman: Microsoft, Facebook Spying for US Government

    Famous computer programmer and President of Free Software Foundation Stallman says it’s so many years now that Microsoft and recently Facebook have been gathering the personal information of users in violation of the US constitution.

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2 Comments

  1. saulgoode said,

    December 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Gravatar

    I remain skeptical that Microsoft derives any significant amount of income from patent licensing for Linux-based products. There is no evidence to support this, merely innuendo from Microsoft and speculation from everybody else.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    When so-called experts said that HTC paid Apple 5 dollars per device (right after they had settled) the CEO of HTC publicly debunked those ‘experts’.

    I already wrote (several times before) about why I think a lot of the speculations about Microsoft tax rates are bogus and unfounded; they simply serve Microsoft fear and lead more companies into submission.

    Remember that Microsoft paid B&N (yes, paid, or bribed) after B&N had refused to roll over or remove features from devices.

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