06.21.14

Gemini version available ♊︎

China Attacks Microsoft’s Patent Plot Against GNU/Linux and Russia Seems to be Following China’s Foray Into GNU/Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Amid tightening relationships and collaborations between China and Russia, two common targets of espionage attacks by the West, more moves are seen which rid themselves of Microsoft

WE HAVE been patiently watching and accumulating reports about China’s hostile treatment of Microsoft, including — quite notably — the ban on Windows, which is a serious security risk that should be avoided not only for security reasons (back doors and much more). China is boldly moving to domestically-developed operating systems, based on GNU and Linux (so that China can properly study the source code). Over the past few days there were many articles about China’s attempt to de-fang Microsoft’s blackmail monster, essentially by making a ‘namedrop’ of all the patents involved. This will prove exceptionally helpful to the FOSS community, for reasons we shall explain later.

In our daily links (posted just an hour ago) we included an important link from Phoronix. It indicates that Russia is now dodging x86, probably ensuring that no system will be able to run Microsoft Windows or even proprietary programs for Microsoft Windows. This is potentially huge and perhaps there will be a lot of media coverage on Monday.

Both China and Russia have solid, defensible reasons for abandoning Microsoft Windows. This operating system has been used for political and economic espionage that requires illegal (hence secret, even at the court level) surveillance. Microsoft is the NSA’s software-centric best friend (in telecommunications the NSA has many more good friends) and in another post (tomorrow) we shall say more about it.

So, what exactly has China just done?

Years ago we wrote about what Microsoft had done in China. It’s a sort of political corruption, boosted in part by Bill Gates’ lobbying.

Well, China seems to have had enough of that nonsense and it won’t tolerate Microsoft’s blackmail, either. As The Mukt put it, the “Chinese government exposes Microsoft’s secret patents used against Android” as “Microsoft is one such company which has been trying to abuse the flawed US patent system to extort money from those companies with use GNU/Linux based systems including Android and Chrome OS.”

Here is a report from an Android-hostile site which uses the term “Android patents” (similar to FOSSPatents, which is an absurd FUD term) rather than “patents used against Android” (as put in other sites).

We wish to remind readers that Huawei, now known as a target of the NSA (the NSA attacked Huawei’s network and infiltrated it), was reportedly (since 2012 or thereabouts) pursued by Microsoft for an Android patent extortion deal — one that Microsoft never got. Given the close relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government (in the West too the government is closely tied with telecommunications companies) one has to wonder if Huawei was the source of this new disclosure. Unlike ZTE, Huawei never surrendered to Microsoft’s extortion and blackmail (most likely violations of the RICO Act in the United States). With evidence out there, might there finally be federal action against Microsoft? It might help China’s Huawei and the other giant, ZTE, so it’s easy to see China’s interests here. But it’s not just about China. Many companies in east Asia, west Europe, and even the United States are also victims of Microsoft’s bullying. Many articles correctly pointed out the similarity here to the Barnes and Noble saga, where Microsoft ended up bribing Barnes and Noble to drop the case and almost drop Android/Linux, as well [1, 2, 3, 4].

Days ago we wrote about Microsoft squeezing their own users for money (especially businesses) and now Microsoft is trying to squeeze also those who leave Microsoft (to GNU/Linux). In reference to Microsoft-friendly circles covering the latest incident, one person quoted this bit: “Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez sat down with Fortune recently to map out their strategy for getting FOSS users to pay royalties” (because FOSS too is property of Microsoft, apparently).

Now that China fights/ousts world’s largest patent troll (which also spawned Intellectual Ventures) Dr. Glyn Moody writes this insightful piece:

Well, they prove that the Microsoft method of bullying and insinuation works. But despite that, they didn’t prove that Android infringed on Microsoft’s patents because – as usual – the latter refused to reveal what exactly they were. That’s because their power really lay in their vagueness. While companies were unsure which patents Microsoft was talking about, it was more or less impossible for them to check whether they were affected. That meant they would probably be open to an easy deal with Microsoft – better to pay up than have a patent sword of Damocles hanging over you.

And that, until recently, was pretty much the state of play. Many Android manufacturers decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and signed licensing agreements with Microsoft – all secret, and therefore all maintaining the vagueness and the power to threaten. But something dramatic has just happened: in order for Microsoft to gain approval from the Chinese Ministry of Communications (MOFCOM) for the company’s purchase of Nokia, Microsoft was obliged to provide lists of the patents it claims are infringed upon by Android. That’s presumably because so many smartphones made in China use Android or a variant of it, that the authorities there were concerned Microsoft might be able to threaten its local companies.

Here is some more coverage that says:

A Chinese government website has published lists of the patents that Microsoft claims are necessary to the functioning of Android smartphones, the first time such lists have been made public.

The patents were analysed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) as part of its review of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, which China approved in April.

Pogson correctly points out: “Thanks to inquiries in China, a list is now public. This will permit M$’s competitors to organize a cooperative response rather than suffering under “divide and conquer” conditions.”

China is moving away from Windows rather than pay Microsoft to be spied on by espionage champions like the NSA. Will Hill says: “I’m not sure if Ars is recycling really old fud against gnu/linux or if people in China are going to cut all the FAT out of Android to avoid Microsoft bullshit.”

What Barnes and Noble tried to do before selling out might actually resume with China’s strong lead. This may include resistance to Nokia (e.g. opposition to takeover), which Microsoft plans to use as a patent proxy and a source of patent-stacking (through trolls like MOSAID).

Special credit must go to Joe Mullin. The earliest report we found about this latest development came from him and stated: “For more than three years now, Microsoft has held to the line that it has loads of patents that are infringed by Google’s Android operating system. “Licensing is the solution,” wrote the company’s head IP honcho in 2011, explaining Microsoft’s decision to sue Barnes & Noble’s Android-powered Nook reader.

“Microsoft has revealed a few of those patents since as it has unleashed litigation against Android device makers. But for the most part, they’ve remained secret. That’s led to a kind of parlor game where industry observers have speculated about what patents Microsoft might be holding over Android.

“That long guessing game is now over. A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.

“The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy.

“The list of patents was apparently produced as part of a Chinese government antitrust review relating to Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia. Microsoft described the results of that review in an April 8 blog post, writing that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) “concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone.”

FOSS guru Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols correctly points out that “[n]ow that the Chinese government has revealed the patents within Microsoft’s Android patent portfolio, Microsoft may soon be facing challenges from vendors over its Android patent licensing agreements.”

China may have derailed Microsoft’s extortion by removing the NDA barrier (the same trick Microsoft used when dividing OEMs to conquer the industry). Android will definitely benefit from it and so will derivatives of Android, including China’s. Vaughan-Nichols has an explanation worth reading.

We should probably stress that not all derivatives of Android are safe to use. Nokia turns Android into a Microsoft surveillance platform and the CIA’s top partner, Amazon, has reportedly taken surveillance in Fire (Android-based but altered) to new and rather scary levels [1,2]. We don’t know yet if China will do the same, but reports from years ago said that China had put back doors in its own official distribution of GNU/Linux. This was quite likely correct.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Amazon’s Fire Phone might be the biggest privacy invasion ever

    Amazon is a fascinating company, and the Amazon Fire Phone is a fascinating machine for connecting you with stuff to buy. It’s probably also the biggest single invasion of your privacy for commercial purposes ever.

    And no one seems to have noticed.

  2. Is the Amazon Fire Phone the NSA’s wet dream?
Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

2 Comments

  1. linuxcanuck said,

    June 22, 2014 at 5:24 am

    Gravatar

    This is a huge story that deserves wider coverage. I am sure Microsoft would like to see it buried. Fan the flames! Thanks.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I saw another (second) article about it today. It mentions ROSA (based on Mandriva).

    http://hothardware.com/News/Russia-Industry-And-Trade-Ministry-To-Replace-Untrusted-Intel-And-AMD-Processors-With-Their-Own-ARM-Designs/#!162iU

    “Russia’s Baikal processor will be built around an ARM Cortex A57, which ties into Vladimir Putin’s goal, established in 2010, to move all government computers over to Linux – another move that’s easy to understand given the OS’ open-source and modular nature.”

    Wait for more coverage (I hope) on Monday…

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXV: The Balkan League - Fresh Blood or Same Old, Same Old?

    We take stock of "captured states" that voted in favour of unlawful "Strike Regulations"



  2. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 26, 2021



  3. Beatriz Busaniche Speaks Up in Defense of Richard Stallman

    Beatriz Busaniche sent us this comment in July 2021. She wrote it originally in Spanish. Here are both the original text and our translation to English.



  4. Links 26/10/2021: SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro 5.1 and Multi-Distro Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  5. Links 26/10/2021: Vulkan 1.1 Conformance for Raspberry Pi 4 and Tor Browser 10.5.10

    Links for the day



  6. [Meme] Sounds Legit

    When not cheating on the wife, the EPO‘s “doyen” cheats in the exams and makes it into the epi Council, in effect working “[t]owards a common understanding [sic] of quality” with “patent attorneys nominated as “assessors” by the EPO, epi and BusinessEurope” (notorious lobbyists for dictators, litigation, and monopolies, neither business nor science)



  7. [Meme] Mayoral Patent Office Chief

    As it turns out, political 'double-dipping' isn't just a thing in North Macedonia, Austria, and EPOnia



  8. Romania's Patent Office (OSIM): Nine Different Chiefs in Just Eight Years

    The Romanian State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM), being the equivalent of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the sense that it covers both patents and trademarks, is a very flaky institution with no shortage of scandals; for our English-reading audiences we now have a summary of a decade’s worth of blunders and leadership changes



  9. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIV: The Balkan League - Romania

    Romania’s patent office has been in flux this past decade, occasionally led by people with no relevant experience, but rather political connections (like EPO President António Campinos) and sometimes forged documents and fake degrees



  10. IRC Proceedings: Monday, October 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, October 25, 2021



  11. [Meme] “Social Democracy” at the EPO

    Some comments on the current situation at the European Patent Office from Goran Gerasimovski, the new EPO Administrative Council delegate for North Macedonia and Social Democratic candidate for mayor of Centar (a municipality of Skopje)



  12. [Meme] António Campinos Visits the OSIM

    António Campinos visits OSIM Director-General Ionel Muscalu in February 2014



  13. [Meme] [Teaser] Meet the President

    Later today we shall see what Romania did for Battistelli



  14. Links 26/10/2021: Latte Dock 0.10.3 and Linux 5.15 RC7

    Links for the day



  15. Gemini Protocol's Originator: “I Continue to Care About This Project and I Care About the Community That Has Formed Around It.”

    'Solderpunk' is back from a long hiatus; this bodes well for Geminispace, which grew fast in spite of the conspicuous absence



  16. Bulgarian Like Bavarian Serfdom

    Bulgarian politics seem to have played a big role in selecting chiefs and delegates who backed Benoît Battistelli‘s unlawful proposals, which treat workers almost like slaves and ordinary citizens as disposable ‘collaterals’



  17. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXIII: The Balkan League - Bulgaria

    Today we examine the role of Bulgaria in Benoît Battistelli‘s liberticidal regime at the EPO (as well as under António Campinos, from 2018 to present) with particular focus on political machinations



  18. Links 25/10/2021: New Slackware64-current and a Look at Ubuntu Budgie

    Links for the day



  19. Links 25/10/2021: pg_statement_rollback 1.3 and Lots of Patent Catchup

    Links for the day



  20. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud

    Today we tread slowly and take another step ahead, revealing the nature of only some among many problems that GitHub and Microsoft are hiding from the general public (to the point of spiking media reports)



  21. [Meme] [Teaser] Oligarchs-Controlled Patent Offices With Media Connections That Cover Up Corruption

    As we shall see later today, the ‘underworld’ in Bulgaria played a role or pulled the strings of politically-appointed administrators who guarded Benoît Battistelli‘s liberticidal regime at the EPO



  22. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, October 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, October 24, 2021



  23. Links 25/10/2021: EasyOS 3.1 and Bareflank 3.0

    Links for the day



  24. The Demolition of the EPO Was Made Possible With Assistance From Countries That Barely Have European Patents

    The legal basis of today's EPO has been crushed; a lot of this was made possible by countries with barely any stakes in the outcome



  25. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XXII: The Balkan League - North Macedonia and Albania

    We continue to look at Benoît Battistelli‘s enablers at the EPO



  26. Links 24/10/2021: GPS Daemon (GPSD) Bug and Lots of Openwashing

    Links for the day



  27. Links 24/10/2021: XWayland 21.1.3 and Ubuntu Linux 22.04 LTS Daily Build

    Links for the day



  28. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, October 23, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, October 23, 2021



  29. Links 24/10/2021: Ceph Boss Sage Weil Resigns and Many GPL Enforcement Stories

    Links for the day



  30. GAFAM-Funded NPR Reports That Facebook Let Millions of People Like Trump Flout the So-called Rules. Not Just “a Few”.

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission


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

Recent Posts