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09.19.14

Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

Posted in Patents at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States

While the corporate press (and CAFC) carries on glorifying patents (for its own profit interests) a lot of the public increasingly realises that the role of patents is to merely elevate prices of products and services. It either helps billionaires or trolls. MPHJ, one of the most notorious trolls in recent years, is losing its teeth after a case that was not settled. Is this the coming end of more such trolls? Joe Mullin covered this wonderful news:

There are hundreds of so-called “patent trolls,” but MPHJ Technology became one of the most well-known when it sent thousands of letters to small businesses around the country suggesting they should pay around $1,000 per worker for using basic “scan-to-email” functions.

This trial, for a change, was not stationed in Texas.

We recently wrote about the demise of some very big trolls owing to a Supreme Court ruling. Here is another infamous troll to keep an eye on. It recently got money from CBS because “A jury in Marshall, Texas found the infamous “podcasting patent” was infringed by CBS’s website today and said that the TV network should pay $1.3 million to patent holder Personal Audio LLC.

“The verdict form shows the jury found all four claims of the patent infringed, rejecting CBS’ defense that the patent was invalid. The document was submitted today at 1:45pm Central Time.”

But wait. That was in Texas, the capital of trolls. There seems to have been a challenge in the way. As the same site put it some days beforehand:

Jim Logan is an archetype in the patent world—he personifies the great American invention story. In 1996, Logan says, he had a brilliant idea: a digital music player that would automatically update with new episodes. Think iPod, five years before the iPod.

“Our product concept, which spawned the patent, was all about a handheld MP3 player that could download off the Internet some kind of personalized audio experience,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in an April interview. “We designed that, we prototyped it, we went to investors trying to raise money to produce the product, and we were not successful.”

This was going to trial (for a change) and given that it is a software patent, the Alice case could be used to put an end to it. But it didn’t. Not this time around. The EFF will hopefully use the Alice case in challenging this troll and putting an end to it. One CCIA front says we should “expect another flood of troll suits to be filed in November of next year, if history is any guide.” Given the recent trend of software patents and patent trolls failing, however, there is little reason to believe they will succeed, let alone try. Whenever they fail it opens the gate to more failures, by means/virtue of precedence.

If CAFC is Not Above the Law, Then it Should be Shut Down Now

Posted in Courtroom, Law at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: A long series of abuses in CAFC may as well suggest that this court has become broken beyond repair

THE Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), a corrupt court which brought software patents to the world some decades ago, is seriously considered rogue and some are calling for it to shut down.

Mike Masnick names another reason to shut down CAFC: “Back in 2004, when I first read the book Innovation and Its Discontents, I was convinced that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, better known as CAFC, or the “patent appeals court” was a huge part of the problem with the patent system. It was the special court that had been set up in the early 80s to handle all patent appeals, based on the totally misplaced notion that because patent issues were so technical, regular appeals courts wouldn’t be able to handle the nuances. What we got instead was a court that became “patent specialists” in that they spent much of their time with the patent bar — who tended to be lawyers who profited handsomely from an ever expanding patent law. It didn’t help that one of the original CAFC judges was Giles Rich, a former patent attorney who almost single-handedly wrote the Patent Act of 1951. Rich more or less made it his lifetime goal to expand the patent system to cover “everything under the sun made by man,” and he came close to succeeding.”

The article is titled “CAFC: The Rogue Patent Court, Captured By The Patent Bar, Needs To Go Away” and it very much reflects on what we see much of the time.

The numbers of controversies or corruption (as we have covered before) surrounding CAFC indicate that it should not be unthinkable or controversial to suggest shutdown. When is a court deemed “above the law”?

The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Samsung at 3:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A plot to shun Free software

Royal place

Summary: Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling

Microsoft’s cofounder is now a patent troll and his trolling activity resumes in the US. As Reuters very recently put it: “A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived part of a patent lawsuit brought by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen against AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo, saying a lower court incorrectly found that the tech companies didn’t infringe one of its patents.

“The patent, held by Allen’s Interval Licensing, relates to the ubiquitous pop-ups that computer users routinely see while surfing the Web or shopping online.

“The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that Chief Judge Marsha Pechman of the federal district court in Seattle had made an “erroneous” interpretation of the patent in 2013 and it sent the case back to her for further hearings.”

Allen has also targeted Android and Microsoft produces patent trolls other than Allen (IV, Interval, Gates et al.) who tend to target Free software and Microsoft rivals such as Google.

Recently we saw Microsoft and Apple collaborating in their patent attacks on Linux-using rivals. Microsoft sued Samsung some weeks ago, following Apple’s footsteps that led almost nowhere. “Apple denied retrial of Samsung patent case in California” based on IDG, which also says that “Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent not willfully infringed by Samsung, judge rules”.

The good news is that software patents are now dying in the US. Along with them the trolls are dying (ignore highly deceiving press releases from VirnetX, which is collapsing at the moment). The killing of trolls is a trend that was noted also by Simon Phipps (OSI President) the other day when he wrote:

Alice is killing the trolls — but expect patent lawyers to strike back

Open source software developers rejoice: Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is fast becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the United States.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all appeals for patent cases in the United States, has often been criticized for its handling of these cases — Techdirt describes it as “the rogue patent court, captured by the patent bar.” But following the Alice decision, the Court of Appeals seems to have changed.

The Court of Appeals will be the subject of our next post.

Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

Posted in Microsoft at 2:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Colours

Summary: Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia

After committing crimes to make companies go out of business Microsoft feels what it’s like to have big layoffs company-wide. “Microsoft lopped off a second set of jobs Thursday,” says IDG, “cutting 2,100 positions as part of a restructuring plan announced two months ago to eliminate 18,000 positions, or about 14 percent of the company’s workforce.”

This layoffs round (not the first) is not about Nokia at all. This is how Microsoft tried to portray it in the media, as we showed before.

After the NSA revelations Microsoft is really suffering as the documents released by Snowden made a mockery of this thing called “Trustworthy Computing group”, which was saving face and making it look as though Microsoft was interested in security. The very opposite was true. Microsoft was pursuing back doors and coordinating with the NSA how to get in.

Here are the effects on this pseudo-security division:

Microsoft will shutter its standalone Trustworthy Computing group, folding elements of the unit’s work on security, privacy and related issues into its Cloud & Enterprise Division, and its Legal & Corporate Affairs group.

It’s the latest change related to the company’s new round of layoffs, announced this morning. A spokesman confirmed that an unspecified number of jobs are being eliminated from the Trustworthy Computing group as part of the changes.

This has nothing to do with Nokia and it is no exception. Microsoft is now confirming that the Nokia-flavoured spin was just shameless spin. It was a convenient disguise for PR purposes.

Links 19/9/2014: Another Red Hat Acquisition, Netflix Dumps Microsoft Silverlight and Brings DRM to WWW

Posted in News Roundup at 2:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source mobile innovation improves Atul’s competitiveness

    Understanding the importance of mobility, the IT team at Atul realized that access to ERP applications on mobile devices could greatly enhance business capabilities and insights. The team aspired to enable its sales team to punch in orders directly from their smartphones into the ERP. However, after prospecting various solutions available in the market – it was inferred that mobile integration was an expensive and complex proposition. The solution costs were in the range of Rs 40-50 lakh in addition to the database license costs which seemed to be prohibitive for Atul.

  • Facebook’s TODO Project brings serious momentum to open source
  • Simple Secure — open source security organization backed by Google and Dropbox

    Strong security is necessary nowadays. However, some solutions can be overwhelming to many users, so they are often not implemented or simply misunderstood. In other words, regardless of how strong a security implementation is, if users do not understand how it works or how to use it, it may be worthless.

  • Google, Dropbox: Open Source Needs to Be More Secure
  • Cloudflare launches open source keyless SSL

    Cloudflare today announced it has made available a keyless SSL solution that enables the content delivery network to provide data transfers that are both authenticated and encrypted, without requiring customers’ private digital keys.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Quietly Shutters its Labs, Delivers Firefox OS Phone in Bangladesh

        Mozilla is much in the news this week, partly for technology efforts that are moving forward, and partly for shuttering a long standing effort from the company. Partnered with Grameephone, an operator in Bangladesh, Mozilla rolled out Firefox OS-based phones for Bangladesh that are priced under $60 and are poised to put smartphones in the hands of some users who haven’t had phones before.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Rackspace Says It’s Not for Sale, Despite Obstacles

      Rackspace names a new CEO, as the OpenStack cloud founder chooses not to sell after evaluating its strategic options.

    • Workload deployment tools for OpenStack

      This is the second part in a series of three articles surveying automation projects within OpenStack, explaining what they do, how they do it, and where they stand in development readiness and field usage. Previously, in part one, I covered cloud deployment tools that enable you to install/update OpenStack cloud on bare metal. Next week, in the final article, I will cover automating “day 2 management”—tools to keep the cloud and workloads up and running.

  • Databases

    • Tesora Delivers OpenStack Database-as-a-Service for Enterprises

      As the OpenStack cloud computing arena grows, a whole ecosystem of tools is growing along with it. Tesora, the leading contributor to the OpenStack Trove open source project, is out this week with what it is billing as the first enterprise-ready, commercial implementation of OpenStack Trove database as a service (DBaaS). Tesora also recently announced that it has open sourced its Tesora Database Virtualization Engine, and now is also offering the Tesora OpenStack Trove Database Certification Program.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • King Ellison Abdicates As Oracle CEO

      Under Ellison, Oracle has already squandered all of their open source holdings. We don’t need MySQL anymore, we’ve got Maria. The Document Foundation with LibreOffice has made Open Office irrelevant — and it doesn’t even belong to Oracle anymore anyway. What’s left? Java? What a fine job they’ve done managing that mess. Oracle Linux? OMG, what’ll we do if they screw that up?

      Oracle couldn’t do any worse with Ellison gone than they’ve done with him.

    • Ellison Steps Down as Oracle CEO, but Management Team Stays

      The all-purpose IT vendor reported that its fiscal 2015 Q1 total revenues were up 3 percent; net income was unchanged at $2.2 billion over Q1 2014.
      Few people keep their jobs for life, except perhaps the pope, members of the U.S. Supreme Court, and those who own their own businesses and don’t wish to retire.

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Software Freedom Day serves online democracy

      The Christchurch Unix community has its annual technical show this weekend, as part of international Software Freedom Day celebrations. Personal Computer operating systems derived from Unix offer an alternative, to Microsoft desktop security issues and costs, and are maintained by a large international community. Main variants of Unix are GNU/Linux and Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) operating systems. BSD is the core of Apple Computer’s OS-X. Licensed free software installation discs, install help and tuition are made available to the public on Software Freedom Day.

    • RCS 5.9.3 available

      GNU RCS (Revision Control System) 5.9.3 is available.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Facebook’s TODO project, Coursera in Brazil, Drupal, and more
    • Open Data

      • Going behind the scenes at Data.gov

        Data.gov wants to be the fuel that helps power the organizations and people that will change the world.

        Data by itself is just the tinder for the spark of imagination and innovation. Without it many of the kinds of innovations we see like iTriage, Bright Scope, and Patients Like Me would not be possible. The Data.gov project is how the United States government, under the Obama administration, is striving to empower citizens to create the change they envision; not just by fixing a temporary problem, but by helping to let citizens solve the problem themselves.

Leftovers

  • Russia cries foul over Scottish independence vote

    Russia has said the conduct of the Scottish referendum “did not meet international standards”, with its observers complaining the count took place in rooms that were too big and that the procedure was badly flawed.

    In an apparent attempt to mirror persistent western criticism of Russia’s own elections, Igor Borisov – an accredited observer – said the poll failed to meet basic international norms.

  • Moving On For Social Justice

    I met numerous voters who had received letters from their employers – including Diageo, BP, RNS and many others – telling them to vote No or their job was in danger.

  • About Apple’s Dead Warrant Canary

    I find Apple’s dead warrant canary of particular interest given the revelation in the recent DOJ IG Report on National Security Letters that some “Internet companies” started refusing NSLs for certain kinds of content starting in 2009; that collection has moved to Section 215 authority, and it now constitutes a majority of the 200-some Section 215 orders a year.

  • Security

    • TrueCrypt Getting a New Life

      When the developers of TrueCrypt delivered the bombshell that they were abandoning their popular open source encryption program, it left many organizations in a hugely difficult position. Should they continue to use it, or heed the developers’ advice that it was no longer secure and switch to another encryption product?

      On the face of it, the decision should be an easy one: If the developers of something as security sensitive as an encryption program say that their program is no longer secure, surely it would be rash not to heed the warning.

    • Encryption goof fixed in TorrentLocker file-locking malware

      The developers of a type of malicious software that encrypts a computer’s files and demands a ransom have fixed an error security experts said allowed files to be recovered without paying.

      The malware, called TorrentLocker, popped up last month, targeting users in Australia, according to iSight Partners, a security consultancy. It now appears to be also geo-targeting victims in the U.K.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Ombudsman ‘appalled’ by ex-Customs lawyer’s OIA allegations

      A former Customs lawyer claim that he was told to bury bad news matches similar stories which have sparked a wide-ranging inquiry by Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem.

      She said she was “appalled” by Curtis Gregorash’s claim. “Having said that one of the reasons I am undertaking of selected agencies in respect of their OIA practices is that anecdotally a number of people have told me similar stories,” she said.

      She said a planned inquiry to be launched after the election could see the Ombudsman’s office using its Commission of Inquiry powers to compel evidence to be given under oath were there signs information was being hidden.

    • Banned Books Week

      On the next Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio, join co-hosts Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips as they celebrate Banned Books Week. This year, BBW focuses on Graphic Novels. Their first guest is Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Charles will give a history of censorship and comic books and why this theme was chosen for BBW this year; Barbara Jones joins the program to give perspectives on BBW from the American Library Association where she is director of Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom; the second half of the show looks at a recent example of book banning in Delaware regarding The Miseducation of Cameron Post– the librarian of the Dover Pubic Library, Margery Cyr, joins the program to give overall details of the struggle over the book; Susan McAnelly, manager of Browesabout Books in Rehoboth Beach tells of her role and that of independent bookstores in fighting censorship; and recent high school graduate, Maddi Bacon, explains how she was active opposing the ban as a student at the Cape Henlopen High School. We round out the show with a quick update from former CIA analyst, transparency activist and civil libertarian Ray McGovern who will be speaking in the San Francisco Bay Area next week.

    • PROJECT CENSORED is a proud sponsor of Banned Books Week again this year!
  • Civil Rights

    • NYPD suspends “totally unprovoked” officer caught kicking street vendor

      Responding to public outcry after a video showing officers from the New York Police Department assaulting unarmed street vendors in Brooklyn recently was posted online, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton announced on Wednesday that a cop seen in the video viciously kicking one merchant had been suspended and was under investigation by the department’s office of internal affairs.

    • L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle

      Los Angeles Unified school police officials said Tuesday that the department will relinquish some of the military weaponry it acquired through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. The move comes as education and civil rights groups have called on the U.S. Department of Defense to halt the practice for schools.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Jimmy Kimmel Joins John Oliver In Explaining Net Neutrality

      A few months ago, John Oliver did an amazing job making net neutrality into a mainstream issue, by reducing it to its core element: that it’s all about “preventing broadband provider fuckery.” That was a great segment that truly went viral. But, still, the TV folks have remained pretty quiet on the issue. However, it appears that another late night comedian has jumped into the game as well, with Jimmy Kimmel doing a segment last week trying to explain the fast lane/slow lane issue in rather graphic form:

    • ​Russia eyes counter to Washington’s internet kill-switch – report

      Facing a possible cut-off from the internet by the US, Russian security officials and IT giants are discussing the possibility to make the Russian sector of the net independent, according to insiders.

      The issue would be discussed at several closed-door events in the days to come, including a national Security Council session on Monday next week, reports Vedomosti newspaper citing a number of unnamed security and industry sources.

      The meeting of security officials, to be chaired by President Vladimir Putin, will to discuss the results of a July Communications Ministry exercise to test how robust the Russian internet infrastructure would be if it were subject to a massive cyber-attack. The answer to that is reportedly “Not robust enough.”

    • Verizon, enemy of Open Internet rules, says it loves the “open Internet”

      No company has gone to greater lengths than Verizon in trying to stop the government from enforcing network neutrality rules.

      Verizon is the company that sued to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order from 2010. Verizon won a federal appeals court ruling this year, overturning anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules and setting off a months-long scramble by the FCC to get enforceable rules into place.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • 7 Amazing Works of Pop Culture That Have Been Lost Forever
      • Only Surviving Recording Of The Very First Superbowl Is Because A Fan Recorded It, But You Can’t See It, Because Copyright

        We’ve written a few times in the past about how the entertainment industry’s woeful job of preserving and archiving old works has resulted in culture being lost — but also how unauthorized copies (the proverbial “damn dirty pirates”) have at least saved a few such treasures from complete destruction. There was, for example, the “lost” ending to one of the movie versions of Little Shop of Horrors that was saved thanks to someone uploading it to YouTube. Over in the UK, a lost episode of Dad’s Army was saved due to a private recording. However, Sherwin Siy points out that the very first Super Bowl — Super Bowl I, as they put it — was basically completely lost until a tape that a fan made showed up in someone’s attic in 2005. Except, that footage still hasn’t been made available, perhaps because of the NFL’s standard “we own everything” policy.

      • Report Brands Dotcom’s Mega a Piracy Haven

        A new report published by the Digital Citizens Alliance estimates that the most popular cyberlockers generate millions of dollars in revenue. The research claims that the sites in question are mostly used for copyright infringement. The list of “rogue” sites includes the Kim Dotcom-founded cloud hosting service Mega, albeit based on a false assumption.

      • Hollywood Workers Demand Peter Sunde’s Dignity & Freedom

        Led by director Lexi Alexander, a collection of Hollywood directors, producers, actors, writers and other workers have teamed up in support of Peter Sunde. As the jailed former Pirate Bay founder prepares for his father’s funeral, the insiders call for his uncuffing. “We oppose your imprisonment,” they say in their video.

      • Hollywood Insiders: Directors, Actors, Producers, Camera People And More Demand Peter Sunde Be Freed & Treated With Dignity

        While we’ve written plenty about Peter Sunde, the former spokesperson for The Pirate Bay, we didn’t cover his eventual jailing earlier this year. Given all the coverage of his trial and efforts post-trial to have the results revisited, the fact that he finally ended up going to jail didn’t seem like much of a story. However, the way in which he’s been treated in jail is simply inhumane. He’s been put in the equivalent of a maximum security prison and basic requests for more humane treatment have been rejected. The latest outrage was that Peter’s father recently passed away, and while prison officials have said they’ll make arrangements for him to attend the funeral, he’ll have to wear handcuffs. TorrentFreak says he’ll have to wear handcuffs while carrying his father’s coffin — but from Peter’s brother’s quote, it seems clear that the prison officials were actually saying he can’t even carry his father’s coffin. The handcuff remark was just their way of saying “fuck you.”

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