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02.24.15

The EFF Back to Tackling Software Patents, Not Just Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 5:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyers start targeting large companies that exploit patents for intimidation and extortion, not just patent trolling

WE are gratified to learn that, based on numerous reports such as this or that, “EFF Questions Whether Software Patents Should Exist” and the “Electronic Frontier Foundation group claims that the US patent system undermines innovation by allowing big companies to intimidate and punish small start-up firms.”

They are not talking about patent trolls (as some do) but instead they are now talking about the big bullies that want to divert the debate so as to focus on the wrong culprit and merely pass a reform that helps megacorporations. Microsoft is basically a target of EFF activism, Apple too to a degree. We commend the Electronic Frontier Foundation for this change in strategy.

Here is a recent action from EFF’s Nazer: “Nazer and his fellow EFF lawyer Vera Ranieri filed court papers seeking to invalidate a patent on photo competitions. US Patent No. 8,209,618, owned by a little-known video website called Garfum.com, was used to sue four small photo websites last September that dared to ask people about their favorite photos.”

Another new piece by Sid Venkatesan from AOL uses a copyright sign as the leading image for an article about patents, showing a common misunderstanding of the vast disparity between copyrights and patents (they have almost nothing at all to do with each other). Putting aside this nitpicking, the article is titled “Software Patents Are Increasingly Coming Under Fire In Court” and it says: “Last summer, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International in which it directed lower courts to scrutinize computer-implemented abstract methods very closely. Alice’s impact was unclear at the time the decision was issued, but lower courts have since relied on the Supreme Court’s opinion to invalidate a number of software patents in the eight months since the decision.

“This legal trend has altered the cost benefit analysis for companies that are seeking software patent protection, enforcing their existing patents, or defending themselves in litigation.”

Further down Venkatesan says: “Federal trial courts and the Federal Circuit (the court that handles patent appeals) decisions since Alice have invalidated many patents using the two-part Section 101 test applied in Alice. For example, the Federal Circuit invalidated a patent dealing with the storage of device-specific profiles, a patent on a system that provided online purchase guarantees, and a patent involving an online system of delivering content with embedded ads in quick succession.”

This is the kind of stuff that patent lawyers have been trying to hide from the public, choosing to pretend that nothing at all has changed.

In a publication called “Entrepreneur” we saw the other day more of that propaganda which equates patents to innovation — a subject we last covered some weeks ago. “They say imitation is the highest form of flattery,” says the propaganda. “That may be true in fashion, but if you are an inventor, imitation can be bad for business.”

Well, how about collaboration? “As of Dec. 1,” continues the article, “Big Blue had been issued almost 7,000 patents in 2014. After IBM, the company with the second highest number of patents issued was Korean-headquartered technology giant Samsung, with more than 5,000 patents filed. Canon, Sony and Microsoft round out the top five, according to the infographic generated with United States Patent Office data by SmartUp, a legal startup that is building an online platform connecting attorneys and clients.”

“It is abundantly clear who software patents are good for.”So what? This basically shows which companies spend the most time doing paperwork. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are innovative.

Several years ago (if not decades ago) Adobe complained about software patents but now that it is a bigger company it patents software any single day, as Steve Brachmann serves to remind us. Microsoft did the same thing when it was a small company. As Bill Gates famously said: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

It is abundantly clear who software patents are good for. Just watch who is hoarding software patents and creating cartels with them. Here is some nice propaganda which glorifies patents and even makes these cartels and armament with patents seem like a wonderful thing:

Whether they’re coming up with a bright idea themselves, or purchasing smaller companies that have had those bright ideas, all the big guns are active in these two key areas. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung – they’re all at it.

What do these companies have in common? Scale. But Google and Samsung (the two biggest Android players), unlike Apple and Microsoft, are not patent aggressors. They never sue rivals using software patents, they only react to lawsuits, the highest profile of which are from Apple, Microsoft, and their smaller proxies. The EFF will hopefully work to combat this.

Microsoft Wants to Devour the Competition (Linux), Devour People’s Data

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.”

Henry David Thoreau

Summary: Refuting the “new Microsoft” propaganda and some ludicrous concept that Microsoft is now “playing nice”

THE company which kick-started PRISM and works most closely with the NSA pretends to have become “open”. How ridiculous a notion! SoylentNews covered our story [1] and many comments there show that the large majority agrees that Microsoft is just trying to harm openness from the inside. That’s just not what corruptible journalists would have us believe.

“The company which kick-started PRISM and works most closely with the NSA pretends to have become “open”.”Dan Kedmey reminded us the other day that “Microsoft’s New App Will Help You Stalk Your Friends”, right after he had covered this bit of news about Microsoft’s “embrace and extend” at work (recall what Microsoft is doing to infiltrate Android). As Kedmey put it in his own words:

It’s acquiring apps and quickly rebranding them as Microsoft products

[...]

Acompli is the best example of Microsoft’s new playbook: In a matter of weeks, Microsoft took Acompli’s popular email app and rebranded it as Outlook for iOS and Android, to rave reviews from the tech press. Before the Acompli move, Microsoft’s iOS and Android Outlook offering was nothing more than a clunky web portal disguised as an app. It’s a safe bet that Sunrise and similar acquisitions will reappear as Microsoft-branded offerings just as quickly.

For those who deem it “good news” for Android, bear in mind that Microsoft is a surveillance company much worse than Google in many ways, as we have demonstrated over the years. Simon Sharwood said a couple of days ago that “Microsoft [is] to store deleted Exchange Online mails FOREVER”. Is anyone surprised by that? Outlook has already been banned for use by European politicians (the “app” at least is verboten for security reasons), which really says a lot about how Microsoft is viewed by security professionals.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Loves Linux – or So They Say

    Just when you thought Embrace, Extend, Extinguish was going away, the article explains the multi-prong attack that Microsoft is quietly working in the background. And they are relying heavily on their friends in the press. Microsoft has always had its share of shills in the press, but, with the focus on Google Android and Apple its quietly become less of a Journalist career killer to be openly Pro Microsoft. Schestowitz explains the attack as killing Linux Softly with APIs and the lock-ins they bring as more Microsoft packages and services are ported to Linux, and by getting appointments to key Linux Foundation subcommittees, by slinging dollars and software contributions.

“This anti-trust thing will blow over. We haven’t changed our business practices at all.”

Bill Gates, 1995 (and still managing Microsoft)

Benoît Battistelli Thinks ‘President’ is Above the Law, Decides to Ignore the Court’s Ruling

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli has a Napoleonic interpretation of the word “President”

Benoît Battistelli

Summary: Staff of the EPO is given yet more reasons to protest tomorrow at the British Consulate, for the so-called ‘President’ of the EPO reminds everyone of the very raison d’être for the protest — a vain disregard for the rule of law

“Mr Battistelli issued today a communique in which he states that the Dutch judgement is wrong and announcing that the EPO, i.e. The President, will not follow it.

“From bad to worse,” said this one comment. The context of this comment is a Merpel update that says “Mr Battstelli’s letter comes only 3 days after a judgment by a Dutch court that criticised the EPO for limiting staff’s right to strike and for refusing collective bargaining. Under point 5.3 the Dutch court stated: “It lies in the nature of the activities of a Staff Union like SUEPO that they are allowed to criticise the (representatives of) the employer, also via internal channels.””

Battistelli, or “Batty-man” as some people call him (Batman in his own mind, if not just batty, which means “insane; crazy; eccentric.”), deserves much ridicule because he actually threatens people for exercising their rights. He seems to forget that he is subjected to European rules.

Staff that actually fears these remarks and the general behaviour from Battistelli ought to read this latest flier [PDF]. Battistelli knows he is on his way out, hence the aggression.

A dictator faces a trade-off between repression and building the support he needs. The problem is that the number of unhappy people increases as a function of the number of people being punished or killed, and, as Snyderwine puts it, “The ‘intimidation’ effect reduces the likelihood of a revolution while the ‘unhappiness’ effect increases it.”

”Severe censorship and the construction of firewalls is suggested as a countermeasure to avoid ‘unhappiness’ spreading via social media.”2 A further countermeasure is propaganda; dictators like to disseminate misinformation. They hope that “if censorship is strong and manipulative enough, people might not even know the things they are missing.” But this approach is doomed to fail. People talk to each other, read (foreign) newspapers and consult the internet. Sooner rather than later they will find out. And if people suffer severely enough under a dictator, they will revolt, as history has shown.

“When people lose faith in nearly everything … they are more likely to take the streets.” More [PDF]

Links 24/2/2015: Xfce 4.12 a Week Away, GNOME 3.16 Previewed

Posted in News Roundup at 4:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source switches gain more vendor traction

    The open source movement is making waves in the networking space as more vendors are opting to build open switches and routers in favor of proprietary technology. HP is the latest vendor to join the open source networking movement, and some are speculating that open networking could give Cisco a run for its money.

  • Weather Company CIO: 5 reasons why I believe in open source

    Since The Weather Company has been a major adopter of open source software, I’m often asked why we have chosen this path. Where is the value in taking the open source route to solve your business challenges? I’m a big advocate of open source, so I’m always happy to oblige. Here are my top five reasons:

  • Distributors Play Growing Role In Open Source Space

    If tech distributors want to survive in the market, they’ll have to provide channel partners with more training and enablement on open source and cloud-based solutions. Here’s how distributors have responded.

  • Nginx Gearing Up for HTTP2

    The open-source Nginx web server has been steadily gaining in popularity in recent years to become one of the most widely deployed web servers. To date, Nginx has delivered its traffic over HTTP 1.1, but at some point in the near future it will also enable HTTP/2.

  • HP deal marks milestone for open source networking hardware

    If you still harbored any doubts that the web is now driving the future of IT, last week’s announcement that HP will offer disaggregated products for web-scale data centers via deals with Cumulus and Accton should be enough to convince you.

  • eBay’s new Pulsar framework will analyze your data in real time
  • eBay launches Pulsar, an open-source tool for quickly taming big data

    E-commerce giant eBay needs to deal with new usage data — to personalize content and detect fraud, among other things — within seconds. So engineers went and built something to perfectly meet the company’s needs: Pulsar.

    The company revealed details about the system for the first time today, and eBay is making it available for anyone to use under an open-source license.

  • New open source strategy revelations at IBM Interconnect 2015

    An opportunity for IBM’s individual businesses to come together and demonstrate how they best leverage each other’s technologies and capabilities, IBM InterConnect 2015 will touch on cloud, mobile, DevOps, security, asset management, Internet of Things, application integration, and smarter processes.

  • Getting started with Project Atomic

    I had some concerns about learning Middleman and HAML, but there was a solid ‘fork-and-go’ contribution mindset. I started lurking in the -devel list and the IRC channels to start, and picked a single piece of content that I thought could use an update. I got in touch with one of the project folks on IRC and asked about the best way to go about creating and submitting my first change.

  • Events

    • Protocol Plugfest: opening closed doors to interoperability together

      The “world wide web” has been such an amazing success in large part because it was based on open protocols and formats that anyone can implement and use on a level playing field. This opened the way for interoperability on a grand and global scale, and is why http and HTML succeeded where many others failed previously.

    • SCALE 13x, Day 3: The Finale

      First things first: It’s a safe bet that Ruth Suehle could read the Raleigh phone book and make it sound interesting, with or without accompanying Lowenbrau slides. So it would come as no surprise that of all the great keynotes that have been given at the Southern California Linux Expo, Ruth’s Sunday keynote makes anyone’s SCALE short list as an all-time great.

  • Web Browsers

  • Business

    • HP’s Marten Mickos: Open Source Is Not a Business Model

      “Open source is a production model. In some cases, it is a distribution model … . You need a business model for any business that you build, but open source in itself is not that business model. Just like if you have a manufacturing branch and you use robots or you don’t use robots. That is a production question, but it is not a business model for the business you are in.”

  • Public Services/Government

    • Reuse is key for Danish telemedicine project

      Reuse is one of the main reasons for the development as open source of OpenTele, a Danish e-health telemedicine project. The health sector is crying out for open source ICT solutions, says Mike Kristoffersen, a senior software architect at the Danish Alexandra Institute. “Doctors and hospitals are seriously locked into medical ICT systems, making it difficult to do research, even for small scale projects.”

  • Licensing

    • Samsung, OpenChain Aim to Build Trust With Open Source Compliance

      Samsung is a top-five contributor to the Linux kernel and contributes upstream to more than 25 other open source projects. Yet the public perception that the company doesn’t care about open source has persisted, despite its efforts, said Ibrahim Haddad, head of the Open Source Innovation Group at Samsung in a presentation at Collaboration Summit last week.

    • Buyer Beware: Demystifying Open Source Software Licenses

      Not too long ago, acquiring software was pretty easy: gather requirements, meet with vendors to evaluate products, select the winner. Legal review took place late in the process, and the final terms that both customer and vendor could live with were generally agreed to quickly.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • 3D printers become viable tools in healthcare

      And with desktop 3D printers becoming increasingly affordable and reliable—and open source software such as Cura being versatile, easy to use, and free to update—barriers to further 3D printing innovation are quickly disappearing. What was once only available to well-funded practitioners has now become genuinely accessible to every patient, nurse, doctor, surgeon, hospital, and teaching facility.

    • OpenStack at Walmart, project reform status, and more
    • The Pi Tank – 3D Printed Open Source Smartphone Controlled Raspberry Pi Robot
    • How I upgraded my garden’s ugly drip system with a sexy OpenSprinkler

      After a few hours of work alongside an electrical engineering buddy this week, my home garden drip system became powered by a Raspberry Pi. I can control the entire thing locally from my iPhone and, to be frank, it’s pretty flippin’ cool.

      For some background, I’m a very lazy gardener. When my wife and I bought our house in 2012, our horticultural mission was Hippocratic (do no harm). In other words, we wanted—at the very least—to not kill the plants we inherited from the previous owners. So while some people relax when they do weeding or other green thumb-related activities, we find it tedious and uninspiring. I’m the guy who jumped at the chance to review the Estonian-made Click and Grow.

    • This guy is the Mark Zuckerberg of open-source genetics

      Three years ago, Bastian Greshake spit in a vial and sent it off to personal genomics company 23andMe for analysis. He’d spent years studying the genetics of other organisms, but didn’t know much about his own DNA. He was curious.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Purdue plans to expand open-source online coursework

        A plan to use online open-source curricula for more classes at Purdue University starting this fall could collectively save students up to $1 million.

        The Journal and Courier reports the plan would be an alternative to online programs that can cost students more than $100 per class to access.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • EZchip Announces 100 Core 64-bit ARM Chip

      An Israeli company known as EZchip has introduced their TILE-Mx processors that ship in up to 100-core 64-bit ARM configurations with up to 200 Gigabit Ethernet throughput.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The End to Industrialized Farming

      In 2013 the United Nations released a report indicating that the world’s food needs could be met through organic, local farms. The United Nations report stated that food security, poverty, gender inequality, and climate change can be addressed with a significant shift towards organic, localized farming. In contrast with industrialized farming, organic and local farms cut down on the energy and pollution that transporting food requires. Another study revealed that organic farming utilized less water than industrialized farming, as well as a general reduction in pollution related to production.

  • Security

    • Lenovo Sued Over Superfish Adware
    • The Venture Capitalists Behind Superfish

      Lots of people are talking about the Superfish malware debacle. People are starting to understand just how bad this situation is.

      [...]

      I’d like to see the tech press dig into this. And the venture capitalists involved, particularly the board members, should talk about what they knew and didn’t know.

    • Laptop Buying Advice?

      My current Lenovo X201 laptop has been with me for over four years. I’ve been looking at new laptop models over the years thinking that I should upgrade. Every time, after checking performance numbers, I’ve always reached the conclusion that it is not worth it. The most performant Intel Broadwell processor is the the Core i7 5600U and it is only about 1.5 times the performance of my current Intel Core i7 620M. Meanwhile disk performance has increased more rapidly, but changing the disk on a laptop is usually simple. Two years ago I upgraded to the Samsung 840 Pro 256GB disk, and this year I swapped that for the Samsung 850 Pro 1TB, and both have been good investments.

    • How to delete Superfish from Lenovo computers permanently
    • Moving On From Superfish

      It’s true, RMS was right. The folks at LinuxBSDos.com are right. The world needs to use Free Software.

    • Lenovo’s Superfish spectacle: ‘Catastrophic’ security failures discovered

      Last week, reports surfaced which claimed that Lenovo Notebooks have been issued to consumers containing a preloaded security flaw. Originally, the Chinese tech giant said the Superfish adware was not a security concern — however, eventually the company realized and admitted that the software was able to install its own self-signing man-in-the-middle (MITM) proxy service which has the potential to hijack SSL and TLS connections — a severe, nasty security vulnerability.

    • SSL-busting code that threatened Lenovo users found in a dozen more apps

      Richard went on to publish the SHA1 cryptographic hashes he used to identify software that contained the Komodia code libraries. He invited fellow researchers to use the hashes to identify still more potentially dangerous software circulating online.

      “We’re publishing this analysis to raise awareness about the scope of local SSL MITM software so that the community can also help protect people and their computers,” he wrote. “We think that shining the light on these practices will help the ecosystem better analyze and respond to similar situations as they occur.”

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Samba vulnerability (CVE-2015-0240)

      Samba is the most commonly used Windows interoperability suite of programs, used by Linux and Unix systems. It uses the SMB/CIFS protocol to provide a secure, stable, and fast file and print services. It can also seamlessly integrate with Active Directory environments and can function as a domain controller as well as a domain member (legacy NT4-style domain controller is supported, but the Active Directory domain controller feature of Samba 4 is not supported yet).

    • Samba 4.1.17 Security Release Now Available for Download

      The Samba development team has announced earlier today, February 23, the immediate availability for download of Samba 4.1.17, a security release that addresses the CVE-2015-0240 security vulnerability related to an unexpected code execution in Samba daemon (smbd).

    • Samb-AAAHH! Scary remote execution vuln spotted in Windows-Linux interop code

      Linux admins were sent scrambling to patch their boxes on Monday after a critical vulnerability was revealed in Samba, the open source Linux-and-Windows-compatibility software.

  • Finance

    • The Real Cost of Walmart’s Low Prices

      Like other large companies with globalized production chains, Walmart exploits workers outside of the United States, but the consequences of these exploitative practices impact everyone. In the U.S., social and economic pressures force Walmart employees to accept low wages.

    • 5 Insane Things You Believe About Money (Thanks to Movies)

      I bet every one of you can remember the first time financial reality smacked you in the face like a Hulk-thrown engine block. (“I work two jobs, shouldn’t I be able to afford to get this festering wisdom tooth taken out?”). That’s because unless your parents were wealthy, you left school knowing jack shit about how money worked. We have a trillion dollars in credit card debt to show for it, along with an upper class who just can’t figure out what the rest of us are bitching about.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • The Scary World That Is Arabic Twitter

      As an independent journalist who contributes to various organizations inside and outside the U.S., Twitter is my virtual newsroom. It is where I get story ideas, connect with sources and engage with my readers. On average I spend at least four hours daily on Twitter. As the Islamic State’s (ISIS) atrocities started to dominate the news cycle during the mid part of last year, most of my Tweets have become very ISIS-focused. I tweet about their latest actions, and the reactions that followed. As an native Arabic speaker, I spend a big chunk of my time following Arabic hashtags, Arabic-speaking influencers, and news organizations, and boy, let me tell you what I found. The world of Arabic Twitter is a scary one. I’m stunned by the amount of support that ISIS enjoys on Twitter, and mostly among Arabic speakers.

  • Privacy

    • Mark Zuckerberg ‘not sure’ about Internet.org advertising

      Advertising is not a “near term” priority for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative to get more people online in the developing world, according to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

      Facebook launched the scheme in 2013 with fellow technology firms including Samsung, Qualcomm, Ericsson and Nokia as its effort to connect “the next few billion people” to the internet.

      The social network has since worked with mobile operators in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Zambia and Kenya to provide free access to basic internet services from their mobile phones.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Q&A: The Full Interview on Connecting the World

      Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has a big, expensive goal: to connect the world to the Internet. He spoke with Emily Chang about his plans, after returning from a trip through Southeast Asia and India last year as part of his Internet.org initiative. The interview airs Feb. 19 on Bloomberg Television’s Studio 1.0. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

    • There’s a massive new leak of confidential spy files from MI6, Mossad and the FSB

      Al-Jazeera has obtained hundreds of confidential “spy cables” from some of the world’s top intelligence agencies, in what the news channel is calling “the largest intelligence leak since Snowden.”

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Here Comes the ACTA Attack – Again

      Three years ago I began a series of articles about ACTA – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA was originally about tackling counterfeit goods, but had a completely inappropriate digital chapter added, which tried to ride on the coat-tails of the initial plan by suggesting that digital copies were somehow as dangerous as fake medicines or aircraft parts. After a fierce battle that saw hundreds of thousands of Europeans writing to their MEPs, and even taking to the streets, ACTA was thrown out by the European Parliament.

    • Copyrights

      • The Australian Pirates Leave PPI

        The Pirate Party of Australia has been unhappy with the structure functioning of Pirate Parties International for some time and after the PPAU membership gave their board the power to potentially leave international organisation at their last national conference.

      • Draft copyright code published

        Rights holders and ISPs have published a draft of the Government mandated code intended to combat online copyright infringement.

      • Torrent Site Admin Can Pay Piracy Fine…in 227 Years

        After being chased down by a coalition of mainstream entertainment companies, a French court has just handed a former torrent site operator a six month suspended sentence. ‘Boris P’ must also pay two million euros in damages, an amount he predicts could be cleared in approximately 227 years.

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