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Microsoft Continues to Hoard Patents — Even Buying Patents — While Using Them Against GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Protection racket

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Summary: Basic scrutiny of Microsoft’s patent activity and its latest moves serves to reinforce the prior analysis, which says Microsoft uses patents to force OEMs to ‘bundle in’ Microsoft ‘apps’ (typically spyware that sends user data to Microsoft) and pressure companies to host GNU/Linux virtual machines only in Azure, for perceived “peace of mind” (they call it “Azure IP Advantage”) in a climate of patent aggression which Microsoft contributes to by sending patents to large patent trolls

THE USPTO continues to grant software patents, albeit at a slow pace (because of the courts and the most recent, post-Alice guidelines). We should not take things for granted and simply assume that software patents will always be toothless.

“Microsoft attacked the independence of both Yahoo and Nokia, leading their patents into the hands of patents trolls.”Microsoft, in the mean time, continues using software patents to blackmail or at least coerce large GNU/Linux/ChromeOS/Android OEMs, either for money, for bundling of Microsoft spyware, or both (see this recent hybrid deal with Xiaomi). This is a very serious matter because at the midst of all that coercion Microsoft claims that it “loves Linux”, which is of course an utterly ridiculous lie. As we put it last year, "Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax" (it loves Linux inside its plate, like people love beef).

Now watch this (via). From the company that continues to attack GNU/Linux using patents there is now a large patent purchase. The proponents of Microsoft (and software patents and patent trolls), namely IAM, said “[i]t is worth noting that Microsoft itself does not compete directly in the chipmaking market. This makes it unlikely that the US company purchased the patents purely to secure its own freedom of action. Rather, the acquisition may be intended to provide defensive coverage for strategic partners, or for customers of Microsoft’s cloud computing services through its Azure IP Advantage programme.”

“At the same time Microsoft is harvesting all sorts of patents which it actively uses to attack the independence of various Android OEMs, forcing them to put Microsoft spyware on phones and tablets (or else face ruinous patent lawsuits).”This is Microsoft’s latest trick for taxing GNU/Linux and Free software, using all sorts of patents.

In addition, need we remind readers that Microsoft sent Nokia‘s patents to Google-hostile patent trolls like MOSAID (Conversant), which incidentally also pays IAM? Something quite similar may be happening with Yahoo (another famous victim of Microsoft entryism) as IAM reveals that Yahoo’s software patents find their way into the hands of trolls. It also recalls the following:

This is a sensible tactic to try to convince potential buyers that the company has plenty of options. Plus it’s worth remembering that one of Altbaba’s board members, Jeffrey Smith of Starboard Capital, has a track record of pushing companies to do more with their patents. In 2012 the activist investor bought into AOL and forced the company to look at actively monetising its portfolio, ultimately leading to a $1 billion patent sale to Microsoft.

Microsoft attacked the independence of both Yahoo and Nokia, leading their patents into the hands of patents trolls. In Novell’s case, Microsoft grabbed Novell’s patents. At the same time Microsoft is harvesting all sorts of patents which it actively uses to attack the independence of various Android OEMs, forcing them to put Microsoft spyware on phones and tablets (or else face ruinous patent lawsuits).

So much for ‘new’ Microsoft… new PR and new CEO, but same old villainous tactics. We have been writing more on that subject recently. See the list of articles below.

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