10.10.18

Open Invention Network is a Proponent of Software Patents — Just Like Microsoft — and Microsoft Keeps Patents It Uses to Blackmail Linux Vendors

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rerun of last week: Microsoft Uses LOT Network to Spread Lies and Promote Its Protection Racket

OIN loves Microsoft

Summary: OIN loves Microsoft; OIN loves software patents as well. So Microsoft’s membership in OIN is hardly a surprise and it’s not solving the main issue either, as Microsoft can indirectly sue and “Microsoft has not included any patents they might hold on exfat into the patent non-aggression pact,” according to Bradley M. Kuhn

A LOT of patents granted by the USPTO are bogus, bunk, fake. They should not have been granted (e.g. based on 35 U.S.C. § 101), but prolific applicants that are large corporations enjoy favourable treatment and can gather as many as a hundred thousand low-quality patents; a very tiny proportion of these will have been tested in court before expiry. This is a problem. IBM and Microsoft have many such patents, which they cross-license so as to avoid actually testing these in courts or by means of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs).

“IBM and Microsoft have many such patents, which they cross-license so as to avoid actually testing these in courts or by means of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs).”Last week when Microsoft announced some news about LOT Network (complete with familiar lies and incredible revisionism) we predicted that it was likely some ‘test run’ ahead of OIN membership. Observers must bear in mind that such a membership imposes no actual new constraints on them. People don’t need to panic or get excited about the OIN thing (we’ll come to it in a moment), partly because it was predictable. As if joining an IBM-led front group for software patents changes much…

It doesn’t. Nothing really changed. What happened?

  1. Microsoft is now an OIN member, but it’s an IBM-centric group that favours software patents (I spoke to their CEO for hours on the phone over the years). We disagree on quite a few things and he told me Microsoft uses FAT patents. As we shall explain later, those were excluded from OIN, which says quite a lot.
  2. IBM and Microsoft both still promote and lobby for software patents. We write about it a lot. So what kind of goodwill gesture does Microsoft offer? It’s part of the problem.
  3. Microsoft nowadays leverages patent attacks via patent trolls. OIN has no way of thwarting/dealing with such tactics. We constantly give examples of such attacks. Intellectual Ventures is one of many.

Regarding the OIN membership, it is more or less the same thing as last week’s LOT Network news, which we wrote about in great length. Like we said at the time, LOT Network is the same as OIN (more or less).

I first learned about the news because ZDNet had sought comment from me personally (for an upcoming article). “The whole article on ZDNet is full of words of love and cuddles from the tops of Microsoft to Open Source and Linux,” said one of our IRC regulars, “and claims that in the past they “had no bicycle” (a reference to Prostokvashino about a mailman who was grumpy before he got a bicycle)…”

“Microsoft nowadays leverages patent attacks via patent trolls. OIN has no way of thwarting/dealing with such tactics.”This was soon mentioned in Slashdot, Linux Today, and various other sites.

Recent Techrights articles on OIN have all been critical of OIN. We don’t like the direction they’ve been choosing. It’s that (big) corporations-friendly policy we also see in the Linux Foundation these days. Microsoft “loves/ing Linux” is a sort of lie they openly embrace. But Microsoft actually hates GNU/Linux. That’s why it fuels patent trolls (financing, passage of patents etc.) that attack Linux vendors in courts.

When I first heard of the news I decided to wait patiently and gather more information (as I have for the past 7 hours). I did not want to write about the very same things I said before, such as last week’s post (just swap “LOT Network” with “OIN” and it’s still all true).

“Microsoft “loves/ing Linux” is a sort of lie they openly embrace.”The ZDNet headline says “​Microsoft open-sources its patent portfolio,” which is pure nonsense. That does not even make sense. That’s like saying “Fred makes his thoughts purple” or “Jane is dreaming about afternoons”. There’s no such thing as “open source patents”; Tesla is an example of openwashing of patents, with 2018 examples, 2014 examples, and a 2015 example from Panasonic.

But I guess the term “open source” doesn’t mean anything anymore. So okay, whatever…

I’ve been patiently observing truly ridiculous coverage about Microsoft/OIN for 7 hours today. There’s more to come later this week, no doubt. Purely comedic. Classic. Have journalism outlets been reduced to mere PR? Do we need to be reminded that Microsoft “loves Linux” (like BP loves wind power and children love ice cream before it vanishes)? So we get it; everything Microsoft is “open” now, even its patents. Its software patents (that it passes to trolls) are “open source”, or so they say to us. Never mind if patents, by their very definition, are monopolies and thus an antithesis of Open Source.

“Have journalism outlets been reduced to mere PR?”As a reminder, all of Microsoft’s core products (software) are still proprietary and in reality, in this age of mobile devices, its market share (Windows) is down to 35% and it’s trying to avoid complete irrelevancy. It’s just trying to dominate the competition too. It used to be called EEE or entryism. It’s something to be wary of.

So now, on to some coverage and our response to it. ZDNet (CBS) published somewhat of a marketing video with LOT Network involved, growing their cartel of “non-aggression” (cross-licensing) and bragging about it. This is what the introductory paragraphs said:

Several years ago, I said the one thing Microsoft has to do — to convince everyone in open source that it’s truly an open-source supporter — is stop using its patents against Android vendors. Now, it’s joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent consortium. Microsoft has essentially agreed to grant a royalty-free and unrestricted license to its entire patent portfolio to all other OIN members.

Before Microsoft joined, OIN had more than 2,650 community members and owns more than 1,300 global patents and applications. OIN is the largest patent non-aggression community in history and represents a core set of open-source intellectual-property values. Its members include Google, IBM, Red Hat, and SUSE. The OIN patent license and member cross-licenses are available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.

It doesn’t do anything to tackle the patents themselves. As Bruce Perens said not too long ago, OIN exists to protect software patents from the community rather than protect the community from software patents. What an apt and succinct description.

“As Bruce Perens said not too long ago, OIN exists to protect software patents from the community rather than protect the community from software patents.”Erich Andersen, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, lies for the second time in a week. It is a similar kind of lie, too. He says Microsoft will “protect Linux” from patents while the company passes patents to patent trolls for such attacks. That’s as ridiculous as claiming that China “protects Tibet”.

We were disappointed but not surprised that Phoronix is among those relaying Microsoft’s lies about those patents in relation to OIN. Microsoft is not their friend, yet they use Erich Andersen as a main source, repeating the propaganda from the headline to the body, which says:

Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) to as they put it “protect Linux and open-source.”

Open Invention Network is the community of members ranging from Google to IBM and Red Hat now to Microsoft whereby when joining OIN you agree not to assert patents against Linux and related open-source software while in turn members can utilize OIN patents/licenses royalty-free.

OIN membership is an extremely low price to pay to gag (using money) rivals and at the same time buy the laughable illusion Microsoft hopes will help ‘rope in’ developers into EEE ambitions, e.g. reducing GNU/Linux to just an ‘app’ for Vista 10 (WSL).

“OIN membership is an extremely low price to pay to gag (using money) rivals and at the same time buy the laughable illusion Microsoft hopes will help ‘rope in’ developers into EEE ambitions, e.g. reducing GNU/Linux to just an ‘app’ for Vista 10 (WSL).”If enough people are bamboozled by it, EEE will become easier. We live in a “public relations” world…

Do they not realise that the managers from Microsoft have a long history of lying about their actions (patent extortion in this case)?

LWN uses Microsoft as a source, as did Phoronix, regarding Microsoft’s patent attacks on Linux. It quotes Microsoft itself, preceded only by:

Microsoft has announced that it has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN).

Well, as we saw in Google and Oracle affairs, OIN does not defuse attacks or properly protects OIN members, e.g. from threats including patent lawsuits (direct attacks).

“No, Microsoft isn’t “protecting Linux” as it is claiming in its headline (Microsoft’s own headline as well as lazy bloggers’/journalists’ who copied it); it does the exact opposite.”Gaming on Linux, which typically focuses only on computer games, wrote about the above whilst openly admitting that it’s off topic. The headline started with “Embrace, extend, and protect?”

No, Microsoft isn’t “protecting Linux” as it is claiming in its headline (Microsoft’s own headline as well as lazy bloggers’/journalists’ who copied it); it does the exact opposite.

Here’s what Liam wrote in Gaming on Linux:

Surprising is one word for it! Honestly, I’m in shock at this news. Does this mean we can firmly put the “Embrace, extend, and extinguish” phrase to rest and replace it with Embrace, extend, and protect? With Microsoft joining, they’re bringing with them around 60,000 patents.

Moves like that, makes me seriously think about how Microsoft have changed, especially since their previous CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux “a cancer”.

I think it also shows how far Linux has come as a platform for all things too, especially with Microsoft having a “Windows Subsystem for Linux” along with their support for running Linux on their Azure cloud computing platform.

“He even included a “Microsoft loves Linux” picture. Yes, that’s OIN. The staff of OIN actively spreads this lie.”GNU/Linux is still a “cancer” to Microsoft. Nadella is still bossed by Microsoft’s Board, which incidentally includes many of the same people, including Bill Gates. Nadella is being used as a sort of new voice and a new face. They have changed strategies and they aren’t being sincere about it. Outwards they need to seem “nice”; deep inside they just want to swallow and control (or devour, or extinguish) GNU/Linux. This is nothing new.

OIN’s Mirko Boehm wrote about it a few hours later (probably on behalf of himself, not for his employer). To him, apparently, getting together with the company that attacks GNU/Linux via patent trolls is great news. He even included a “Microsoft loves Linux” picture. Yes, that’s OIN. The staff of OIN actively spreads this lie. And a few hours ago even Microsoft Peter wrote about it, under the headline “Microsoft promises to defend—not attack—Linux”. Protect from whom? Itself? This is a lie, but Microsoft boosters perpetuate this Orwellian lie. With obligatory “Microsoft loves Linux” image again (the Big Lie). Notice how career Microsoft boosters disseminate this very same lie that OIN staff spreads in blog posts. Not a good sign. What has OIN been reduced to with Microsoft’s new membership money?

“What has OIN been reduced to with Microsoft’s new membership money?”Over at Linux Journal, Jill Franklin cites ZDNet and says: “Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent consortium. According to ZDNet, this means “Microsoft has essentially agreed to grant a royalty-free and unrestricted license to its entire patent portfolio to all other OIN members.” OIN’s CEO Keith Bergelt says “This is everything Microsoft has, and it covers everything related to older open-source technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack; newer technologies such as LF Energy and HyperLedger, and their predecessor and successor versions.””

So OIN’s CEO says it “covers everything related to older open-source technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack,” but what does that not cover? Ask Bradley M. Kuhn, who wrote about it in his blog and the Conservancy’s blog. He explains that Microsoft intentionally excluded from OIN patents it uses for blackmail against Linux (and sometimes via patent trolls of choice). To quote:

We know that Microsoft has done patent troll shakedowns in the past on Linux products related to the exfat filesystem. While we at Conservancy were successful in getting the code that implements exfat for Linux released under GPL (by Samsung), that code has not been upstreamed into Linux. So, Microsoft has not included any patents they might hold on exfat into the patent non-aggression pact.

We now ask Microsoft, as a sign of good faith and to confirm its intention to end all patent aggression against Linux and its users, to now submit to upstream the exfat code themselves under GPLv2-or-later. This would provide two important protections to Linux users regarding exfat: (a) it would include any patents that read on exfat as part of OIN’s non-aggression pact while Microsoft participates in OIN, and (b) it would provide the various benefits that GPLv2-or-later provides regarding patents, including an implied patent license and those protections provided by GPLv2§7 (and possibly other GPL protections and assurances as well)

OIN’s CEO personally told me that FAT patents, like those Microsoft sued TomTom over, were the main culprit. What good is Microsoft’s new membership if those patents are excluded (they should be invalidated either way)?

“OIN’s CEO personally told me that FAT patents, like those Microsoft sued TomTom over, were the main culprit.”Understandably enough, Microsoft does not like to talk about all those patents that it passed by the thousands over the years to patent trolls. Some of our IRC channels’ regulars names some of these trolls. Funny that Microsoft didn’t mention that in its announcement, right? That interferes with the Big Lie. I have been following this and covering it for over a decade, so I have a good record of most things.

The media will no doubt continue to write Microsoft puff pieces like “Microsoft makes its 60000 patents open source to help Linux” and “Microsoft Just Did Something Big With 60000 Patents” because facts are less interesting than fancy, incredible-sounding headlines.

“OIN is in many ways part of the problem which is software patenting; the solution it offers requires us to think whose problem it is trying to solve. Large corporations is the answer.”For those who actually trust OIN, just remember who it works for. See this EPO tweet from earlier today — a short message which says (calling the Open Invention Network “Open Innovation Network”): “Herbert Zech of @UniBasel_en, Keith Bergelt of the #OpenInnovationNetwork and Heinz Goddar, European patent attorney, discussed general strategies for protecting AI inventions at our conference on patenting #artificialintelligence.”

For those who have been following our EPO coverage recently it will be clear and obvious that “AI” is just the EPO’s new cover for software patents in Europe. So OIN’s CEO is basically helping them with this stunt, wherein applicants are advised to frame software patent applications as “AI” and examiners are pressured to then award such “AI” patents.

OIN is in many ways part of the problem which is software patenting; the solution it offers requires us to think whose problem it is trying to solve. Large corporations is the answer.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 27/11/2020: Jolla is 7, Diffoscope 162, MNT Reform Production

    Links for the day



  2. The Time Coronavirus Helped EPO Management Prevent Staff From Protesting and Going on Strike (March 26th)

    "In view of the spreading of the New Corona Virus, the planned General Assemblies have to be cancelled," the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) wrote in the wake of the crisis across Europe back in March (weeks ahead of a planned strike)



  3. Guarding Your Privacy With E2EE: Primer

    "As with all security, there is assumed risk no matter how careful you are. There are no security guarantees but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try."



  4. Links 27/11/2020: Systemd 247 and Cockpit 233

    Links for the day



  5. A Free Speech Deficit Harms Software Freedom

    Free software and Software Freedom cannot possibly succeed if we keep accepting or even just tolerating systematic censorship of opinionated people in our community; failing to speak out on this matter (for fear of supposedly offending someone, risking expulsion) is part of the problem — complicity by passivity



  6. Perception of Difficulty

    New poem by figosdev



  7. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 26, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 26, 2020



  8. Cartoon: After Gambling With Workers' Savings the EPO Can Do Real Estate

    New EPO cartoon from EPO insiders (the one on the right certainly looks a lot like António Campinos and the one on the left can be his EUIPO ‘import’ or Benoît Battistelli‘s INPI ‘import’)



  9. Free as in Freedom Should Not be Associated With Cost

    It's important to remind people that so-called 'free' services (Clown Computing, centralised spaces that 'farm' their so-called 'users') aren't really free; we need to advocate freedom or free-as-in-freedom alternatives



  10. [Meme] UPC's Pyrrhic Victory

    Contrary to what Team UPC says, what happened earlier today is hardly a breakthrough



  11. Many Thanks to Free Software, the Demise of Software Patents (in Europe and the US), and So Much More

    On a positive note we're heading into the end of November, one month before Boxing Day; we take stock of patent affairs that impact software developers



  12. Links 26/11/2020: PHP 8.0, Proxmox VE 6.3, UNIGINE 2.13

    Links for the day



  13. 29,000 Blog Posts and Recent Site Improvements

    Over 29,000 blog posts have been posted here, but more importantly we've made the site a lot more robust and resilient, accessible in more formats and protocols (while improving transparency, too)



  14. [Meme] Trump is Out. Now It's Time to Pressure the Biden Administration/Transition Team on Software Freedom Issues.

    The Biden transition is in motion and tentative appointments are underway, based on news reports (see our Daily Links); now is the time to put pressure, e.g. in the form of public backlash, to ensure it's not just another corporate presidency



  15. Boycott ZDNet Unless You Fancy Being Lied to

    ZDNet's Catalin Cimpanu continues to lead the way with misinformation and lies, basically doing whatever he was doing to land that job at ZDNet (after he had done the same elsewhere)



  16. The UPC and Unitary Patent Song

    On goes the UPC symphony, as the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is almost here, always coming "real soon!"



  17. Open Letter to the German Greens on UPC and Software Patents: Don’t Betray Your Voters and Your Promises, or You Will Regret it

    Dear Members of the German Greens in the Bundestag. By Benjamin HENRION.



  18. [Meme] One Step Away From Replacing Patent Examiners With 'Hey Hi' (AI)

    If it's not legal for 'Hey Hi' (AI) to get a patent, why should it be legal for patents to be granted by those who are invisible (and sometimes in de facto house arrest)?



  19. European Patent Office (EPO) Reduced to 'Justice Over the Telephone' and Decree by E-mail

    The EPO is trashing the EPC and everything that the Office was supposed to stand for, as it wrongly assumes demand for monopolies (typically from foreign corporations) comes before the rule of law and Europe's public interest



  20. Making Free Software Work for Users

    The latest reply to a non-developer concerned about software freedom; guest post by figosdev



  21. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 25, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 25, 2020



  22. Links 26/11/2020: AV Linux 2020.11.23 and Blender 2.91 Release

    Links for the day



  23. Links 25/11/2020: GamerOS and Biden Transition in Motion

    Links for the day



  24. An Orwellian December

    With December around the corner and states tightening the screws on the population (or employers on employees) at least we can look forward to spring



  25. The Non-Technical (or Lesser Technical) Software User That Wants Software Freedom

    Assuming that Free software should care about what users — not only developers — really want (and need) it’s important to understand how they view the current situation (with growing waves of corporate takeover and compromises, even expulsions)



  26. The European Patent Office Should be Run by Patent Examiners (Scientists), Not Politicians

    Europe would be better off (and patent quality much improved) had people with an actual grasp of science and reality were in charge of the EPO, not a money-chasing kakistocracy (which is what we have now)



  27. Member of the EPO's Boards of Appeal Explains Why VICOs (or ViCo/Video Conferences/Virtual 'Hearings') Are Not Suitable for Justice

    It's interesting to hear (or see/read) what people inside the EPO have to say about the "new normal" when they enjoy a certain level of anonymity (to avert retribution)



  28. Open Source Initiative (OSI) Co-founder Bruce Perens: Open Invention Network (OIN) is Protecting the Software Patent System From Reform and OSI Approves Faux 'Open' Licences (Openwashing)

    Richard Stallman was right about the OSI and the fake 'movement' that claims to have 'coined' the term "Open Source" (it wasn't a new term at all; it had been used in another context and the Free software community spoke of things like "Open Hardware" years earlier)



  29. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, November 24, 2020



  30. Making JavaScript Suck Less

    "Other than that, the first rule of JavaScript is: Do not use JavaScript. But this article is for people who break the first rule."


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