05.07.19

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Microsoft Will Have You Sued for Not Hosting GNU/Linux on Azure (Paying Rents)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Microsoft’s anti-Linux strategy is a hybrid of “embrace” and “tax” (if not amicably then by force); critics are being neutralised by giving them suitcases of cash

BACK a decade (or more) ago we wrote about Novell and Microsoft most of the time. Around 2009 we turned more of our attention to patent trolls and dubious patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had granted. It wasn’t before 2014 that many of these patents started to collapse in courts, owing to SCOTUS and 35 U.S.C. § 101.

In recent years Microsoft recognised that its patents lacked ‘teeth’ (most of those it is ‘lending’ to OIN), but it threatens Linux OEMs nonetheless, even this year. The Linux Foundation is paid to shut up about it, but that’s another topic for another day*.

“As we explained before, in order for “Azure IP Advantage” to be sell-able (or become a selling point) Microsoft must ensure that many FOSS users get attacked by patent trolls.”“Azure IP Advantage” isn’t even mentioned by the Linux Foundation. Funny, isn’t it? It’s part of Microsoft’s plan to hijack all of GNU/Linux, offering “IP peace of mind” (same stunt it has used since 2006 with Novell). We’ve been writing a lot about this since two years ago [1, 2], but not a single person in the corporate media even touches the subject. Instead they play along with Microsoft PR, such as the loads of nonsense coming out of Microsoft Build this week. We’re putting rebuttals in our daily links (with many editorial comments under the “Openwashing” section or in Tux Machines [1, 2]). We’ve found only one single good article about this.

As we explained before, in order for “Azure IP Advantage” to be sell-able (or become a selling point) Microsoft must ensure that many FOSS users get attacked by patent trolls. Remember the lawsuits filed by Acacia (with former Microsoft chiefs) against Red Hat and others? We have extensive documentation and this timeline. In the article “A Deeper Look at Acacia” by Troll Tracker (Rick the unmasked Cisco patent expert) there was a report of “2 cases filed by Acacia subsidiary Soundview Technologies Inc., 1 in Chicago and 1 in Las Vegas, both by Niro Scavone.” Another old article says: “In 2000, Soundview, an Acacia affiliate, sued Sony, Phillips and 17 other television manufacturers for violating its patent for V-chip technology best known for allowing parents to block certain programming from their home sets. More than a dozen major companies signed licenses for the technology before a federal court in Connecticut ruled in 2002 that TV makers didn’t violate Soundview’s patent. Acacia lost its appeal of the verdict in 2004.”

We don’t know if these lawsuits from Sound View Innovations are the same (or whether “Sound View Innovations, LLC” is a troll offshoot of “Soundview Technologies Inc.”), but a few days ago Bart Eppenauer (ex-Microsoft) of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. (yes, Microsoft again, check its chief and founder) was happy to see this patent troll attacking FOSS, perhaps because it helps Microsoft sell Azure (it’s their new business model, Azure IP Advantage) and helps bring more business (litigation) to his firm. The title of his new article is “Sound View Escalates Patent Assault on Open Source Software with New Wave of Lawsuits” and to quote this Microsoft veteran (he was very high level at Microsoft):

Sound View Innovations, an IP licensing company that is quickly becoming a prolific Non-Practicing Entity (NPE), has ramped up its litigation campaign by filing seven more lawsuits in 2019. Similar to the patent lawsuits that it initiated in 2017 against major players like Facebook, Hulu, Twitter and Fidelity, Sound View is again targeting widely used open source software including jQuery and Apache Hadoop. Sound View is also accusing ubiquitous streaming media protocols of patent infringement such as HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and MPEG-DASH. In January 2019 Sound View filed lawsuits against several media companies such as AMC Networks, CBS Interactive and The CW Network. And in April 2019, Sound View diversified its industry targets by filing patent lawsuits against Walmart and Delta Airlines. With this latest round, Sound View has now filed 13 patent infringement lawsuits since starting its campaign against Facebook in February 2016.

Maybe if these companies had use Azure, Microsoft would indemnify them or tell this troll (apparently connected to Microsoft) not to sue. Microsoft has got ideas; they aren’t pretty. The media is unwilling to write about this strategy, instead showing us with banners that say “Microsoft loves Linux” (remember Steve Ballmer’s own words: “Advertisers, Advertisers, Advertisers”). Perfectly describes today’s Linux Foundation (see footnote below).
____
* Consider the tale of three individuals. Person #1: in the 1980s he created a system which would be used by billions of people every minute of the day. Person #2: in the 1990s he created a kernel for the above person’s system (1). Person #3: created a front group for the person above (2), selling access and branding rights to massive corporations. Question: Who’s poorest and who’s richest (~1,000,000 dollars/annum, tax exempted like the above corporations)?

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