10.25.19

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We Need to Talk About IBM’s and OIN’s Stance on Software Patents at Times When Microsoft-Armed Patent Trolls Attack GNU/Linux

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OIN (IBM roots) has already admitted that it has no solution to trolls (it's run by them) and it refuses to oppose software patents

OIN loves Microsoft

Summary: The people who claim to be tackling the patent woes of GNU/Linux are actually in bed with Microsoft and don’t oppose software patents; they try to wed the Free software community and such patents — even if that means a shotgun wedding

THERE IS a serious problem in the Free software world which few of us talk about (or want to talk about). It’s not convenient. Our so-called ‘flag bearers’ and sometimes sponsors work against our interests. They do this in a number of dimensions, but this post will focus on patents. We’ll try to keep this non-legal (as in no legalese) and non-technical — to the point or the degree possible. We won’t, for instance, explain 35 U.S.C. § 101 caselaw in the USPTO or the illegal granting of European software patents by the European Patent Office (EPO). It really doesn’t matter so much in this context. All that matters is that software patents are inherently bad, developers don’t want these (no matter if Free software developers or non-free software developers), and courts increasingly reject these patents.

“All that matters is that software patents are inherently bad, developers don’t want these (no matter if Free software developers or non-free software developers), and courts increasingly reject these patents.”So here we are in 2019, with IBM as the likely biggest “contributor” (in the coding sense) to GNU/Linux because of the Red Hat acquisition. One could choose other criteria such as number of instances/installations serviced/hosted. But that’s not the point. The point is, whether we like it or not, we’re sort of ‘stuck’ with IBM as a major ‘flag bearer’; yes, it dominates development of many components in a GNU/Linux system, including the kernel and systemd. Many are happy about IBM’s (or Red Hat’s) kernel contributions, more so than the latter. IBM does a lot of important — and sometimes good — things. It also does bad things. Pretty common when dealing with very large companies…

We now come to the ‘beef’ of this post if not this borderline rant. Earlier this week Benjamin Henrion (FFII President) complained about the “EPO sponsoring yet another software patent conference on Internet Of Things (IOT) http://www.iam-events.com/events/iot-ip-2019/agenda-6e588d27158140d98ee1f35b75c3e976.aspx …”

“IBM does a lot of important — and sometimes good — things. It also does bad things.”For those who don’t know, at the EPO “IOT” (or “IoT”) is nowadays one of several buzzwords that they use to disguise software patents. Henrion might be wrong here because the EPO is not listed among sponsors but OIN is. Yes, OIN. This wouldn’t be the first time OIN shows up in pro-software patents events of the EPO and IAM, which is a patent front of the EPO et al. IAM is funded in part by patent trolls. Sometimes it’s supported and funded by the EPO and its PR agencies. When they’re pushing for software patents it isn’t motivated by logic, just money, greed and self-interest. “Closing keynote address” in this event is Grant Philpott, a Microsoft-friendly proponent of software patents (we wrote about him many times in the past). This whole event is a farce and OIN’s role in these IAM events is to give the illusion that “Open Source” too is participating. That’s just a reminder that OIN is an enemy of Software Freedom and friend of software patents (like IBM is).

These EPO events or OIN-attended events aren’t a new problem; they’re part of a pattern we’ve been covering here for at least a year. They tend to push software patents without mentioning that term or that phrase. Here’s another new example from an EPO tweet that said: “EPOPIC 2019 starts in less than a week. We look forward to welcoming you for three days of thought-provoking exchanges with patent information specialists from all over the world.”

Notice who’s speaking there. Andrei Iancu with “Intellectual property and the next Industrial Revolution” (another weasel term for software patents, akin to “4IR”) and Alexander Klenner-Bajaja from the EPO with “Artificial intelligence and patent classification” (the usual “AI” hype).

“These EPO events or OIN-attended events aren’t a new problem; they’re part of a pattern we’ve been covering here for at least a year. They tend to push software patents without mentioning that term or that phrase.”The EPO’s social media team then retweeted this tweet that said: “The @Derwent experts are on hand next week at #EPOPIC Attend our workshop on the new enhanced Derwent Innovation and hear how the latest patent research tool is going to transform the way you search for data.”

This thing is being advertised by EPO staff. Why? Shouldn’t the EPO be impartial? But let’s leave the EPO aside for a moment; it’s no secret that it’s lobbying for illegal software patents.

Going back to OIN and Henrion (FFII), there’s a discussion about the high-profile lawsuit against GNU/Linux; we wrote 3 articles about it [1, 2, 3] and over at Tux Machines we carefully filed every article and blog post on this subject (we always try to exhaustively archive topics for reference, both present and future reference).

“Will you use Alice as defence?”

So asked Henrion, who continued: “Using prior art is not helpful to get rid of software patents, Alice is. You should clarify in your fundraising message if you gonna use it or not. If that’s the case, http://FFII.org and its thousands of supporters database can be called.”

“The GNOME Foundation still refuses to even acknowledge rather obvious Microsoft connections (their biggest troll armed this smaller troll)…”He continued separately: “Will the Gnome Foundation use Alice to kick software patents out in the US? as RMS said “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitos will eliminate malaria” https://www.gnome.org/news/2019/10/gnome-files-defense-against-patent-troll/ … read https://lwn.net/Articles/802819/ …”

He made a similar point about a week ago.

The GNOME Foundation still refuses to even acknowledge rather obvious Microsoft connections (their biggest troll armed this smaller troll) and if they rely on IBM front groups such as OIN (proponents of software patents to whom patent trolls aren’t really a problem but a cost of IBM doing ‘business’… i.e. blackmailing companies with a trove of lousy old patents) you end up having a rather lousy defense strategy, potentially a costly one too.

“I have asked the Gnome foundation to clarify if they gonna use Alice as defense,” Henrion noted, citing this message of his:

Hi,

I wanted to ask the Gnome foundation a crucial question before calling
on FFII supporters to donate.

Will you use Alice as defence (patentable subject matter)?

Using prior art is not helpful to get rid of software
patents,patentable subject matter is way more important.

You should clarify in your fundraising message if you gonna use it or not.

If that's the case, FFII.org and its thousands of supporters database
will be called to donate.

You should also call on donators to contact their senators to oppose
the STRONGER patent act which aims to restore software patents in the US:

https://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/strengthen-free-software-by-telling-congress-to-reject-the-stronger-patents-act

We keep seeing blog posts from GNOME people and Debian people (sometimes also tweets). Oddly enough, Red Hat employees and Fedora developers have hardly said a thing! Maybe with the exception of Richard Hughes (LVFS/fwupd developer).

These must be rather awkward times to be at Red Hat; on the one hand they’re developing and supporting GNOME and on the other hand, while at the same time working for IBM (remember that IBM lobbies for those software patents — the type of patents that IBM lobbies hardest for) they’re confronting these ruinous lawsuits. Can they speak out against patent trolls while IBM, their employer, keeps shaking down companies like a troll? Maybe they prefer not to say anything.

“These must be rather awkward times to be at Red Hat; on the one hand they’re developing and supporting GNOME and on the other hand, while at the same time working for IBM (remember that IBM lobbies for those software patents — the type of patents that IBM lobbies hardest for) they’re confronting these ruinous lawsuits.”Stefano Zacchiroli (“Free Software activist” by his own description, with past connections to OSI where he was a technical member) wrote: “Please donate to the #GNOME Patent Troll Defense Fund here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/gnome-foundation-inc/gnome-patent-troll-defense-fund … Software patents are a disgrace and we should defend FOSS from them. Learn more in the blog post below. https://twitter.com/gnome/status/1186412835083042817 …”

Zacchiroli is a very good person whose geek credentials and track record speak for themselves. But where are the Red Hat (IBM) employees? Why are they so quiet on matters pertaining to patents? The sad reality is that GNOME’s key sponsors/stewards, Red Hat included (now IBM), are big proponents of software patents (and IBM is naturally and perhaps factually the biggest). We need to talk about this…

“Red Hat was quick to comment on (celebrate with diplomatic restraint) the ousting of Richard Stallman, but as far as we can tell no comment has been made — at least not yet — about a troll armed by a Microsoft proxy suing GNU/Linux.”Henrion, commenting on the FOSDEM conference near him, has noticed that the sponsors’ page has just been updated.

“Remember that the 3 sponsors of FOSDEM routinely file software patents,” he wrote. “And sue using these patents,” I continued his thoughts, “especially IBM (so Red Hat basically).”

Red Hat was quick to comment on (celebrate with diplomatic restraint) the ousting of Richard Stallman, but as far as we can tell no comment has been made — at least not yet — about a troll armed by a Microsoft proxy suing GNU/Linux. Odd that…

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