Summary: New article from Richard Stallman
We say that running free software on your computer means that its operation is under your control. Implicitly this presupposes that your computer will do what your programs tell it to do, and no more. In other words, that your computer will be loyal to you.
In 1990 we took that for granted; nowadays, many computers are designed to be disloyal to their users. It has become necessary to spell out what it means for your computer to be a loyal platform that obeys your decisions, which you express by telling it to run certain programs.
Our tentative definition consists of these principles.
- Neutrality towards software
The computer will run, without prejudice, whatever software you install in it, and let that software do whatever its code says to do.
A feature to check for signatures on the programs that run is compatible with this principle provided the signature checking is fully under the user’s control. When that is so, the feature helps implement the user’s decision about which programs to run, rather than thwarting the user’s decisions. By contrast, signature checking that is not fully under the user’s control violates this principle.
- Neutrality towards protocols
The computer will communicate, without prejudice, through whatever protocol your installed software implements, with whatever users and whatever other networked computers you direct it to communicate with.
This means that computer does not impose one particular service rather than another, or one protocol rather than another. It does not require the user to get anyone else’s permission to communicate via a certain protocol.
- Neutrality towards implementations
When the computer communicates using any given protocol, it will support doing so, without prejudice, via whatever code you choose (assuming the code implements the intended protocol), and it will do nothing to help any other part of the Internet to distinguish which code you are using or what changes you may have made in it, or to discriminate based on your choice.
This entails that the computer rejects remote attestation, that is, that it does not permit other computers to determine over the network whether your computer is running one particular software load. Remote attestation gives web sites the power to compel you to connect to them only through an application with DRM that you can’t break, denying you effective control over the software you use to communicate with them. Netflix is a notorious example of this.
We can comprehend remote attestation as a general scheme to allow any web site to impose tivoization or “lockdown” on the local software you connect to it with. Simple tivoization of a program bars modified versions from functioning properly; that makes the program nonfree. Remote attestation by web sites bars modified versions from working with those sites that use it, which makes the program effectively nonfree when using those sites. If a computer allows web sites to bar you from using a modified program with them, it is loyal to them, not to you.
- Neutrality towards data communicated
When the computer receives data using whatever protocol, it will not limit what the program can do with the data received through that communication.
Any hardware-level DRM violates this principle. For instance, the hardware must not deliver video streams encrypted such that only the monitor can decrypt them.
The computer always permits you to analyze the operation of a program that is running.
The computer comes with full documentation of all the interfaces intended for software to use to control the computer.
The principles above apply to all the computer’s software interfaces and all communication the computer does. The computer must not have any disloyal programmable facility or do any disloyal communication.
For instance, the AMT functionality in recent Intel processors runs nonfree software that can talk to Intel remotely. Unless disabled, this makes the system disloyal. █
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Gates and his friend are not having the last laugh
Summary: Intellectual Ventures founder leaves after an exceptionally large round of layoffs, despite recent subsidies from Sony and Microsoft
As noted in the previous post, software patents are gradually going away (if trends are to be judged). Not too long ago we showed how Intellectual Ventures laid off much of its staff after the Alice ruling (amid other ongoing issues). The layoffs were widely reported on and now we learn that Detkin is leaving while saying that “market is tough right now”. It is hilarious because he refers to extortion as a “market”. The news about his departure is excellent news, but he probably won’t go to prison for extortion and a pyramid scheme.
Here is the word from the site which targets trolls but not patent scope:
Here’s some schadenfreude for your Monday: seems that Peter Detkin is leaving Intellectual Ventures. As I noted about a year ago, IV has been having a tough time, although it’s not clear why Detkin is stepping down.
It is worth noting that Sony and Microsoft recently paid more money to Intellectual Ventures in order to keep it afloat. It is also worth noting that Microsoft and Sony share investments in other massive patent trolls and they also share a role in crimes, outlined in part by [1,2,3] (below) and revelations about Sony threatening journalists while launching DDOS attacks. As Will Hill put it the other day:
Inside the Perception Management and Censorship Machine: The Sony Crack Yields Evidence of More Sony Criminal Conduct
Techdirt reports political corruption and bribery against Google by all the major movie studios, all missed by the incompetence or malice of The Verge, a Microsoft mouthpiece. Big publishers are insatiable censors interested only in maintaining their dominant position as determiners of world culture. Google’s efforts to please them only served evil.
The Microsoft press also focuses on Hollywood celebrities and personalized trivia. While it’s nice to learn that Sony executives are racist pigs with a 0.01% sense of privilege and power, hundreds of articles like this will pollute the name space and make it difficult to find real news later.
email exchanges also included racially insensitive remarks about President Obama and derisive comments about Hollywood heavyweights like Kevin Hart and Adam Sandler.
Microsoft often pollutes name spaces and is probably coming to the rescue of their big publisher pals. Microsoft is also persistent censorship threat. They are the biggest issuer of DMCA take down requests, a prolific briber of public officials, university professors, and they created an entire search engine by spying on Windows users to know what results scrape from Google. If you want to know just how dishonest a company they are read their training manuals about subverting the press 
Sony themselves are using every botnet and cracking tool at their disposal to stop people from sharing their leaked emails. Amazon Web Services is also being used to censor the files. It’s not about movies, it’s about the embarrassment of power.
The company is using hundreds of computers in Asia to execute what’s known as a denial of service attack on sites where its pilfered data is available … Sony is using Amazon Web Services, the Internet retailer’s cloud computing unit, which operates data centers in Tokyo and Singapore, to carry out the counterattack … individuals who attempted to access the torrent file encountered bogus “seeds” — or computers — that sapped the resources of their software …
There’s a great deal of fear mongering and BS going on. While the attack was typical Windows malware, the FBI is reported to say it’s really sophisticated and that 90% of businesses and governments are open to similar attacks. If you don’t use Windows, you don’t have to worry about this one. The FBI also says there is no connection to North Korea, but that’s being brought up about as often as Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Sony is a criminal company as has been obvious since their nasty music CD root kit fiasco. Not only did they root millions of computers, which must have included sensitive “protected” military, government and health care systems, they committed criminal copyright infringement by using GNU software to make it. As Richard Stallman noted at the time,
Sony didn’t comply with all that [the GPL]. That’s commercial copyright infringement, which is a felony. They’re both felonies, but Sony wasn’t prosecuted because the government understands that the purpose of the government and the law is to maintain the power of those companies over us, not to help defend our freedom in any way.
If you did not believe him then, Snowden and other brave people are providing you with plenty of proof.
One more area where Sony and Microsoft intersect is patent attacks on Google, among other attacks of other types. See the new report titled “Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google”. A lot of companies, including Facebook which uses the same lobbyists as Microsoft, pressure politicians to harm Google, a steward or guardian of some important FOSS projects, including Linux-based operating systems.
In other news from the above site (the original is unfortunately behind a paywall), there is a new breed of troll which Matt Levy explains as follows:
Here’s the scenario: a patent troll files a suit (or suits) and wins a big judgment. Another company then files an inter partes review petition with the PTAB against the patent troll’s patent and demands a payoff from the patent troll in exchange for withdrawing the petition. If the troll doesn’t pay, it risks losing its patent in the IPR.
I would be more upset about this if I could stop laughing, although it’s hardly a positive development. It can’t be good to have more trolls, even if their victims are patent trolls. Unless of course this new twist helps spotlight dysfunctionality in the patent system for the new Congress.
It’s like extortion against extortion and it is not going to work (blackmail is inherently a problem). It’s like trying to extinguish terrorism using terrorism. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Every year, legal representatives from seven of the biggest movie studios in the country gather in Sherman Oaks, California to talk about all things anti-piracy. Which isn’t surprising; it’s their livelihood, after all. But what does leaves a sour taste in your mouth is their plan to spread the DMCA-dispensing gospel: With shadowy back room dealings and skewed facts.
According to an email in the leaked inbox of Sony Pictures General Counsel Leah Weil, the meeting is facilitated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as a way for the top lawyers at Sony, Time Warner, Viacom, Paramount, Disney, NBC Universal, and Fox to put their heads together and talk global strategy.
As leaks from the recent Sony hack continue to make headlines and company executives apologize for insensitive comments made in exposed emails, we still don’t know how the hack occurred or the exact nature of the demands made by the attackers. But we’ve learned a bit about Sony’s security practices. And we’ve learned that the attackers may have tried to extort Sony before releasing its secrets. We’ve also learned that attempts by Sony to rally public support from rival studios has failed.
On Sunday, a lawyer from Sony Pictures Entertainment sent a strongly-worded letter to news organizations, including The New York Times and Hollywood Reporter, demanding that they not report on the vast quantity of data in the Sony leak.
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Finally seeing the light?
A lighthouse in Denmark
Summary: Instability in the EPO seemingly prevents further expansion of patent scope, which is the subject of scrutiny of EPO staff
TECHRIGHTS has neither actively observed nor spotted much discussion/debate about the Unitary Patent as of late; either it’s being silently stalled or it is being pushed forth in secret (behind closed doors). Truth be told, the EPO is now wrestling with much bigger issues and we will continue to expose damning facts about people who currently run the EPO. They need to be sacked or forced into resignation.
Watch how a lawyers’ propaganda site, IAM, tries to defend the Mafia of the EPO (very much expected from such a zealous site), though as this site puts it:
Keep in mind that this is a poorly attempt to disguise oneself’s doubtful actions! The IAM interview with Battistelli is in my opinion a one-sided version of events. The origin and core of this conflict isn’t about salaries or that 1 judge who was suspended solely rather than violation of National, European and International Law’s in respect of Social Security, Basic Rights and Human Rights! The list of suspended and dissmissed, in some cases, illegal dissmissed servants is long! Do not forget, and here is the point where it starts to get really nasty, in case of dissmissal, wrongfully or not, proven or not, EPO servants do have absolutely NO RIGHTS!!! NO SOCIAL SECURITY, nothing Nada, Niente whereas every European Citizen do own this Rights!
Why does Battistelli don’t comment on why he rules out the labour union first?
Battistelli will most likely be out quite soon. Our EPO series is far from over and it will continue when the time is right (many newspaper journalists go on vacation soon, so it might be worth waiting).
” It is important to impede or altogether prevent the proliferation of software patents; the place they spread from is cracking down on them.”The USPTO, unlike the EPO, is gradually treading away from software patents. Due to the bias of software patents-centric lawyers in the media is may appear like nothing is changing, but actually, a lot is changing quite rapidly in the US. Here is a new example of selective coverage by lawyers’ media and blogs of software patents proponents like Dennis Crouch, who says: “The US Patent Office has released a new set of guidelines for judging patent eligiblity based upon the Supreme Court’s recent quartet of Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice. The guidelines do not carry the force of law but are designed to serve as a manual for examiners when determining eligibility.”
These guidelines will be hard to change unless SCOTUS gets involved again, which is rare (happens perhaps twice per decade). We are thankful for these developments which not only will hurt patent trolls but also villainous extortion operations such as Microsoft’s. It is important to impede or altogether prevent the proliferation of software patents; the place they spread from is cracking down on them. █
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“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” ~Upton Sinclair
Poster Advertising a Patent Attorney
Record Group 179: Records of the War Production Board, 1918 – 1947
Summary: Patent lawyers continue to distort the reality of software patents’ demise in the United States
The CAFC introduced software patents in the US, but a lot has changed since SCOTUS (the Supreme Court), which is above CAFC, ruled against a software patent and extrapolated from that to potentially invalidate a huge number of software patents. Patent lawyers are furious that even some portion of their business, software patents, is going down in flames and we have already shown them trying to deny it, curse, distort, or resort to blame shifting. Truth be damned! This post presents some more recent responses from them. These saturated the press because opposition to software patents has been inactive as of late.
“Patent lawyers are furious that even some portion of their business, software patents, is going down in flames and we have already shown them trying to deny it, curse, distort, or resort to blame shifting.”A new article titled “Federal Circuit Puts Added Squeeze on Software Patents” shows the far-reaching impact of recent developments as “The courts set a new record for rejecting software patents in 2014″, according to one opponent of software patents. It is not just about SCOTUS anymore because various lower courts, including CAFC, follow the same footsteps of the highest court. They have no choice is they want to obey the law, otherwise appeals will follow suit and be accepted on caselaw grounds.
Over at Managing Intellectual Property, a pro-patents site, is is claimed that “Business method patent issuance has plummeted since Alice”. Another new article from patents-centric media provides a summary of post-Alice rulings on patentability of software. Rosenbaum IP, a law firm, wrote on December 2nd that “drafting narrow claims to ensure software is patent-eligible presents a challenge for patent practitioners. Patent practitioners are trained to draft claims with the broadest possible scope in order to ensnare as many infringers as possible.”
To them, the problem is not software patents but those who are rejecting them. Here is another news article about the post-Alice world, noting: “The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision announcing the framework for determining patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. Section 101 has created a rabbit hole that will require a rethinking of intellectual-property protection strategies.”
No, not really. Developers already have copyrights and that is more and enough (sometimes too much, e.g. copyrights on APIs in the US, which CAFC accepts, the EU rejects, and SCOTUS will hopefully bury soon). Here is a report about a recent case which shows that not all software patents are categorically dead, at least not yet. To quote the report: “For those following the law of patent eligibility in the United States, a December 5, 2014 precedential decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that a patent on webpage-display technology is patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. A slew of recent court decisions have gone the other way, leaving arguably similar patents invalid.”
Over at patent lawyers’ sites, especially in blogs that do not pretend to be journalism, a different picture is presented to readers. Within the echo chamber of patent lawyers truth is warped. Here is WatchTroll, whom we criticised before for extreme bias, glorifying software patents and those acquiring them with help from patent lawyers. He also calls patent trolling “Patent Monetization” and does some revisionism under the banner of
“The History of Software Patents in the United States”. He mocks opposition to software patents and says: “The first software patent was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 23, 1968 on an application filed on April 9, 1965, Martin A. Goetz, a pioneer in the development of the commercial software industry, was the inventor of the first software patent ever granted, U.S. Patent No. 3,380,029. Several years ago PBS Digital Studios profiled Goetz and his pursuit of the first software patent.”
Martin Goetz is extremely biased in favour of software patents, so he is convenient for what is basically a defence of such patents. It is agenda disguised as ‘history’ (not just ‘news’) and it clearly became a series whose claims we reject. It’s a selective account of history.
There are other pro-software patents ‘news’ sites and there is utterly, overly selective coverage there (any losses for software patents are ignored). We reviewed dozens of these over the past fortnight and it’s very easy to spot to one who knows the facts and keeps abreast of many cases. WatchTroll’s site acknowledges that the “Federal Circuit Finds Software Patent Claim Patent Eligible”, but most of the time he just tries to paint everyone as a supporter of software patents (the opposite is true), thereby trying to pressure judges and mislead colleagues. Totally irresponsible!
In other lawyers’ Web sites there is another type of bias that looks more professional. An article by Adam M. Breier from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP shows us one a such example where patent lawyers are trying hard to promote software patents, sometimes by only covering what suits their agenda. They usually ignore the bad news (to them) and mislead readers by providing only coverage one half of the half-filled glass. At National Law Review there is an article titled “Section 101 and Software Patents: Abstract or Not?” (published here as well). Therein, an overview is presented by a biased author.
The Alice case is still in the headlines of legal sites (a month later) and words cannot express how disgusting the so-called “legal” press is. Patent lawyers are very much desperate to discredit court decisions which are hostile towards software patents these days. Articles continues to come which paint a deceiving picture, seeking to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Such sites are trying to shoot down the messenger and ignore the facts. Such is the case with coverage in patent lawyers’ sites of Ultramercial, LLC v. Hulu, LLC (software patents lost). Here is Lowell D. Yoder from McDermott Will & Emery saying that Post-Alice Federal Circuit Finds Internet Advertising Method Not Patent Eligible” (true, but see the self-serving analysis) and others say in patent lawyers’ sites that “Patent Eligibility [is] Becoming Threshold Question for Litigation”. Not litigation is at stake, but the actual eligibility (including during assessment by patent examiners after issuance of new guidelines). A widely published article phrased is as a question, “Another software patent is ruled patent-ineligible – are business method and software patents at risk?” (also published here and here).
This is a rhetorical question. It hardly needs to be asked at all, except perhaps in patent lawyers’ media. Also see “California district court helps clarify when software claims are patent eligible under Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank” and “Claims that CAFC’s Ultramercial decision could prove a catastrophe for companies that license software patents” (or patent extortion like Microsoft’s). Notice how it’s framed. They make it sound like horrible news despite the fact that the vast majority of software professionals loathes software patents.
IAM, a crude patent propaganda site, is once again relaying Microsoft’s talking points, which promote software patents (see “Software patent owners have nothing to fear from the CAFC’s Ultramercial decision, says Microsoft’s former chief patent counsel”).
Also see the article “Protecting Intellectual Property Rights In Software After Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank” from the lawyers’ press. It is not unusual for a legal firm to characterise monopoly on algorithm as “protecting”. It is just the lingo of patent lawyers with euphemisms and double standards. Above is a loaded headline whose purpose it to appeal to emotion and make rulings against software patents seem like “catastrophe”.
The Ultramercial case shows that beyond copyrights there is no reason to have a government-sanctioned monopoly. That is not so hard to understand, is it?
The proponents of software patents and spinners against Ultramercial of course include WatchTroll, who wrote: “Ultramercial’s Federal Circuit luck has now run out. Gone from the original panel was Chief Judge Rader who retired and was replaced by Judge Mayer, which does not bode well for any patent owner.”
This is the corrupt software patents extremist, Mr. Rader, whom we wrote about in [1, 2, 3]. How convenient a source to lean on!
Legal-centric sites go further by also promoting software patents in Australia (see the article “Australian full court sets new test for software patents – it’s all about the substance”) and in India, which still fights lobbyists who try to legalise software patents in this software giant nation (see “Disclosure Requirements For Software Patents”).
Dr. Glyn Moody has an interesting new article about FRAND (usually about software patents, albeit not always) in hardware superpower China, citing a dispute with ZTE. To quote Moody:
How Should Standard-Essential Patents Be Licensed?
Patents are intellectual monopolies, designed to give the patent-holder control over an invention by excluding others from using it without permission. That’s a problem when standards include patented elements. Anyone who wants to implement that standard must use the invention, which gives the patent-holder the ability, in theory, to demand and obtain any licensing deal it might propose. To limit that power, holders of these standard-essential patents are often required to agree to offer licensing terms on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
However, when another Chinese company, ZTE, sought a license from Huawei, they were unable to agree on the terms, so Huawei brought an action for infringement against ZTE. According to ZTE, Huawei’s attempt to obtain an injunction against it constituted an abuse of its dominant position, since ZTE was willing to negotiate a license. Here’s the key part of the Advocate General’s opinion.
Incidentally, there is a new report showing just illegitimate the USPTO is becoming. Now it treats patents, which are supposed to be all about publication, as secrets. To quote TechDirt: “The USPTO drops the dreaded b(5) exemption all over its internal emails, withholding stuff seemingly just to be withholding stuff, which is what the b(5) exemption does best. Supposedly this exemption is limited to memos or letters that would not be available to anyone but a “party in litigation with the [responding] agency,” but in this case, seems to cover information otherwise in the public domain.
“Here’s another redacted set of search results, covering variations like MARKY or MARKEY appearing on clothing. Hopefully, the two pages of black ink are covering up images rather than words. Otherwise, it would appear that the MARKY/MARKEY market is incredibly overcrowded.”
How ridiculous is that? The US patent system sure seems like it’s facing a crisis (of patent quality or scope) and it is going to have to cut down on software patents, business method patents, etc. in order to save its credibility. Without credibility it will cease to attract clients, some of whom sooner or later realise that acquiring a patent is not enough to successfully sue a rival in court. █
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