We will hopefully be able to include some blog posts about these protests pretty soon.
Microsoft’s B.A.D. is a global problem [1, 2]. The strugglingcompany from Redmond is trying to cause as much damage as possible to young people, with the assistance of corruptible supervisors who permit this to happen. They really should be named and shamed (or at least be educated about the harms they bring). Here is another new example, this time from UAE:
Microsoft GulfMicrosoft GulfLoading… today announced the launch of the Microsoft DreamSpark Student Program in the UAE. Under the program, all high school and university students in the UAE will gain access to the latest Microsoft developer designer and gaming tools at no charge to unlock their creative potential and set them on the path to academic and career success. In its first phase, Microsoft DreamSpark is being piloted in partnership with Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). This broad range of professional level software will be available online on http://www.dreamspark.com/ and students will also have the option of going through HCTHCTLoading…’s website to access DreamSpark.
Going back to India, Microsoft is once again invading Free/open source events, as the evidence in its Fort 25 [sic] blog suggests. This embrace, extend and extinguish plan needs to be resisted [1, 2, 3]. From Microsoft:
A New Appreciation for Open Source in India – and Our Role in it.
As I stated in my last blog, I am attending the premier Indian Open Source conference, FOSS.IN, in Bangalore.
Someone should tell Microsoft that until its stops threatening to sue Free software, they deserve no role in FOSS.IN, which is described as “one of the world’s largest Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) events, held annually in India.” Microsoft is playing a game there, but it does not seem like an active participant, for a change. They add insult to injury using their ‘buddies’ (from a distance) in order to discourage adoption of Free software.
Microsoft is no friend of Free software [1, 2, 3, 4]. It ‘embraces’ it in order to change and ruin it, just like it ruined ISO (along with international software standards). This destruction is a self-serving routine. █
“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”
–Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft
I guess it was a good programme yesterday for free software …we have
to concentrate on the long term aspects…please do write on what we
could do better..please make this a community report on what you thought
is good and bad..
We had many people saying “NO TO M$-VTU” Lock In. the nice thing was we
were able to have some new people From colleges : both lecturers and
students ..a good representation from all sections of civil socitey
“Intellectual Ventures (IV) will be setting up shop at the top of a Four Seasons this week as Headline Sponsor of the Ready to Commercialize 2008 conference hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. It’s the patent firm’s 100th university deal, though some, such as Professor Michael Heller at Columbia University, warn against such deals. ‘… their individual profit comes at the cost of the public ability to innovate. The university’s larger mission is to serve the public interest, and some of these deals work against that public interest.’ It’s a follow-up to the conference IV sponsored last summer for technology transfer professionals entrusted with commercializing their universities’ intellectual property, and should help IV, a friend of Microsoft, snag even more exclusive deals (PDF).”
I will soon publish my impression from a highly entertaining European Commission workshop on intellectual property rights and ICT standards on 19 November 2008 in Brussels, Belgium held at the Bedford Hotel, formerly a cotton mill. Since I attended yesterday at the Commission in Brussels, I am still patching up my notes. Here is a very first impression. These are soundbites from the workshop. Some caused laughter. Others were just strange. Others again did not necessarily have one clear interpretation. I will leave it to the readers to interpret them for now.
His quotes from Microsoft may not be precise, but these ones stands out:
“12. – Open Source is not a business model, Amy Morasco [of Microsoft].”
Speaking of OOXML, Groklaw links to this report from an ISO plenary where OOXML is discussed. Pamela Jones adds: “here is my question: what do you implement? Microsoft isn’t implementing currently either OOXML or Ecma2. So where is the standard? Also, I am thinking if you can’t afford to pay ISO for the OOXML standard [it's not free] or don’t like the restrictions on free availability, you could just wait and get Ecma2 when it’s available from them without restrictions.”
In its new opinion, the court declined to settle the issue of when, if ever, software based inventions should be patentable. Even so, the new test in Bilski will probably limit the patentability of software.
Future cases will shed further light on this issue. In the meantime, the holder of a poor quality software patent is likely to think more carefully about bringing a lawsuit, because the patent may be ruled invalid.
The FOSS community and its supporters need to explain to our friends, neighbors, and legislators the practical realities of software patents. We need to continue to challenge received wisdom about innovation in software, and to explain that patents do not always foster innovation.
Jeremy from IPKet has published this post to shed more light on the situation in EPO and UK-IPO.
Some people say that the referral of the questions is a feeble surrender to the demand of Lord Justice Jacob in Aerotel/Macrossan that the EPO resolve the contradictions in its earlier rulings — contradictions the existence of which the previous President of the EPO denied — or whether it is a resolute defence of the EPO’s resistance to such pressures that have led it to ask its own questions of the Enlarged Board rather than those articulated by Jacob LJ. The nature of the questions has itself given rise to plenty of speculation. Are they there simply to remove perceived inconsistencies in EPO practice, or are they posed in order to provide an excuse to send out answers that will seek to bind practice in national offices too?
Fortunately, this isn’t from David Pearce, whom we don’t appreciate for his disdain of software patents critics, but either way, it’s encouraging to see pro-patents Web sites admitting that the system is weakening. This isn’t the first [1, 2].
The OpenMoko analysis, which continues to receive coverage [1, 2], probably fails to identify the source of agitation and litigation. It’s not about the patent troll called Sisvel; trolls sometimes operate on behalf of larger companies that want competing products removed from the market. In this case, Sisvel is said to be a proxy of Philips, acting as a front much like the MAFIAA. And let’s never forget Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], which sued the market’s GNU/Linux leaders just shortly after hiring top-level employees from Microsoft. █
ON A COUPLE of occasions earlier this week, the protest against Novell in India got highlighted [1, 2]. As one blogger pointed out, the conference will be remembered for quite some time (internationally even) because of this incident, which is likely to deter prospective Novell customers. It’s actually interesting that yesterday alone this Web site gauged about 600,000 hits, which is a lot more than usual. We’re actually surprised that the server managed to stay up and serve pages.
We were not able to confirm this, but one reader told us that the action was a success in the sense that Novell won’t participate in this “Free software” conference. Videos are beginning to appear as well, so here’s a couple.
This action was also covered in several big sites and the father of the Free software movement commended the effort. Some more coverage appears here, in addition to a lot of blogs. According to Savio over at InfoWorld (IDG), these actions were a lot more effective than the activists probably realise.
[W]hat I find more interesting are the calls to boycott Novell, Suse, and Microsoft products in India.
It’s about about word of mouth. It changes perceptions and passes from mouth to ear. █
Failing at natural growth? Then strike deals with competitors like Microsoft and then buy some more companies for Microsoft to have more influence over. Yes, we are being partly cynical, but there is an element of truth in that.
The following accumulation is intended to serve as a reference post about the acquisition by Novell of Managed Objects. Novell has become somewhat of a serial acquirer, and that’s no good given Novell’s #1 partner and its ill effects on Free software.
Anyway, here is the press release announcing this to-be acquisition, which will probably be approved without any difficulties.
Those with stake in patents witness and dread the backlash (some would say “revolt”)
As promised yesterday, here is a quick status report. In the southern hemisphere, not all is fine and dandy. In fact, the news from New Zealand is that software patents meet opposition from the Green party.
The Government of New Zealand is proposing a set of amendments to the national patent law, none of them clearly mentions the exclusions of software from the field of patentability. The Government claims that Free Trade Agreements and other international treaties require software patents in New Zealand.
The Green party has already taken a position against software patents in New Zealand, but what is more important is to convince the right wing conservatives that software patents harms the local economy.
It’s not much better in Australia where the patent system as a whole is now being taken to task.
THE federal Government is considering overhauling patent laws, after a major report this week found the ease with which patents were granted in Australia was hampering innovation.
Specifically, the report showed that the ease of getting a patent in Australia was leading to way too many bad patents being granted, which were then being used to stifle innovation and investment.
Over in Europe, the system as a whole is being questioned as EPO staff goes on strike and continues to receive a lot of coverage. Richard Stallman says it's due to corruption (greed and lust for money).
It’s getting rather embarrassing and ugly because the waves this has sent across the media and A-list blogs rekindle an almost-forgotten discussion, which means that people take nothing for granted and start getting curious, thus getting better informed.
European Patent Agents Go On Strike To Complain About Pressure To Approve Bad Patents
One of the causes of so many bad patents getting approved lately is screwed up incentives in the patent system. For a while, the US had a de facto system where agents were pushed to approve a patent when in doubt. That’s because they were judged on how many patents they went through — and if they rejected a patent, the applicant could complain and ask for a review — meaning that the examiner would have to spend more time reviewing that same patent again, decreasing the number of patents they had gotten through, potentially harming their “stats.” Thus, it’s often easier to just “approve.” And, of course, the Patent Office itself is usually fine with this, because that means more patent applications and more fees.
SUEPO needs to be completely transparent about its motivation, otherwise there will be a suspicion that patent quality is just being used as a tool to attract headlines. That, of course, is a very dangerous game. It can help to reinforce the claims that the patent system is not working. If you don’t believe me, just look at the enthusiastic coverage the strikes are receiving on anti-software patent websites.
So, to sum up: SUEPO and Ms Jacobs might be right. But we will not know until they stop sloganeering and start to provide some proof. Until they do, I am going to continue to be critical of their actions.
They merely fear the end of an era which lies ahead. A lot of patent attorneys and patent holders are likely to be disappointed to see sanity restored. The bursting of any bubble is inevitable.
[T]hey identify software and business methods as an issue, and state that large companies are using the patent system to build thickets that effectively keep competitors out of markets.
As more people scream for change and stand up for their right to run a business, the patent systems will find themselves under more fire. Loopholes in the law don’t last forever. █
“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source. Making it easier for companies and communities that have patents to make those patents available in a common pool for people to use is one way to try to help developers deal with the threat.”
The good folks from India are said to be “conducting a National Public meeting on software Patents on October 4th.” There is already a draft and an announcement might come tomorrow, Boycott Novell was informed. A lot of organisations are likely to be joining with an initial list here. By name:
1. Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore
2. Free Software Users Group, Bangalore
3. Free Software Foundation of India, Mumbai
4. Society For Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment, Trivandrum
5. IT for Change, Bangalore
6. Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
7. Delhi Science Forum, Delhi
8. Movingrepublic, Kerala
9. OpenSpace, Bangalore
10. Swathanthra Malayalam Computing, Kerala
11. Servelots – Janastu, Bangalore
12. Mahiti, Bangalore
13. DeepRoot Linux, Bangalore
14. Wiki Ocean, Pune [TBC]
15. Turtle Linux Lab, Bangalore
16. Zyxware Technologies, Trivandrum
17. INSAF(Indian Social Action Forum)
18. Aneka, Bangalore
The patenting regime was dominated by a form of lifelong royalty levy in which software was equated with any other artifact—one could patent just about anything: from a single-click buying business method to drop-boxes on a website. “India should avoid the mistakes of the U.S.”
In this coverage of a talk from Richard Stallman, the problem is being acknowledged again.
He [Richard Stallman] pointed out many of the problems with software patents and the difficulties with being able to develop software independently. If you have any sort of success, you might easily run afoul of someone that claims a patent on your idea. He games examples of the gzip/pkzip fiasco and a few others. He showed how hard it is to find a patent, decipher the filings, and even the problems with patents that are under consideration. All pose problems and Mr. Stallman is right, we need to do something.
For those who have not seen Richard Stallman talking about patents, here’s a bundle.
I was arguing at the recent Knowright2008 conference in Krakow (Poland) why software authors lost their rights with software patents. I was explaining why the Berne Convention which protects software under a copyright regime (for source code and binary code) does not give space for software patents.
Here is the presentation:
Sorry, no match for the embedded content.
After my presentation, the BSA representative mentioned his disagreement with my argumentation, saying that there is the “idea” and the “implementation”.
Maybe there are Americans in the room to cite the First Amendment?
As pointed out the other day, one key point is that hardware takes money to reproduce. It would be insane to limit development of something which can be produce by anyone very quickly and then spread infinitely. That would be an artificial obstruction of free-flowing trade. In particular, as this new post emphasises, patents harm small businesses (not to be confused with small patent trolls) the most.
This post on software patents and copyrights and everything else in between is a means of letting off steam caused by reading news that Apple is taking ideas from commercial softwares being actively sold and trying to get patents for those ideas posing as concepts of their own. Yes: Ideas and concepts Apple has not conceived themselves but would like to legally call their own and demand, if and whenever they like, a royalty from anyone building on those ideas — or, in the worst case scenario, sever competition. Patents are considered evil and bad, and there are good reasons why.
Apple is not the only company who is doing it. Most big companies do it; have done it in the past. It has almost become a trend: big companies openly filching ideas from commercial softwares not their own, and attempting to patent those ideas as their own. For example, here we see Microsoft finally being granted a patent on “Page Up” and “Page Down” keystrokes. As another example, Microsoft owns a patent on the “Tree-View” mode we have come to love in many file-system applications. These are merely examples, and Microsoft and Apple are not the only big companies indulging in such practices.
Aruba Networks says that it has filed a patent infringement countersuit against Motorola, Symbol, and Wireless Valley. The countersuit concerns Motorola’s (and its subsidiaries’) claimed infringement of two Aruba patents related to managing wireless computer networks and network security.
A league of patent trolls is being established over in IAM and there is now an overview.
Joff Wild over at the IAM Blog recently chatted with Dan McCurdy, chairman of PatentFreedom and CEO of Allied Security Trust, who is issuing a list of the most litigious non-practicing entities (aka “patent trolls”) for the next issue of IAM Magazine.
Acacia tops the list with several ex-Microsoft executives among its ranks.
As GNU/Linux gains greater acceptance, the last (and someone new) barrier will be software patents, which are worth fighting even at the expense of Free software advocacy. Software patents are an artificial barrier and a case of moving goalposts. Having removed this barrier, advocacy of Free software will be a breeze. █
Can a person ever obtain a patent on a Penguin? How about DNA?
I believe that this marks the beginning of the end of ISO’s reign as the primary standards-setting organisation, at least as far as computing is concerned (for other industries, details of the standards-setting process, or even of the standards that result, may not be quite so crucial as they for the current phase of IT.) This is a view that I and others have articulated before, but one that was not really accompanied by any signs that things would actually change.
The Consegi Declaration, by contrast, is a very real statement of intent by some of the most important players in the international computing community. Collectively, they have sufficient power to make a difference to how standards are set globally. Specifically, they could at a stroke help establish some alternative forum as a rival to the ISO by throwing their weight behind it.
As the INQUIRER previously noted, there are now two incompatible, international document standards on which the world can conduct its discourse, manage its business, and record its archives: ODF, which was designed by the people, for the people; and OOXML, which was created by Microsoft, the convicted monopolist.
In a statement of protest adopted by the Congresso Internacional Sociedade e Governo Eletronico (CONSEGI), the countries charge that the international committees bent their own rules. The emerging nations even argue that these proceedings call into question the future use of ISO standards in their administrations.
There is an unexpected reaction from major government IT agencies in six countries condemning the ISO/IEC refusal to act on the four appeals against OOXML, which they say “reflects poorly” on ISO/IEC. They have signed and sent an open letter to ISO, which I’ll show you in full. The countries represented are South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Cuba.
State IT organisation representatives from Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Paraguay have signed a declaration expressing their dissatisfaction with the International Standards Organisation (ISO).
The countries signed the declaration at the CONSEGI conference in Brazil over the weekend in response to news that the ISO/IEC had rejected the appeals from South Africa, Brazil and Venezuela and India to the ISO process to adopt Microsoft’s OOXML format as an international standard.
“The bending of the rules to facilitate the fast-track processing… remains a significant concern to us,” they said, referring to a process many parties had complained was too fast and not transparent enough for such a complex format.
The latest blowback from the OOXML adoption process emerged last Friday in Brasilia, Brazil. This newest challenge to the continued relevance of ISO and IEC was thrown when major IT agencies of six nations – Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, South Africa and Venezuela – signed a declaration that deploring the refusal of ISO and IEC to further review the appeals submitted by the National Bodies of four nations. Those nations were Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela, and the statement is titled the CONSEGI 2008 Declaration, after the conference at which it was delivered.
South America and South Africa have been aligned for quite some time on many occasions of international legislation and often vigorously oppose government agendas of the “North”. What makes me as a European feel ashamed is that they take the freedom to speak in plain words while European and Northern American standard bodies fail to express the obvious. A reform of ISO would only be possible when all nations work jointly on that matter. Here it looks like the four nations actually consider to leave ISO and set up their own vendor-neutral standard organisation. I guess many standards consortia will try to gather the fortune and get these nations on board.
But who are we to interfere with the Masters of Scholastics of Geneva?
The most interesting part of that letter is not the protest itself: Those countries are outraged. Actually, the most interesting part of that letter is that it clearly shows that they have run out of options -and will- to appeal the ISO decisions. Which does not mean OOXML is a folded case; in contrary, the letter implicitly shows these countries will evaluate other kind of options. After all, the ISO has failed in its mission with OOXML. It has showed to the world that it could only accommodate the will of the mightiest and not reach consensus. Thus conclusions will be reached, and decisions made, and actions will be taken. And I don’t think it will comply with the ISO directions.
There were a couple more yesterday. In the mean time, since Bryden and ISO act like stubborn "teenagers" (to borrow from Patrick Durusau’s vocabulary [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) who cannot admit a mistake, it’s time to move on and ask authorities to ignore ISO’s recommendations. ISO has proven to be too corruptible to be taken seriously.
Glyn Moody calls for Europeans to provide input regarding Interoperability Framework v2. It must not consider OOXML as an option. In fact, several European nations, have rejected it already.
I’ve noted before that writing to MPs/MEPs seems to be remarkably effective in terms of generating a response. The naïve among us might even assume that democracy is almost functional in these cases. I’m not sure whether that applies to something as large and inscrutable as the European Commission, but it’s certainly worth a try, especially in the context of open source and open standards.
Somehow I don’t think so. SCO has managed to use the legal system to its advantage for years. Somehow it manages to appeal things, and somehow it keeps managing to find people to help bankroll its efforts.
Kimball’s ruling not only put SCO’s claims against IBM in jeopardy but also left it with a potential bill from Novell for Unix fees for as much as $37 million. The trial that begins Tuesday is to determine how much, if anything, The SCO Group owes Novell.
But Lee Hollaar, a professor of computer science at the University of Utah who teaches classes on intellectual property law, said last week the trial is a shadow of what the original case promised to become.
As expected, Groklaw was right at the centre of things, predicting how things would develop.
How the Trial Will Go, Beginning Tomorrow (SCO v. Novell)
The trial in SCO v. Novell — which has morphed into exclusively Novell’s counterclaims against SCO — begins tomorrow morning, and the parties have filed a Joint Pretrial Stipulation [PDF] and then an Amended one [PDF]. For purposes of this trial, Novell is the plaintiff and SCO the defendant, so Novell will be going first. Thanks to the Stipulation, we know how the trial is structured. Each side will limit itself to 10 hours. It’s 10 hours sort of like football, though, so don’t imagine it will all be over in, say, a long day or two days. A football team might have a minute left on the clock, but it takes a half hour to play it out. Similarly here, 10 hours each doesn’t count things like conferences with the judge at the bench and things like that.
Lawyers for The SCO Group Inc. told a federal judge Tuesday that anything it might owe to Novell Inc. for improperly licensing an older version of the Unix computer operating system to other companies is minimal.
But Novell attorneys told U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball that the pre-1995 version of Unix to which it still holds the copyright, under an earlier ruling by the judge, was a substantial part of what SCO licensed in agreements with Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and other companies.
Mighty Wayne, whom I correspond with sometimes, has joined Ars Technica and recently began covering the SCO case as well. He lives nearby. For an article with some humour and fairly clear bias, consider this.
Novell grilled McBride for the better part of 10 minutes about “filling a form 10-K or 10-Q with the SEC that contained a false statement.” Novell’s counsel reiterated that two separate 10-Q forms filed by SCO did not include Sun or Microsoft revenue generated by UnixWare licenses. McBride adamantly denied any wrong doing, saying that the licenses were for the trunk of SCO intellectual property consisting of multiple brands, not the UnixWare product branch. This was the most hostile point of the day, with the council asking him the same question in several different ways. After two hours on the stand, McBride stepped down.
Watch the tags and the caption on the image.
It was claimed yesterday that Groklaw is being flooded by participation which includes SCO employees. Someone told me this by E-mail and pointed at some evidence (he has read Groklaw for years). Here are some transcripts Groklaw got hold of, thanks to various people who are physically there.
Novell Corp. says SCO Group Inc. owes it nearly $20 million. SCO says it owes Novell virtually nothing.
Those two stances are the focus of a four-day trial that started Tuesday in federal court in Salt Lake City. The companies fighting over Lindon-based SCO’s licensure of certain technologies in 2003 and 2004 and how much Novell should get from that licensing.
After many hasty speculations [1, 2, 3] Novell has insisted that it is not the next SCO , but the following last article raises a brow.
Novell may expand its claims
Company says Unix also found in Microsoft, Sun Microsystems products
Issues at a trial involving The SCO Group Inc. and Novell Inc. threatened Wednesday to spill out once again into the wider software industry, with a Novell attorney indicating it might make claims against Microsoft and Sun Microsystems over Unix code in their products.
Novell presented letters it sent last year to Microsoft and Sun in which Novell said it did not believe that licensing agreements between those companies and The SCO Group were valid. As a result, the letters said, the two companies could be “exposed” to claims by Novell.