04.05.21

Techrights Commends US Supreme Court for Supporting Programmers by Defending Fair Use

Posted in Antitrust, Google, Intellectual Monopoly at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court judge

Summary: Stephen Breyer (above), the author of the latest big decision after an 11-year legal battle, is once again doing the right thing from a software developer’s perspective; only two Justices opposed this decision or dissented

Copyright maximalists have suffered a blow; as it turns out, on a holiday, SCOTUS did the right thing by deciding that copyrights on APIs are a disservice to society. As LWN put it, a “long saga of Oracle’s copyright-infringement against Google, which copied much of the Java API for use in Android, has come to an end” (no appeals anymore).

“Although Google itself is a monopoly, a decision against Google in this case would have devastated software development in general, no matter if proprietary or Free software.”A law firms-funded site said “a 6-2 decision authored by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court has held that Google’s copying of the JAVA API naming convention was a fair use as a matter of law.” Another Oracle proponent said: “This decision was supportd [sic] by six of the nine justices.”

Slam dunk. Press coverage is starting to come out, e.g. HotHardware. Today isn’t just a bright sunny day but also a holiday and an epic milestone in the battle against copyright maximalists and software monopolists. Although Google itself is a monopoly, a decision against Google in this case would have devastated software development in general, no matter if proprietary or Free software.

03.28.21

Conflict of Interest: Microsoft and IBM Controlling the USPTO and Leaving GNU/Linux Users Shut Out (in the Cold)

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, IBM, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The first part in a series about the USPTO protecting the cabal of proprietary software giants/monopolies, including improper appointments and outright corruption (as observed by a longtime critic of the Office)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director-turned-lobbyist David Kappos was discussed here many times in the past. He came from IBM, worked for the USPTO, then returned to lobbying for IBM and Microsoft (among others). Nowadays he’s lobbying hard for software patents (or to abolish/bypass 35 U.S.C. § 101). He’s working for software monopolies while they fund him to lobby. It harms the image of the USPTO. The Federal Circuit has a similar problem with two former chief judges.

The issue with Kappos may seem like “old news”, but here’s the gist of it:

IBM Microsoft USPTO

As was explained at the time:

Kappos corruption

“Then, too,” a reader has told us, “there is the issue of the USPTO not working with Linux, which might interest you.”

“The Kappos-Politico article is something I found, where people in Congress were – back in the day – suspicious about Kappos being from IBM, and bringing with him a Microsoft guy. They implemented something called the Electronic Filing Incentive. Trying to force people to use computers and, of course, Microsoft.”

“Can the USPTO moreover block GNU/Linux users wishing to file patents and interact with the Office?”We have been sent about 50 pages, but we are reproducing here just a subset of these (a lot of those deal with exuberant fees or marginalisation of “lone inventors”, which is a legitimate concern, albeit not our focus).

We’d rather focus on the GNU/Linux compatibility issues alone. As we noted here in recent years, the USPTO intends to financially penalise (punish) people who don’t use Microsoft formats [1, 2, 3] though it’s clear Microsoft is somewhat of a thing of the past with just about 30% of the public using Windows or other Microsoft operating systems.

Can the USPTO moreover block GNU/Linux users wishing to file patents and interact with the Office? Look at the status of GNU/Linux in the US government, as per Wikipedia:

Linux in the US government - Wikipedia

Proprietary stuff is required by the USPTO:

Adobe-USPTO dispute combined screenshots to print

Adobe USPTO pages not found

Adobe stuff hasn’t worked since 2013:

Adobe hasn't worked since 2013

“I’m a four-decade American inventor who has been fighting corruption at that USPTO for maybe about 15 years,” the reader said, “and I recently made an important medical discovery, and filed a patent application, and the USPTO is threatening my application, simply because I use Linux.”

We’ve been aware of such issues for a very long time. They range from formats to site access or specialised tools

 Who cares for me?“The Internet informs me that you are interested in USPTO corruption and medical biophysics and open-source software,” the reader told me, “so, perhaps, maybe we can connect to discuss a few things, although you are on the high-tech end of things, which I am not. I suppose, broadly, my medical discovery would be considered medical biophysics, since it involves mechanical sound waves and their effect on the body, and, specifically, urological function.”

We will likely revisit this issue some time in the near future. “As you can imagine,” the reader said, “I’m extremely angry, and I’m right now finalizing a big report that I’m going to send to a bunch of people in DC, hoping to get something done. I’ll send you the report when I finish it.”

We’ve mostly been focusing on EPO corruption, but some overlaps exist across the pond, with European software patents being used as an excuse against SCOTUS precedents, even in the face of challenges like Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs). Stay tuned for more…

03.16.21

EPO and Microsoft Collude to Break the Law — Part XI: Close Encounters With the Trust-busters…

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previous parts:

Microsoft antitrust

Summary: A look some of the confrontations between Microsoft and anti-trust regulators

Microsoft’s run-ins with European data protection authorities are only half the story.

Over the last three decades, the company has also been scrutinised by anti-trust authorities around the world, including the following:

• US Federal Trade Commission / Department of Justice (1994)
• Brazilian Board of the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (1998)
• European Commission (2004)
• Japanese Fair Trade Commission (2004)
• South Korean Fair Trade Commission (2005)

The most high-profile of these investigations were those conducted by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the European Commission.

In the US the Microsoft anti-trust case started rolling after an inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission in 1991 as to whether Microsoft’s conduct constituted an abuse of monopoly on the PC operating system market. The investigation was closed after the voting in the Commission ended in a tie.

However, the US DoJ opened its own investigation in the same year. This resulted in a settlement on 15 July 1994, in which Microsoft agreed not to tie other products to the Windows operating system. Microsoft still remained free to provide “features” alongside the operating system.

“The most high-profile of these investigations were those conducted by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the European Commission.”The real action started when the DoJ and the Attorney Generals of twenty states sued Microsoft in 1998 for unreasonably restraining competition by expanding and abusing its monopoly position and for breaching the 1994 settlement, by tying its web browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system.

On April 3, 2000 Judge Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling that stated that Microsoft had violated sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. Judge Jackson ordered the break-up of Microsoft into two separate units, one to produce the Internet/WWW browser and one to produce the operating system.

The case dragged on through the appeal courts until 2001 when the DoJ and Microsoft reached a settlement which enabled Microsoft to avoid the threatened break-up of its operations.

Microsoft monopoly
Microsoft’s anti-competitive activities also attracted the scrutiny of the EU Commission

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commission started its own investigation into Microsoft’s activities after receiving a complaint from Sun Microsystems in 1998 asserting that Microsoft refused to supply interoperability information.

“The case dragged on through the appeal courts until 2001 when the DoJ and Microsoft reached a settlement which enabled Microsoft to avoid the threatened break-up of its operations.”During the course of its investigation, the Commission broadened the scope of its inquiry to include, amongst other things, Microsoft’s conduct in relation to its Windows Media Player.

That investigation resulted in a preliminary finding, issued in August 2001, stating that Microsoft had abused its dominant position by hindering the interoperability between its operating system and third-party workgroup server operating systems and by tying its Windows Media Player to the Windows operating system.

In March 2004, the EU Commission ordered Microsoft to pay € 497 million (USD 794 million), the largest fine ever handed out by the EU at the time, in addition to the previous penalties, which included 120 days to divulge the server information and 90 days to produce a version of the Windows operating system without Windows Media Player.

Microsoft initiated an unsuccessful action for annulment with the Court of First Instance (CFI) which rendered its final judgment on 17 September 2007. A compliance agreement between the Commission and Microsoft was reached on 22 October 2007.

Microsoft fines
EU fines for anti-trust violations were small potatoes for cash-rich Microsoft

To put things into perspective here, it’s worth recalling that, according to the Wall Street Journal in a report published in 2006, the total amount of the fines imposed on Microsoft by the EU was around USD 0.97 billion, a relatively small amount in comparison to the USD 4.93 billion paid out by Microsoft to major rivals, such as Sun Microsystems and IBM, in order to persuade them to drop other anti-trust claims. Both of these amounts are in turn dwarfed by Microsoft’s massive cash reserves, estimated at USD 34.8 billion in 2006.

“That investigation resulted in a preliminary finding, issued in August 2001, stating that Microsoft had abused its dominant position by hindering the interoperability between its operating system and third-party workgroup server operating systems and by tying its Windows Media Player to the Windows operating system.”In March 2009 it was reported that the EU was scaling back its monitoring of Microsoft’s adherence to the 2004 antitrust ruling because “the company’s good behaviour meant that full-time supervision was no longer needed”.

Since then Microsoft has for the most part managed to stay off the radar of anti-trust authorities although there have been occasional complaints filed against it for allegedly anti-competitive behaviour, for example the complaint filed by Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab in 2017 which was subsequently withdrawn following an amicable settlement.

More recently in July last year news broke of a fresh anti-trust complaint against Microsoft filed with the European Commission by Slack Technologies.

“Unless an amicable settlement is reached – which seems unlikely in this case – it could well be that Microsoft’s controversial “software bundling” practices will be back in the headlines again.”The essence of Slack’s grievance is that Microsoft has illegally tied its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite, force-installing the software for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to users. Slack has called for Teams to be separated from Office 365 and for a market rate to be charged for the service.

Unless an amicable settlement is reached – which seems unlikely in this case – it could well be that Microsoft’s controversial “software bundling” practices will be back in the headlines again.

In the next part we will see how the US DoJ’s scrutiny of Microsoft has not been limited to the investigation of anti-competitive practices but has extended to alleged infractions of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

02.14.21

25 Days Later President Joe Ain’t Doing a Single Thing About Monopolies

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft at 7:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sleepy Biden/Biden Head: Candidate Joe, Inauguration Joe, Trump impeachment trial Joe

Summary: Monopolies and blatant monopolisers are fine in the eyes of the ‘kind’ and ‘gentle’ President Joe, the “do nothing” president who is only “reasonable” in comparison to the low standards set by his corrupt predecessor

ANTITRUST action against Microsoft isn’t in the cards, never mind what those thugs did with GitHub and various other sabotage campaigns, the latest of which is the Raspberry Pi. Microsoft is closely connected to the same copyright cartel President Joe regards to be his natural ally.

RasPi for MPAAEarlier this month we broke the story about the RasPi Foundation (RPF) quietly making a deal with the monopoly, in effect promising to interject Microsoft’s proprietary software and spying into schools and classrooms, not to mention various scientific institutions. Suddenly, the RasPi became a monopolists’ Trojan horse. Judging by media response, Microsoft boosters absolutely celebrate it, whereas longtime RasPi enthusiasts say they will no longer recommend RasPi; some go as far as boycotting it. Shades of what happened to OLPC, so it’s truly a shame that RPF didn’t heed the warning, instead further escalating the matter. It’s almost as if they actively try to provoke and inflame their biggest and most loyal support base (a.k.a. “Microsoft bashers”).

“Taking all this into account, and seeing total inaction from President Joe (or “uncle” Joe or whatever the media tries to portray him as) not to mention the persistence of tax cuts for the rich, we ought to take individual actions, which include boycotts.”Seeing that “antitrust” remains an illusive term in the US, as recently pointed out by Cory Doctorow, we don’t suppose we can rely on the US government for anything of real substance. It has been toothless. The only time the Trump regime took on monopolies it was a personal vendetta (against companies that the con in chief did not like). It actively helped Microsoft with monopoly and enriched the rich. It even bailed Microsoft out (i.e. gave taxpayers’ money as a gift to Microsoft).

Taking all this into account, and seeing total inaction from President Joe (or “uncle” Joe or whatever the media tries to portray him as) not to mention the persistence of tax cuts for the rich, we ought to take individual actions, which include boycotts.

RPF has still not done anything whatsoever to de-escalate the situation. It has now been nearly a fortnight. Right now in the media (this weekend) we see lots of puff pieces piggybacking the Microsoft-authored blog post in the official RPF Web site. This is troubling on many levels. One can easily get to impression that in many areas Microsoft already calls the shots at the RPF. President Joe doesn’t care. President Joe won’t care. This is a government that’s largely controlled by the corporations it would otherwise regulate and govern (sometimes fine). They’re fine with monopoly. They’re fine with a US conglomerate and cult infiltrating a British foundation to spy on and subjugate the world.

02.13.21

The Good, the Bad, and the Truly Awful in Patent Law

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Patents at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: We take a quick look at yesterday’s news roundup (and items in it that expose issues in the patent system)

THE trolling or trigger-happy companies are ever more aggressive [1-2] and patent boosters or patent maximalists aren’t getting past the fact that the Unitary Patent is doomed [3-5]. Some sites finally take note of the EPO‘s staff [6]. They otherwise just repeat mindless nonsense from Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos, as happened with Managing IP yesterday [7], and in the United States it looks like pro-35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (SCOTUS) elements are being put in charge as Trump-appointed U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) leadership steps down proactively [8]. Those are the people who gave us the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and served to improve patent quality [9]. They’re one of the reasons the Federal Circuit keeps tossing out software patents, including those that otherwise cause needless embargoes (ITC/injunctions).

“The video above ties together some of those things and we’re generally encouraged to see growing debate about what’s shown by the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO).”This was all in yesterday’s coverage alone, even if much of it comes from misleading and self-serving sites of law firms. The video above ties together some of those things and we’re generally encouraged to see growing debate about what’s shown by the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO). Maybe that’s the kind of thing that the EPO management has been desperate to distract for? As a side note, the EPO finally managed to fix its Web site. They have far too many such incidents for a multi-billion (euros) institution, maybe due to loss of talent.

Links/items from the videos:

  1. Fintiv Denials Playing a Role in Huawei Assertion Campaign
  2. Ericsson VP’s dissent from European Commission’s expert group report on standard-essential patents draws mockery
  3. Unitary patent system tipped as next biggest IP development in Europe
  4. Richard Beddard: the challenge of scoring two top-flight companies
  5. No UK withdrawal from the EPO despite plan to join CPTPP, says government spokesperson
  6. Survey: EPO working conditions continue to deteriorate
  7. EUIPO-EPO report shows companies with IP make more money
  8. Senator Leahy to Take Chair of IP Subcommittee
  9. Omnitek Partners patent determined to be likely invalid

01.31.21

Big Telecom, Big Tech and Big Business (Harmful and Collusive Not Unlike Big Tobacco and Big Oil)

Posted in Antitrust, Finance, Patents at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Monopolies in one domain (or oligopolies of convenience, whose lobbying overlaps and price-fixing agenda is symbiotic) also protect one another on the Web and the Internet at large

I‘ve never experienced (for a certainty) Internet throttling until I operated my own IPFS node. It doesn’t infringe copyright or anything; it only serves or disseminates my own work (strictly) and it was working fine, without throttling, for a number of months.

“That so-called ‘Big Telecom’ or ‘Big Tech’ seek to protect Big Business or Big Pharma from scrutiny is highly expected/predictable and hardly surprising.”Earlier this morning we pointed out how corruption (corporate crimes) is generally considered OK, whereas raising inconvenient questions about such corruption is just “toxic” and mostly impermissible (they would go to great lengths to censor such views, almost as if the problem is people who highlight abuse rather than the abuse itself). At the EPO, for example, Benoît Battistelli threatened litigation against published works that exposed EPO corruption and António Campinos still blocks access to Techrights as if mere information about the EPO is a hazard.

In this censorious climate, where those who break the law seek to muzzle their critics and exposers, it’s essential to pursue or resort to censorship-resistant means of communication (or medium that makes it abundantly hard to accomplish complete elimination of certain voices). Publishers need true platform autonomy. That so-called ‘Big Telecom’ or ‘Big Tech’ seek to protect Big Business or Big Pharma from scrutiny is highly expected/predictable and hardly surprising. There are many overlaps and they share many of the same interests. Peer to peer is the real ‘populism’ in that sort of context; it decentralises power and eliminates monopoly on control.

In the case of the EPO, it has always been all about monopoly, but nowadays it is a lot more grotesque, with totally inadequate and unqualified managers who get the job (flown over, not even promoted) just because they’re like little fish swimming around the big shark. No, not Campinos or Battistelli but super-rich people and corporations that amass many tens of thousands of patents for no reason other than protectionism, in effect building some “legal barbwire” around their ‘franchising’ territory, ensuring competition is absent and thus prices remain artificially high, sometimes colluding with an illusion of competitors for price-fixing purposes. Of course this contributes to growing inequality and lowers the number of jobs available.

01.30.21

10 Days of Joe Biden: No Progress Towards Software Freedom, But No Damage Either

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 8:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

More time is needed for an in-depth assessment

BIDEN 2020: Corporate politician, Vice President

Summary: We take a quick look at the first 10 days of Biden’s presidency as they pertain to issues like programming, antitrust, and software freedom

IT HAS now been 10 days (slightly more) of Joe Biden in the highest office, where prior to that he had served as Vice President.

We recently named a bunch of things he can do to prove commitment to Free software ideals. Well, one Free software proponent has been put in a position of power, albeit this person has roots or ‘pedigree’ at Facebook, which likely means antitrust action is not so likely (also recall donors of his campaign).

“So far, based on the news reports from left-leaning sites (not corporate/mainstream media), Biden surprised many progressives for the better with rather bold policies and executive orders.”The two trolls or troll proponents in charge of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are out. They left just before inauguration day. That’s a good sign. They probably foresaw their firing. Foretold perhaps…

So far, based on the news reports from left-leaning sites (not corporate/mainstream media), Biden surprised many progressives for the better with rather bold policies and executive orders. Not to be mocked offhand. Wall Street and Monsanto (Bayer) are among the winners so far.

We’re watching closely for any policies which directly pertain to software, for example what Biden might do to double down on 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (SCOTUS) and reintroduce the old capacities of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with its inter partes reviews (IPRs). Andrei Iancu did a lot of damage. PTAB is almost incapacitated. Typical Trumpism.

All in all, despite my deepest of scepticism and distrust, Biden hasn’t done anything terribly bad or outright awful. Not in the software domain. But 10 days into one’s term might not say much; there are about 1,500 days in total, if not 3,000.

01.21.21

How a Newly Inaugurated President Biden Can Advance Software Freedom (If He Actually Wishes to Do So)

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spoiler: Biden does not actually care about users’ and developers’ freedom; he’ll promote monopolies like Trump and Obama did.

President Biden/Crazy Ass Biden Bug-Eyed Clinton: I... don't even think about it!

Summary: Techrights has ‘Four Suggestions’ to President Biden, the 46th ‘front end’ of American plutocracy

All those Biden images or memes should not be mistaken for — or wrongly seen as — “pro-Trump”; as we've stressed all along (even before the election), the American public was, in effect, left with no choice on the most important issues (War, Wall Street, World Climate… or WWW for short). People voted for what they perceived to be a “lesser evil”.

“Let’s see if the ‘Four Suggestions’ can be fulfilled, either in full or just partly.”That said and done, we’re gratified to know that the name “Trump” won’t be mentioned here much anymore. Let’s focus on the situation we’re in and seek to make the most out of it. Mr. Biden (now President Biden) is a close friend (kinship and personal friendship) of many who strongly oppose software freedom. We named some of these people last year.

Here are our suggestions for Biden (not that he’s going to read this blog, but let’s use that as a reference for a hypothetical ‘scorecard’):

  • Suggestion #0: Appoint a chief at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) who respects and upholds 35 U.S.C. § 101, based on Alice (SCOTUS). That chief can be someone like Andrei Iancu‘s predecessor, albeit it’s better if that chief did not come from Google or IBM (like David Kappos did). Iancu resigned a day or two before inauguration, along with his troll deputy, so there are vacancies.
  • Suggestion #1: Initiate antitrust proceedings against Microsoft. There are many antitrust violations to choose from, including the basis of the GitHub takeover.
  • Suggestion #2: Choose Free software for all public infrastructure. Almost all the recent ‘hacking’ (cracking) incidents were the fault of proprietary software, often Microsoft’s (with NSA back doors which inevitably become everyone’s back doors).
  • Suggestion #3: Provide stimulus to Free software developers instead of stimulus to the crooks mentioned in Suggestion #1. Microsoft does not deserve billions of dollars in ‘gifts’ from the taxpayers; Free software developers would make much better use of that money and give back to the public.

Let’s see if the ‘Four Suggestions’ can be fulfilled, either in full or just partly. Any of the above would be very nice indeed.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts