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01.28.19

Choosing Between Apple and Microsoft in an Age of Mass Surveillance and State-Mandated Back Doors

Posted in Apple, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple and Microsoft

Summary: Why proprietary operating systems are universally dangerous and what we recommend instead

MARKET “FORCES” — as the mass media likes to call them (this media is among these forces) — tell us that we’re being given a “choice”. This choice, however, often excludes practical alternatives and instead presents a choice of brands, a choice of trade marks.

It is quite frankly worrying to see people choosing to pay for operating systems they very well know to be full of back doors. Some complement these with listening devices inside homes (eavesdropping on all the tenants) and sometimes even de facto CCTV, constantly connected to (and streaming to) surveillance companies in another country.

“There’s a business model there and it’s covertly hostile towards users. Many just aren’t aware of it. It’s a ‘sausage factory’…”In its early days (13 years ago) this site did a lot of GNU/Linux advocacy. Back in 2006 it wasn’t so clear whether GNU/Linux would dominate the market (even in servers GNU/Linux hadn’t yet reached the inflection point or “critical mass”). Nowadays GNU/Linux is a lot more popular everywhere, including the mobile market dominated by Android (Google never put GNU in it and it’s planning to remove Linux as well); GNU/Linux made strides in the laptop/desktop market (desktops, however, gradually become more extinct), e.g. with the Gentoo-derived Chrome OS. But these platforms do not offer freedom; instead, they’re all about surveillance. There’s a business model there and it’s covertly hostile towards users. Many just aren’t aware of it. It’s a ‘sausage factory’

At the moment we’re hosted by Alpine Linux (the hypervisor). It has been running smoothly, without even a single reboot, since we began the site’s migration around October. “A fork of the distribution, postmarketOS, is designed to run on mobile devices,” Wikipedia says, and “it’s heavily used in containers providing quick boot up times.” For desktop we nowadays recommend more or less the same things the FSF recommends and endorses. See “Free GNU/Linux distributions” and “Explaining Why We Don’t Endorse Other Systems”.

01.13.19

“Uniloc is a Lawsuit Factory”

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Patents at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Factory

Summary: Apple is a very secretive company, so it is hard to know what goes on with the patent troll Uniloc

THERE IS RISK that quality of patents granted by the USPTO will decrease because Trump appointed law firms to run the Office (law firms that had worked for him, so there’s an element of nepotism too). Courts aren’t changing though; having said that, patent trolls often rely on the accused not being able to afford going to court, hence a secret settlement over fake (bogus) patents.

Apple is a very opaque company, so it’s hard to know what’s going on in some of the lawsuits against it. The EFF’s post that’s cited a lot by patent people speaks of Uniloc’s lawsuit against Apple as follows:

At EFF, we review court dockets to monitor the conduct of the most active patent trolls. But when court records are redacted or sealed, it can be impossible for EFF and other members of the public to know what is going on. Today we filed a motion to intervene in Uniloc v. Apple seeking public access to key briefing about whether Uniloc should be able to bring the case at all.

Uniloc is one of the most active patent trolls in the world, and filed more than 170 lawsuits in 2018. It is the patent owner that sued Austin Meyer for offering his X-Plane flight simulator on app stores. That suit led to a documentary called The Patent Scam (available on Amazon Prime). Since then, Uniloc has been a big purchaser of patents, and various Uniloc entities have filed hundreds of patent suits.

In 2017, Uniloc filed a wave of patent litigation against Apple and other defendants. In some of those cases, Apple has moved to dismiss on the basis that Uniloc lacks standing. Apple’s motion to dismiss was heavily redacted, but it appears to relate to deals Uniloc has made with Fortress Investment Group LLC. Apple seems to be arguing that Uniloc and Fortress divided rights in the underlying patents in a way that means Uniloc entities no longer had a legal right to sue for infringement.

“Uniloc is a lawsuit factory,” said a reader to us back in November. “From today’s RPX Daily Litigation Alert,” he added:

Litigations

California Central

Max Blu Technologies, LLC v. AVIC UMEDISC (US), Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. ESPN, Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hulu, LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Microsoft Corporation

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Microsoft Corporation

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Netflix, Inc.

Delaware

Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. v. Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Inventergy LBS, LLC v. Securus Technologies, Inc.

Symbology Innovations LLC v. Pilot Corporation of America

Symbology Innovations LLC v. Vital Farms, Inc.

XMTT, Inc. v. Intel Corporation

Delaware (After Hours)

XMTT, Inc. v. Intel Corporation.

New Jersey

MEDICURE INTERNATIONAL, INC. v. GLAND PHARMA LTD.

TELEBRANDS CORP. v. ALTAIR INSTRUMENTS, INC.

Texas Eastern

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC et al v. Google LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. AT&T Services, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Barnes & Noble, Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Cardo Systems, Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Huawei Device USA, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Terrano, LLC

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Verizon Communications Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hike Ltd. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hike Ltd. et al

Texas Northern

Ring Protection LLC v. NEC Corporation of America

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Blackberry Corporation

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Blackberry Corporation

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Blackberry Corporation

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Blackberry Corporation

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. LG Electronics USA Inc et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. ZTE, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. ZTE, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. ZTE, Inc. et al

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. ZTE, Inc. et al

Texas Southern

Metuchen Pharmaceuticals LLC et al v. Empower Pharmaceuticals LLC et al

Ringers Technologies LLC v. Harmer

Texas Western

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple Inc.

Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple Inc.

That’s from one day in November. If Apple cares about society at large, it will reject this ‘NDA culture’ and tell the public what’s going on. Uniloc has already expanded to Europe and it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away fast enough.

01.02.19

The Real Harm of Really Bad European Patent Grants

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO is measuring speed rather than quality of work

Measuring

Summary: Patents that are of questionable validity/legitimacy do incredible harm/damage to the market; the EPO, however, is willing to look the other way while its rogue policies break the economy and remove products from the market

LAST MONTH Qualcomm dominated the news about patents. As Taro Yaguchi (Keisen Associates) put it, “Qualcomm And Apple Fighting In China Over Software Patents” and they fought elsewhere too, including in Europe (there was a widely-publiced ban on older models of iPhone). This was so widely reported/covered that we saw no urgent need to mention it (I was actually in Germany at the time, hence offline). Currently, only China is (still) a large economy that allows (explicitly) software patents. As we showed before, Qualcomm actively advocates software patents, which it then uses to embargo rivals’ products (or products of those unwilling to pay for questionable patents).

This brings us to the António Campinos-led European Patent Office (EPO), where software patents are being granted, not to mention all sorts of questionable patents on life and nature. As an insider noted earlier today, Team UPC publicly admits that European Patents granted by the EPO are of poor quality — a subject that Campinos won’t tackle. He just met the people in question and sought to remove the causes of criticism — whatever that means. He specified no actual plan. In the words of a Team UPC firm:

Furthermore, the remarkably high fees for a patent application and the EPO’s large reserves are rightly criticised. It cannot be that the EPO tends to want to make profits. Especially if you end up paying for mistakes with heavy fees.

And not only attorneys and lawyers, but also patent experts from the industry express criticism. According to the JUVE Patent Survey 2018, they want more professionalism. Only a few are behind the idea of the fastest possible registration process.

The EPO nowadays acts like a money-printing machine; it prints out monopolies, so what’s not to like? It’s just minting lots of rubbish, causing a gross hyperinflation of patents in Europe. Who will suffer? Certainly European companies on the receiving end of frivolous lawsuits.

10.21.18

Funded by the Public to Prey on the Public: The Absurdity of Patent Sales and ‘Enforcement’ by Government

Posted in America, Apple, Law, Patents at 4:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also seeNASA: Funded by the Public to Feed Patent Trolls

Texas Gov House at Austin

Summary: Government or US Government-funded entities are looking to tax private companies using patents that were actually funded by the public; in practice this helps private firms or insiders (individuals) personally gain from something that the public subsidised and should thus be in the public domain

EVIL patents are patents that harm the very people who sponsor them. We have written a great deal about such patents (e.g. the above-mentioned from NASA) and here they go again: “Even though only 130 of the thousands of technologies spun-off by NASA are included in the website, the breadth of technological development represented by even that small number is pretty remarkable. But how exactly does space exploration research result in the commercialization of items like more nutritious baby formula or precision coffee makers?”

It comes at a cost however. They make licensing agreements, i.e. ask for payments. The common euphemisms are “Technology Transfer” or “Licensing Agreements”, as today’s advertisement of a webiner put it. It’s grotesque because those who were funded by taxpayers take it all private and look to gain privately from patents (funded by the public). Consider the recent example from Wisconsin. It’s about Apple’s dispute with the proxy from Wisconsin. It is academics operating through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation for the purpose of ‘monetising’ patents, never mind who sponsored this work, even if it’s the public, in which case seeking to pursue a private monopoly is quite dubious a practice from an ethical point of view. Mark St. Amour put it as follows: “In Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation v. Apple, No. 2017-2265 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 20, 2018), the Federal Circuit construed a pair of claim terms under their plain and ordinary meaning in reversing summary judgment that Apple was not entitled to a pre-trial finding of non-infringement of U.S. Patent 5,781,752, while affirming a summary judgment that the ‘752 patent was not anticipated.”

They believe that because Apple is a company with plenty of cash in store it should pay for patents that were likely sponsored by taxpayers. Why? Does that even make sense? Will the Federal Circuit take this into account?

The Eastern District of Texas and Its Patent Trolls Affinity Not a Solved Issue

Posted in America, Apple, Patents at 2:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A computer chained

Summary: The American patent system continues to distribute monopolies on algorithms and some of these cause litigation to reach courts that are notorious for intolerance of 35 U.S.C. § 101, resulting in unnecessary payments to lawyers and patent trolls

IN THE WAKE of TC Heartland (last summer) it was hoped that the courts in the Eastern District of Texas would see little or no more patent lawsuit filings. The effect of TC Heartland was profound, but it didn’t go far enough. When will judges follow the law down there? There are signs that they begrudgingly and only belatedly do so.

Meanwhile, there are new Dallas (the east of Texas) patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Some of these seem to have been wrongly granted based on 35 U.S.C. § 101. Those will possibly lead to frivolous lawsuits or at least shakedowns.

The patent maximalist Matthew Bultman says that the Federal Circuit insists Apple should be on trial in a court that advertises being lax to plaintiffs like patent trolls with abstract patents. Never mind if Apple isn’t based in Texas. In Bultman’s words (that aren’t behind paywall):

The Federal Circuit on Tuesday allowed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. over patents covering a communication system to move forward in the Eastern District of Texas…

Based on the above, it’s likely a software patent and the action may have been initiated by a troll (hard to tell because of the paywall).

Speaking of trolls, they nowadays issue press releases in prominent sites; they try to warp the narrative. The spammy Associated Press (press releases as a section) writes nonsense for a patent troll Avanci (we wrote about it before) or rather publishes lies for it, as did other sites. Lies like these: “The Avanci platform simplifies the way companies share technology by licensing intellectual property from many different patent holders in a single transaction. Avanci’s licenses are offered to all competitors in an industry at the same fair, flat rates that will not increase over the term of the license no matter how many patent owners join the platform.”

Avanci is a patent troll that pretends to be “licensing”; we already wrote about its origins. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) would likely not shield against this troll because the number of patents at hand is too large to handle exhaustively by IPRs.

To properly tackle the issue we probably ought to push harder for all examiners — like most courts and judges — to respect and uphold 35 U.S.C. § 101. A lot of software patents are still being granted and some form the basis of lawsuits, as we shall explain in later posts (later tonight).

MIT and the Prior Art Archive Perpetuate Existing Problems

Posted in America, Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 11:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s a reason why similar initiatives perished in the past

Strata Center MIT
Strata Center MIT

Summary: Large companies with many tens of thousands of patents (each) would have us believe that broadening access/reach of prior art (e.g. to patent examiners) would solve the issues; This may very well work for these large companies, but it overlooks the broader picture

COMPANIES like Apple, Microsoft and IBM — large companies that cross-license among themselves — don’t fear the USPTO or even patents in general (not even the EPO where they have a lot patents of their own). The patent system has, with few exceptions, served them well. It protects them. It’s a form of protectionism.

20 years after its foundation Google has already joined this ‘club’; instead of reforming things Google is adapting and so does Red Hat. To companies like these, which use GNU/Linux extensively, OIN and the likes of it represent a solution. Google backs LOT Network, which is similar.

Recently, together with a bunch of other large companies (Cisco, Dell, Intel, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce are named below), Google pushed the “Prior Art Archive”; MIT’s self-promotional new piece about it gives a rather foggy idea; it even quotes MIT staff and no critics/sceptics. It doesn't help much when they focus on prior art rather than patent scope and obviousness (among other things). To quote MIT’s own site:

Two years later, a company applies for a patent on your invention. Once the application is granted, the company not only begins profiting from your device, but launches a lawsuit against you, the inventor, for infringing their patent.

This is the danger faced by researchers and developers alike, because the limits of existing content repositories means it is often a struggle for patent examiners to find what they call prior art — evidence that an invention is already known — relating to an application. That means that some applications that should be rejected are wrongly approved.

[...]

Cisco has already uploaded 165,000 documents into the archive, and a number of companies have committed to take part in the initiative, including Dell, Intel, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce. Google has also assisted the project with classification technology that will be used in the system.

As we explained earlier this month, this serves to distract from other efforts and put examination efforts in the hands of the public, essentially outsourcing or crowdsourcing the work (for corporate gain). When examiners use the archive they may get a false sense of search exhausion.

10.14.18

Let’s Hope Apple Defeats All the Abstract Patents That Are Leveraged Against It

Posted in America, Apple, Courtroom, Patents at 7:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents disguised as “network provisioning” now?

Apple

Summary: Apple can be viewed as a strategic ‘ally’ against patents that threaten Android/Linux if one ignores all the patent battles the company started (and has since then settled) against Android OEMs

THE USPTO still grants patents far too easily, only for courts to repeatedly correct it by invalidating granted patents. Sometimes there’s a lot of money at stake, like Apple’s $234 million patent dispute with a university.

Last weekend we wrote about Apple‘s success in appealing the case [1, 2] for the Federal Circuit to deal with rather than the district court, which tends to be more lenient in terms of patent quality, much like the USPTO even in the post-Alice era. As one writer put it a fortnight ago:

A federal appeals court has ruled in Apple’s favor in a patent dispute with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The court ruling, initially spotted by Reuters, said that that Apple didn’t infringe on one of the university’s patents, overturning a prior ruling in the university’s favor that had fined Apple $234 million. Another $272 million was later added to that fine to account for Apple’s continued use of the patent, but that will presumably be thrown out now that the underlying judgment has been reversed.

We expect this case to be “DOA”, but at what cost (legal bills)? Meanwhile, the patent troll Uniloc strikes again, still focused on the same target, Apple, after Microsoft paid Uniloc. As a pro-Apple site put it last week, this is a new case:

Apple is again in the crosshairs of Uniloc, with the patent aggregator alleging the process by which iPhone and cellular-connected iPad and Apple Watch models infringes on owned intellectual property.

[...]

The ’616 patent changed hands to Uniloc’s main Luxembourg arm in 2017 and was duly assigned to Uniloc 2017 LLC in May of this year.

Uniloc alleges all iPhone models from iPhone 5 through iPhone XS Max and cellular connected iPads including fourth- and fifth-generation iPad models, all iPad mini versions, iPad Pro, first- and second-generation iPad Air models and Apple Watch Series 1 through 3 infringe on multiple patent claims.

Uniloc seeks unspecified damages, reimbursement of legal fees and other relief deemed fit by the court.

It would be a stretch to call Uniloc a Microsoft proxy because the two entities had lengthy and expensive court battles. The real danger here is that this troll, ‘fattened’ by Microsoft cash, may soon go after Android/Linux players. Unless Apple manages to squash the underlying patents and drive Uniloc to bankruptcy (out of funds). Uniloc isn’t a real company and there’s a reason why it operates through Luxembourg.

10.06.18

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is Not Getting Money From Apple and VirnetX Might Not Get Any, Either

Posted in Apple, Patents at 11:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Only the lawyers are receiving money (lots of it!)

German euro coin

Summary: The notorious patent assertion ‘firm’ from Wisconsin and the infamous patent troll that sues in Texas might soon find out that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) isn’t tolerating their patents and their behaviour

TECHRIGHTS is far from a friend of Apple; in fact, we called for boycotts several times in the past, we criticised Apple’s bogus European Patents (which EPO insiders tell us are bogus), and we regularly ridicule some of the patents that the USPTO gives to Apple. To set the record straight, Apple is a very evil company, it is a patent aggressor, and we generally encourage people to never buy anything from Apple (there’s a new scandal with practical reasons to avoid Apple).

“Remember that 35 U.S.C. § 101 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), for example, helps squash almost all software patents and Apple sometimes fights back against FRAND, which is inherently incompatible with Free/libre software.”No matter our opinion/views on Apple, merely going after (or against) Apple does not make a company virtuous. We’ve repeatedly explained, for example, why we hope Apple will beat Qualcomm (there’s a new article today about the case, “Apple and manufacturers: Qualcomm can’t demand “billions in royalties” while ducking patent-specific claims“). There are even worse things than Apple and there are situations where Apple winning a legal case can inadvertently be helpful to GNU/Linux. Remember that 35 U.S.C. § 101 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), for example, helps squash almost all software patents and Apple sometimes fights back against FRAND, which is inherently incompatible with Free/libre software.

As expected, the Federal Circuit (CAFC) throws aside decisions on patent cases from notorious courts in Texas and elsewhere (a software patent case of a patent troll called VirnetX is in Texas, another one from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) comes from elsewhere). As patent maximalists reported a few days ago, “Federal Circuit sets aside $234 jury verdict against Apple” and will decide on its own:

WARF’s 2015 patent damages win, bumped up to $506m by a judge last year, has been vacated by the Federal Circuit because “no reasonable juror could have found infringement based on the evidence presented during the liability phase of trial”

We expect to see this also in Texas, as Apple is expected to appeal (or to have already appealed) the VirnetX verdict.

“Patent maximalists keep cheering for parasites like VirnetX, merely reaffirming the view that they aren’t proponents of technology but only proponents of litigation.”Watchtroll came up with a bizarre headline four days ago: “Apple to pay VirnetX $93.4 million in costs and interest for patent infringement” (no, this is what VirnetX wants, but it doesn’t mean that it will get it).

Well, there will almost certainly be an appeal to CAFC and maybe even higher up (the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) might get involved one day), but facts don’t suit Watchtroll (Steve Brachmann in this case).

Patent maximalists keep cheering for parasites like VirnetX, merely reaffirming the view that they aren’t proponents of technology but only proponents of litigation.

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