Angry at FOSS
Summary: Microsoft publicly steps forward as part of Apple’s war on Linux/Android, making the anti-FOSS alliance more visible than before
The FRAND debate has been inadvertently dealing with whether software patents have backdoor-like legitimacy around the whole world. FRAND opposer Judge Posner [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] did the right thing, seeing perhaps how the Microsoft-Apple patents alliance uses FRAND against Google/Android. Now we see those two companies in cahoots more clearly than before: “Microsoft’s Amicus Brief in Support of Apple in Appeal of Posner Ruling – A Change in Tune on Injunctions”
Microsoft has now filed an amicus brief in support of Apple in the appeal of Judge Richard Posner’s ruling in which the judge tossed out both Apple and Motorola’s claims with prejudice, saying neither had proven damages and saying injunctive relief when there was no demonstrable harm would be against the public interest. Interestingly, Microsoft here argues in its brief that the judge didn’t rule out injunctive relief for FRAND patents.
Nice to see those duopolists so openly showing their collusion against a competitor. They are ousting their conspiracy (e.g. CPTN) to destroy Android. Will President Obama pay attention or will he only try to tackle small players? █
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Apple asked for it
Summary: Quick response amid media spin which strives to portray Apple as the victim in the latest round of rulings from the United States
APPLE chose to sue Samsung rather than compete, seeking to embargo the leading products in vain. Samsung did not roll over like HTC had done and it sued back with full force, owing to its large patents portfolio. The result? Some iPhones and iPads are banned in the United states, urging Apple to pull back.
It was long due when Apple needed to taste it’s own bitter medicine. Desperate to get competitor’s products banned (without any success so far) Apple got its own iPhone (4, 3 and 3GS) and iPad (3G, 2 3G) banned from the US. The ban came from the ITC as these devices infringes upon Samsung’s patents related to cellular data. This ban effects only the AT&T models which use these patents.
Don’t let Apple-loving sites portray this as Samsung aggression. Apple is the one which started it all, striving to block anything that dares to compete with iDevices. Apple deserves this ban and it is irrevocable for now, or at least hard to revoke. AOL says “[t]he import ban could theoretically result in Apple being unable to sell the devices in question in the U.S., should all appeals fail and the decision be upheld, since Apple wouldn’t be able to bring the devices into the country from its overseas suppliers and manufacturing facilities. As this is an ITC ruling, it would have to be appealed to the White House or Federal Circuit to be overturned, notes Nilay Patel of The Verge on Twitter.”
Nilay Patel said “This is final, appealable only to WH (won’t touch it) and Fed Circuit.” The US system is biased against the Koreans, so maybe Apple can use its connections in the white house to whine about how it got beaten up after it had started a fight, totally unprovoked. This is an important post to send out with little additional research because a lot of the English-speaking media is already trying to smear the Korean company for defending itself in the face of Apple’s artillery. █
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Legal loopholes exploited
Summary: Lawsuits by proxy still a preferable strategy at Microsoft, the company which made racketeering a key business model
According to this article from Groklaw, “Microsoft Assigns Six Patents to Patent Troll Vringo — Is This an Antitrust Issue?”
Yes, well, it is not the first time, either. The article says: “A couple of things about this Vringo affair. First, Mark Cuban — who set up the chair at EFF to fight against stupid patents — also bought a 7% interest in Vringo, back when they were dreaming their Big Dreams. Blech. Gambling on litigation. That’s what patents are being used for, and that’s only part of what’s wrong with the US patent system.”
“The American Antitrust Institute is getting involved now, but it should be noted that the above is not unprecedented.”The American Antitrust Institute is getting involved now, but it should be noted that the above is not unprecedented. Nokia gave Vringo some patents before. We wrote about a Nokia boycott exactly when Vringo got fed by Nokia. When another troll, MOSAID, got fed by Nokia, we know for a fact Microsoft was directly involved. It did not even hide it, so this would not be the first time when Microsoft uses one proxy (Nokia) to feed another proxy (patent troll) to harass Google. It would be valuable to have the “smoking gun” showing why Mr. Elop (Microsoft’s mole in Nokia) gave patents to Vringo.
“It would be valuable to have the “smoking gun” showing why Elop (Microsoft’s mole in Nokia) gave patents to Vringo.”Microsoft paid Vringo an additional one million dollars. As Million put it: “The settlement also provides for Microsoft to transfer six patents to I/P engine, the patent-holding subsidiary of Vringo. “The assigned patents relate to telecommunications, data management, and other technology areas,” stated Vringo in its filing.
“Microsoft confirmed that Vringo’s description of the settlement was accurate, but declined further comment when asked about the case by Reuters.”
Here is more coverage for future record [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], inclusive of the Reuters article.
“These are very real conspiracies of common interests. What’s not in their interests? Android.”Microsoft uses some other proxies to harm Google, e.g. this long-going patent troll called MPEG-LA, which based on this analysis is compromising free multimedia codecs. As VAR Guy put it: “From headline-grabbing threats by Microsoft (MSFT) to more subdued court battles involving the cloud, the open-source ecosystem has a pretty good record of winning patent challenges. But a crushing defeat has now tarnished that record with Google’s (GOOG) grudging surrender in a campaign to make the open-source VP8 video codec ubiquitous across the Web. Free-software stalwarts need not panic, though: In this case, they can blame Google, not a systemic failure by the open-source world itself.”
No, to blame here are companies like Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft, which are behind MPEG-LA. We wrote about it in [1, 2, 3]. These are not unsubstantiated rumours or theories. These are very real conspiracies of common interests. What’s not in their interests? Android. █
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Summary: Setbacks for branding giant Apple and its affiliates, having just failed — yet again — to knock the Linux-powered market leader (Android) off course
“Apple”-branded products are not as perfect as Apple fans prefer to believe. As this new settlement shows, Apple too acknowledges this. To quote: “Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has filed a $53 million preliminary class settlement agreement in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, potentially allowing $200 refunds to iPhone and iPod Touch customers who claim they should be covered under warranties but were not because of liquid indicators in their devices.
“The copyright case against Android is without merit.”“A group of four class representatives were upset over Apple’s liquid damage policy prior to Dec. 31, 2009, in which the company would deny coverage under the standard warranty and purchased AppleCare Protection Plan for an iPhone whose headphone jack or dock connector was pink or red, indicating water contact, and for an iPod Touch with the same description before June 30, 2010.”
Apple has been very desperately trying to stop competing products, not by making better products but by litigation aiming at embargo. Seemingly, based on our interpretation and gradually-gathered evidence [1, 2, 3, 4], Oracle’s action against Android ties in with CPTN and the strong bond between Apple’s leader and Oracle’s leader. The copyright case against Android is without merit. It’s like SCO, thus it’s aptly named SCOracle sometimes. Just ask the many innovators and entrepreneurs who attest to it. Oracle is even antagonised by the CCIA, which we wrote about many times before. Even lawyers, or Law Professors, are against Oracle here. As Groklaw put it: “Bit by bit, the amicus briefs on behalf of Google in the Oracle v. Google appeal about the uncopyrightability of Java APIs are becoming available. They are all interesting in different ways, but they all agree — Oracle is wrong on the law and if it prevails, it will be a sad day for innovation. Copyright protection doesn’t extend to procedures, processes, systems, or methods of operation, and it shouldn’t.”
“This is bad news for Apple and Microsoft, fellow CPTN members. They were counting on patent-stacking and rising cost burdens for Android.”This is bad news for Apple and Microsoft, fellow CPTN members. They were counting on patent-stacking and rising cost burdens for Android. Joe Mullin, an excellent reporter in this area, shows Apple getting nailed by its own law firm now. Funnily enough, Muillin describes one troll there as “someone who no longer had much of a business beyond lawsuits.” Actually, that sounds like Apple, which is losing everything from technical leadership to market dominance to Samsung, including this embargo attempt. To quote the news, “The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t infringe on the design of the Apple iPad, according to reports. Although Apple does hold a European design patent, the Court has limited the applicability of the patent based on prior art. The iPad has predecessors, such as a Knight Ridder concept tablet dating back well over a decade before Apple’s product was released. The iPad may have a “unique character,” the court adds, but the Galaxy Tab is sufficiently different that an informed person can tell.”
Here is the news is Dutch. Apple is losing it fast.
It should be noted that in 2011 we asked readers to boycott Apple primarily because the company has become a direct, offensive threat to Linux, nothing less. Over time we realised that Mr. Cook, who had started some of Apple’s flirtations with patent threats (against Palm), would do nothing to reverse Steve Jobs’ legacy as a patent bully. Don’t expect Apple to change any more than Microsoft has ‘changed’ (from serial abuser to serial racketeer). █
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Summary: Apple is running out of ideas in the long fight against Android — a fight which it is now trying to wage using patent monopolies
More and more Apple ‘fans’ whom I know are turning to Android. I saw another example of it earlier this week. Conversions the other way around must be rare and I never saw any. Apple knew why it was suing HTC in 2010 and now that demand for iStuff decreases, Apple is left with nothing to show but hype and tax evasion. Slashdot put it like this: “Apple traditionally has big product announcements in the early spring, so around February both the mainstream press and the tech blogs began to circulate their favorite rumors (the iWatch, iTV). They also announced the date of the next Apple event, which this year was in March — except it didn’t happen. ‘Reliable sources’ then confirmed it would be in April, then May and then — nothing. In withdrawal and with a notoriously secretive Apple offering no relief the tech journalists started to get cranky. The end result is a rash of petulant stories that insist Apple is desperate for new products, in trouble (with $150 billion dollars in the bank, I should be in such trouble) and in decline. The only ones
desperate seem to be editors addicted to traffic-generating Apple announcements. Good news is on the horizon, though, as the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference starts June 10th.”
“This is a great example of how patents ruin the market and impede competition.”Samsung is complaining about Apple’s ITC complaint, alleging that Apple is lying in a desperate attempt to block Android phones which by far outsell iPhone. This is a great example of how patents ruin the market and impede competition.
Don’t expect lawyers’ sites to point this out though. Instead, they give a platform to career clowns like David Kappos — people who sell the idea that protectionism is a good thing. █
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Summary: Failure by the press to correctly identify people leads to misguided coverage which brings back mostly old news and helps smear Linux/Android
The borderline illegal tactics, such as blocking of competitors, are not new to Apple. The company has always been very restrictive as it allowed almost nobody else on its platform/s. Apple also dodges tax. Apple has in it everything a sociopath would love, so Apple’s popularity in some segments says a lot about today’s society.
Based on this report from CBS, “Antitrust regulators send questionnaire to wireless carriers to determine whether Apple is using anticompetitive sales tactics to squeeze out rival handset makers.”
Apple is no stranger to such tactics. More recently, boosted by European lobbyists like Florian Müller, Apple also deceived regulators. It tried to pretend that Android devices are worthy of bans in Europe. EU-based Microsoft-run Nokia did the same thing in recent months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], aided again by this bribed lobbyist, who is quoted by Heise’s London-based branch (report by Walker-Morgan, who can’t deny knowing about Müller’s connections). A new article says: “It has now been revealed that Nokia’s recent submission to the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleges that HTC smartphones are infringing six US patents. According to a report by patent commentator Florian Müller, one of these (US 6,711,211) describes methods that are apparently infringed by Google’s VP8 video codec. VP8 is currently being proposed for standardisation with a number of organisations.”
“Microsoft pays this guy, and it no longer keeps it secret, either.”First of all, he is not a commentator, he is a lobbyist and he is funded by anti-Android companies. Secondly, he has been boosting MPEG-LA for years (Apple, Nokia-, and Microsoft-funded). Last but not least, he has a history of lying at Microsoft’s behalf, so why quote him? He is a mouthpiece that mass-mails journalists, he is no “commentator”.
The article continues: “The patent, granted in 2004, is entitled “Method for encoding and decoding video information, a motion compensated video encoder and a corresponding decoder”. In a document submitted to the ITC, Nokia explains in some detail, illustrating with source from VP8 open source code, how it believes VP8 is infringing on claims made in its patent. All devices which run Google’s Android 2.3 or later are able to play VP8 videos. According to Nokia, this means that the HTC One also infringes this patent.”
We covered this before, it is not news. The BBC has been doing the very same thing recently, as it repeatedly cited this lobbyist in anti-Android (or pro-Microsoft extortion) articles without correctly identifying him. Microsoft pays this guy, and it no longer keeps it secret, either. █
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Summary: Systemic/chronic tax evader Apple (essentially robbing society by avoidance, just like Microsoft) continues to seek embargoes in pursuit of considerably high ‘Android tax’, or a sort of corporate Apple welfare that weakens Android and harms consumers (those who bear the cost of this corporate welfare)
Patent aggressor and branding company Apple has been wanting and practically trying to tax Android while dodging its own tax responsibilities, as even the BBC tells readers. Microsoft does the same thing (don’t expect the BBC to cover it), but Congress does not seem to mind it so much. At USA Today there is a cult of personalities. Pamela Jones says “Congress are technically know-nothings, yet they take on themselves the oversight of tech. It’s Alice in Wonderland “off with their heads” level of oversight, and for any tech folks, it’s unbearable. Congress needs help to understand the tech *before* they hold hearings, so they don’t look so foolish.”
“Samsung is easily outselling Apple’s phones, so bans through the ITC are Apple’s main strategy, not just against Samsung. “Apple’s attack on the S4 (leading Linux-powered, records-breaking phone) seeks a ban and coverage from Megan Geuss about this leads Jones to saying: “Apple is not backing down, obviously, and it raises two questions: are the patents even valid? and is this just about harassment rather than actual concern about patents?”
Samsung is easily outselling Apple’s phones, so bans through the ITC are Apple’s main strategy, not just against Samsung. Motorola, for instance, is appealing the ITC ruling on Apple [PDF]. Remember that it was Apple which started it all (litigation with FRAND and misuse of ITC sanctions), seemingly in collusion with Microsoft. █
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Summary: Another attack on GNU/Linux results in payment to trolls and silence from Red Hat, which keeps the FOSS community in the dark
ACCORDING TO this concise and cryptic press release of Acacia, “Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG) announced today that its subsidiary, Business Process Modeling Solutions LLC, has entered into a settlement and license agreement with Red Hat, Inc. This agreement resolves patent litigation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.”
No word from Red Hat. Late on Friday it was just dropped onto the wires, as before. Red Hat’s situation with Acacia was covered here before [1, 2, 3] and the problem here is the same. Red Hat offers no transparency and continues to feed a troll. The main problem is not the latter, but Red Hat chooses its self interest over the interests of FOSS by not challenging the troll.
Hopefully, with the looming arrival of new legislation, trolls will become easier to beat. A new report explains what the ‘Patent Abuse Reduction Act’ is about by stating: “The legislation, if passed, will make it hard for patent trolls to persist with their tactics of using corporate chimeras to launch multiple instances of litigation against the same target. It will also force trolls to pay all parties’ costs if they lose a patent case.
“Response to the bill has been positive. Rackspace, also based in Texas, has declared the Bill a fine idea and naming it “a very powerful weapon” in the fight against trolls.
“The Internet Association also likes the Bill, calling it “a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about how best to put an end to abusive patent litigation practices and to promote, rather than burden, real innovation in today’s Internet economy.””
Trolls, however, are not the only problem. Consider what Microsoft’s deal with Novell accomplished in order to keep spreading SUSE patent tax to more and more places at the expense of Red Hat. Consider the patent attacks of Microsoft and Apple on Android, too. Apple started suing Linux-based device makers about three years ago, starting with HTC. Since then Apple has been trying to ban or tax sales of such devices and now that a Samsung device is breaking all records Apple steps in with some patents again. To quote Pamela Jones’ coverage of this: “The judge in Apple v. Samsung II asked the parties to narrow their claims, so they did but now Apple would like to add more claims [PDF], specifically to include the Galaxy S4. Samsung just sold 10 million S4s in less than a month, and Apple’s hair must be on fire.
“Would you like to know what it thinks of all you 10 million users of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 phone? It thinks you are infringing their stupid patents too, meaning, I would imagine, that if it is successful in this case, it will ask for an injunction against the phones you want and bought.
“I’ll show you what this stupid case is all about and what Apple thinks about you for buying the phone you want to buy and use, which Apple would like to make illegal to buy and use in the US by means of some infuriating software method patents. If you don’t see why software shouldn’t be patentable subject matter after watching Apple go for Samsung’s throat with these patents, I give up.”
The problem is, inherently, patents. It’s not patent trolls in isolation. Apple and Microsoft are in these fights together and their combined effort is a proprietary mess. Once Free software leapfrogged them, as expected, they decided to use patents, their backup/insurance plan. Acacia is one of Microsoft’s patent proxies of choice by some people’s assessment. There is former Microsoft staff there. █
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