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04.15.14

Apple and Microsoft Actively Lobbying Against Patent Reform in the US

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple and Microsoft are reportedly intervening/interfering with US law in order to ensure that the law is Free/libre software-hostile

HALF A DECADE after the Bilski case, where SCOTUS helped legitimise software patents by not striking them out, SCOTUS gets another chance to kill software patents in their country of origin.

The SFLC wrote about its role a few days ago, noting: “In each Supreme Court brief that SFLC has filed over the years we have included a little note on the first page declaring that the brief was made using only free software. This point was particularly important in our most recent brief, for a case named Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank, which was argued in front of the court last week. Our use of free software was particularly important this time because we argue in our brief that free software has been responsible for the major software innovations of the modern era. In partial support of that claim I want to show you our document creation process and tell you about the free software we use to take text from an email and turn it into a camera-ready Supreme Court brief, then a website, then an eBook.”

Watch how Microsoft and Apple work to eliminate the possibility that software patents or even patent trolls will be eliminated. As TechDirt put it some days ago: “Back in December, we noted that the House Judiciary Committee had approved an unfortunately watered-down, anti-patent troll bill. It was better than nothing, but we hoped that the Senate would approve a much stronger version. For a while it seemed like that was likely to happen, but… those who abuse patents are pretty damn powerful. Even those who have been hit by patent trolls in the past, like Apple and Microsoft, have decided to join forces in lobbying against meaningful patent reform. They’ve been pushing to water down the Senate’s bill, taking out nearly everything that would make the bill useful — and it appears that they’re succeeding.”

04.09.14

A Call to Ban/Stop Big ‘Patent Trolls’ Like Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 5:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent stooges

Summary: Reporting in corporate media generally lacks focus on patent abuse by large companies, but Topix has a long noteworthy article

PATENT coverage has been scarce here recently because corporations won. They warped the debate in such a way that almost no articles criticise software patents anymore; the focus has been shifted to small trolls and politicians are, accordingly, ignoring the big issue, instead pursuing fake ‘reforms’ that hardly address any concerns, other than the concerns of big corporations (it’s like Obama’s so-called ‘reform’ of the NSA). Here for a change is a good Topix article titled “How to Really Fix Patents – and Why Congress Is Unlikely to Do It” (via Glyn Moody).

The article says: “The total loss to the economy caused by junk patents far exceeds $29 billion per year when one takes into account that big companies act like patent trolls too, by obtaining junk patents to keep out their competitors.”

It also states that: “The real costs of junk patents are easy to imagine when you consider some of the egregious patents that should never have existed to begin with. Patent No. 5,851,117 was granted in 1998 to a company for using an illustrated book to teach janitors how to clean a building. Clearly that is not such an original idea that it deserves to be patented. Luckily the economic impact of that patent was likely very minimal.”

And finally: “Patent trolls should be dealt with, but if big companies are able to continue to obtain junk patents for things that are not inventions and then act like patent trolls, then they will be able to continue to corner markets and ensure that new emerging technologies can’t compete with them.”

We recently wrote about Apple's "holy war" against Linux/Android — a subject that was mentioned by a lot of media [1, 2, 3, 4]. Nokia‘s patent deal with Apple, which had already cross-licensed with Microsoft for quite a long time (we have written about this triangle for a number of years), helped show how this “holy war” was going on. This new article states that “Nokia makes up about 80% of them [...] the vast majority of licensing fees Microsoft collects — about $15 per device — comes from the Finnish company. Those fees are about to become an internal exchange once the acquisition deal closes between the two companies.”

The ultimate victim will be Android. They are working on it.

To make matters worse, Microsoft and Nokia feed Android-hostile patent trolls like MOSAID, passing patents for no purpose other than harassment (patent-stacking).

This is trolling. The European authorities have already warned/reprimanded Nokia.

What needs to change right now is the debate. We need to reject the idea that there is this thing called “patent trolls” which basically means small companies with patents and that this alone is the issue with patents. There are much bigger issues.

04.07.14

Both Apple and Microsoft Compare Their Corporate Causes to Religion

Posted in Apple, FSF, Google, Microsoft at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Binondo Church

Summary: Steve Jobs calls competition (litigation) with Android a “holy war” whereas Bill Gates calls undermining Linux a “Jihad”

TECHRIGHTS is the recipient of various smears that claim the site or its authors to be something that they are not (misrepresentation). We wrote many articles about it about 5 years ago, having seen smears as bad as “Taliban”. A very common pattern of smears is to call your rival/opponent in a debate “religious” about an opinion, as in dogmatic and detached from logic (there are other similar labels like “tinfoil hat” or “conspiracy theory”, as noted years ago). The FSF, despite being mostly atheistic, is a regular recipient of the “religion” smear (Stallman’s parodies of religion may contribute to this). Microsoft sometimes smears Free software by characterising it as a religion and we, as vocal Novell critics, received similar smears from Novell apologists/staff (Microsoft Linux is still alive by the way and it is spreading to Google). Calling/labeling “religious” those who are non-religious makes no sense. It’s a cheap shot and those who use such cheap shots are often the ones who are irrational and detached from an alternative (opposing) point of view. When logic doesn’t work in an argument, then cheap shots get used, or ad hominem attacks.

Now, similar arguments have been made by some Apple “fanboys” (a label in itself) when they were accused of following Apple like it’s a religion (or cult, i.e. small religion). Those jokes about Apple being followed like a religion and Jobs being treated like a Messiah are not so far fetched anymore. And why?

The proponent of "thermonuclear" action turns out to have referred to his war on Android/Linux as a “holy war”.

Holy?

Really?!

Holy crap.

To quote CNBC: “Steve Jobs warned Apple’s leadership a year before his death that the company he founded faced an “innovator’s dilemma” over the growing threat from Google and promised a “holy war” on smartphones running its Android software, according to evidence shown in court on Tuesday”

This is almost as bad as Bill Gates' allegory/wording when he asked “where are we on this Jihad?” (referring to Microsoft’s war against Linux inside Intel).

Next time you see Free software proponents being referred to as “religious” or something along those lines remember the words of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They themselves seem to define/characterise their companies as religious movements.

It is clear why Apple is so afraid of Android, as now revealed by documents from inside Apple [1], noting that people are moving to Android and never coming back to the “holy” Apple (not even if they work for a company that’s a partner of Apple [2]). The other Steve from Apple (Wozniak) is now an Android user and he likes to brag (publicly) about Android phones, which based on some new study [3] are technically better and more stable.

People need not have a religious-type faith to choose GNU/Linux or Android; they do, however, need to have a strong belief in Apple in order to choose an overpriced iPhone.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. iPhone becomes victim of Android’s success, makes Apple worry

    Internal Apple documents show that the company’s sales department is anxious about growing competition from Android-powered devices amidst declining iPhone sales, Re/code said in a report.

  2. Why I’m glad I never abandoned Android for an iPhone

    I’ve written about and reviewed mobile phones for almost a decade and a half. Everything from flip phones, to BlackBerrys, to today’s hottest Android models, and yes, Apple iPhones, have passed through my hands. That experience is why, more than anything, I’ve ultimately settled on Google Android as my smartphone platform of choice.

  3. Android more stable than iOS: Study

    For long we have been hearing strories that Android is unsafe, unstable, while iOS is reliable. But new data that has emerged will totally change the picture. A study conducted by Crittercism, a performance monitoring company has revealed that while iOS 7.1 is the most stable version of iOS to date, its Android counterpart is far more stable.

04.02.14

Google and Apple: Doing Evil Together

Posted in Apple, Google at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gentlemen’s attack on workers

Jobs and Schmidt

Summary: Details of correspondence between Jobs and Schmidt reveal how deep the price-fixing over workers (fixing the salaries lower) really goes

WE recently learned how Google and Apple had screwed engineers and drove their wages down by colluding. We posted some news links about it. Well, now there are unsealed documents showing us sociopaths at work.

Apple is an undisputed king of evil, but watch Google’s Schmidt acting not much better than Steve Jobs, who is laughing at the firing of staff (guess who’s fired in Hell right now). To quote some background to this: “In early March, 2007, as Google was expanding fast and furiously, one of its recruiters from the “Google.com Engineering” group made a career-ending mistake: She cold-contacted an Apple engineer by email, violating the secret and illegal non-solicitation compact that her boss, Eric Schmidt, had agreed with Apple’s Steve Jobs.

“What happened next is just one of many specific examples of how people’s lives were impacted by the Techtopus wage-theft cartel that was taken down by the Department of Justice antitrust division, and is currently being litigated in a landmark class action lawsuit.

“The Google recruiter’s email—in which she identified herself as “a Recruiter for the ‘Google.com Engineering’ team formerly known as the ‘Site Reliability Engineering’ team”— was sent out on the morning of March 7, 2007.”

Seeing how those companies have colluded and the executives never sent to prison (let alone put on trial) helps us remember that we live in a society where corporations are above the law and white-collar business crimes are so commonplace that we take them for granted (banks are a good example of it). Watch this other news report where iFixit boss Wiens is quote as saying: “They [Apple] have done everything they can to put these guys [third-party repairers] out of business.”

Also mind this new article which floats Microsoft lobbyist Florian Müller‘s old FUD, saying that “Apple wants Samsung to pony up $40 per smartphone for patents.”

At this stage, to be absolutely frank, defending Google from Apple’s aggressive litigation and Steve Jobs' thermonuclear delusions seems like an exercise in futility. Google is starting to do evil not just in patent practice and law; the company which was once hailed as the best place to work with is not an enemy of IT workers. Just ask Tim Bray (a manager in Android) why he quit Google earlier this year.

03.25.14

Microsoft Partners/Allies Are Attacking Net Neutrality

Posted in Apple, DRM, Microsoft at 3:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Transmitting DRM-emcumbered and proprietary software-bound packets first

Vintage TV

Summary: Those who advocate DRM and proprietary software dislike net neutrality, as demonstrated by Apple’s and Netflix’s opposition to the principle of packet delivery without discrimination

Microsoft has, for a long time in fact, been an opponent of net neutrality, based on its actions (we covered those). No company wants to be seen as anti-net neutrality, so they all pretend to be for it while their actions speak for themselves.

Netflix is clearly against net neutrality based on its actions and a reader sent us this article about Netflix’s CEO, noting that “ISPs are already getting paid for both ends of the connection. What ISPs are trying to get now is paying twice at both ends, that is to say collecting four ways for the same connection.”

The corporate press recently ran the story “Netflix Just Opened the Door to Paying ISPs More Access Fees” [1]. Disregard the spin and PR from the CEO of Netflix [2,3], who is basically claiming that he is against what he is doing. Also ignore the nonsense from AT&T [4] and other cable companies [5]; they just fear client alienation, so they tell to the public (existing or prospective customers) what the public wants to hear while doing exactly the opposite.

Apple, being Apple, is a lot more arrogant and selfish, hardly ever trying to hide its real agenda. Apple not only helps Microsoft [6] but it also helps cable companies kill net neutrality [7,8]. Apple is following the lead of Netflix in this case, ending what we once knew as a network which treats packets equally.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Netflix Just Opened the Door to Paying ISPs More Access Fees

    Netflix (NFLX) Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings is seeking your help to keep Internet service providers from charging higher fees to stream all the video its customers watch. In the process, he may have just opened his wallet to any Cox, Time Warner Cable (TWC), Verizon Communications (VZ), or AT&T (T) across the nation.

  2. Netflix CEO lashes out against ISPs like Comcast that do not follow ‘net neutrality’
  3. Netflix CEO Slams US ISPs Over Net Neutrality

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says it reluctantly pays US ISPs for interconnection fees, but argues providers shouldn’t be allowed to abuse their position

  4. AT&T promises to lower your Internet bill if FCC kills net neutrality

    If the Federal Communications Commission lets Internet service providers charge Web companies like Netflix for faster delivery of content to consumers, AT&T will lower its customers’ Internet bills. That’s what AT&T said Friday in a filing in the FCC’s “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” proceeding.

  5. Level 3 and Cogent ask FCC for protection against ISP “tolls”

    Network operators Level 3 and Cogent Communications today urged the Federal Communications Commission to prevent Internet service providers from charging what they deem to be excessive fees for interconnection.

  6. Windows 8 picks up an unlikely ally in Apple

    Windows 8 picks up an unlikely ally in Apple

    Apple is dropping Windows 7 support in Boot Camp — and Mac-based Windows users won’t like the reasons why

  7. Apple courts Comcast for net neutrality-evading TV service

    GADGET MAKER Apple and ISP Comcast are planning a joint venture for streaming TV service, in a move that might ramp up the net neutrality debate.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies are in talks to create a service that will provide the Apple TV with a direct connection to a new video on demand (VOD) channel, bypassing internet congestion that could otherwise cause buffering or pixelation to customers.

  8. Apple in talks with Comcast for priority services for its set-top box

    We recently reported Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings talk about the essence of net neutrality saying that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast should not restrict, influence, or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make. If reports are to be believed, Apple is talking to Comcast to get priority services for its set-top box that will bypass any congestion created by internet traffic.

03.24.14

Thou Shalt Not ‘Disparage’: How Apple and Microsoft Really Work

Posted in Apple, Microsoft at 3:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shhh

Summary: The pressure against truth-telling, courtesy of proprietary software aggressors such as Apple and Microsoft

LAST week was a fairly slow news week, but Muktware covered an upcoming film where the role of glorified bully Steve Jobs may be assigned to the same guy who portrayed American Psycho. That would be a good fit, wouldn’t it? Jobs’ successor continues to treat Apple like some kind of religion, dismissing any sort of criticism as though it’s blasphemous. As Muktware put it: “It’s not unusual for Apple CEO Tim Cook to blast anything that is not pro Apple. As a result, few were surprised when Tim Cook labeled Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” as “nonsense.” Iwatani Kane claims that Apple is no longer the company they were under Jobs, and that we have already seen the best that they have to offer.”

Meanwhile, tells us a reader, Microsoft spinner “Enderle is still around. Who paid him to write that and why?”

He has a history of Apple bashing and his latest column says that “Apple’s Problem [is] It Can’t Handle the Truth” (don’t feed Enderle by clicking). What Enderle conveniently ignores is that his darling Microsoft is not much better. We’ll provide examples in a moment.

Apple, like Microsoft, hardly ever ported any applications to GNU/Linux, but Muktware says that iTunes might be coming to Android (hence Linux). This is significant because Apple hardly ever ported anything to GNU/Linux and “Apple broke the monopoly of record labels, which forced users to buy entire album even if a user wanted just one song. It made music affordable, which brought down ‘piracy’. Apple actually shook the entire music industry with its iTunes, the way it changed the mobile industry with iPhone.”

Here is another report about “Apple considering releasing an iTunes app for Android” (it’s not final yet).

Apple and Microsoft both thrive in marketing and commercial propaganda, as well as revisionism (fairly new example in [1]). Just watch this disgraceful deceit (placement) which speaks of “redemption” but is actually about subjugation. “Neocolonialism, keeping a foot on Africa’s neck” is what iopkh calls it. It’s gross beyond words. Africa has long been exploited not just by Microsoft but also by Bill Gates. To say this is sometimes a taboo (especially for the latter).

In addition, iophk asks: “Do Microsoft EULAs still forbid product evaluation, benchmarking and comparison to competing products? Almost none of the XP or MSO articles mention better options.” He refers to old articles [1, 2] which say people “may not without Microsoft’s prior written approval disclose to any third party the results of any benchmark test.”

We covered that several years ago.

The bottom line is, proprietary software not only forbids access to information (such as source code); it often also forbids expression of certain ideas. It is a form of tyranny.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it’s serious

    Stephen is plainly unaware, to begin with, that CP/M was not a piece of IBM software. It was actually created by Digital Research founder Dr Gary Kildall. With CP/M Dr Kildall (not Bill Gates) had truly pioneered the portable operating system for microcomputers – an operating system capable of running on different kinds of hardware that created a common platform for application developers and users – and the low-cost licensing model that went with it.

    Worse, it seems clear that Mr Fry is also unaware that the QDOS which Gates so hastily bought up to offer to IBM under the name MS-DOS was a poor-quality effort (QDOS actually stands for Quick and Dirty Operating System) which had been created by simply copying code straight out of CP/M.

03.14.14

The Latest Patent FUD From Microsoft Florian Makes Android/Linux Look Expensive

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The FUD machine of the Microsoft lobbyist is interjecting itself into the media again, despite clear warnings that were published for years

KNOWING THAT Microsoft Florian is a liar and ‘spammer’ (flooding journalists with identical E-mails) that’s employed for the smearing of Android, most journalists now ignore him and we rarely hear anything from him. A few months ago I visited his blog just to see if he was still ‘alive’ online as I had not heard of him for almost a year.

Joe Mullin, who is usually excellent when it comes to reporting on patents, perhaps fails to grasp Microsoft Florian’s poor record when it comes to covering events. He is a spinner, a deceiver, and he has been proven to be only an agenda pusher for several years now. He pretends to be things that he is not. That’s what he is good at, other than mass-mailing journalists so that they link to his nonsense. Pamela Jones would be tempted to reach out for her keyboard and log into Groklaw if she saw this.

No journalist — and it’s worth repeating — NO JOURNALIST should be taking it at face value what Microsoft Florian says, not without remembering who he works for. Microsoft Florian played a major role in the “Android is expenseive” PR campaign, making up or propping up fictitious figures. HTC already refuted the FUD from this lobbyist, who is paid by Android foes including Microsoft (they seem to be passing him material to publish, too).

“Yesterday,” writes Mullin, “Mueller published a hearing transcript from February 10 which featured each side’s lawyers arguing to limit or throw out the other side’s expert report.”

So this is just an argument, it’s not actually anything factual. It’s a wet dream of some lawyer. Mullin turned it into an incredible headline which then invited many comments. This is the manufacturing of “news” out of gossip. Mullin says: “New demand dwarfs licensing fees charged by Microsoft, and it will go to the jury.”

But wait, why assume that there are “fees charged by Microsoft”? Well, guess it’s Microsoft Florian again. As Mullin later mentions: “Microsoft patent licenses to Android phone makers have reportedly been in the $7.50 to $15 per phone range, with lower estimates hanging around $5 per phone. As Mueller points out in his post on the royalty demands, those fees are for a license to a wide portfolio of patents, not just five patents being hotly litigated in court.”

The key word here is “reportedly”. But reported by who? Microsoft Florian and some Microsoft-friendly analysts. We covered this before.

Mullin concludes as follows, prepetuating an ubsubtanitated myth: “It’s also possible to earn a lot of money by convincing Android OEMs to pay patent royalties, as Microsoft has shown. One analyst estimates Microsoft is getting $2 billion per year in patent payments over Android.”

Microsoft might not be paid anything, but people like Microsoft Florian, paid by Microsoft itself, helped create this fairy tail and given it some legs. So all that Mullin’s article does is basically reiterating speculations and making them look like facts.

Well done, Microsoft, for an effective deception and PR campaign. It is the “Android is expensive” strategy.

03.06.14

Patent Stacking by Microsoft, Apple, Nokia et al. Makes Android/Linux More Expensive, Less Competitive

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The return of discussions about patent stacking and the role played by the anti-Android camp

ANDROID really took off not just because it’s Free/Open Source software but also because it was free. Now, a few years down the line, Android phones can cost as much as €699 (Samsung Galaxy S5) and although the main reason may be Samsung’s greed (knowing that some people would be willing to pay this price), we should not forget the role patent stacking plays. We have written about it for years.

Microsoft Nokia and Apple signed a secret deal which Samsung now formally complains about, as we covered earlier this week (the latest Google and Samsung complaint is in China). “Nokia,” explains Sosumi, is “now a patent troll and a Microsoft tentacle” (it has been like that for 3 years).

There is secrecy there that harms Android. Not only do Microsoft and Nokia pass patents to trolls who target Android; they also try to engage in patent stacking themselves. A pro-Apple site mentioned this latest twist the other day: “Last October, Apple filed a motion seeking sanctions against Samsung and its outside lawyers, accusing both of unlawfully sharing sensitive data about Apple’s 2011 patent license agreement with Nokia. Specifically, the motion stated that a Samsung executive informed Nokia that the terms of the patent settlement were “known to him”, and used that information to negotiate other patent agreements in Samsung’s favor. The license terms between Apple and Nokia were marked “Highly Confidential – Attorneys’ Eyes Only”, but were shared with other Samsung employees.” Bear this in mind whenever pundits try to claim that Nokia is befriending Android.

Patents which are based on secrecy like this are a matter of price-fixing and collusion. This should be against the law, but guess who writes the laws these days? In India, for example, one major newspaper now publishes the article “India must call the US’ bluff on patents” [1] and in Red Hat’s site Rob Tiller is finally slamming software patents [2] (which he rarely does), adding to increased opposition to software patents these days [3], in light of an imminent SCOTUS milestone event (Red Hat too is involved).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. India must call the US’ bluff on patents

    Apart from the deterioration of the business environment generally, which impacts both domestic and foreign investors, retrospective taxation has figured most prominently in the media as the principal cause of growing scepticism among foreign investors. Entirely missing from the discourse has been an equally potent factor with wholly foreign origins: the hijacking of the economic policy dialogue between the United States and India by pharmaceutical lobbies in the US. Big Pharma has convinced the US government that the country’s interests are synonymous with its own. With its own list of grievances against trade restrictions in India, the National Association of Manufacturers, a lobby group of the United States manufacturers, has lent its support to the pharmaceutical industry.

  2. The Supreme Court jumps into the software patent thicket

    Software patent thickets are often compared to minefields, but with a note of resignation, as though there’s no avoiding them. The U.S. Supreme Court now has before it a case that could go a long way towards addressing the litigation risks and business uncertainties created by software patents. The case is Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, and the issue is whether claims to computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patents.

  3. Public Knowledge Deflates Another Dubious Software Patent By Reducing It To Seven Lines Of BASIC

    Public Knowledge is back at it, carving holes in dubious software patent claims by distilling supposedly “complex” ideas into a minimal amount of code. Late last year, Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit involving Ultramercial, whose disputed patent basically involved appending “on the internet” to a very basic idea.

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