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04.12.15

The ITC’s and US Media’s Surprisingly Soft Treatment of Patent Bully Apple

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 4:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A thorn

Summary: Despite Apple’s history of initiating patent aggression against its competition (mostly Android-backing companies), the US corporate media treats Apple like a victim

OUR previous article showed how Apple was helping Microsoft extort Linux. It’s not hard to see and it’s not hard to understand. Both companies are proprietary software giants to which Linux is a massive threat. Outside the United States Android is slaughtering Apple’s ‘i’ devices and outside some very large (and monolithic) corporations it’s getting hard to see Windows dominance. Many people use Android, GNU/Linux, and sometimes “Apple”-branded PCs.

Neglecting to mention the ITC‘s role in pushing Apple‘s agenda of blocking the competition (usually foreign, as in non-US), the US media obsessed over Apple as the victim of patents, citing this case where not Apple was the troll. “The patents relate to accessing and storing downloaded songs, videos and games,” said one report (i.e. software patents), and “Apple [was] Ordered To Pay $532.9 Million In Patent Case”.

Poor Apple. Now it knows what it feels like to have trolls (like Apple) attacking the competition. See this report titled “ITC Trims Software Patent Probe For Apple Products”. It says that “The International Trade Commission has cut back an investigation into Apple Inc.’s consumer hardware devices after nonpracticing patent entity Enterprise Systems Technologies S.a.r.l withdrew claims that the devices infringed one of its software patents, according to a Tuesday order.” This shows a sort of confirmatory action wherein Apple is treated gently by the ITC — a trend we noted here before (going back years ago). Also see this report titled “Apple Patent Tips Real-Time Route Tracking”. Some innovation, eh? Harming society one patent at a time.

In other news, Ericsson, which uses Android, seeks a ban on Apple products and it’s suing. This news is over a month old, but Ericsson’s action is mostly reactionary because it’s Apple that started bullying Android, striving to embargo imports. One report said that “Apple had been paying royalties to Stockholm-based Ericsson before a license expired in mid-January. When talks over renewal failed, the companies sued each other, seeking court rulings on whether Ericsson’s royalty demands on fundamental technology were fair and reasonable.”

Here is some additional coverage [1, 2, 3, 4].

If we follow the narrative painted or thrown together by US media we may be left with the illusion of parity or reciprocity — a hypothetical situation where Android companies are basically the aggressors against Apple. Historically it was Apple that started it all by suing multiple Android backers, starting with HTC and Samsung.

To be fair, Google does pursue its share of software patents these days, the latest example of which is this creepy software patent: “As of March 31, 2015, Google owns a shiny new patent (8,996,429) outlining a robot that changes personalities based on circumstance and a wide variety of user information. The system stores useful data in the cloud where it can be accessed by other robots. Adorable robots, if we’re to go by Google’s “conceptual graphical representations” (above).”

Google never sued Apple over patents. In fact, Google never sues other companies over patent infringement unless those companies sue Google first. Therein lies the massive difference between Apple and Google, not just Microsoft and Google. Putting aside the “don’t be evil” mantra, Google is definitely a lot less evil than Apple and Microsoft.

Microsoft Continues to Attack (and Tax) Linux Using Software Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Knife

Summary: Microsoft stabs Linux in the back while it continues to insist that it ‘loves’ Linux

SOME PEOPLE (usually Microsoft boosters) would have us believe that Microsoft is not only “Open Source” but also a friend of Linux (they mean GNU/Linux). This couldn’t be further from the truth, as we explained a couple of weekends ago in this 6-part series:

Half a year or so ago the President of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) published the article “Microsoft ‘loves’ Linux? Then stop attacking open source”. It’s worth recalling his arguments. He wrote that “evidence suggests Microsoft “loves” Linux the same way abusive partners “love” their spouses.”

Microsoft is bleeding. It’s laying off staff. Android, or by extension Google, is probably causing Microsoft the most damage right now, eroding Windows’ status as the dominant platform. Android market share is now estimated at around 2 billion or more. It’s based on Linux.

The other say Ahonen wrote that “iHS iSupply promised us Windows Phone would zoom up to 15% market share (reality? stayed at 3%. 5-fold error).”

It’s not working out for Microsoft, is it? Android dominance cannot be stopped. Microsoft and Apple are now in cahoots against Android/Linux (using patents), as noted by a Microsoft booster, Todd Bishop, the other day. iophk wrote: “Trying to allow RAND in ‘essential’ patents?”

Yes, Microsoft and Apple long ago joined forces to fight Android using patents. An alliance of convenience — that’s what it is. This is just a continuation of a destructive strategy.

“It is a multi-faceted attack on Android, hacking at the very core (Google/Motorola).”Going deeper into Microsoft’s and Apple’s joint patent assault on Android, the Microsoft booster says that “[l]awyers for Microsoft and Google will appear Wednesday morning at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a long-running dispute over patents that were originally owned by cell phone maker Motorola Mobility.”

Remember that Motorola’s Android-centric unit was also recently sued by (and lost to) Intellectual Ventures. This massive patent troll funded by Apple too, not just Microsoft, as we noted years ago. It is a multi-faceted attack on Android, hacking at the very core (Google/Motorola).

Last month we saw reports about so-called ‘consumers’ (in the cited article), who are basically just a couple of lawyers whining for Microsoft about Android, deciding to “withdraw U.S. lawsuit against Google over Android app limits”. That’s misleading on many levels. As Reuters put it: “The lawsuit argued that Google requires Android handset manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) favor Google’s apps such as YouTube and restrict competing apps like Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Bing search.”

So it’s really about Microsoft. After patent extortion against Samsung Microsoft managed to coerce Samsung into preinstalling Microsoft spyware and lock-in, hence the lawsuit becomes irrelevant.

The media has covered this very poorly if it covered this at all.

Todd Bishop, who wrote the above article, also spoke to Microsoft’s Brad Smith, the chief patent bully who had been attacking Linux using patents for nearly a decade. Rather than challenge him over patent and extortion (taxing Linux) he focused on the angle of Microsoft’s infamous tax evasion. Here is how Slashdot summarised it this morning:

After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, company general counsel Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio at 28:25). GeekWire Radio: “So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through Nevada-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?” Smith: “I think there are better ways for us to address the state’s needs than that kind of step.” Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state’s needs than a progressive income tax.

It’s about time more people asked questions about Microsoft’s extortion of Linux, not just its other crimes. There are laws against extortion (e.g. the RICO Act), but they are not being upheld/enforced. To say “Microsoft loves Linux” [companies, developers or users i.e. most people] (whom it’s attacking) is just adding insult to injury and perjury.

01.30.15

Apple- and Microsoft-Friendly Media Continues Attacking Android/Linux

Posted in Apple, Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Je Suis Wintel

Owl speaks

Summary: Some of the latest examples where corporate media (funded and run by large corporations) distorts facts, selectively covers facts, and generally serves to protect the Apple-Microsoft duopolist world view

TECHRIGHTS is troubled to see a lot of anti-Android rhetoric in the press as of late. Putting aside the smearing of Lollipop (we have upgraded to it and it works well), there is a lot of rhetoric that comes from Android foes. Some of the rhetoric relies on Apple results which mostly embody business other than mobile devices (Apple operates in many areas) and other kinds of rhetoric rely on a gross distortion of statistics, along with misleading headlines.

HTC (Taiwan), Sony (Japan), Huawei, ZTE (China), LG, and Samsung (Korea) make Android phones that are popular among the people of the world, including big markets like China, but Apple, the sole US company in this market (Nokia is the sole big player — albeit shrinking — in Europe) only counts on the US market to give the illusion of might. Here is the latest example of the US-only FUD (counting only US sales). “In the U.S. market,” says one parts of the article, but the headline is misleading and does nothing to clarify the scope. There are many headlines just like that and after reading English-speaking media one might be left with the impression that Android is losing even though it’s gaining. It is always gaining; rapidly too.

Apple Insider, a pro-Apple propaganda site, published an article titled “Apple Inc’s thermonuclear assault on Samsung vaporizes Android…” (article later deleted on the face of it, or renamed)

Microsoft, in the mean time, is still trying to hijack Android and make a “Microsoft Android” as they have failed to do (despite trying) using Nokia as the hijacked proxy (Yahoo was also hijacked by Microsoft and Facebook was hijacked by investment). Ahonen, a Nokia guru, has just noted that “Microsoft-Nokia is such an irrelevant spec in the market now as they’ve fallen out of the Top 10 smartphone manufacturers, its not worth its own entry.”

Yes, look how much of a ‘success’ this has been. Nokia used to be hugely dominant in this market. Microsoft reduced it to a laughing stock and borderline patent troll. The News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal suggests that Microsoft might be trying to use CyanogenMod as the next anti-Android proxy, following rumours of a buyout last year. The partly Microsoft-owned Facebook already tried that and failed. So has Nokia. They could not hijack Android from Google. Thom Holwerda has a good article that explains why CyanogenMod cannot be trusted and the Wall Street Journal says that “Microsoft is investing in a hot startup that’s trying to weaken Google ’s hold over Android.

“People familiar with the matter say Microsoft is putting money into Cyanogen, which is building a version of the Android mobile-operating system outside of Google’s auspices.

“Microsoft would be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing that values Cyanogen in the high hundreds of millions, one of the people said. The person said the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest in Cyanogen because they’re also eager to diminish Google’s control over Android. The identity of the other potential investors couldn’t be learned.”

So Microsoft is still playing a dirty game while reportedly pushing Outlook and Office (i.e. Microsoft lock-in) into the platform, helped by a mindless media propaganda blitz [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] where OOXML lock-in is disguised as “open” even though it’s purely proprietary and preys on the platform which Microsoft is actively suing using software patents.

Wintel media outlets hardly covered it when Android was getting LibreOffice but enthusiastically market OOXML/Exchange traps for it. Journalists are shamelessly distracting from much more important news like the new LibreOffice release (4.4) and Free software LibreOffice coming to Android while Google is making its game-changing move to embrace ODF. Therein lies the ‘magic’ of Microsoft PR agencies, which basically drive the media and bamboozle the world. Will Hill told us yesterday that:

SVJN’s conversation on G+ is a hoot. Bruce Byfield adds insult to injury by saying,

You know, of course, that some people will never believe Microsoft can change, even if it releases the source code for Windows and MS Office. To them, such actions would be proof of a clever plot.

Simon Phips, shamefully, perpetuates the lie with a backhanded compliment,

The work these parts of their company is doing seem genuine. My objection remains that they are still sociopathic in the legacy parts of their business. When they stop shaking down embedded Linux companies they deserve the name; until then, they are just aspiring to good marketing karma that they don’t deserve.

SVJN is also promoting the latest FUD, Ghost, which is mostly nonsense, and Windows 10.

The thing about Microsoft’s criminal behaviour (such as racketeering), it goes well beyond patent abuse. It also goes well beyond faking “Open Source”. We spent many years coverage examples to show this. Don’t believe for a second that Microsoft has changed. The news about CyanogenMod merely serves to reinforce our suspicion that Microsoft is still attempting an “embrace, extend and extinguish” (destroy/fragment) strategy against Android. Look what Microsoft puppets like Facebook and Nokia tried beforehand (without success) against Android.

01.24.15

Apple — Like Microsoft — Not Interested in the Security of Its Operating Systems

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Security at 9:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A big hole in Apple, but Apple doesn’t mind as long as the public doesn’t know

Foul apple

Summary: Apple neglected to patch known security flaws in Mac OS X for no less than three months and only did something about that vector of intrusion when the public found out about it

LAST year Apple admitted having back doors in iOS, conveniently dubbing them “diagnostics” (Orwellian newspeak). Apple did this only after a security researcher had found and publicised severe flaws that enabled remote intrusion into any device running iOS (there are unfortunately many such devices out there). This led us to alleging that not only Microsoft and the NSA worked to enable back doors for secret access into Windows. Both Apple and Microsoft are in PRISM and both produce proprietary software onto which it’s trivial to dump back doors, both undetectable and immutable.

Weeks ago we showed that Microsoft does not strive to make Windows secure, based on its very own actions whenever the public is unaware of the insecurities (only the NSA/GCHQ and the reporter/s are 'in the know'). Now we come to realise that Apple too — like Microsoft — did not close back/bug doors in Mac OS X for 90 days despite knowing about them. This isn’t a 0-day, it is a 90-day. It’s incompetence, negligence and might one even say deliberate sabotage by Apple. Apple just chose to leave the serious flaws in tact until it was too late because the public found out about it, owing to Google.

Do not let the Wintel-centric media blame Google for merely informing the public that proprietary operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X have holes in them that Microsoft and Apple refuse to patch. We should generally be thankful for this information. It says quite a lot about Microsoft’s and Apple’s priorities. It helps prove China right for banning Windows and Apple operating systems in government.

There is increasing consensus that Apple is going down the bin when it comes to users’ trust and browsing the Net these days I often read or hear from people who abandon Apple for GNU/Linux. Suffice to say, based on public appearances, the NSA is intimately involved in the build process of OS X (for a number of years now), which does make one wonder.

01.10.15

The Art of Lying About Android’s (Linux-based Platform) Growth

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The only platform that is losing market is the corporate press

Pen

Summary: The Microsoft- and Apple-friendly press is bending backwards to make Android look like a losing platform

APPLE vs. Google (or iOS vs. Android) fan wars are boring because rarely do they focus on ethics, freedom, etc. Nevertheless, we often see anti-Android bias coming from Apple-oriented or pro-Microsoft sites. It’s what should be expected and where facts are being distorted we need to weigh in.

“There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets.”The other day we were reminded of severe security flaws in Apple operating systems (more here, not to be confused with security issues in underlying ‘apps’ [1]) and one influential Apple booster said that Apple’s software quality had taken “a nosedive” lately. As BGR put it: “Instapaper creator Marco Arment is certainly one of the most read and widely influential Mac and iOS developers around. And when he says that there’s something seriously wrong with the way things have been going with Apple’s software lately, many people will take note.

“In a new essay posted on his website, Arment offers a blistering critique of Apple’s latest software releases and then delivers the ultimate insult that would have made Steve Jobs weep: He compares some of the latest iOS and OS X software flubs to the mistakes that Microsoft repeatedly made with Windows.”

There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets. ZDNet, a technology tabloid of CBS, tries to warp the facts using a very misleading headline and an article that is quite baseless. As this tabloid continues its US-only propaganda (extrapolating from US to the whole globe) against Android — and by extension Google — it is willing to draw conclusions even based on a poll with sample size of just 112. We have seen other such misinformation before. People from Microsoft love to spread it, just like Microsoft itself. CBS staff from Microsoft last month used US-only figures that tacitly insinuated that Android was losing globally. False. CBS is doing it again this month (the guy from Microsoft also advertises Microsoft and Microsoft’s lock-in/trap for Android). To be fair, not only CBS did it as others advertised this trap and the US-only propaganda (like that from CBS) could also be found in US-based sites/networks like America Online (AOL), Time, CNBC, Business Insider, eWeek, and BGR. These very misleading headlines and claims leave one with the impression that Apple is now beating Android and the tide as a whole has turned. Relative to the entire world Apple has always had somewhat of an edge in the US, so none of it is news. The US-based EFF sure prefers Android [2], regardless of the trend in the US. As for the promotion of Microsoft inside Android, a reader of ours labeled it “Fighting against ODF, not that ODF support on Android is adequate yet.”

We can generally say that a lot of the press remains hostile towards Android. Maybe not enough ads and product placements?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Android apps ask for too many intrusive permissions, Zscaler analysis finds

    In the economy of mobile apps, you are less a consumer of software than consumed by it. That’s according to security firm Zscaler that has analysed the surprisingly intrusive permissions demanded by many popular Google App store apps before they will allow a download to start.

  2. The EFF’s New App Is Android-Only, As Organization Calls Out Apple For “Outrageous” Developer Terms

    Non-profit digital rights organization EFF rolled out a new mobile application this morning, which allows users to more easily access the group’s “action center” from their smartphone. However, the new app is only being made available to Android users, the EFF explains, because the group has issues with Apple’s Developer Agreement. The EFF says it could not agree to its terms, which it calls “outrageous” and “bad for developers and users alike.”

01.01.15

Microsoft’s Attacks on Android and GNU/Linux Not Over Yet, But They Are Definitely Failing

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sleight of hand and litigation by proxy don’t work

A performer

Summary: The Rockstar patents sale and the final defeat suffered by SCO serve to show that Microsoft cannot beat Free/libre software using aggression and underhanded tactics

Microsoft’s attempts to crush GNU/Linux culminated with the Novell deal in 2006. Microsoft tried to make the competition its own, but it never worked because people antagonised Novell and no large company really followed Novell’s footsteps. Novell is now essentially dead, much like other Microsoft ‘partners’.

“This isn’t happening because Apple and Microsoft decided to play nicer.”Over a decade ago Microsoft paid SCO when it attacked Linux. This was similar to what Novell later did with Microsoft because both used a form of monopoly, either copyrights or patents. Microsoft subsidised anti-GNU/Linux campaigns that did cause a lot of damage. In neither case, however, were the claims valid and both campaigns failed after years or endless struggle, hinged to a great degree on the goodwill of the Free software community.

Simon Sharwood from The Register wrote about a fortnight ago about Groklaw, which had silently become a bit active again, for the first time in many months. Sharwood wrote: “IBM has had a win in its long court battle with SCO over just who owns Unix and, by extension, whether Linux is an unauthorised clone.

“Some quick and simplified history: SCO – short for The Santa Cruz Operation – was a software company that offered a version of Unix for x86 chippery. When Linux came along in the late 90s and started turning into a business, SCO more or less sank and it attacked both Novell and IBM for their role in helping to spread Linus Torvalds’ brainchild. At stake was whether those who distribute and profit from Linux should share some of their bounty with SCO. If a court had found in SCO’s favour, it would have been bad news for Linux.

“The Novell suit ran for about six years, but SCO lost. After that, SCO endured all manner of financial strife, but managed to crawl from the crypt more than once. Last year, SCO managed to secure approval to re-open the case against IBM.”

Robert Pogson wrote about that too:

It’s nice to know that GROKLAW is not dead, just hibernating. Maybe spring will wake it up. Surely there’s some legal case interesting enough to fire it up, like world v Obamacare, or world v N. Korea, or … Of course, now that M$ loves */Linux and Apple has acknowledged that round corners are not innovative there are fewer lawsuits in the world but until all those who fought GNU/Linux for two decades die of old age, there’s still hope they will seek to humiliate themselves in the courts.

This serves to remind us that the Microsoft-backed copyright attack on Linux took well over a decade to be over. This induced a huge toll and Microsoft continues to attack Linux, usually by proxy. Here for example is the Microsoft booster Ina Fried attacking Linux again. He or she (used to be called Ian) has found a way to make the most popular OS (Android) sound like a failure. It’s ugly spin like that which we see other Microsoft boosters spreading in the media (some of them used to work directly for Microsoft or are still working for Microsoft). Watch BGR trolling (clickbait) with one person’s account to make Android sound undesirable [1, 2]. These are fights that are fought with words, but Microsoft goes much further than this. A couple of years ago Microsoft and its proxies tried to cause Android to come under antitrust trouble, but they have failed based on reports. To quote The Register: “A US District Court judge has cast doubt on an antitrust lawsuit filed against Google, describing the damages sought as “speculative.”

“The class-action suit filed earlier this year alleges that Google engages in illegal anti-competitive behavior by requiring makers of Android smartphones to bundle its search app on their devices.”

Remember that this all came from Microsoft. We wrote several articles to show this and so did other sites. In addition to legal attacks through regulators Microsoft has been attacking Android through patent trolls (Microsoft has just given another $23,000,000 to patent troll VirnetX) and patent holders which still have some products. Several examples have been given over the years and the legal assaults are far from over.

The Open Invention Network, which defends Linux (and other related projects) from patent attacks, recently gave this interview to ECT. The Open Invention Network’s CEO Keith Bergelt said that “we had to create channels for collaboration. Otherwise, we would have hundreds of entities spending billions of dollars on the same technology.” It’s not “technology” that he is alluding to when he talks about it; it’s a parable for patents.

As GNU/Linux is becoming a massive player in the fastest-growing markets, notably mobile, no wonder Microsoft now mostly attacks Android and strives to derive revenue from it (or create fear through perception that Microsoft derives revenue from it). Windows is a complete disaster in this area. Ahonen explains how bad things are in his article that he titled “Microsoft (and Nokia) have only achieved 50M Lumia activations? Seriously? Out of 76M shipments? What happened to the other 26M? Seriously! Tossed into garbage by retail?”

Ahonen, a Nokia expert, says that “30% of all Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones shipped have not been activated. That must be an industry record for futility. [...] the product line was a sales disaster. ”

Microsoft’s patent strategy against Android is clearly not succeeding. Even a Microsoft lobbyist, Florian Müller, wrote about the poor success rates of patent lawsuits against Android and told me today that Rockstar too is part of it all.

“The interesting part about Rockstar is that since they sold 2K patents to shareholders, hard to prove devaluation of rest,” he said to me, “but one can certainly suspect that if they bought 6K patents for $4.5B, sell two thirds for $900M, that there *was* devaluation” (take with a grain of salt given the messenger’s connection to Microsoft and Apple).

There was recently a lot of press coverage about telecom patents and Android because Verizon announced that it entered into a patent licensing agreement with Google (more in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29]), but a bigger story, especially in FOSS-friendly circles, was the Rockstar story. As FOSS Force put it: “Perhaps the most telling sign of the sinking value of software patents came just a week ago, when the patent trolling company Rockstar, jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson, offloaded it’s approximately 4,000 remaining patents for $900 million — representing about two thirds of the patents it purchased in 2011 for $4.5 billion in a bidding war with Google. Google would seem to have the last laugh here, as it’s a member of RPX, the company buying the patents, meaning they’ll will be available to the search company as protection against patent litigation, which is why they had been a bidder in the first place.”

BlackBerry is becoming a patent troll and RPX is pretty much a troll, albeit one that is not so hostile towards Free software because of its members. Mike Masnick said about the news that the “Stupid Costly Patent Nuclear War By Microsoft & Apple Against Android [was] Averted”. He put it in context as follows: “Last year, Rockstar launched its massive patent attack on Android, suing basically all the major Android phone makers and Google. While some have argued that big company v. big company patent attacks aren’t a form of patent trolling, some of us disagree. This, like most patent trolling, is just trying to extract money from companies and has nothing to do with actual innovation. In the tech world, some have referred to this kind of thing as “privateering” in which a big company puts the patents into a shell company to hide their trolling activity.”

Joe Mullin said that “Apple and Microsoft spent $4.5 billion on a patent attack, sold it at a loss.”

“Another skirmish in the ongoing dirty war by the legacy technology & media industry against Google bites the dust,” wrote Simon Phipps, adding to many more articles (even some from Android-hostile networks) that framed this — quite correctly — as an assault on Android:

Apple- and Microsoft-backed patent group ends its war on Android

And just like that, the Rockstar Consortium’s lawsuit campaign against Android is over. The patent holding group (backed by Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony) has sold all of its commonly held patents to clearinghouse RPX for $900 million, or a fraction of the $4.5 billion the total patent pool was worth a few years ago. Rockstar will accordingly drop the lawsuits that it still had left, including those leveled against HTC, LG and Samsung. Don’t worry that RPX will promptly turn around and sue someone else, either. It already has a deal to license those patents for defensive purposes to a group of 30-plus companies, including Google and Cisco, while the Rockstar companies get to keep their licenses.

This isn’t happening because Apple and Microsoft decided to play nicer. It is happening because they repeatedly fail to defeat Android/Linux using patents, especially now that software patents are becoming a lot weaker in the United States — a subject we shall cover in our next post.

12.06.14

Steve Jobs is Back With Vengeance Into the Courtroom

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, DRM at 5:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple headquarters

Summary: Steve Jobs recalled for his reasonably hostile track record of megalomaniac tendencies

ONE of our readers sent us some interesting reports about Steve Jobs’ rudeness [1], determination to attack Android/Linux with patents [2], and a lawsuit [3] over DRM [4] where Steve Jobs’ ghost is back to haunt digital freedom.

“He also started a wave of patent abuses, ranging from threats (like those veiled threats against Palm) to lawsuits that would last several years and drain budgets, remove features, etc.”Over the years we have criticised Steve Jobs (before and after his death) because his contribution to DRM — contrary to what Apple fans care to admit — has been great. He also started a wave of patent abuses, ranging from threats (like those veiled threats against Palm) to lawsuits that would last several years and drain budgets, remove features, etc. So much for innovation, eh?

We continue to reject the notion that just because someone is dead it should be impossible to criticise him or her, especially if that person is a public figure (like a politician). Sadly, however, some people disagree and want to treat any criticism of Jobs like blasphemy or “speaking ill of the dead” (inducing censorship). As the reports below serve to show, Jobs does not deserve to be treated as though he was a hero, except perhaps by those who cherish corporate control over people, using digital means (that’s why the corporate press loves to idolise Jobs so much).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. 10 best Steve Jobs emails

    Emails sent by Jobs have surfaced once again in a class action lawsuit brought against Apple (AAPL, Tech30) for making iTunes the exclusive store for iPod music. Jobs’ emails are characteristically frank, which could hurt Apple.

    Jobs’ famous candor wasn’t limited to face-to-face encounters. His brusque manner translated to email as well. That’s unusual for modern CEOs, who are trained to exercise restraint in emails. Those words can easily be entered as evidence in a trial.

    Either Jobs didn’t get that message — or he didn’t care. These 10 emails from Apple’s co-founder reveal the stern, outspoken and often witty personality that made him one of the most charismatic CEOs of his era.

  2. Why Steve Jobs Went ‘Thermonuclear’ Over Android

    Anyone who follows the smartphone and tablet market knows that Android has become the No. 1 mobile operating system in the world. They also know that, prior to his death in 2011, Steve Jobs was not very happy about Google’s mobile operating system. In fact, he made a rather bold threat when he talked about his dislike of this competing mobile OS.

    “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this,” the late CEO famously said.

  3. Star Witness in Apple Lawsuit Is Still Steve Jobs
  4. Was Apple’s iPod DRM illegal? Starting today, a jury decides

    This morning, Apple will begin a duel over claims that it used copy-protection schemes known as “digital rights management,” or DRM, to illegally manipulate the market for iPods. The lawsuit, filed nearly 10 years ago, puts some legal firepower behind activists’ claims that the copy-protection DRM is “defective by design.”

11.15.14

Patent Lawyers Worry About Section 101 in ‘Alice’ (and Other Patent News)

Posted in Apple, Law, Patents at 6:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A quick roundup of news of interest regarding software patents

THE SO-CALLED ‘Alice’ case has proven to be much more effective than Bilski because although In Re Bilski was sometimes used to eliminate a software patent here and there (examples exist) it happened nowhere as often as after ‘Alice’.

Dozens of law firms threw pieces of misinformation at the media shortly after the ‘Alice’ determination (we covered a large number of examples at the time), trying to deny that it had any impact on software patents. These were attempts at a self-fulfilling prophecy, but they were proven wrong. Now that ‘Alice’ is cited and used — successfully — in elimination of software patents in the United States the lawyers’ sites take another defensive approach such as this or that. Being lawyers’ sites, the headline “Section 101 Attack” (implying that the attackers are those who are against monopoly on algorithms) is not too shocking. They are trying to advise patent lawyers how to circumvent the new restrictions, with an introduction such as the following: “On November 3, 2014, in Cal. Inst. Of Tech. v. Hughes Communications., 2014 U.S.. Dist. LEXIS 156763 (C.D. Cal. 2014), Judge Mariana Pfaelzer penned the most thorough defense of software claims attacked under s. 101 that I have seen since State Street Bank. The opinion is also useful since it both continuously cites – and often distinguishes or explains Mayo—and because it is very critical of the analytical framework employed by the same court in McRO (Planet Blue) v Namco, a September decision on which I posted earlier. (A copy of this decision can be found at the end of this post.)”

If you are against software patents, then the patent lawyers view you as “attacking” them. Yes, it’s not those who monopolise and sue who are the attackers, but those who are trying to defend themselves. This wording is found in some of the highest tier legal papers, which probably shows just what level of contempt patent lawyers have for society at large.

Here is another legal publication writing not only about patenting software but also copyrighting it (applicable by default). It refers specifically to India, en ever-growing software giant where imperialistic lawyers (whose clients are rich multinationals) would just love to impose monopolies nf software (it’s usually non-Indian companies that can afford to file for patents and file lawsuits there, obviously against Indian people and businesses). India will hopefully never follow the trajectory of the US by embracing patents on algorithms.

Pay attention to this new Apple patent on a trivial software idea:

Apple has a new patent granted today by the USPTO (via AppleInsider) that details a method by which it can detect and keep track of mobile network dead zones via crowdsourced information. The technology is designed to give device makers and network operators a way to easily identify and counter low signal zones, by building out their network where it needs the most work.

Apple is increasingly becoming a software patents-wielding parasite, not a producing company. Thankfully, the US seems to be tackling the practice of patent trolling right now and Steph just got “a tip from an anonymous source that a certain company received a request from an NPE to permit disclosure of a license agreement to the FTC.”

We do not really believe that the FTC will be effective at tackling patent trolls, but at least it’s trying. There are signs of improvement and it’s not too delusional to allege or predict a wide-ranging patent reform, even with GOP majority.

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