Aiming their biggest guns at Android
Summary: A timely reminder of the importance of patent matters, for they are being used to eliminate the zero-cost advantage of Free/libre software and make it more proprietary, privacy-infringing, and user-hostile (as a result of blackmail)
WHILE pro-Apple sites keep bragging about new Apple patents (granted despite being monopolies on dumb or trivial ideas) there are many dozens of articles, such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] , about Apple’s latest assault and taxation of Android (nearly a billion dollars against just one Android backer). On the receiving end there is Samsung, which Microsoft blackmailed (using patent lawsuits) into including Microsoft's software/spyware, by default, in Android. Anyone who still considers Apple and/or Microsoft increasingly friendly towards Linux (or Android) is clearly not paying attention… or paying attention to proprietary software-leaning propaganda which calls extortion “licensing”, “settlement”, “agreement”, and so on. In the coming days we are going to refute a lot of patent propaganda in a rather long series of posts. █
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“The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues”
Summary: Omission of important developments around Microsoft’s war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late
II IS HARD to remain apathetic or even maintain neutrally towards the corporate (or “mainstream”) media when it shamelessly does so much Microsoft promotion, including dissemination of utter lies, which Microsoft calls "marketing" (nice euphemism for lies). Here is Eric Knorr, IDG’s editor of InfoWorld (one of several IDG technology ‘news’ sites), continuing to act more like a Microsoft salesman. If Microsoft can get away with gross distortion of facts, like saying that it “loves Linux”, then truth is a primary casualty and the press/media becomes complicit in Microsoft’s war.
Here is Microsoft’s propagandist Paul Thurrott writing about the "embrace extend extinguish" endeavor bu Microsoft against Android and Linux. Microsoft loves neither of them; it hates both of them and it is busy trying to destroy them from the inside (because attacks from the outside have not worked so far). Where is the media in all this and why is it not covering Microsoft’s patent war on Android and Linux? It’s nowhere to be seen, even when new extortion deals are announced (almost nobody covered this at all!). We only find a lot of comments about it, but nowhere in the corporate press is there sign of that. It’s like there’s an effort to hide evidence that Microsoft is viciously attacking Android and Linux using patents and other subversive means.
Microsoft is trying to stay relevant and keep Windows within the game by mixing it with the platform which is now most dominant and Linux-based (Android) while at the same time attempting to devour GNU/Linux in its ‘cloud’ (Azure). Remember what Microsoft did to Netscape and Java in the 1990s. Any such “embrace” by Microsoft usually means an embrace of a python; the ultimate goal is to kill.
What we found rather disturbing was the degree to which the narrative of Microsoft of the victim got pushed into the media. “Microsoft loses mobile patent infringement lawsuit,” said a Microsoft-friendly site. It is not about patent extortion failing but about Microsoft being the target of a troll, much like itself and its own trolls. “A U.S. International Trade Commission judge,” says the report, “has ruled against Microsoft in a patent infringement lawsuit, finding the company used patented software from InterDigital Inc. in its mobile phones.
“The judge ruled Microsoft infringed on two wireless cellular patents, which date back to original patent infringement claims against Nokia in 2007, which Microsoft acquired in 2013. The judge said it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft devices from being imported into the United States, though the full trade commission must review the decision before any ban takes place.
“In a statement, Microsoft confirmed it would continue to challenge the patent infringement claims as an ongoing part of the process.”
ITC rulings do not immediately take effect, so Microsoft will most likely get its way at the end (see I4i vs Microsoft for similarities). Why is this even such massive news? We wrote about InterDigital before and there is nothing exceptional about it. It has been around for a long time (it used to fight with Nokia), Google wanted to buy it, and it hired an executive from Mozilla. Reuters considered that to be top news with subsequent updates (at least two of them). It said that “Microsoft Corp lost a round in a potentially costly patent battle when a U.S. International Trade Commission judge on Monday found that the software giant used InterDigital Inc’s technology in its mobile phones without permission.
“The judge, Theodore Essex, said that Microsoft infringed two wireless cellular patents owned by InterDigital, a patent licensor, and said it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft devices from being imported into the United States.”
That’s about it. No real reports, i.e. reports which add something new, have since then arrived. There have since then been many dozens of superficial (PR-like) articles about this [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, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36], despite the fact that almost nobody ever buys these phones and Microsoft barely even counts in the mobile market. There is not even a ban, expect an appeal to come.
By contrast, here is some of this week’s coverage about Apple in China [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Apple, unlike Microsoft, at least has some market share. Why is it that corporate media only ever covers patents-related news when giants like Google, Apple or Microsoft are in some way involved and pro-patents slant is possible?
As we mentioned the other day, Google is not looking for a real patent reform anymore, it just wants to buy a lot of patents. We found about a hundred different articles about this, including 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18].
Where are the stories about Microsoft’s patent attacks on Android and GNU/Linux? Why is there such deafening silence on this important matter? There is seemingly no interest in investigative/original journalism anymore, just promotion of brands. █
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“In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space.”
–SCO’s Strategic Consultant Mike Anderer
Summary: The corporate media and Web sites or people who are funded by large corporations have essentially suppressed any debate about issues in the patent granting process, thereby guarding software patents and preventing criticism of large corporations’ power grab
WE are deeply disturbed to see the already-elusive debate about patent scope getting lost in the noise, essentially drifting further away. This long post will put forth observations spanning almost 2 months in the English-speaking media.
Apple, which is patenting a lot software, even image editing software (according to Apple propaganda sites), “ramps up patent portfolio to take on Samsung,” to quote the ToryGraph (UK). Samsung is a backer of Android (albeit one that leans towards Microsoft) and it sells the most mobile phones, which run Linux at their core. So, Apple’s anti-Android (using software patents) agenda is very much relevant to the Free/Open Source software community. We have covered this for 5 years (Apple’s attacks on Android using software patents go back to 2010).
“Why does the corporate media not dedicate much space to cover the inherent issues which cause billions in damages to the technology sector?”Is Apple a patent troll? Well, it often behaves like one, but the media reserves the term “trolls” to small entities/actors. We are supposed to believe that Apple is some kind of heroic titan full of innovation, magic, sparkles and wonder, even though manufacturing for Apple is often done by other companies, including the underlying innovations (Samsung, other Korean/Japanese giants, and many Chinese companies make the components of ‘i’ devices).
Why does the corporate media not dedicate much space to cover the inherent issues which cause billions in damages to the technology sector? Why are corporate shakedowns by large corporations not newsworthy (or hardly worth covering)? These should be legitimate questions. Lies by omission are, by all means, lies.
The recent “John Oliver [segment] on patents [is] mostly just a critique of trivial patents and patent trolls but entertaining,” wrote one person among many who saw the HBO coverage. “I didn’t think it was all that funny anyway or maybe I don’t agree with the focus on trolls instead of patent scope,” wrote another person in response to my post. Even TechDirt said that John Oliver chose to focus on “Patent Trolls”. Since when is the patent issue simply reducible to “trolls”? What happened to the fierce debates over patent scope, as those which were of daily recurrence less than a decade ago? The problem of scope has not been addressed. It’s definitely not resolved.
One article that we found some time ago (a week back) portrayed the issue as “poorly written software patents”. To quote in full: “Congress is expected to take up legislation this year that would make it tougher to claim patent infringement.
“The bill has become a top lobbying priority this year for the tech industry, which says it repeatedly fends off frivolous lawsuits because of poorly written software patents and laws that favor patent holders.”
“There oughtn’t be patents on software in the first place.”The problem is software patents, not “poorly written software patents”. There oughtn’t be patents on software in the first place. They cost a lot of money and their toll on society would probably weigh at hundreds of billions of dollars (aggregated over the years worldwide).
Referring to the US-centric ITC, the British media recently shifted focus to patent trolls yet again. “US trade watchdog ITC needs reform to end $bn blackmail,” it said. What about software patents? Are they off topic now?
Consider press releases such as this one about how the USPTO “will grant RES Software two patents for its technological innovations Dynamic Rule Management and Taskbar Affinity.”
This is a couple of software patents. The USPTO is still granting those, despite changes following a SCOTUS ruling.
What was probably most frustrating this month would have to be Associated Press. It unleashed a lot of biased or narrow articles which lay virtually all blame on “trolls”. Consider this article [1, 2, 3]. The Associated Press (AP) set the tone for some widely-spreading AP reports [1, 2, 3] put only “Patent trolls” in the headlines. See for example the article “This year’s fight for the tech industry: Patent trolls”.
The Associated Press helped spread this kind of assumption under different headlines around the world [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and so did PBS/NPR (Bill Gates-funded), among other large news networks.
“What are politicians going to think? It’s like they are being lobbied by large corporations through the corporate media (often owned directly by those corporations).”Where is the focus on patent scope? What are politicians going to think? It’s like they are being lobbied by large corporations through the corporate media (often owned directly by those corporations).
The political debate has already been perturbed. Watch what Chuck Grassley says. We can see politicians only ever speaking about “trolls” (or “Abusive Patent Litigation” to use Grassley’s term). Consider this report titled “Dem senator looking to slow ‘patent troll’ debate”. To quote: “Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is trying to end the rush to get a bill through Congress to rein in “patent trolls.”
“Judging by the speedy approval of the Innovation Act in the House last Congress, Coons said many members might not be in tune with the debate.”
They call it “Innovation Act”, but all it does is target trolls. It does nothing to or about innovation. It just helps large corporations push aside patent trolls, except themselves.
“Regarding the Innovation Act”, another article about this misleadingly-named bill, says: “As a student at the University of Minnesota, one of the top research universities in the nation, I am greatly concerned with the proposed legislation dealing with patent reform. I agree there is a need to cut down on abusive patent practices under the current law by so-called “patent trolls.” However, current legislation in Congress is too broad in addressing this problem. The unintended consequences of the Innovation Act are too great to ignore.”
Well, that is not the issue. The analysis above, courtesy of a student, is too shallow and does little to actually show what’s wrong with the so-called ‘Innovation Act’. the “Innovation Act” as they call it is just a wishlist of large corporations. That’s not to say that patent trolls are not a problem at all; they’re mostly a symptom of a much larger problem. What the “Innovation Act” would do is tackle only some actors while leaving large corporations exempt from reform. Rather than call it “Innovation Act” we should call it “The Large Corporations’ Act”.
“532,900,000 Reasons Why We Need Patent Reform Now” is the headline from TechDirt in which a ruling about software patents (or relating to software patents) gets mentioned. TechDirt writes: “Over the last year, there’s been plenty of good news in the fight against the abuse of patents to stifle innovation. A bunch of court rulings have gone the right way, with the biggest being the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alice v. CLS Bank case, that has resulted in many courts invalidating patents, the US Patent Office suddenly rejecting more patents and a rapid decline in patent lawsuits.”
“A real reform would tackle the patents, not the actors who use them.”A real reform would tackle the patents, not the actors who use them. Many of these actors are parasites, but one can generalise the means, not the ends.
“Conservatives and Patent Reform,” an article by Gary Shapiro, alludes to the above and says: “A serious case can be made that they should reconsider their opposition.”
With or without a bogus bill that does little or nothing to tackle the core issue we will all remain between a rock and a hard place. The problem of “trolls” is being overly exaggerated (not dealing with the patents they so often use) in stories like ““Shopping cart” patent troll shamelessly keeps litigating, and losing”. Corporate media pundits like Bill Snyder also play a role in the misdirection, with articles like “Patent trolls are on the run, but not vanquished yet” or “Why Congress must ensure ‘game over’ for patent trolls” (from The Hill).
It sure looks like the corporations hijacked the debate, it’s all about “trolls” now. Debate over patents must focus on patent scope, yet all the large corporations want us to obsess over trolls (smaller trolls than them). “The FTC should release an interim report to help patent reform,” said this other headline from The Hill and on the third of April we learned from this site that “Conservatives wrong to oppose patent reform” (the bogus reform, not the reform that is actually needed).
In the Web sites of patent lawyers we learn of “Two signs that patent reform momentum may be slowing” and get told the typical myth of “Startups and Patents”. Patents are protectionism for large corporations and only a waste of time and money for startups, which can usually not sue large corporations because it would get them sued back, using a much larger heap of patents from these large corporations.
A recent article by Glyn Moody was titled “Does Patent Licensing by Patent Trolls – Or Anyone – Serve A Useful Purpose?”
Moody alludes to a “paper [which] also provides yet more evidence that the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, designed to encourage the commercialization of research results through licensing, actually turns universities into patent trolls — something that Techdirt has discussed before. Although the authors suggest that further research is needed to confirm their results, it already seems pretty clear that both patent trolls and Bayh-Dole need to go.”
“When some nonsense like “Innovation Act” says it targets “trolls” what it actually means to say is that it targets small entities with no real products. These are a nuisance to large corporations because the corporations cannot sue back (there are no products to sue over).”Yes, universities too can act like patent trolls, not just large corporations do. When some nonsense like “Innovation Act” says it targets “trolls” what it actually means to say is that it targets small entities with no real products. These are a nuisance to large corporations because the corporations cannot sue back (there are no products to sue over).
There was recently some discussion about the case of Life360, including the ‘Dear Piece of Shit’ letter. “Fresh off his patent win against a company called AGIS,” said one trolls expert, “Life360 CEO Chris Hulls has published an op-ed advising other companies on how to respond to similar patent threats.” Here is more from the same expert: “In May 2014, Life360 CEO Chris Hulls received an aggressive patent demand letter. The letter, from lawyers representing a company called Advanced Ground Information Systems (AGIS), told him he needed to pay for a “royalty-bearing license” to its four patents, or Life360 and its customers would have to “cease and desist” from infringement.
“In other words: pay up, or shut down your company.”
In the case of large corporations it would be “pay up, or we’ll block imports.” It can also be “pay up, reduce your revenue/increase running costs, pass costs to your customers”.
How is that different from what Apple is doing? How is that different from Microsoft’s patent extortion? It’s only semantics and labels (“trolls”), revolving around either scale or branding. The debate has been littered with propaganda, so a lot of people have been systematically incited against “trolls” while ignoring the broader picture.
Over a month ago there was a large online argument over trolls because “Patent trolls serve valuable role in innovation, Stanford expert says”. Defending patent trolls is not unthinkable, especially from universities where trolling has become a common practice (we have covered some examples over the years). Stanford staff, some allege, was probably paid to say that or has some conflict of interest. But we suspect the cause of this stance is different. This whole “Stanford” story (it was framed as a Stanford thing, despite involving just one person) led to some strong responses from ‘anti-trolls’ (and trolls only) sites [1, 2, 3], with one arguing that proof is required. To give some background to this (quoting the above): “So-called patent trolls may actually benefit inventors and the innovation economy, according to a Stanford intellectual property expert.
“Stephen Haber, a Stanford political science professor, suggests in new research that concerns about too much litigation involving patents is misguided.”
“There’s almost a refusal to return to talking about patent scope.”The obsession over patent trolls is what bothers us the most, not the stance — however dumb — of Stephen Haber. There’s almost a refusal to return to talking about patent scope. One site that focuses on trolls (“Patent Progress”) lobbies hard for the “Innovation Act”, stating in one of its headlines: “If the Innovation Act Is Bad For Patents, Why Do Large Patent Owners Support It?”
Those “Large Patent Owners” are large corporations, such as those which are funding “Patent Progress” (through CCIA). Watch the tone of recent posts. It’s like lobbying on behalf of large corporations. Another post says “Professor Stephen Haber of Stanford recently came out with a paper that, according to him, “suggests in new research that concerns about too much litigation involving patents is misguided.”
Well, the real issue is too much patent granting, not too much litigation, which usually is simply the result of too much patent granting. Tackle patent scope, not scale of plaintiffs.
Here is a recent “I.P. Scholars’ Letter to Congress re Patent Reform”. “This open letter to Congress,” says the abstract, “signed by 51 economics and legal scholars, responds to claims that there is little empirical evidence available to assess the performance of the American patent system. The letter explains that a large and increasing body of evidence indicates that the net effect of patent litigation is to raise the cost of innovation and inhibit technological progress. The letter also includes a bibliography of relevant empirical studies of patent litigation.”
Why focus on patent litigation and not the scope of patents foolishly being granted by the USPTO?
Covering patents have become frustrating in the sense that mega-corporations keep distracting from the real debate(s), lobbying for laws that instead protect only themselves. A lot of blogs that proclaim to be speaking for patent reform are actually tools of large corporations that fund them. Pseudo activism (lobbying) is when you’d be led to believe that you’re reading from real activists while in reality they’re tools of corporate power. The academics (non-’IP’ academics, i.e. not boosters of the parasitic elements) want software patents and other software patents to end, but corporations want to demolish only their own competition and rivals, thus they focus on ‘trolls’ and the corporate media helps them achieve this.
“Well, the real issue is too much patent granting, not too much litigation, which usually is simply the result of too much patent granting.”The EFF, a relatively independent (from corporations) activism group, now says it is “Fighting for Patent Reform in Washington, D.C.”. Having just tackled the infamous podcasting patent as part of a broader new action to take on software patents, the EFF receives a lot of positive publicity [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. Can real change come about this way? Is the EFF influential enough?
There is currently another piece of useless ‘reform’, but nothing is as bad as the America Invents Act, which we wrote about before. “Using the new Post Grant Review and Inter Partes Review procedures in the America Invents Act,” Steph writes, “hedge funds are extorting money from pharmaceutical companies by either filing or threatening to file for re-exam.”
When it comes to pharmaceutical patents, there is no lack of articles about “trolls”, including pro-trolls articles. There are anti-reform lawyers writing about it because to patent lawyers the trolling can be good business; their main concern is that it harms the legitimacy of the system through which they prey on real (producing) workers, acting more like parasites than scientists or even lawyers. █
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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. █
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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. █
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Je Suis Wintel
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. █
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A big hole in Apple, but Apple doesn’t mind as long as the public doesn’t know
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. █
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The only platform that is losing market is the corporate press
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’ ) 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 , 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:
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.
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.”
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