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02.24.14

The Increasing Danger of Back Doors in Standards and Binary Blobs

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The risk of back doors in GNU/Linux comes not from source code but from blobs, back room deals, the build process, and bogus standards with weaknesses cleverly shoehorned into them

IT HAS BEEN a while since we last wrote about Mr. Srinivasan from Microsoft-Novell. Suffice to say, Novell did a lot for Microsoft and some former staff of Novell continues to work for Microsoft (either directly or indirectly). One gift from Novell to Microsoft was OOXML inside FOSS/OOo. Another was Mono and let’s not forget intrusion into Linux itself. Robert Pogson goes as far as saying that Microsoft “Hacked Linux!”

“My configuration,” Pogson argues, “has CONFIG_HYPERV not set. The code in question is Copyright 2010, Novell (mshyperv.c), and Copyright 2009, M$ (vmbus_drv.c). K. Y. Srinivasan is listed as one of the authours on both. I’m not about to run that other OS on Beast, but thank you, Thomas Gleixner, for fixing things.” (see this link)

Performance issues overlook the much bigger problem — a problem which we addressed several times before. We already know that the NSA is pursuing back doors in Linux [1, 2, 3, 4] and as we pointed out before, the NSA might already have some.

incidentally, as we have shown before, Yahoo was fighting against NSA surveillance in court. When Microsoft took over Yahoo it became apparent that Yahoo stopped fighting and soon became part of PRISM. While some new reports suggest that Yahoo might be ready to escape Microsoft “Yahoo is still in NSA’s pocket though even if they break free of Microsoft,” explains iophk.

Likewise, even if Linux does not engage with Microsoft, the code from Microsoft remains stuck inside Linux and even if there are no back doors in the code itself, this connects to a system, Hyper-V, which is developed by a back doors specialist (Microsoft). There are binary-level back doors from which to access GNU/Linux systems because if the host machine runs Windows, then we already know that the NSA has access. A nearby company that I once visited, UKFast (the UK’s largest ‘cloud’ provider), runs GNU/Linux servers under HyperV, based on what they told me. How insane is that?! GCHO must love it!

Adding to some concerns about back doors, NSA ally and PRISM partner Apple turns out to have hidden a back door. As Think Progress puts it, “Apple quietly released a major update Friday to fix a security glitch in its iOS 7 systems. But independent security experts say the seemingly routine update covers up what arguably could be Apple’s biggest security lapse, exposing iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to hackers.”

Whether it’s a back door or just direct access does not matter, but it enables Apple to dance around important questions. It works across several Apple platforms, even desktop platforms [1].

As iophk put it, in relation to this other new article [2] “Potential problems with an official back door in HTTP 2.0, though only in a proposed draft so far. But because of the ways certificates are currently (mis-)managed, this kind of interception of HTTPS is already easy.”

“See one example with four steps,” he added, pointing to [3] from the OpenBSD mailing lists.

It’s not as though GNU/Linux is immune to back doors (Debian has some new security advisories [4,5]), but at least with access to source code the back doors remain very shallow and too risky/difficult for malicious/covert entities to hide. It’s when proprietary software gets added that we lose the ability to ascertain security and privacy.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Apple SSL Vulnerability Affects OSX Too
  2. No, I Don’t Trust You! — One of the Most Alarming Internet Proposals I’ve Ever Seen

    If you care about Internet security, especially what we call “end-to-end” security free from easy snooping by ISPs, carriers, or other intermediaries, heads up! You’ll want to pay attention to this.

    You’d think that with so many concerns these days about whether the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and other telecom companies can be trusted not to turn our data over to third parties whom we haven’t authorized, that a plan to formalize a mechanism for ISP and other “man-in-the-middle” snooping would be laughed off the Net.

    But apparently the authors of IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) Internet-Draft “Explicit Trusted Proxy in HTTP/2.0″ (14 Feb 2014) haven’t gotten the message.

    What they propose for the new HTTP/2.0 protocol is nothing short of officially sanctioned snooping.

  3. relayd SSL interception

    This mail includes a quite detailed explanation of the attached diff that adds support for SSL Interception (“SSL-MITM”) to relayd. If you don’t want to read the story, just skip to the configuration example and diff below.

  4. Debian: 2862-1: chromium-browser: Multiple vulnerabilities
  5. Debian: 2861-1: file: denial of service

02.20.14

Samsung Capitulates to Rights Violations Amid Undermined Federal Laws and Obligatory Kill Switches

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Samsung at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Samsung is treading bravely towards an oppressive digital world and is playing a role in this oppression

SEVERAL politicians are making mandatory the inclusion of nasty back doors, or at least trying to do so [1,2]. “Apple has actually already implemented a kill-switch like feature on its iPhones, as of the iOS 7,” quotes iophk from the CIA-connected press, and “Samsung has also said it’s working on a similar feature.” Sosumi adds that “the killswitch and features of remote lock and wipe on the iPhone have been around since the iPhone 3G, aka 2008″ (that’s six years ago).

Proprietary software tends to be inherently malicious. Is it said that an Android backer like Samsung goes down the same route. We already called for a boycott of Samsung in 2007 and reiterated the call last year. The company is freedom-hostile in several other areas and it mimics the Orwellian 'features' of Apple. Samsung is now helping the surveillance state [3] and it’s a shame because it shines a negative light on Android (already surveillance-leaning), Samsung being the biggest seller of Android devices [4] (the biggest/most popular operating system in the world [5]). Not only Android is affected because Samsung now makes Tizen-based wearable surveillance [6], too.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Smartphone Kill Switch Could Become Federal Law
  2. Federal smartphone kill-switch legislation proposed
  3. Galaxy S5 finger print scanner confirmed and explained

    It seems like Samsung will go head to head with Apple again this year, and they will, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, maintain their spot as the ‘King of Android’. I just wish that they would have implemented on screen buttons like so many others are doing, but, they are the world wide leaders in sales after all; who am I to judge? Here’s to hoping that their implementation of the scanner works a lot better than HTC’s recent attempt with the One Max, and that their users grow to love it.

  4. Samsung leads Android pack in enterprise, but Lenovo looms

    Samsung dominates the Android enterprise charge, but Motorola has a sizeable chunk of the devices in the field, according to data compiled by Fiberlink. The real fun for Android in the enterprise will come when Lenovo closes its Motorola Mobility acquisition from Google.

  5. Android: The Most Popular OS In The World

    We have been having the biggest debate of the mobile world for a few years now… Android, or iOS? Each of them have their own major perks. Android has its insane amount of customization possibilities, and iOS has its ease of use (just to name a few). However, a new report from the IDC shows us some irrefutable proof: Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Over the last three years, the Android operating system market share, in percentages of global unit shipments, has increased by roughly 29.6%, while iOS has dropped 3.6%. Windows Phone has surprisingly gained 1.5%, and BlackBerry has dropped 9.4%. As of May of last year, Samsung held the title of the first place, but that is to be expected.

  6. Tizen-based Samsung smartwatch rumored

    The next version of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch will run the Linux-based Tizen operating system instead of Android, suggests a USA Today report.

02.11.14

Microsoft Nokia is Now Extorting Android, Harming Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The big lie that Nokia is “supporting” or “embracing” Android is easily contradicted by recent developments

As we already pointed out about a month ago, Microsoft Nokia phones running Android are not Android phones but enhanced surveillance devices with Microsoft surveillance through Skype (part of PRISM) and much more. These are very malicious devices that Rupert Murdoch’s press is promoting and people should generally boycott. But there are even better reasons to boycott Nokia and instead turn to Finnish companies like Jolla.

Half a decade ago we explained how Nokia had advanced software patents in Europe and last year we covered patent lawsuits against Android/Linux from the Elop-led Nokia (now a Microsoft proxy). Some lawsuits took place in Europe and sought embargoes. According to this report “[s]ettling months of pending patent litigation between them, Nokia and HTC have signed a patent and technology collaboration agreement. The settlement means HTC will make payments to Nokia.”

Nokia is not the first to assault this Android backer which hardly has any patents (unlike Samsung). HTC is apparently paying Apple after litigation, it might be paying Microsoft (this cannot be verified), and now Nokia. This coalition of patent stacking is harming Android and harming customers who buy Android devices. Google is trying to fight back by buying Motorola patents — a move that does not surprise Apple because Apple reportedly tried to get those patents for itself and then attack Android with them.

The general public needs to understand that there is a lot of rogue activity such as collusion. Deciding on which phone (if any) to buy is not a simple decision, especially if ethical choices are sought.

02.09.14

Apple Feels the Pinch of Linux and Starts Buying Its Own Stock

Posted in Apple at 9:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple follows Microsoft’s footsteps by trying to artificially elevate its value following huge pressure from Linux-based counterparts

OVER THE years we have covered Microsoft’s financial misconduct, including purchasing of its own stock to create an illusion. The creator of illusions still runs Microsoft and as ITWire put it, it’s not really Nadella in charge. He is just a public face, a marketing strategy of sorts. To quote Sam Varghese: “There are two reasons why Nadella (seen above with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer) will find it difficult to guide the ship. One is bald, ebullient and named Steve Ballmer. The other still has hair, a whiny voice, and is named Bill Gates.”

“It is likely to hurt every large company that’s accustomed to total domination over users.”Another new article from ITWire says that “Tech giant Apple has shocked the stock market, repurchasing US$14 billion worth of its own stock in the last two weeks after disappointing first-quarter results, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Apple — like Microsoft — has been suffering from Linux and Android for quite some time. We recently covered the mysterious deletion of Pear OS from the Web, which still makes some people wonder [1]. Given the hostile coverage of Red Star Linux in many pro-Apple sites (it’s not over yet [2]), Apple sure worries about the loss of its identity to GNU and Linux. According to [3], Apple is falling behind Android when it comes to hardware and not only Apple is concerned [4]. Google shares some of Apple’s concerns [5] (large companies take Android in another direction) and as Android becomes hugely important in the world’s largest/most populated nations [6] it seems likely that smears will be needed [7]. The matter of fact is, not only Apple is in jeopardy because of Android players [8]; a lot of the industry seems to be at ‘threat’ because of this thing called “Free software”, which spreads fast and clings onto everything.

As Nokia demonstrates, not every company which claims to be embracing Android is automatically Android’s friend. There are several silly articles urging Microsoft to dump Windows and fork Android — suggestions that are being slammed even by Microsoft boosters right now (no links needed). Then there’s Facebook, which is partly owned by Microsoft. The company that auto-uploads photos and gives all data to marketers and the NSA claims to bring “security” to Android phones.

Decentralisation of development is generally a good thing that prevents abuse of power. It is likely to hurt every large company that’s accustomed to total domination over users. Examples include Microsoft, Apple, and Google (the Nexus series is a disservice to user, unless it’s purchased only for the hardware and then reflashed).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Case of the Missing OS, or Did Apple Eat Pear?

    Case in point: Pear OS. One day it’s freely available for download, offering a remarkably Mac-like experience that’s nevertheless based on Linux. The next day — specifically, last Monday — it’s gone.

  2. Supreme leaders prefer Apple: North Korea’s home-grown Red Star Linux switches to OS X
  3. Apple needs to catch Samsung, Amazon in displays, researcher says

    In a research note outlining the leading display technologies in 2014, DisplayMate Technologies Raymond Soneira claims Apple has some catching up to do.

  4. Google Is Clamping Down On The Android Open Source Project — Here’s Why

    The proliferation of these forked AOSP Android devices on the mainstream market is harmful to Google’s proprietary mobile services.

    Right now, any developer or company can use AOSP to create an alternative Android operating system that cuts Google off from significant OS revenue. Amazon’s Kindle Fire ecosystem is a prominent example. The foundation OS is Android but Amazon developed its own app store, content store, Web browser, and email services, essentially cutting Google out of several of its key services and potential revenue streams.

  5. Steve Jobs, Google CEO plotted ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to keep wages down – report

    Two of the most powerful people in the technology world secretly and perhaps illegally coordinated business strategies in which they agreed not to poach each other’s employees, thereby keeping salaries low, according to emails unveiled in federal court.

    Apple founder Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt apparently kept a secret pact to institute a “no-hire” policy in which each executive promised not to recruit each other’s workers. Yet the tech superstars are just two of the business leaders to be implicated in the wink-wink agreement, which reportedly included Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar.

  6. Android/Linux Is The Most Popular OS In India

    The world should hear that the number one OS for page-views in India is now Android/Linux. Thanks Google, Samsung and all the others that helped this happen. India is being freed from monopoly by Free/Libre Open Source Software and ARMed personal computers.

  7. Tim Cook: ‘Android is Like Europe’, Many Different Things Under One Name

    Apple CEO Tim Cook compared Android to Europe in his wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal yesterday, saying that the PC and mobile platform wars couldn’t be compared. Cook said that Android is made up of many different things under one banner, as opposed to Windows which was one uniform platform.

  8. Will Amazon destroy the Apple TV with an Android console?

    Today in Open Source: Amazon preps Android gaming and TV console launch for later this year.

02.07.14

Android Watch: Android/Linux Endorsed Again by Apple’s Co-founder

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time is running out as Apple’s share slides

Mexico

Summary: A lot of Android news from the past week, focusing to some degree on the effect on Apple and Microsoft

WOZ (Steve Wozniak), who is best known for his technical role in the early days of Apple (he is not a marketing charlatan like Steve Jobs), has just made headlines [1,2] because he wants an Android phone from Apple. This is not the first time that Wozniak is publicly endorsing Android. Apple must not like it.

It is evident that Android is taking over many areas, some of which Apple really craved (television, watches and so on). Now that there is Android consolidation [3,4] and some old FUD becomes obsolete, there is increased focus on Android at LG [5] (which Apple imitated when it made its first iPhone) and the Nexus 5 runs on LG hardware too [6,7], making a highly affordable phone like much of the Nexus series (subsidised to a degree). At MWC 2014 almost everything was Android based [8] and the growth of Android benefits/improves greatly the presence of Linux on the Web (client side [9]). It’s not just about tablets and smartphones anymore. Android is now growing on desktops and all sorts of devices [10,11], including embedded ones [12]. Replicant is maturing [13], providing a freer and more privacy-respecting version of Android, perhaps obviating the need for a Linux-based Android counterpart [14]. Android has so many powerful apps [15,16] and such a huge developers base that other OSes try to latch onto (Sailfish for sure, maybe even Firefox OS and Tizen). Even Nokia, led by Microsoft, is trying to lean Android’s way [17] (going further than what Wozniak suggested). The reality of the matter is, Android is doing huge financial damage to Apple [18] and to Microsoft’s operating systems monopoly [19].

It oughtn’t be too shocking that Microsoft and Apple increasingly turn to the USPTO and ITC, trying to simply ban Android devices or at least tax them. Recently, a patent troll which Microsoft passed patents to did some serious damage to Google and as TechDirt put it, “Company That Does Nothing May Get Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars From Google” (it should be noted that the one thing this company did was get patents from Microsoft).

To quote the article: “The patent system is completely broken. Towards the end of 2012, we wrote about how a patent troll named Vringo, using some patents (6,314,420 and 6,775,664), had won a lawsuit against Google. Vringo was a failed ringtone company that had bought those highly questionable patents from the failed search engine Lycos and then sued basically everyone who ran a search engine. Microsoft agreed to settle (with a bizarre stipulation promising to pay 5% of whatever Google finally had to pay), while Google agreed to indemnify a bunch of the others that were all using Google’s search under their own. The jury found that Google’s AdWords product infringed, and gave an award much lower than what Vringo had asked for.”

What’s missing from this analysis is the passage of patents from Microsoft to Vringo. There is a world war against Android, which has pretty much taken over the world.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Steve Wozniak wants an Android Phone from Apple

    Now, Wozniak wants Apple to work with Google and make Android iPhones. He says,“We could compete very well. People like the precious looks of stylings and manufacturing that we do in our product compared to the other Android offerings. We could play in two arenas at the same time.”

  2. Steve Wozniak thinks Apple should build an Android smartphone

    Yes, folks, this is real life. In an interview with Wired, at the Apps World North America conference, Steve Wozniak revealed his belief that Apple should create a phone using Google’s Android operating system. According to him, “There’s nothing that would keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market … We could play in two arenas at the same time.” As Wired’s Mat Honan notes, the idea of such a handset wouldn’t be technically impossible, but anyone who’s familiar with the Apple of today knows that the chances of this actually happening are slim to none.

  3. Jelly Bean spills onto 60 percent of Android devices

    Analyzing Google Play data from the seven days ending Tuesday, Google’s Android developer dashboard pegged Jelly Bean’s collective reach at about 60.5 percent. Breaking down those beans, 4.1.x held the highest share with 35.5 percent, followed by 4.2.x with 16.3 percent and Android 4.3 with 8.9 percent

  4. Android users running old OS versions? Not anymore, say latest stats

    On the contrary, fully 62.5 per cent of all Android devices are now running any of the three “Jelly Bean” iterations or “KitKat,” the brand-new version of the OS that launched last Halloween.

  5. Sprint Announces LG G2 OTA Update Enabling Sprint Spark Bands And The Accompanying Spinning Status Bar Icon

    Sprint’s mobile data is typically not the first, or the second, or even the third to come to mind when looking for a zippy connection in the US, but the company is looking to change this impression with its new tri-band LTE network, more memorably known as Sprint Spark. Unfortunately, only a limited number of the carrier’s phones are able to take advantage of this new capability, with some of them requiring an OTA before they’re ready. Today Sprint has announced that the LG G2′s update is on its way.

  6. The Red Nexus 5 is here in all its glory (Edited)

    In a released a statement, LG stated; “The Nexus line has always been about doing things differently and consumers who share this philosophy have been among our most loyal fans,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “We’re carrying this thinking over to the red Nexus 5, which we think will catch the eye of consumers who want to make an even bolder statement.”

  7. Google Nexus 5 vs. Apple iPhone 5s

    The Nexus line, which evolved from a developer’s device to a premium phone, is now a serious threat to iPhone. But, the consumers don’t care about the smartphone wars as much as we do. For them, it’s a lingering question as to which phone to invest their hard-earned money into given that both devices offer spectacular features. So, if you’re confused as to which smartphone to buy, here’s a quick comparison between the two giants.

  8. MWC 2014: What gadgets to expect at this year’s show

    After launching the super slim Huawei Ascend P6 all the way back in June 2013, the Chinese company may use MWC to showcase the Ascend P6S.

  9. Cambodia Is Rapidly Freeing Itself From Wintel

    Cambodia is an emerging market and that other OS is sinking into oblivion pretty rapidly. “8″ is already swamped by Android/Linux, XP too, and “7″ is sliding rapidly. There is just no way for Wintel to keep up with sales of small cheap computers. In January 2013, the entire share of page-views counting desktops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones was 64.4% Wintel. Now, it’s 51.7%. That’s a 20% per annum decline. The tax is too prohibitive. Bundling the OS with the hardware doesn’t hide anything when there’s competitive hardware and software in the market. The positive feedback that locked the world into Wintel is now pushing the world away from M$. A similar pattern is emerging in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and many other regions although less dramatic. It’s all good.

  10. MOTA smartwatch goes on sale for $50 at Groupon

    Next week, the price of the MOTA returns to $80, which, considering the prices of other smart watches, is still a steal of a deal. At the moment, the MOTA does not support third party apps like the Pebble or the Gear but it will pair with your Android or iOS device over bluetooth, which is more than we can say for the Gear (the Gear only pairs with certain Samsung devices at the moment). The watch vibrates to notify users of incoming calls and can display the caller’s ID or the incoming number. As is expected, one may control media playback on a phone or tablet using the watch.

  11. Streaming speaker has built-in Android touchscreen

    Auris, which already sells an $80 “Skye” WiFi music receiver and a $50 “FreeDa” Bluetooth receiver, is now prepping an Android 4.2.2-based portable combination speaker and media-streamer called Wily. The Wily device is launching today on Kickstarter with pledges set at $149 for the 8GB version and $168 for the 16GB model, and will eventually move to a retail price of $239 and $269, respectively, once the funding round is over. The devices are set to ship in June.

  12. Can Android Challenge Embedded Linux?

    A line should be drawn between true embedded Linux distros and Android’s solitary distro adapted for embedded consumer functions, said Suse’s Matthias Eckermann. He does not see Android going into enterprise areas involving integrated systems. “With flexibility, Android is one stack and one purpose. That is not the case with a full-fledged embedded Linux used for multiple purposes.”

  13. Fully Free Android ROM Replicant Advances to Jelly Bean

    The Replicant project, which builds open source Android ROMs, has reached a major milestone in releasing its first Android 4.2 (“Jelly Bean”) version. Replicant 4.2 adds support for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and improves security, among other enhancements. Replicant is part of a larger movement to develop more open source smartphones, including the SHR mobile Linux OS project and the Fairphone and Neo900 hardware/software projects.

  14. Will Android lose market share to other versions of mobile Linux?
  15. Keep Tabs on Income and Expenses with My Expenses for Android

    There are several traits that set My Expenses apart from the myriad of other expense tracking apps for Android. Firstly, My Expenses is an open source app, and it’s available on both Google Play Store and F-Droid. More importantly, though, the app strikes a perfect balance between functionality and ease-of-use.

  16. 10 cool Android apps to start the year
  17. Nokia X (Normandy) specifications reveal entry-level Android phone

    We have been hearing rumours about an alleged Android-powered Nokia device for a long while. Until now we just had few random pics of the device codenamed Nokia Normandy. Our trusted source @evleaks has however managed to provide us with some idea about the internal specifications we can expect.

  18. Apple Results Q4 – Wow this was far worse than I thought…

    Ok then we have Apple (Samsung released Q4 numbers on Friday but as usual, they didnt’ give us their smartphone number other than the total smartphone shipments were up.. I am projecting over 90M but lets see what the big analyst houses count for our number in early February)

  19. Will Android PCs finally destroy Windows on the desktop?

    Android is going to become popular with home and SOHO users. It’s going to enable all those users who love Android on their tablets and smartphones to enjoy the same apps on their desktops.

02.03.14

USPTO Still a Sham; Microsoft, Apple and IBM Still Part of the Problem and Google/Linux a Common Victim

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 10:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Where innovation comes to get burned

Summary: How software conglomerates continue to hammer on Free software and GNU/Linux, adding even hypocritical attempts an antitrust action

The USPTO is still the same sham is has been over the past decade or two. It is designed to serve large corporations and it is even run by some of them. Like the espionage specialist NSA, it is about protectionism for few large companies (oligarchs) at the expense of people in the nation it purports to be serving. This isn’t only unjust; it’s corrupt.

There is no lack of shocking patent news. There’s depressing news out there, including Slashdot‘s coverage of Apple’s creepy patents. A former Microsoft booster from CNET said that a “freshly published Apple patent application envisions the delivery of targeted ads based on your mood, behavior, and other seemingly intangible characteristics.”

Apple then uses its patents to attack Linux with embargoes and Google is trying to catch up (Lenovo gets part of Motorola) by doing rational things, not extortion using software patents but instead reacting with Motorola and OIN-pooled patents (connections with IBM). The thing about IBM is, despite pretending to be pro-FOSS, it continues to promote software patents [1], making the USPTO even worse than before [2] and leaving civil rights groups to clean up the mess [3]. OIN has Oracle as a member and despite that Oracle is suing Google/Android/Linux. Then there are Microsoft-armed proxies/trolls like Vringo and 'Beneficial' 'Innovations' (both suing Google over its core business), which FOSS Force mentioned the other day as follows: “When Beneficial Innovations began taking legal action against websites using Google’s Doubleclick ad technology, the search company took the troll to court for suing their customers. It seems that in 2010 Google had settled with Beneficial and that settlement specifically covered their customers. According to Ars Technica, Google made it easy for the court to find in their favor.”

Microsoft must be really worried about Google because Marissa Mayer threatens to dump Microsoft from search after Microsoft hijacked Yahoo. “Thus the noise about the CEO choices,” wrote iophk. “It buries the real news.” And then there’s this in the news: “A Microsoft-backed lobby group is urging Brussels’ competition chief Joaquin Almunia to open up Google’s latest revised offer of a conciliatory package of tweaks to its search biz to the ad giant’s rivals.

“Earlier this week, it was reported that the European Commission was closing in on a settlement deal with Google that would apparently allow the company to dodge admittance of any wrongdoing and a fine that could be as high as 10 per cent of its annual global turnover.

“Almunia’s office has declined to comment on the claim that it had received a fresh package of concessions from Google to try to end a three-year long antitrust investigation into the multinational’s search business practices in Europe.”

Acually, it was Google that originally complained about Vista diverting users away from Google. Funny how some Microsoft lobbyists and proxies from the most criminal company now attempt to make Google look like the antitrust violator, while adding some patent attacks to Google, both directly and indirectly (through trolls and partners). Microsoft and its proxies also started antitrust complaints against Android, alleging anti-competitive behaviour in operating systems (yes, Microsoft accuses others of that).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft And IBM: If Patent Office Can Do A Quick Review Of Our Crappy Patents, You’ll All Die In A Car Crash

    Last fall, we wrote about how the BSA, the Business Software Alliance, famous for being basically a Microsoft-front organization whose main job is to publish absolutely, hilariously misleading “piracy” numbers each year, had been taking on the issue of the so called “covered business method (CBM) patent” program that was being pushed in patent reform. The covered business method patent program is pretty straightforward. It allows certain types of patents — currently financial patents — to undergo a faster review, allowing the USPTO to dump bad patents faster. Senator Chuck Schumer, who had put the original CBM tool into the last round of patent reform, is now championing expanding it to cover software patents as well. While very heavy lobbying from Microsoft (and some from IBM) convinced the House to drop the plan from its patent reform bill, there’s still a battle in the Senate, and Schumer doesn’t show any interest in giving it up.

  2. Ill-Conceived, Even If Competently Administered: Software Patents, Litigation, and Innovation—A Comment on Graham and Vishnubhakat

    The number of patents has increased dramatically in the past three decades, as has the number of patent-related lawsuits, particularly in the field of software. Industry and academic experts have expressed concern that many of the patents being issued are of low quality. Writing in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Stuart Graham and Saurabh Vishnubhakat have defended the United States Patent and Trademark Office, arguing that the PTO has acted responsibly in issuing patents that are legally valid and that it is handling problems constructively. We accept some of Graham and Vishnubhakat’s defense of the PTO, but argue that the most important issue is not whether the law is being competently administered but whether patent law, particularly as applied to software, is creating patents that are overly broad and ambiguous. We maintain that it is, and that the results are less innovation and more costly and unproductive litigation.

  3. Podcasting “patent troll” fighting EFF wants donors’ names

    Personal Audio LLC is a patent-holding company that became famous (or infamous, depending on one’s point of view) by claiming that it owns things like playlists and podcasts (or “episodic content,” in the words of one Personal Audio patent). Its wild claims led the Electronic Frontier Foundation to raise more than $76,000 from donors to fight the patent.

01.27.14

Apple is Rapidly Losing the Smartphones Market, But Don’t Cheer for Samsung

Posted in Apple, Google, Patents, Samsung at 5:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Samsung is still playing with software patents and it is now turning Android devices into restrictions devices, similar to Apple’s

APPLE ‘news’ sites are trying to elude the fact that Android is a real headache to Apple. Here is gross spin from pro-Apple sites along with a report from a former Microsoft booster (who worked for a pro-Microsoft site). One pro-Apple site says that “Apple’s smartphone marketshare continues to ease downward despite record sales for the company’s latest handsets, while rival Samsung’s share of the Android ecosystem is being squeezed in key markets, according to new analysis covering the fourth quarter of 2013.”

Samsung is not Android. Pro-Apple sites are desperate for some positive angle for Apple and negative for Android.

Samsung, as we noted in 2007, began supporting Microsoft’s patent assault on Linux and was one of the first companies (for embedded devices at least) to do so. We spent years drawing attention to this problem and here we are 7 years later with Samsung as some kind of “champion” thanks to Android. Samsung — like LG — is not championing Android, it is helping Microsoft assert ‘ownership’ and hence it is endorsing extortion.

This morning we came to discover that Samsung is boosting patents again, this time with Google. To quote the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center (notice the propagandistic terms): “This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry…Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”

This is nonsense. We don’t need this kind of public endorsement of patents, with or without so-called “peace” (only for large patent holders, such as IBM and Microsoft, or even Apple and Microsoft).

There are also technical and practical reasons to avoid Samsung, never mind the patent policy. Samsung is hoping to conquer the Android market with lots of new devices, not just phones [1], and based on reports such as [2,3], Samsung is now doing exactly what Apple has done, making devices jails for their users and taking control over people’s devices. This is bad and one way to say “no” to this behaviour is to avoid, as a matter of principle, anything from Samsung.

References:

  1. Samsung coming up with multiple Galaxy Tab variants in 2014

    Samsung has revealed plans to expand its smartphone and tablet portfolio in 2014. At the company’s conference, Executive Director Hyunjoon Kim announced that Samsung will first “create a new tablet category” that will be aimed at businesses with a high-end, “high-resolution,” large screen tablet around 20-inches. He added that the company will produce many variants by modifying their Galaxy Tab series.

  2. Samsung brings accessory restriction on Note 3, inspired by Apple?
  3. Note 3 users: Samsung disabled unofficial accessories via software update

    A number of users are claiming that the Galaxy Note 3 KitKat update breaks compatibility with some third-party accessories. The accessories affected are unofficial versions of Samsung’s S-View Flip Cover, a case with a window over the top half of the screen. A working S-View cover will turn the screen on and trigger a special display that shows the time and notifications through its window. In the previous update, Android 4.3, unofficial S-View covers could trigger this special display mode as well, but after the update to 4.4, the phone will only recognize Samsung-made products.

01.20.14

Apple is Becoming More and More Like a Patent Troll

Posted in Apple, Patents at 2:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Retardation of research and a total lack of development (Apple is branding, not developing or manufacturing) leaves Apple mostly with litigation and branding, which more or less define the behaviour of famous patent trolls

When Apple talks about “research” it mostly talks about selecting components that are made by east Asian companies. When it talks about “development” it speaks about exploiting and integrating FOSS projects. Apple is not a real company, it is a badge like Coca Cola. It advertises a perceived lifestyle.

Apple has become in some ways worse than Microsoft, for various reasons that we covered before. Microsoft is renowned for corruption, whereas Apple champions crackdown on user freedoms (which some Apple fans foolishly welcome). Apple is also engaging in high-profile legal cases against Linux. Apple never had the crown, except its own (a hero in its own mind), so this headline is erroneous. Apple is a branding company, or an integrator at best. Even its own supporters step away. To quote: “In a somewhat alarming statement to Apple fans, Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography ‘Steve Jobs’, said Google takes clear lead when it comes to innovation in the tech industry.”

Apple is now a litigation company, quickly assimilating to patent trolls. The brand may still be strong, but what does this brand represent really? Arrogant litigation based on megalomania?

Boston University, once known for excellence in research (also on patent trolling, as studied by Bessen’s group), has engaged in patent trolling and it now “wins cash from Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft” (all three are exceptionally unethical companies), so trolling seems to have become fashionable. Apple and Microsoft made some people proponents of the practice, wielding propaganda words like “innovation”.

Soverain, another patent troll, would not meet SCOTUS; instead it will need to go away. “On Monday,” as Christine Hall put it, “the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a patent case between online retailer Newegg and patent troll Soverain Software. The case involved three patents held by Soverain dealing with online shopping carts. Newegg, which has vowed to fight all software patent cases, initially lost in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which is infamous for favoring plaintiffs in patent cases. However, Newegg went on to score a victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled all three patents invalid because they were obvious.”

Patent trolls are a real problem, but the problem is that companies like Apple rarely get included in the definition of “trolls”. Common usage of the term troll just means “small company that uses patents”. Large companies lobby to ensure nothing changes to restrict their actions.

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