Summary: The reaction of patent profiteers to scope/boundary restrictions, the FRAND lobby by Microsoft’s longtime front group, FRAND matters in Korea (affecting Android), Google’s response to patent threats, and Red Hat still keeping quiet about its patent agreement with Microsoft
THERE is nothing exceptionally surprising in the news today, so we are going to focus on the EPO, which is in a very poor state right now. The management is so frail that the only language it understand is aggression. We shall write several articles about it this afternoon. Before we start, however, here is a potpourri of updates about the patent situation and how it relates to Free/Open Source software (FOSS).
“When they say “patent world” they mean the corners of the world where people pursue patents — those who try to profit from patents without necessarily creating anything.”Patent lawyers’ Web sites are still bemoaning the death of many software patents in the United States (death by Alice). One of the better known ones says that “many software patent holders must feel ─ like they were walking along merrily through the woods when they fell suddenly into a blinding, winding rabbit hole. Where once their patents stood bold and tall, they have now shrunk to a seemingly indefensible size. Whether they can defend their so-called “abstract” patents in court is now as unclear as the Mad Hatter’s riddles. The famed Alice decision has certainly left many in the patent world wondering.”
When they say “patent world” they mean the corners of the world where people pursue patents — those who try to profit from patents without necessarily creating anything.
Remember FRAND lobbying in Europe back in the days (nearly a decade ago)? Well, ACT‘s new face just got mentioned by another who was paid by Microsoft, and also regularly pushes along the FRAND front (against FOSS, relying on Korea at the moment). “ACT | The App Association,” he explained, “has announced a new web resource for innovators, policy-makers, and academics. It’s called All Things FRAND and supported by significant players including Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft. ACT is headquartered in the U.S. but also quite active abroad.”
Well, historically ACT had been little more than a Microsoft lobbyist. Then there is CCIA, which seemingly changed its position after being paid a lot of money by Microsoft. CCIA‘s Matt Levy, who now runs an anti-trolls site, has just released this new video. Don’t expect Levy to criticise CCIA’s funders, which include Microsoft. This monopolist, Microsoft, is acting in ways that resemble patent trolls.
“Well, right now many of the “bad guys” also use FRAND against Android, which Google distributes as Free/Open Source software.”Google, in the mean time, claims to be against patent trolls. As IEEE Spectrum put it some weeks ago: “Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion, which the company says received “thousands” of submissions during a three-week window, may prompt similar experiments in keeping patents out of the hands of what it considers the bad guys of intellectual property.”
Well, right now many of the “bad guys” also use FRAND against Android, which Google distributes as Free/Open Source software.
In other news, we are still pressuring Red Hat to reveal what it did with Microsoft regarding patents. We haven’t forgotten about this and we are not going to give up. The Free/Open Source software world deserves some answers. █
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Paid by Microsoft, still serving Microsoft’s agenda under misleading organisational names, hoping nobody will notice
Summary: The Microsoft-connected ACT has just morphed into another entity, in an apparent effort to derail Android (as well as other Linux-powered mobile operating systems boasting Free/libre code) with patent tax in ‘thicket’ form
SO, Microsoft’s most infamous lobbyists are still around and they use patents as a weapon, not just lock-in such as OOXML. There is now a new mask for this particular group of lobbyists, and a new Web site too. Watch who follows and promotes this site (and Twitter account), it’s just people from ACT. This is yet another campaign Web site (one of many) belonging to this longtime Microsoft AstroTurfing group.
“The name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.”See our Wiki for some background on Association for Competitive Technology, formerly known as ATL. It had previous names, but evidently it saw the need to keep renaming/rebranding because its agenda and clients become public knowledge, compromising its ability to operate effectively as a lobbying group.
In recent years these lobbyists were trying to masquerade as an alliance for ‘apps’ developers, disguising the anti-Linux and anti-FOSS agenda as ‘apps’. “Today marks the launch of http://AllThingsFRAND.com,” they announced in Twitter. “Follow our site for the latest news & analysis on patents, standards, and FRAND licensing” (the inherent foes of FOSS, Android, and Linux).
Anyone who follows this site will basically be following lobbyists. They are selling something. They sell agenda, not information.
“[W]hen you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind”
–Benjamin HenrionThe name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.
André Rebentisch (FFII) noticed this and said that “ACT [had] launched a #FRAND web site” (FRAND in this context are patents — mostly software patents — that act as a tax that’s virtually impossible to avoid).
“ACT launched a FRAND web site…”
–André RebentischSomeone should perhaps tell the not-so-open-anymore Red Hat that Microsoft is still attacking FOSS (via front groups), with patents inside so-called ‘industry standards’ (thickets/cartels Microsoft is in). Well, so much for ‘standstill’… they are still on the offensive, albeit discreetly (through satellites).
Benjamin Henrion (FFII) told André that “ACT is still ACT. [Is] Zuck still around?” (he was one of their leading lobbyists even back in the ATL days)
Henrion added that “when you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind” (indeed, and we have covered this many times before).
“Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else.”Henrion has noticed yet another curious thing about lobbyists. “Patent lawyers are forming working groups,” he wrote, citing Patent Watchtroll, a longtime prominent booster of software patents, “in order to draft law for software patents in the US after the Alice storm” (Alicestorm is a term used to refer to the avalanche of software patents after the Alice case).
Patent lawyers are basically the equivalent of weapons companies with their pro-war lobbying groups, set aside their soft bribes to people in Congress (to ensure politicians become hawkish or that only hawks are electable). This is why US Congress supports militaristic policies which in turn pass public money to weapons companies. Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else. █
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via Wikipedia but with the GIMP treatment
Summary: The de facto Microsoft satellite known as Xamarin reveals that it is still little more than a Microsoft mobile division
LAST MONTH we wrote about Xamarin‘s absorption of a FOSS Android tool, which quickly turned proprietary (almost instantaneously while takeover negotiations took place). Xamarin Studio, like a lot of Xamarin’s proprietary software, does nor even run on GNU/Linux. There is hardly any pretence anymore that Miguel de Icaza and his Microsoft-connected ilk even care about FOSS. These traitors show their true colours and disdain for anything FOSS.
“There is hardly any pretence anymore that Miguel de Icaza and his Microsoft-connected ilk even care about FOSS.”According to Microsoft's booster at El Reg (Anderson), the latest release from Xamarin still has no Java, just Microsoft lock-in like .NET, XAML, etc. To quote his piece:
Xamarin releases version 4.0 of its cross-platform mobile developer suite
The company has grown rapidly, since it solves a problem for Microsoft-platform developers who now need to target mobile, especially following the failure of Windows Phone to achieve significant market share. “We have over 10,000 customers, 350 consulting partners and 2,000 integration partners,” Friedman told the Reg.
When will everyone recognise that the real motivation at Xamarin is serving as some kind of Microsoft satellite or proxy? Nothing good has come of Xamarin since Novell dumped (laid off all the employees of) Mono and a firm/VC connected to Microsoft became its sugar daddy. █
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The Red Hat deal surely serves to legitimise such moves, just as Novell’s deal did
Summary: Microsoft is now going after Star Micronics, using threats (with patents) to give Star Micronics paid ‘permission’ to use Linux-based operating systems in its products
It should be obvious by now that the “new Microsoft” — whatever that means — is a Microsoft that uses patents to pressure, to blackmail and to manipulate companies that use Linux, Android, Chrome OS and so on. Recall this year’s examples alone. These include Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS, and Dell. Microsoft used patents to compel them to do to Android and/or Chrome OS what Microsoft had insisted on. It’s basically a tool of extortion. It is not impossible that Microsoft also threatened to sue Red Hat using patents (even innuendo) to pressure Red Hat into a bad deal that harms Free software as a whole. Since Red Hat is so secretive about it, who knows? We contacted the lawyers who were involved in making the agreement on patents (Carlo Piana and Rob Tiller), but still no response. It has been days now.
“Red Hat helped Microsoft openwashing, reputation laundering, and at the same time it bolstered Microsoft’s patents, which it uses all the time to compel companies (especially those that use Linux) to beg Microsoft for mercy and sometimes pay up for something Microsoft only attacks and in no way created.”Red Hat staff should pay attention to today’s (just announced by Microsoft) patent blackmail deal. When Red Hat staff (salaried engineers for the most part) claim that the deal with Microsoft is a “win” they delude themselves in the same way SUSE staff did at the time of the Novell-Microsoft deal. According to this article: “As for the Red Hat partnership that Microsoft has struck, it looks far reaching. The partnership calls for a Red Hat engineering team to move to Redmond to provide joint technical support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads running in the Microsoft Azure public cloud and on its hybrid cloud offerings.”
If there’s a deja vu here, it’s because of Novell. Microsoft must be enjoying the boost Red Hat gave to its patents, by essentially agreeing on a patent “standstill” (for Red Hat only for all we know and based on today’s news). The Microsoft media really loves this deal and it’s easy to see why. Red Hat helped Microsoft openwashing, reputation laundering, and at the same time it bolstered Microsoft’s patents, which it uses all the time to compel companies (especially those that use Linux) to beg Microsoft for mercy and sometimes pay up for something Microsoft only attacks and in no way created. This is an injustice of the highest order.
We already wrote 5 articles about the Red Hat deal, namely:
- Media Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft Deal Includes Microsoft Talking Points and Moles, No Discussion About Patent Aspects
- Red Hat’s Deal With Microsoft Resurrects Fears of Software Patents Against GNU/Linux and Introduces ‘Triple-Dipping’ of Fees
- More Information Emerges About the Microsoft-Red Hat Patent Agreement
- Red Hat Sells Out With a Microsoft Patent Deal
- Summary of the Red Hat-Microsoft Patent Agreement of 2015
Red Hat wants us to believe that there is a “gentle” Microsoft led by Nadella, but if that’s really the case, then why is Microsoft blackmailing yet another company using patents? It’s specifically to do with Linux/Android, based on the announcements. To quote one of them: “Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC today announced their patent licensing agreement with Star Micronics that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for Star Micronics’ Android-based commercial printers and computing devices.”
Yes, Android. And it’s not a small company, it employs about 2,500 people.
In the mean time, as reported by Sam Varghese , Microsoft is unwilling to comment on extension of the SUSE deal. It runs out in less than 2 months. Is this divide and rule in the making? Did Red Hat step into a trap? We shall know more soon…
I had a very long conversation with Red Hat staff and I hope that their CEO will eventually decide to be transparent about the patent agreement with Microsoft. Even Novell was more transparent than that (at the time). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft has refused to say openly whether it will be extending the patent-licensing deal that it signed with Novell back in 2006. At that time, SUSE Linux was a part of Novell.
Novell has since been acquired by the Attachmate Group which, in turn, was bought by the British mainframe company Micro Focus.
In July 2011, Microsoft announced that the agreement with SUSE would be extended until January 1, 2016.
iTWire asked Microsoft about the SUSE agreement after Red Hat and Microsoft announced a deal a few days back on cloud installations, wherein Microsoft said it would be making Red Hat the preferred enterprise Linux distribution for installing on its Azure cloud offering.
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China has already made publicly known which patents Microsoft uses against Linux/Android
Context: 1972 Nixon visit to China [1, 2]
Summary: Criticism of Red Hat’s approach to dealing with Microsoft spreads to more sites, especially those that understand the impact of patents in this area
WE REALLY wanted to avoid further commentary on the Microsoft-Red Hat deal, but another shallow article has just come out, this time from Linux Insider (not necessarily a Linux-friendly site). The authur says nothing about patents, which is often what’s missing from all the puff pieces about this subject.
“Well, Richard Nixon was at least opening up to trade. In the case of Red Hat, it opens up other companies to potential patent lawsuits from Microsoft.”Over at FOSS Force, a pro-FOSS site, Larry Cafiero wrote: “Red Hat and Microsoft on Wednesday announced a partnership that will allow businesses to deploy Red Hat’s open source software on the Microsoft Azure cloud. From news reports, the deal makes Red Hat the “preferred choice” on Microsoft Azure, Redmond’s infrastructure-as-a-service platform. Make what you will of this. Me? If you know my distaste for what’s nebulously called “the cloud,” I’m just walking away from it, though the one comment I read in one story comparing this to Nixon going to China is probably the best comparison.”
Well, Richard Nixon was at least opening up to trade. In the case of Red Hat, it opens up other companies to potential patent lawsuits from Microsoft. We have already explained this in 5 articles, namely:
Florian Müller, who had worked as a patents spinner for Microsoft (for a while), was very hard on Red Hat. He wrote that “Red Hat hopes to leverage patents to cement its Linux market leadership [with the] Microsoft deal” and makes a claim similar to claims we have been making here for over half a decade. “I’ve been saying for years,” he wrote, “that Red Hat is utterly hypocritical when it comes to patents. It has a history of feeding patent trolls and fooling the open source community. There is, to put it mildly, no assurance that all of its related dealings actually comply with the GPL.”
This is exactly our concern and unless there is transparency from the “Open Organisation”, we don’t know for sure. The patent “standstill” does not extend to companies other than Red Hat, so where does that leave even CentOS users (Techrights uses CentOS)? “Red Hat now wants to tell Linux users,” Müller explains, “that the way to be protected with respect to patents is to use Red Hat Linux. “Reduce your exposure, buy from us.” That is a way of seeking to benefit from software patents.”
That’s similar to what Novell did, but secrecy makes it harder to know what really goes on here.
“If you know my distaste for what’s nebulously called “the cloud,” I’m just walking away from it, though the one comment I read in one story comparing this to Nixon going to China is probably the best comparison.”
–Larry Cafiero“I want to give Simon Phipps credit,” Müller wrote, “for distinguishing between the positive and not so positive ramifications of this partnership from an open source point of view. The Open Source Initiative is an organization on whose board Simon Phipps serves with, among others, a Red Hat lawyer.
“Without the Red Hat connection, Simon Phipps would presumably have criticized Red Hat clearly as opposed to just making it sound like Microsoft should do more. He says Microsoft should relinquish its patent rights because that’s how he defines “love” for Linux. However, he doesn’t talk about what Red Hat could have done. Red Hat could have challenged any Microsoft patents that allegedly infringe Linux: in court (declaratory judgment actions) and through reexamination requests. That course of action would have done free and open source software a greater service than a deal.”
In Twitter, Müller goes on and chastises the FSF, SFLC etc. for not criticising Red Hat (because of financial ties). This very much reminds us of the reluctance to criticise systemd, which is mostly Red Hat’s own creation. Red Hat’s clout in the community almost makes it immune to criticism.
“Google-Moto defended Linux against MSFT’s patent infringement allegations in court and won,” Müller wrote in Twitter, whereas “Red Hat decided to benefit from them.”
He said that “GPL enforcers like Harald Welte should sue Red Hat for alleged breach of the GPLv2 patent clause, arguing a covenant not to sue is a license” (we don’t know if there is such a covenant because the “Open Organisation” is still quite secretive about it).
“Android,” he says, “not Red Hat, is the #1 Linux distribution. Google, not Red Hat, is the #1 defender of Linux against Microsoft’s patents.”
As we said at the very start (hours after the Microsoft-Red Hat deal had been announced), Red Hat’s actions are defeatist and dangerous. They come at a time when, at least in the US, software patents rapidly lose their teeth anyway.
“”It’s one thing to be a Linux parasite. It’s another to be a Trojan horse. And the worst option is to be both at the same time.”
–Florian MüllerAccording to Patent Buddy, citing the Bilski Blog, “Sue L Robinson, the Patent Killer Judge, Has Not Held a Single Patent Valid under 101/Alice” and even at the capital of patent trolls, “E. Dist. Of TX has Alice / 101 Invalidity Rate of 34.8%” (that’s pretty high for such a corrupt district).
To quote the Bilski Blog: “There have been 34 district court decisions in the past two months, but the percentage of invalidity decision is holding constant at 70.5%. The number of patent claims invalidated is now over 11,000, but also holding steady at around 71%.
“There have been no new Federal Circuit Section 101 decisions, but we’re going to see a flurry of activity in the next couple of months, as the court has recently heard oral argument in a number of patent eligibility cases, and more are on calendar for November.
“Motions on the pleadings have soared, with 23 in the past two months alone, and the success rate is up a tick from 70.1% to 71.4%.
“PTAB is a bit mixed: the CBM institution rate is down from 86.2% 83.7%, but the final decision rate is still 100%, with 6 decisions in the past two months invalidating the patents in suit.”
Red Hat could make use of what Bilski Blog called
#AliceStorm (referring to the avalanche of software patents) to basically invalidate a lot of Microsoft’s software patents. Instead, Red Hat reached a patent agreement with Microsoft.
Müller’s analysis ends with strong words that we don’t agree with but are worth quoting nonetheless: “It’s one thing to be a Linux parasite. It’s another to be a Trojan horse. And the worst option is to be both at the same time.” █
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“I’d put the Linux phenomenon really as threat No. 1.”
–Steve Ballmer, 2001
Summary: A reminder to readers that Windows is going dark and GNU/Linux awaits as a potent substitute
WITH Vista 10 (see the relevant articles in our Wiki), contrary to promises from Microsoft, after the so-called ‘upgrade’ people start paying to be spied on. As  below shows, these hidden costs are phased in quite gradually but shockingly (at least to some) and privacy violations are only getting worse , as people inside Microsoft privately confirmed to us (some of them have even been experimenting with GNU/Linux and may be ready to defect). Windows won’t be ‘fixed’; it won’t be — as the slogan about Vista 7 used to say — “my idea”. It’s all just Microsoft’s and the NSA’s ideas. Users have been rapidly turned into the products, just like in Facebook. They’re the commodity being sold by the millions, in bulk, to spies and advertisers. That’s Microsoft’s vision of Windows.
“Inevitably, judging by the popularity of Android and Chrome OS (now outselling Windows laptops), people will probably use GNU/Linux anyway, almost anywhere.”Anyone reading Techrights from home without a Free (libre) operating systems such as BSD or GNU/Linux would be wise to give a quick go to at least one of the several major distributions just released. The entire *buntu family was released about two weeks ago, but worth considering are also the two distributions which come in numerous ‘flavours’, as they got released just earlier this week. At this moment of time we can’t recommend any of these in particular (for different reasons), but we hope our readers realise that Windows is only getting worse — not better — especially when it comes to digital rights. Inevitably, judging by the popularity of Android and Chrome OS (now outselling Windows laptops), people will probably use GNU/Linux anyway, almost anywhere. Moving to GNU/Linux these days is moving ahead of the curve. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A year after its launch, Microsoft is making some changes to its OneDrive cloud storage plans—including eliminating the unlimited storage offered to Office 365 subscribers, because according to Microsoft, some people got greedy.
In a post to the OneDrive blog, Microsoft wrote: “Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average.”
MICROSOFT HAS ADMITTED that Windows 10 is collecting more data than any of its predecessors, and there’s not much you can do about it.
In an interview with PC World, Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore defended the collection of what the company refers to as “basic telemetry”, explaining that it is a necessary part of improving Windows’ functionality.
Windows has always collected information like this. Every blue screen of death creates an error report which is uploaded to Microsoft. But so much more is collected now and, yes, this does mean that search terms that you enter into Windows as well as anonymous machine gibberish is going up to the cloud.
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Good for Red Hat, not so much for anybody else…
Summary: Informed (GNU/Linux-centric) journalists who looked beyond the misleading press releases and the distracting marketing campaign have managed to find out and highlight the patent issues associated with the Red Hat-Microsoft deal
AS WE noted in our previous coverage, Red Hat does not want anyone to speak about — let alone know — the patent aspects of its deal with Microsoft. Most articles, following a dry (on facts, not on marketing) press release, say nothing about it. Here is one puff piece that plays along with the “Microsoft Loves Linux” narrative, which is extremely misleading (lulling us into dangerous optimism). The author writes: “It’s a long way from the days when the former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer described Linux as a “cancer.” Last year his successor, Satya Nadella, proclaimed that “Microsoft Loves Linux” mainly because of its importance in the cloud.” No, Nadella is still attacking Linux and Android using patents. Consider the deals with Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS and Dell. Patent extortion in action!
“Microsoft Loves Linux” hype… is just not true… covertly spread open-source-related FUD…”
–Simon PhippsWe quite liked Simon Phipps’ take on this (without IDG’s editorial shadow). He is the former head of the OSI, so this matters a lot. He wrote:
All the same, let’s be clear that all the “Microsoft Loves Linux” hype I saw at SUSECon in Amsterdam yesterday and at other events earlier this year is just not true. Microsoft Azure loves Linux, there is no doubt; it is a basic requirement for them to become relevant on a cloud market dominated by AWS and Linux. They have been out in force at every commercially-oriented open source I have attended this year and have a full-scale charm offensive in place.
But the rest of the company still does not. They still seem to covertly spread open-source-related FUD about LibreOffice here in Europe. They haven’t foresworn making embedded Linux vendors pay for patent licenses of dubious necessity. The Azure business unit is certainly embracing the ecosystem the same as many before them have done so in their steps towards open source. But the Windows and Office business units show no signs of “loving” Linux and only modest signs of co-existing with open source.
If they want to signal the end of hostilities, step one is to sign the Mozilla Open Software Patent License Agreement or join OIN. Until one of those happens, I remain sceptical of Microsoft’s love for Linux.
“Microsoft” and “Love” don’t belong in the same sentence. These sociopaths, as I only recently found out, tried to get me fired from my job. Microsoft hardly even behaves like a normal company. It’s more like an informant (of the NSA among others) and a cult, led by a fake ‘philanthropist’ egoistic thug.
Writing for IDG, Phipps softened his words somewhat and wrote: “Software patents have also been a sticking point. Red Hat made clear that it does not acknowledge the validity or enforceability of Microsoft’s patents, but all the same has demanded a stand-still agreement guaranteeing neither company will pursue patent claims against the other or its customers. There’s no indication whether this extends to partner ecosystems.
“As opposed to the Novell SUSE patent covenant, the Red Hat Microsoft partnership now provides for what Red Hat is referring to as a patent standstill in the FAQ.”
–Sean Michael Kerner“That is a key issue for the open source community. While its Azure business unit has been professing love for Linux and smothering everything in penguins, the rest of Microsoft has carried on attacking the Linux ecosystem with patent claims and showing little accommodation for open source in its cash cow Windows and Office endeavors. Azure may be desperate for validation in a tough an competitive market, but the rest of Microsoft still needs to change more than going silent on its antipathy for open source.”
Writing for another big publisher (but not IDG), Sean Michael Kerner shed some light on the patent situation:
The path to the Microsoft Red Hat partnership has followed a long and winding road over a decade of mistrust and competition. In 2007, Microsoft alleged that open-source software infringes on more than 200 of its patents. Previous Microsoft partnerships with Linux vendors, including SUSE (formerly part of Novell), involved a patent covenant to deal with intellectual property issues. At the time of the Novell deal, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was very clear on his views about Linux patents; he noted that Microsoft’s deal was only with Novell SUSE Linux, and others still have an issue with infringing on Microsoft’s intellectual property.
In an FAQ posted by Red Hat, the company states, “Red Hat and Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection with the commercial partnership for the benefit of mutual customers.” As opposed to the Novell SUSE patent covenant, the Red Hat Microsoft partnership now provides for what Red Hat is referring to as a patent standstill in the FAQ.
In response to a question from eWEEK, Cormier strongly emphasized that Red Hat remains true to its core open-source principles and is not compromising on them in the Microsoft partnership.
“Red Hat and Microsoft did not acknowledge the validity or value of each other’s patents,” Cormier said. “This is a commercial deal spurred by strong customer demand for our solutions to work together.”
“In order for the deal to work, Scott [Guthrie] and I agreed early on that it would only work if neither of us compromised our core business principles, and we did not,” Cormier said.
Senior Red Hat employees who have spoken to me about this have done effectively nothing to refute what I wrote. One of them falsely claimed that I compared this to the Novell deal (I didn’t, it would make no sense).
Not many people have noticed the part about patents because Red Hat did a fine job hiding it. Phoronix just said that “Microsoft and Red Hat have jointly announced a partnership today to “deliver more flexibility and choice” in the cloud.”
That sounds a little bit like Novell and Microsoft trying to characterise their patent deal (colluding against GNU/Linux vendors other than Novell) as “collaboration”, “interoperability”, and so on. Tim Anderson, a Microsoft booster from The Register, did not mention anything about patents.
“Due to layoffs there are limited resources and Microsoft is now counting on patents as a strategy against GNU/Linux. “As other articles from The Register serve to remind us, Vista 10 has been a catastrophe (The Register, to its credit, wrote a great deal about this). Its latest article makes is apparent that OEMs too — not just useds [sic] — will be force-fed Vista 10 pretty soon. As it was put two days ago, “Satya Nadella’s firm has quietly let slip that October 31, 2016, will be the final day for PC makers to buy copies of the operating system for pre-install.”
Microsoft cannot maintain Windows like it did back in the days of Windows XP. Due to layoffs there are limited resources and Microsoft is now counting on patents as a strategy against GNU/Linux. It promotes people accordingly. Let’s not forget other assaults on GNU/Linux, such as UEFI restricted boot, which complicates and at times makes impossible installation of GNU/Linux on whiteboxes. █
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Microsoft’s vision of patent/usage tax on GNU/Linux is becoming a reality
Summary: Microsoft can charge GNU/Linux for alleged patent violations, for server resources (per CPU or per day), and additionally make money from spying on users’ data and passing it around
RED HAT’S terrible deal with Microsoft ruins what started as a quiet and relatively happy day. It also poses a threat to every GNU/Linux vendor other than Red Hat (and maybe SUSE too, as it signed a Microsoft patent deal a very long time ago). Microsoft Peter does not mention the part about the patents, nor do the puff pieces and press releases. There is also nothing about the severe privacy implications.
This is how the Wall Street Journal covered the deal, merely stating that “Red Hat’s version of the Linux operating system to be available to users of Microsoft Azure cloud service” (for Microsoft to spy on and to tax using patents). Inside Microsoft’s Azure, RHEL has something even worse than back doors. It has built-in file-by-file surveillance, so any claims of security are simply not applicable. Remember that Microsoft already admits (quite openly) that in its so-called ‘cloud’ every single file is being scanned. Pedophilia is a common pretext for doing this. This isn’t hosting but spying. Where does that leave software freedom?
Microsoft is quickly finding that there’s no money in proprietary software like Windows (see Vista 10 pricing and force-feeding), so it sells people’s private data and now adds infuriating charges to that (breaking a promise). As pointed out here before — and even earlier today — it all comes down to patents (also recall the two articles from the day beforehand, i.e. yesterday) and paid-for surveillance. It’s an attack on general-purpose computing, on privacy, and many other things. It’s an abomination.
Even a Microsoft booster, Tim Anderson, admits that there’s trouble ahead and says: “Most people have at least 30GB of free OneDrive storage: 15GB as standard, and an additional 15GB bonus easily obtained by setting the camera roll on a mobile device to use OneDrive for image backup. An additional 100GB was available for $1.99 per month.”
“In this age when software patents are a dying breed in the US we now have the largest GNU/Linux vendor basically giving Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux legitimacy.”Microsoft now wishes to tax GNU/Linux twofold. It will charge patent fees and at the same time charge GNU/Linux for server space and capacity. On top of it, Microsoft will subject these GNU/Linux instances to the usual surveillance, which Microsoft can of course monetise, as it already does (we covered this on several occasions before).
Since our site is primarily focused on the impact of patents on Free software, what bothers us is that Red Hat, despite the Alice case, is agreeing to a software patents deal with Microsoft. This is inexcusable and it doesn’t take an absolutist on this matter to see what’s wrong with that. Steve Ballmer once said that “people that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.” Ballmer’s wishes may have just come true. The Alice case has already served to prove that software patents hold little weight in the US, yet Red Hat goes right into this trap. Incidentally, Web sites of patent lawyers continue to only ever write about software patents and Alice in the rare occasion of them surviving (the exception, not the form). Here is the latest example which concludes with: “Unfortunately, the court did not expand on its reasoning for finding the invention to be patent eligible. The two sentences above show the court presumably agreed with the arguments presented by Versata, but that hardly means any invention that solves a problem is eligible for patent protection. Versata stressed the technical components of the invention – that it was directed to a “technical objective” within “the more limited display screen of a mobile phone, pager, PDA, or similar mobile device.” It is therefore possible that the court was persuaded that the invention was drawn to a more technical, and less abstract, invention.”
In this age when software patents are a dying breed in the US we now have the largest GNU/Linux vendor basically giving Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux legitimacy. Only time will tell the magnitude of this mistake and its impact on other players such as Debian. █
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