When food becomes FUD
Summary: Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is “marketing”
More Microsoft infiltrations (the "embrace, extend extinguish" type) were announced in this week’s Microsoft conference. They’re paying for it. It goes further than Android, which Microsoft is now trying to engulf by assimilation (this article from a Microsoft-leaning site called it “huge news”).
Today’s other news (not about Android) says “Microsoft woos makers: Windows 10 for RPi 2, Arduino”, which means taking them away from Linux. Microsoft is “Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing” (the old trick), as was done previously to OLPC. Arduino and Raspberry Pi are making a huge mistake here, but Microsoft is almost certainly paying them to play along. Back in the days we wrote that “Raspberry Pi Represents the Rise of Freedom-Respecting Embedded GNU/Linux” and months ago, right after Raspberry Pi climbed to Microsoft’s bed we wrote that “OLPC Lessons Not Learned: Imposing Microsoft Windows on Young Students Using Embrace, Extend and Extinguish of Raspberry Pi“.
Microsoft is still bribing (or ‘incentivising’, to use a euphemism) those who are spreading Linux, using the guise of ‘deals’. The bribed are selling out for a quick buck, just as Novell did back in 2006.
Raspberry Pi may soon be increasingly used as just a Windows terminal, based on articles from Microsoft boosters [1, 2, 3]. Is this a good thing? If Raspberry Pi becomes just a terminal for Windows, then what’s the point of Linux? Microsoft is now working to remove Linux altogether, making Raspberry Pi just another Windows computer. See articles like “Get your Windows 10 preview for Raspberry Pi 2 while it’s hot”, among others [1, 3, 4, 5, 6]. “Microsoft releases Windows 10 IoT developer tool for Raspberry Pi 2,” according to one source, so it’s all about spreading Windows to a lot of devices.
Arduino sells out just like Raspberry Pi, based on reports like this . To quote: “During Build 2015 this week Microsoft and Arduino have announced a new partnership that will provide makers, hobbyists and developers with the ability to use an “Arduino Certified” Windows 10 software package.”
What a misuse of the word “Certified”. Nothing needs to be Linux-certified, it’s just Microsoft marketing jargon. Also see articles like “Microsoft goes big on Arduino boards” and “Windows 10 gets ‘Arduino-certified’ with two new open source libraries”. There is nothing “open source” about it. Gross openwashing.
This is all part of the Vista 10 marketing blitz, which Microsoft itself admits is all about marketing, not substance. It’s a big pile of lies. █
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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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Summary: More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year’s SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
THE PATENT troll known as Intellectual Ventures is so vast that it does not need an introduction. It is one of the most hated entities in the world, rivalling even ALEC (which Bill Gates financially supported, just like he financially supports Intellectual Ventures). This monstrous patent troll is very closely connected to Microsoft and people from Microsoft. Just look who’s heading and funding Intellectual Ventures. To quote leaked E-mails, “Intellectual Ventures, the investment vehicle and sometime patent troll set up by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold [has] taken to market by TerraPower, which is partially funded by Gates.”
Well, we wrote about this ‘special’ TerraPower relationship several years ago. This greedy bunch is looting; it’s looking to profit together, as once again Gates is subsidising his mate Nathan Myhrvold, in order for both Gates and Intellectual Ventures (and sometimes Microsoft) to profit, often at the expense of the public. That’s a disturbing pattern which we have shown repeatedly and demonstrated for almost a decade now.
“All we have here is a patent troll who attacks Microsoft’s rivals, including Android and Linux.”Last week we wrote about Microsoft's troll (Intellectual Ventures) losing software patents. This is important because Intellectual Ventures attacks Linux and Android (even this month, as we highlighted weeks ago). Something must be done about these vultures (not ventures). All we have here is a patent troll who attacks Microsoft’s rivals, including Android and Linux. It is run by a friend of Bill Gates, who uses Gates’ and Microsoft’s money to attack their rivals. One potential solution to this is not to crush trolls but to crush software patents. As it turns out, based on this report, it was the SCOTUS decision regarding Alice that demolished these vultures’ agenda. Quoting The Register: “A US district court has torn the heart out of two patents wielded by Intellectual Ventures against two antivirus makers.
“In a judgment [PDF] this week, Chief Judge Leonard Stark ruled that Intellectual Ventures’ US patents 6,460,050 and 6,073,142 were “ineligible,” meaning they are too vague and the technologies they described unpatentable.
“The ’142 and ’050 patents described email filters designed to catch spam and malware. A third Intellectual Ventures patent, 5,987,610, which described “computer virus screening methods and systems”, was upheld by the judge.”
Here is some subsequent press coverage and a press release. As one headline put it, “Citing ‘Alice,’ Judge Squashes IV Email-Sorting Patents”. It says that “Latham’s Douglas Lumish and Paul Hastings’ Yar Chaikovsky teamed up in a successful Section 101 attack on two Intellectual Ventures patents.”
This helps show that trolls can be combated by squashing software patents, not just by obsessing over patent trolls (the small ones, not big ones like Microsoft).
We were shocked and disgusted to discover last night that UCLA put this horrible troll in a commencement ceremony. An article’s author, Ara Shirinian, decided to write about this without mincing words. He complained and said that “keynote speaker for UCLA’s commencement ceremony has just been announced as Nathan Myhrvold. He is the cofounder of Intellectual Ventures, the worlds biggest “patent troll,” a company that exploits the loopholes in the patent-granting system by collecting patents and suing other companies, both big and small, hoping to get a piece of their revenue.”
Watch the comment which says “Intellectual Ventures is the patent troll division of Microsoft. It exists to keep the large foot of Microsoft Corporation firmly on the throat of the entire Tech Industry.”
This article drew attention from Tim Wilson, who asked: “Will UCLA students protest patent troll founder’s selection as commencement speaker?”
They definitely should. UCLA has too much pride and reputation to associate itself with parasites and aggressors. Are they actually paying this troll for his self promotion? █
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Microsoft says it wants peace, but actions suggest otherwise
Summary: More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, ‘new’ Microsoft
DESPITE recent Outlook scandals, Microsoft is trying hard to inject it into Android devices, either by blackmail or by bribing (as we correctly foresaw). Microsoft’s Mouth wrote about it and so did other embedded ‘journalists’ of Microsoft or friendly media. They help the "embrace, extend, extinguish" efforts of Microsoft (targeting Android). One site called it “crapware [...] for Android” (crapware being Microsoft spyware). Some say that Microsoft is developing software to wipe Android from Android devices and install Windows instead. Here is the next potential step towards it [1, 2] (Microsoft can delete Android from the Windows partition).
These attacks on Android sure are serious and Microsoft lobbied (usually through proxies) European regulators to help with the attacks. Quoting Microsoft proxies, the Microsoft-friendly Cade Metz continues his anti-Linux blitz in Condé Nast (toxic agenda). The headline is equally toxic, as should expected from Metz. It says “Google Faces Huge Forces in Fight Over Android’s Future” and it’s full of anti-Android talking points from Microsoft front groups. There is some kind of deliberate attack on Android in the media; Microsoft’s booster Julie Bort helps an anti-Android company right now and all that Microsoft boosters can do at the moment is promote Microsoft spyware for Android, unless they just trash Android. Mark Hachman, a Senior Editor at IDG, promotes Microsoft’s overpriced and underpowered product by framing it as a Google ‘killer’ or whatever. His byline says “Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats.” Well, enough said…
In other news, Microsoft continues with the effort to extort Android/Linux. As Fagioli, an occasional troll against GNU/Linux, put it the other day: “Microsoft continues earning money from Linux — increases patent licensing agreements”. While we know these deals are patent deals, we do not know if anything at all is being paid to Microsoft, so Fagioli lacks evidence. Fagioli wrote: “If you choose to laugh at Microsoft over its mobile presence, feel free, but please know that Microsoft is laughing too; all the way to the bank. What you may not know is, Microsoft makes money from Android handset sales thanks to its patent portfolio. In fact, it also collects money from Chromebooks too. In other words, Microsoft is profiting from Linux, since both operating systems are based on the kernel. Today, Microsoft increases its number of patent licensing agreements, by making a deal with Qisda Corp.”
“Microsoft attacks Android using entryism, lobbying, media distortion, extortion, misguided regulators, etc.”Qisda is not widely known to the public (Wikipedia has some details) and whether it pays anything at all to Microsoft we do not know. Google, in reaction to such offensive deals, pursues and gets granted thousands of patents per year. It is now trying to buy some more. As IDG has just put it: “Looking to offload some patents and make some extra cash? Google may be an interested buyer.
“The Web giant on Monday launched a Patent Purchase Promotion, an “experiment to remove friction from the patent market and improve the landscape.” On May 8, Google plans to open a portal where you’ll be able to tell the company about the patents you’re willing to sell, and how much you’re looking to make.”
Vista 10 (merely a brand, or "marketing" as Microsoft puts it) for mobile phones is a total joke and a dead end without any signs of gains, only massive financial losses. Microsoft is reportedly bricking phones with Vista 10 Preview. The report is inherently flawed, however, because as iophk put it: “The shill can’t even make an honest comparison there, he has to restrict it to within Microsoft world. Most “popular” Windoes(r) phone…”
We too spotted this article the other day. We found it when looking for articles of the same author, after he had attacked GNU/Linux or something along those lines.
In summary, there is no ‘new’ Microsoft. Microsoft attacks Android using entryism, lobbying, media distortion, extortion, misguided regulators, etc. Extortion apparently does not bother regulators, even if it’s against the law. To say that Microsoft loves Linux is like calling Stalin a man of peace. █
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Lying to the public for salaries
Summary: Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it ‘marketing’)
ALL around the world there have been many misleading reports about Microsoft being “open”. These reports are not always in English, so it may not be easy to spot and rebut them. Writers of such reports are either extremely gullible, pressured (e.g. by assertive editor/publisher/advertiser), or bribed.
Someone, a long-term reader of Techrights, came to our IRC channels claiming that “one of my ex classmates is now a paid Microsoft copywriter… I got furious yesterday when I found out” (the company in question is VISIBILITY, one of Microsoft’s many PR agencies/proxies that include Visible Technologies). We already explained how such firms operate and it’s absolutely appalling. Microsoft already got caught (several times) sending out people to conduct AstroTurfing campaigns in sites like Reddit and YouTube. Now we know that Microsoft may also be paying agencies (at least in east Europe) to push into the media pro-Microsoft stories. And they wonder why they’re hated. Well, given the prevalence of agencies that push ‘stories’ for Microsoft it’s not crazy to debunk these ‘stories’, it’s just crazy to believe them. Lies in repetition can become compelling nonetheless. We already explored how Microsoft was pushing fake (prepared) ‘articles’, often to be ghostwritten or ghost-published by fake/lazy ‘journalists’. With enough bribed ‘reporters’ no wonder Microsoft can rewrite history and lie so routinely and effectively. If Microsoft pays agents in east Europe to ‘plant’ articles, then it’s not even expensive because salaries there are significantly lower and perhaps regulations of the press are relatively lax. It’s like outsourcing of AstroTurfing. Clever move.
“Business as usual then,” wrote Paolo Vecchi about it, reminding us of very recent examples like damn lies about Vista 10 being 'free'. It went on for many weeks before Microsoft finally admitted that it had lied (‘marketed’). The media pushed this lie into every corner of the Web for weeks. It was published in many languages in some very widely-read sites. The correction from Microsoft (weeks later) hardly received any coverage at all.
A new report by Gregg Keizer says that “Free Windows 10 is not an upgrade … it’s marketing,” according to Microsoft. Vista 10 is not free and was never going to be free. It’s a big lie and Microsoft’s 10-Q filing shows that Microsoft knowingly lied (‘marketed’). To quote Keizer: “Windows 10 is not a free upgrade, Microsoft said last week. It’s a “marketing and promotional activity.”
“The odd nomenclature appeared in Microsoft’s 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that highlighted the company’s first quarter financial numbers.
“In the 10-Q segment devoted to revenue recognition — typically several paragraphs of static boilerplate — Microsoft brought up Windows 10, specifically the free upgrade it plans to hand out to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 after Windows 10′s summer debut.”
So remember that Microsoft wilfully lies and just calls it ‘marketing’. Truths and lies have no meaning to Microsoft; it’s all ‘marketing’. It’s manipulation of the media.
Bear that in mind when seeing the openwashing of Microsoft, such as the latest (and seemingly obligatory) Nadella grooming by Sam Dean, whose parent company was paid by Microsoft to embed pro-Microsoft messages inside articles. It’s more of the ‘new Microsoft’ nonsense, which means that Dean is either gullible or acting as a salesman. “It’s becoming more and more clear that we aren’t witnessing the old Microsoft anymore,” he says. Actually, Microsoft is getting worse but also more secretive. Do we really need to perpetuate all those lies (‘marketing’) from Microsoft?
Watch this new headline that says “Microsoft may love Linux now, but can Hadoop vendors ever kiss and make up?”
Very loaded headline they got there. Microsoft hates Linux, as its actions serve to show. We wrote about this just over a month ago in:
Journalists should stop repeating Microsoft’s slogans and PR. Microsoft does not “love Linux”, it hates it with a passion and actively tries to destroy it. Phoronix shows how the BSD world is increasingly being used as a wedge through which to harm or change GNU/Linux, as Microsoft tries to spread .NET through it (.NET and associated tools such as Visual Studio are totally Microsoft-controlled and proprietary). █
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“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”
–Microsoft's chief evangelist
Summary: Microsoft’s entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition’s overall message and diluting the competition’s focus on Free software
Debian is out and “PCWorld manages to make the event about Microsoft,” iopkh says. IDG’s aggravation in this case is due to Microsoft spin and PR. The headline says “Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating”; it was preceded by a number of days by Softpedia, which wrote “Microsoft’s Open Source Team Invites You to Celebrate the Release of Debian 8 Jessie”. It turns out that Microsoft is now trying to aggravate the Debian community from within. Articles with concerns about it were too few, let alone anyone who resorted to rebutting Microsoft’s shameless charm offensive. Our interpretation of this is that by interjecting itself into the Debian announcement Microsoft itself became the ‘news’, even though Debian, which runs on many millions of machines (mostly servers), should be huge news in its own right. The only press coverage about this Debian release (a rare occasion) in corporate media is very limited (embarrassingly so). Given just how many servers out there are running Debian and this scarce (very low amount) of press it received, it is clear that corporate media remains disproportionately brand-oriented and unless there’s profit in coverage of some brand, it simply won’t do it. The most ‘mainstream’ article is now simply titled “Debian 8.0 ‘Jessie’ is out and even Microsoft is celebrating”. Well, of course “Microsoft is celebrating” because “Microsoft loves Linux”, according to Microsoft, which is attacking GNU/Linux all the time. Non-’mainstream’ news sites published decent articles, but who is going to notice them? This is a great example of IDG works; it can claim to have covered important GNU/Linux news, but it has spun it as Microsoft news.
“That’s like the US celebrating Russia’s Victory Day,” Cronos wrote.
“I thought they just fired their “open source” team,” Will Hill responded. Microsoft recently shut down its "open" proxy, but the abusive entyrism is not necessarily over.
In our assessment, this is designed to annoy the developers and further alienate critics of Microsoft. It’s a provocative strategy. It’s effective.
Seeing that Microsoft’s previous mole in FOSS, Mr. Sam Ramji, is now appearing in the Linux Foundation site (a bit like is like seeing Ballmer performance or interview in gnu.org) is equally disgusting and it serves nobody except Microsoft. It sells the impression of acceptance by the GNU/Linux community. Ramji is pro-Linux like that Microsoft mole Elop was pro-Linux. Elop received a $20m reward for destroying Nokia and then returned to Microsoft. Ramji too might one day return to Microsoft. We have mentioned him before along with other Microsoft people who entered the Linux Foundation.
“I got a call from Jim Zemlin,” says Ramji. If he got a phonecall from Zemlin, then it means that Zemlin himself is now wilfully allowing people from Microsoft to lead his foundation — an error which we wrote about before.
Zemlin uses the term “right side of history”, as if working for Microsoft and annoying FOSS communities is nothing to be learned about from history.
Let’s face it; Ramji is no stranger. In fact, everyone in FOSS knows him, but not for the reasons he would hope. People who remember what he did would hate him with a true passion, not baselessly. He did a lot of damage and he has a lot of making up to do, more so than Neela (another former Microsoft guy who now leads a group at the Linux Foundation). Neela also worked for VMware, the GPL violator, which is currently openwashing nasty lock-in to seduce developers into proprietary software with back doors. Ramji will help VMware. Unsurprisingly enough, VMware pays the Linux Foundation, which helps it acquire influence. The Linux Foundation used to promote Free software; now it just promotes proprietary software and given the sources of funding, nobody should be so shocked. The focus of the Linux Foundation is long gone, probably ruined from the inside through staff transitions.
Microsoft’s infiltration into its competition shows that no lessons have been learned from the likes of Nokia or Yahoo! If the “right side of history” is Microsoft demolishing rivals from the inside, then Zemlin is correct. █
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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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Show of ‘love’ by aggression
Summary: Microsoft’s campaign of destruction, extortion, etc. against the most widely used Linux-powered operating system is revisited in light of new reports
ONCE upon a time there was a company called Nokia which dominated the mobile market and then started moving to Linux. It quickly became a top contributor to Linux, in the development sense, and later there were rumours about it embracing Android (or exploring it alongside MeeGo). But Microsoft killed Nokia (using a mole) before Nokia could actualise any of this and Nokia’s Linux ambitions were never realised, except in the company founded by former employees (Jolla). Tizen and Sailfish OS have yet to fulfill the promise of MeeGo, or else they will go down in history just like WebOS, which LG now owns and develops (Tizen is developed almost exclusively by the other Korean giant, Samsung).
It is now being reported that quite unsurprisingly Nokia may be getting back to Android endeavours, without any reliance on or affiliation with Microsoft. We have heard that for a while, but this time it sounds more substantial. Whether Nokia considers going down the same route as Cyanogen (‘Microsoft Android’, i.e. ‘Microsoft Nokia’ again) we don’t quite know yet. One thing we do know is that Microsoft attempts the embrace, extend, extinguish approach against Android right now. That’s what the ‘new’ Microsoft is trying to do. According to this new report about Ballmer, Sinofsky and other people who are no longer at Microsoft, “Steve Ballmer killed an early version of Office for iOS because it compromised Windows, Bell said. He added that Steve Sinofsky’s reign was marked by infighting, hampering Microsoft’s strategic response to competition from Apple and Google.”
“It is not atypical for the media, and especially for foes of Android, to rewrite the history of Nokia and how Microsoft destroyed it.”The takeover of Nokia had multiple objectives including patent extortion of Android. It worked only to a certain degree. Nokia revisionism has just been reported to us by a reader, who told us that this article from an Apple propaganda site includes “revisionism.”
“Elop killed Nokia’s phone division,” iophk wrote to us, emphasising the part which started with: “But the company was…”
It is not atypical for the media, and especially for foes of Android, to rewrite the history of Nokia and how Microsoft destroyed it. There ought to have been a European investigation into it, but it never happened. In December last year the New York Times wrote that “Google’s Detractors Take Their Fight to the States”. The author focused on Microsoft and said that Sony’s leaked “emails show the extent of the efforts with state attorneys general. The messages detail how the Motion Picture Association of America — the Hollywood industry group — and an organization backed by Microsoft, Expedia and Oracle, among others, have aggressively lobbied attorneys general to build cases against Google in recent years, sometimes in complementary ways.”
Microsoft also uses Nokia to attack Google and Android at a regulatory level, as we showed some years ago. A new article titled “The Google gold rush” says: “No sooner had Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, accused Google of violating antitrust laws last week than the mobile phones of Brussels-based lawyers started buzzing with messages from LinkedIn telling them that Microsoft’s local law firm needed two anti-trust lawyers — and fast.”
We have already written a great deal about Microsoft’s role in these anti-Google actions which coincide with Microsoft’s attempt to ‘hijack’ Android from Google. “Google’s Biggest European Headache Isn’t Search,” says this new headline, “It’s Android.”
Yes, it's all about using Cyanogen and patent extortion against Android while European regulators limit Google’s response.
Whether Microsoft’s embrace, extend, extinguish approach will work or not remains to be seen. Microsoft may have tried similar tricks before, e.g. using Nokia and partners like Facebook (Home), Amazon and others before. It never worked.
Here we have so-called ‘hackers’ bringing more Microsoft spyware (Cortana or Portaña is software that records Android users and transmits the audio to Microsoft) carrying water for Microsoft. One article explains that “Portaña is apparently communicating with Microsoft’s servers, and it’s not a strict port: the hackers have not recreated all the digital assistant’s features. Portaña naturally can’t interface and integrate with Android and its various features like Cortana does with Windows Phone.”
Either way, Microsoft benefits from this. It’s part of the notorious datagrab effort. One way to interpret the whole “cloud computing” buzz is a concerted effort to gather people’s data in very few companies servers’ (worldwide, by merit of replication), especially if these companies already have a special relationship (e.g. subpoenas, PRISM interceptions and so on) with spying agencies in many countries. █
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