Summary: Highlighting just two of the many entities that Microsoft (and partners) use in order to induce additional costs on Free (as in freedom) software
AN article from exactly 5 years ago spoke about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s largest patent troll. To quote the outline from BoingBoing: “NPR’s Planet Money looks at Intellectual Ventures, the patent-exploitation firm started by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold. Intellectual Ventures presents itself as a firm that goes to bat for inventors, buying up their patents with the intention of getting big guys who abuse them to pay up. But the reality discovered by Planet Money is very different: Intellectual Ventures doesn’t put up very many compelling reference customers for their “protecting and enriching inventors” mandate, but there are examples of patents being sold on again to out-and-out trolls who make nothing but lawsuits, using shaky patents to attack big and small firms and extract rent from them. It appears there’s even a town in Texas where empty office buildings house the “headquarters” of shell companies who buy poor-quality patents from distressed companies and get big judgements from a sympathetic local court. Overall, Planet Money paints a picture of software patent aggregators like IV as parasitic bullies who use their enormous patent portfolios to intimidate other firms into paying fees that end up being incorporated into the prices that you and I pay when we buy goods and services.”
Well, Intellectual Ventures is still being treated so favourably by IAM, which receives money from patent trolls and sets up events for them. Today it said that “a slowdown in buying activity at Intellectual Ventures (IV) has been highlighted as having had a substantial impact on Transpacific’s income.”
Layoffs at Intellectual Ventures have been mentioned over the past couple of years, but as Intellectual Ventures is not Microsoft’s only weapon we can look further into another new IAM article which says: “Recently published research has shed new light on the strategies employed by the world’s three leading sovereign patent funds (SPFs) – while discussion about the creation of similar entities in other countries appears to be picking up.”
Towards the end it says that “$4.5 billion eventually paid for it by the Rockstar consortium,” which is a Microsoft-connected patent troll we wrote about in past years. This is the troll which already targets Android/Linux with lawsuits [1, 2, 3, 4], just as Intellectual Ventures did (albeit less directly). █
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The role of Ericsson and the EPO’s PR agency is mentioned as well
Summary: Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders
THE long if not endless war waged by Microsoft against GNU/Linux is far from over. This past week, e.g. in our daily links, we gave several examples of the latest assaults by Microsoft (Android antitrust, Linux booting restrictions, lobbying against freedom-respecting policies and more), aside from the patent angle. Microsoft sure knows what it’s doing and if Microsoft succeeds, Linux-powered products will lose their broad appeal due to removed (thanks to legal threats) features and artificially-elevated prices. In this post we shall focus on the patent aspects alone, as we so typically do in order to keep things simpler.
“Microsoft sure knows what it’s doing and if Microsoft succeeds, Linux-powered products will lose their broad appeal due to removed (thanks to legal threats) features and artificially-elevated prices.”Let’s start with the Microsoft-friendly advocacy site, IAM ‘magazine’. IAM’s innuendo-filled focus on China’s patent activity as of late [1, 2] finally culminates in China’s “misuse of competition law for protectionist policies,” as if the West never ever does this (it’s certainly the norm at the USPTO and ITC). IAM wants to make China’s system (patents, courts etc.) look unfair and unjust, as it did the other day too. China is apparently very mean because there’s bias there that’s hardly unique to China. Huawei is the one major Android OEM that Microsoft never managed to blackmail using patents (it reportedly did try over the years) and IAM now says that “Huawei attracts flak from Nokia, while adversary Samsung signs major deal with the Finnish company” (good cop, bad cop). It is obviously a loaded headline and IAM does not tell readers that Nokia’s patent troll, MOSAID (now Conversant), is paying IAM. What a farce of a ‘news’ site. MOSAID (fed with Nokia patents at Microsoft’s instruction) can be viewed as somewhat of an extension of these entities and after Microsoft effectively hijacked Nokia it’s taxing Google/Android (hence Linux) in a royalty stacking fashion. This happens right now not only in the Western world but also in Asia, albeit Huawei has been one of the very few exceptions (the Chinese government, which is connected to it, seems to have protected it). “Here’s Why Nokia Is About To Get More Money Out Of Its Patents” is a new article from Fortune (writing a lot about patents so far this month) which reminds us that Microsoft essentially turned Nokia into a patent aggressor. Put another way, Microsoft made Nokia yet another one of its (many) patent trolls that are openly against Android and Linux. “I booked http://nokiaplanp.com,” wrote Benjamin Henrion, but that was “years ago, I was right.” The P stands for Patents and it happened around the time people were making jokes about Nokia’s plans under Microsoft’s mole, Elop (there were nearly a dozen such plans with a different alphabetic letter for each).
People are kindly asked to remember what Microsoft did to Nokia as revisionism about it is quite routine nowadays. Not only Nokia engages in such behaviour; Ericsson does this too and it goes as far as south Asia, e.g. India. European patent trolls come to India even if there are no software patents in India and virtually no patent trolls either, as we mentioned here before. Well, Micromax was last mentioned here a couple of months ago in relation to patent trolls, primarily Ericsson’s (the equivalent of MOSAID/Conversant to Nokia) and here is a new blog post about it:
Ericsson has been going all out to enforce its Standard Essentials Patents (SEP) against several mobile phone companies, such as Micromax, Intex and Lava, among others, who are primarily selling mobile phones in India. The outcome of these law suits will no doubt play a significant role in defining the future of licensing and enforcement of SEP in India.
The latest in these law suits is an interim judgement by The High Court of Delhi in the matter between TELEFONKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON (Ericsson) and LAVA INTERNATIONAL LTD (Lava). The interim judgement is in favour of Ericsson. More importantly, the judgement deals with various aspects of licensing and enforcement of SEP.
Ericsson keeps 'hiding' behind proxies that are patent trolls in order to shake down practicing companies. It’s hardly even covert like Microsoft’s scheme. Everyone knows that Ericsson is doing this. Standard-essential patents (SEPs) are used here (Nokia has many of these too) and speaking of which, the Kat who is the most pro-software patents (based on years of posting history) wrote about the EPO's PR firm the other day, noting its take on SEP holders. “The final speaker was Mark Bezant from FTI consulting,” she wrote. “He mentioned that he is amongst the FRAND experts in the pending UK case of Unwired Planet v Samsung and Huawei [last reported by IPKat here]. He noted the two key issues in FRAND disputes: (a) the obligations placed on the SEP holders, and (b) the appropriate level of royalty rates. After reminding the audience of some of the methods discussed by Garreth Wong, he mentioned particular issues that arise in practice, such as having to rely on outdated licences or inherently complicated agreements. With respect to the incremental method of calculating royalties, he noted the difficulty in understanding the exact value a single patent has added to a standard. The most common approach, he explained, is looking at established comparable rates and matching them to the situation at hand. Mr Bezant concluded that one must establish a number of factors before assessing whether a licence is FRAND, such as the validity of the patents, the number of declared essential patents, the number of essential patents confirmed by a court, and the qualitative assessment performed by experts on the patents.”
“Remember that there are practically no workarounds for SEPs (by definition) and FRAND is not compatible with FOSS.”It’s rather curious to see Battistelli’s PR firm (at the expense of the EPO) promoting a software patents loophole and patent aggression. Then again, they also promote the UPC and pay IAM, which incidentally gets paid by patent trolls also. It is a hostile world out there and it makes life hard for FOSS proponents. Remember that there are practically no workarounds for SEPs (by definition) and FRAND is not compatible with FOSS. █
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Samsung has the power to put an end to a controversial type of patents that are similar to software patents
Slide to unlock: novel or medieval?
Summary: A couple of new developments in Apple’s dispute about the ‘design’ of Samsung’s Android phones, which emulate extremely old concepts in digital form
WE are definitely not friends of Samsung (never have been), but some of its patent cases in recent years (especially against Microsoft and Apple) have had profound implications/impact.
“How on Earth were such patents granted in the first place?”Here is Professor Mark Lemley sharing his “brief for 50 IP professors on design patent damages in the Samsung v. Apple Supreme Court case” (local copy to ensure it endures the test of time). This is one of several such cases that involve Apple and Samsung. Florian Müller wrote that this is about as absurd as Microsoft’s patent bullying “over tiny arrow”. To quote the relevant part: “This is one of the patents Microsoft is presently asserting against Corel. Last summer I reported on Corel drawing first blood by suing Microsoft over a bunch of preview-related patents. A few months later, Microsoft retaliated with the assertion of six utility patents and four design patents. The Electronic Frontier Foundation named one of Microsoft’s design patents-in-suit the “stupid patent of the month” of December 2015 because it merely covered the design of a slider. But that patent isn’t nearly as bad as U.S. Design Patent No. D550,237, which practically just covers a tiny arrow positioned in the lower right corner of a rectangle. If you look at the drawings, particularly this one, note that the dotted lines mark the parts that aren’t claimed. What’s really claimed is just a rectangle with another rectangle inside and that tiny graphical arrow in the bottom right corner.”
“This sounds good on the surface, but unless the SCOTUS Justices rule on this, the perceived legitimacy of design patents may persist.”How on Earth were such patents granted in the first place? It’s not surprising that USPTO patent quality has declined so badly and so quickly and there are new patent quality studies regarding the USPTO. Will any similar studies look closely at EPO patent quality as well?
According to an Apple advocacy site, patents on design might not reach SCOTUS after all. This is bad news to all who hoped that SCOTUS would put en end to design patents once and for all.”Samsung Electronics welcomes support for overturning U.S. court ruling in Apple case,” said this new article, which along with others said “Justice Department Urges High Court Overturn Award to Apple Over Samsung Smartphones”. This sounds good on the surface, but unless the SCOTUS Justices rule on this, the perceived legitimacy of design patents may persist. As Müller put it: “Reading all amicus briefs in Samsung v. Apple (design patent damages). Momentum behind call for reasonableness is very impressive.” It looks very likely that if the SCOTUS rules on this, it will help demolish many design patents by extension, in the same way that Alice at SCOTUS put an end to many software patents in the United States. “A federal appeals court awarded about $500 million in damages to Apple for design patent infringement,” recalled one article, demonstrating just how much money can be at stake due to one single patent. “Design patent owners shouldn’t get 100% of the profits when only 1% of the product infringes, EFF tells court,” according to the EFF’s Twitter account and accompanying blog post that says: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the U.S. Supreme Court today to reverse a ruling that required Samsung to pay Apple all the profits it earned from smartphones that infringed three basic design patents owned by the iPhone maker.
“Apple is the aggressor, whereas Samsung — like Google — is hardly ever initiating patent lawsuits.”“The $399-million damage award against Samsung, upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the Apple v. Samsung patent lawsuit, should be thrown out, EFF told the court in an amicus brief filed today with Public Knowledge and The R Street Institute. Forcing defendants to give up 100% of their profits for infringing designs that may only marginally contribute to a product’s overall look and functionality will encourage frivolous lawsuits and lead to excessive damage awards that will raise prices for consumers and deter innovation.”
Don’t fall for the corporate media’s narrative of Apple as the victim even when software patents are to blame. Apple is the aggressor, whereas Samsung — like Google — is hardly ever initiating patent lawsuits. We hope that Samsung will take this all the way up to the Supreme Court (more expensive to Samsung but collectively beneficial to all) and eventually win. The net effect might be the end of many design patents in the US. Those patents so often threaten GNU/Linux or Android products, as we have repeatedly shown here over the years. Will Samsung do a public service here? █
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And the buyer will be looking for ‘return on investment’, i.e. payment of an amount of money even greater
Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Generic license (caption added by us, with Ballmer’s words)
Summary: Yahoo is permitting ‘weaponisation’ of its patents — many of which are software patents — by effectively putting them on sale to the highest bidder/s
THE previous post dealt with the disturbing trend of patents passage from large companies (usually in rapid decline) to merciless trolls. This past week we saw many reports about Yahoo, which Microsoft had effectively demolished, putting its patents on sale. This decent article by Joe Mullin said: “News of the patent sale came late yesterday, not long after it was reported that Verizon is submitting a $3 billion bid for Yahoo’s core Internet business. The sale of the core Web business will include about 500 US patents and more than 600 pending applications, separate from the larger group going in the standalone patent sale.”
“This past week we saw many reports about Yahoo, which Microsoft had effectively demolished, putting its patents on sale.”As Florian Müller noted, Google might be the victim/target, not the purchaser, due to “antitrust concerns” and one person wrote about it: “A Yahoo auction of an important and relevant 1990’s trove of ~3,000 search, advertising and ecommerce patents implicating Google’s proliferating lines of business, may be tempting for Google to bid on and buy, but it should be obvious given the above evidence that Google will either show self restraint and not try, or antitrust authorities will be challenged with the proverbial taunting red cape in front of a bull, to charge Google with antitrust violations.”
Patent trolls must be salivating because “Yahoo [is] trying to raise an extra billion dollars from its patent portfolio” and CNET gave this lower valuation (than the above) of a billion dollars. To quote: “The web pioneer hopes to raise $1 billion with sale of about 3,000 patents, including some for core search technology, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.”
The main report that everyone initially linked to came from News Corp. and it’s likely to have upset quite a few parties. Yahoo engineers were upset about their patents being ‘weaponised’ (they wrote about this online after Microsoft killed Yahoo as a search contender) and Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer suspects that “Yahoo is feeding the patent trolls. What could possibly go wrong?”
“We shall soon know what Microsoft’s interference in Yahoo has ultimately led to other than the shutdown of many Yahoo services that would otherwise compete against Microsoft’s.”The estimate, based on this report, is an imminent sale for over $3 billion. B-I wrote about the paywalled article: “The WSJ reported on Monday that Verizon has placed a $3 billion bid for Yahoo’s core business, which includes its search and email services.”
We shall soon know what Microsoft’s interference in Yahoo has ultimately led to other than the shutdown of many Yahoo services that would otherwise compete against Microsoft’s. Remember CPTN? █
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From an EPO announcement…
Summary: A timely reminder that reliance on services from Google may come at the expense of anonymity and Google has a strong relationship with the EPO
FOR a number of years we have warned that EPO criticism from Google-owned (and Google-operated) platforms like Blogspot or Gmail may be a tad risky. It isn’t much of a problem for those who do this under their real name, as Catarina Holtz has just done (she does not have much to lose). The relatively high-profile Catarina Holtz (not to be confused with Alexander Holtz, the SUEPO lawyer) cannot be punished anymore, so she spoke her mind out this weekend.
One response to her said: “Awareness of the ECHR is high, hence our disbelief when VP1 said that the EPO complies with it – with a straight face, in his own language, but with a very nervous sip from a glass. Clearly, the EPO cannot, whatever it says, comply with the ECHR because this is unverifiable, and it is not subject to it. That’s the important part. In fact, Battistelli’s claim that he can do what he likes is absolutely true – and he did, showing the world precisely why the Convention was instituted in the first place.
“The relatively high-profile Catarina Holtz (not to be confused with Alexander Holtz, the SUEPO lawyer) cannot be punished anymore, so she spoke her mind out this weekend.”“But what is interesting is that most of the AC members, certainly the UK’s, are subject to the ECHR and are expected to comply with it in all of their actions on behalf of their respective governments. Why they do not (at least publicly) is a puzzle. But what EPO employee would dare take their AC member to court? It would only be a matter of days before they had no standing, by reason of summary dismissal.”
Also responding to Holtz was this comment that said: “I think that the original assumption was that the EPO would be managed with integrity and competence, under the active supervision of the Administrative Council.”
“The EPO has already gotten crazy enough to ban the site (it blocked IP Kat for a day and stopped because of the outcry and negative press), so why not send letters to Google?”Another person, anonymous as usual, said: “Obviously anonymous at 23:00 has not read the results of the staff survey where 0% staff (meaning not even the management) trusts Battistelli. Staff is afraid, under a lot of stress and pressure. 10% are even in psychological distress. If anonymous works at the EPO, then he does not seem to care about rights, ethics and fairness. Sounds quite like management talk to me. EPO staff were never and are certainly not lazy. They work hard and well – at least they try their best under the current situation. And they are continuously told that they achieved a lot but should produce x% more (x being 6, 10 or more…). Their efforts to maintain quality and service to the public need to be acknowledged. The SUEPO and staff rep also deserve to be praised for their work in this awful situation.”
Some EPO staff is still feeding a likely troll (or management AstroTurfing) [1, 2], but that’s not the point. The point we wish to make is that many people leave comments anonymously at IP Kat and risk is associated with Google, not with IP Kat writers. The EPO has already gotten crazy enough to ban the site (it blocked IP Kat for a day and stopped because of the outcry and negative press), so why not send letters to Google? Either threatening letters or love letters…
To use the words of a reader: “When you view a patent document in the EPO’s Espacenet service, you will be offered the possibility to obtain an automatic translation.
“Remember that Gmail and Blogspot are owned by Google.”“Guess who provides the translation…
“Guess who engineered the deal with the translation provider…”
A hint to the answer is included at the top of this post.
“Conclusion,” our reader said, is that “there is a quid pro quo between the EPO and Google.
“Here’s a purely hypothetical question: how would Google react should they get one day a phone call from the EPO Securitate requesting certain information, and hinting at unspecified consequences in case of non-cooperation?”
–Anonymous“The terms of the deal aren’t public” [1, 2] (warning:
Remember that Gmail and Blogspot are owned by Google. We mentioned this issue before. CRG/IU (Control Risks and the Investigative Unit it collaborates with) gained access to Google’s Gmail material in the past in order to press/bolster an indictment (we are not sure how exactly) and Blogspot has a history of giving away IDs of users once pressured, e.g. by a court.
“Here’s a purely hypothetical question,” our reader added: “how would Google react should they get one day a phone call from the EPO Securitate requesting certain information, and hinting at unspecified consequences in case of non-cooperation?”
Microsoft too operates a translation service and it is already extremely close to the EPO (see links below). █
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Not your grandfather’s patent system and not your grandfather’s IBM…
Creating virtual wealth. Remember Bill Gates ranting about the patent system when he was younger and Microsoft was a lot smaller. Now he makes billions out of various patents, including Monsanto’s, and he pays virtually no tax.
Summary: Persistent lobbying and a surrender of fast-growing companies to the system which was deformed so as to offer protectionism to the super-rich take their toll and distort the very essence that motivated patent systems in the first place
ACCORDING TO this dubious new chart from IAM, it’s not IBM but Google that supposedly leads based on some patent criteria. This is not a cause for celebration but a cause for alarm as over half a decade ago Google was somewhat of a patents antagonist and I spoke to relatively high-level managers at Google about it. Basically, Google erroneously made the choice to waste time and effort on patenting rather than fight an unjust system that had increasingly ganged up against Google.
In some sense, Google has become greedy and sort of defected. It is now actively pursuing patents on software (including patents on driving — something for which I developed an Android app with help from someone who worked at Google) and no wonder Google does nothing against software patents anymore. That would be hypocritical.
Now, the usual defense (not just from Google) might be that Google never attacks using patents unless attacked first, but then again, that’s just what happens in companies when they’re on the way up (ascent). As things begin to turn sour/bitter, as is already the case at IBM, the non-technical managers are turning aggressive and even attacking with any software patents at their disposal. They see patent aggression as a sort of ‘insurance policy’ or a Plan B. Microsoft, as we noted in our previous post, only began doing this a decade ago (to present), around the same time of Windows Vista and the Novell deal.
“If Google starts to nosedive (no company lasts forever, not even with government subsidies) sooner than the expiry (lifetime) of these patents, then there’s potential of selling/auctioning patents to patent trolls or attacking directly, as infamously IBM does.”Manny Schecter, who is in charge of patents at IBM, does not hide the company’s real intentions, lobbying for software patents, and even the lobbyists (people like David Kappos, who came from IBM). He’s quite reckless from a marketing point of view. “We should neither deny that the patent system promotes innovation overall and that abuse of it should be properly curbed,” he wrote the other day at Twitter. What about the patent abuse by IBM (Schecter’s department), which uses software patents against small companies? What does that tell us about OIN?
The FFII’s President responded to Schecter with “”promotes innovation” should be replaced by “promotes litigation”. Innovation cannot exist without any quantification.” As I put it across to both, the patent system was created to incentivise dissemination (publication), not to provide a litigation sledgehammer for billionaires to whack inventors.
Sadly, Google is now part of this whole ‘patent cartel’, as one might be tempted to call it. Google is not aggressive (at least not yet), but time will tell what happens with these patents. If Google starts to nosedive (no company lasts forever, not even with government subsidies) sooner than the expiry (lifetime) of these patents, then there’s potential of selling/auctioning patents to patent trolls or attacking directly, as infamously IBM does. █
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Reputation laundering with sound bites like the ‘new Microsoft’
Summary: A look at the reality behind today’s Microsoft and what proponents of Microsoft (often connected to the company) want us to believe
THE aggressive company which is widely hated/loathed (and deserves this hatred, which is well earned based on its actions) just can’t help doing evil. Those who try hard to convince themselves that Microsoft has changed must not have noticed that the management is virtually the same and the company continues to operate like a death squad, attempting to prematurely destroy anything which resembles potent competition, based on suspicion alone.
“Those who try hard to convince themselves that Microsoft has changed must not have noticed that the management is virtually the same and the company continues to operate like a death squad, attempting to prematurely destroy anything which resembles potent competition, based on suspicion alone.”Several years ago we explained what Microsoft was hoping to achieve when it took over Skype (soon thereafter to enter NSA’s PRISM, right after Microsoft which was the first in the whole programme and had already provided back doors to the NSA for over a decade). Recently we saw Skype support for GNU/Linux (which was handed over to Microsoft) gradually being withdrawn and this new thread in Reddit says that “Microsoft is lobbying the Indian government to link peoples’ National IDs with their Skype calling” (no source to verify this with).
Microsoft has turned Windows into something as privacy-hostile as Skype itself, if not a lot worse. With Skype, for example, Microsoft spies on people’s private conversations and even follows links; in Vista 10 Microsoft has a keylogger, which spies on everything (even password typing) in real time. Vista 10 should be made illegal, as it is clearly malicious software and should be treated as such. Ironically enough, Microsoft is almost trying to make it impossible not to use Vista 10 and despite that, as Vista 10 infection rates are increasing, very few people actually use this ‘free’ (so-called ‘bargain’) piece of malware. As one report put it, “Windows 10: less than 15 per cent of those who can upgrade have bothered” and “The big question is whether Microsoft will hit the 20 per cent mark by the time the free offer is over.”
“Microsoft has turned Windows into something as privacy-hostile as Skype itself, if not a lot worse.”This is a disastrous result given the way Microsoft fooled and bamboozled people into installing it, even using malware tactics. According to some reports, Microsoft has just made it virtually impossible not to use this malware (one must supply an ‘upgrade’ date) and anyone who still thinks there’s a ‘new Microsoft’ must be either very gullible or bribed.
This new article, “Microsoft Meets Open Source,” is based on a Big Lie. It is not hard to see that Microsoft is attacking FOSS (Open Source), but this site is doing too many sponsored ‘articles’ (advertisements) these days, such as this one (see disclosure). We expect a lot of the usual Microsoft apologists to pretend Microsoft is fine and dandy and indeed, looking at the company’s boosters, we see exactly what’s expected. Microsoft Peter, for instance, continues to attack FOSS using Oracle’s lies. As iophk put it, “now Microsoft has spoken” (alluding to Peter, who very often relays the company’s positions) and given Microsoft’s propaganda sites’ effort to ‘Linuxwash’ SQL Server (also openwashing it, referring to Microsoft’s own employees/mouthpieces), we identify the old strategy which is to associate SQL Server (among other such pieces of proprietary software) with FOSS.
“We expect a lot of the usual Microsoft apologists to pretend Microsoft is fine and dandy and indeed, looking at the company’s boosters, we see exactly what’s expected.”Don’t fall for it. Some people do, but others have been falling for it for a number of years. Sam Dean, who works for a media company that has been receiving Microsoft money to embed propaganda within the articles (and got caught), is still promoting Microsoft proprietary software and repeats the Big Lie, starting with: “According to more and more people, Microsoft may have finally, truly warmed up to Linux and open source. CEO Satya Nadella (shown) has been much in the news for his comments on how he “loves Linux” and he has noted that much of the Azure cloud platform is Linux-based.”
That’s nonsense. It’s a media strategy which we explained before. What is the ‘real Microsoft’, which one might call the ‘new Microsoft’? It’s hardly any better than a patent troll. As Richi Jennings put it the other day in his IDG headline, “Xiaomi feeds Microsoft patent troll — pays patent toll” (Jennings quotes various comments about it).
“What is the ‘real Microsoft’, which one might call the ‘new Microsoft’? It’s hardly any better than a patent troll.”This article quotes Mary Jo Foley (a longtime Microsoft mouthpiece) as saying: “Microsoft is both continuing to collect patent royalties from Android [and defending] antitrust charges in China. … Some outlets are saying Xiaomi “bought” these patents [not] licensed them.”
We wrote about this the other day, noting that this came from Microsoft -- not Xiaomi -- and Xiaomi paid Microsoft for patents. Here is what the patent propagandists have said over at IAM: “Whichever way you look at it, the deal between Microsoft and Xiaomi which was announced earlier this week has to go down as one of the most significant of the year so far. There are the terms of the deal itself – Xiaomi gets 1,500 patents from the software giant’s global portfolio, Microsoft gets Office and Skype pre-installed on Xiaomi’s Android phones and tablets and the two sides put in place a cross-licence (which it’s probably safe to say is more valuable to the Chinese company).”
“What kind of drug does one have to take to believe Microsoft is a friend?”IAM, which is funded by patent trolls, has always been so Microsoft-friendly that it makes one wonder. Even its Web site, unusually enough, is Windows-powered (in 2016!) and another new article about Xiaomi says that “Xiaomi absorbs patent fund operator Zhigu as it re-shuffles IP team”. This too mentions the Microsoft extortion: “Yesterday, this blog covered a major deal between Xiaomi and Microsoft that saw the Chinese company acquire 1,500 patents along with a cross-licence. While the financial details are unknown, the fact that Xiaomi is now likely among the top 200 or so holders of US patents has to be seen as a coup for the smartphone startup. It also comes just three months after some big changes to its relatively young IP function.”
The bottom line is, Microsoft spreads malware, it spreads it forcibly, it lies about its proprietary software being “open” and it goes after the “open” rivals (such as Android) using software patents. What kind of drug does one have to take to believe Microsoft is a friend? █
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Summary: Microsoft reminds us that it is still engaging in patent extortion by signing yet another patent settlement deal which requires surrendering to Microsoft
JUST over a month ago Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on. Now it’s confirmed by actions.
Today’s post is reactionary, as usual, and it will be about Microsoft extortion. We shall provide some background information to help explain why European regulators should put Microsoft on trial instead of taking Microsoft’s lobbying in Europe seriously, imposing fines on Google and acting as Google watchdogs.
Microsoft’s patent extortion against companies in China isn’t entirely new. Remember what it did to ZTE 3 years ago. Chinese authorities got visibly irritated by Microsoft’s patent shakedown and released a previously-secret list of patents Microsoft uses to extort companies in China, compelling them to obey Microsoft’s demands so as to avert costly litigation. Xiaomi is the latest victim, but to Microsoft the high-prized deal would be with Huawei, which is a growing force and dominant OEM in the Android domain. Huawei, based on reports we mentioned in past years, doesn’t surrender.
“Xiaomi is the latest victim, but to Microsoft the high-prized deal would be with Huawei, which is a growing force and dominant OEM in the Android domain.”More patent extortion from Microsoft serves to remind us that there is no strategic change at Microsoft. Microsoft cannot coexist with Linux and leave it alone/live in peace; it cannot help itself, it’s a scorpion (riding on a tortoise/turtle as per the famous parable) and it just keeps pinching that which it’s exploiting for a free ride (Android in this case) while relying on regulators — through lobbying — to prevent defensive reaction from Google. Horacio Gutierrez may be gone, but nothing substantial happened or changed. Don’t believe for a second that just because Microsoft’s patent Mafia don has left it somehow means the extortion strategy stopped. Microsoft never rescinded or withdrew this, except on April 1st (as a prank).
For those who are not sure what Microsoft is doing here, how it misleads the media, and what it means in practical terms, see this article about Acer. The above is repetition of the same strategy. They are putting lipstick on a pig again.
“This has nothing to do with access to services, it’s just how they dress up patent extortion and the coercion which comes with it.”In short, Microsoft tells Xiaomi, “do what we say or we’ll sue you with patents.” In other words, Microsoft threatens litigation and gives a “get out” clause (make Android become just a Microsoft platform). Having just killed Windows on mobile, this is all Microsoft has left. It uses blackmail tactics to impose its malware/spyware on potentially billions of phones. The ‘official’ announcement says this:
Microsoft Corp. and Xiaomi Inc. have expanded their global partnership to provide innovative user experiences on mobile devices. As part of the agreement, Xiaomi will ship Microsoft Office and Skype on Xiaomi Android smartphones and tablets. As a result, tens of millions of consumers and business customers in China, India and around the world will have new ways to work, collaborate and communicate. The companies’ new collaboration also includes a cross-license and patent transfer agreement.
Don’t be misled by “cross-license and patent transfer agreement.” It’s a settlement basically. The FFII’s President responded to this as follows: “Microsoft is the biggest patent troll.”
This has nothing to do with access to services, it’s just how they dress up patent extortion and the coercion which comes with it. And they tell us Microsoft “loves Linux”… does anybody still believe that? Not even Microsoft’s marketing staff should be gullible enough to believe it. █
Update: Based on updates given to relatively high-profile reporters (and those who updated their puff pieces accordingly), Microsoft managed to get ‘protection’ money too, albeit not in the traditional form. Xiaomi has just been pressured to have paid (unless it just wanted to pay) Microsoft for useless patents; this is either a novel way to disguise another case of blackmail against Linux or part of Xiaomi’s patent hoarding efforts. Either way, it’s starting to become apparent that Xiaomi paid Microsoft, one way or another (the amount is not known). “The Wall Street Journal reports that Xiaomi will purchase 1,500 patents from Microsoft as part of the deal,” says one writer, citing an article that says “Xiaomi Corp. has agreed to purchase around 1,500 patents” (the term “agreed to purchase” suggests that it came from Microsoft, not from Xiaomi).
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