Retarding innovation in the name of profit
Summary: A look at recent developments in the fight against mobile Linux (notably Android these days) and whoever is behind the patent attacks (not always as obvious as people are led to believe)
THERE IS A lot to be said about the impact of software patents on Free (as in freedom) software, such as Linux or Android. Yet another OIN ‘ad’ (among others) has just been published because the OIN turned 10 and decided to start a publicity campaign, approaching journalists and yanking out press releases in a lot of Web sites. The OIN is, in simple terms, a conglomerate of software patent holders, led by lobbyists for software patents (notably IBM). It is trying to make software patents and Free software look mutually compatible, reconciling or ignoring the fact that the two are inherently in conflict. SJVN wrote that “One reason why Linux weathered patent attacks and trolls to become today’s dominant server and cloud operating system is because the Open Invention Network united its supporters into a strong patent consortium.”
No, that’s not the reason. OIN might try to take credit for it, but that’s utter nonsense. Free software and GNU/Linux succeeded despite OIN and software patents. In many ways, Free software and GNU/Linux continue to suffer from software patents and this will be the subject of today’s post.
IBM is not the only company that supports GNU/Linux and software patents at the same time. As patent maximalists remind us right now, other large companies, even in China, are doing this. Consider Xiaomi’s story. “Responding to a question about recent high-profile executive hires,” writes IAM, “Lei said: “Former Qualcomm global senior vice president Wang Xiang joined Xiaomi in July. He’s in charge of our IP. We should be able to make progress in this. Xiaomi pays great attention to innovation. Last year we applied for 2,700 patents. This year’s goal is 4,000.””
This won’t protect them. The matter of fact is, those overall (aggregate) numbers are low compared to the likes of Microsoft, which uses patents to extort GNU/Linux and Android backers like Xiaomi (it’s allegedly, based on numerous recent reports, working on a GNU/Linux laptop, not just Android devices).
Microsoft Versus Android
Microsoft continues to attack Free software using patents. Ewan Spence wrote about this the other day. He is syndicated in some large sites and most prominent was probably this article from Forbes, titled “Microsoft’s Slow Yet Successful Infection Of Android”. Spence is right to claim that “Once more Microsoft has announced an updated patent licensing deal around smartphone technology, and once more a Microsoft deal includes the pre-loading of Microsoft’s productivity software on a smartphone. As more partners come on board, Microsoft’s cloud-based services and applications are becoming more prevalent within the Android platform.”
As we explained at the time, this is not a “patent licensing deal” but an extortion which targets a company from Taiwan, PRC. Microsoft is using blackmail (with patents) to get its way. Spence continued: “The more occasions that users encounter the software, the better the sign-up rate will be for Microsoft. Look back over the last year at Microsoft’s deals and you will find that many of the major manufacturers in the Android space have deals that include bundling Microsoft apps, with Sony, LG, Dell, and a number of other smaller manufacturers all signed up.”
This is a large-scale campaign of extortion and it continues to widen. If it wasn’t for software patents, this probably wouldn’t be possible. China’s government is trying to counter this (e.g. by publishing a secret list of Microsoft patents asserted against Linux/Android), but will this really help shield Chinese giants like Xiaomi and Huawei? It has not protected ZTE.
Speaking of patent attacks on Android, how about patent trolls? How about Microsoft’s troll, Intellectual Ventures? It has been attacking Android backers over their use of Android this year. Such patent bullies obviously help Microsoft against Android while Microsoft says it opposes these (Microsoft is clearly supporting them, even arming them, or at least those that are working for Microsoft or attacking Google, e.g. MOSAID and Vringo).
There is a silent war on Android and Google going on, paralleling Microsoft’s war on privacy.
Apple Versus Android
Several weeks ago the appeals court granted an injunction to Apple, banning some features from Samsung‘s Android phones, which are the world’s best sellers. Here is another take on it, aptly titled “Appeals Court: It Is In The Public’s Interest That Samsung Not Be Allowed To ‘Slide To Unlock’ Devices” (software patents).
To quote TechDirt: “The patent fight between Apple and Samsung has been going on for many years now with Samsung being told to pay a lot of money to Apple. But on one point Apple has been unsuccessful: getting an injunction barring Samsung from offering products for sale that include the “infringing” inventions — such as the concept of “slide to unlock.” I still have trouble understanding how “slide to unlock” could possibly be patentable, but there it is: US Patent 8,046,721 on “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image.””
It’s a very simple concept, much like opening a gate that keeps cattle confined. The CAFC (Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) is once again helping software patents and Android antagonists like Florian Müller are visibly jubilant [1, 2, 3], even though this lobbyist with history of doing activism against Android (for money) seemingly flip-flops at times and occasionally criticises Apple, though not yet Oracle.
Just remember that Apple uses software patents against Linux. Here is an article titled “Samsung Infringed Apple Software Patent”. It was very big news at the time. Even the BBC covered it, but poorly (too shallow). Britain’s leading technology news site chose the clever headline “Apple VICTORY: Old Samsung phones not sold any more can’t be sold any more”.
What Apple did to Linux with patents in this case is more or less the same as patent trolling, except the size of the plaintiff is a lot larger and there are phones with the “Apple” name/logo on them (even though it’s not Apple that makes them, Apple is not an Asian company and it has no factories of its own).
Watch this space for followups as this legal fight is far from over. Apple won this round [1, 2, 3], but Samsung continues to outsell Apple.
At the end of last month some people were left with the false impression that Google and Microsoft had reached some kind of peace. See this analysis titled “Microsoft: Sacrificing Android Patents Licensing In Favor Of Platform-Agnostic Growth”.
Well, Microsoft is not “Sacrificing Android Patents Licensing”, it still attacks (with software patents) many companies. The Microsoft-Google deal is only applicable to the Motorola litigation; every other company that uses Android is still attacked, sometimes by proxy.
FOSS Force wrote that “[a]lthough it’s certain that some money is exchanging hands in the process — an appeals court in July ruled against Motorola in a case Google was defending — no terms of the agreement have been released.”
This kind of patent ‘peace’ between Microsoft and Google means that Microsoft proxies will do more suing. Android OEMs (not Google) will take the burden of extortion.
There were many articles about this, e.g. [1, 2, 3] and Müller, whom Microsoft had paid for Android FUD, wrote: “There’s nothing in it that would suggest Microsoft made any headway in five years of suing. This one is structurally reminiscent of the second-class settlement Google reached with Apple last year from a position of mutual weakness: neither do Android’s enemies hold patents that would represent a serious threat to the world’s most widely-distributed mobile operating system nor are the patents for which Google bought Motorola powerful enough to force Apple or Microsoft into a cross-license covering the entire Android ecosystem.”
The part that we didn’t like to see reappearing is this: “Microsoft has the industry’s best IP licensing team and is generating billions of dollars per year in Android patent licenses.”
This is not true; nobody has evidence to that Microsoft earns anything this way. It’s a leverage card for extortion and FUD.
BlackBerry Edging Towards Patent Trolling
BlackBerry is moving to Android these days (it won’t admit that its own proprietary operating system is on its death throes yet), but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be using patents to attack competitors who use Android (like Sony does for instance). It is still possible that BlackBerry will become a patent troll based on some recent reports [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], the most principal of which came from Reuters and was titled “BlackBerry CEO sees company patents as key to turnaround strategy”.
BlackBerry’s CEO has spoken of other things too [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It may be premature to judge BlackBerry’s future direction, but either way, just like Nokia, it has the potential to do a lot of harm with its patents arm.
What we sorely need right now is a universal (global) end to software patents. Our next post will focus on India’s patent policy and US patent policy we shall cover some time in the coming days. █
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Credit: unknown (Twitter)
Summary: Reports and patent applications serve to show that Microsoft not only tries to infiltrate (“embrace”) Android to put its apps there (“extend”) but ultimately to delete (“extinguish”) Android
MICROSOFT LOVES LINUX…
Like rabbits love snakes.
Microsoft is open…
Like a bear trap.
Microsoft is still trying to delete Android from Android phones, based on speculations such as this new one, citing a patent application from Microsoft, a company with financial troubles whose last remaining chance may be playing dirty, even blackmailing companies (using patents) into pre-installing Microsoft software. To quote the report:
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a seemingly strange partnership with Xiaomi for beta testing Windows 10 mobile. The company proved that it can easily install a Windows ROM on an Android device, suggesting in the future it might decide to compete against Google this way. Rather than launch new Windows hardware, Microsoft might one day provide just the software that would make possible installing Windows on any Android handset.
Titled User Selectable Operating Systems, a new patent application published a few days ago describes smartphones and tablets that would let users select what operating system to boot.
Microsoft’s technology would let phone makers preinstall multiple operating systems on a device in a compressed form, with the user able to select which operating system he or she would like to boot. For example, a phone could have Windows 10 and Android ROMs – though the patent doesn’t explicitly mention any of them – and users would be able to select which OS they prefer and perform a full install for one of them. There would also be the option of deleting the others.
Microsoft is also using patents against Android, still. CBS continues to spread the sanitised take from Microsoft’s Mouth on the latest example of Microsoft racketeering. Is nobody paying attention to what Microsoft does to Android these days, other than "embrace, extend, extinguish"? ASUS is just the latest victim among several (after Samsung, Kyocera, and Dell).
Microsoft hates Linux, Android, and Free software (especially copyrleft). It feels this way and it shows it every week. It takes a blind man’s wishful thinking to pretend otherwise. █
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The United Kingdom — and by extension Europe — now a platform of choice for some major patent trolls
Summary: Worst-case scenarios are becoming a reality as Android backers officially attacked by patent trolls using standard-essential patents in London, England
SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS across Europe hate software patents. Ask them. Seriously, just ask them. Programmers in general (with rare exceptions) don’t want software patents; they already have copyright law (or copyleft for Free software). It helps protect them and assert that their own work cannot be exploited/ripped off. That’s just the nature of software, which is a lot like poetry or musical compositions.
The Danish creator of Ruby on Rails (RoR), David Heinemeier Hansson, wrote the other day: “Software patents are a racket used by trolls/BigCos to shake down/stifle competition. If you file for patents, you’re arming the racketeers.”
“Programmers in general (with rare exceptions) don’t want software patents; they already have copyright law (or copyleft for Free software).”As we have shown here before, no software patents are “good”, hence there is no such thing as “bad patents” or “bad software patents” (a term often used by apologists of them, such as IBM). Patents in the hands of “good” companies are not secure either; they can be sold and fall into hostile hands. See Sun and Oracle for example (Sun patents are now being used against Linux/Android). See Novell’s patents, which fell into Microsoft’s hands through CPTN. There are many more examples like that.
“Software patents are a racket used by trolls/BigCos to shake down/stifle competition. If you file for patents, you’re arming the racketeers.”
–David Heinemeier HanssonRoR’s creator, a hugely popular developer (not just in Europe), said a couple of days ago: “Shame on Ericsson for arming a patent troll with a large stockpile of outdated yet weaponized patents for a cut” (he spoke about Unwired Planet).
For those who are not familiar with Ericsson and Unwired Planet, here is an article from 3 days ago. It makes everything quite easy to follow: “Unwired Planet Inc. has 16 employees and no products. What it does have is a portfolio of more than 2,000 patents, mostly acquired from Ericsson AB, which it says on its website are “considered foundational to mobile communications.” The Nevada-based firm wants more than just recognition.”
So a European company, Ericsson, is now the motor of patent trolls, much like Nokia after Microsoft took over. How did this happen? Well, we covered this over the past few years and we warned that this was going to happen, despite software not (officially) being patentable in Europe.
London is now serving as the venue for patent trolls, attracting the litigation ‘business’ just like Eastern Texas. Huge damages are at stake and the target is Free software, not some proprietary software, hence free distribution itself is being threatened. Believe it or not, this may have the same impact on Free software on phones in Europe as the FCC on Free software on routers/hubs in the US. The Ericsson-backed troll is now attacking Android (Free software and Linux-powered). Making it impossible to dodge the lawsuit, we are dealing with standard-essential patents (SEP) here, meaning that in order to conform with standards one must infringe. The patents boosters say that Huawei, Google and Samsung are the target of the lawsuit. To quote: “Tomorrow Unwired Planet is scheduled to begin a series of face-offs against Huawei, Samsung and Google at the Patents Court in London. At issue are alleged infringements of five standard essential patents (SEPs) owned by the NPE that were transferred to it as the result of a deal done with Ericsson back in 2013.
“London is now serving as the venue for patent trolls, attracting the litigation ‘business’ just like Eastern Texas.”“Over on the ARS Technica website, Joe Mullin talks about coming to a UK court being “a high-cost, high-risk scenario that’s unappealing to trolls”. He’s right. And that’s why trolls – whose business model is based on asserting poor-quality patents to leverage the high cost of US patent litigation to extract relatively low-cost, pre-trial, licensing-based settlements from alleged infringers – would never take a case as far as a courtroom in the UK (or anywhere else for that matter).
“Unwired Planet, though, is not a troll. It is a patent licensing business looking to secure a global agreement from entities it believes are infringing high-quality SEPs. It may not like trials (who does?), but it is not afraid of them because it feels it has a good chance of winning and is willing to pay to find out if it is right, especially as the ultimate prize is potentially a collection of eight or even nine figure global licensing deals. Seen in such a light, its choice of the Patents Court in London makes a fair bit of sense.”
The proponents of software patents, people such as IAM's biased (for their own financial gain) writers, helped patent trolls come to Europe. IAM said that “Unwired Planet patent suit in London against Huawei, Google & Samsung again shows Europe is now NPE venue of choice”. Patent Buddy, a more moderate voice, noted the importance of this: “Unwired Planet Will Fight SEP Suit Against Huawei, Google and Samsung in London, Not a US Court” (where this typically takes place).
It’s easy to see what patent lawyers find desirable here. They can make money from the legal aftermath and the proceedings themselves, irrespective of the outcome (who wins). Now that there are some software patents in Europe, authorised by the corrupt EPO, large companies are using loopholes and cheats to get more of them and then sue. As Patently German clarified the other day, “the German court essentially follows the EPO, the language even being a bit more generous” (but it’s the EPO that led to it, even back in Brimelow’s days).
“It’s easy to see what patent lawyers find desirable here. They can make money from the legal aftermath and the proceedings themselves, irrespective of the outcome (who wins).”Germany’s exceptional lenience on software patents granting was mentioned here this morning and it is likely to be a topic we will revisit in the near future. Jonas Bosson (FFII Sweden) wrote that “#TPPA is “all fields of technology” a trick force patents on abstract matters, such as math and data processing? http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership_Agreement …”
These terrible ‘treaties’ play a growing role in corporate takeover of Europe and based on this latest update, “The UK has joined the Unified Patent Court (UPC) protocol agreement, representing a ‘milestone’ for the country.”
Yes, a ‘milestone’ for corporations taking over the country and most of the continent it’s technically a part of.
The FFII’s President expressed his concerns earlier today by stating: “FSF, despite its 30 years, still spending too few of its resources on fighting software patents and the unitary patent court #FSF30″
Australia Dubs It “Innovation Patent System”
This whole software patents and ‘treaties’ chaos (laws rewritten in bulk) is becoming a growing problem not just in Europe but also in Australia, where activists like Sturmfels (mentioned before in [1, 2, 3]) oppose a push for software patents. The patent maximalists ridicule the likes of him with insulting weasel phrases and belittling words. To quote a new blog post titled “‘Free Software’ Advocates Aside, Submissions to IP Australia Overwhelmingly Support Innovation Patent System”:
Needless to say, such comments lack anything resembling either evidence or detailed reasoning. They also fail to address the fact that abolition of innovation patents would affect all industries, and not just the ‘software industry’ (whatever that may be), including those represented by other submissions in support of innovation patents. In any event, these near-identical submissions are so clearly the result of an orchestrated campaign that they can hardly be regarded as constituting independent contributions to the consultation process. Furthermore, they are at odds with the submission made by BSA | The Software Alliance as noted above.
Other parties making submissions in favour of abolition of the innovation system include Melbourne-based free-software advocate Ben Sturmfels, on behalf of a group of nine like-minded individuals, and Open Source Industry Australia Ltd, which argues that ‘abolition of the innovation patent system will be an important first step towards delivering a more efficient, effective and equitable patent regime for Australia’.
Even Microsoft front groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA) play a role in the lobbying. To quote:
“BSA | The Software Alliance, which represents the global commercial software industry (counting among its members Adobe, Altium, ANSYS, Apple, ARM, Autodesk, AVEVA, Bentley Systems, CA Technologies, Cisco, CNC/Mastercam, DataStax, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Minitab, Oracle, PTC, salesforce.com, Siemens PLM Software, Symantec, Tekla, The MathWorks, and Trend Micro), and which argues that the innovation patent system should be retained, and improved in line with a number of the recommendations in ACIP’s original report”
The above are all proprietary software giants, hardly small businesses. It’s clear whose interests are served by monopolies on algorithms.
IAM Not Speaking for India
IAM is meanwhile returning to the situation in India, claiming that India’s small businesses want software patents (citing this article which doesn’t really focus on patents) and saying in Twitter: “Limited scope of patent protection, rather than cost, is what is driving high-tech Indian SMEs out of the country” (total nonsense).
“Microsoft reportedly lobbies regarding the UPC in Europe, despite being a foreign company with no personal affection for Europe.”The patent lawyers (like the people who operate IAM) want patent trolls and large corporations that hire them to just carry on with patent chaos because patent lawyers profit from it. This is true not only in Europe but also in the US. Watch how IBM is lobbying for software patents in just about every country, India included. The same goes for Microsoft and other patent aggressors. Microsoft reportedly lobbies regarding the UPC in Europe, despite being a foreign company with no personal affection for Europe. Microsoft is not a person. It is also treated like a V.I.P. by the increasingly corruptible (up for sale to corporations) EPO. █
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Credit: unknown (Twitter)
Summary: A roundup of news illustrating that Microsoft is still very much in a total war against Android, (mis)using federal regulators and even software patents to get its way
MICROSOFT’S attacks on Linux never stopped. Anyone thinking otherwise must not have paid attention. To make matters worse, Microsoft is manipulating the media into pretending that “Microsoft loves Linux” and that there is “peace”. In this post we are going to share some stories of interest to assure readers that nothing has changed except Microsoft’s rhetoric and some of the attacks have become more discreet.
“The FTC is wrong about antitrust fears over Android,” writes Microsoft's booster Bill Snyder in IDG, summarising it as follows: “Microsoft can’t develop a successful mobile operating system, so it’s making a crybaby case against Google”
If Android (Free software) is an antitrust violation, what does that make proprietary software? Microsoft and its proxies, as we have shown over the years, were behind these complaints. Remember that back in the SCO days, i.e. around 2003-2005, the Microsoft minions (and few others) tried to frame the GPL itself as anti-competitive. They failed, but it took time and cost money. One of the first questions that the FTC must tackle here is, who is behind the complaints? They may find that it’s little more than a Turf War. (Mis)Using Feds as pawns in the battle (a Turf War), as in using the government to derail one’s competition (even Free software), should be a crime. It is a waste of resources. When the media claims that Microsoft and Google now have “peace” (on patents) be sure to reminder the reporters of what Microsoft has done to cause Google (and Android) antitrust trouble. It is very well documented and we wrote over a dozen articles touching on this subject alone.
“Tell Mary Jo Foley that this is not a “deal” but an extortion.”As we noted the other day (and many people read this article, some news sites even linked to our analysis), Microsoft under Nadella is no different from Microsoft under Ballmer, at least when it comes to patents. The monopolist, under Nadella specifically, has already attacked Samsung, Kyocera, and Dell (over Linux/Android). Where is the love? Does Microsoft have patent peace with Android now? No, of course not. There is no peace even with Google, there is just a settlement in the Motorola case. Microsoft is leaving Motorola aside and is just attacking the OEMs instead, continuing with this latest assault on ASUS. Microsoft is still blackmailing companies, using patents, into bundling Microsoft spyware with non-standards (lock-in). This is extortion. Tell Mary Jo Foley that this is not a “deal” but an extortion. Tell this to others who believed that we have a ‘peace’ for our time after Google and Microsoft reached one settlement (regarding Motorola).
Android is being infiltrated by Microsoft now. It wouldn’t have worked without patent extortion. As Microsoft’s Mouth (Mary Jo Foley) put it: “As nearly two-dozen Android, Chrome OS and Linux vendors are doing, ASUS seemingly is licensing Microsoft’s patents to cover anything that is in those operating systems which potentially infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property.
“But ASUS also is agreeing, as part of the deal announced today, to pre-install unspecified Microsoft “productivity services” on Android smartphones and tablets. When I asked, a Microsoft spokesperson said the services included the Microsoft Office suite.”
“Patents are being used for leverage.”So Microsoft is embracing and taking over Android inside ASUS. Remember the ASUS EEE? It used to run GNU/Linux before Microsoft intervened. Microsoft calls it EEE, which also stands for “embrace, extend, extinguish” — Microsoft's currently principal strategy against Android. Mark Hachman chose the headline “Microsoft strikes a deal with Asus: We won’t sue if you put Office on your Android devices” (we fought for years against it, starting with the Microsoft/Novell deal). Untimately what we are seeing it is a strategy that first became publicly known after Microsoft had done this to Samsung (earlier this year). Threatening to sue companies if they don’t serve Microsoft’s agenda is not a new strategy even when it comes to GNU/Linux as a whole, Android set aside. See the Microsoft/Novell deal (2006). Patents are being used for leverage.
The media has hardly covered this scandal. Reuters is busy writing about the Microsoft/Google settlement and Microsoft propagandists are everywhere to be seen. Why does ECT, for example, keep quoting its occasional writer Rob Enderle as an ‘expert’ regarding Microsoft, which paid him for Linux FUD? It’s gross. ETC talks about “Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.” It’s a one-man group and he gets paid by ECT and Microsoft. Why is he approached for his views on Android and Google? Do they think the readers are this dumb? Here is some promotional Microsoft messaging found therein: “There’s strong, scientifically verifiable evidence indicating Microsoft’s move to join the rest of the tech world in open source and collaboration was propelled by a compelling force: the Nadella effect. While tech analysts and reporters had fun with CEO Satya Nadella’s odd “cloud first, mobile first” mantra last summer, his much less concise — yet more encouraging — message has been one of collaboration, and meeting consumers on their terms. For example, Microsoft pushed Office 365 to all major platforms.”
ECT quoted Enderle not just once but at least twice last week, in both cases regarding Linux matters, e.g. in this article titled “Microsoft Pushes Deeper Into Linux, Containers, IoT”. In it, ECT asks Hilwa, who used to work for Microsoft, about Microsoft and Linux (no disclosure in the article about his Microsoft background). Rob Enderle, who also worked for ECT and is notoriously close to Microsoft, is simply described by ECT as “Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.”
“Rob Enderle, who also worked for ECT and is notoriously close to Microsoft, is simply described by ECT as “Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.””What a sham. Richard Adhikari basically interviews Microsoft moles regarding Linux when he’s not busy writing his lots of anti-Android articles (usually regarding security). Al Hilwa and Rob Enderle being his “sources” tells us a lot more about him, perhaps his agenda too. Well, to be fair and to give him the benefit of the doubt here, quite often when it comes to so-called ‘analysts’, everywhere you look it’s proprietary software (e.g. Microsoft) and its minions. Even Dana Blankenhorn, who used to cover Open Source for ZDNet (sometimes being an apologist for Microsoft), has just said in the financial press that “Microsoft has stopped fighting with open source” .
Well, that is complete and utter nonsense. It didn’t stop, Microsoft still does all sorts of things to both Linux and Android. Other financial press says that Microsoft “has finally succumbed to the free OS Linux” because Microsoft copies Linux code, raising all sorts of GPL-related questions and potential issues [1, 2].
the bottom line is, don’t believe for even a second that Microsoft is some gentle aging giant. It’s a vicious abusive monopolist, as its actions against Android (in particular Android because of the platform’s market share) continue to demonstrate. █
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What the media wants us to believe it can make many actually believe, by sheer force of repetition
Summary: Despite Microsoft’s continued assault on Linux and on Android (using software patents, which it still discreetly lobbies for), some figures in the media are perpetually peddling the Microsoft-serving lie that ‘Microsoft loves Linux’
THE land of the insane would have us believe that free thinkers are the enemy and indoctrinated peons are model citizens. The corporate media would have us believe that Microsoft, which attacks Linux, actually “loves Linux” (because Microsoft’s CEO said so). We very much doubt that our existing readers believe the nonsense from Microsoft, but just in case, here is a refutation of some of the latest media propaganda. Microsoft is not the only one attacking Linux with software patents; its own patent trolls do too, so it’s not always so visible on the surface.
Let’s start with this new report about Intellectual Ventures. Remember who created and runs Intellectual Ventures.
“A shell company with a patent linked to Intellectual Ventures,” explains a trolls expert, “the world’s biggest patent-holding company, has quietly filed a new lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against a vast range of computer peripheral makers and sellers.”
They are specifically trying to tax all USB hubs, which run BSD or Linux (usually Linux). Earlier this year we showed that Intellectual Ventures was also attacking Android, which uses Linux and parts of GNU. We wrote several articles about it. Again, remember who created and runs Intellectual Ventures. Remember who subsidises this.
“Remember who created and runs Intellectual Ventures.”Several months ago we reminded readers that there was no "new Microsoft" because despite the change of CEO the company was still extorting Linux using patents (it was Kyocera at the time, not the first under Nadella's lead).
“It turns out that Microsoft’s newly found love for Linux, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, is more than infatuation.”
–Swapnil BhartiyaSwapnil Bhartiya, who is of Indian descent, proudly shows two CEOs who are also of Indian descent, in an effort to paint Google and Microsoft as making peace (the misleading headline, maybe chosen by the IDG-appointed editor, says “Microsoft ends patent disputes with Google”). Swapnil is wrong though and he is not alone (LXer’s very top news item at this moment says “Google, Microsoft kiss and make up in patent fight truce”, linking to The Register). He seems to have been successfully brainwashed based on his recent articles, e.g. . Microsoft is still suing Android (and by extension Google) using patents. Microsoft is doing this from many different fronts, its private patent trolls included. There is no peace here or even an end to the disputes. It’s just about the Motorola case (predating Google’s takeover of parts of Motorola). This whole Google-Microsoft news is about the Motorola case, but some try to frame it as something that it’s not (they hardly even mention Motorola). Microsoft is clearly still attacking Linux (including ChromeOS and Android) and patents are its weapon.
To quote the erroneous opening paragraph of Swapnil (not the editor’s): “It turns out that Microsoft’s newly found love for Linux, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, is more than infatuation.”
Complete nonsense. Swapnil must not have paid close enough attention to all the patent battles Microsoft waged and continues to wage, even under Nadella’s management and after the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie.
Microsoft still launches new patent assaults on Linux, via patent trolls. If that’s not enough, there are also direct attacks. As Microsoft’s Mouth, Mary Jo Foley, put it the other day, “Microsoft and peripheral and tablet maker I-O Data Device have renewed and extended their patent agreement to cover various I-O Data Linux and Android devices.”
These are Microsoft’s words, putting lipstick on a pig because we are dealing with racketeering here (see the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).
Racketeering by Microsoft is described so gently by Microsoft social media accounts and this press release. Microsoft just loves Linux like the Mafia likes the people whom it extorts because they shell out money. Microsoft ‘loves’ Linux so much that it continues to extort it using patents, but some people are continuing to pretend there is a ‘new’ Microsoft that supposedly ‘loves’ Linux. It beggars belief.
Microsoft, a supporter and booster of patent trolls like MPEG-LA, has caused so much damage to GNU/Linux. Among the famous problems is the inability to play some media files, even in places where software patents are not valid at all. See this new article about an imminent reprieve:
MP3 Decoding Patent Is Expiring, Linux Distro Could Integrate It by Default
The MP3 decoding patent is one those things that seems pretty harmless and present in pretty much any device around us, but it’s actually something that generates tons of money per unit for Fraunhofer and Thompson. Linux distributions need to offer this feature and it means integrating a proprietary solution, although there is some hope now that the patent seems to have expired.
The problem here isn’t just Fraunhofer and Thompson but the cartels that encapsulate the patents — cartels that Apple and Microsoft support. According to some new reports, Microsoft wants tracking devices on people’s hands and then patents the terrible ‘idea’ (probably to be used to sue Android companies later, or demand money to settle out of court). Microsoft embraces “openness” and “choice” like superpowers (e.g. Red Army or US Army) embrace “freedom” and “democracy”. Microsoft calls it “embrace, extend, extinguish” and expects us to view Microsoft as an ally of convenience.
Cade Metz, a Microsoft and Bill Gates booster, seems to want people to forget that Microsoft is still attacking Linux using patents (see quote below in ). It was crossposted in other sites when a lot of sites, including Microsoft’s own sites, tried to paint Microsoft as ‘embracing’ Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Even some Linux-centric writers fell for it ([2-3] below).
For those who wonder why we have been covering the EPO so heavily as of late, stay tuned. The corruption at the EPO nicely connects to Microsoft, as we shall show in the coming few days. The criminal gang known as Microsoft views itself as above the law, much like the EPO operates outside the rule of law and works closely with Microsoft behind the scenes. According to this tweet from last night, “Microsoft [...] will work together on UPC” and to quote the relevant bit from the article: “They will also lobby for specific rules on a unified patent system throughout Europe.”
Yes, Microsoft still lobbies for software patents in Europe and for US patent reign over Europe (corporations from outside Europe to ban/embargo products in Europe). It’s just that Microsoft is more discreet about it. The monopolist prefers to undemocratically write new laws, undetected by the public. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
After revealing Azure Cloud Switch, a Linux kernel-based operating system for developing software products for network devices, Microsoft just announced that they decided to choose Ubuntu for their first Linux-based Azure offering.
For years, Microsoft actively worked to suppress Linux, a computer operating system whose underlying code is freely available to the world at large. It once threatened legal action against businesses that used the open source OS, insisting that Linux infringed on patents underpinning its flagship Windows operating system.
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Summary: Microsoft continues its long journey towards ‘Linux tax’ (or Microsoft tax on Linux) as the ‘standard’ while trying very hard to derail Android and prevent nations from moving to Free/libre software
THE bubble of ‘good’ Microsoft is being burst on a daily basis because the company keeps — and sometimes even enhances — its hostile behaviour, having just taken away software from Android [1, 2], engaged in yet more “embrace, extend, extinguish” tactics against Android, and then started recording Android users remotely (always on), as reported by Mary Jo Foley and other Microsoft propagandists (Microsoft’s special relationship with the NSA notwithstanding). Based on this new article from IAM, there is also a monopoly being shielded here, with the prospect of litigation against Google and others (for royalties or product removal). “A new study by technology consulting and litigation support firm iRunway,” says IAM, “has analysed the patent landscape around speech recognition technology, finding that Microsoft and specialist company Nuance lead the way. The report highlights the growth in patent filings over the last 10 years as companies have made significant strides in the development of technology in this area.” Just watch how Apple has been suing Samsung. It is still pursing high royalties through a settlement. It wants “hundreds of millions of dollars”, as an Apple proponent/Android foe put it. Much of that is for software patents and it is the same strategy Microsoft has been sticking to for much longer than Apple.
Make no mistake about it. There is no 'new' Microsoft except a Microsoft that engages in patent racketeering against Linux and Android. There are only faceplate changes, site changes, logo changes, etc. The company is as aggressive as ever before.
“Make no mistake about it. There is no ‘new’ Microsoft except a Microsoft that engages in patent racketeering against Linux and Android.”Several years ago we noted that Microsoft had promoted Horacio Gutierrez, who is now a Microsoft Vice President. Microsoft was emphasising a litigation route, making it abundantly clear that patent extortion against Linux was a growing strategy. Anti-Linux patent men are once again being promoted inside Microsoft as Smith becomes President. Recall all the anti-Linux rhetoric from him and mind the “astroturf in the comments,” as noted by our reader iophk. Smith is an aggressor, so the way we interpret the news is, anti-Linux litigation is only further promoted (not demoted) as the strategy. Watch what Microsoft has been doing with Tuxera, putting and reinforcing patent tax as part of the ‘standard’ inside Linux. Here is a new press release from Tuxera and partners — a statement which says:
iWedia, a leading provider of software solutions for TV devices to service operators and Consumer Electronics manufacturers, today announced that it has integrated its Linux-based Teatro-3.0 Set-Top Box (STB) software solution for IP-connected zappers with the AllConnect streaming technology of Helsinki-based Tuxera, the market leader in embedded file systems, network storage and streaming technologies.
Well, Tuxera is a Microsoft partner and it pays Microsoft. This is the sort of GPL-hostile future Microsoft is after. Microsoft is trying to make Linux its own cash cow. Yes, cash cow! It’s an assault on the very heart of Free software. It impedes distribution rights.
Speaking of underhanded tactics such as these, the Gates Foundation is being used as a Trojan horse by Bill Gates, who is now an integral part of Microsoft’s management and according to this report China’s “President Xi is set to also have a private dinner with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates before leaving Seattle for Washington.”
Another report says “President Xi will also be visiting and meeting with Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, even before he visits Obama in Washington.”
“That makes Xi look very weak,” iopkh wrote to us. It’s not the first time that this happens. The same kind of story was reported here almost decade ago, back in 2007.
“Yes,” iopkh noted, “it’s happened with other presidents of China. It makes them look very foolish, to keep it polite.”
Our worry is that China will lift its ban (in government) on Office and Microsoft Windows, maybe after some ‘sweet’ (behind closed doors) deal with Gates, who is now officially back at Microsoft (in functional terms). At the moment, China is rapidly moving to GNU/Linux at many levels, not just when it comes to mobile devices but also when it comes to servers and desktops. We wrote a lot about it. China not only explored Free software, but also began moving to it en masse. It’s the world’s largest market and trend setter.
Don’t believe for even a moment that Microsoft has changed for the better. It’s just more discreet about its constant attacks on Free software. █
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What’s closed is “open”, but only if you’re a good liar
Summary: Response to the disturbing rise in openwashing of Internet Explorer/’Edge’, with many headlines that combine the term Open Source with these malicious proprietary programs that also spy on the users and manipulate these users
EARLIER this week we bemoaned the continued openwashing of 'Edge', which is little more than a Vista 10 publicity stunt and an excuse for shutting out rival Web browsers. Despite all the openwashing, ‘Edge’ is proprietary and standards-hostile. It is “cancer on the Web,” to use a popular characterisation of Internet Explorer, whose extremely bad reputation ‘Edge’ is merely trying to erase/dodge.
Calling ‘Edge’ or Internet Explorer “open” is extremely dishonest. At Techrights we have repeatedly tackled this kind of spin, specifically showing how the browser was being openwashed earlier this year [1, 2, 3]. We covered prior attempts to distort facts and frame ‘Edge’ as “open”, putting any sense of reality or facts down the wastebasket. It is usually Microsoft that starts this PR; others merely follow this lead with misleading articles. Above all, they spread misleading headlines (many people only read headlines). Even SJVN has just helped Microsoft openwashing of Edge (despite it being proprietary and standards-hostile) with his title — or perhaps the ZDNet editor’s title (it’s widely known that it’s usually editors who write all the headlines) — “Microsoft supports VP9 in Edge as it continues its open-source move”. Here is another new example of this gross spin, where Microsoft piggybacks other projects from other companies in an effort to portray ‘Edge’ as “open”. Unlike most Web browsers, Microsoft’s browser remains proprietary, DRM-leaning, anti-competitive, and Microsoft lock-in-pushing. Watch how Microsoft broke the media with this spin [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], not just in Microsoft propaganda sites. The only somewhat meaningful headlines that we could find was “Microsoft: Thanks, Google, we’ll have your media codec for Edge”.
Yes, and since Google’s codec is genuinely Open Source, Microsoft is hoping to covertly/cleverly paint ‘Edge’ as “open”, despite it being purely proprietary. This is quite a wonderful example of how Microsoft spin typically works.
Speaking of spin, watch how Microsoft's openwashing spinner (Metz) writes “Nokia, a Finnish company famous for recent failure.” (also “Nokia’s [sic] failure” despite it being due to Microsoft entryism).
A reader of ours pointed out this spin to us. “Squeezing in some revisionism there” is what he called it.
There are actually some people out there (including SJVN, based on a chat which I had with him yesterday) who believe that Microsoft is becoming “open”. It’s not, it has just become ever more manipulative in the media and it perpetually distorts what “open” actually means. █
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Hopping to the competitor’s side of the fence/gate, just like in Troy
Summary: Vista 10 adoption is already plateauing (at very low levels considering the zero-cost ‘upgrade’) and Microsoft is trying to assert or exploit (patent) monopolies where adoption and market growth are extremely high (Free software)
Barely anybody is using Microsoft’s ‘new’ (rebranded) browser, according to this article which cites an IDG report, which in turn uses Microsoft-friendly data sources such as Net Applications. That’s despite Microsoft’s dirty and anti-competitive tricks regarding the default Web browser (Microsoft overriding users’ preferences) [1, 2] in Vista 10. Microsoft Emil, who is writing lots of propaganda pieces for Vista 10 over at VentureBeat these days, is trying to give a terribly false impression by passing the gross distortion/illusion that Vista 10 now has majority market share (extreme cherry-picking) while even the most Microsoft-friendly surveys put its market share at under 5%, instantaneousness debunking Microsoft’s unverified claims of 75 million Vista 10 ‘users’ (however Microsoft defines these). Matt Weinberger, in the mean time, comes out with another promotional Microsoft piece advocating a new Microsoft monopoly (because the operating system monopoly has been lost to Android, GNU/Linux, and so on). One Microsoft apologist (very Windows-centric) is now trash-talking GNU/Linux and devaluing privacy in an effort to convince people to adopt Vista 10 and avoid GNU/Linux. How much more blatant can it get? Microsoft doesn’t “love Linux”, it just hates it. The Microsoft boosters truly fear Free software and they’re pretty bad at hiding it.
“Expect Microsoft to continue wielding patents against GNU/Linux and Android (it’s still happening), especially now that Windows is in a state of crisis.”Android is currently being besieged by Microsoft. A site that is affiliated with Microsoft’s MSN (and by its own admission “owns shares of Microsoft”) is trying to promote Microsoft inside Android, a former Microsoft lackey (see her career history, before she scrubbed it off her profile) is promoting Skype on Android, and Ketan Pratap says “Microsoft’s Push Into Google’s Android Is Good News for Users”. That’s almost as foolish or terrible as saying that the Trojan horse was good for Troy.
Microsoft is viciously attacking Google, Android, and ChromeOS using patents. Make no mistake about it, there is extensive evidence of that and not even Microsoft would deny it when asked. When Microsoft approaches Android et al. it’s part of an effort to weaken competitors, not contribute or complement them.
Patents are an ugly business. They’re offensive, not defensive, but tabloids like Gizmodo make gossip out of Google’s patent search, adding a ‘sexy’ angle to it. Google is no fan of patents and it tries combating them using prior art searches.
There is a practice we’ve been covering here in relation to patent attacks to Android. Tim Sparapani calls this “Attack of the Patent Privateers”, alluding to a system of cartels that collude against competitors (assuring one thrives with protectionism, not innovation). As Sparapani puts is, companies like Apple or Microsoft “are becoming more clever about using – or misusing, depending on your perspective – the patent system to extract funds from competitors or thwart others’ growth. This harms America’s best companies and most promising startups.
“One example of this growth is the emergence of so-called patent privateering, which contributes to an ever-greater amount of frivolous or abusive patent litigation. Privateering is a pleasant euphemism for empowering a pirate to attack your competitors for profit. Patent privateering occurs when a company lends or sells a portion of its patents to another litigious company to sue alleged patent infringers who are all too often the competitors of the original patent recipient company that was under the impression it had licensed the entire portfolio.”
That’s what Microsoft is doing to Android and Google, using Nokia‘s patents in MOSAID/Conversant‘s hands, to give just one example. Microsoft even does this more directly with Vringo. Sparapani uses the word “pirate”, not “troll”, to refer to the types of goons whom Microsoft empowers to attack competitors.
Patents are thankfully collapsing with developments such as the Alice determination. Patents on software lose their value, as do their profiteers, based on this latest analysis of the Marathon Patent Group, which (as the name implies), is not a producing company. This is basically nothing but a bunch of goons for hire — people who will use patents to attack by proxy (hence retaliatory litigation becomes an impossibility). To quote the latest on this:
According to Zacks, “Marathon Patent Group Inc. is a patent and patent rights acquisition and licensing company. The Company acquires patents from a wide-range of patent holders from individual inventors to Fortune 500 companies. It serves its clients through two complementary business units: IP Services and IP Licensing and Enforcement business. Marathon Patent Group, Inc. is based in Alexandria, Virginia. “
Expect Microsoft to continue wielding patents against GNU/Linux and Android (it's still happening), especially now that Windows is in a state of crisis. Microsoft will do this not only directly (blackmail using patents) but also indirectly, using entities like the one above (we wrote about several of them before).
Microsoft does not want peace, it wants domination. As long as this remains the case, peace will be reached with Microsoft only when Microsoft is practically dead. █
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