Summary: The reaction of patent profiteers to scope/boundary restrictions, the FRAND lobby by Microsoft’s longtime front group, FRAND matters in Korea (affecting Android), Google’s response to patent threats, and Red Hat still keeping quiet about its patent agreement with Microsoft
THERE is nothing exceptionally surprising in the news today, so we are going to focus on the EPO, which is in a very poor state right now. The management is so frail that the only language it understand is aggression. We shall write several articles about it this afternoon. Before we start, however, here is a potpourri of updates about the patent situation and how it relates to Free/Open Source software (FOSS).
“When they say “patent world” they mean the corners of the world where people pursue patents — those who try to profit from patents without necessarily creating anything.”Patent lawyers’ Web sites are still bemoaning the death of many software patents in the United States (death by Alice). One of the better known ones says that “many software patent holders must feel ─ like they were walking along merrily through the woods when they fell suddenly into a blinding, winding rabbit hole. Where once their patents stood bold and tall, they have now shrunk to a seemingly indefensible size. Whether they can defend their so-called “abstract” patents in court is now as unclear as the Mad Hatter’s riddles. The famed Alice decision has certainly left many in the patent world wondering.”
When they say “patent world” they mean the corners of the world where people pursue patents — those who try to profit from patents without necessarily creating anything.
Remember FRAND lobbying in Europe back in the days (nearly a decade ago)? Well, ACT‘s new face just got mentioned by another who was paid by Microsoft, and also regularly pushes along the FRAND front (against FOSS, relying on Korea at the moment). “ACT | The App Association,” he explained, “has announced a new web resource for innovators, policy-makers, and academics. It’s called All Things FRAND and supported by significant players including Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft. ACT is headquartered in the U.S. but also quite active abroad.”
Well, historically ACT had been little more than a Microsoft lobbyist. Then there is CCIA, which seemingly changed its position after being paid a lot of money by Microsoft. CCIA‘s Matt Levy, who now runs an anti-trolls site, has just released this new video. Don’t expect Levy to criticise CCIA’s funders, which include Microsoft. This monopolist, Microsoft, is acting in ways that resemble patent trolls.
“Well, right now many of the “bad guys” also use FRAND against Android, which Google distributes as Free/Open Source software.”Google, in the mean time, claims to be against patent trolls. As IEEE Spectrum put it some weeks ago: “Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion, which the company says received “thousands” of submissions during a three-week window, may prompt similar experiments in keeping patents out of the hands of what it considers the bad guys of intellectual property.”
Well, right now many of the “bad guys” also use FRAND against Android, which Google distributes as Free/Open Source software.
In other news, we are still pressuring Red Hat to reveal what it did with Microsoft regarding patents. We haven’t forgotten about this and we are not going to give up. The Free/Open Source software world deserves some answers. █
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On carving out parts of the market using patent monopolies…
“Inventive people [at Novell] write more software patents per capita than anywhere else.”
–Jeff Jaffe, Novell’s CTO before these patents got passed to CPTN (Linux foes)
Summary: The use of a patent portfolio in the Free software world for divisive and discriminatory purposes, as demonstrated by Red Hat in servers and BlackBerry in phones
IN OUR previous articles which mentioned Microsoft’s patent agreement with Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] we noted that:
- The patent “standstill” (implies temporary and falsely insinuates there was a two-way war) applies only to Red Hat and its customers, unless Red Hat can prove otherwise;
- The deal does not shield Red Hat and and its customers from satellites of Microsoft.
“We both know we have very different positions on software patents. We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”
–Paul Cormier, Red HatWell, we are still waiting for Red Hat’s lawyers to speak out (Tiller and Piana were involved in this) or for Red Hat’s management to get back to us (if it decides to). They need to go “open” (like an “Open Organization” [sic]), or at least clarify in some other way what exactly Red Hat did with Microsoft regarding patents. The FAQ is far too vague and it raises more questions than it answers. If we don’t hear some time later this month, we shall assume that Red Hat is hiding something and we’ll rally Free software people (urging them to comment on this subject), set up a public petition, etc. Transparency is extremely important here. This new article quotes Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president for products and technologies, as saying: “We both know we have very different positions on software patents. We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”
Well, both are applying for software patents, so it’s not clear what he meant by that. Also, they compromised only among themselves; what about other entities that use the same software as Red Hat does? Are they too enjoying a patent “standstill”? Probably not. Only says ago Microsoft extorted — using patents — yet another company that was using Linux (Android was mentioned in the announcement).
“Nothing prevents Intellectual Ventures from going after Red Hat just like Acacia repeatedly did, so it’s a fool’s settlement.”What has Red Hat really achieved here? It was a selfish deal and the inclusion of patents in it was totally spurious; it does a lot more harm than good. Ian Bruce, Novell’s PR Director, once said that the Novell/Microsoft package “provides IP peace of mind for organizations operating in mixed source environments.”
Meanwhile, the Microsoft-friendly media gives a platform to the world’s biggest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, without even calling it “patent troll”. This troll recently sued a lot of companies that distributed Linux. Nothing prevents Intellectual Ventures from going after Red Hat just like Acacia repeatedly did, so it’s a fool’s settlement.
“Remember that BlackBerry habitually speaks about using patents for revenue and for market advantage.”Speaking of potential patent dangers to Linux, recall that BlackBerry pays Microsoft for patents (including FAT, which relates to TomTom/Linux) and recall our articles about BlackBerry potentially becoming a troll [1, 2, 3, 4]. Some people’s loyalty to this Canadian brand and its newfound support for Android can blind them to the risk which BlackBerry remains, especially because of its patents stockpile.
This new article [1, 2] serves to remind us that BlackBerry still has “Software And Patent Monetization” in mind (we covered this some weeks ago, quoting the CEO). This means that, failing the strategy with Priv and Venice (BlackBerry’s Android devices and Linux-centric strategy), it could end up like Sony-Ericsson, suing Android players whilst also selling their own (unsuccessful) Android handsets.
“BlackBerry is proprietary to the core.”Remember that BlackBerry habitually speaks about using patents for revenue and for market advantage. Also remember that BlackBerry is not — at least not yet — an Android company. BlackBerry is proprietary to the core. “The QNX division could also face higher competition from open source software such as Linux,” wrote a financial site, “which many customers find more flexible and economical, limiting its potential in the burgeoning IoT and connected device market. For instance, Tesla reportedly uses Linux for its Model S sedan.”
Don’t be too shocked if BlackBerry eventually sells its patents to hostile actors, asserts them against competitors that use Android, or uses aggressive lawyers to compel various OEMs to remove features from their Android devices (both hardware and software features). █
“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”…”
–Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008
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Forking (to turn Android into a Microsoft common carrier), patent litigation (to threaten zero-cost advantage), and takeovers (to annihilate software freedom)
Summary: A glance at the current situation in the mobile market, where Microsoft has virtually no presence, with focus on how Microsoft is trying to intervene and wrestle with the market leader, Android
THE MOBILE market is a very lucrative one. Not only has it outgrown the desktop (and laptop) market but it also thrives — from a business point of view — because of a huge number of applications which many people pay for. There is a lot of money to be made in mobility, both on the software side and hardware side. Microsoft makes money from neither.
Microsoft tried hard to enter the mobile market but since the Windows Mobile days it barely ever succeeded. Nowadays, Microsoft’s mobile platforms continue to be called off and Microsoft tries to rebrand, most latterly with the Vista 10 label.
“There is a lot of money to be made in mobility, both on the software side and hardware side. Microsoft makes money from neither.”As many of the spendings are gradually moving away from the desktops, the revenues reported by Microsoft decline a great deal and Microsoft even reports losses. Then, financial games (or accounting tricks) are used to make up for it. According to Wall Street media, Microsoft now “raises money to repurchase stock and repay existing debt. It sold its longest portion, a 40-year bond, at a yield that was 1.8 percentage points more than comparable government debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. also sold bonds today.”
This is not a sign of health; it’s rather the very opposite. Its due to a rapidly-slipping Windows dominance. Rest assured that Microsoft's force-feeding of Windows will only get worse, as the British media serves to reaffirm, as does the pseudo-British media (US company with co.uk domain and some writers who happen to be British but living abroad). Microsoft’s force-feeding of Vista 10 is painted as quite benign by Microsoft Peter, but most people find it infuriating.
“Microsoft’s force-feeding of Vista 10 is painted as quite benign by Microsoft Peter, but most people find it infuriating.”Going back to the situation in the mobile market, it could, in principle, help Microsoft find reprieve. Apple, for example, isn’t doing so badly, and that’s largely owing to its presence in the mobile market (especially where people have a lot money that they are willing to spend). Microsoft cannot sell mobile devices, hence it is unable to impose its APIs, patents, lock-in etc. on this market. This, in turn, harms Microsoft’s desktop monopoly. Based on new articles such as “Microsoft’s smartphone sales collapse and even Surface feels the pinch” or “Microsoft reports falling revenues, slowing Surface sales in latest quarter”, things won’t change for the better any time soon. To quote one report: “‘Mobile first, cloud first’ is Microsoft’s new mantra, but its fiscal first quarter financial results showed growth in only one of them. Indeed, the mobile hardware business saw its revenues fall by a huge 54% year-on-year, to $1.1bn at constant currency, a sad comedown from the glory days of Nokia, and with gross operating profit of just $100m.”
As readers of ours know by now, Microsoft is now attempting E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish) of the leading mobile platform, Android, which is based on Linux. Microsoft tries to turn an open platform into its own proprietary back yard.
The Microsoft booster Tim Anderson now bashes Free software using a case of a company bought by a Microsoft proxy, Xamarin. To be fair to Anderson, maybe it was the editor’s own bait headline, “RoboVM: Open source? Sorry, it’s not working for us” (well, surely it worked well enough until Xamarin decided to take over because the project thrived and then got acquired).
Microsoft and Xamarin appear to be crushing the freedom of Android, one piece at a time, after Xamarin formally took over RoboVM [1, 2]. To quote from Anderson’s article:
The company, which was recently acquired by Xamarin, used to publish its core compiler under the GPL licence. However, users noticed that the latest published version on GitHub was 1.6, while the product itself is at 1.9.
So they turned from copyleft to proprietary. Xamarin sure is a kiss of death to software freedom. As The VAR Guy put it, “RoboVM has made its mobile app development platform closed-source. Previously, the platform was an open source product licensed under the GNU GPL.”
“Xamarin sure is a kiss of death to software freedom.”Quoting further: “So far, the company has not offered details about exactly what went wrong with its open source model. It has only made general statements about how its open code failed to attract many contributions and apparently made life easier for the company’s competitors.
“It’s also unclear to what extent RoboVM’s recent acquisition by Xamarin may have played a role in the decision to close-source the compiler. But we’re betting the timing was more than a coincidence.”
There was also a report from the Microsoft-connected ‘news’ network, 1105 Media, which contains a lot of details. Given this chronology, which probably serves to indicate time overlap between takeover negotiations and the transition to proprietary, there must have been a correlation. To quote: “The six-employee RoboVM last month announced iOS 9 support in a new release, version 1.8, the final release issued under the open source GPL license. Earlier this month, the company announced updated pricing, and shortly after came news of the Xamarin buyout. One disgruntled developer attributed these events to the company’s decision to revert to a proprietary source code model.”
Here are some other interesting parts:
“Cool,” wrote a poster identified as Carsten in reply to Müller’s message. “Now we understand. You were in talks with Xamarin for a while and one of the requirements was an updated price model (no more free stuff!) and closing down the source. Thanks for translating this process into corporate bs-bingo. Attract people for years with an open source model until you attract enough users and are acquired by the next bigger fish. Then we immediately go from open source feel good to updated pricing, closed source. Genius!”
“Complaints also abounded on a Reddit thread, and a couple Google Group discussions have sprung up to investigate interest in forking the project to keep it open source…”
Miguel de Icaza and his mates appear to love money a lot more than they love software freedom, so they squeeze this goose, RoboVM, for some golden eggs. In due course this can kill the project’s popularity. Cui bono?
“In due course this can kill the project’s popularity.”To quote someone who commented in LXer, “I have to admit, I’m a little confused. On one hand, Microsoft open-sources some components of the .NET framework, and on the other hand they closed-source a vital tool for some Android developers. I’m still convinced that Microsoft doesn’t care about FOSS or GNU/Linux, or their communities. They’re simply trying to nip a market trend in the bud… they’re competing in a manner that appears collaborative at first glance.
“I think it’s time we took a moment to re-evaluate how we look at corporate entities that offer open-source software, and if they are susceptible to buyouts, whether their projects are viable for the community to invest precious time and effort into. RoboVM would never have been such a huge loss if it had forked from the very beginning and managed by a non-corporate entity. We’ve already decided not to trust MySQL any more because of what Oracle has done to it. Why should we not apply this same decision to several other company-offered projects?”
Here is another comment:
In order to put this into perspective, it is important to keep in the forefront of our minds that we are not talking about some small company out there trying in earnest to make a go of it with a free-software project. We are talking about MICROSOFT.
Of course, we have seen this pattern repeated time and time again:
Oh my, a small company was taken advantage of by those evil free-software developers.
Well, is this really Microsoft in action or is it Xamarin or is it RoboVM?
We are all supposed to wonder now if a business model involving free-software is really a good idea… Doubt, please doubt, everyone.
blah, blah, blah… I am so bored by all these pattern repetitions.
Judging this based on the article from the Microsoft booster at The Register (especially the headline), there is indeed a lot of FUD right now, leading people to questioning of the Free software business models. Again, cui bono? █
“Gates is trying to make sure that he has a proprietary position in controlling the tools that allow you and me to access information. And that’s profitable by definition. How would you like to own the printing press?”
–PaineWebber Media Analyst Christopher Dixon
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Microsoft’s war on Android surely a benefactor here
Summary: An essential Android tool, RoboVM, turns into proprietary software just shortly after Xamarin, which is financially assisted by Microsoft veterans, takes over it; time to fork?
LAST WEEK we wrote about Xamarin‘s disturbing takeover of RoboVM [1, 2], which was a threat to Microsoft’s monopoly and domination of APIs (especially on the desktop). Xamarin, for the uninitiated, creates proprietary software that strives to spread Microsoft’s .NET to mobile (including Android) devices.
“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin, the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
–Abel AvramIt has only been less than a week and now we learn from Abel Avram that “RoboVM Is No Longer Open Source”.
“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin,” explains Avram, “the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
“The community has wondered what would happen to RoboVM now that they have been acquired by Xamarin,” Avram noted. Well, now we know. Bye bye, community.
To quote further: “RoboVM is no longer providing the source code except to enterprise customers. [...] Several RoboVM components used to be made available under the Apache 2.0 license while the compiler was open sourced under the GPL license.”
It has gotten so bad that RoboVM might be forked. To quote Avram, “some developers consider that closing down the source code has to do with Xamarin’s acquisition. And some are discussing forking the project, perhaps starting with the sources v. 1.8 which will be pushed to GitHub this week, according to Zechner. It remains to see how successful they are in their endeavor considering that RoboVM is not a trivial piece of software.”
Xamarin and Mono were never about Free software and GNU/Linux; they were just a parasite trying to exploit Free software and GNU/Linux to spread .NET and now they serve to convert Free software into proprietary. Microsoft must love what Miguel de Icaza has been up to recently. █
“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic].”
–Miguel de Icaza
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It sure looks like E.E.E.
Miguel de Icaza with his friends from Microsoft
Summary: Further analysis of the news about RoboVM, which got taken over by a Microsoft-connected company (one might say offshoot or proxy), funded in part by Microsoft money
MICROSOFT’S WAR against the Linux-powered Android platform is well under way, currently descending into the 'extend' phase in E.E.E. against Free/libre software and against GNU/Linux. Readers of Microsoft puff pieces don’t agree with what Microsoft is saying and people at LXer recognise this strategy even from a great distance (see for example “Microsoft’s Death Embrace”). Recall what Microsoft did to Nokia and do not assume that a top contributor to Linux (which Nokia once was) will stay this way after Microsoft moles somehow manage to enter. Elop had destroyed companies before he entered Nokia and Miguel de Icaza had derailed Novell before he became a lot more closely connected to Microsoft, even working for Microsoft.
Yesterday we wrote about Xamarin‘s takeover of RoboVM (with money that came in part from Microsoft veterans). Tim Anderson oddly enough suggests that:
It may not be so welcome to Microsoft, if in the long term it dilutes the focus on C#, which has made Xamarin a key partner.
That’s assuming that the RoboVM-derived/produced work (including users of RoboVM’s products) won’t be diverted away to .NET, rather than be preserved in its current (and formerly independent) form. Perhaps it remains to be seen what Xamarin makes of RoboVM, but judging by the track record of de Icaza, the folks at RoboVM, living across the border from Nokia, may have just let in an ‘Elop’.
“It has happened before, so it can happen again; Microsoft takes great in the strategy of befriending the competition in an effort to betray and eventually kill it.”The news of the buyout (copies of the press release aside [1, 2, 3]) was covered mostly by Microsoft boosters, Microsoft-connected ‘news’ sites (multiple copies even), Microsoft apologists, and RoboVM itself. It’s almost as though the only parties interested in this are Microsoft, the acquiring party (with some funds from Microsoft veterans), and the acquired party. These are all the articles I was able to find when searching the Web. The interested parties are clear to see here. Google has absolutely nothing to gain from this.
In Xamarin’s forums Joseph Hill has said in relation to this takeover that “C# is a beautiful, advanced language with an incredibly large and passionate developer base that is continuing to adopt Xamarin in large and growing numbers.” My instinct tells me that this is part of Microsoft’s E.E.E. against Android and other mobile platforms. It has happened before, so it can happen again; Microsoft takes great in the strategy of befriending the competition in an effort to betray and eventually kill it. █
“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”
–Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President
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Image from Android Beat
Summary: Our interpretation of the Xamarin-RoboVM news, especially in light of reports that Microsoft is trying to fork (wrest control of) Android
SOMETHING disappointing but nonetheless expected is happening these days. More and more media reports about Microsoft's intrusive and subversive strategy against Android (see  below for the latest on it) serve to suggest that our concerns are becoming ever more justified. There are many articles alluding to “forking” of Android by Microsoft (for example, “Is Microsoft Creating Its Own Android Fork?”). This is a subject that we wrote nearly a dozen articles about (especially during summer when Microsoft partnered with Cyanogen), but what about Xamarin? Half a decade ago we used to write many articles about Mono’s assault on Android (trying to shove .NET down this bot’s throat). With its strong Java roots (Oracle’s fury notwithstanding), hence the popularisation of Microsoft’s and .NET’s archenemy, Java (or Google’s derived APIs that upset Oracle so much), Android must be a real pain and an existential danger to the Microsoft monoculture.
“…Java, which sort of runs on Android in the form of Dalvik (on top of Linux), will be more tightly controlled by a company connected to Microsoft.”Miguel de Icaza‘s Xamarin, which is partly funded by Microsoft veterans and now strives to spread .NET in the form of Mono to Android (the world’s most dominant operating system at the moment), has reportedly bought RoboVM. As Phoronix put it the other day:
RoboVM specializes in creating native iOS apps within Java as a way to share apps/projects between iOS and Android while having a native user experience and performance. Xamarin has bought out RoboVM to better position themselves as a cross-platform mobile development company for C# and Java, per today’s press release. RoboVM is basically to Java for mobile as Xamarin is to C# with Mono.
In other words, Java, which sort of runs on Android in the form of Dalvik (on top of Linux), will be more tightly controlled by a company connected to Microsoft. “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” springs to mind. How will the frameworks be bridged? Either way, this gives Microsoft a lot more leverage over Android. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft chief experience officer Julie Larson Green recently made a statement that got some people thinking that the company, once known as a hulking titan that likes to crush out the competition instead of working with them as partners, is looking to develop its own version of Android. Although Green did not exactly share details of Microsoft’s plans, she did not categorically deny it either.
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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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