EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

04.16.17

Apple’s Legal Actions Against Android and Against Qualcomm Could Eventually Weaken Patents at Two Levels

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Hardware, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 8:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Hardware (chipsets) and software alike, with dubious software patents that accompany them, have made phones incredibly expensive

Phone and USPTO

Summary: By tackling the practices of Qualcomm and by dragging companies to court over ridiculous design patents (potential of blanket ban by the Supreme Court) Apple weakens the very business model it will need to rely on as its market diminishes, leaving it with nothing but patents

THE mobile market is worth a lot of money these days. The exact numbers depend on how it’s measured and what exactly gets included in the measure. But no doubt more and more people now turn to mobility. Many sales are made in it, both of devices and software (licensing). Apple’s sales are declining and many of the headlines we come across (when it comes to Apple at least) are about new patents and patent applications from Apple. Perhaps that’s just Apple’s vision/foresight of its future. It want to prey on OEMs that are actually shipping a lot of phones (Huawei for example). This is why Microsoft, for example, attacked Samsung in the courts — using software patents of course — and then virtually forced Samsung to become its vassal. It’s a strategy of coercion. A lot of patent battles are now focused/centered around the mobile market (connections, interfaces, touch-enabled devices, navigation and so on) as many companies try to turn a pile of patents into revenue without actually creating anything. Qualcomm is a good example of this.

“It’s a strategy of coercion.”Qualcomm's management seems growingly nervous about the antitrust action in various places as well as the lawsuits/complaints [1, 2], notably Apple‘s. The $815m BlackBerry arbitration, which was mentioned here the other day, gets a mention in patent maximalists’ sites and Florian Müller took note of it after we had sent him some links related to it. It seems possible, albeit it’s subjected to the Supreme Court’s instincts, that another Apple case against Android will reach the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). As Müller put it just before Easter (taking special note of the role of CCIA):

One organization that has previously supported Samsung against Apple, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), appears to have decided not to get active again at this stage. But in case certiorari is granted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see CCIA get involved again. With respect to design patent damages, CCIA’s work was really great. But even CCIA may at some point experience such a thing as litigation fatigue: the Apple v. Samsung dispute is now six years old.

Samsung’s design patents-related petition was exceptional. It had tremendous support and, since it raised sort of a once-in-a-century type of issue, it was a slam dunk (to the extent that a cert petition can be a slam dunk at all, given overall stats). The fact that certain amici who supported Samsung on design patents aren’t on board this time doesn’t mean that the three issues raised last months aren’t also certworthy in their own ways and their own right.

We wrote about this case many times before and if it reaches SCOTUS, then we definitely expect the patents to be challenged and quite likely invalidated, as per the pattern of recent SCOTUS decisions on patents. If that happens, what will Apple be left with? Apple is the next Qualcomm.

02.28.17

More Hardware Companies Adopt Software Patents and Become Like Patent Trolls

Posted in Hardware, Patents at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Intel too has been lobbying for software patents (and its employee Peter Detkin co-founded Intellectual Ventures)

“We cannot hope to own it all, so instead we should try to create the largest possible market and insert ourselves as a small tax on that market.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft at the time (now a patent troll at Intellectual Ventures)

Summary: A glance at the ‘trollisation’ of large companies that are tempted by the prospects of patent bullying, even if it’s known to be damaging to one’s brand and a distraction from productive activities

Softbank and Inventergy

Qualcomm’s software patent attacks were the subject of some recent articles of ours, e.g. [1, 2] and so was Softbank, which had just bought ARM from the UK (one of the biggest technology companies here). As we noted earlier this month, Softbank was potentially becoming a Japanese patent troll. It looks like it may be about to happen, primarily as a by-product of inheritance of longtime patent bullies.

As the trolls’ apologist put it earlier today:

It is not clear what role, if any, Fortress played in the decision to file the suit against Apple, but it’s notable that such a high-profile case has been filed so close to the restructuring vote. The investment giant now looks set to become a significant force in the assertion market just as it is in the process of being taken over by Softbank, the Japanese tech and telecoms giant, in a $3.3 billion deal.

Maybe it’s time for Softbank to just abandon negotiations with Inventergy and dump this troll altogether. When firms resort to this kind of behaviour it is often a sign of misery and desperation. Softbank, if it was to allow itself to become another Qualcomm, would tarnish ARM’s powerful and highly valuable brand.

BlackBerry and Nokia

Speaking of large companies that flirt with patent trolling, the Canadian press has belatedly realised that Canadian giant BlackBerry is now effectively (although only in part) a patent troll. Earlier today it wrote, right there in the headline in fact, that “BlackBerry may have a brighter future as patent troll than as a software developer” and to quote the opening sentence: “BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY), the former smartphone and software technology developer run by CEO John Chen, may have a brighter future as patent troll than as a software developer with a portfolio of some 44,000 patents worldwide, many of which have been described by Envision IP as high quality based on reverse citations.”

“Speaking of large companies that flirt with patent trolling, the Canadian press has belatedly realised that Canadian giant BlackBerry is now effectively (although only in part) a patent troll.”Several months ago we showed that even corporate media called BlackBerry a "patent troll". Another new article speaks of how one large troll attacks another, as we pointed out a few weeks ago. This new report says that “Blackberry And Nokia ]are] In Court over patent infringement issues. BlackBerry is asking Nokia to obtain license for use of as many as 11 patents” (Nokia will probably demand something similar from BlackBerry, if it still makes any phones by then).

USAA

In other news from today — news that was quite widely spread in fact [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] — in spite of absence of software patents in India USAA managed to get an Indian firm to swallow the bait. As one report put it: “San Antonio-based financial services company USAA inked a deal with a software development firm in India to exclusively license some of its patented technology, which will be used to create new commercial software.

“India is a smart choice for such things because India barely has any patent trolls and it certainly does not tolerate patents lawsuits over software development.”“Persistent Systems plans to use the patents and security algorithms USAA developed to detect fraudulent activity on its customers’ accounts using an authentication system that considers risk and previous activity — beyond passwords and even biometric scanning.”

Whether or not this was patented, in India these patents have no potency, unless the eventual product is to be exported to the US, at which point injunctions can be pursued. But the point of the matter is, did the media need to focus so much on these software patents? It sounds as though USAA just merely contracted/hired some software developers to implement things. India is a smart choice for such things because India barely has any patent trolls and it certainly does not tolerate patents lawsuits over software development. We’ll say more about India in our next post.

02.07.17

ITC and FTC Weigh in on Competition/Antitrust and the Patents-in-Standards Question

Posted in America, Antitrust, Hardware, Patents, RAND, Standard at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related to the FRAND/RAND debates but currently focused on hardware

No trespassing

Summary: Regulatory agencies in the US (International/Federal Trade Commission) grapple with anticompetitive aspects of patents

IN PREVIOUS years we wrote a great deal about the ITC. It’s the US-centric agency (not “International” as its name conveniently and misleadingly suggests) that helps embargo rivals from abroad; it does so with patents as a tool/blunt instrument.

The other day MIP wrote about what we can expect from the ITC in 2017, citing what it called the “first antitrust claim for 25 years.” To quote:

Highlights at the International Trade Commission in 2016 included the most Section 337 investigations since 2011, the first live hearing for a decade and the first antitrust claim for 25 years. Michael Loney asks ITC practitioners what trends they expect in 2017

What we have come to expect from the ITC (see past writings) is servitude to US corporations that control the political platform/establishment and public discourse. Disdain for ITC ‘justice’ is something they have come to deserve. Remember all those antitrust cases (EU, Korea and more) against Intel, whose offences are plenty and include patent aggression (not to mention lobbying for software patents)? Well, based on this new report, Intel’s arch-rival “AMD filed a legal complaint against a number of companies accusing them of infringing its patents covering graphics processing technologies. The company requested the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC) to investigate the matter and, if the ITC finds in their favor, ban products based on chips that infringe on AMD’s intellectual property rights.”

“What we have come to expect from the ITC (see past writings) is servitude to US corporations that control the political platform/establishment and public discourse.”ITC again. Guess in whose favour it is likely to rule? Even if many of these patents are applicable to or are required by industry standards…

Andy Updegrove spent a long time writing about anticompetitive aspects of standards with patents in them. He now says that a “Court Rules Standards Incorporated by Reference into Laws Need not be Free”. To quote: “When standards developed by the private sector become laws, should anyone be able to download a copy for free? At first blush, the answer seems too obvious to debate. But yesterday, a U.S. district court held otherwise, saying that the developer of a standard that has been “incorporated by reference” (IBR) into a law continues to have the right to enforce its copyright. It also confirmed the right to charge a reasonable fee for an IBR standard.”

“This is a case and opportunity for the FTC to show it has teeth; it’s also a case by which to squash software patents abuse, as some of the patents at the centre of these shakedowns are Qualcomm’s software patents.”The subject is contentious and hotly-debated these days, in particular because of Qualcomm, which faces lawsuits, antitrust investigations and so on. MIP, noting the latest development in China (covered here two weeks ago), wrote last week that the “FTC charged Qualcomm with practicing unfair methods of competition under Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Meanwhile, Apple has sued the telecommunications company for $1 billion worth of rebated royalty fees that Apple says Qualcomm is withholding. Other trade commissions, such as Korea’s, have investigated and ruled against Qualcomm’s practices, and Apple has additionally sued the company in China.”

This is a case and opportunity for the FTC to show it has teeth; it’s also a case by which to squash software patents abuse, as some of the patents at the centre of these shakedowns are Qualcomm’s software patents.

Are regulatory bodies like the FTC and ITC likely to recognise that for the world to advance and develop we need standards that are not usable by billionaire corporations alone? Are they competition facilitators or merely gatekeepers (wolves in sheep’s clothing)?

02.01.16

UEFI is Bricking PCs, Yet Again

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel at 12:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A few remarks about a new defect which is starting to attract media attention this morning, serving to highlight the lesser-discussed dangers of UEFI/EFI

TECHRIGHTS has been a rather prominent longtime critic of UEFI. We even got invited to speak to the top executives behind UEFI, involving several people on a conference call. They were hoping to silence/suppress my criticism by speaking to me for about an hour, but they didn’t have anything substantial to say in order for me to change my mind. In fact, they only revealed other issues (throughout the conversation) which I later wrote about. The Wiki has plenty of details about that and it also covers examples or remote bricking of PCs (via UEFI). Truly nasty if not malicious, too.

“Stuff like UEFI also gives governments stricter controls over people (like dissidents).”There is a newly-discovered issue involving systemd and EFI/UEFI. This has shown up in several prominent online forums and also in bug reports for almost a week (or longer). I had mentioned it online for a while, but only earlier today did I decide I have enough of a confirmation regarding this severe problem. It is now mentioned in news sites, too [1,2,3], so I wanted to very quickly remark on it (due to lack of time), noting that here again we have an example of remote bricking by means of UEFI — a subject that the NSA previously warned about (accusing China, warning that it had attempted to do something similar).

Don’t accept UEFI. Like DRM, TPM and many other malicious ‘features’, it is intended to give corporations control over the users, rather than enable the users to control their computers better. Stuff like UEFI also gives governments stricter controls over people (like dissidents).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. In A UEFI World, “rm -rf /” Can Brick Your System

    Running rm -rf / on any UEFI Linux distribution can potentially perma-brick your system.

    As a public service announcement, recursively removing all of your files from / is no longer recommended. On UEFI distributions by default where EFI variables are accessible via /sys, this can now mean trashing your UEFI implementation.

  2. Running a single delete command in Linux can permanently brick some laptops

    It’s fairly stupid to run such a command, but usually not destructive to anything but the Linux installation. However, as it turns out, on MSI laptops it’s possible to completely wipe the EFI boot partition from inside Linux.

  3. Running “rm -rf /” Is Now Bricking UEFI Based Linux Systems

    Running rm -rf / on any UEFI Linux distro can potentially perma-brick your system, Windows PCs also vulnerable

01.17.16

Anti-Competitive and Anti-Choice: the ‘New’ Microsoft Reveals New Abusive Policies

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can’t compete? Then cheat…

“I’m thinking of hitting the OEMs harder than in the past with anti-Linux. … they should do a delicate dance”

Joachim Kempin, Microsoft OEM Chief

Two locks

Summary: After scheming to make new hardware incapable of booting GNU/Linux (in the name of UEFI ‘security) the company now attempts to tie up hardware (processors) with malicious new malware called Windows 10 (more like Vista 10, with the user-hostile ‘features’ of Vista)

“Want Freedom To Choose Your Hardware? Choose GNU/Linux.”

That’s the message from Robert Pogson. Some days ago we became aware of a nasty little scheme from Microsoft. The abusive monopolist, Microsoft, is calling monopoly abuse “innovation”. In additional to more DRM and antifeatures, including mass surveillance in real time, the company goes further as “Upcoming Intel And AMD CPUs Will ONLY Support Windows 10,” to quote FOSS Bytes. “In the latest change to its update policy,” wrote the author, “Microsoft has announced that older versions of Windows like Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will lose support on the Intel 6th generation Core processors, also known as Intel Skylake. So, if you have just bought a new PC, you should consider upgrading to Windows 10 within the next 18 months.”

“Does anyone really think there is a ‘new’ Microsoft which is benevolent?”And Microsoft later expresses shock that people generally dislike it, some more than others.

Microsoft Peter shows how, after UEFI lockout of GNU/Linux (which he wrote about last year, arguably breaking the news), the historically abusive Intel helps Microsoft impose NSA-friendly spyware on everyone. “Microsoft Will Not Support Upcoming Processors Except On Windows 10,” says another report and “New hardware must have the latest Windows,” wrote a Microsoft booster. Microsoft’s influence over OEMs may be diminishing, the development teams may be shrinking (based on our confidential sources they are!), so the company is now limiting the scope of its operating system using hardware manufacturers/chipmakers, i.e. doing exactly the opposite of Linux (whose hardware support is always broadening).

Moreover, as revealed by this new report from The Register, Microsoft is really trying to piss people off and make Vista 10 synonymous with malware. Watch what they are doing right now:

Microsoft’s relentless campaign to push Windows 10 onto every PC on the planet knows no bounds: now business desktops will be nagged to upgrade.

When Redmond started quietly installing Windows 10 on computers via Windows Update, it was aimed at getting home users off Windows 7 and 8. If you were using Windows Pro or Enterprise, or managed your machines using a domain, you weren’t supposed to be pestered with dialog boxes offering the free upgrade.

[...]

Microsoft claims it’s doing this because many small businesses – the sort of organizations that run Windows Pro, use a domain, but leave automatic updates on – want an easy way to install the new operating system. If companies really want this software, you’d think they’d install it themselves – or opt in for it, rather than having to opt out repeatedly.

You can try your luck following these instructions to halt the upgrade – until Microsoft changes the rules again. Windows Enterprise edition in large corporations will avoid the automatic, virtually mandatory, upgrade.

Does anyone really think there is a ‘new’ Microsoft which is benevolent? iophk has been writing to us for a number of days about this kind of topic. He said quite a lot of things about what Microsoft plans to do to R right now (or some time in the near future).

“Attacks against R continue with “Microsoft R Open {sic}”,” he said, “with the announcement of vaporware” (we wrote about this some days ago).

“Stewart Alsop, industry gadfly, presented Gates with the “Golden Vaporware” award, saying, “The delay of Windows was all part of a secret plan to have Bill turn thirty before it shipped.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul

07.21.15

Don’t Ever Rely on Microsoft for Hardware, Hosting, Especially When it Comes to GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft doesn’t know what it’s doing (except rebooting)

Servers

Summary: Warning signs over Microsoft hosting, as well as reliance on Microsoft for maintenance of hardware

THE lying, dishonest and corrupt company says that it “loves Linux”. How ridiculous a statement. Microsoft clearly targets dumb people who are willing to give Microsoft control over GNU/Linux instances. Will Microsoft find enough dumb people? It remains to be seen. As a famous saying goes, never underestimate the power of dumb people in large numbers.

Yet another British ‘cloud’ site now promotes/advertises Microsoft as a GNU/Linux host. The article (if it can be called that), essentially an advertisement from Clare Hopping, says that “Azure customer support for Linux and other open source technologies were focused on determining whether customer problems were with the Azure platform or not. If not, then it would be left to the developer or the third party platform to solve issues.”

“Microsoft recently left British members of Parliament without access to E-mail for several days.”Is this the kind of host people were really looking for? There are many fine GNU/Linux hosts and Microsoft cares about GNU/Linux like BP cares about turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Embrace (devour), extend (stab), extinguish (swallow) is what this move from Microsoft is all about. Watch a Microsoft advocacy site (the “Windows Club”) promoting this utter nonsense which includes full surveillance on every file (Microsoft uses “child pornography” as an excuse for this).

People ought to know by now never to rely on Microsoft for anything at all. Microsoft gained traction not because of technical merit; bribery, blackmail etc. had a lot more to do with it. It’s a company of organised crime and collusion with covert agencies that break the law, too.

According to this report, many people are still pursuing compensation for damages caused by the horrible Xbox 360 console. “No matter how hard Microsoft tries,” explained the author, “it can’t defeat a judicial order requiring it to face a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming that the Xbox 360 renders gaming discs unplayable because the console scratches them.

“The decision (PDF) Monday by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sets the stage either for litigation over the allegations or a Supreme Court showdown.”

Microsoft, of course, is trying to dodge responsibility. Does anyone consider such a company to be a reliable host? Microsoft recently left British members of Parliament without access to E-mail for several days. Prior to that Microsoft had blackmailed British politicians. Microsoft cannot even fix their E-mail hosting (time-critical) in less than 3 days! If this is how Microsoft treats British members of Parliament, why would it do any better for ordinary members of the public?

07.14.15

Governments-Connected ‘Hacking Team’ Targets UEFI, Reveal Leaks

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft, Security at 12:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dusty computer

Summary: The insecurity and abundant complexity/extensibility of UEFI is already exploited by crackers who are serving corrupt regimes and international empires

TECHRIGHTS has spent many years writing about dangers of Microsoft back doors and about 3 years writing about UEFI which, according to various citations we gathered, enables governments to remotely brick (at hardware level) computers at any foreign country, in bulk! This is a massive national security threat and Germany was notable in reacting to it (forbidding the practice). Among our posts which cover this:

Today we learn that UEFI firmware updates spread to the most widely used GNU/Linux desktop distribution and yesterday we learned that “HackingTeam has code for UEFI module for BIOS persistency of RCS 9 agent (i.e. survives even HD replace)…”

Rik Ferguso wrote this with link to the PowerPoint presentation, pointing to leaked E-mails via Wikileaks. The push back against UEFI ought to be empowered by such revelations, perhaps in the same way that these leaks now threaten to kill Adobe Flash for good.

03.25.15

Another Reason to Boycott UEFI: Back Doors or Crackers

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft at 3:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: UEFI makes computers more prone to infections, according to some security experts

THE abusive Intel spreads UEFI to help the abusive Microsoft by means of lockout (there have been many articles about that as of late). It serves to protect the Windows monopoly and protect Intel’s monopoly (with UEFI patents that we highlighted previously). Our posts about UEFI contain a lot of examples of that. UEFI ‘secure’ boot is not really about security and in some ways it makes security even worse, as we showed on numerous occasions before. UEFI can enable espionage agencies (such as GCHQ, NSA and so on) to remotely brick PCs, rendering them unbootable (no matter the operating system). Remember Stuxnet.

There are several new reports which say that UEFI has got additional ways in which it makes computers less secure. To quote the British media: “The high amount of code reuse across UEFI BIOSes means that BIOS infection can be automatic and reliable.”

To quote some US media: “Though such “voodoo” hacking will likely remain a tool in the arsenal of intelligence and military agencies, it’s getting easier, Kallenberg and Kovah believe. This is in part due to the widespread adoption of UEFI, a framework that makes it easier for the vendors along the manufacturing chain to add modules and tinker with the code.”

Next time Intel or Microsoft insist that UEFI is needed for ‘security’ we should have stronger arguments with which to debunk such myths. It’s marketing of monopolies disguised as “advancement”.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts