“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
Summary: SCO’s proxy battle is not over and more stories emerge which serve as reminders of proxy wars
According to SCO specialist/expert Groklaw, IBM has responded to this continued effort by SCO to revive litigation more than ten years after it started. It is being summarised as follows:”IBM has filed its response [PDF] to SCO’s motion asking for reconsideration of the Court’s order denying SCO’s motion to reopen the SCO v. IBM case. I have it as text for you.
“Is SCO selling a lie again?”“IBM tells Judge David Nuffer that it doesn’t oppose reopening the case at all — in fact it says it should happen. IBM has an proposed outline on how to proceed thereafter. Its plan differs from SCO’s.”
The Microsoft booster, in the mean time, took McBride’s claims at face value and wrote: “Darl McBride, the former chief executive officer of SCO, says he was offered $2 million by the Utah attorney general in May 2009 in exchange for taking down a website criticizing an area business person. Still pursuing the years-long legal battle against Novell and IBM over Unix and Linux intellectual property, SCO needed money at the time.”
“Microsoft mostly had the press on its side when it engaged in rackteering, spinning that as ‘licensing’, so the press was complicit.”Pamela Jones wrote in her site that “So many people sent me this url, I am posting the story. Otherwise I wasn’t going to. I don’t personally believe for a moment that this is the entire story. Darl has always been good at getting the media to print what *he* says is the story, invariably that he’s been wronged, but in time we get the rest of the story. For example, while he claimed for years that SCO owned the copyrights to Unix, it turned out to be untrue. So all the “wrongs” done were done to the media and court victims of SCO. So the real question is, why is he wanting the media to tell his side of the story now, after all this time? I note the article links to the Salt Lake Tribune, which says the FBI is investigating. That’s why I was going to wait until we have more information about all sides of the story before reaching any conclusions or even linking to the Darl McBride PR.”
And later, in the middle of the weekend, she added: “Here’s a question: on what basis would Darl McBride ask for $2 million to shut down a web site that the target alleged was defamatory? Or any web site? Allegedly the target owed $200,000 or so, although he denied it, so where does the $2 million figure come in? Why would he even agree to such a deal, if he did?”
“How likely is it that trolls like these wage war at the behest of someone else.”Is SCO selling a lie again? And if so, how about fact-checking? Are mere allegations guarantee of news coverage? Maybe it depends on who’s doing it. Microsoft mostly had the press on its side when it engaged in rackteering, spinning that as ‘licensing’, so the press was complicit.
It is worth mentioning that the company dismantled by Singer’s Mafia (Elliott Associates, the vulture fund) shows its effect in weaponising patents, having just seen patents (and copyright also) on load balancers being used for extortion. One report says: “Of 33 prospective jurors that were considered, five of them had patents of their own. (This trial was in the same court where a patent-owning jury foreman was likely instrumental to Apple’s blockbuster patent win over Samsung last summer.) No word yet on whether any terms of the settlement will be made public.”
This comes amid intervention by the same thugs who gave Novell’s patents to Apple and Microsoft (CPTN). Motorola came under fire from another vulture fund, Mr. Icahn, before it nearly gave its patents to Microsoft and Apple (Google needed to grossly overpay to outbid this duopoly of patent aggressors).
“Remember which company is scanning a lot of literature (it’s not Microsoft, which dropped these endeavours).”Here is an update from a case of patent trolls fighting Google/Motorola and another naming of patent trolls by the FRAND Blog that showed Apple and Microsoft ganging up against Android using FRAND/patent pools, whose purpose is to raise the cost of Android. The blog says: “Today brought the publication of what looks like is the first lawsuit of its kind — a complaint brought by a state attorney general (here, Vermont’s) against a non-practicing entity, alleging that the NPE’s patent assertion activities constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices under Vermont state law. (The suit was actually filed May 8, but it became publicly available today when the defendant was served.) The complaint was filed against MPHJ Technology Investments LLC, a company that has been characterized by some as the “scanner troll” — because it has sent demand letters to thousands of businesses that use scan-to-email technology.”
How likely is it that trolls like these wage war at the behest of someone else. Remember which company is scanning a lot of literature (it’s not Microsoft, which dropped these endeavours). █
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Big Blue versus small trolls
Summary: How David Kappos and IBM (his longtime employer) continue to ignore the obvious problem which kills small businesses and everyone is complaining about
There is a recent study showing that quality of patents declined considerably, helping to prove why the USPTO gets the fire it’s under and very much deserves it. Greed took over and David Kappos recently denied yet again that there was a problem, based on some tweets. Kappos is from a patent giant, IBM, so he can be excused for being ignorant of the facts. Current IBM executives similarly groom the USPTO, as we demonstrated several times earlier this month.
Here is a recent report about patents killing an innovative startup and here is another. Earlier this week we saw this filing from the SIIA on what patents do to the industry. To quote some commentary about it: “You may enjoy going through them, but I thought you might like to see one of the more thoughtful of the public comments, the one from Ken Wasch [PDF], President of the Software & Information Industry Association, or SIIA, a trade association for the software industry with 700 plus members, because it provides details on how the patent trolls attack and what the results have been. I don’t see members listed on the site, but the Software Board lists a number of companies, including Red Hat and IBM, and a number of smaller companies. And the comment states that trolls are hindering innovation, being “masters at abusing and manipulating the patent system.” The footnotes alone are worth noting, but the really interesting part is how the comment explains how trolls do what they do. I learned something I’ve long wondered about, why trolls hide who they are in litigation.”
“IBM is not merely not part of the solution; IBM is part of the problem.”The problem is not just trolls (small patent aggressors) but software patents or scope of patents. Don’t expect an IBM-backed front group to say so though, they would rather alter the debate, replacing grassroots with corporate lobby which calls for elimination of only small aggressors.
When will IBM finally take a brave stance on patents and stop promoting software patents around the whole world, even in countries other than its home country? IBM is not merely not part of the solution; IBM is part of the problem. OIN has done nothing against trolls. SIIA itself, like the BSA which IBM had supported until not so long ago, is anti-FOSS [1, 2, 3], █
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Summary: OpenForum Europe (OFE), which helps IBM’s turf wars in Europe, releases a new book filled with its talking point
OpenForum was named here many times before, and not always in purely positive context. Contrary to its name, OpenForum is not backed by many Open Source companies, but much of the time it does promote Open Source (and sometimes Free/libre software ) ideals. It should be treated not as grassroots but as corporations-controlled lobby,
“It should be treated not as grassroots but as corporations-controlled lobby,”IBM, a strong proponent of software patents, helped create OIN (led by its own staff originally), which is a case of using patents versus patents. IBM also helped form OpenForum, which helps its lobbying in Europe in particular.
Andy Updegrove at
ConsortiumInfo.org writes about a book from an academy “affiliated with Openforum Europe” and here is the direct link. Updegrove is in it and it is called “open innovation”. I have not read the book, but it is worth noting that IBM believes open source relied on patents for innovation. The backer of this book probably helps weaken its impact. When it comes to patents, IBM is not on our side. Hopefully some new (future) leadership in IBM will help bring fresh change. █
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The Simpson family as they first appeared in The Tracey Ullman Show. (via Wikipedia)
Summary: Revisiting the stance of FOSS proponents on software patents and patent trolls; Mozilla, IBM, Red Hat, and Nokia (also before Microsoft takeover) discussed
A former (maybe present, still) Microsoft booster, Nancy Gohring, writes about the former chief of innovation at Mozilla. She makes Mozilla look bad by describing former staff as though it is still tied to Mozilla. She writes: “Todd Simpson, formerly chief of innovation at Mozilla, just made an intriguing job change. From working at the community-driven organization on open source projects, Simpson has joined InterDigital, a company commonly accused of being a patent troll.”
Mr. Simpson lacks ethics. The company he joined is unethical and he should have known this. InterDigital was already covered here under posts such as [1, 2, 3]. Mozilla itself is unequivocally against software patents, so why do this type of demonisation by attribution to Mozilla in the headline? Here are some relevant articles we published:
You want to pick on a FOSS proponent which is strongly in favour of software patents? Then pick on IBM. The company’s staff has been trying to shift the debate to trolls, replacing legitimate grassroots movements with corporate-controlled agenda that dilutes efforts and weakens real progress (the way USAID, for example, does it). Watch the following new statement: “Software is thriving and highly innovative – do not eliminate patents for software, instead address those that abuse them”
“You want to pick on a FOSS proponent which is strongly in favour of software patents? Then pick on IBM.”Who said it? The Chief Patent Counsel of IBM (we mentioned similar statements from him before). So this rogue policy comes from the very top, still. Chastise IBM, not Mozilla. As for Red Hat, which is a close ally of IBM, it manages to keep a mind of its own. The other day its CEO said: “I think I speak for the entire software industry that software patents are a bad thing. The entire software industry has been aggressively promoting a position that says software shouldn’t be patentable. It gets tied up with, obviously, the pharmaceutical industry, which believes patents are necessary to drive innovation in pharmaceuticals, and it continues to go around and around and we make some progress here and there. Hopefully it gets solved someday, but I don’t think we’re close to it.”
Lastly, former Linux proponent Nokia has been a strange animal for a long time, promoting both software patents and Linux at a later stage (along with FOSS). After Microsoft had taken over things, Nokia started feeding trolls more than before (Nokia’s use of MPEG-LA against Ogg involved staff that had come from Microsoft to Nokia about half a decade ago) and not much has changed on the patents front. An excellent new article (no longer behind paywall) says: “Of course, Google already knows if Nokia was the mysterious twelfth member of the defunct MPEG LA patent pool, and, if it was, then Google has known about its patents for quite some time. But either way, nothing stops any other company from springing a similar attack on VP8 or any other codec. In the battle to make VP8 an MTI standard in any web specification, the parties that benefit from license sales of rival codecs have no incentive to cooperate. That goes for H.264 as well as for the next generation, and it is not merely a hypothetical problem. Apple’s Maciej Stachowiak has already voiced his objection to making VP8 an MTI standard in HTML5. The agreement between MPEG LA and Google has smoothed over the issue of VP8′s patent status, but it cannot perfectly resolve it, simply because nothing can.”
We covered this before, back when it was news. █
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Law school dropout relies on lawyers, legal loopholes
Summary: Notable new challenges to software patents advocacy from lawyers (the fox in the hen house)
TOP journal Nature has a new article from Joshua M. Pearce, who protests against nanotechnology patents and names Linux/FOSS for backing of his assertion that patents only slow down progress. In that sense, Pearce put forth the idea that software patents — by inference — slow things down. For corporations whose ultimate goal is to increase income this whole dimension called progress is secondary. It leads to the innovator’s dilemma, so it can actually reduce income. Disruption requires making new machines, for example. The lifetime of cash cows is lessened. This is why managers might never like progress, unless it is truly necessary for survival in the market. Managers can also hire lawyers who specialise in how to use patents to artificially slow down progress, by getting granted monopolies on certain essential processes. Patents also help raise the price of products, which can in turn help income, at customers’ expense of course.
The class of managers and patent lawyers has become the anathema of scientists, whose main goal is to improve knowledge or products/programs, which they believe can improve income too. Software does not require machines for manufacturing/copying, so the innovator’s dilemma does not quite apply. Why is it that some people still try to impose software patenting on everyone? Clearly, such people care neither about business nor science. They are not business(wo)men or scientists, they are leeches. So why is it that in an online debate in Wired there were so many law professionals talking about software patents? One of them, Duffy, was one among perhaps half a dozen. As we pointed out repeatedly, there too many law professors in Wired and hardly any programmers like Stallman (he was the only one). We see this again and again. It’s like a stacked panel. How about a forum or a series with actual software professionals and not career lawyers? Who is affected the most by such patents?
Stallman, a programmer by trade (he turned into an activist), shatters the claims made by Duffy, the law professor. A troll patents-hostile author covered it:
The large, bearded man bounded to the front of the room last Friday, hand thrust into the air, fingers shaking. It was a question-and-answer session, but he clearly wouldn’t be able to wait long. He began speaking just before a conference organizer moved to hand him the microphone.
“So many stupid insults—and mistakes!” shouted Richard Stallman, the father of the free software movement. “I proposed a way to solve the problem! It’s elegant, and it gets right to the point. Your criticisms are completely wrong.”
The speaker he was denouncing, Professor John Duffy of the University of Virginia, had been defending software patents to the assembled crowd a moment ago. Duffy was actually proposing reforms, but as was the case with most speakers at this legal conference, Duffy’s reforms weren’t quite what Stallman was looking for. He was looking for a “safe harbor” for software—essentially, a total ban on any patents that touched on software.
Duffy raised the specter that some things might not be invented at all without patents, in software and other fields. “The only thing worse than a patented technology that burdens the public is not having a technology at all,” he said. Sure, some software patents were a pain, but others were protecting important work. “The question is, will you get very serious research that is patent-motivated? Speech recognition, for example, is very patent-intensive.”
In Stallman’s view, the idea that society might be able to eliminate “bad patents” while keeping good ones is a kind of Jedi mind trick. Offering patents as a reward for software development—a system where the prize is a right to shut down someone else—is fatally flawed.
The “bad patents” party line is also advanced by Red Hat lawyers and lawyers who run a patent front for companies like IBM (e.g. OIN, USPTO). It’s no good taking their advice because they defend their own occupation, which is not software development. Georg C. F. Greve was at an event this morning where legal people pushed software patents into FOSS (IBM style), under the “OSSFRAND” banner. Here are Greve’s dents from the sessions. They are self explanatory really:
- Chief economist of #EPO, Nikolaus Thumm, explains patents are supposed to grow public domain of knowledge at http://is.gd/jHZLko #OSSFRAND
- This might be a good time to work of #WIPO at SCP/12 and SCP/13 on the economic rationale of patenting: http://is.gd/e6S1uy #OSSFRAND
- Iain G. Mitchell: “FRAND is smoke and mirrors… but what does it mean?” Points out that “agreeing on fair forms no contract” #OSSFRAND
- Provides example of how Nokia and Apple disagreed on what is “fair” and had to have the courts sort it out. #OSSFRAND
- …and explains how that can subvert standard setting by retracting the offer after the fact. Except in Scotland & Romania #OSSFRAND
- FUD from Siemens: “Open Source is not free, you have to comply with the license, I cannot just do what I want with your software!” #OSSFRAND
- Does this mean I am entitled to do whatever I please with Siemens software? #OSSFRAND
- (Paraphrasing) France Telecom: “I will render my presentation pointless by ignoring the basic definitions of terms I am using.” #OSSFRAND
- Microsoft dropping its ‘but we’re now open and collaborative’ mask at #OSSFRAND
- France Telecom sent a stand up comedian to #OSSFRAND: “Why would a large patent holder try to enforce patents on small companies?”
Kevin Drum, in response to the nonsense from Kappos, IBM's keeper of the patent cartel, writes the following after quoting Timothy B. Lee’s article
A World Without Software Patents Would Be a Perfectly Good World
We already know what would probably happen if software patents didn’t exist. That’s because, for the most part, they didn’t exist until the early 70s, and thanks to fights between the courts and the patent office, they didn’t become common until the late 80s. And yet, the era from the 50s through the 80s was about as dynamic and innovative as you could possibly imagine. Lack of patents simply doesn’t seem to have had the slightest effect on the growth of the software industry.
The world is different today, of course. But I see little evidence that software patents are any more necessary now than they were during the adolescence of the computer industry. Rather than spurs to genuine innovation, they’ve evolved into little more than virtual armaments that big companies use to fight virtual wars with each other. And virtual wars are no better for economic growth than real ones. Honestly, it’s long past time for software patents to be put out of their misery and for software companies to focus their attention on inventing new stuff, not wasting countless man-hours of time building defensive patent portfolios with no real-world value aside from providing protection against other companies who are building their own defensive patent portfolios for the same reason. This particular arms race got out of hand a long time ago.
Some scholars argue that all patents — not just software patents — should be deprecated. █
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No change, just protectionism
Summary: Kappos’ words are telling in the sense that they expose him as the Bernanke of monopolies in software, to borrow an analogy from the Federal Reserve et al. and what they mean to various types of banks
“Patents on software are vital to American economy,” says the head of the USPTO and “calls to abolish them are wrong” (brave words). So he incites more people against the monopoly office he runs. Glyn Moody writes: “world to Kappos: get lost (oh, wait you are…)”
The headline of the report is “US patent chief to software patent critics: ‘Give it a rest already’” and it says:
David Kappos, the head of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, offered a strong defense of software patents in a Tuesday address at the Center for American Progress. Kappos touted several provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA), which he argued would allow the patent office to weed out low-quality software and business method patents.
Addressing those who claim the patent system is broken, Kappos said, “Give it a rest already. Give the AIA a chance to work. Give it a chance to even get started.”
Now we see built-in bias in the USPTO, which is led by a patent guy from IBM, one of the leading proponents of software patent and the biggest member of the patent cartel. Another growing member is Microsoft, which catches up with IBM on patent filings after hiring Mr. Phelps from IBM. Microsoft is trying to elevate the charges it derives from Android through this cartel, as Groklaw helped show us. Pamela Jones writes:
I know you join me in thanking our reporter for such detail, and his boss for letting him take the time. Imagine if all we had was media reports.
This trial was stacked by Microsoft boosters, so press coverage was deficient, obedient, and sometimes indirectly funded by Microsoft. The bottom line is, we must start challenging the cartel, IBM included. ITC is an extension of this protectionist mechanism. █
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TechDirt’s Mike Masnick
Summary: Famous monopoly abuser (IBM) chooses to publicly promote FOSS-hostile legal frameworks, only to find its arguments shredded to pieces by TechDirt
IBM has been somewhat of a traitor whenever it advanced software patents around the world, e.g. Europe and New Zealand. IBM’s arguments are full of holes. For instance, IBM tried to insinuate that patents help Open Source. Backlash to this lobbying effort was great at the time.
Here is Mosnick with an excellent, success rebuttal that covers many of the key points. It’s nonsense-burying rebuttal that goes along the lines of, you have more patents, which means… well, that you have more patent monopolies, not innovation. Or, something is claimed to be successful because of patents, not despite of patents — how often do we see that strategic fallacy in the copyright lobby too?
Wired kindly reprinted the rebuttal which says:
Rebuttal: ‘The Patent System Works Fine Because… Hey Look Over There!’
IBM’s Chief Patent Counsel, Manny Schecter, has one of the most ridiculous defenses of the patent system you’ll ever see over at Wired, entitled With All Due Respect: The Patent System’s Not Broken. Having debated the patent system for years, I’ve noticed a pattern among patent system defenders who are big time patent lawyers. Their argument tends to amount to: see this wonderful thing? It exists because we have patents. Period. The fact that whatever it is they’re pointing to probably has nothing to do with patents will never be acknowledged.
The reason for this is not difficult to assess if you’re not a patent lawyer. It’s that companies don’t sell “patents,” they sell products. And you can sell products whether or not they’re patented. If you build something people want, you can figure out a way to sell it — even if someone copies you. In fact, what plenty of other research has shown is that (again, contrary to what many lawyers believe) copying market leaders is often a hell of a lot more difficult than people believe. And, of course, even if you have a direct copy, it doesn’t mean you can really compete. The first mover advantage is important, but so is knowing how to market and sell products, and copiers often don’t do a good job on that front. So, yes, there are plenty of reasons companies would spend a lot of money without patents.
Where to start? First off, which economists? Second, having your value attributed to your “intellectual property” (loosely defined) is not the same thing as saying that it’s because of intellectual property laws. This is a common and ridiculous mistake that many make — assuming that because the things currently covered by IP laws are important, the laws themselves must be important. Ideas, content, innovation etc. all exist absent IP laws. This is something that patent lawyers seem to conveniently forget or ignore. Next, the $5 trillion number and the 40 million jobs claim — well, that’s equally bogus, as we’ve discussed before. It’s based on the ridiculous and obviously faulty belief that these jobs and “contribution” to the economy are due to “IP laws” and not other economic activity such as people actually selling stuff. And those jobs? Yeah, anyone who claims that has lost all credibility, because, remember, it’s actually mostly about trademark, and that means that 2.5 million of those jobs are actually people working at grocery stores. Sorry, dude, you don’t get to claim the checkout bagger as a reason why we need stronger patent laws.
In the end, none of the arguments he makes even come close to making sense. At best, he argues some sort of bizarre correlation to make his point, but most of the time he’s just pointing elsewhere and pretending it has something to do with patents. We could just as easily argue that patents have caused population growth in the US. I mean, look, the population has grown… and we have patents! And it would be just as meaningless as every single argument he makes.
Over at Groklaw, a pro-IBM site, Jones wrote: “The software industry was built when there were no software patents, as Bill Gates himself has pointed out. The patent system is broken, if you are not already one of the three or so “winners” already in place. That’s who it works for. But innovation doesn’t come from them.”
Manny Schechter speaks for a monopoly abuser from the old days, he does not speak for scientists. Ansel Halliburton, a patent lawyer, showed similar pro-patents leanings when he said Apple is getting money from HTC (FUD!). “Plus,” writes Jones, “FOSSPatents is drooling loathesomely that Nokia will win royalties from HTC as well next. How’s that for a free market? “Let’s all get together and kill of Android,” eh?”
We’ll discuss this in the next post. It’s all just FUD from patent lawyers, Microsoft lobbyists, and some inane boosters. And this FUD has travelled way too far. █
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IBM still a closeted enemy of public interests
Summary: US corporations are trying to distort NZ policy so that it reflects the very opposite of what people of New Zealand (NZ) want and need
THE multinationals from the US, namely Intel, IBM (as covered before), and of course Microsoft, have been lobbying for software patents in New Zealand. According to news from the site which is dedicated purely to fighting software patents, “[o]n May 7th and June 8th, 2010, Microsoft and IBM met privately with members of New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development (MED). They claim to have convinced the Ministry to abandon plans to exclude software from patentability in the proposed Patents Bill.
“IBM should be chastised for doing what it’s doing right now.”“There was also a private exchange of emails between the MED and Microsft, IBM, and the Business Software Alliance in the month before and after the meeting, where those three organisations submitted policy documents.”
IBM should be chastised for doing what it’s doing right now. Only if public pressure mounts will IBM recede from these positions that also the BSA is pushing. We thought that IBM had dumped the BSA last year (or the year before that). █
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