“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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Summary: CISPA rears its ugly head again, so action from the public is needed
TECHRIGHTS has expanded somewhat in terms of scope and focus, as our daily links help reflect. Swartz, who was involved in Wikileaks, i.e. transparency and accountability, fought against SOPA, which is about censorship, just like CISPA, which can help shut down Wikileaks and also harm privacy. A lot of recent press propaganda will serve as pretext for cracking down on the Web with new laws. CISPA is one of them.
Obama signed an executive order for CISPA, kneeling to his bosses in Hollywood, as usual. What will you do? █
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Summary: Apple uses the protectionists’ office — a monopoly henhouse guarded by wolves — to ban competition at home and away
At the USPTO it's all about quantity (money or monopoly on words and ideas), so no plans of reform are sincere. The USPTO offers fake choice on the subject of software patents and a debate in Slashdot shows FOSS-oriented comments. The debates are rigged by design from the get-go. Now, some columnists downplay the view that software patents should just be dumped while others put out there the news about consultation from developers:
The world of software patents is a strange, confusing, inefficient place. There’s a pretty serious question as to whether or not software patents should really even exist. Now, the USPTO is making moves to at least step in a better direction by calling out to software developers anywhere and everywhere for advice on fixing the whole thing up.
The call for advice will take the form of two round table events in February, one in Silicon Valley, the other in New York City. Seats are limited but pretty much any developer can attend if they RSVP by email and include some credentials. The events will also be webcast, and any developers/spectators who can’t/don’t want to attend can also just send in written comments.
Remember that they are allowed to debate software patent “quality”, not abandonment. So the panel omits the view that many if not most developers hold. Here is another article:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is seeking input from the software industry about the performance of the patent system. A pair of February “roundtable” events—one in Silicon Valley and the other in New York City—will give members of the public an opportunity to comment on how to improve the quality of “software-related patents.”
“Each roundtable event will provide a forum for an informal and interactive discussion of topics relating to patents that are particularly relevant to the software community,” according to a notice in the Federal Register. “While public attendees will have the opportunity to provide their individual input, group consensus advice will not be sought.”
How many people — if any — will speak for the view that software patents must all go away? Watch what patents are doing for Apple against Linux:
Apple was supposed to have won big in the suit against Samsung in a massive series of claims of patent infringement. This was the apparent result of a jury verdict last August in which there were charges of attorney misconduct, juror misconduct and trial errors before the ink was dry on the decision.
But a few weeks later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invalidated one of the key patents that Apple used to win its case. This is the patent in which a menu or other screen item will bounce back if it’s scrolled past the end.
According to Wired, Tim O’Reilly, seemingly a software patents opposer who likes Apple, says about Apple that “They’re clearly on the wrong path. They file patent suits that claim that nobody else can make a device with multitouch. But they didn’t invent multitouch. They just pushed the ball forward and applied it to the phone. Now they want to say, “OK, we got value from someone else, but it stops now.” That attitude creates lockup in the industry. And I think Apple is going to lose its mojo precisely because they try to own too much.”
Apple’s patent strategy goes ahead and trademark confrontation too is at the core of this branding company:
A California judge says Apple can’t bring up false advertising claims against Amazon in a case between the two companies.
The problem is not trademarks per se but particular trademarks which go too far (broad, not narrow). With Kindle Fire, Amazon has become a major rival to Apple. It’s not just the digital stores. Apple continues to rely on monopolies in shoring up its badgeware. Apple’s main competition is Android/Linux now. █
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Summary: ACTA, which makes patent law even more draconian than ever before, is aided by systemic corruption in Europe and elsewhere
ACTA is political corruption from start to finish. It’s purchased from politicians by corporations. We covered this many times before. FOSS circles say:
I continue to be mystified by the insistence of courts and legislative bodies, as for international treaties, to hide what they do from the public or otherwise exclude the people affected directly from the processes. But of course I’m not really mystified, just appalled.
It is about this piece of news:
On 13 November 2012 the FFII sent an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the Court of Justice of the European Union. A few hours later the registry of the court informed the FFII that only the Member States, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission may participate in the Opinion procedure and submit written statements. The Court does not accept amicus curiae briefs from third parties.
This is awkward. The court is going to decide on citizens’ rights, but does not want to hear from citizens.
Over in Brazil, people observe similar tactics where legal instruments are used to usher ACTA in against public will:
Just over a year ago Techdirt wrote about Brazil’s Marco Civil — essentially a civil-rights based framework for the Internet. At the time, we dubbed it an “anti-ACTA”, since it seemed to protect many of the things that ACTA sought to attack. It all seemed a little too good to be true, and the post concluded by questioning whether it would survive in its present form.
Here is more information. █
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Summary: News and commentary about patents, collected over the past few days
THE emergence of software patents in the news [1, 2] is one trend that we cannot ignore as we research this area which impedes Linux adoption. A British blog ponders, “Will 2012 see the end of the Cold War over Intellectual Property Rights?”
The USPTO is enhancing its relationships and tools, making it simpler to access the catalogue of monopolies. But why are so many monopolies granted in the first place?
The “UK moves to encourage patent innovation” says this new post, but the term “patent innovation” in the headline is bizarre. It’s part of the propaganda which tries to associate the two terms, implying or at least insinuating a causality that simply does not exist. To quote:
On Friday, the UK Government will close its consultation on the Patent Box draft legislation due to come into force on April 1 2013. The legislation aims to reduce corporation tax from 26 per cent to ten per cent for profits made on patented technologies. By offering this tax break, the aim is to increase high-tech manufacturing innovation in the UK and to encourage more telecom companies to set up on UK shores and increase investment.
April first. How fitting. Those patents have no benefit at all. They are a distraction. There are many good groups that have proven this scientifically/empirically and economically. The EFF is still fighting against software patents as well. Based on this piece, innovators too speak out on the matter:
V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai invented the EMAIL system at the age of 14 at 1978. He spoke with the Post’s Emi Kolawole about why software creators should choose the copyright over the patent. (Feb. 17)
Not only software patents are bad; Patents on genetics continue to cause controversy. To quote:
Gene-sequencing breakthroughs, spawning a fast-growing, multibillion-dollar market for drugs and medical tests, are also creating thorny questions over how to regulate commercial use of the human genetic code.
Health regulators are fashioning rules for bolstering oversight of laboratory-developed tests, including genetic analysis, that may show whether an individual is predisposed to certain diseases. Congress is determining whether patents on genetic material should be treated differently from other intellectual property.
Code should not be patented. It’s an exact science. That’s what copyright is for. And the nature of copyrights is different.
One new article calls software patents a “bubble in the making” because those patents may lose their validity in the near future:
A new bubble is brewing as companies find another way to inflate their balance sheets in ways that have no basis in reality. And there is a real risk to markets as a result of “patent farming.” Using examples of the underlying causes of previous bubbles, Nigel Morris-Cotterill, who warned of a global crash in 2006 and of a crisis in commercial property lending arising out of falling consumer spending in 2011, now explains where another crash is looming.
For the time being, patents on codes, for instance, continue to do damage. From the news:
Reston-based ObjectVideo Inc., a video analysis software-maker, said Sony Corp. has signed an agreement to license its patented technology, and it has withdrawn its patent infringement complaint at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Here is a company that became somewhat dependent on software patents (despite using Linux):
The company that introduced the digital video recorder 15 years ago and then faded from view once the dot-com bubble burst is back in the spotlight: In the past year, it has emerged victorious in two important software-patent litigation cases, and it is winning new subscribers on the strengths of a redesigned “smart” DVR that integrates Internet and television content and is a cinch to navigate.
Users can stream movies and music and tap into an extensive on-demand library, as well as record programs and zip past commercials, with ease.
Alcatel-Lucent is another company that turned to patents in recent years, despite being a notable Linux user. As one new article puts it: “By Telecom Lead Team: Alcatel-Lucent is set to leverage its portfolio including approximately 29,000 issued patents through a licensing syndicate to be formed by RPX Corporation. Recently, Ericsson also announced its plans to strengthen patent revenue.
“Patents of Alcatel-Lucent are relevant for technologies such as fixed line and wireless communications, semiconductors, consumer electronics, multimedia, optical, software, cloud computing, applications and network security.”
Another deal has been signed: “Alcatel-Lucent moved to cash in on the booming intellectual property market today amid mixed fourth-quarter results, offering licenses to its 29,000 strong patent portfolio.”
Microsoft was among previous targets. Over at Red Hat’s unofficial blog, the patent of Eolas is being discussed:
Everyone take a deep breath: it seems we’ve had a moment of sanity in the patent wars. Last week, a jury invalidated the dangerous Eolas patents, which their owner claimed covered, well, essentially the whole Internet. The patents were originally granted for an invention that helped doctors to view images of embryos over the early web. A few years later, smelling quick cash, their owner insisted that it had a veto right on any mechanism used to embed an object in a web document. Really? The patents are obvious—both now in 2012 and back in 1994, when the first one was filed. Thankfully, a jury realized that and did what should have happened years ago: it invalidated these dangerous patents.
We wrote about this in a dedicated post and articles about this continued to appear [1, 2]. As a Forbes blogger put it, “[t]he plaintiffs, Eolas and the University of California, maintained that they thought of the idea first and therefore had the right to prohibit anybody else from using it.”
The University of California should quickly retreat from this. It’s a PR disaster.
Another patent agitator is being acquired in part now:
Openwave established many of the foundational patents that allow mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Over the years, the company has built a patent portfolio of approximately 200 patents spanning smart devices, cloud technologies and unified messaging. Openwave provides all-Internet Protocol (all-IP) mediation and messaging. Openwave indicates it will focus on its intellectual property initiative. In January, Wedbush analyst Scott Sutherland told Reuters that Openwave’s patents could be valued at $300 million.
They use euphemisms to describe a strategy of lawsuits. Openwave is an example of what’s wrong with the USPTO, which focuses on creating monopoly bubbles rather than tangible innovation. We have already done a lot to criticise Openwave. █
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The Best Tool For Freedom is a Free Tool
Two friends have a good chat about free software at OSCON.
The CarrierIQ issue, even if it is part of an organized campaign to smear and ruin Android , is showing people the dangers of using non free software. Even one piece of non free software can betray users, so mostly free, “pragmatic” systems can be just as bad as regular non free systems. The free software community should capitalize on this awareness to change people’s attitudes towards their devices so that they will reject non free software in the future. Software freedom must be complete for users to have real conrtol and privacy.
Richard Stallman wrote an extensive review of Android back in September. It lists all of the parts of available phones that can be used maliciously against users, which surprisingly include the radio control firmware. The conclusion was unequivocal, “Android is a major step towards an ethical, user-controlled, free-software portable phone, but there is a long way to go. … While any computing system might have bugs, these devices might be bugs.”
When the CarrierIQ scandal broke, Mr. Stallman was not surprised. His comment was,
The root cause of this problem is that the users don’t control the software on these phones. So if they didn’t put in this surveillance package [Carrier IQ], they would put in some other. The users’ only protection against malicious features (surveillance, intentional restrictions, and back doors) is to insist on free software.
Anyone in the Open Source community who’s surprised should think hard about what the Free Software Society has been telling them. About four years ago at a “Web 2.0″ meeting, Eben Moglen urged the Tim O’Reilly and the Open Source community to quit, “wasting time promoting commercial products.” O’Reilly was sad that Moglen did not want to talk about protecting people’s data on other people’s computers in “the cloud,” but CarrierIQ makes it plain that those rights and protections are meaningless if the user is stripped of privacy by malware in their pocket. It might have been useful ten years ago to hide scary talk about freedom from big companies like IBM. It worked, thanks, but talk about “best tool for the job” and “pragmatic” mixes of free and non free software should now be considered counter productive and the results dangerous.
There are community alternatives to carrier issued Android. Stallman mentions Replicant, a 100% free software replacement for Android. There is also a less careful distribution called CyanogenMod that is focused on performance and includes non free software from Google and perhaps device drivers. Jeff Hoogland, the founder of Bodhi GNU/Linux, is working on Debian for cell phones and we can be sure many others are as well. In the mean time, if you must have a smart phone, it might as well be Android because there is no chance a phone from Apple or Microsoft will be liberated, but don’t expect it to be a Freedom Box the community really wants [2 and don't trust it until it's really free.
Sadly, US law is mostly a hindrance. Senator Al Franklin had some very pointed questions about possible violations of law for the company and a lawsuit has been launched against the guilty parties - Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ. That's good but it will be difficult to prove what actually happened, and the free software community can do better. Like Vista and Windows 7, CarrierIQ establishes encrypted communications to hide the data transmitted. It would be better to have free software on your cell phone, so the FSF has petitioned the Librarian of Congress for a DMCA Exemption Without that, it may be against US law for people to replace the software on their phones or even to delete CarrierIQ malware.
The lack of freedom in cell phones is not a natural state but is unlikely to end without changes and enforcement of US law. Android has emerged as the top cell phone OS because it is free software and creates a productive commons for the odd hundred companies that must cooperate to make a cell phoneThe obnoxious US patent system has allowed Microsoft and Apple to practice judicial extortion that should have been blocked by US anti-trust and racketeering laws[1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Spectrum licensing itself is a technically obsolete and harmful practice but the FCC could demand adherence to technical standards, demand the publication of technical standards required to operate phones, and forbid practices such as phone locking as the price carriers pay for spectrum as it transitions to open spectrum.
We are in this hole because a long running propaganda campaign by non free software owners has played down ethical issues while convincing people that they are helpless. Billions of dollars in propaganda spending still drown out the basic truth of the situation and non free software use remains prevalent even among people who have every reason to fear spying by the rich and powerful. CarrierIQ gives us a good chance to fix that.
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Summary: Knowledge withheld as a business model (and what can be done about it)
Copyrights are being contested by a form of unprecedented sharing of information, promoted greatly by the Internet and currently impeded by the rise of DRM in literature and applications (especially in mobile devices). Artificial limits on the sharing of knowledge are a business model to some. Failing to use copyrights for this purpose, some have escalated and harnessed patents, which make illegal even one’s own personal expression (and application) of ideas. What we are going through right now is a period where we can choose to use technology for the better or simply to use it for selfish and potentially malicious purposes. The decision is in our hands, but at the same time it is not in our hands because we depend on companies like Amazon and Apple to make or distribute products which a lot of people use. The matter of fact is, there are two competing camps — one that hoards and one which is being robbed. The idea that without planned obsolescence and artificial scarcity there will be no incentive to research and innovate is ludicrous and it is as case of wishful thinking in several different ways. If we look back at the industrial revolution and what made it possible, it is none of the things lawyers speak about. The light bulb has in some ways become a symbol of innovation even though it was the result of many ideas and attempts laid on top of each other. It was the sharing of understanding that improved the lives of so many people. Since to many readers this is a national holiday, we’ll keep the news lighter today. █
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Summary: Words you cannot use when Apple’s police is out hunting
WE often criticise intellectual monopolies for impeding knowledge, but what about language? Apple is going far too far with its brand-bullying campaigns. What brand does Apple claim to own anyway? Just the name of a fruit. And it goes after small shops that actually serve fruit because Apple is all about branding and if the brand gets ‘diluted’, then Apple can be finished as a brand. The problem is, apple is a common English word. Had the small businesses been able to take this the court, they would have won easily. Cost of litigation is high though. Perhaps this is why Apple tends to crush small businesses, this time a “tiny restaurant in Luxembourg” based on a report which says: [via Walt]
The mighty international Apple Inc. fears consumers worldwide will be confused by a tiny restaurant in Luxembourg named AppleADay. Their slogan? “Balanced Fast Food.” Apple’s response? Threaten to sue.
Can you get a better David vs Goliath story? Three young people in Luxembourg worked with a dietician to create a bistro menu of fast food that’s healthy. “We wanted to return to the original taste of the food,” said one of the owners. Local authorities gave the name their approval of the name suggested by the bistro’s communications company. The logo looks much more like a Georgia Peach logo than the Apple computer logo, but that’s before the lawyers got involved.
The insane nature of intellectual monopolies is made ever more crazy when you add proprietary software vendors to it. Microsoft claims to own the word “windows”, “lindows”, and even someone’s name (Mike Rowe). █
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