More on the latest defeat to software patents in the US; Microsoft keeps pursuing these anyway
“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”
Summary: Microsoft is again promoting its patent extortion staff — those who attack GNU/Linux with software patents — while its trolls, notably Intellectual Ventures, fight for software patents (but thankfully lose their battle, yet again)
BELATEDLY published in Techrights (late because of more urgent EPO news) is this reminder that Microsoft not only persists in patent shakedown against GNU/Linux but also PROMOTES the patent extortion folks (after Brad and Horacio, both of whom were repeatedly promoted, it is happening yet again). For those who have not been paying attention, see the following posts from last month and earlier this month:
Anyone who still believes that “Microsoft loves Linux” is clearly paying too little (if any) attention to the facts.
According to a blog post from IAM, “Microsoft IP supremo promoted after overseeing series of value creation initiatives,” which in IAM’s terminology (it’s a pro-trolls site) means aggressive litigation (“value creation” is the euphemism). Mind the following part, which whitewashes the above-shown initiative that creates the notion of “unsafe” (or uncovered from litigation by Microsoft or its trolls) GNU/Linux and Free software:
Most recently, the company announced a package of IP-related benefits for users of its Azure cloud service which expanded its indemnification policy to include open source technology providers that power Azure services, made 10,000 patents available to Azure customers to help defend themselves from infringement lawsuits and guaranteed that if Microsoft sold patents to an NPE they couldn’t be asserted against those customers. The initiative, known as the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage programme, demonstrated how the software giant is prepared to use its significant IP resources to gain an advantage over key cloud competitors Amazon and Google.
It would not at all surprise us if Microsoft-connected trolls started hammering Amazon with patent lawsuits or instead targeted AWS customers, thus pushing them towards the perceived ‘safety’ of Microsoft with “IP Advantage”.
“Anyone who still believes that “Microsoft loves Linux” is clearly paying too little (if any) attention to the facts.”Microsoft’s biggest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, is suing a lot of companies (sometimes directly, sometimes though its huge collection of shells), but it has just failed to revive software patents again, after a case got escalated to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
CAFC will be the subject of some longer articles, probably to be published over the weekend, but the above case is unique because of the Microsoft angle. There have been many articles about it, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], and yesterday Patently-O called it “yet another Intellectual Ventures loss” (at CAFC) and added a statement about “NO STANDING TO SUE”. To quote: “In yet another Intellectual Ventures loss, the the Federal Circuit has affirmed the W.D. Pennsylvania district court ruling that the asserted patents are invalid as ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. This decision was issued in parallel with IV v. Capital One discussed previously. I’m going to put-off the Section 101 discussion for another post, however, and write here about the assignment debacle.”
“It would not at all surprise us if Microsoft-connected trolls started hammering Amazon with patent lawsuits or instead targeted AWS customers, thus pushing them towards the perceived ‘safety’ of Microsoft with “IP Advantage”.”What Dennis Crouch describes is unique (not mentioned in the above press articles) and states that “before reaching the Section 101 eligibility issues, the district court dismissed IV’s infringement case related to the ‘581 patent for lack of standing – finding that IV didn’t actually own the patent.”
We mentioned such a debacle last weekend as well. It’s a recurring theme now. How is that not treated as a serious offense? Thankfully, in this scenario (Erie Indemnity Co.), Intellectual Ventures failed to revive software patents, but it will certainly keep trying and Microsoft will count on it. Quite a few victims of Intellectual Ventures bullying are companies that use GNU/Linux a lot; some of them even distribute GNU/Linux. █
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Becoming more of a patent parasite than it already was
Summary: Patent wars in the broadcasting market and the role played by Microsoft and its largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, headed by Microsoft’s former CTO
THE CONNECTIONS between Intellectual Ventures (IV) and Rovi were covered here before, e.g. in [1, 2]. IV is the world’s largest patent troll, which covertly operates through thousands of shells and it is financially connected to Microsoft and Bill Gates. IV is a major threat to Free/libre software and GNU/Linux because, as we have shown here in the past, it also blackmails companies that manufacture and/or distribute BSD- and Linux-based devices.
TiVo is an infamous Linux-based device and also a company. It’s infamous because of what became known as “TiVoisation” (we covered it here repeatedly more than a decade ago) and all sorts of patent aspects which we covered half a decade ago (see our Wiki page about TiVo).
TiVo exploits Free software and Linux, but it’s hardly an ally or a friend. Now that Rovi has bought TiVo and considering “Rovi’s deal with Intellectual Ventures,” as IAM put it today, it’s hardly surprising that it’s followed by TiVo’s patents turning into shakedown or extortion. As IAM put it (obviously lauding and praising the aggressor):
Pre-dating last year’s merger was Rovi’s deal with Intellectual Ventures, where the two agreed to package together their IP relating to over-the-top (OTT) technology for Rovi to license. Since they announced that relationship, licensing deals have been unveiled with both Netflix and HBO. Armaly contends that it’s a model that can be replicated. The digital entertainment and OTT sectors weren’t necessarily high on IV’s list of licensing priorities, so last year’s agreement means that it can benefit from TiVo’s growing experience in the space and its technology offering.
There’s more history to it. Back in 2010 we wrote about how Intellectual Ventures fueled patent wars against TiVo, which had already been sued by Microsoft. And Microsoft keeps telling us that it “loves Linux”…
Microsoft is very malicious and its latest attack plan is reminiscent of the Microsoft/Novell deal. We explained this plan in the following four articles:
When patents get weaponised like that and where Microsoft’s patent trolls have influence over such decisions we simply cannot ignore the persistent danger. █
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Summary: A Microsoft patent troll gives birth to another trollish tentacle (one among literally thousands), this one called “Xinova” but formerly known as Invention Development Fund (IDF)
THE patent troll named Intellectual Ventures (IV), which reportedly has thousands of satellites, is no exception to the norm. Like all trolls, it is suffering right now and there are also layoffs, departures etc. But we need to keep track of the thugs when they leave and land elsewhere, as they can potentially resurface to serve the same goals from different umbrellas.
There is some branching out right now, or some firm coming out of Intellectual Ventures. The trolls’ mouthpiece, IAM, calls it by the euphemism “development fund”. The firm itself describes “Xinova” as merely a rebrand, or “the new name for the company formerly known as Invention Development Fund (IDF)” (exact quote from the source itself).
Are they just nymshifting like MOSAID, another Microsoft-connected troll which is now known as “Conversant”?
IAM wrote: “Speaking to Bloomberg earlier this month, CEO Thomas Kang, who was brought in to head up Xinova when it completed its separation from IV last September, said that while the enterprise remains unprofitable – as was the case while under the aegis of IV – it currently makes “tens of millions” of dollars in revenue.” Well, it doesn’t even need to be profitable if its goal is merely to harass lots of companies on behalf of some company or companies (like Microsoft).
“…the enterprise remains unprofitable – as was the case while under the aegis of IV…”
–IAMIAM says the firm “makes “tens of millions” of dollars in revenue.” One can imagine where that money comes from. The source for IAM is this article from the 8th of February. The summary says “Xinova was recently spun out from Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures. Inventions include a spray-on coating to keep cattle clean.”
Watch out for Xinova because it sounds like a truly nasty firm that not only develops nothing but also brews/engineers ruinous, frivolous patent lawsuits. █
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Marketing and an attack on one’s competition disguised as ‘news’
Summary: The new front against GNU/Linux, or the attempt by Microsoft to tax the platform using software patents, is glossed over in puff pieces from Microsoft, conveniently published under IAM’s own umbrella again
FOR a number of years now — and as recently as just months ago — we have been pointing out the role of IAM as mouthpiece/megaphone of Microsoft Corporation, or whoever pays the bills (e.g. by company-wide subscription). However one passes/creates financial strings, it’s not publicly disclosed and it can affect the editorial process.
Right now there is this new ‘article’ (actually ghostwritten) which repeats the lie that “Azure IP Advantage” is some sort of Earth-shattering thing and that it’s effective against trolls (it’s not because Microsoft cannot sue them; at best it could offer indemnification, but that’s not what this programme is about). It’s yet more of that scaremongering about what would happen to people, especially if they don’t pay Microsoft. We have already covered the subject in the following recent articles:
Is the Linux Foundation going to remark on Microsoft’s resort to software patents? Or playing dirty games with software patents in order to entice people? With Microsoft money on its table, the Linux Foundation’s staff is likely to just foolishly smile and hope that nobody will notice what kind of members it continues to let in.
A point worth emphasising about Azure’s supposed “IP Advantage” is, these are all Microsoft software patents, as inside mere VMs one can only run software. It’s not about hardware or gadgets; the “bare metal” argument in the context of so-called ‘clouds’ has totally changed.
In the above IAM piece, the editor in chief continues a pattern of speaking to Microsoft chiefs or former chiefs for talking points. In this case, it’s just a large copy-paste job. Why not just call IAM a “division of Microsoft” or something like that? Or the courier of sponsors, including patent trolls? They are doing this not for the first time, and it’s usually the same people (just reprinting them). Sometimes it’s the EPO. In Techrights alone we wrote about IAM’s proximity to Microsoft many times before (they also run on Microsoft platforms and proprietary software).
Here is a portion from this ‘article’:
Microsoft’s recent launch of its Azure IP Advantage programme for the company’s cloud customers has generated a great deal of coverage. On the IAM blog, we argued that it once again showed the company to be a world leader when it comes to creating value from its patent portfolio. Regular IAM blog contributor and former Microsoft chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer – now managing partner of the Seattle office of Shook Hardy & Bacon – has put together a piece for us that explains why that is undoubtedly the case. Equally as important, however, is his observation that the Azure programme puts Microsoft way out ahead of the current number one cloud service provider, Amazon and its AWS programme, as well as (to a lesser extent) Google.
Microsoft can send trolls to attack Amazon or Amazon’s customers, then say, “flee to Microsoft or go bankrupt!” It’s not unthinkable given what we saw in recent history.
A lot of people use AWS to host GNU/Linux with a lot of Free software such as Apache. Only software patents can ever be asserted against customers of AWS and if Amazon was to offer indemnification of some kind, it would still enable Microsoft’s trolls to drive up the operation costs and thus hosting fees, rendering the platform less competitive. Amazon is actually one of the most sued (if not the most sued) company over patents.
As a side note, we often complain that Microsoft sends its trolls to attack Google. Microsoft’s legal targets (targets for bullies with patents) these days are typically Chrome or Chrome OS and Android, the GNU/Linux- and Linux-based operating systems (respectively) from Google. Microsoft goes after the pertinent OEMs as they have less incentive than Google to fight back in court. Having said that, Google too has gone to the dark side, as we noted a short while ago. TechDirt‘s founder too has just said that it’s “Disappointing To See Google’s Waymo Sue Over Patents” and this is what he published hours ago:
For years, we had pointed out that one of the nice things about the new generation of tech companies was that they rarely seemed to use patents offensively. Yes, they were subject to tons of patent lawsuits from trolls or from legacy players trying to hang on against innovators, but we’ve pointed out in the past that young companies innovate, while older companies litigate. So, we have a tendency to watch companies to see when they shift from being patent litigation defenders, to going on the offensive. For years — even as patent system supporters falsely claimed that Google only existed because of patents — it was good to see not a single example of Google going on the offensive and filing patent lawsuits against other companies.
That changed, unfortunately, back in 2012 when Google brought a patent lawsuit against Apple. Some argued that it wasn’t “really” Google, because it came from Motorola, a company that Google had purchased (mainly for the patents) and then only owned for a short while before dumping, but it was still a Google-owned property going on the offensive. At that time, we argued that if Google really wanted to support patent reform (as the company claimed) then it should stop being a patent aggressor.
Where are the large corporate actors that are willing to publicly and prominently fight back against software patents? Are there no real allies left, at least not among companies that grew too large to care? And what good is OIN or the Linux Foundation if they are mere lapdogs of some of the world’s largest patent bullies? █
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This definitely impacts GNU/Linux when Microsoft shamelessly passes Nokia‘s patents, for instance, to active patent trolls
Pay us or face the consequences? Terror tactics or Mafia tactics?
Summary: Microsoft is feeding enemies of GNU/Linux and Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) in order to sell its ‘protection’, which it names “IP Advantage” in a rather Orwellian fashion (same naming as back in the Novell days)
SOFTWARE patents are the most potent threat to Free/libre software. As we noted here just over a fortnight ago, Microsoft continues to use software patents to divide and conquer Free/libre software, essentially dividing it based on “safe” and “unsafe” (from litigation over patents). It’s that classic modus operandi that goes along the lines of, “pay us, or terrible things will happen…”
Corporate Counsel, a very popular site among lawyers, decided to write about Microsoft’s de facto attack (as above) but missed the main point. Having caught up with it nearly 3 weeks later, the summary (article’s body is behind walled gardens) says “Microsoft’s conversations with customers have led it to tackle an emerging risk through Azure IP Advantage, but others say the ‘umbrella’ program may not yet be legal necessity.”
“Microsoft can try to increase perceived and/or actual threat, making the only “safe” option for hosting of Free/libre software the option which is monthly payments to Microsoft (Azure subscription/veiled patent royalties).”Microsoft can send or unleash its many patent trolls (named here over the years, as recently as months ago) to make it more of a “legal necessity.” Microsoft can try to increase perceived and/or actual threat, making the only “safe” option for hosting of Free/libre software the option which is monthly payments to Microsoft (Azure subscription/veiled patent royalties). This strategy was last explained here two weeks ago and it shouldn’t be too hard to understand. It’s similar to what Microsoft attempted over a decade ago with Novell. We wrote literally thousands of articles on this topic. It doesn’t take a patent strategist to grasp it.
The threat of software patents is still very much real, in spite of Alice (whose impact can end as soon as SCOTUS under Trump revisits the matter, caving in to anti-§ 101 lobbyists).
“The threat of software patents is still very much real, in spite of Alice (whose impact can end as soon as SCOTUS under Trump revisits the matter, caving in to anti-§ 101 lobbyists).”Just in the past few days alone we saw patent maximalists from Greenberg Traurig promoting software patents [1, 2], among other things. They definitely want software patents back and they relentlessly work towards that goal, as we show here almost every day. They keep setting up more and more front groups for that purpose and they try to scandalise public officials whom they don’t agree with. They essentially try to oust reformers.
Software patents in the US are still being advertised; they are also still being celebrated in press releases, e.g. this new one (aside from that other press release about their activity in Texas) which says “Jigsaw, a leading provider of virtual training and education technology, recently became the first e-learning software to receive a patent for its game-changing, multi-dimensional learning solution. The patent, granted December 20, 2016, was especially noteworthy, as software patents of any kind are difficult to acquire and only infrequently approved by the U.S. Patent Office. Jigsaw’s proprietary technology proved itself unique not only among virtual learning tools, but among all software products.”
“Recall what, in the area of server-side security, the Microsoft-connected (financed, like Blackboard) Finjan had done until as recently as earlier this year.”They sound like another Blackboard-like entity, which probably intends to sue the competition, including Free/libre software (remember the sabre-rattling and patent lawsuits from the Microsoft-connected Blackboard).
Here is another new press release which speaks about newly-granted software patents:
IOMAXIS LLC, a leader in innovative computing and communication technologies, announced today that it has been granted two new patents for novel security approaches in the area of cloud-based computing by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patents, which give the company ownership of two unique approaches to identifying threats in cloud-computing environments, serve as part of IOMAXIS’ new cloud security practice. The establishment of the new practice provides commercial and federal clients unparalleled protection from internal and external threats within cloud-computing environments.
Recall what, in the area of server-side security, the Microsoft-connected (financed, like Blackboard) Finjan had done until as recently as earlier this year.
“If they start to sue and shake down more of these companies, raising the temperature in the room and making managers sweat a little, will Microsoft then step in to offer “Azure IP Advantage” for “intellectual property peace of mind” (a term it used ad infinitum back in the Novell days)?”Let it be emphasised in case it’s not obvious. There are many entities out there, both large and small (as large as the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures), which are strongly connected to Microsoft and are habitually threatening, using software patents of course, Free/libre software projects and companies that develop/distribute/deploy/support/maintain these. If they start to sue and shake down more of these companies, raising the temperature in the room and making managers sweat a little, will Microsoft then step in to offer “Azure IP Advantage” for “intellectual property peace of mind” (a term it used ad infinitum back in the Novell days)? █
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If it looks like a patent troll, IAM will certainty love it and agonise over the bad reputation of trolls
Summary: Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft’s tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as “pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products”) as seen in IAM almost every week these days
THERE IS A WAR against GNU/Linux. It’s a very big war. But a lot of it happens in the back room and it is being led by Microsoft, a notoriously corrupt company that still relies on bribes and blackmail for a lot of its deals (we have given many examples in the past).
Yesterday we saw a Microsoft-friendly site writing about the latest attack on Free software from Google. The site called it “Patently Ridiculous” (in the headline) that “Google [is] Ordered To Pay $20 Million Plus,” as we noted here the other day (it’s a notoriously trolls-friendly judge).
“Not all of this officially counts/qualifies as patent revenue (royalties) because Microsoft uses a clever trick now.”“Software patents are usually patents on the obvious wrapped up in as obscure, vague and technical a language as possible,” the site said. “In this case Google has been found guilty of infringing a “sandbox” patent in Chrome.”
That’s a software patent and it was found valid in one of those notorious courts in the Eastern District of Texas, so Google will hopefully appeal. But there is an even broader war going on, some of which involves Microsoft satellites that keep suing Android (or GNU/Linux) device makers. We provided plenty of examples in past years.
“This trick started about a year ago with Acer, not too long after it naturally followed from a lawsuit against Samsung that yielded a settlement 2 years ago (same effect, same consequences).”Microsoft itself is playing this aggressive game also directly, though it learned how to disguise it a little better. It is trying to make billions of dollars by shaking down Android OEMs and Chrome OS OEMs (often the same OEMs — more or less — as these two operating systems overlap one another more and more over time). Not all of this officially counts/qualifies as patent revenue (royalties) because Microsoft uses a clever trick now.
This trick started about a year ago with Acer, not too long after it naturally followed from a lawsuit against Samsung that yielded a settlement 2 years ago (same effect, same consequences). Then came Xiaomi (not only bundling of Microsoft malware but also payments to Microsoft, in the form of patent purchases). This was all along misportrayed by IAM, as we repeatedly showed. Either they are willfully ignorant or maliciously lying about it. Today IAM published another one of these puff pieces. It paints Microsoft as some kind of “good cop”, but what the author of this article conveniently neglects to say (or twists the facts of) is that Microsoft previously blackmailed HTC using software patents (around the same time Apple did so).
Here is how IAM put it:
The Microsoft petition – jointly filed with Taiwan’s HTC – argues that claims 14, 15 and 17 of the ‘695 patent should be invalidated on grounds of obviousness. The petition also notes that the ‘695 patent has been asserted by Philips along with several other patents in a series of infringement cases it filed in the District of Delaware back in December 2015. The seven of these lawsuits that remain active target Acer, Asus and HTC from Taiwan; Double Power Technology and Yifang from China; and US companies Visual Land and Southern Telecom. Microsoft has joined the Acer, Asus, Double Power, Visual Land and Yifang cases as a counter-defendant; it is also involved in the HTC case as an intervenor-plaintiff.
Of the defendants in the Philips lawsuits, we know that Microsoft signed HTC as a patent licensee back in 2010, and that it has revised and expanded existing IP licensing deals with Acer and Asus in recent years. With regards to both the latter, this involved the pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products on the Taiwanese manufacturers’ devices; this has also been a feature of headline patent deals signed with other major Asian companies, including Lenovo and Xiaomi. It may be the case that Microsoft has also offered some form of patent risk mitigation, similar to the aforementioned cloud customer programme, as part of these agreements – though that is just my speculation at this stage, and would be difficult to confirm since the details of such licensing arrangements are typically highly confidential.
Instead of ever acknowledging their mistakes/errors, Team IAM likes to pretend that I did not understand what they wrote. This Microsoft-powered site with many guests from Microsoft embedded in articles is fooling nobody. Microsoft is almost worshiped there and rarely is there even a single sentence critical of the company.
“Just using patents to coerce companies into doing what Microsoft tells them,” I told IAM. “It’s a form of blackmail.” But they keep repeating Microsoft’s talking points every month if not every week. That’s revisionism.
Watch how IAM framed a PTAB IPR petition (as if Microsoft cares for companies it blackmailed): “Microsoft IPR filed against Philips looks like another example of the company’s patent-plus value creation strategy.”
Blackmail with patent threats is not “Value creation”. It’s extortion, it’s blackmail. IAM needs to stop pretending that it’s a news site if trolls are painted as innocent victims and companies that terrify and bully the whole industry get treated like a banality to be ignored if not celebrated.
IAM, like the EPO which turned it into a propaganda mill, is a symptom of many of the things we stand against. The other day it celebrated European patent-based sanctions against Chinese companies (like the aforementioned OEMs from Taiwan or China) and only days ago it promoted patent tax through SEPs, which are inherently not compatible with Free/libre software. To quote:
Avanci was launched last September with Qualcomm, Ericsson, ZTE, KPN, InterDigital and Sony all agreeing to make their standard essential patents that read on 2G, 3G and 4G technology available for license across a range of IoT industry verticals. The first three sectors that Avanci has targeted are the auto industry, connected homes and smart meters. There’s no doubt that Avanci brings together some of the leading plays in wireless technology, but it also has some notable gaps such as Nokia and Huawei. Five months after it launched it is yet to conclude any licensing agreements, although Alfalahi insisted that feedback from the industry and from regulators has been positive and that his team continues to talk to a wide range of licensees and possible members. “We’re not saying that cross-licensing or one-on-one licensing doesn’t work, we just believe there’s a better way and over the last year it has become clear there is a need in the market,” he said.
By making up buzzwords like “IoT” or “4G” companies try to bundle together a bunch of patents that deny entry into the market (via standards) unless entrants pay a very large toll (sometimes more expensive than all the hardware combined). In reality, many of these patents are software patents, i.e. something which isn’t even patent-eligible in the vast majority of countries.
We read IAM not for information but mostly as an exercise in understanding the idealogical opposition; IAM stands for greed, protectionism, and litigation, in lieu with its funding sources (revenue sources are not limited to subscriptions). █
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“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”
Summary: In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft’s agenda
IN LIGHT of the news (also the Microsoft-leaning fake news) from Munich, and also in light of Microsoft’s attempts to cause me trouble with my employer (that is their modus operandi apparently), now is a good time to share this story, which we learned about some months ago. Over the years we have covered examples of Microsoft retribution against individuals and organisations that were viewed as “enemies” of Microsoft. To Microsoft, competition is “enemy”, standards are an “enemy”, and even fair competition is an “enemy”. Less than a decade ago a government delegate compared Microsoft's methods to those of “Scientology cult”. That comparison was apt.
“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job; when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”
–AnonymousThe latest example of it happened in the UK and is still happening (we might have some updates on this at a later time). We have shared this information with some Techrights members and studied the patterns before publishing anything.
“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job,” one member wrote, “when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”
“Also,” this member noted, “Microsoft has been after you before, do you have a blog entry about it? If not, it might be a good idea.”
I learned some more about it a few months ago in my employer’s Christmas dinner, but that might be an interesting subject which would be better left aside for another day.
Today we would like to focus on a bigger story which has been long coming. We waited before writing about this, as Microsoft is evidently back to these dirty tricks that many assumed had already ended. It is pretty serious and lawyers along with police are involved (in the UK). In the mean time, in order to not compromise any ongoing processes, we shall refrain from naming people and companies.
“Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific. Still dealing with the aftermath…”
–AnonymousA person we spoke to said something “isn’t quite right at the moment” in some local authorities in the UK. These local authorities are in England. It has gotten so severe that relocations were needed. “A friend/former colleague,” we were told, “is in similar situation, but is skeptical of larger issues…”
Several key groups in the UK, those professing to promote Free/Open Source software, are now “in the hands of someone influenced by some very Microsoft-friendly people,” we got told. It’s too early/premature to name the culprits, but we might do so one day. “Microsoft’s “open source” staff contacted my boss,” I told the person, and they “tried to get me fired or something…”
The matter of fact is, this isn’t so uncommon. “Nothing surprises me,” this person told me. “Just remember Microsoft acts like a cult,” I explained, and it “always did,” based on people who knew Microsoft as officials. Look what happened in Munich recently, including the politics preceding it all the officials involved. “Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific,” the person explained to me. “Still dealing with the aftermath…”
We are afraid we cannot say much more at the moment. “Still just dealing with complaints,” the person told me, who will “will make little progress until solicitors return from leave…”
Whether we can proceed to naming and shaming some of the parties involved only time will tell. What we know for sure, however, is that Microsoft still plays dirty and people who are in denial about it do so at their own peril.
“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia.”
–Anonymous“I know someone non-technical who considers Microsoft mostly dead,” a member told us. “From my perspective, I don’t count them gone until the office furniture is auctioned off and the officers past and present brought to justice before the courts of law.
“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia. The big breakthrough needed there will be a court decision rendering anti-disparagement clauses invalid so that those that have had a change of heart can speak out.”
This isn’t so rare and unusual an incident. “About Microsoft,” one member told us, “my dad now came to the conclusion on his own that Microsoft put pressure on the administration in my old job to force me out, first removing my boss, then me, then harassing the hell out of my former students. I have no opinion on his conclusion in that area due to lack of data aside from the harassment, the removal of my boss with no warning or reason given, and the discontinuation of my contract with the excuse of the lie of no more teaching. I had not suggested Microsoft as a cause at all to him because I have no data other than that the new managers gave the appearance of being both incompetent and assholish. There was something going on though with or without Microsoft involvement. Anyway, it looks like that whole institution may close soon.”
This is similar to something that happened to a potential client of ours in the UK. They get rid of people’s entire role, in order to get rid of the people who occupy these roles. It’s quite obvious that Microsoft and its resellers do this intentionally and consciously.
“I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached.”
–Anonymous“Another time,” told us a member, “I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached. They thought it was coincidence, I did not. Fortunately he had a good working relationship with his boss and his boss’ boss so when Microsoft went over his head, he survived unscathed. However, that site really wishes to remain very low profile some years more to further build up their position.”
I have come to witness this sort of “low profile” policy myself; Microsoft likes to keep a sort of “naughty list” of institutions or companies (to convert to Microsoft). There’s nothing they won’t do to derail the competition, even just for the sake of driving it out of business.
If you too have a similar story to share, even if pertinent details like names must be omitted, please get in touch with us. The world needs to understand what Microsoft is still up to. █
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Backed by IBM, Microsoft, and all the usual suspects…
Summary: An introduction to what the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding [sic] really is, what it is for, and who is behind it
YESTERDAY we wrote about OIN's role in the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU), which is the opposite of what its name says (common practice among front groups). Watch the composition: this is a software patents lobby with David Kappos, a clear IBM role, and Microsoft role also.
IAM, the mouthpiece of patent maximalists, says this right now (shielded behind a paywall, so it’s easier for them to evade scrutiny):
As well as being headed by Berman, CIPU includes former IBM and Microsoft IP supremo Marshall Phelps as vice-chairman. A number of other high profile IP figures have helped with getting the Center off the ground. These include Philips CIPO Brian Hinman, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel and former USPTO Director David Kappos. Microsoft, Philips and Duke University are among those providing support.
It is too easy to see whose interests are served by this front group. Now watch the sole comment on this blog post, published by Peter Harter of The Farrington Group (friend of IAM): “Glad to see that the FAKE NEWS of the infringer lobby can be countered. Perhaps all ethics reviews for IP professionals, journalists and bloggers should include a literacy evaluation built on the CIPU rubric?”
“They try to strike down Alice, bring back software patents, and extort a lot of companies for many billions of dollars.”We are probably going to hear a lot from this front group in the coming weeks/months. It will also lobby politicians behind closed doors, we are pretty sure about that…
It’s clear what they want as they repeatedly write about it. They try to strike down Alice, bring back software patents, and extort a lot of companies for many billions of dollars.
Christopher Hall, writing for the National Law Review right now, seems to be on that same bandwagon. He seems to have not gotten the memo about death of software patents, or maybe he just conveniently pretends that Alice does not exist. People like him, along with the CIPU backers, have been constructing a bunch of tricks for loopholes that often work in the EPO; they try to pass off algorithms as a “machine” (to quote, “could be a computing machine of some sort, for computer-based algorithms”).
These are technically meaningless terms (Deepak Chopra-style mumbo-jumbo) that may in fact suggest that Hall does not know how computer programs work (Watchtroll evidently has the same problem). Here is the full paragraph, which does cite §101:
Claims written with the above template capture initial values, iterative values and results in the context of an iterative algorithm tied to a machine (which could be a computing machine of some sort, for computer-based algorithms). Variations on this can be written for tangible media and for system claims. This approach should pass muster for arguments and subject matter patent eligibility under 35 USC §101, because the algorithm and presumably tangible result are inextricably tied to the machine that is executing the algorithm, so that a computer is not a mere field of use limitation.
We need to keep track of all these firms and front groups that are trying to spin things and even lie in major newspapers, basically telling people that the potency of software patents is just fine (when clearly that is not the case).
Apple, for example, based on its patent promotion sites (not affiliated with Apple but always pushing Apple agenda on patents), is still gambling its future on Steve Jobs’ “thermonuclear” patent wars against rivals. The same goes for IBM and Microsoft, both of which are attacking companies that use GNU/Linux. If software patents are taken away from them, then they are pretty hopeless. That’s why they lobby so hard against Alice (Apple, IBM and Microsoft pay Kappos through his front group for lobbying on this). █
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