02.24.21

How the Big Banks and OIN Can Whitewash Software Patents and Do Nothing Concrete About Patent Trolls

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, OIN, Patents at 10:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Response to the puff piece entitled “How the Big Banks and OIN Can Lock Out Patent Trolls with Enabled Publications”

OIN does not work for “community” (or for Free software) but for banks and rich monopolies, as we already explained last week. A longtime reader brought to our attention the new article which the video discusses. Not only does this article lack substance (or clarity about what’s actually proposed); it reinforces the view that OIN works for the rich and powerful, not for powerless Free software developers.

“It mostly distracts from those of us who want to truly fix the status quo, e.g. working to abolish software patents.”IBM is very eager to be publicly seen as open and anti-racist, largely because of its past as an abusive and racist monopolist, profiting from racism and overcharging everyone owing to monopoly, guarded largely by patents.

Seeing how OIN has helped the EPO regime (media stunts of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos), we can’t help but feel like OIN — no matter what its original intention and/or goals might have been — is no ally. It mostly distracts from those of us who want to truly fix the status quo, e.g. working to abolish software patents.

02.15.21

Open Invention Network (OIN) and Big Banks: Shared Agenda

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, IBM, OIN, Patents at 4:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The press release and puff pieces from Bergelt et al won’t tell the public what OIN really does, in practice (which is worse than nothing at all)

THE Open Invention Network (OIN) has been covered here since its inception, back when an IBM person (founding member) ran the whole thing and seemed mostly reasonable, even better than benign, at least at the time (much like the Linux Foundation, which is partly connected not just in the sense that sponsors and agenda overlap). Big banks aren’t our friends; they might be OIN’s friends. OIN isn’t our friend and these people often undo the goals of FFII and other groups that oppose software patents.

“OIN isn’t what it seems or what it claims to be. It exists to serve and protect monopolists.”Nowadays many of us in the Free software world have already grown cynical and critical of the IBM-centric OIN. Adding Microsoft as a member did not lend legitimacy but mostly harmed it, especially in light of the fact that Microsoft continued to attack Linux — sometimes with patents — after it had joined OIN. The video above is a response to this morning’s press release. As we put it earlier on in Daily Links, OIN is not a community (the word “community” is used in the headline) but a front group of software patents proponents looking to openwash their monopolies and striving to make software patents look benign w.r.t. Linux. They say they were “formed to safeguard open source software (OSS)” (no “F” word, nothing about Freedom) and then they call themselves a “community” again. Nowadays companies like to portray themselves as “green”, “open” and even “communities”…

Yes, nothing says “community” like ruthless for-profit corporations that help bomb people…

Keith Bergelt is then quoted naming a bunch of buzzwords and name-dropping hype like “fintech” (one of the many weasel words that software patents’ proponents use). A few hours ago the ‘news’ site ZDNet did a puff piece about the whole thing, as usual. The video above only scratches the surface of what we know and what we’ve shown about OIN over the years. This is just more of the same.

Not too long ago the Linux Foundation was greenwashing big banks, so why can’t OIN? The puff piece keeps mentioning “trolls” and “patent trolls”, but nowhere is it mentioned that OIN never stops trolls and moreover it hired trolls to lead the OIN. What a lousy piece of cheap propaganda.

OIN isn’t what it seems or what it claims to be. It exists to serve and protect monopolists.

01.04.21

Microsoft Hosts a European Software Patents Propaganda Event (in ‘Hey Hi’ Clothing) Featuring Thierry Breton and Litigation Firms

Posted in Deception, Europe, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

HEY HI. You don't even know what it means. You never wrote any code.

Video download link

Summary: The so-called ‘IP’ ‘Tech’ ‘Summit’ (webchats or video streams of lawyers rather than techies) is another example of think tanks, this time hosted by Microsoft to push a controversial software patents agenda, both in Europe and worldwide (by extension)

SOME things don’t change, can’t change, and barely ever change at all. The marketing strategy (e.g. “Microsoft loves Linux”) may change a bit, but underlying tactics or more so objectives are largely the same. The extortion artists from Microsoft are pushing the lie of “IP” to manufacture consent for Microsoft’s ongoing (it never stopped!) patent blackmail and software patents racket.

IP tech summitShown on the right is the banner of the latest so-called ‘event’ that is ‘hosted’ by Microsoft. And yes, as noted in the video above, that’s Microsoft in Munich — the very same ploy (relocation) that was used to undermine Munich’s already-completed migration to GNU/Linux. Some “love”, eh? Microsoft loves Linux funerals…

Or, as Dave Lane put it many times before, “as I like to point out #MicrosoftLovesLinux like a tapeworm loves a healthy digestive system.”

“Is this blog, which was founded by a scholar, just a think tank of litigation companies?”Either way, let’s consider for a moment what’s shown in this new, albeit belated, post (belated by a whole month), which I’ve remarked on in the video just moments ago.

There has long been this agenda of promoting software patents by calling them “4IR” and other buzzwords like “Hey Hi” (AI), which amount to nonsense. Julian Asquith (Marks & Clerk), quite frankly as usual, did so as recently as days ago (we’ve already included that in our Daily Links). Marks & Clerk openly said that nowadays it’s easier to get software patents in Europe than in the United States. In support of this agenda they still use all sorts of misleading buzzwords and shamelessly promote not only the UPC but also illegal software patents. They receive help from corrupt EPO management that nowadays also besieges judges (especially those who reject software patents) and they receive support from patent propaganda mills which repost their marketing (Lexology). It gets syndicated as “news” (e.g. in Google News).

It’s sad, isn’t it?

Watch what shows up as top results when searching Google News for EPO “news” this morning (it’s just Lexology and Watchtroll, not actual news sites or journalism).

Google News on EPO

Nobody will ever become aware of crimes committed by rogue officials if this is what Google presents to people. And speaking of Google, it too played a role in the above ‘summit’ (webchats basically) in support of software patents. But Microsoft is mentioned many times, including the opening part: “This year’s Summit was hosted by Microsoft and focused more broadly on global digitalization and its impact on IP, highlighting topics such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, open data and open innovation.”

“There has long been this agenda of promoting software patents by calling them “4IR” and other buzzwords like “Hey Hi” (AI), which amount to nonsense.”Buzzwords for software patents (“digitalization”, “Hey hi”, IoT”) and the typical openwashing, not with actual source code (“open data and open innovation” — meaningless, especially the latter).

“Hosted by Microsoft” (see the image). The arm of Microsoft that blatantly attacked GNU/Linux in Germany.

The post was published by a UPC pusher and former Bristows spinner (Annsley Merelle Ward), who adores Microsoft and used other Microsoft-organised events to push that same agenda, whitewashing the chief extortionists (such as Smith). She has been distorting facts [1, 2] and her years-long promotion of software patents has long been documented here. Perfect vector for such agenda-setting…

She says: “The AmeriKat’s friends at Dutch IP firm Brinkhof – Alexander de Leeuw, Boukje van der Maazen, Jonathan Santman and Jasmijn de Groot – were on hand to report on this year’s proceedings.”

“The post was published by a UPC pusher and former Bristows spinner (Annsley Merelle Ward), who adores Microsoft and used other Microsoft-organised events to push that same agenda, whitewashing the chief extortionists (such as Smith).”So it’s a sort of secondhand account. For an employer. For a bunch of allies/colleagues at Brinkhof (another litigation firm, though she works at WilmerHale now).

Throughout the text the term “CII” is used sparingly, e.g. “protect an AI/CII invention” (yes, they’re conflating those two things, intentionally).

Why is this sort of junk being published? Is this blog, which was founded by a scholar, just a think tank of litigation companies? Well, yes. Look who’s actually running it nowadays…

Maybe it shouldn’t be so shocking. Here are some portions of the long text:

Many of the AI debates concern the protection and licensing of data sets. Access to data can be restricted and can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Dr. Julia Keim (Microsoft) confirmed that an interesting derivative market has developed where companies claim license fees for the use of their data.

[...]

The IP Tech Summit had an impressive amount of experts on AI and CII patenting. Before going into what they had to say about IP, one cannot help but wonder what we mean when we mention the buzzword “AI”.

[...]

It quickly became apparent that one’s ability to navigate through existing patent law in order to protect an AI/CII invention depends greatly on claim drafting, both in Europe and in the US. The fact that there is no standardized terminology, makes an already difficult topic even more complex. In any event, it was recommended to avoid mathematical equations and terms like ‘neural networks’. Another difficulty is that AI systems largely depend on data, which is difficult to include in a patent application, and that it can be problematic to reproduce an AI achievement due to the large amount of parameters involved (the so-called “replication crisis”). This requires guidance from patent offices. The EPO has already issued guidance on this topic (see here), and guidelines will soon follow from the USPTO (see here). Likewise, Dr. Ulrike Till (Director of the AI Policy Division at WIPO) hinted at the near arrival of guidelines, strategies and instruments applicable to AI and IP prepared by WIPO.

[...]

Thierry Breton (EU Commissioner for the Internal Market) stressed in his keynote speech that “the licensing of standard essential patents is a cumbersome and costly exercise for both patent holders and technology implementers” and that “there is a need for a much clearer and much more predictable framework incentivizing good faith negotiations rather than recourse to litigation.” According to Thierry, this is essential in order to ensure the EU’s lead position in standardization and the internet of things. He referred to the recently adopted IP action plan (available here), which includes initiatives to improve the framework regarding essentiality declarations, licensing and enforcement of SEPs, including a pilot study for the essentiality assessment of SEPs (see here), and further indicated that the European Commission will enter into a sectorial dialogue with industry players in order to find appropriate solutions.

This talks of “EU’s lead position in standardization and the internet of things.”

More buzzwords like IoT with a small “i” (wrong grammar). As EU Commissioner, Thierry Breton nowadays covers up EPO crimes for his friend Benoît Battistelli. What does that make him?

“OIN is what’s sometimes referred to as “controlled opposition”.”Cabals of extortionists patting each other over the shoulder isn’t a legitimate debate or genuine panel but a think tank named after misleading propaganda terms, piggybacking a bucket of buzzwords (even the principal author, named above, admits that those are just buzzwords).

In short, the so-called ‘event’ was a sham and looking at who was actually participating would be quite a giveaway. The video mentions the role played by OIN, which can nowadays be seen in many such panels, sort of faking a “voice” of the “Open Source” “community” when in fact paying lip service to monopolies in a subtle kind of way. OIN is what’s sometimes referred to as “controlled opposition”.

12.28.20

Christmastime Extortion Shows That IBM Has Not Changed Since Buying Red Hat and It’s Still a Patent Bully

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

With due credit to original jokers

Santa Wish Christmas: IBM,can you change for xmas? Sure! Yay! I'll make financial demands

Summary: IBM still has a long, long ‘naughty list’ (a growing list of companies it’s looking to blackmail for money — or tax — using loads of software patents), just like Microsoft’s ‘naughty list’ (Microsoft’s patent blackmail has not stopped; media’s attention to that has stopped, e.g. last year's shakedowns against Linux/Android/ChromeOS)

WEEKS after IBM sealed a terrible (pandemic, Trump etc.) year with a big “F U!” to all CentOS users around the world (individuals and businesses/executives who must now migrate under difficult conditions or shell out money they don’t even have) it reminds us that its OIN PR charade is just that — a charade. It doesn’t protect Free software from software patents, it’s just misleading the Free software community (a real community) about software patents.

Red Hat operatives still try to mislead us all about CentOS and the motivations behind what happened to it (those attempts are shallow or deeply self-contradictory; they’re truly and profoundly disingenuous, so they do more harm than good); one of the persons who proposed this now works at a senior position for Microsoft. A side perk of IBM choosing to pretend to have not abandoned CentOS (just “Stream”) is that they subvert justifications for giving up the trademark in the same way Oracle/Apache did OpenOffice (this limited the appeal of LibreOffice, causing frustration).

Letters of xmas (aka Letter to Murderous Santa): I will never pay IBM for patents

Promises to Red Hat are out the window and Red Hat’s software patents (with their so-called ‘promise’) are now in IBM’s war chest (patent portfolio as cash cow).

IBM — like Microsoft — thinks like a government-connected/sanctioned monopoly and does not wish to really innovate, just amass an endless pile of worthless software patents instead, with help from the legal department (even the same people, e.g. Marshall Phelps), then sue and extort those who actually innovate and make products people actually want.

Jessie in Christmas: IBM Patents, Monopoly; You're next!We don’t want to say a lot about the whole history/track record which we covered here before, but IBM is no ally of Free software (or not anymore). It’s just milking volunteers for corporate profits, monopolised using complexity (e.g. systemd), vendor lock-in (Wayland etc.) and software patents. Watch what slipped under the radar on Christmas Eve! (Below we’ve put a screenshot)

Even after buying Red Hat (years ago) IBM continues to act a lot like a patent troll, shaking down every company imaginable. Settlement announced when nobody will notice (PR reasons likely)?

IBM Settles Patent Lawsuit With Airbnb; Street Sees 16% Upside

11.25.20

Open Source Initiative (OSI) Co-founder Bruce Perens: Open Invention Network (OIN) is Protecting the Software Patent System From Reform and OSI Approves Faux ‘Open’ Licences (Openwashing)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, OSI, Patents at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Well, maybe ironically he posted this in a Microsoft site. Microsoft now gets the majority of the OSI's work/budget, basically to help cement its monopoly. OSI has just advertised a job opening for its leadership because at the moment it lacks any.

Bruce Perens in 2020

Summary: Richard Stallman was right about the OSI and the fake ‘movement’ that claims to have ‘coined’ the term “Open Source” (it wasn’t a new term at all; it had been used in another context and the Free software community spoke of things like “Open Hardware” years earlier)

THE “OPEN SOURCE” so-called ‘movement’ (see Perens using that term, “movement”) turned out to be a sham. It banned its own co-founder and Perens, the second co-founder, resigned in protest earlier this year. Ever since then he occasionally explains what went wrong. Richard Stallman speaks to him about it (he told me so).

“I frequently urge people to stop saying “Open Source”. We need to speak about Software Freedom (or Free/libre software) instead.”In 2020, for the first time in more than 15 years, I abandoned news about “Open Source” completely, seeing that the majority of them were just openwashing and promotion of proprietary prisons such as GitHub (Microsoft surveillance and censorship). To me, personally, “Open Source” is dead. It’ll never come back. The label or the term “Open Source” is also increasingly meaningless. Many software licences that are called “Open Source” are not Free software-compliant. They’re an openwashing slant to help sell proprietary software and/or mass surveillance in Clown Computing.

I frequently urge people to stop saying “Open Source”. We need to speak about Software Freedom (or Free/libre software) instead. Any time we (still) say “Open Source” we help those who hijacked the term to push a toxic agenda, in effect helping a new-age monopoly by mass deception.

It’s kind of sad in a way. It’s difficult. For many years I did in fact use the term “Open Source”; so seeing what happened to it is frustrating. But it’s too late to change that now. That’s why Perens quit the OSI. That’s why ESR went on the mailing list and fought back, only to be banned by the very organisation that he had helped found.

“Open Source” has always been a sham, but many assumed it to be well-meaning; Stallman was right about it. “I had an idea though about OSI and their push on their OSI-approved licenses,” one reader told us earlier this week. She has been around this scene since the 1990s and she knows what really happened. And “still,” she says, “when clearly they are long done… since Perens did say there were licenses that never should have been approved (and I never saw any effort to improve that situation after he said it…) and since he said there were loopholes – I will evaluate a few and write up an analysis.”

Perens approved 2020In the meantime she left us with a bunch of relevant screenshots we cannot see (without a Microsoft account or spying by Microsoft). Notice these openwashers and people who speak of “virus” (in relation to a software licence, see image on the right). Those people are active in a Microsoft site (proprietary and surveillance) while claiming to do “Open Source”.

Our reader thinks the whole thing is mostly a scam. Charlatans make money from the scam.

“Meeting people in real life was an eye opener! :) At SCaLE 15x in 2017,” she recalls, “I attended the law track, where I met a Lawyer claiming to be a Free and Open Source Lawyer… who didn’t know the difference. We did explain the difference to him during happy hour.

“Although IANAL, I knew more than the lawyers present who did not have the basic understanding of copyright – Example, they were arguing a moot point because they did not have basic knowledge of functional v speech.”

Here are some more comments regarding OSI on Linkedin:

Bruce Perens

Richard Stallman once said:

“When I do this, some people think that it’s because I want my ego to be fed, right? Of course, I’m not asking you to call it “Stallmanix”!”

We’d like to see Torvalds’ reaction to people saying that he’s releasing “GNU” each time he releases a new version of Linux (kernel). He’d be more pissed off than RMS ever was…

We’re still looking for additional loopholes regarding the OSI scam and the creation of parallel ‘movements’ (like calling GNU “Linux” and Free software “Open Source” — only to be taken over by the likes of Microsoft at the Linux Foundation and OSI). To be continued

11.17.20

OIN is Lying Because It’s Not Helping GNU/Linux and Not Defending the Community, It’s Only Defending Software Patents From Activists and Actual Developers

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 8:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not too shockingly, the toothless (barks only) OIN isn’t developers and isn’t for coders; it’s just diplomats and lawyers in “Linux” clothing (they don’t even use Linux)

Just come closerSummary: The ‘suits’ running the Open Invention Network (OIN) have done nothing for software freedom and programmers’ safety; 15 years down the line they have almost no accomplishments to show, just a massive patent pool that hardly protects anyone, only the status quo

WE recently wrote about — albeit without mentioning names (in order to avoid negative impact on an ongoing dispute) — GNU/Linux distros being shaken down by patent trolls.

“As we recently noted, without naming distros or the patent trolls that attack those distros, there’s a campaign of patent extortion underway.”We heard from a well-known community member about this matter. It’s a real problem.

Hours ago the Open Invention Network (OIN) released another lousy press release merely celebrating its existence. The headline is a lie. OIN is not protecting us, it is protecting software patents from our scrutiny. It uses terms like “Open Source” (which are themselves inherently dishonest) and so far nobody covered it except ZDNet‘s OIN parrots, who wrote about this non-news. It’s just some lousy anniversary of a corporate front group (for corporations with massive troves of patents). The thing we must remember about the so-called ‘Open’ Invention Network is what Bruce Perens keeps remining us. They protect IBM et al (software patents proponents) but not the community or community-centric distros… just as was intended all along. Patents are instruments of monopolisation and the ‘Open’ Invention Network helps monopolies (including Microsoft now, just like the so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation). It’s not new that ZDNet is a megaphone of Open Invention Network and LOT propaganda (those two groups have overlaps) — in essence promoting the software patents agenda. Snakeoil vending for monopolies…

For the rest us? Nothing.

As we recently noted, without naming distros or the patent trolls that attack those distros, there’s a campaign of patent extortion underway. The developers reach out to us, but they don’t want us to say too much. “Did OIN offer any help with this?” I asked one of them. “If not, I’d like to write something about that…”

It has been a fortnight now and no reply.

“I would appreciate any advice that you have,” one of them said. “I am not responding presently [to the patent trolls] and if it comes to it, I intend to fight this. It is making me very anxious however and I suspect this is their intention. Settling is another problem: if I do so, I have effectively admitted that their patents are valid and this queues me up for a long line of encounters with [redacted], other [redacted] codecs etc.”

Yes, it’s about codecs, i.e. software patents.

“I’ve contacted Jean Baptiste-Kempf (VideoLan) president and Ben Henrion,” (FFII) the developer added. “Both have told me that the patents are not legal.”

What has OIN done to help? Nothing. “I’ve been a member of OIN for years,” the developer noted when asked about it, “but haven’t contacted them yet. I plan to do so later this week.”

It has been over a month. “I was wondering if it’s worth getting in touch with United Patents,” said the next suggestion (for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), “although they seem primarily focused in the US.”

They started tackling software patents in Europe as well not too long ago. EPO-granted patents…

A month ago I said: “This will be interesting to follow. It will be very important to see if OIN even lifts a finger to help.”

It has not. I’ve kept this in my notes for a while. And OIN has done nothing to help. So when the ZDNet propaganda says (hours ago) that OIN is our friend it’s pretty clear that it bothered talking to nobody outside OIN and its circles. It’s just parroting press releases and PR, quite frankly as usual.

10.30.20

Free Software is Still Under Attack From Software Patents (GNOME Getting Patent Trolls to Settle Isn’t the Real Solution)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They used to be called “patent sharks”

On patent sharks

Summary: We’re asked to believe that a sort of “patch” (suggested by companies or monopolies with endless patent portfolios) means that Free software and software patents can co-exist; behind the scenes, however, “community distros” (not developed and controlled by monopolies) are coming under patent attacks which they cannot publicly speak about

THERE is a real and growing need to abolish software patents for good. As we noted quite recently, GNU/Linux distros are under attack. We hope to be able to make more public the pertinent details (that partly depends on OIN).

“The Free software community (the real community, not fake ones like IBM’s “Fedora”) is under attack.”In our latest Daily Links we included this new post about an ongoing Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes review (IPR). “On October 28, 2020,” it says, “the Central Reexamination Unit of the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Unified Patents’ request for ex parte reexamination, finding substantial questions of patentability for all claims of U.S. Patent 7,594,168, owned and asserted by Express Mobile, Inc., a well-known NPE. The ’168 patent generally relates to website building software. Express Mobile has asserted this patent over 90 times in district court against companies employing both proprietary website-building platforms and open-source platforms like WordPress and Magento.”

A wave attackYes, WordPress and Magento, which are used by millions (us included). The Federal Circuit has repeatedly rejected those sorts of patents, citing 35 U.S.C. § 101 (SCOTUS on Alice), but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) keeps granting those bogus patents, which are being leveraged (as above) by patent trolls who make nothing at all, let alone a CMS or “website building software.” The existing GNOME Foundation (with deep ties to IBM and Microsoft, responsible in part for settling with trolls) wants us to think that this is a new problem even though nothing could be further from the truth. While OIN is working overtime to reinforce the status quo — reaffirming software patents — the rest of us who don’t have like 100,000 US patents need to get work done and write code without fear of litigation.

The Free software community (the real community, not fake ones like IBM’s “Fedora”) is under attack. OIN is not helping, it’s only pretending to. We’ll say a lot more about that some time soon. OIN has an opportunity to prove us wrong, but it’s never doing that…

We need to carry on working towards the end of all software patents, not just here in Europe (incidentally, the distros under attacks are European and they’re targeted using already-expired software patents in a fashion reminiscent of the YouTube-DL takedown in GitHub).

3Com CEO Eric Benhamou once said:

“Anyone who doesn’t fear Microsoft is a fool.”

Remember that the troll which attacked GNOME had been working closely and getting patents from Microsoft’s ‘proxy’ Intellectual Ventures. GNOME Foundation, an anti-RMS outpost, doesn’t like to talk about this fact. Last week its head even praised Microsoft. His predecessors work for Microsoft. Infiltration has gone much further than the Linux Foundation and recently the OSI as well.

10.19.20

Ongoing (Albeit Secret) Campaign of Patent Extortion Against GNU/Linux Distributions Using Software Patents, Even Expired Ones in Europe

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 8:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OIN is MIA, as usual (it exists to protect monopolies, not GNU/Linux)

Danish Post Letter Boxes

Summary: GNU/Linux distros attacked by software patents, even in Europe where no such patents are supposed to exist (or have any legal bearing)

JUST over a month ago Techrights became aware of a serious issue, which had been going on for months prior. The public was never made aware and the message we received was private. This article will name neither the distributions nor the aggressors, as naming either might reveal the nature of an ongoing dispute and have a negative impact on the outcome.

“Are they trying or at least hoping to make it sufficiently uncomfortable if not stressful for small (community-based) distros of GNU/Linux to the point were they shyly shut down, going offline without explaining the real reason (for fear of being sued as means of retribution, akin to NDAs)?”As a little recap, the EPO under the corrupt management of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos has been gleefully granting software patents in Europe. Not many people are aware of the negative consequences (or truly care). Those have a highly detrimental effect on software developers and packagers across Europe. The impact is very negative when it comes to Free software and proprietary software alike. It harms European competitiveness and harms the profession (programming) globally. Who benefits? A bunch of parasites who cannot code and never coded anything.

To quote a message that we received, a patent troll “started harassing me and stating that I must license their [redacted] patents. But these are software patents and I am based in [redacted]. We are a small, open source project, so I don’t know what their game is. They’re asking for a couple of million dollars, based on fees from every download, including [redacted] downloads which we release at no charge.”

Letter from trollIt is a GNU/Linux distro used by a lot of people. A lot of people.

“My worry,” said the person on the receiving end of threats, “is that we may look like an easy target or they’re trying to set a precedent. Despite these software patents not being valid as pure software patents, I can see that they are enjoying success in German courts such as Mannheim and Düsseldorf.”

Are patent trolls and their legal representatives getting so bored and unoccupied during the pandemic that they’re started a Cold War against GNU/Linux?

On the nature of the threats received: “What worries me is that they’re emailing me, and not serving me by paper. German courts have considered this to be sufficient and they’ve already stated that I am obligated to reply and that they’ve made me a FRAND offer. But some of these patents have expired and I do not understand how this can be FRAND if they are forcing me to license expired patents. Further — I can’t see how this can be FRAND when they’re not consistently enforcing any level of compliance across other companies and open source projects. I’d not wish this on my worst enemy, but it is surprising that Canonical / Ubuntu are skirting legal issues but we (a small project) are in such a predicament.”

Or else!OIN membership has apparently not prevented this. Not at all. We’ll hopefully have an update on this some time soon. As a reminder, Canonical / Ubuntu went as far as licensing lousy codecs (software patents) from Microsoft more than a decade ago. Canonical / Ubuntu isn’t what it seems on the surface and it never really helped the battle against software patents.

Are they trying or at least hoping to make it sufficiently uncomfortable if not stressful for small (community-based) distros of GNU/Linux to the point were they shyly shut down, going offline without explaining the real reason (for fear of being sued as means of retribution, akin to NDAs)? If so, this would not be unprecedented in relation to Free software projects. We covered many examples in the distant past.

Can the leadership of the aggressor shed a light/clue regarding motivations? Is this a proxy battle in a bigger war? What’s the endgame here?

Stay tuned. We cannot say much more at this point (not safely anyway, without potentially causing harm by escalation).

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