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.


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.


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).


ZDNet Keeps Promoting Software Patents Agenda in Its ‘Linux’ Section

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As if 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice does not exist (6.5 years after the SCOTUS ruling, which has been repeatedly secured many dozens of times)…

SJVN crazySummary: The crazy idea that Linux should adapt to Microsoft and should embrace Microsoft’s non-standards is promoted in ZDNet this morning, in yet another OIN puff piece that overlooks Microsoft patent lawsuits over Linux

THAT ZDNet is a mouthpiece for OIN and LOT (there are overlaps) isn't exactly news. These people see nothing wrong with software patents. They are, after all, Microsoft apologists as well. It’s a corporate site which exists to serve monopolists (its biggest clients). Many of the articles there are puff pieces for the Linux Foundation, i.e. monopolists looking for openwashing.

“It was never about Linux (kernel) in the first place, or hasn’t been the case for well over a decade. So that statement is patently false.”It’s hardly surprising that a few hours ago Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) was acting almost like a spokesperson for OIN. He’s still in denial about ongoing Microsoft patent extortion, which even happened recently against Linux (he justified this for Microsoft by attacking the victim, as if it’s OK for Microsoft to sue Foxconn because SJVN dislikes Foxconn). I asked him about it and it turned out he was totally in denial about simple facts (instead he cited this totally irrelevant and unrelated affair to me), which were right there in the docket. His latest piece has this summary: “Open source’s main patent protection organization is expanding its reach far beyond just Linux.” It was never about Linux (kernel) in the first place, or hasn’t been the case for well over a decade. So that statement is patently false. Maybe clickbait too…

More from this article:

For years, the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression ever, has protected Linux from patent attacks and patent trolls. Now, on October 13, 2020, it expanded its scope from core Linux programs and adjacent open-source code by expanding its Linux System Definition. In particular, that means patents relating to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) 10 and the Extended File Allocation Table exFAT file system are now protected.

That’s important because for those of you with long memories Microsoft used to make billions from Android and exFAT-related patent licenses. Those days are long over, and this buries them for good.


Today, exFAT remains an important file system and, thanks to the OIN and Microsoft’s efforts, it’s now royalty-free for OIN members. With over 3,000 members, that means essentially anyone who wants to can now legally use exFAT for free.

Bruce Perens (OSI co-founder) recently spoke about the problem with OIN (around 10 minutes from the start of the video below). SJVN is acting like little but a PR agent of OIN (run by former patent trolls and patent cartel people), getting companies to join this software patents-approving cartel of companies like IBM. It’s helping to spread Microsoft stuff instead of better solutions. It’s about making things adapt to Microsoft rather than the other way around. We said the same thing when Microsoft brought exFAT to Linux, comparing it to OOXML.


European Patent Office Management Swims With Sharks and Liars

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Water splash

Summary: It has become increasingly if not abundantly evident that European Patent Office President Campinos is no better than Battistelli as he’s still a ‘darling’ of patent litigation trolls and their front groups/lawyers

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is run by a bad person, whose own staff rejects him (only 3% of those surveyed trust him). The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), thanks to a corrupt appointment made by Donald Trump, is also run by a bad person. They’re all about litigation/lawsuits; this isn’t what patent offices were made for. This is sometimes called “vendor capture” (the vendors being firms that pursue as much litigation as possible, not science or innovation).

Iancu vainly sidesteps 35 U.S.C. § 101 in order to mass-grant illegal software patents (without a chance in court; judges would toss these out) and artificially inflate meaningless numbers; so does Campinos, who openly and shamelessly promotes software patents in Europe and sometimes pressures judges to let him do this. IAM certainly pushes very hard in that direction…

“IAM and the EPO aren’t separate; there’s a business relationship, which we wrote about before.”Later these liars have the audacity to speak about patent “quality” (they mean speed or volume, not objective quality) and the EPO always cites a bunch of lies from IAM to ‘support’ the lie. They last did this a few months ago. IAM and the EPO aren’t separate; there’s a business relationship, which we wrote about before. IAM also has business relationships with Microsoft and its various patent trolls, including Intellectual Ventures. According to this new page “Intellectual Ventures COO Arvin Patel” will be an IAM ‘VIP’ soon, alongside Campinos and Iancu. What does that say about IAM? What does that say about the EPO? They’re both boosters of patent trolls because of the money; they’ve become a megaphone of blackmail and extortion artists funded by Microsoft. There’s a “virtual fireside chat” (careful not to get burned) coming:

António Campinos and Andrei Iancu are among the confirmed speakers participating in IAM’s ground-breaking IPBC Connect, being held over the course of next month.

The USPTO Director and the President of the EPO will be taking part in a virtual fireside chat on 15th September with IAM editor-in-chief Joff Wild, during which a wide range of subjects will be addressed. These will include, no doubt, how both agencies have responded to the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic and the longer-term implications for IP practice that the current crisis creates.

If one goes to the sponsors page one finds Intellectual Ventures in there. Is that what they pay for? That literally means that money is flowing from Intellectual Ventures (the world’s biggest patent troll) to IAM. Other sponsors include Sisvel (troll), Avanci (troll) and even OIN (yes, OIN the sellout, which works to reinforce software patents). Quite a bunch right there! We’ve highlighted/underlined them below (screenshot from the site).

OIN is sponsoring all sorts of patent trolls-infested events while calling some trolls "charities". This isn’t the OIN that we supported more than a decade ago. OIN is nowadays literally run by people who came from notorious patent trolls.

IAM sponsors 2020


[Humour/Meme] OIN Wants Us to Make Peace With Software Patents

Posted in OIN, Patents at 5:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jake Peralta: The community keeps telling us to get rid of software patents; instead we'll teach the community to accept software patents

Summary: The way things stand, OIN is really not interested in solving the patent problem the Free software way; rather, it’s looking to impose its own way on the Free software community

The Last Thing Open Invention Network (OIN) Needs Right Now is Public Association With a Patent Trolls’ and Software Patents’ Propaganda Site

Posted in IBM, OIN, Patents at 5:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

He does not speak for the “Open Source Community” and does not even use Open Source himself

Keith Bergelt: Limiting the Impact of Patent Assertion Entities on the Open Source Community

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN) seems to be choosing rather odd platforms; the above publisher, a judge-bashing software patents extremist, cannot possibly improve OIN’s image (by association)

Back when the Open Invention Network (OIN) was new — and back then it was run by a former IBMer — we thought it was an interesting and likely well-meaning organisation. We generally supported it. Years later OIN was put in the hands of a former US diplomat whose career record (in the patent domain) should trouble anyone who opposes patent shakedowns. He’s basically a “patent monetiser”…

In recent years things deteriorated even further. Sometimes OIN feels too much like a front group of software patents’ proponents. Some OIN staff calls major patent trolls ‘charities’… and tells us “Microsoft loves Linux” (a deliberate lie, but Microsoft is a member of theirs now).

So Keith Bergelt, on behalf of OIN (see screenshot above), is writing for Watchtroll. We omit the link, as usual. Matt Levy from CCIA did the same thing not too long before he lost his job (he’s at LOT now). Why would they wish to associate with the one and only site we refuse to even link to? Yes, it’s the only such site. All remnants of respect for OIN are gone when they do this. Well, in a sense it can be rationalised when one considers the actual agenda. And remember that the people who run OIN are themselves patent trolls and OIN serves an overlapping agenda. Today’s OIN is run by former patent trolls that are connected to Microsoft and oppose 35 U.S.C. § 101 (i.e. lobby for software patents at the USPTO).

“He says “poor quality patents”, but he never ever speaks about software patents; because he’s not against them.”Bergelt has called trolls “PAEs” (even gentler a term than “NPEs”). Here’s a couple among very many times when he said “PAEs”: “PAEs generally rely on poor quality patents as these patent assets are generally less expensive to acquire than more fundamentally sound and defensible high-quality patents. In this way, PAEs are able to generate sufficient return to make their business model efficacious.”

He says “poor quality patents”, but he never ever speaks about software patents; because he’s not against them. “While the patenting of non-obvious and novel inventions does not hinder innovation, but rather promotes it,” he says, “the issuance and use of poor quality patents as weapons against organizations seeking to advance and commercialize new technologies not only stifles innovation but creates a tax that ultimately is shouldered by the consumer. Given the unique innovation benefits of collaborative development on which all who adopt and use open source software rely, it is imperative that individuals, foundations and organizations across the technology spectrum commit to patent non-aggression through broad based cross licensing of core open source functionality. In addition, companies in the open source community must work together to lessen the effects of PAE activities through the crowdsourcing of relevant art that can prevent poor quality patent applications from being granted and poor quality granted patents from derailing the innovation agenda that open source uniquely fosters.”

“What we have here isn’t pursuit of a solution to the problem.”So what about companies whose software is not “Open Source” (that’s true for all of OIN’s big or biggest members); is it OK to just sue them out of existence?

What we have here isn’t pursuit of a solution to the problem. OIN’s solution is for everyone to put software patents in one big heap and sing Kumbaya, is that’s not a racist thing to say, rather than actually pursue elimination of those patents.


What Freedom of Software Actually Means to Us

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, IBM, OIN at 1:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Liberty or libre (freedom) is about more than brands or personalities, as names or institutions or individuals can change or completely perish; but concepts outlast superficialities

THE concepts put forth by rms (Richard Stallman) more than 35 years ago are more relevant than ever. Back then computers rarely had network connections (the Internet was immature and the World Wide Web was still waiting a decade in the future). The concept of back doors wasn’t quite the same in the 1980s; remote access through back doors is meaningless unless there’s a network. Maybe back doors as a concept made sense in the forensics sense (when physical access to the machine is possible, albeit data rather than packets may be encrypted).

Techrights started by dealing with the issue of software patents and standards almost 14 years ago. Prior to Techrights I had already written about patents elsewhere, including in my personal blog. The subject wasn’t new to me at all. About a week ago the FSF finally issued a press release on the matter, berating the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for what it called the “virus” of software patents.

“The concept of back doors wasn’t quite the same in the 1980s; remote access through back doors is meaningless unless there’s a network.”This gave me hope; is the FSF recognising the big picture and the big issues? Without elimination of software patents (35 U.S.C. § 101 got us closer to it, but IBM lobbies against 35 U.S.C. § 101 and it also pays the FSF) there’s no software freedom. Such patents impede the dissemination of free/libre code.

As per our latest Daily Links with an editorial comment, the IBM-connected OIN is still pushing software patents, this time disguised as “hey hi” (the EPO loves this term as a loophole for granting software patents in Europe). It makes one wonder if IBM, the ‘old’ big bad monopolist, is compatible with Free software (and by extension Red Hat as well). Why does the FSF allow itself to become financially dependent on the company that lobbies for software patents in India, in Europe and in the US? In other countries too of course… (but it takes more work to show this)

The author figosdev, who used to support the FSF financially, has pretty much given up on the FSF. To me, one key issue is the FSF’s silence on systemd (modularity under attack, probably for vendor lock-in) and IBM’s lobbying for software patents. How can the FSF reconcile all this?

figosdev wrote to me some hours ago to say: “By the way Roy, who else has pointed out that OIN is the GitHub of software patents?

“The latest moves into OIN and the latest moves into GitHub aren’t coincidental. The assimilation and annexation continues.

“Ultimately whoever owns OIN will own free software. Of course you can’t own OIN, can you? Wait, that’s like saying you can’t own the FSF or the GNU project.”

Sarcasm noted.

“I think rms made a mistake by embarking on that trip to Microsoft (a few weeks before he was ‘canceled’) and it’s clear that Microsoft/GitHub took none of his suggestions seriously.”My interpretation of Free software is somewhat personal; the concept itself is impersonal, but each can have a different interpretation of it. The advocacy of rms is still as lucid as ever, even if the FSF doesn’t give rms the limelight he deserves. I think rms made a mistake by embarking on that trip to Microsoft (a few weeks before he was ‘canceled’) and it’s clear that Microsoft/GitHub took none of his suggestions seriously. GitHub is a mess, full of JavaScript and lock-in. It’s totally proprietary.

To me, software freedom is about more than “GNU” or “Linux” or “GNU/Linux”. Seeing so-called ‘digitalisation’ of society (that’s what EPO calls it) and seeing software patents and secret code and clown computing and listening devices connected to these clowns makes me growingly concerned. Recently, in the United States, the drones of the police were taken up another notch. These combine surveillance with strategic response (violence). It may only be a matter of time before these Orwellian ‘machines’ (military gear) do to US citizens what’s already done to Somalis. What can we, as producers of code, do about this?

“To me, software freedom is about more than “GNU” or “Linux” or “GNU/Linux”.”The so-called ‘ethical’ licences mostly serve to distract from software freedom itself. They’re based upon the assumption that limiting access to software or restricting who can run it (a bit like UEFI ‘secure boot’) would somehow enhance freedom. It’s worse than misguided, it’s not enforceable (good luck getting military contractors to obey copyright laws, especially as some impoverished programmer with no lawyers), and it’s strategically weak.

I used to say that OSI and OIN and the Linux Foundation and whatnot are useless front groups beholden to corporate interests. The FSF is beholden to IBM, which in itself is a growing concern. The FSF should never have accepted corporate patrons at all.

So who to trust? Well, rms seems to have not been compromised. He’s still out there (or indoors; the coronavirus doesn’t help one who travels to give speeches). He’ll be out there for years to come. I predict that I too will be out there, hopefully for decades to come. Techrights will never take money from corporations and depending on how the Web evolves (or collapses) it may stick around for a couple more decades. Contingencies and successions are already in place. The site is in good hands, strong hands, technical hands. It can outlive all sorts of perils.

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