(ODF | PDF | English/original)
Resumen: IBM y Google se siguen perdiendo una oportunidad maravillosa para hacer de uno de los productos básicos una plataforma de comodidad y defender esta comodidad, poniendo fin a las patentes de software.
Las patentes de software son la mayor no-amenaza-bar a la libertad del software y las compañías que defienden su existencia son sin duda parte del problema. Por lo general, trabajar en conjunto contra de los intereses de aquellos cuyo plan es la eliminación de las patentes de software en su conjunto (FFII – Fundación para una Infraestructura de Información Libre – es una excepción).
El mes pasado criticamos a Google por querer comprar las patentes de Nortel[http://techrights.org/2011/04/06/benjamin-henrion-on-google-nortel/]. Si Google pelea las patentes con todavía más patentes, entonces simplemente legitima la existencia de matorrales, los abogados de patentes y los monopolios protegidos por el gobierno. Hemos sido críticos de la hipócrita postura de Google desde hace bastante tiempo.
El último consorcio de patentes de Google para WebM es diferente sin embargo. Al igual que el pool (grupo) de OIN, viene con algunos compromisos. Desde el sitio oficial[http://www.webm-ccl.org/]: “Los miembros del CCL (Comunidad WebM licencia cruzada )se están uniendo a este esfuerzo porque se dan cuenta que el ecosistema entero de la red – usuarios, desarrolladores, editores y fabricantes de dispositivos – van beneficiarse de una alta calidad, desarrollada por la comunidad de código abierto formato de los medios de comunicación. Esperamos con interés trabajar con los miembros del CCL y la comunidad de estándares web para promover el papel WebM en video de HTML5. ”
“”A IBM no le gusta hablar acerca de su política en favor de las patentes y cuando le pregunté el doctor Sutor sobre ella se negó a responder.”"Es un asunto difícil de defender, pero dado que la alternativa es hostil hacia el software libre y el software propietario, WebM es por mucho la mejor opción. El mismo argumento vale para la estrategia de patentes de IBM, que no está en contra de las patentes de software[http://techrights.org/2009/08/12/ibm-promoting-software-patents/] (lo mismo ocurre en cierta medida para Oracle y Red Hat). Las hilanderas, como Microsoft Florian[http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Florian_M%C3%BCller], en un gran esfuerzo para distorsionar los hechos. Quieren que la gente cree que la hipocresía se extiende a todo el mundo del software libre. De hecho, IBM y su adhesión a la concesión de licencias con Microsoft no acaba de hacerlo parte del cartel, porque también está la OIN (Invención de red abierta), que fue creado por un hombre de IBM. La OIN hace una labor encomiable. Es por eso que la OIN es odiada por refuerzos de Microsoft.
Otro punto de contacto digno de Google e IBM tiene mucho que ver con sus esfuerzos de código abierto que no son del todo abiertos, y mucho menos libre. Los hilanderos Microsoft intenta tirar “barro” sobre la base de que, sobre todo para enbarrar a sus mejores competidores. IBM prefiere algo así como la licencia Eclipse y no la licencia de Apache que Google favorece al parecer. Esto es perfectamente aceptable, aunque el tema de patentes sigue siendo descubierto. Hemos hablado de esto en el IRC ayer por la noche. A IBM no le gusta hablar acerca de su política en favor de las patentes y cuando le preguntó el doctor Sutor sobre ello se negó a responder. No le gusto la pregunta. No es como si estuviera haciendo caso omiso, ya que habíamos tenido una relación amistosa durante años. Sobre la base de su currículum, IBM cambió el título de su trabajo (VP) de “código abierto y estándares” a “Open Source y Linux” y luego a “Sistemas Abiertos y Linux” (2010 al presente). De las normas a Linux y de código abierto para sistemas abiertos, ¿eh? Diversas explicaciones se podría dar para eso.
IBM es un amigo de código abierto, pero su política de patentes tiene un gran margen de mejora porque ahora que la persona # 1 en la USPTO es de IBM, es muy claro que la empresa no tiene interés en poner fin a las patentes de software para bien. Si bien ese es el caso, para los desarrolladores de software libre y propietario por igual (los jugadores pequeños) seguirán sufriendo. Aquí es una empresa que anuncia que va a poseer otra patente “a través del Internet”[http://www.renalbusiness.com/news/2011/05/doctors-xl-charge-capture-software-now-patent-pending.aspx]:
DoctorsXL el03 de mayo, dijo que su “software basado en web MobileXL 3.0 está ahora pendiente de patente”.
Necesitamos que las empresas más grandes que hablen en contra de las patentes de software. Pero las patentes son beneficiosas para los carteles con muchos empleados, por lo que es poco probable que las mega-corporaciones levantarán un dedo para reformas reales.
IBM y Google no son amenazas para el Libre/Software de Código Abierto, pero en conclusión, que merecen mucha más presión. Deben unirse a la lucha contra las patentes de software en vez de actuar como defensores de software libre (con patentes) y sus niñeras. █
Translation produced by Eduardo Landaveri, the esteemed administrator of the Spanish portal of Techrights.
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Summary: IBM and Google are still missing a wonderful opportunity to make the platform a commodity and defending this commodity by putting an end to software patents
SOFTWARE patents are the greatest-bar-none threat to software freedom and companies which defend their existence are definitely part of the problem. They usually work against the interests of those whose plan is to eliminate software patents altogether (FFII being an exception).
Last month we criticised Google for its bid to take Nortel's patents. If Google fights patents with yet more patents, then it merely legitimises the existence of thickets, patent lawyers, and government-protected monopolies. We have been critical of Google's stance for quite some time.
Google’s latest patent pool for WebM is different however. Like the OIN’s pool, it comes with certain commitments. From the official site: “CCL members are joining this effort because they realize that the entire web ecosystem — users, developers, publishers, and device makers — benefit from a high-quality, community developed, open-source media format. We look forward to working with CCL members and the web standards community to advance WebM’s role in HTML5 video.”
“IBM does not like to talk about its pro-patents policy and when I asked Dr. Sutor about it he refused to answer.”It is a tricky one to defend, but since the alternative is hostile towards free software and proprietary software, WebM is by far the better choice. The same argument goes for the patent strategy of IBM, which is not against software patents (the same goes to some degree for Oracle and Red Hat). The spinners, such as Microsoft Florian, try very hard to distort the facts. They want people to believe that the hypocrisy extends to the whole Free software world. In fact, IBM and its cross-licensing with Microsoft does not quite make it part of the cartel because there is also OIN, which was created by a man from IBM. The OIN does commendable work. That’s why the OIN is loathed by Microsoft boosters.
Another touch-worthy point about Google and IBM has a lot to do with their open source efforts that are not entirely open, let alone free. The Microsoft spinners try to generate ‘dirt’ based on that, mostly for smears against those top competitors. IBM prefers something like the Eclipse licence and not the Apache licence like Google apparently favours. This is perfectly acceptable although the patent issue remains uncovered. We discussed this in IRC last night. IBM does not like to talk about its pro-patents policy and when I asked Dr. Sutor about it he refused to answer. He was not comfortable with the question. It’s not as though he was ignoring, as we had had a mostly amicable relation for years. Based on his CV, IBM changed the title from of his job (VP) from “Open Source and Standards” to “Open Source and Linux” and then to “Open Systems and Linux” (2010 to present). From standards to Linux and from Open Source to Open Systems, eh? Different explanations could be given for that.
IBM is a friend of Open Source, but its patent policy has room for improvement because now that the #1 person at the USPTO is from IBM, it is made abundantly clear that the company has no interest in ending software patents for good. While that is the case, Free and proprietary software developers alike (small players) will continue to suffer. Here is a company announcing that it is going to own another “over the Internet” patent:
DoctorsXL said May 3 that its web-based software MobileXL 3.0 is now patent pending.
We need more large companies that speak out against software patents. But patents are beneficial to cartels with many employees, so it is unlikely that mega-corporations will lift a finger for real reforms.
IBM and Google are not menacing to Free/open source software, but in conclusion, they deserve a lot more pressure. They should join the fight against software patents rather than act like FOSS defenders (with patents) and its babysitters. █
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Summary: Explanations given to clarify that Linux is not under siege and that OIN helps deter Microsoft, leaving it using patent trolls and proxies for the attempted taxation of GNU/Linux
Microsoft feeding patent trolls with “anti-Linux patents” (not our own term but a term that was widely used at the time) is not a conspiracy theory, thanks in part to proof obtained by the OIN and the Linux Foundation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. As we showed before, the patent troll-led MPEG-LA is batting for Microsoft’s and Apple’s benefit, directly aiming at Google as well (there is reactive defence from Google). Google’s GNU/Linux servers, the free codec, the free Web browser, and Android are some of the lucrative targets these days. It is a subject which we tackled repeatedly over the past week [1, 2, 3], more latterly because of Microsoft Florian and his FUD about a patent ruling which will most probably be overruled.
Here are some interesting details about the source of the lawsuit:
Can’t let it pass without comment: A mystery-company called Bedrock Computer Technologies sues Google in the Eastern District of Texas for infringing on a patent. And that patent names Linux! It’s also going after Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com, and AOL (What??? Does AOL use Linux?).
You can just about throw a dart and hit a tech blog reblogging the story today, but I like Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols & Paula Rooney’s take on it the best: “Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision” says it all.
It’s almost a parody of a patent troll case. “Bedrock Computer Technologies” has a website, and what’s on that home page? A showcase of technologies for sale by them? A shopping-cart section where you can actually buy something from them? Nope, just an Art-Deco logo straight out of Atlas Shrugged, linking to an email drop – I take it whomever’s job it is to read the mail from that drop is having a jolly time hosing it out today. Bedrock is a patent troll, and they don’t give a thin damn who knows it.
Given the geography of the case and given the depth of Google’s pocket, this is more noise than signal. This will go away. It is a timely lesson, however, regarding the ridiculousness of software patents and it can rekindle this important debate.
Well, guess what? Even Microsoft boosters acknowledge that it’s not as serious as Microsoft Florian tried putting it and Groklaw has this productive suggestion and constructive response which seeks to eliminate software patents as a whole. It is the only real solution. From the introductory summary:
This article provides a detailed factual explanation of why software is mathematics, complete with the references in mathematical and computer science literature. It also includes a detailed factual explanation of why mathematics is speech, complete once again with references. My hope is that it will help patent lawyers and judges handling patent litigation understand these fundamental truths, so they can apply that technical knowledge to their field of skill.
Case law on software patents is built on a number of beliefs about how computers and software work. But as you will see, when you compare the technical facts presented in this article and in the authoritative works referenced, with expressions in case law on how computers and software work, you will find they are often in complete opposition. I believe this is a foundational problem that has contributed to invalid patents issuing.
If you are a computer professional, I hope you pay attention to another aspect of the article, on how the lawyers and judges understand software. This is critical to understanding their point of view. After reading case after case on the topic, I have concluded that the legal view of software relies on beliefs that are in contradiction with known principles of computing. Computer professionals explain their profession based on an understanding that is, on its face, the opposite of a few things the legal profession believes to be established and well understood facts. Moreover, the law is complex and subtle. Computer professionals don’t understand it any better oftentimes than patent lawyers understand software, and so they can make statements that make no legal sense.
I believe that coming to a clear and fact-based definition of what an algorithm is can help both sides to communicate more effectively. So let’s do that as well.
Brian Proffitt says that there is “no reason to worry about Linux” because this patent verdict can be overturned quite soon. To quote his column:
I was on the road in Boston late last week, and thus was unable to easily write something up on the April 15 jury finding in the case of Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC v. Softlayer Technologies, Inc. et al.
That’s the catchy name for the patent infringement lawsuit launched in 2009 by Tyler, Texas-based Bedrock against Softlayer and CitiWare Technology Solutions, LLC, two Texas-based software companies, and a few firms that are decidedly not from Texas: Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., MySpace Inc., Amazon.com Inc., PayPal Inc., Match.com, Inc., AOL LLC and CME Group Inc. The suit alleges that a patent that Bedrock owns, US 5,893,120, is infringed by the defendants in the suit, because such a method is employed by the Linux operating system and as major users of Linux, the defendants are liable for damages.
Back on April 15, after a five-day jury trial, the Federal jury in Tyler, Texas indeed found in favor of Bedrock and specified that Google owed the company a huge, staggering amount of $5 million in damages. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)
Patent law followers will note the location of the trial venue. The United States District Court Eastern District of Texas is well-known as a favored district for patent infringement suits. It is no coincidence, surely, that Bedrock’s founder David Garrod opted to start his company, which exists only as a holder of patents like 5,893,120, in such a patent-friendly location.
Proffitt’s former colleague, Sean Michael Kerner, reminds us of the role played by the OIN, which has no built-in immunisation against patent trolls (e.g. those whom Microsoft feeds), unlike large companies that wage patent wars under different rules. To quote Sean:
Patents remain a source of risk for the open source ecosystem, though the Open Invention Network (OIN) is doing its’ part to help reduce the risk.
The OIN launched back in 2005 as a group tasked with acquiring patents and then licensing them back to the open source community on a royalty-free basis.
OIN has continued to grow over the years, and for the first quarter of 2011, the group grew by over 70 new licensees including HP, Facebook and Juniper Networks.
Since those who bemoan Linux (and constantly spread patent FUD about it) also smear the OIN, surely there is something about the OIN which worries Microsoft; it acts as a deterrent. For example, Microsoft is not suing OIN members for patent violations, assuming they join early enough, unlike TomTom. The monopolist can use patent trolls to file these lawsuits however. Microsoft is, after all, the genesis of the world’s biggest patent troll. It cannot deny this fact. █
“In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space.”
–SCO’s Strategic Consultant Mike Anderer
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Summary: “Novell sold out the community,” explains the editor of Groklaw, who proceeds to warning about other vassals of Microsoft that infiltrate the Linux community to change its goals Kamikaze-style
Yesterday we wrote a couple of posts about Novell and the OIN [1, 2], noting quite rightly based on the evidence that Novell is betraying the OIN and turning its back on the GNU/Linux community by giving software patents to Microsoft.
For reasons we explained many times before (and provided supporting examples), Novell’s role in the Linux Foundation was also somewhat dubious. Novell was Microsoft’s bridge into the Linux Foundation (see the LF-Microsoft banner at the top, as we used it in this context a couple of years back).
“After Novell sold out the community, the Linux Foundation wants another Microsoft partner to join up and participate in groups working on legal topics?”
–Pamela JonesThe Linux Foundation now opens its doors to a Yahoo! which is occupied by Microsoft folks and Groklaw is concerned. “After Novell sold out the community,” explains Pamela Jones, “the Linux Foundation wants another Microsoft partner to join up and participate in groups working on legal topics? I can’t imagine how anyone could imagine that would work out well. Why not just let Microsoft join, then, if they are going to get the news almost that fast, conceivably, anyway?”
Well, maybe put Elop in there too? That’s already done because Nokia is a Gold Member and the Microsoft executives-occupied VMware, for example, is a Silver Member. Still far from entryism, but still…
It was only yesterday that we wrote about Microsoft’s and Elop’s (a Microsoft mole inside Nokia) sense of urgency in sealing the deal, with the possibility causing problems to Android, using patents too. Here is what Tim wrote amid the signing and the profits slump:
To me, this early signing shows that its crunch time. Microsoft in my view has realized its now or never and it’s got to be quick. Do I think this will make any difference to the acceptance of WP7? – No. Do I think the WP7 will be Ballmers final stand? – Yes. Do I think that everything concerning the WP7 is too little too late? – Yes.
Nokia has already given hints that it may use patents. Maybe it will even sell some to Microsoft if it cannot sue Android directly (it would be frowned upon by the Linux Foundation, even though SCOracle and Google were not secured by common membership in the OIN, for example). Novell “changes patent sale terms” to enable Microsoft to receive its patents, reports AP (via BusinessWeek). There too one can sense urgency:
The Justice Department said CPTN has altered the patent deal in a number of ways. Microsoft will sell back to Attachmate all of the patents that it would have received. But it will keep a license to use those patents as well as the patents that the other companies are purchasing and any patents that Novell keeps. EMC will not receive 33 Novell patents and applications that are related to visualization software.
In addition, all of the Novell patents included in the CPTN deal will be subject to open-source licenses for the GNU and Linux operating systems. CPTN won’t have the right to limit which patents are available under the Linux license and neither CPTN nor its owners will attempt to influence or encourage Waltham, Mass.-based Novell or Attachmate to change which patents are available under the Linux license.
As legal people in Groklaw point out, comparing patents to matters of copyrights (GPL) hardly makes sense as that’s like mixing apples and oranges, then comparing them. Additionally, they refer to GPLv2 and not “or later” (GPLv3 contains language that addresses software patents). “I’m not sure what this means,” wrote Groklaw initially, “that the patents would be “subject to” the GPL. I’ll try to find out.” Groklaw also explains that AttachMSFT and Unxis are unlikely to make any case which jeopardises Linux because there is no copied code. To quote parts of the very interesting new article (“SCO’s nemesis announces her retirement”):
Unxis is holding a busted hand if it has dreams of threatening to sue Linux users over copyrights again. “As for any hopes people have about suing others with the copyrights that the court ruled SCO didn’t get, my analysis is that it won’t work. The court ruled that Novell didn’t transfer them,” PJ said.
Even Attachmate, which is buying Novell and therefore might end up with the AT&T Unix copyrights, will find it very difficult to sue Linux users over those copyrights, PJ thinks. “If you know the history of Unix, you know, as pointed out in the USL/BSDi case in New Jersey, that for a long time AT&T relied on trade secret, not copyright, protection. Back then you had to register your copyright or you lost out and had to rely on trade secret instead. And that is precisely what AT&T did.”
There is still no sign of commitment from AttachMSFT to OpenSUSE, which barely generates any news anymore, with few minor exceptions [1, 2]. What Novell truly left the Linux community with is Mono and Moonlight infestation which might take a very long time to clean up/wash away. Boycott Novell to defend Linux and GNU. Avoid Novell products like Mono. █
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The criminal court in London
Summary: News about CPTN, the Open Invention Network (OIN), and Microsoft patent cases
WAY back in the days, Novell took great pride in its OIN membership, reassuring us all that many of its patents were wonderfully innovative and benevolent because of the OIN. Novell actually used this propaganda for marketing of Novell’s products, even proprietary ones. It was the “goodwill” PR. Now that Novell is eager to give those patents to Microsoft, what is a person supposed to call Novell? There are many words that fit here and our readers and intelligent enough to fill the gap.
The latest CPTN development is now described by IDG, which correctly states that this is “Microsoft’s Purchase”, not the shell it’s hiding behind (like OuterCurve [1, 2] and others) for regulatory reasons and PR purposes. Novell should be shamed and boycotted for what it is doing here. Even when it’s sold to AttachMSFT, its products ought to be avoided. There is no point in asking Novell to withdraw the CPTN agreement because a withdrawal is not going to happen. Novell is now run by a bunch of Microsoft vassals, to whom monetary gifts from Microsoft — Trojan horses included — are a matter of priority.
“Novell should be shamed and boycotted for what it is doing here.”So anyway, what will it be for OIN if CPTN (Microsoft proxy) gets some of the patents once owned by the OIN? We covered this some months ago when companies reacted by joining the OIN before the closure of Novell’s deal. Ever since then OIN grew 28 percent (in the first quarter alone!) and CIS — with roots in OSDL because of Stuart Cohen — will speak about that very soon. Facebook, a patent aggressor with Microsoft ownership (a partial stake), has also just joined the OIN this month and that says a lot. It was already mentioned in that previous post about Facebook joining. Since Microsoft Florian and other Linux haters from Microsoft circles spread so much FUD about the OIN, we can tell for sure that the OIN is doing something positive. So thanks, Florian, for validating what we already knew. Reading Florian is like reading manipulative strategies from within Microosft, the bias, defamation, FUD, and lies included. He is currently pushing for Microsoft to get Novell’s (and probably Nokia’s) patents, by proxy. As for the Nokia situation which he gloats over (premature sealing of the Microsoft deal [1, 2] with Elop), this should definitely get reported to the anti-cartel authorities in Germany, just like CPTN. Microsoft’s Elop, representing Nokia, signed the deal with his former employer very quickly, before an investigation for this cartel-like tactic or entryism could be announced. Even seniors at Nokia too called it a "take over" as opposed to a deal. This is an example of corruption, a white-collar offence that nobody seems to be investigating even though a lot of people complain. This is why Microsoft is generally distrusted or even loathed throughout the industry.
Some ‘Linux companies’ are notorious for a dubious patent strategy and no company is more notorious for it than TiVo, which turned into an aggressor and a loser in its fight for relevance. Here is the latest from the TiVo-EchoStar court case [1, 2]
A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that EchoStar infringed TiVo patents for digital recording technology, raising hopes the long legal battle could end with a TiVo victory.
TiVo shares shot up after the ruling, trading more than 30 percent higher in the early afternoon.
This is nothing to be celebrated. And one need not pardon TiVo for Tivoization, either.
Microsoft is also in court because of patent violations. It is the important case of i4i. Microsoft is in fact at the Supreme Court because it knowingly infringed patents and also engaged in trial misconduct, quite characteristically. Here is some of the latest coverage from IDG, in addition to SJVN’s take [1, 2]. There is another news article today about patent troll Ric Richardson, who used that joke of a ‘company’ called Uniloc (see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]) to get a lot of money for code he did not write at all. Watch him help this propaganda piece titled “Innovation festival”:
Inventor Ric Richardson made a name (and a whole lot of money) for himself when his company Uniloc successfully sued Microsoft for a breach of their anti-piracy software patent.
Innovation in software happens at the keyboard, not a “festival” or even a patent lawyer’s office. Now, if only these patent trolls could lead Microsoft to finally flip-flopping on the software patents stance. It would be good to have more such trolls suing Microsoft. 50 is not enough. █
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Wakeup call for OSI, ISO, and OIN
Summary: The Microsoft-bent proprietary software company, Novell, is becoming a huge liability, helping to prove that so-called ‘defensive’ patents in the hands of Red Hat or Google are not acceptable, either; Nokia too is becoming a patent problem after Microsoft’s intervention
“Boycott Novell” was right about Novell. Those who disagree would probably scramble to find supportive evidence/reasons. There is an ongoing debate about whether or not defending one’s patents can constitute being against software patents as a whole. As we noted the other day, Novell is now providing Microsoft with yet more ammunition with which to attack Linux, and this time it’s about patent sales. Novell ceased to be the reformed company it once claimed to be. It also turns Free/libre software into proprietary software, which is all it seems to be doing these days/this week [1, 2, 3].
Those who defend “defensive” patents (like Red Hat’s and maybe Google soon) ought to remember that Novell too used to pretend that its patents — including newly-filed-for software patents — were intended to “protect” the open source community (e.g. via OIN). Well, it turns out to be the very opposite of the truth because according to Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke, Microsoft is likely to get Novell’s patents very soon. It’s not just Microsoft actually; Novell patents will land at the hands of several who are Linux-hostile, including:
While it is not known what particular patents Apple and Oracle are getting, Tiemann based his fears on the companies’ recent actions and statements.
Oracle, for instance, has sued Google, claiming that Android violates its Java patents. “Oracle’s prior actions suggest that Oracle may be planning to create a dominant position in Mobile at Google’s expense,” Tiemann said.
Meanwhile, Steve Jobs has threatened to “go after” Ogg Theora and other open source video codecs. “It seems plausible that Apple’s most credible competitor in the mobile market, Android, would be vulnerable to challenge by the patents involved in the CPTN-transaction,” Tiemann said.
Tiemann’s statement was a response to a disclosure from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO) that Microsoft and EMC have made additional statements about what they intend to do with the patents. Microsoft plans to return the patents its buys from Novell back to Attachmate, Novell’s new owner, and merely license the portfolio. EMC says that its share of the patents will not relate to virtualization. EMC owns VMware.
More at The H:
A consortium made up of Apple, EMC, Microsoft and Oracle which planned to purchase 882 Novell patents, following Novell’s takeover by Attachmate, has altered its strategy in order to defuse anti-trust concerns. According to the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the consortium will only exist for a further three months with the aim of dividing the Novell patents up between its members. All four members will be granted licenses for all of the patents. Microsoft is reported to have undertaken to sell its patents back to Attachmate and retain only the right to use the technologies protected by the patents. Similarly, VMware parent EMC is reported to have agreed not to acquire any of the patents relating to virtualisation.
Here is the original message from the OSI (Red Hat’s staff included):
Towards the end of March, we received a message from the German Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office or FCO) advising us that the CPTN transaction had been re-notified to them. That means that the consortium seeking to acquire Novell’s patent portfolio – Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle – had once again asked for permission to proceed.
OSI Concerns Heeded
Notably, the terms of the transaction seem to have been significantly changed, apparently in response to concerns like the ones OSI expressed at the start of the year. OSI is very pleased that the FCO has been clear about the transaction with CPTN and congratulates them on continuing to consider the overall health of the evolving software market and not just the concerns of the existing dominant players.
Here is a non-expert summary of the differences (summarised with permission from the FCO):
* CPTN will now only exist for long enough to distribute the shares equally among the participants in the transaction (no more than three months), and thus will not form a new long-term patent troll itself.
* All parties to the transaction will retain a license to the full Novell patent portfolio, thus immunising themselves from patent actions with the shares they do not hold.
* Microsoft will sell its 25% share of the patents on to Attachmate and retain only a license to the portfolio.
* EMC will ensure that the 31 patents it has determined relate to virtualisation are not among the 25% share it acquires.
* All patents will still be subject to all existing licenses, covenants not to sue and similar restrictions.
OSI Still Concerned
The FCO went on to ask OSI for its views on the revised transaction.
Microsoft boosters like Microsoft Florian are already playing along with the CPTN, breeding fear of legitimising this anti-competitive and Linux-hostile move. Microsoft is trying to use patent portfolios to ensure it gets paid no matter whose products are sold and the situation is made worse as Microsoft is likely to use its Elop-run Nokia as a litigation machine (led by Elop after Microsoft gave him some blessings, sent him to Nokia, and made him richer with Microsoft stockpiles). See the article “Patent Lawsuits Are Key Battleground for Nokia”:
Nokia’s recent legal actions against Apple underline how patent infringement lawsuits have become a key competitive strategy for mobile phone makers, especially as software escalates in importance in the smartphone market.
To twist Steve Ballmer’s words, “Microsoft is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.” This includes Nokia and Novell. Their patents end up in hostile hands, just like Sun’s.
Patents are the nuclear option. The difference is, patents cannot be converted into energy (well, unless the papers are put in the fireplace). █
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Por Andrew C. Oliver
Original en: http://www.opensource.org/blog/…
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De alguna manera me perdí eso de los amores de Microsoft hacia Open Source – Código Abierto[http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/082310-microsoft-open-source.html]. Hay una razón por qué me la perdí. Cuando Microsoft no está amenazando demandar a la gente por el uso/distribución del código Abierto está ocupado con la creación de consorcios semi-secretos para obstaculizar el uso de Código Abierto[http://en.swpat.org/wiki/CPTN_Holdings_LLC]. Microsoft ama el “abrazar” a el código Abierto. Este “IT Mezclado” e “interoperabilidad” (unidireccional); es francamente un trabajo tonto. Ojalá Microsoft fuese sincero pero sus acciones hablan más ruidosamente que sus palabras. Microsoft “ama” a el código Abierto de la manera que “amó[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace,_extend_and_extinguish]” Java.
Cuando hablo a la gente de Microsoft acerca de todo su mal comportamiento, es cierta otra parte de Microsoft que si la ignoramos eventualmente veremos la luz. Eso parece como una mala estrategia de nuestros “buenos amigos”. Si Microsoft ama sinceramente al Código Abierto, es hora de una estrategia corporativa. Hagamos esto simple:
* ¿Cómo sobre una promesa de la patente similar pero mejor que la promesa de patentes de Red Hat[http://www.redhat.com/legal/patent_policy.html]? Vaya un paso más al futuro y amplíelo a todas las licencias de código abierto[http://opensource.org/licenses/index.html].
* ¿Qué acerca de invitar al Open Invention Network OSI[http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/] para que se una a la CPTN? Eso haría cada uno más cómodo creer que es un consorcio defensivo y no un esquema para destruir a el código abierto.
* ¿Qué acerca de un cambio del tono del mensaje de la comercialización a “desarrollo cooperativo”, en vez de el de la “interoperabilidad”?
Microsoft, quisiera ver este amor como algo más que un esquema de comercialización gaseoso. ¡Demuéstrenos el amor! █
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Translation produced by Eduardo Landaveri, the esteemed administrator of the Spanish portal of Techrights.
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Melbourne at night
Summary: Churchill Club Great Debate on software patents ends; Rackspace joins the OIN; Australian reviews patentable subject matter and New Zealand wrestles with the “embedded” software loophole
As expected, a public debate took place to discuss the patentability of software and the FSF was there. No matter where we check [1, 2, 3], a video of this debate is not published yet. Paul Krill of InfoWorld has a new report about it, which he summarised as follows:
Free Software Foundation argues that software patents infringe on individual expression and present a roadblock to innovation
Meanwhile, the OIN keeps growing (Rackspace has just joined), so there is at least some reassurance that patent attacks on GNU/Linux will have a deterrent.
Further down, in the southern hemisphere, there is also some interesting progress regarding patents. There is an Australian “Review of Patentable Subject Matter” and “sadly,” explains Glyn Moody, this “doesn’t do anything about software patents, gene patents.” Recently, gene patents were questioned in Australia. There is also this from New Zealand:
The NZ Open Source Society has given what it calls “qualified support” to the draft IPONZ guideline on the patentability of inventions containing embedded computer programs.
“There is a fog of misinformation around software patents and the IPONZ guideline,” says Don Christie, NZOSS government liaison officer, in a statement.
The vast majority of the patents in New Zealand (also alleged software patents in New Zealand) are not owned by companies from New Zealand but by large companies mostly from the United States. So clearly the benefit of this type of patent system is not New Zealand’s benefit. There is this new article that quotes different statistics from the United States:
You hear it all the time from our political and economic leaders – small business is the engine of the U.S. economy. Of the nation’s 26.8 million businesses, some 99.9 percent of them have fewer than 500 employees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In addition to driving the economy, small business is the source of a big share of the nation’s innovation. For example, 98 percent of telecommunications patents and 97 percent of software patents are issued to companies of 500 or fewer companies, according to a U.S. Small Business Administration study.
The innovation cannot be measured and enumerated in terms of patents, but the point the author is trying to make is that small businesses need government protection. As we know too well, patents are beneficial to large companies that can always counter-sue small companies (bar patent trolls); the same can apply to nations by saying that only large countries with a ton of patents (and some filed overseas) would likely benefit from the collective, worldwide patent system, which is a system of exclusion and protectionism (protecting those already in power, under the umbrella of WIPO and WTO). The US Chamber Of Commerce — like the ICC (lobby for large multinationals) — has released a 2011 IP Policy Agenda just now (amid huge scandals that are covered widely, such as spying on family members of Chamber Of Commerce critics so as to scare and silence them). The fight against patents excess is often a fight against sheer greed, as demonstrated even in the days of Edison — a now-glorified businessman who bullied people using patents he did not deserve. █
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