Summary: Microsoft’s hostility towards FOSS and Linux persists, based on the company’s actions
A few years ago Microsoft was building attack groups to halt migrations to OpenOffice.org. That was before Oracle messed things up. It is now being demonstrated that Microsoft is censoring results:
In its efforts to take down as much infringing content as it can, Microsoft has started to censor legitimate links to competing software. Hoping to remove pirated versions of Microsoft Office from the Internet, the software company has sent several DMCA takedowns to Google, listing copies of its open source competitor Open Office as copyright infringements. An honest mistake perhaps, but also a terrible one.
And Microsoft trying to accuse Google of doing this. Look who’s talking.
Incidentally, Microsoft hates Google so much that it is leaving out the market leader, Android, which is Linux-based. According to this report about the Microsoft-acquired Yammer:
Android, for now, remains on the outside of the Yammer love circle.
Yammer is opening up its social features to third-party enterprise apps built for iOS phones and tablets and Windows Phone 8 devices — but for Android for now.
And later they tell us that they’re warming up to Linux and playing nice, They just simply rely on moles like Wallito infiltrate FOSS sites and pretend there’s a pro-FOSS angle at Microsoft. Deeds don’t stack up to match the PR.
Summary: Patent litigation, de-emphasis on freedom etc. now a common trick for dismantling FOSS projects as they emerge
With a licensing fiasco and other scandals abound, MySQL is hardly treated so favourably these days. Oracle‘s megalomaniac CEO (God complex like his best friend Steve Jobs) warned a long time ago that if some FOSS competition gets good enough, then he will just buy it. He bought several such products/projects and also started attacking FOSS in court, using patents of course. Recently he also joined hands with Microsoft. The real contender these days is free/libre software, not any particular brand. Few people will challenge this claim because of Android, Firefox, Apache, the GNU toolchain and so on (Microsoft is already trying to crush or subvert Apache from the inside, making it just another Windows/SQL Server ‘app’). The main point, however, is that one way to challenge FOSS is spurious litigation, potentially SLAPP, and another is buyout. Just look what Microsoft recently did to Barnes and Noble.
The article asks: “How does one compete against FREE? That’s an interesting question for Blackboard, a company which creates learning management systems (LMS). Blackboard previously engaged in buying up and either dismantling or integrating the competition into its own products–such as Elluminate, Prometheus, or WebCT–but open source alternatives like Moodle and Sakai present a different issue.”
“The main point, however, is that one way to challenge FOSS is spurious litigation, potentially SLAPP, and another is buyout.”This has indeed been disturbing, We wrote about it before.
“In the meantime,” says this article, “officials at Blackboard, Moodlerooms, and NetSpot paint a rosy picture with a “statement of principles” that commit to keeping the OSS development alive. So far, there is no word on what may occur if a value conflict arises between Blackboard and Moodle, and there is no indication if there will ultimately be a split in the development community as happened after Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems forked LibreOffice from OpenOffice. Informed of some pending corporate strategies, Moodle creator Martin Dougiamas shows cautious optimism for positive synergies resulting from more interrelation between Blackboard’s products and the two companies it purchased.”
Blackboard is trying to do here what other proprietary software giants did and it can result in reduced community support for the FOSS side, helping to strengthen a proprietary agenda. █
Summary: The anti-FOSS, pro-patents lobbyist Florian Müller (deceivingly called “FOSS patents”) is at it again and this time his lies are being challenged by one who is better informed about the subject at hand
Grooming an unaccountable liar for agenda-serving by spin is not a novel concept. Microsoft has done that for ages and it also paid Florian Müller to achieve this. Some people sell themselves this way. Perception management is their business model.
Oracle is another client of Mueller’s. Oracle hired him to “advise” the company, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that he generally mirrors the Oracle point of view in an endless stream of anti-Google articles. And if that is what you want, X marks the spot. Read whatever you enjoy.
But if what you want is an analysis that includes both sides in litigation, not to mention predictions that actually come true, I fear you will not find it there. So let’s take a look at what he wrote about Oracle’s brief, and I’ll try to give you a better understanding of the issues in this appeal by adding some accurate information about Google’s position.
For those who see Florian Müller quoted in the press after mass-mailing journalists (that’s his business method and model), be sure to point out to the author who Florian Müller really is and what his record is. He sells agenda. A lot of reports don’t know this, so they continuously fall into his trap. He exploits their nativity and he misrepresents himself to them. █
The other day we saw Microsoft seeding some new types of FUD against Android; I heard some of those lies repeated by salesmen at a store when I bought Android devices. The reality is, Google is much moresecure than Microsoft and when Google got cracked it was Windows’ fault (thereafter it got banned for internal use). There is still some FUD about everything Google, but Microsoft is always behind it. The Foxconn patent deal may in fact involve nothing but FUD; we don’t know if Microsoft is really being paid and we cannot check due to secrecy. This secrecy should be challenged by government officials; it’s detrimental to everyone but the conspirators, that’s why they insist on it.
Upon the signing of this deal Pamela Jones wrote: “I hope Foxconn loses all that business, then, followed by the FTC and DOJ investigating antitrust issues.” Wishful thinking. Microsoft has got the government in its pocket. It is one of its biggest sponsors (Obama’s top technology funder when he got elected).
Apple is also believed to be playing a key anti-Samsung role for Taiwanese companies over display panels. Last year, device manufacturer Foxconn attempted to buy a 10 percent stake in panel maker Sharp Corp., a move that the AP noted was believed to have been spurred by Apple as the company expressed “eagerness to find an alternative supplier to Samsung.”
“Well, well,” wrote Jones. “This puts the Foxconn-Microsoft patent deal into an interesting context, wouldn’t you say?”
Pamela Jones separately added: “Remember when SCO Group complained to the courts that the GPL, the license on Linux, was UnConstitutional? No one, Darl McBride, told them can compete with free. And Microsoft helped to fund SCO. So did Sun, now belonging to Oracle. And here we go again. How pitiful.
“Evidently the first complaint against Google didn’t go the way they hoped, so they regroup and try a new angle. Here’s the problem: Google isn’t guilty of anything like what they claim. You can just modify you phone any way you want, including removing Android altogether and using Linux, purely, instead. Or you can fork Android, without any consequences, as Amazon has done, without consequences and without having to prominently display a thing for Google. You have freedom of choice. So this new complaint is, frankly, ludicrous. It’s actually offensive, because it’s cynical. Here’s how I read their complaints: they are saying to me, “We can’t compete with Google as far as products are concerned. We are accustomed to gouging our customers on price, and with a free offering in the market, we can’t keep doing that.” Is that really something antitrust agencies like the EU Commission should be helping them with? And how about the EU Commission look into how come the same companies keep suing and complaining about Google? Any antitrust implications if the old guard plots together to kill off the new guy trying to compete with something better than the world has fallen in love with? I do want to commend Apple for apparently not joining in this.”
The European authorities have been too weak for effective action recently. They also helped ligitimise software patents after they had rejected them in 2005. US law keeps spreading. As noted recently in relation to the CFAA, that’s how it goes (and thus we cover a lot of US news):
How can all of us non-US people help with this? Just by mentioning “Your senseless laws will create dangerous precedents and will “inspire” other law-makers around the world!”?
In relation to Android a new petition was set up, stating:
As can be seen in the Oracle v Google lawsuit, legacy vendors are getting together to try to overturn a court ruling that APIs are NOT copyrightable. If successful in their appeal, the ruling would prevent competitive implementations of the same API, resulting in a new kind of lock-in that reduces competition and set a precedent that affects all APIs and programming languages
Oracle is a member of the CPTN conspiracy (as in conspiracy to harm common rivals, using patents), which received Novell’s patents. A “Novell exec plots company’s return,” says this article which states/quotes claims as follows:
“Since the Attachmate acquisition, Novell has been asleep at the wheel in several competitive markets,” said Hyoun Park, principal analyst at IT research firm Nucleus Research
Well, Nokia is the same. Microsoft destroyed it just for its patents. A pattern is emerging here, with Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Nokia, and even some manufacturers in Taiwan seeking to use their patent-stacking tactics to destroy the market leader, Linux/Android. Apathy from the public is the greatest thing the conspirators could hope for. █
Summary: New smears against Android come from an Oracle- and Microsoft-funded lobbyist; Oracle and Microsoft now openly collaborate in the fight against Android while Apple, longtime friend of Oracle and Microsoft, fails to stop Android’s momentum
The antics of Microsoft Florian, better known as Florian Müller or (anti-)FOSS Patents, are well known by now and his history of deception should leave no informed journalist in a position/decision to cite him. But groomed by Microsoft’s PR and the MSBBC he is doing some more of his personal attacks. It’s almost as though the PR agents ‘serve’ him with smears to publish (which according to my communications with him is likely, hence making him a communications proxy). To quote the latest from the BBC:
Sir Robin – who is also a law professor at University College London (UCL) – is now acting as a consultant to a law firm helping Samsung defend itself against a patent infringement complaint filed in the US by network equipment provider Ericsson.
After news of this spread his clerk, John Call, issued a statement.
“Sir Robin had not discussed any role as an expert, or any related matter, with Samsung or any of its representatives either directly or indirectly before 9 January 2013, when he was approached through his clerk by Bristows in the normal way to enquire as to his availability to give an expert opinion,” it said.
“Sir Robin accepted those instructions on 21 January 2013.
“Sir Robin’s role is entirely unrelated to his judgment in the Court of Appeal given on 18 October 2012 in the case of Samsung Electronics (UK) Ltd and Apple Inc. The instruction does not relate to any UK litigation or advice of any kind. Sir Robin is being remunerated for providing his expert opinion at his usual rates.”
#swpats and reputations – good article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21613152 … note anonymous sniping at Prof Jacob reminiscent of #odf and Peter Quinn
BBC is Android-hostile and has been like this for quite some time. It did not point out Microsoft’s ties to Florian, only Oracle’s. Here is a rebuttal:
FOSS Patents is a blog run by Florian Mueller who gets paid by Microsoft (and Oracle) and writes anti-Android stories in wholesale. He then feeds them to lazy bloggers who prefer copy+paste over doing their own research. He has again weaved an anti-Android story. This time he has questioned the integrity of the UK judge Sir Robin Jacob by writing a blog titled “UK judge who issued extreme ruling for Samsung against Apple hired by… Samsung!”
I am not saying that he gets paid by Microsoft and Oracle to write anti-Android stories and spread FUD against Android, but looking at the amount of time he spends on long boring posts, I wonder when does he get time to do anything else. Nilay Patel of The Verge once wrote, “Mueller’s enormous volume of output on FOSS Patents fairly raises the question of when he finds the time to do any serious consulting work for Oracle in between his diligently granular tracking of several international patent lawsuits, his frequent media appearances, and his additional work as a paid consultant to Microsoft.”
Florian has spread a lot of copyright-themed lies about Android, including some for Oracle’s case, which is actually supported by Microsoft. Check out this BSA event. “Of course,” Pamela Jones pointed out, “Microsoft General Counsel and Executive VP Brad Smith will be there, as will Oracle SVP, General Counsel, and Secretary Dorian Daley, and IBM Software Group VP and Assistant General Counsel Neil Abrams.”
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) shows Microsoft and Oracle standing shoulder to shoulder. Microsoft is behind Oracle in it and Jones has the details which are based on the original documents. She says: “That is, of course, exactly what SCO was asking for, before it flamed out and fell into oblivion. SCO used the same law firm as Oracle, Boies Schiller, so perhaps it’s not astounding that they raised that same theory of copyright for SCO, an adventure Microsoft and Sun (now part of Oracle) funded, and here it is again, this time in Microsoft’s mouth. I’d like to correct several misleading elements in this amicus brief. And we now have all the amicus briefs as PDFs.”
Apple and Oracle are closely connected by their leaders as well and Jones has this update on Apple’s foremost case:
I told you that the jury’s damages award in Apple v. Samsung would not stand. And this isn’t even the end, but Judge Lucy Koh has just ruled on both Apple and Samsung’s motions on damages. The jury’s award, she says, was excessive, being based on wrong theories. In some cases, she can’t even figure out what they did, and so she has ordered a new trial on damages for certain products and has reduced the award on those she could figure out herself to $598,908,892:
“To say that the Samsung momentum is an issue for Apple is an understatement,” said Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes.
Apple has got the most to lose here; Oracle and Microsoft mostly clear the path to Apple, perhaps fearing that Free/open source platform will become a de facto standard (Oracle and Microsoft have de facto proprietary monopoly in desktop and databases). This is case of patent stacking and conspiracy to sue.
“Here’s a great example of this R&D ecosystem at work: Apple’s iPad. It’s amazing – a device that perhaps only Apple could have designed. But every distinctive aspect of this device – the multi-touch user interface, the sensors, the processor – has its origins in federally sponsored research,” said Lazowska in his written testimony.
That’s about all we have to say about the war on Android for now. It’s more complicated that an outsider may realise. There is a cartel at work. █
Microsoft, BSA, Scott McNealy, others file amicus briefs in support of Oracle’s appeal against Google ~pj
Yesterday there were numerous amicus briefs filed all on the same day and all in support of Oracle against Google in Oracle’s appeal at the Federal Circuit. None of the briefs are posted publicly yet, but they should be available soon.
Microsoft has filed one, together with EMC Corporation, and NetApp, Inc. Scott McNealy has filed one with Brian Sutphin. Can McNealy be a witness for Oracle at trial, which he was [PDF], and also file an amicus brief? Well, he has. The Picture Archive Council of America, Inc. has filed one with the Graphic Artists Guild. Also there’s one from the BSA. And finally Eugene Spafford, Zhi Ding, and Lee A. Hollaar have filed an amicus in support of Oracle. Hollaar seems to file a lot of amicus briefs.
The top lawyers for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL), saying software patents are important drivers of U.S. innovation and economic growth, pressed Congress today to reject calls to limit that legal protection.
Companies including Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (FB) have said too many software patents are being used primarily to generate lawsuits instead of contributing to new products and services. Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, and Oracle say discussions of ways to curtail litigation shouldn’t become an excuse to limit the ability to patent software.
Microsoft Corp is backing Oracle Corp’s bid to revive a billion-dollar copyright lawsuit over Google’s use of the Java programming language, according to court filings on Tuesday.
Oracle’s intellectual property battle against Google has attracted intense interest from software developers, many of whom believe the structure of a programming language should not be subject to copyright protection.
Last year a San Francisco federal judge found that Oracle could not claim copyright protection on much of the Java language that Google used on its Android mobile platform. Oracle has appealed.
There appears to be little to encourage Oracle to believe it can win a reversal of the verdict Google won in last year’s bitter Java trial. Nevertheless, it has mounted an appeal, arguing that Google stole its intellectual property just as surely as fictional author Ann Droid plagiarized a Harry Potter book. Oracle might need to cast a spell on the appellate court to pull this one off, though.
On February 14, Apple and Samsung met with the Hon. Lucy Koh, who is presiding over their current patent dispute in Apple v. Samsung II, in the very same courtroom where she presided over their first patent litigation in San Jose, CA back in August. The purpose was to go over the parties’ claims in the patents they say are infringed, explaining to her how the technology works. This is in preparation for the upcoming Markman hearing next month, where they will argue officially over what the terms in the claims mean. We had a volunteer in the courtroom, and we have that report for you.
Meanwhile, in Apple v. Samsung I, which is still going on, the parties will be arguing before the Federal Circuit on March 26, as both parties believe the magistrate judge is threatening to unseal too many documents in that case, and things are on hold until the appeals court decides who is right. So far, that is about the only thing the parties *do* agree on, that the magistrate has gone too far. Here’s Apple’s supplemental appeal brief [PDF] on that issue of sealing from Apple v Samsung I. William Lee of Wilmer Cutler will argue [PDF] for Apple on March 26, and Victoria F. Maroulis of Quinn Emanuel will argue [PDF] for Samsung. That’s at 10 AM on March 26 at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC.
One ought to remember the undeniable personal tie between Apple and Oracle (whose CEO considers Steve Jobs to be his “best friend”). There is surely a conspiracy of companies liaising against Android. █
The government ordered public bodies to purge their computer systems of proprietary software standards, those data formats and interfaces over which dominant software companies had made property claims established under US patent law.
It decreed that public bodies must instead implement non-proprietary, open standards; under rules it had codified so tightly that it left little room for doubt that it had at last found the courage of its convictions.
Well, almost. The policy didn’t apply to “commercial, off-the-shelf software”, those ubiquitous, proprietary software packages against which government had formulated its open standards policy in the first place. It was written in reference only to bespoke systems. But let’s not spoil the party by picking hairs, for a moment at least.
Disregarding COTS, the policy was far cry from the prevarication that has characterised UK technology policy since 2010, when the coalition was elected. The government committed its open standards pledge to paper in 2011. The proprietary software industry immediately protested at what would amount to the confiscation of its means to assert monopoly power. The protest was led by COTS suppliers Microsoft and Oracle. The government’s resolve was so weak it recanted.
United Kingdom open standards policy a boost for open source
One of the aims of the United Kingdom’s Open Standard Principles, published today, is to boost the use of free and open source software solutions by the country’s public administrations. The new policy describes principles for the selection and specification of open standards which can be implemented in both open source and proprietary software.
A belated post by Glyn Moody accentuates the positive, focusing on what he and the FSFE have been working hard to get across:
Finally: UK Open Standards are RF, not FRAND
In a huge win for open standards, open source and the public, the long-awaited UK government definition of open standards has come down firmly on the side of RF, not FRAND. The UK government’s approach is enshrined in an important new document defining what it calls Open Standards Principles.
Transparency is crucial for another reason. As readers may recall from the many Open Enterprise blog posts over the last year describing the extremely long process that has led to the framing of this new policy, companies like Microsoft have fought very hard to prevent RF being enshrined in the new rules. They and their proxies will be looking for any opportunity to challenge the new rules – not least in the courts.
However, I think opponents of the Open Standards Principles will need to think carefully before taking that course. The Cabinet Office has been scrupulous in giving them a chance to make their case, along with everyone else. The original definition of open standards was withdrawn as a result of pressure being applied, and not one, but two consultations have been carried about to solicit views in this area. Indeed, the UK government has made what are probably unprecedented efforts to hear all sides of the argument.
That’s evident in the home page listing the Open Standards Consultation documents. There you will find not only Principles themselves, but a host of ancillary information. These include the Government’s Response, which explains the process that led to them, including consolidated statistics, a more detailed analysis of every question, and an independent review of the evidence by the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University, which is essentially the report that I wrote about back in September.
This extraordinary level of detail in terms of the consultations and their analysis is a clear sign that the Cabinet Office means business here, and that it is prepared to defend its work in the courts if necessary. The time and money that it has invested in this project over the last few years is also a token of its seriousness and desire to make open standards a reality in this country, and to establish a level playing field for government computing.
Assuming that happens – and based on the new Principles, the signs it will are good – that would represent the start of a new era for IT procurement in the UK. The Cabinet Office team deserves kudos for at least giving us that possibility.
While it’s a step in the right direction, flaws remain and if FOSS proponents celebrate too much, nothing will improve. █
Now it turns out that “Apple has retained Florian Mueller as a consultant,” which is a known way of passing a bribe (it’s the business model, as Microsoft privately calls it). “So GROKLAW keeps catching FM showing bias while publicly holding himself up to be an expert on FLOSS patent violations and the like, and a blogger/journalist,” writes Pogson, who adds: “The guy really is in “Technology Evangelism Mode”. He even sent me an e-mail about Oracle v Google, unsolicited. I reported it to PJ at GROKLAW as did others so she has been on FM’s case for a while.”
“They use the same tactics of misinforming journalists en masse. That’s their service.”Groklawcontinues investigating this case and remarks from bloggers are telling: “So, the guy is clearly not an expert on FLOSS patents and is an advocate for those who pay him, not just a “consultant”. Apple clearly did not want the judge digging too deeply into that relationship and for sure telling the jury about it. I find it particularly interesting that FM used e-mail to contact me and to comment on the blog rather than commenting using WordPress. What’s with that? Clearly, he went to some trouble to dig up the e-mail address (It’s not as if I stick it on the front page.) rather than just clicking. Was he trying to influence me, going for a larger goal than just providing feedback? I “bit him on the hand” and I hope he does not return.”
Did you too get contacted by this lobbyist? Please speak out if so. Some bloggers come out saying they too were his victims.
Speaking for myself, I fell into his trap in the early days (Techrights quoted his talking points after he had mailed us repeatedly), but I soon woke up; now I find him to be an extremely scummy guy who takes money from companies to conduct AstroTurf campaigns that involves mass-mailing writers and even threatening those who criticise him (yes, he threatened me too).
Mr. Microsoft will be reported to the FTC for AstroTurfing (I am working on my submission), just like Waggener Edstrom
or Burson-Marsteller. They use the same tactics of misinforming journalists en masse. That’s their service.
Putting the lobbying aside for a moment, Apple’s case is shown to be weak in the following recent video about Apple’s lack of innovation.
Samsung won’tsettle because it has a strong case, or maybe because Apple remains too delusional to drop the case as decision comes. The following video was sent to us by a reader yesterday:
The jury, a bunch of ordinary people, will soondecideon the case, but to what extent does deception from lobbyists and Apple’s misleading claims going to affect the outcome? As one article put it, “[t]he summer blockbuster that is Apple v. Samsung is coming to a close as both companies have delivered their closing arguments. Neither side held back in their last opportunity to argue their case, with Apple telling Samsung to make its own phones and Samsung warning the jury that Apple is trying to mislead them.
“It’s been an exciting four weeks. Along the way we’ve seen Samsung leak evidence that was refused by the court, never-before-seen prototypes of iPhones and iPads, and previously unreleased sales figures for both companies. We even got a hilarious parody from Conan O’Brien.”