Summary: The return of discussions about patent stacking and the role played by the anti-Android camp
ANDROID really took off not just because it’s Free/Open Source software but also because it was free. Now, a few years down the line, Android phones can cost as much as €699 (Samsung Galaxy S5) and although the main reason may be Samsung’s greed (knowing that some people would be willing to pay this price), we should not forget the role patent stacking plays. We have written about it for years.
Microsoft Nokia and Apple signed a secret deal which Samsung now formally complains about, as we covered earlier this week (the latest Google and Samsung complaint is in China). “Nokia,” explains Sosumi, is “now a patent troll and a Microsoft tentacle” (it has been like that for 3 years).
There is secrecy there that harms Android. Not only do Microsoft and Nokia pass patents to trolls who target Android; they also try to engage in patent stacking themselves. A pro-Apple site mentioned this latest twist the other day: “Last October, Apple filed a motion seeking sanctions against Samsung and its outside lawyers, accusing both of unlawfully sharing sensitive data about Apple’s 2011 patent license agreement with Nokia. Specifically, the motion stated that a Samsung executive informed Nokia that the terms of the patent settlement were “known to him”, and used that information to negotiate other patent agreements in Samsung’s favor. The license terms between Apple and Nokia were marked “Highly Confidential – Attorneys’ Eyes Only”, but were shared with other Samsung employees.” Bear this in mind whenever pundits try to claim that Nokia is befriending Android.
Patents which are based on secrecy like this are a matter of price-fixing and collusion. This should be against the law, but guess who writes the laws these days? In India, for example, one major newspaper now publishes the article “India must call the US’ bluff on patents”  and in Red Hat’s site Rob Tiller is finally slamming software patents  (which he rarely does), adding to increased opposition to software patents these days , in light of an imminent SCOTUS milestone event (Red Hat too is involved). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Apart from the deterioration of the business environment generally, which impacts both domestic and foreign investors, retrospective taxation has figured most prominently in the media as the principal cause of growing scepticism among foreign investors. Entirely missing from the discourse has been an equally potent factor with wholly foreign origins: the hijacking of the economic policy dialogue between the United States and India by pharmaceutical lobbies in the US. Big Pharma has convinced the US government that the country’s interests are synonymous with its own. With its own list of grievances against trade restrictions in India, the National Association of Manufacturers, a lobby group of the United States manufacturers, has lent its support to the pharmaceutical industry.
Software patent thickets are often compared to minefields, but with a note of resignation, as though there’s no avoiding them. The U.S. Supreme Court now has before it a case that could go a long way towards addressing the litigation risks and business uncertainties created by software patents. The case is Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, and the issue is whether claims to computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patents.
Public Knowledge is back at it, carving holes in dubious software patent claims by distilling supposedly “complex” ideas into a minimal amount of code. Late last year, Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit involving Ultramercial, whose disputed patent basically involved appending “on the internet” to a very basic idea.
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Summary: An update on Nokia, Intellectual Ventures, and other proxies of the Microsoft camp that pass patents for trolls who attack Android/Linux, FOSS at large, and the industry as a whole (everyone but Microsoft)
WHEN Bill Gates, hiding behind his tax evasion ploy, funded his close friend’s so-called ‘business’ Intellectual Ventures he must have envisioned the potential for abuse against Microsoft’s competitors. Over the past few years we have demonstrated this happening. It’s not a theory but practice.
Glyn Moody, writing this update about Intellectual Ventures, notes that there were layoffs (due to lack of money) and months ago the troll was reported to have “grown to 800 employees, 70,000 patents.” It’s a bubble.
As we demonstrated and repeatedly showed some years ago, Intellectual Ventures was lobbying together with Bill Gates, showing the alignment in agenda (they work on some projects together, extorting real companies). “Intellectual Ventures,” notes a new report, “which is one of the country’s top patent owners but makes few of its own products, filed to organize the committee with the Federal Election Commission this week.”
So they continue to interfere with politics.
Speaking of trolls, Microsoft’s troll Nokia (which also sends patents to other trolls) is now the subject of complaints for its trolling (after the European regulators warned about it also) . “A little bit of revisionism there,” said iopkh, “the ground was lost because of Elop.” (A Microsoft mole)
Nokia, Intellectual Ventures etc. are just part patent-stacking techniques and elimination of fair competition by passing some patents to trolls (both Nokia and Intellectual Ventures use smaller entities for litigation). Meanwhile, as revealed in , the EFF continues to focus on “trolls” rather than software patents when it comes to patent reform. Perhaps they would do something to limit the ability of Nokia, Intellectual Ventures and others who are passing patents to troll as part of the current business model. Maybe Nokia, Intellectual Ventures, and others will just die quickly enough to reduce the damage they can inflict upon producing entities.
This is a serious issue. It deserves more attention. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Google Inc. (GOOG:US) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) joined Chinese mobile phone makers in expressing concern to China that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US)’s bid to take over Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s phone business may result in higher patent licensing fees, two government officials familiar with the matter said.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the U.S. Supreme Court to crack down on patent trolls and the schemes they use to perpetuate their lawsuits in two amicus briefs filed today.
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Summary: The debate about software patents in the United States is back because many Free software advocacy groups and companies (not Open Invention Network though) are getting involved in a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case
OVER THE past 6 months or so there have not been many debates about software patents. There were debates about trolls and other such distracting debates; many of them were ‘pre-approved’ by corporations and covered by the corporate press. We had highlighted this appealing trend several dozens of times before pretty much abandoning this debate and giving up on involvement; generally speaking, providing coverage for these debates is basically helping those who create obstacles for small players (monopolies/oligopolies) just shift the public’s attention away from patent scope.
Debates about software patents returned about a week ago. The Open Invention Network (OIN) was mentioned in the article “Software patents should include source code”, but it’s such an offensive idea because it helps legitimise software patents, which is what the Open Invention Network often does anyway. To quote the article: “Computer-implemented inventions that are patented in Europe should be required to fully disclose the patented invention, for example by including working, compilable source code, that can be verified by others. This would be one way to avoid frivolous software patents, says Mirko Boehm, a Berlin-based economist and software developer working for the OpenInvention Network (OIN).”
Why on Earth does the Open Invention Network get involved in pushing the idea of software patents in Europe? Source code or not, software patents are not legal in Europe and the same goes in most of the world, including India where lawyers’ sites still try to legitimise them.
In another blog post, one from a proprietary software company, the ludicrous notion of “Intellectual Property” is mentioned in the context of Free software and patents. The author is actually pro-Free software, but the angle he takes helps warp the terminology and warp the discussion somewhat. To quote him: “My usual response to the question, “Do I have to worry about patent trolls and copyright infringement in open source software?” is another question, “Does your proprietary vendor offer you unlimited liability for patent trolls and copyright infringement and what visibility do you have into their source code?” In the proprietary world I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a vendor who provides unlimited liability for their products against IP infringement, or even much over the cost of the products or services rendered. How often do you review their source code and if given the opportunity are you able to share your findings with other users. In open source that’s simply table stakes.”
Contrary to all the above, the Software Freedom Law Center, together with the FSF and the OSI (Simon Phipps and Luis Villa) actually fight the good fight. To quote Phipps: “How important are software patents? We know they’re a threat to the freedom of developers to collaborate openly in communities, chilling the commercial use of shared ideas that fuels engagement with open source. We know that the software industry was established without the “incentive” of software patents. But the importance of the issue was spotlighted yesterday in a joint action by two leading open source organizations.”
Here is how Phipps concludes his article at IDG: “I endorse and welcome this joint position calling for firm clarity on software patents. (I was obviously party to the decision to take it, although I’m not writing on OSI’s behalf here.) With 15 years of history behind us, there’s far more that unites the FSF and the OSI than divides us. We’ve each played our part in the software freedom movement that has transformed computing. Now all of us in both communities need to unite to end the chilling threat of software patents to the freedom to innovate collaboratively in community.”
Red Hat too is joining this battle and announcing this to shareholders, making some press coverage in the process amid many articles about SCOTUS in the post-Bilski case era (see some coverage in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910]).
Software patents are finally in the headlines again (not much sympathy for them), but there is also some focus on trolls, courtesy of companies like Samsung and Apple. Other recent reporting about patents covered patent lawyers’ business, the role of universities in patents (they help feed trolls these days), and also USPTO reform (that was a fortnight ago). None of this dominated the news, however, as much as the debate was on software patents. So, perhaps it’s time to get back to covering patents on an almost daily basis.
Software patents are the most important issue as they are the biggest barrier to Free software. We just need to have the subject of software patents and their elimination publicly discussed. █
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Summary: Secret deals and racketeering techniques elude journalists who are passing allegations as ‘facts’, damaging Linux for the most part
SOMETHING fascinating has been happening in the corporate press over the past few years (starting 2010 with HTC). Unlike with the Novell deal (Microsoft SUSE), when it comes to Android the press seems eager to push the “Android is not free” line. Even some pro-FOSS journalists are doing it, only to face opposition. To quote Pogson’s response to one of them: “I don’t often disagree with SJVN but I think his argument that M$ makes $billions from Android/Linux taxes is extreme. If that were happening, there would be some mention of it in M$’s SEC filings.”
Not only is this not happening based on any concrete evidence; the sources which make these claims are quoting some arbitrary analysts with Microsoft connections or Microsoft boosters/lobbyists who cite such people. Trace it all back to the source and it looks like make believe. It’s like a big lie that needs to die, at least until or unless there’s some kind of proof.
Those of us who see journalists perpetuating and spreading the claims that Microsoft makes billions of dollars from Android should respond to the authors/editors by equating them with so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ who throw around unsubstantiated claims. Microsoft has long been manufacturing dirt and lies, only to be caught some time later, after much damage had been done to the subject of libel. Bribed journalists often play a role in such big lies and nobody demonstrates this as well as the Gates Foundation, which is basically a lobbying and investment shell (masquerading as a charity and bribing the press to maintain this illusion). As Jamie Love put it yesterday: “The few reporters that have written about the trade disputes over cancer patents are not on the Gates payroll. [...] Gates has effectively aligned itself with Merck, Novartis and others, against cancer patients. Sometimes, discretely. [...] WHO is quite cautious on the IPR issues these days, because of fears that Gates will complain. [...] Gates Foundation funding of health news reporters, most health NGOs, contributes to lack of criticism of Obama’s actions on cancer patents” (we wrote about cancer patents before, including their impact on death). Remember that Gates received got a huge amount of money last year from this patent profiteering (gains of about 15 billion dollars). He is still all about patents and monopolies. Gates is also investing in patent trolls and collaborating with the world’s biggest patent troll, which he helped create (the head of this trolling entity is one of Bill Gates’ best friends).
As Joe Mullin put it the other day, frivolous litigation with baseless patents is still worthwhile in the US because the plaintiff never assumes the financial burden of the cases. This works well for trolls such as Microsoft, Bill Gates, and the world’s biggest patent troll which he created. It’s deterrence against defence. As Mullin puts it: “The American judicial system has long held to a general principle that each party in a dispute should pay for its own legal fees, win or lose.”
Microsoft is a patent troll based on its actions, signing secret deals using useless patents, knowing that the burden of a legal case would be put on the victim. As long as this kind of system prevails the corruption of the industry and the media (which cannot gain access to these secret deals) will continue.
Microsoft corruption is an immensely powerful phenomenon which now transcends the software industry. One way to address this issue is to work on changing the patent system (which is hard). █
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Summary: Revisiting the largely-warped patent debate, which focuses on desires of corporations and continues to leave Free software vulnerable
WHEN big corporations say they are against the NSA they don’t mean what we, mere mortals, assume they are saying. To corporations the issues are seen very differently; they’re not bothered about privacy at all, they are only concerned with how much money they make and how customers perceive their privacy policies. Well, the same goes for patents.
When Susan Decker is writing for the corporate press (Bloomberg) she is serving the same media that regularly misuses the propaganda term “Intellectual Property” and elevates monopoly. It’s fake concern. Decker is of course just focusing on patent trolls (the small ones), not big trolls like Microsoft or even the problem with patent scope (e.g. software patents). This whole debate about patents got warped by corporations, especially last year ,and we lost interest in covering it anymore. To speak about trolls and focus/obsess over them it to merely serve the corporate propaganda. Activism and grassroots movements got co-opted by plutocrats; no wonder FFII is no longer active.
“This won’t do anything against real trolls,” iophk explained. “Those are just paper companies with no assets to confiscate.” Notice how Microsoft Nokia-fed patent troll MOSAID brags about growth, saying it “Doubles In Size”.
To speak about trolls without talking about those who give them patents (like Microsoft gave patents to Vringo, which then attacked Google) totally misses the point. “Nor does it address the root problem of software patents themselves.”
Rackspace, which is one of the few US companies (of considerable size) that fought back against software patents, has just had its CEO ‘retiring’ , which doesn’t bode well for proper resistance. IBM, the architect of OIN, is rapidly shrinking [2,3] (not just outsourcing), which also can affect its GNU/Linux servers endeavours . Servers are an area where GNU/Linux is dominant  and companies like Rackspace do exceptionally well (we recently covered the policy of releasing code as Free software at Rackspace). IBM recently sold its x86 server business to the Chinese (x86 servers still matter ) and at HP servers are now made which are GNU/Linux-only  (no Windows support). Google, the world’s biggest GNU/Linux user (Google is bigger than Amazon, Salesforce and others), has been coming under the most legal cases over patents involving Linux, Chrome OS, Android etc. Some GNU/Linux servers, such as the ones at Amazon, are already being taxed by Microsoft — a trend we must counter as a matter of priority. Tackling patent policy would be the simplest solution. This is probably the most important issue facing Free software today. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A week ago, the Dell dude warned that it’s going to be a layoff “bloodbath” as the recently LBO-ed firm began firing 15,000. Now it’s IBM’s turn.
According to WRAL Tech Wire, the company which has underperformed Wall Street’s expectations for many quarters, has begun “cost-rationalizing” terminations in India – the country that hosts some 100,000 of IBM’s employees and where IBM reportedly employs the greatest number of workers. The unit targeted is the Systems Technology Group which is the troubled hardware group selling its low-end x86 server business to Lenovo for $2.3 billion and where Big Blue’s executives have launched “Resource Action”, also known as “rebalancing” but best known as mass, across the board terminations where by some estimates up to 13,000 of IBM’s 434,000 workers are set to be let go.
Access to Power Systems servers for business partners, primarily independent software providers (ISVs), has been revamped with improved tooling for Linux-oriented ISVs bringing that development arena up to par with what has existed for IBM i and AIX developers for some time. This particular partner program, which is now called the IBM Power Development Platform (PDP), was formerly known as the Virtual Loaner Program. It was established in 2003 to encourage ISV development projects and provide a cloud-based test environment for companies developing and enhancing applications.
The only challenge left for Linux to fully conquer the cloud is in the private and hybrid sectors. Private cloud technology like OpenStack is pushing Linux kernel-based virtual machines, or KVMs, on the compute side and challenging VMware’s position, asserted Turk.
Today, Futuremark is expanding into the enterprise space with Servermark, which the company says is “a new benchmark that will enable IT professionals in businesses large and small to accurately measure and compare the performance of servers.”
Another interesting wrinkle: Only Linux distributions are supported: Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora, and Ubuntu. No Windows.
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Summary: The big lie that Nokia is “supporting” or “embracing” Android is easily contradicted by recent developments
As we already pointed out about a month ago, Microsoft Nokia phones running Android are not Android phones but enhanced surveillance devices with Microsoft surveillance through Skype (part of PRISM) and much more. These are very malicious devices that Rupert Murdoch’s press is promoting and people should generally boycott. But there are even better reasons to boycott Nokia and instead turn to Finnish companies like Jolla.
Half a decade ago we explained how Nokia had advanced software patents in Europe and last year we covered patent lawsuits against Android/Linux from the Elop-led Nokia (now a Microsoft proxy). Some lawsuits took place in Europe and sought embargoes. According to this report “[s]ettling months of pending patent litigation between them, Nokia and HTC have signed a patent and technology collaboration agreement. The settlement means HTC will make payments to Nokia.”
Nokia is not the first to assault this Android backer which hardly has any patents (unlike Samsung). HTC is apparently paying Apple after litigation, it might be paying Microsoft (this cannot be verified), and now Nokia. This coalition of patent stacking is harming Android and harming customers who buy Android devices. Google is trying to fight back by buying Motorola patents — a move that does not surprise Apple because Apple reportedly tried to get those patents for itself and then attack Android with them.
The general public needs to understand that there is a lot of rogue activity such as collusion. Deciding on which phone (if any) to buy is not a simple decision, especially if ethical choices are sought. █
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Summary: A closer look and briefer analysis (than most) of people whom Microsoft is grooming amid perception-altering appointments
Analysis of the press release from Microsoft has been shallow and promotional. Watch out for bogus ‘reporting’ from Microsoft boosters like Peter ‘Bright’, to give just one example among hundreds or thousands jaw-dropping puff pieces. Even some Microsoft-hostile circles have offered too week a scrutiny, if any at all. Let’s sum up what it’s all about (and it’s mostly marketing, not real news).
Microsoft has a new racketeer in chief, overseeing patent extortion along with Horacio while putting a ‘gentle’ face on it. It is all just a rebranding exercise — a familiar old trick that the company behind Kin and Vista is known for. This is a persona routine that marketing companies are renowned for and villains/abusers like BP or Monsanto are (in)famous for.
Also joining the leadership is the man best known for his leadership in GNU/Linux foe Symantec and his role in Seagate, a company sometimes known for its NSA connections just like Microsoft (those three are all connected, or even four if Symantec gets counted because Seagate preinstalls Microsoft software on drives and Symantec profits from Windows). As a timely side note, avoid Seagate. They are absolutely horrible, both technically (based on new studies [1, 2]) and ethically. Today I had to print labels at a high price at some shop to send back my faulty drive to Segate (Netherlands); they shipped me a faulty drive to replace another drive that had gone faulty. Seagate is garbage.
Last but not least, Microsoft boasts the involvement of serial felon, tax evader and patent booster, who is making money by charging taxpayers for his patents against their will and through governments (as an investor in Wal-Mart, for example, his quickly-growing money hoard is at least partly funded by taxpayers, as Wal-Mart itself admits ).
Based on what seems like a satirical piece about Vista 8, this man who joked about Vista being crappy (video from Homer) is now complaining about Vista. To quote Homer’s analysis of the satirical piece: “Bill Gates’ first day at work in the newly created role of technology adviser got off to a rocky start yesterday as the Microsoft founder struggled for hours to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade.
“The installation hit a snag early on, sources said, when Mr. Gates repeatedly received an error message informing him that his PC ran into a problem that it could not handle and needed to restart.
“After failing to install the upgrade by lunchtime, Mr. Gates summoned the new Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella, who attempted to help him with the installation, but with no success.
As Will Hill points out: “Sadly, satire: PR for Gates and advertisement for Vista 7.”
This is pretty much all over the press these days: whitewash, humour, PR, and viral marketing. There was a similar story about Ballmer trying to get rid of a virus, requiring days of work and the help of several ‘engineers’. That was in Vista days, but in court documents it turned out that Ballmer and others really did struggle with Vista and expressed concerns.
Going back to Gates, it’s all decoy, distraction, and appeal to the press. So all we have here is one fake ‘charitable’ hoarder who increases his wealth by surveillance, private police thugs (G4S), GMO etc. and two people of ethnic minorities with proximity to NSA (Azure and Seagate). This is not change or reform, it’s just like the Obama speech about the NSA.
A week or so ago Microsoft booster Julie Bort was prolonging the myth of Microsoft as “an insanely profitable company”  when she said Microsoft should kick Gates out of the board. This reveals that Ballmer too will continue to be involved. So here we see that the architects of illegal activities still run Microsoft. Ballmer and Gates are to Microsoft what Clapper and Alexander have been to the NSA in recent years.
Remember that Gates has had a lot to do with Microsoft’s patent extortion strategy. Now that we learn about more patent deals  we should remember that there is nothing “gentle” or “charitable” at Microsoft. It’s the same ruthless people, including the man who was put on trial for business crimes and was arrested when he was young (to be bailed out by his affluent family). It’s all just marketing now.
“The new patent cross-licensing agreement is designed to protect both companies from patent lawsuits,” says the Microsoft booster about Google and Cisco. What a classic mischaracterisation of patents.
Where is the criticism of Gates for rackeetering? Where are the good investigative articles from Wired, which nowadays (on a weekly basis) seems to be acting as Gates’ private perception management journal? █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Walmart has been in the national spotlight for their poverty wages and employees’ reliance on government assistance. In their quarterly report, Walmart is set to announce that their profits have taken a hit. In a moment of rare honesty, they cited the Republican funding cut to the federal food stamp (SNAP) program as a part of the reason for their lower profit margins, admitting that the federal food stamp program amounts to corporate welfare that subsidizes their profits.
Microsoft is an insanely profitable company standing on the edge of disaster. It desperately needs new thinking.
With word that 22-year Microsoft veteran Satya Nadella is likely the new CEO, attention turns to the leadership of the company’s board of directors. It will have two former CEOs, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
So new thinking is unlikely to come from them.
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Where innovation comes to get burned
Summary: How software conglomerates continue to hammer on Free software and GNU/Linux, adding even hypocritical attempts an antitrust action
The USPTO is still the same sham is has been over the past decade or two. It is designed to serve large corporations and it is even run by some of them. Like the espionage specialist NSA, it is about protectionism for few large companies (oligarchs) at the expense of people in the nation it purports to be serving. This isn’t only unjust; it’s corrupt.
There is no lack of shocking patent news. There’s depressing news out there, including Slashdot‘s coverage of Apple’s creepy patents. A former Microsoft booster from CNET said that a “freshly published Apple patent application envisions the delivery of targeted ads based on your mood, behavior, and other seemingly intangible characteristics.”
Apple then uses its patents to attack Linux with embargoes and Google is trying to catch up (Lenovo gets part of Motorola) by doing rational things, not extortion using software patents but instead reacting with Motorola and OIN-pooled patents (connections with IBM). The thing about IBM is, despite pretending to be pro-FOSS, it continues to promote software patents , making the USPTO even worse than before  and leaving civil rights groups to clean up the mess . OIN has Oracle as a member and despite that Oracle is suing Google/Android/Linux. Then there are Microsoft-armed proxies/trolls like Vringo and 'Beneficial' 'Innovations' (both suing Google over its core business), which FOSS Force mentioned the other day as follows: “When Beneficial Innovations began taking legal action against websites using Google’s Doubleclick ad technology, the search company took the troll to court for suing their customers. It seems that in 2010 Google had settled with Beneficial and that settlement specifically covered their customers. According to Ars Technica, Google made it easy for the court to find in their favor.”
Microsoft must be really worried about Google because Marissa Mayer threatens to dump Microsoft from search after Microsoft hijacked Yahoo. “Thus the noise about the CEO choices,” wrote iophk. “It buries the real news.” And then there’s this in the news: “A Microsoft-backed lobby group is urging Brussels’ competition chief Joaquin Almunia to open up Google’s latest revised offer of a conciliatory package of tweaks to its search biz to the ad giant’s rivals.
“Earlier this week, it was reported that the European Commission was closing in on a settlement deal with Google that would apparently allow the company to dodge admittance of any wrongdoing and a fine that could be as high as 10 per cent of its annual global turnover.
“Almunia’s office has declined to comment on the claim that it had received a fresh package of concessions from Google to try to end a three-year long antitrust investigation into the multinational’s search business practices in Europe.”
Acually, it was Google that originally complained about Vista diverting users away from Google. Funny how some Microsoft lobbyists and proxies from the most criminal company now attempt to make Google look like the antitrust violator, while adding some patent attacks to Google, both directly and indirectly (through trolls and partners). Microsoft and its proxies also started antitrust complaints against Android, alleging anti-competitive behaviour in operating systems (yes, Microsoft accuses others of that). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Last fall, we wrote about how the BSA, the Business Software Alliance, famous for being basically a Microsoft-front organization whose main job is to publish absolutely, hilariously misleading “piracy” numbers each year, had been taking on the issue of the so called “covered business method (CBM) patent” program that was being pushed in patent reform. The covered business method patent program is pretty straightforward. It allows certain types of patents — currently financial patents — to undergo a faster review, allowing the USPTO to dump bad patents faster. Senator Chuck Schumer, who had put the original CBM tool into the last round of patent reform, is now championing expanding it to cover software patents as well. While very heavy lobbying from Microsoft (and some from IBM) convinced the House to drop the plan from its patent reform bill, there’s still a battle in the Senate, and Schumer doesn’t show any interest in giving it up.
The number of patents has increased dramatically in the past three decades, as has the number of patent-related lawsuits, particularly in the field of software. Industry and academic experts have expressed concern that many of the patents being issued are of low quality. Writing in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Stuart Graham and Saurabh Vishnubhakat have defended the United States Patent and Trademark Office, arguing that the PTO has acted responsibly in issuing patents that are legally valid and that it is handling problems constructively. We accept some of Graham and Vishnubhakat’s defense of the PTO, but argue that the most important issue is not whether the law is being competently administered but whether patent law, particularly as applied to software, is creating patents that are overly broad and ambiguous. We maintain that it is, and that the results are less innovation and more costly and unproductive litigation.
Personal Audio LLC is a patent-holding company that became famous (or infamous, depending on one’s point of view) by claiming that it owns things like playlists and podcasts (or “episodic content,” in the words of one Personal Audio patent). Its wild claims led the Electronic Frontier Foundation to raise more than $76,000 from donors to fight the patent.
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