Summary: Microsoft’s patent tolls — which almost always rely on Microsoft APIs/protocols like ActiveSync, FAT, and C#/Mono — do not make much sense in relation to the Motorola lawsuit
MICROSOFT’S lawsuit against Motorola (see our new Motorola Wiki page for background) has been discussed quite a lot in our IRC channels recently. FAT patents in the lawsuit mean that Linux too is being targeted, but everyone seems to be paying attention just to ActiveSync, which baffled us because Google appears to have resolved ‘licensing’ of ActiveSync a long time ago [1, 2]. We haven’t researched this deeply enough just yet.
Jason Perlow, an IBM person, says about Microsoft that “if you can’t compete with it, litigate it” and he has a decent article about this case:
In doing so it lost several of its traditional OEM partners, such as Hewlett-Packard, who decided it was best to build and market phones its own OS with its purchase of Palm (Which has an ActiveSync license for WebOS, so HP won’t be getting sued by Microsoft anytime soon) rather than continue on with its Windows Mobile-powered iPAQ line of PDAs and phones, most of which were outsourced to HTC.
All of this Windows Mobile decline happened years before Android became a valid player in the smartphone ecosystem.
So what were Microsoft’s options? It could compete legitimately on its own merits, and aggressively market products that people actually wanted to buy. Or it could try to throw as many legal roadblocks against its competitors as they could. It sounds like they are going to try a little bit of both.
With their previous generation of Windows Mobile phones, Microsoft clearly failed and lost sight of what products the industry demanded. Instead, Google, RIM and Apple managed to figure out what customers wanted. Notwithstanding ActiveSync licensing by any of these companies, that’s really the bottom line.
One of our readers wonders if LG, which already pays Microsoft for Android, has just dropped plans to develop an Android tablet as a result of the lawsuit from Microsoft. The Source has this new post which it titled “Microsoft’s “anti-Linux” tactic” (quoting Microsoft apologists whom we mentioned before):
What I would like to draw attention to is how silent Team Apologista gets every time Microsoft pulls out the patent card against Linux, in stark comparison to how vocal they are whenever someone suggets Microsoft might pull out a patent card against Linux.
Dare to mention one may have patent-related concerns about Mono or Moonlight, and watch Team Apologista come storming in with tired half-truths and the same old debunked defenses – but see reported news of Microsoft using patents aggressively yet again and it’s nothing but crickets chirping from Waltham’s Warriors.
I’d also like to note that despite Team Apologista’s desperate and transparent attempts to paint people as “zealots”, “freetards” and so on, that anyone even casually following Microsoft with a shred of integrity must acknowledge that Microsoft has in the past and continues to this very day to use FUD — including patent-based FUD — against Linux. I suppose Seattle Times and the article’s author, Mr. Brier Dudley, are “unreliable sources” or “zealots”? Or, perhaps – just perhaps – they are simply reporting the facts?
Even the Seattle press seems to have become rather critical of Microsoft’s adaptation and leaning towards SCO-esque tactics. That ought to say something. █
“My message to the patent world is: Either get back to the doctrines of forces of nature or face the elimination of your system.” —Hartmut Pilch, Paraflows 06
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Photo by Joachim S. Müller
Summary: Fraunhofer continues to do a disservice to software freedom and instead does a service to Microsoft (which is among Fraunhofer’s sources of income)
Yesterday we wrote about Knut Blind from Fraunhofer FOKUS. Jan Wildeboer from Red Hat wrote his name as “Kurt Blind” and quoted him as saying that a software patent “reduces transaction costs”. This was not at all shocking to us given the similarities, intersections, and payments that go between Fraunhofer, Microsoft, and even the Gates Foundation — a subject we previously covered in:
Professor Blind (yes, that’s not a pun) has initiated this survey which led Carlo Piana to writing: “Answer en masse to the questionnaire… or it’ll be slanted twrds royalty-bearing FRAND standard policy.” Blind’s background is in finance, not software development. He is influencing the EU’s legislators, so this is important.
“Answer en masse to the questionnaire… or it’ll be slanted twrds royalty-bearing FRAND standard policy.”
–Carlo PianaFlorian Müller is meanwhile attacking all of Microsoft’s big competitors (yes, again). He labels them a threat to software because of software patents while so conveniently leaving companies like Siemens (see previous post as well as older ones [1, 2, 3]) and of course Microsoft out. That’s just why we urge people not to trust Müller and we’ll carry on showing his bias.
Unlike Fraunhofer, S.u.S.E. was a big pusher for the end of software patents, but when Novell bought the Germany-based S.u.S.E. (with IBM’s help) it turned SUSE into Ballnux, which is all about paying Microsoft for “IP peace of mind”, meaning software patents in Linux. OpenSUSE 11.3 is here, but does anyone care? There are not even many reviews of this release (here is one). Money from companies like Novell and IBM has shattered SUSE’s views on software patents and Microsoft’s payments to Fraunhofer (Bill Gates pays Fraunhofer too) can’t help Europe, can they? █
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Summary: A look at some of the latest patent news and an explanation of why Microsoft and Apple (and Microsoft’s patent trolls) are by far the biggest problem
Well, we don’t write so much about the Bilski case anymore. It’s because we have done enough of that and the analyses are quite repetitive in the sense that few raise new points. To give just a small number of noteworthy posts that we missed, Brian Proffitt writes about the impact on software patentability in the US, Brad Feld is upset after spending time and money to abolish software patents in the US, IDG claims that SCOTUS leaves software patentability intact in the US, Datamation has a new cartoon about it, and Mike Masnick says that the IEEE misleads with its damned press release in the US. The headline from The Register reads: “Yes, software can be patented, US Supremes say” (false).
But they didn’t say that. They merely avoided addressing the subject.
A few days ago we wrote about the impact of biotech patents and the impact of SCOTUS on them. They are said to have received a “boost”. [via Slashdot]
Myriad Genetics Inc., Genomic Health Inc. and the rest of the burgeoning industry for personalized medicine stand to gain from yesterday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on patenting business methods.
The decision from the Supreme Court is unlikely to end the debate over diagnostic patents.
A couple of days ago Slashdot showed that Microsoft had patented things that should not be patented.
theodp writes “This week’s USPTO patent application disclosures included a trifecta of scary health-related ‘inventions’ from Microsoft. For starters, Microsoft envisions seeing Kids’ Personal Health Records Fed Into Video Games, where they can be used to ‘regulate and/or prescribe an individual’s behavior while playing electronic games.’ Next up is Centralized Healthcare Data Management, which describes how employees’ health habits can be ‘monitored, tracked or otherwise discovered’ so employers can ‘incentivize a user for an act or penalize for an omission to act.’ Finally, there’s Wearing Health on Your Sleeve, which describes a sort of high-tech Scarlet Letter designed to tip off ‘doctors, potential dates, etc.’ about your unhealthy behavior by converting information — ‘number of visits to the gym, workout activities, frequency of workouts, heart rate readings, blood pressure statistics, food consumption, vitamin intake, etc.’ — into a visual form so that others can see the data ‘on mechanisms such as a mood ring, watch, badge, on a website etc.’”
A few days ago we explained why Likewise is a form of patent taxman for Microsoft. Their new release got some more coverage and a Linux proponent pointed out: “This reminds me of all the alternatives to Exchange currently available on Linux, buy any of those for 10-50 users and you’ll discover quickly that buying the MS’ original is cheaper.”
Basically, clones of Microsoft protocols-reliant products that are sold by former Microsoft employees (e.g. Likewise [1, 2, 3, 4], Centrify [1, 2, 3]) are better off avoided and replaced by protocols that Microsoft does not control or by Samba, which the European Commission gave a special status after antitrust violations by Microsoft. The following new article states:
The Likewise Open core is licensed under Gnu Public License (GPL) version 2 and Lesser GPL version 2.
It’s “open core”, which is proprietary+marketing spin. It’s not GPLv3 and one should not be misled because they mix that with Microsoft’s software patents. One should just go with Samba.
When it comes to patents and GNU/Linux, Microsoft is still by far the worst aggressor. Microsoft boosters seem to be taking pride in these patents which Microsoft is stockpiling and using to attack Linux, sometimes via patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Latest raves from Microsoft bloggers:
Here is some more coverage (not from Microsoft boosters):
This patent won’t expire for quite some time.
Microsoft received the patent this week and TechFlash reports that this kind of patent is good for 14 years, so Microsoft has until 2024 to do something with this design.
Some dual-display tablets run Android or GNU/Linux.
Given that .NET is allegedly a patent violation, Microsoft would not be smart to go around suing people/companies, but that’s just what is does, most recently against Salesforce. Here again is the mentioning of .NET patent violation:
The world’s biggest maker of Web-based software, Salesforce.com, has not specified what damages it is seeking, but claims that Microsoft is infringing five Salesforce patents in programs, including in the Windows Server operating system and the widely used .Net platform.
Based on other reports as well as previous posts of ours [1, 2], Salesforce is equipped with David Boies, the “Microsoft Nemesis”.
Is Microsoft playing with fire? It sure alienates many people, except Monty and Müller on the face of it. The former is paid by Microsoft and the latter is just keeping his head deep in the sand (insisting that IBM is the bigger threat). Earlier today he also mentioned Apple, which is a patent violator (risking bans) that had the nerve to sue Android (including Linux). Here is a new summary of this case:
In this great hullabaloo of rivals accusing each other of infringement of patents, one is only left confused seeing the who’s who in the arena of smartphones making a claim of the same victimization. A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by the government to the inventor in exchange for a public disclosure of the invention. The big question is, will this war really see the light of a consensus and settlement?
Earlier this year in March, Apple filed a lawsuit against HTC for infringing 20 of its patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission(ITC) and concurrently in the US District Court in Delaware. Very truly it’s said that “competition is healthy, but the rivals should try and yearn to develop their own technology and not steal the existing”. This lawsuit; it’s said, is the next high profile litigation in the mobile phone business after Nokia and Apple attacking each other in past few months.
Apple’s hypePhone is having some trouble right now. Apple cannot quite compete without suing competitors, apparently. As one new essay puts it:
Ideas Are a Commodity, It’s Execution Intelligence That Matters
First of all, ideas are commodities. Look at any industry, any product or service offering, and what you really see is improvement on the existing standard versus uniqueness in the offering. These improvements can be continuous or disruptive, but in either category, to the customer they are nothing more than incremental improvement around the financial return, usability, quality, or experience of your competitor. This explains why management teams are so important; if new offerings are commodities it’s execution by the management team – what I like to call execution intelligence – that makes the difference in the market.
Apple also contributes towards MPEG-LA’s war on free/libre video. For background, see:
Here is a new article on the subject:
Video Prison: Why Patents Might Threaten Free Online Video
On June 20, 2009, nearly 150,000 people witnessed the death of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan, but unlike the Iranians who passed her by in the street, they weren’t bystanders to the post-election turmoil in Tehran that claimed her life. They were merely the first of over 600,000 who have since viewed a now-symbolic YouTube video that helped propel the opposition political movement forward in the following days of protest. The democratizing power of the Web lies in video like this one–not just because of its content, but because anyone with an Internet connection can contribute to a global dialogue.
But imagine if the person who shot this video had been unable to post it anonymously or if YouTube viewers had to pay to watch it. If online videos were subject to patent licensing fees, users could be charged per-view to capture those fees. Beyond the ethical dilemma profiteering from a tragic death, video licensing could reduce the democratic nature of free and open Internet content to monetizable media. The funny cat videos would be gone forever (perhaps not the greatest loss), but so too would the movement-inspiring Nedas of the future remain unknown.
TechDirt says that Britannica has also gone sour:
It Appears That The Encyclopaedia Britannica Entry On Shaking Down GPS Providers With A Bogus Patent Needs Updating
The Encyclopaedia Britannica has not exactly been having a good decade. In the minds of much of the public (though, certainly not all), the usefulness of Britannica has long been surpassed by Wikipedia. A couple years ago, we gave Britannica’s president a chance to explain his views on where Britannica is going, but it still seems like an uphill battle. Among the more ridiculous things that Britannica has tried to do is to also turn itself into a bit of a patent troll. Back in 2007, it sued a bunch of GPS companies for patent infringement. Scratching your head over why Britannica holds patents on GPS technology? The answer is even more convoluted than you can imagine.
Here is another potential aggressor to watch out for. “Patent Calls Inc. buys Dallas competitor for $16M,” says this report. There is still a difference between a patent holder and a patent aggressor. Microsoft and Apple are both and they are specifically targeting Linux with their lawsuits. Not many companies do that. In fact, no real companies do that, except Microsoft and Apple (patent trolls like Acacia aside, although Acacia too has Microsoft connections). █
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Summary: A look at some issues where Microsoft walks among patents and uses their enforcement to pursue its own goals
LAST month we showed that Microsoft helps MPEG LA (patents cartel/pool), notably at the expense of patents- and royalty-free formats. It is possible that the maze of patents makes video/audio compression as a whole unsafe from infringement (where software patents apply) and BetaNews argues that it is challenging because Microsoft tried in vain.
Google may face legal challenges if it open-sources VP8 codec
But there’s already historical precedent for a company attempting to offer a royalty-free license for a codec whose underlying technologies it didn’t completely own. In 2005, Microsoft offered its WMV9 technologies as the royalty-free standard VC-1. As Microsoft soon discovered, WMV9 was not “patent-free” outside of Microsoft, and its underlying technologies were not royalty-free either. Today, Microsoft’s service agreement on VC-1 includes a notice saying, among other things, that AVC — one of the bedrock encoding technologies claimed by other rights holders — may be used in the VC-1 codec, under a license granted to Microsoft by MPEG LA. That license covers Microsoft when it, in turn, licenses the use of VC-1′s three essential encoding technologies, for non-commercial purposes.
This almost gives the impression that Microsoft did the right thing, but as always, it requires modest understanding of Microsoft’s motives. Microsoft — unlike the W3C for example — is a profit-driven business. The same goes for Microsoft’s use of its new power in the W3C [1, 2]. Not so long ago Microsoft was trying to push DRM for webfonts into the W3C. Apparently it was not accepted because we have not heard about it since, but Microsoft boosters and others speak about Microsoft sponsoring a new Web font standard.
With a surprise boost from Microsoft, the promise of rich typography on the Web just got a big step closer to reality.
The software company’s involvement emerged Monday with sponsorship of a newer effort at the World Wide Web Consortium to standardize Web-based fonts with technology called the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).
Whose methods will be used? It is possible that Microsoft will try to advance its own way of doing things. We don’t know yet, but we saw that before. There’s HD and the JPEG thing, where Microsoft tried to impose its own implementation upon the standard. Similarly, Microsoft tried to make WMV9 ‘the standard’ (WM is Windows Media), so this whole codec anecdote was not an act of charity.
Speaking of Microsoft and software patents, Likewise, which is former Microsoft staff that stuffs Samba with Microsoft’s software patents and then sells it [1, 2, 3, 4], is hooking up with HP, which charges a premium on GNU/Linux (presumably for patents, although that’s speculative excepting Likewise’s relationship with Microsoft).
These HP StorageWork servers will use Likewise-CIFS, a high-performance, commercially supported, Windows-compatible file server, and Likewise Identity Service. Likewise-CIFS started as a commercially supported Samba but is now a CIFS (Common Internet File System) server in its own right. Likewise Identity Service is an Active Directory bridge technology providing authentication of non-Windows systems to Microsoft’s Active Directory.
Likewise is like an extension of Microsoft and it makes a dangerous precedence because of software patents (complying with Microsoft and overriding Samba, whose special and exclusive deal with the Commission has this loophole). It’s almost as though Microsoft had Likewise created by its people to promote software patents in/and Microsoft protocols.
There is another new announcement from another company created/headed by a former Microsoft employee. We are talking about OpenLogic [1, 2, 3, 4]. █
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Summary: A new story of migration to Microsoft (due to Apple’s reliance on Microsoft) offers an important lesson about the purpose of Novell’s Mono and Moonlight
AS we have shown before, Microsoft’s supine friends at Apple have helped OOXML and continues doing this. Based on the news about “Office for Mac 2011″ [1, 2], Mac OS X will accommodate more promotion of monoculture the Microsoft way. Matt Asay, for example, is a Mac user who extols the virtues of Microsoft Office and openly mocks OpenOffice.org. That’s apparently what Apple enthusiasts are for. Ironically enough, Canonical has made him a COO (a decision that we criticised in [1, 2, 3, 4]). COO rhymes with coup.
As one of our readers has said repeatedly, Microsoft inserts its APIs and non-standards into the competitors’ products and once that’s ‘injected’ they can proceed to infiltrating the server/desktop side interchangeably. As a specific example, this reader gave Office for Mac OS X (or Entourage). Based on the following new example from Internode, he was right. Internode is moving from FOSS to Microsoft Exchange and here is its explanation:
So what changed?
Snow Leopard was the key.
Apple delivered a huge corporate software upgrade in Snow Leopard, by tightly integrating Exchange client functionality into the operating system – in Apple Mail, iCal, and Contacts.
Now watch this discussion at Linux Today. “The lockin begins at internode,” says Petem. Rainer Weikusat reconstructs the arguments and starts with: “I have rarely seen such an amazing amount of BS in a single text.” Someone from Citadel writes: “Just wait until the first time Exchange blows itself up. That always happens eventually.” And one person says: “To pick this apart. All of your staff needs to have access to configure your filtering? Wow!!! Just plain WOW!!!”
“I have rarely seen such an amazing amount of BS in a single text.”
–Rainer WeikusatSo anyway, what Microsoft did here is simple. It used proprietary integration with something it controls not to facilitate interoperability but to upsell Microsoft products/stacks. It is the same with Mono and Moonlight. In more or less the same ways, Mono and Moonlight are ramps to Visual Studio, Windows, and other proprietary Microsoft products.
Why are Novell and Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza promoting these? We venture to guess that for selfish gain, some people promote this inside GNU/Linux. If their new interests are rewarded by Microsoft, then they would do anything. Stephane Rodriguez told us a couple of years ago: “So far, Microsoft has got all the marketing PR they wanted from “open-source” groups that are remarkably compatible with Microsoft minds. Again, I think those guys are just Microsoft persons who take a pride not to be on their payroll. (DeIcaza told me in the past that he’s rich). [...] DeIcaza took the role of [Microsoft's] Brian Jones, the technical person. (technical person who concentrates on never answering the good questions)…”
Here is Moonlight being used in what seems like a sort of Microsoft advert. Meanwhile we learn from a reader of ours that “Someone made Ada for .NET? (A#)”. Embrace and extend much? █
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Urgent need to put an end to Microsoft and the trolls
Summary: Microsoft’s software patent war on Linux carries on, albeit very quietly; a patent troll represented by McKool Smith and Ward & Olivo strikes (quite massively too)
UBUNTU has been mostly apathetic when it comes to Mono and Moonlight problems, so it is good to see that Canonical’s technical chief gets a lecturing from Dr. Tridgell, whose warnings about software patents we have already mentioned (right after his talk at LCA 2010).
Matt Zimmerman writes
Andrew Tridgell: Patent defence for free software
I missed the start of this talk, but when I arrived, Andrew was explaining how to read and interpret patent claims. This is even less obvious than one might suppose. He offered advice on which parts to read first, and which could be disregarded or referred to only as needed.
Invalidating a patent entirely is difficult, but because patents are interpreted very narrowly, inventions can often be shown to be “different enough” from the patented one.
Where “workarounds” are found, which enable free software to interoperate or solve a problem in a different way than described in a patent, Andrew says it is important to publish them far and wide. This helps to discourage patent holders from attacking free software, because the discovery and publication of a workaround could lead to them losing all of their revenue from the patent (as their licensees could adopt that instead and stop paying for licenses).
Tridgell’s colleague, Jeremy Allison, has just warned about this as well (also at LCA 2010). He previously advised Ubuntu to move Mono and Mono-based applications to the ‘restricted’ repositories [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. His take on OOXML was seen as noteworthy and some would say prophetic.
Dana Blankenhorn wrote about Allison’s talk as follows:
Open source evangelist Jeremy Allison was in New Zealand yesterday, where he issued dire warnings of Microsoft launching a patent attack against open source to win back mobile market share. (Picture from Wikipedia.)
Allison, who famously quit Novell after it announced its patent pact with Microsoft, told a Linux conference in Wellington that Microsoft has to go to court or Windows Mobile is dead. He called a patent fight its “nuclear option.”
Allison is in the business of having no choice but to mimic or comply with a Microsoft protocol. The European Commission is on his side thanks to an exclusive resolution which came after a decade of fighting against Microsoft (which must now comply with the law or heavy pay fines, so it’s not a case of playing nice with Samba).
Let’s remind ourselves that Microsoft sued TomTom over filesystems in Linux. Andrew Tridgell personally suffered from this (he eventually posted a patch enabling Linux to work around the VFAT patents) and the FAT crusade continues as Microsoft signed a patent deal with Funai (for exFAT) a few days ago. Novell’s deal with Microsoft is mentioned in this new article about Funai:
Microsoft inks patent deal with LCD builder
Microsoft has a long history of signing high-profile patent sharing deals. The company’s landmark 2006 deal with Novell sent shockwaves through the open source industry, and the firm has signed similar deals with Brother, Kyocera and Nikon.
See our posts about Tuxera in order to understand Microsoft’s plan to tax GNU/Linux through filesystems (to begin with). It all started with Novell, which came to Microsoft looking for a deal.
A few days ago Microsoft sued TiVo. Asay (formerly of Novell) writes:
As Red Hat evangelist Jan Wildeboer suggests,
The 6,008,803 patent…looks very broad. Might affect all kinds of media center [software]. So also Linux apps. The real question is, “Which Linux media center app infringes on Tivo patents?
In other words, we’re not out of the woods yet, though it does appear that Microsoft’s interest is in supporting the largest customer of its Mediaroom software, not in undermining Linux. Not this time, anyway.
Microsoft appears to have lied about its interests though. Moreover, as we explained the other day, any attack on TiVo — whether it targets Linux or not — can lessen the usage of Linux by weakening TiVo.
From the comments on this: “More reason to detest Microsoft, just wonderful…. Microsoft needs to be dismantled.”
In other patent news, watch what McKool and Ward are up to:
McKool’s promotional material doesn’t emphasize its work for FotoMedia, a patent-holding company whose only apparent business is filing infringement lawsuits. As part of its litigation campaign, FotoMedia has been demanding royalty payments from more than 60 companies with photo-sharing websites. The McKool lawyer in charge of the FotoMedia cases was not available for interviews on Friday, and FotoMedia has not responded to TPA interview requests in the past. FotoMedia is also represented by John Ward & Olivo, a firm out of New York that frequently represents patent-holding companies.
FotoMedia is a patent-holding company that claims just about every photo-sharing website you can imagine infringes its three patents. Its lawsuits, covered by TPA last May and June, are notable not just for the audacity of the claims they make, but also because they target dozens of small- and medium-sized software companies that provide various types of photo-sharing services over the Internet.
Disgusting. Patent trolls and parasites, including FotoMedia which we mentioned here before. Their site lists not a single product and their job openings are just “for an experienced candidate to join the licensing team of FotoMedia’s parent company, Scenera Research, as a Patent Analyst/Engineer.”
Got that? It says “licensing team… Patent Analyst/Engineer.”
A “licensing team” is basically a bunch of racketeers like Sisvel [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and Microsoft. What the hell is a Patent Engineer? A fancy terminology for a lawyer?
We wrote about McKool Smith in [1, 2, 3]. As for Ward, he is working for patent trolls and suing critics (and their employers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]). According to this, he’s also pumping money into politics (assuming it’s him). These people should not be allowed in this business if innovation is the real goal. They are leeches and Ray Niro is probably the nastiest of all of them [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. █
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Summary: An accumulation of observations about how Microsoft treats the industry and how peripheral agents help it accomplish goals
EARLIER today we wrote about Microsoft's anti-counterfeiting chief quitting the company. It happens just as the ‘Microsoft police’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] goes hard on businesses that use proprietary software. From eWEEK Europe:
Software Auditors Crack Down As Recession Bites
Software auditors risk becoming “revenue-generating” traffic cops as the recession put pressure on vendors to collect every penny of revenue
Now, check out this new press release which shows Directions on Microsoft acting as more than an analyst firm focused on Microsoft. They are just making money from the Microsoft ecosystem by assisting with Microsoft licensing, for example, offering remedies to the above "illness". Essentially, they are like Microsoft salespeople, but some have a blog at CNET. What a farce, as if CNET didn’t have enough Microsoft blogs already…
The funny thing is that this press release (with Paul DeGroot at the bottom) says: “Directions on Microsoft is an INDEPENDENT analyst firm formed in 1992 to focus exclusively on Microsoft.” Yes, they even capitalised “INDEPENDENT”. Maybe it’s “INDEPENDENT” in the Peter O’Kelly sense [1, 2]. Eventually he worked directly for Microsoft.
“Essentially, they are like Microsoft salespeople, but some have a blog at CNET.”Then there’s Microsoft Enderle, the “INDEPENDENT” analyst who has just come out with a 3-part series boosting Microsoft. He is routinely attacking Microsoft’s competition and even prominent critics like Groklaw. Private E-mails revealed that he’s working with Microsoft's PR department, Waggener Edstrom (examples in [1, 2]). There’s no shame to these people.
About a week ago we wrote about Centrify and mentioned Likewise; both of these companies engage in Microsoft methodologies (they are run by former Microsoft employees, at least in part) and do protocol promotion with software patents, even on UNIX/Linux (unlike Samba, which is exempted from these unacceptable terms). Likewise is preparing for change. It’s to do with perception and public engagement.
Speaking of which, Microsoft has just sparked some more cheap PR efforts (there’s a $36,000 ‘carrot’ involved) and it offers free lunch to developers (well, breakfast actually):
It will be attended by some of Silicon Valley’s most well known companies, including Yahoo, Microsoft, Mozilla, Yelp, and plenty more. Microsoft is even sponsoring breakfast.
Microsoft also organised/sponsored an anti-Google ("Screw Google") luncheon. Microsoft pays for — not earns — supporters. █
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Summary: Europe is losing its intellectual freedom and sovereignty due to treaties for monopolies, surveillance, and artificial limits on programming
THE GREAT REPRESSION that occurs these days (partly owing to intellectual monopolies) has spurred strong — but by all means tongue-in-cheek — remarks from the FFII’s president, who says that “Swedish Patent Trolls were meeting in Stockholm, slides online, we need ACTA to send Microsoft and Linus to jail”
Their site says:
During the last couple of years intellectual property rights has grown in significance. Society has shifted. Intellectual property rights have come into focus in a way that we haven’t seen before.
That’s what they would hope, wouldn’t they? They created a meta-industry that benefits nobody except themselves. In the process, it empowers monopolies and slows down scientific progress.
The FFII has already warned about the Swedish presidency's role in legalising or at least legitimising software patents in Europe. To make matters worse, the Microsoft-EU deal on interoperability [1, 2, 3, 4] is a big disaster because it legitimises Microsoft’s software patents in Europe without any parliamentary veto power (or obedience to the constitution/s). Nellie Kroes’ agency should be brought back to the table and mend the agreement. There is great fury at the FFII at the moment and Scott Fulton admits that “Microsoft’s interoperability pledge not free enough for Free Software” when he writes:
The agreement between the European Commission and Microsoft announced last Wednesday did not mention “Free Software” by name. There is no corporation or partnership by that name, at least not officially, though up until the resolution of the dispute last week, there had been occasional hints from outgoing Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes that any agreement with Microsoft must take “free” into account, almost as though it were “Free Software, Ltd.”
It’s a very serious issue for many European developers, as Free Software had been treated as a worthy-of-all-caps entity in drafts of the European Interoperability Framework from last year. But recent discussions on revising the EIF have included suggestions from many sources, including a controversial one from the Polish government, that strike references to Free Software as a legal entity, especially as one that deserves equal protection as a limited legal body.
Thus the omission of reference to FS or FOSS from last week’s agreement drew a harsh warning from Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), one of the only entities to criticize the agreement for legal, as opposed to technical or operational, reasons.
This needs to be mended as the patent system seems to have been hijacked by a group of bureaucrats who simply do not understand technology and are therefore easy to fool. Multinational corporations lead them to recognising software patents, which are simply not legal under their sovereignty (and for good reasons!).
As TechDirt puts it in this new post about the UK, the patent system is seeking to retard science and technology with even more intellectual monopolies. Lawyers would absolutely love this.
But all such things really do is encourage more patenting, but less actual innovation. That’s because the tax rate on actual innovation — actually bringing these products to market successfully — remains significantly higher. So, if you do any research at all, you have every incentive in the world to try to just gain income from the patents directly (such as by threatening any company that actually does any innovation and demanding licensing fees) rather than doing the work of actually implementing the product yourself. After all, that’s exactly what the government is telling you to do. It’s saying that if you actually produce an innovative product, we’ll tax you at a very high rate.
As we pointed out some days ago, UK-IPO might be breaking the law and it also serves Microsoft by sneakily approving software patents. █
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