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10.11.17

The FRAND Lobby is Trying to Sneak Software Patents Into Countries That Banned Them

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

India IAM lobbyingSummary: The patent lobby is attempting to find new ways to impose patents on software (with euphemisms like “reasonable”, “non-discriminatory” or “fair”), even in places that explicitly disallow these

THE Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), Business Software Alliance (BSA) and other front groups of Microsoft have long lobbied for FRAND. It’s one way for Microsoft to systematically impede/suppress/discourage if not altogether ban/obstruct Free/Open Source software. Cablegate has a lot of evidence of it.

Any FRAND Trojan horse is basically an attempt to put a cost on things that are otherwise free, such as software. When everyone is free to implement something, in the form of Free/Open Source software, the only barrier can be software patents.

India, as is widely known, is not allowing software patents, yet IAM keeps shaming and bullying India to change that policy. IAM is basically like a lobbying group masquerading as a publication. Yesterday Jacob Schindler wrote about it again, in support of FRAND. To quote the final portion:

Over at SpicyIP, Rajiv Choudhry discusses the new FRAND initiative in the context of what he terms an “ongoing turf war” between the TRAI and the CCI. In the patent space, the latter has become a fixture thanks to its intervention in two SEP disputes involving Ericsson. The CCI launched investigations of the Swedish company based on complaints by both Intex and Micromax, both of which Ericsson sued for patent infringement. In March 2016, the Delhi High Court ruled that those probes could continue, suggesting that the CCI is going to have jurisdiction to look into such SEP matters going forward. If anything comes of this TRAI consultation, there could be a second SEP watchdog in India that patent owners will need to pay close attention to.

As a reminder, earlier this year IAM did its usual lobbying in India, e.g.:

Also yesterday there was an observation about this new report regarding FRAND in relation to Qualcomm. “FRAND, ACT and Mingorance, sounds like a nightmare for freedom,” Benjamin Henrion remarked on this report. To quote a portion:

Qualcomm’s patent fee model is based on the widely used so-called “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) licensing model. The European Commission, however, has yet to make a final decision on which technology patent fee model it favours.

Look who the author is quoting. It’s appalling. A Trojan horse from IP Europe and more Microsoft-connected front groups. Recall what we wrote about it on Sunday and see this new tweet which says “Paris hosts standard body organisations’ and IP Europe’s initiative for a code of conduct in IoT and 5G licensing.”

They are trying to stick software patents tax using buzzwords like IoT and 5G.

Also regarding Qualcomm, this new blog post deals with the European Commission’s take:

There have been strong indications that the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) has serious concerns about the potentially anti-competitive effects of Qualcomm’s proposed acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. By now, there can be no doubt about that: the Commission’s website states that Qualcomm submitted commitments four days ago. No one offers commitments if unconditional clearance is achievable.

Typically, companies discuss such proposed commitments with the Commission beforehand. If the Commission believes the commitments might be useful, it puts them to a market test, giving stakeholders an opportunity to comment. Here, there is no official confirmation–just rumors–of an ongoing market test.

It’s important to be aware that the fight for software patents is taking new forms; they often disguise it as “FRAND” (every now and then they say “RAND”) and software patents are being framed as “AI” or “cloud” or “IoT” or whatever (at the EPO too).

10.08.17

Microsoft Lobbying, the EPO, and Software Patents Disguised as ‘Internet of Things’

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Standard at 6:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps (Microsoft at the time)

ITU Microsoft

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues to act like a vassal of patent aggressors, Microsoft carries on pretending that it’s no longer attacking Free software, and evidence shows that patent policy is being perturbed by lobbyists connected to Microsoft

TECHRIGHTS published many thousands of articles about Microsoft, particularly regarding the company’s use (or misuse) of patents. It’s no secret that Microsoft front groups and other nefarious lobbies want to make Free/Open Source software more difficult (if not impossible) in Europe. Microsoft lobbies if not bribes for the removal of GNU/Linux not just from Munich but also anywhere else around Germany and Europe as a whole. We wrote many articles about it over the years. We gave many concrete examples. We also published some secret E-mails to that effect. The evidence is there, but corporate media is rarely interested in such stories; there’s a PR campaign going on now. It’s more profitable. Nasty spin is what brings income. Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing. “Microsoft loves Linux” is one of the latest incredible lies*.

“Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing.”Recently we saw further evidence that Apache had been compromised. Microsoft paid the ASF too much and even put its own ‘moles’ (or full-time staff) in leadership positions at the ASF. And let’s not even mention the LF and OSI. That may be a subject for another day. Notice how Microsoft never joined OIN and never promised not to sue/threaten with patents (the same promise needs to be made for Microsoft-connected patent trolls). In 2017, unfortunately, Microsoft continues to operate like the Mafia; it pays those who may otherwise speak out (or simply ‘eliminates’ them) while patent blackmail goes on covertly.

The other day we found out that the BSA-connected firm of Bill Gates’ father, a firm which is also connected to Microsoft lobbyists, is targeting the EPO now. As a reminder, many employees of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) moved back and forth (from and to this firm). We wrote a lot about that around 2007. This article came out a few days ago:

K&L Gates has launched a European Patent Office (EPO) practice.

The new practice, combined with K&L Gates’ network of intellectual procurement, portfolio management, and litigation lawyers and patent attorneys makes it the only fully integrated global law firm with full-service patent capabilities in the US, Australia, and Europe, it claims.

“Some time back, we embarked on the mission of bolstering our global patent prosecution capabilities to include an EPO practice in order to better provide our clients with a truly global IP solution,” said Robert M. Barrett, a partner at the firm’s Chicago office.

Remember that a lot of the staff is connected to the BSA, which we’ll come to in a moment.

As we have been pointing out for a number of months, the “IoT” buzzword is nowadays being used as a loophole for software patents. Another such word is “AI”, which only yesterday Watchtroll tried to frame as patentable (in spite of Alice). A few days ago we saw a new press release that said “AI Technology Patents” in the headline. “AI” is just a codeword for software patents which are neither allowed nor enforceable in the US anymore. “Procurement Software Company Xeeva Announces Receipt of Multiple AI Technology Patents,” it said, but these are simply software patents ‘dressed up’ as something scientific or smart. As we shall show in a moment, Microsoft uses such buzzwords more and more.

“What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword.”As for the EPO, internal documents exposed that it had offered Microsoft an inherently-discriminatory fast lane. And yet, the "SMEs" lies continue to be trotted out. Here’s one from Friday, followed by retweeting of others who do the same. This is all based on a big lie from the EPO — the pure nonsense which is EPO working for SMEs rather than to their impediment/detriment. See “Using intellectual property to help large multinationals harness their innovative edge” — that’s the headline and tone of an article published by IAM some days ago. We’re expected to believe that anyone other than these “large multinationals” (or patent trolls) would benefit. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Now comes the interesting part. Last month we wrote quite a bit about IP Europe and the EPO. Days ago someone told us about “European Standardization” with “Francisco MINGORANCE (IP Europe)” in it. It’s about so-called ‘IoT’ and there’s a “Kick-off meeting CEN-CENELEC/WS IoT SEP licensing” (“SEP licensing” is standard-essential patent tax).

So the lobbyists are once again killing everything that is sane!

Mingorance isn’t new to us. We wrote about him when he worked for the BSA and more recently in relation to the UPC and EPO [1, 2]. They’re all pretty close.

What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword. They link to a patent maximalists’ site and tweet: “#Standards bodies, global tech developers & users to create a European Vision for #SEP licensing for #IoT and #5G”

“Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee.”As the President of the FFII interpreted it, “5G and IOT standards to be dominated by trolls, making free software impossible [] Today swpat [software patents] lobbyists meetup to exclude free software from 5G and IOT https://is.gd/eaT8xS”

Incidentally, only days ago IAM published this article titled “Monetising patented wireless technologies”, composed by Marc Pépin from TechPats, Ottawa, Canada. About a week ago we also heard from inside sources about a war on Free software in wireless technology. They’re understandably concerned when software patent are being painted “IoT” or G*” to impose a tax on everything, rendering Free software unsuitable for purpose.

It was pointed out to us that Apache played a role in it, too. Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee. As it turns out, Jim Jagielski became part of the problem and he recently sent a shout-out to Sam Ramji and congratulated Microsoft. It would not be a big deal if he hadn’t also been “very big” on Inner Source, and gave 3 talks at this secret event, InnerSource Commons Fall Summit 2017.

“As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.”Then there’s this event, Second Joint ITU-NGMN Alliance Workshop on Open Source and Standards for 5G. Hosted by Microsoft! This is what entryism looks like. This is the second workshop and the first one was hosted by Qualcomm.

“Software patents are the key issue there,” we got told, and “the mobile industry wants to define FOSS as “access to the code” and normalise separate patent agreements, and wants regulators to endorse that position.”

As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.
_____
* The PR campaign is so strong and so broad that one gets nothing but scorn (like “tinfoil hat”) for being sane and rational about what Microsoft is truly up to.

05.08.17

Death of ‘IP’ Media: Front Groups of Microsoft Described as “Representing SME Developers” by Bristows

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 3:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European Digital SME AllianceSame people who lied to us about UPC being beneficial to SMEs (the very opposite is true)

Summary: Fake groups (AstroTurfing) whose purpose is to hijack and misrepresent the views of one’s competition (e.g. SMEs) are being echoed if not amplified by Annsley Merelle Ward at IP Kat this morning, distracting from real representatives of SMEs (like the European Digital SME Alliance)

THE state of IP Kat has gotten so bad that it’s not even amusing. Now that there is very major news at the EPO, namely the withdrawal of Battistelli’s ‘boss’ [1, 2], nothing at all is being said (nor will be said).

Here is a new comment about it:

Seems like the sands are shifting at the top of the Administrative Council …

Translations and Speculations About Jesper Kongstad’s Planned Departure From the EPO

And what curious timing !

Just before the kick-off of the next Presidential election campaign …

All we need now are some hacked e-mails or maybe a USB stick with compromising data …

What a shame that the IPKat no longer reports on these exciting developments in the land of EPOnia …

Well, the Bristows-run IP Kat has been busy marketing the UPC, patent trolls in the UK, FRAND and so on. In other words, it stands for pretty much everything that harms British companies, which already complain about this. Microsoft has long exploited FRAND (while lobbying for it) as a tool for combating adoption of Free/Libre open source software. That’s no secret. It’s a widely-known fact and we reported/wrote about it many times around 2008-2010. We also published leaked material related to this (demonstrating how Microsoft front groups had been altering laws to promote FRAND behind closed doors).

“…the Bristows-run IP Kat has been busy marketing the UPC, patent trolls in the UK, FRAND and so on.”This morning, to make things even worse, Annsley Merelle Ward took it a step further by spreading a lie about Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), Microsoft’s villainous proxy for a couple of decades. She was saying it’s “pro-FRAND tech trade association representing SME developers,” but that’s an utter lie. SMEs are not pro-FRAND. Microsoft is. And this is yet another attempt by ACT to hijack the voices of one’s opposition/competition. What is the content of this so-called ‘article’? It’s just a copy-paste job for this AstroTurfing front. Incredible!

“Microsoft has long exploited FRAND (while lobbying for it) as a tool for combating adoption of Free/Libre open source software.”Look what IP Kat has become! Is IP Kat now reprinting and amplifying Microsoft lobbying fronts? Coming from an author who professed admiration for Microsoft’s chief patent extortionist? What next? Guest posts from Microsoft?

This issue of Microsoft propaganda isn’t limited to IP Kat (Microsoft was the sole chief sponsor of that recent event Bristows flew to). There are similar issues with Microsoft-connected media like IAM. They’re an extensive network of lobbying, not news or information. It makes it hard to trust all sorts of publications, for quite a few of them receive money that affects their coverage. Someone recently advised us to speak to Taz, a German publication which may be interested in covering EPO scandals. “I don’t know if I can trust Taz with material,” I replied, as “IAM betrayed some before.” Back then we weren’t quite aware of IAM’s deep ties to the EPO, including financial strings. “I don’t know who owns Taz,” I continued. “After the experience with IAM I am very picky where I send information/stuff.” Yes, I do try to encourage the media to cover EPO scandals and often these endeavors are successful.

“This issue of Microsoft propaganda isn’t limited to IP Kat (Microsoft was the sole chief sponsor of that recent event Bristows flew to).”In summary, here’s a word of caution. Whatever IP Kat published under the name “Merpel”, it’s no longer the same Kat and media should in general be treated very cautiously unless one knows who is really behind it and where loyalties lie. One sure thing is, IAM is still very much in bed with the EPO, even if it doesn’t write much about it. See what happened in Korea a couple of weeks ago.

04.16.17

Apple’s Legal Actions Against Android and Against Qualcomm Could Eventually Weaken Patents at Two Levels

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Hardware, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 8:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Hardware (chipsets) and software alike, with dubious software patents that accompany them, have made phones incredibly expensive

Phone and USPTO

Summary: By tackling the practices of Qualcomm and by dragging companies to court over ridiculous design patents (potential of blanket ban by the Supreme Court) Apple weakens the very business model it will need to rely on as its market diminishes, leaving it with nothing but patents

THE mobile market is worth a lot of money these days. The exact numbers depend on how it’s measured and what exactly gets included in the measure. But no doubt more and more people now turn to mobility. Many sales are made in it, both of devices and software (licensing). Apple’s sales are declining and many of the headlines we come across (when it comes to Apple at least) are about new patents and patent applications from Apple. Perhaps that’s just Apple’s vision/foresight of its future. It want to prey on OEMs that are actually shipping a lot of phones (Huawei for example). This is why Microsoft, for example, attacked Samsung in the courts — using software patents of course — and then virtually forced Samsung to become its vassal. It’s a strategy of coercion. A lot of patent battles are now focused/centered around the mobile market (connections, interfaces, touch-enabled devices, navigation and so on) as many companies try to turn a pile of patents into revenue without actually creating anything. Qualcomm is a good example of this.

“It’s a strategy of coercion.”Qualcomm's management seems growingly nervous about the antitrust action in various places as well as the lawsuits/complaints [1, 2], notably Apple‘s. The $815m BlackBerry arbitration, which was mentioned here the other day, gets a mention in patent maximalists’ sites and Florian Müller took note of it after we had sent him some links related to it. It seems possible, albeit it’s subjected to the Supreme Court’s instincts, that another Apple case against Android will reach the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). As Müller put it just before Easter (taking special note of the role of CCIA):

One organization that has previously supported Samsung against Apple, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), appears to have decided not to get active again at this stage. But in case certiorari is granted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see CCIA get involved again. With respect to design patent damages, CCIA’s work was really great. But even CCIA may at some point experience such a thing as litigation fatigue: the Apple v. Samsung dispute is now six years old.

Samsung’s design patents-related petition was exceptional. It had tremendous support and, since it raised sort of a once-in-a-century type of issue, it was a slam dunk (to the extent that a cert petition can be a slam dunk at all, given overall stats). The fact that certain amici who supported Samsung on design patents aren’t on board this time doesn’t mean that the three issues raised last months aren’t also certworthy in their own ways and their own right.

We wrote about this case many times before and if it reaches SCOTUS, then we definitely expect the patents to be challenged and quite likely invalidated, as per the pattern of recent SCOTUS decisions on patents. If that happens, what will Apple be left with? Apple is the next Qualcomm.

04.13.17

The World is Burning for Qualcomm, Whose Dependence on Software Patent Bullying is Being Tackled in Several Continents

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Asia, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 12:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A company stuck in the past with nothing but a pile of patents (like Nokia)

Qualcomm phone

Summary: The days of Qualcomm’s cash cow (a bunch of standard essential patents) may be numbered, as US, EU and Korean authorities belatedly look at the company’s practices and Qualcomm already caves

Qualcomm’s de facto monopoly (in the patents sense), as we’ve covered here before [1, 2], means that people pay Qualcomm a lot of money even when they buy nothing from Qualcomm. In some sense, Qualcomm does in chipsets what Microsoft does in software. It demands ‘protection’ money from just about everyone and it also has patent trolls to help punish for ‘noncompliance’ with unreasonable demands.

Qualcomm Lies

“It demands ‘protection’ money from just about everyone and it also has patent trolls to help punish for ‘noncompliance’ with unreasonable demands.”Not too long ago Qualcomm came under fire from Apple, even though it had abused many other companies. Florian Müller had a peek at the latest documents and found Qualcomm claiming “credit for enabling Pokémon GO,” which is of course nonsense. To quote Müller:

As the number of pages (the original complaint was approx. 100 pages, now the answer and the counterclaims fill 140 pages) shows, this is a huge commercial litigation and threatens to turn into a battle of materiel. Both parties have enlisted multiple major law firms. The first surprise here is that Quinn Emanuel is among the three firms representing Qualcomm, given that Qualcomm’s filing (in paragraph 192 of the counterclaims part) accuses Samsung–another company QE is defending against Apple–of sharing (with Apple) “a common interest in diminishing Qualcomm’s ability to obtain fair value for its innovations” and trying “to avoid paying fair value for Qualcomm’s intellectual property and to impede Qualcomm’s licensing program.” I wonder how Samsung feels about its own lawyers not distancing themselves from such allegations…

Is Qualcomm trying to suck up to the Japanese and Korean regulators with this “Pokémon GO” fairy tale? As one Android-centric site put it, Qualcomm has “Big Trouble in Little Korea” and an Apple-centric site said that “[i]n a 134-page filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Qualcomm provides a point-by-point rundown of Apple’s January lawsuit, denying a total of 389 allegations.”

“Is Qualcomm trying to suck up to the Japanese and Korean regulators with this “Pokémon GO” fairy tale?”What we have here are two patent bullies fighting one another and it’s clear that only law firms are guaranteed to win, as usual (parasites can’t lose).

Qualcomm to Pay BlackBerry

Meanwhile, as emerged in the news last night [1, 2, 3], Qualcomm will need to shell out a lot of money. BlackBerry, which has itself become akin to a patent troll (both directly and indirectly), expects to receive nearly a billion dollars from Qualcomm. BlackBerry awarded $815 million in arbitration case against Qualcomm,” says a headline one reader sent to us about it. Might Qualcomm need to refund even greater amounts of money to other firms?

Qualcomm’s Abuses

Florian Müller published another article earlier today, having watched this case rather closely. “Qualcomm does not want European and Korean antitrust proceedings to impact its FTC litigation,” says the headline. Like Intel and Microsoft, Qualcomm has come under incredible scrutiny in several continents and the effect can be devastating to a company that depends so much on patents rather than actual products. To quote Müller:

Qualcomm, which would have us believe we couldn’t even play Pokémon GO if not for its wireless technologies, is fighting a global, multi-front war against regulators, industry players and consumers (who are piggybacking on the FTC case in Northern California).

On one of those fronts, BlackBerry just won an arbitration award over $815 million. Unfortunately, arbitration is opaque, so the legal basis for this is unclear, other than BlackBerry having claimed to have paid too much in license fees during an unspecified past period. The kind of wrongdoing here is totally unclear, and we also don’t know what an appeals court would have decided. Still, the $815 million award, which is final and binding, has made BlackBerry’s share price soar by 12%. For the Canadian company, it’s a huge amount of money. For Qualcomm, it’s also a very significant amount, but the bigger problem is that every independent finding of Qualcomm having overcharged someone makes it harder for Qualcomm to convince the courts of law and the court of public opinion that it’s just being bullied by the likes of Apple and Samsung and that all those antitrust enforcers have all just been misled by sore losers in the marketplace and by evil companies denying Qualcomm a fair compensation for its innovations.

This concern is real. A joint case management statement filed yesterday by the FTC and Qualcomm–”joint” in terms of being a single document despite virtually zero convergence on substantive questions–in the Northern District of California shows that Qualcomm is indeed concerned about how the various parallel proceedings could influence each other.

The above already mentions the news about BlackBerry, which is important. Is Qualcomm on the run from regulators?

Unfair and Unreasonable

“Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm is already having a positive impact, which is why we said we would support Apple right from the start (in this case alone).”So-called standard essential patents (SEPs) or RAND or FRAND are a subject we’ve covered here many times before. Last night IP Kat said that “It ha[d] been a busy couple of weeks for standard essential patents (SEPs)… and now we have the European Commission’s roadmap on SEPs.”

“FRAND is already in DSM,” Benjamin Henrion explained, “don´t know what is the status of this directive…”

Well, if SEPs like Qualcomm’s lose their legitimacy, the effects would be enormous and also impact software companies. In China, based on what IAM said earlier today, the subject of SEPs and patent trolls that wield them (like Ericsson in Europe) is being brought up and scrutinised. To quote:

We’ve seen a major patent pool introduce a new royalty rate structure aimed at enticing more developing-market implementers to get involved, the first foreign NPE officially enter China through a joint venture agreement, and Apple directly challenging the licensing terms Qualcomm agreed on with Chinese regulators. And, of course, the Beijing IP Court issued the country’s first SEP-based injunction against Sony.

Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm is already having a positive impact, which is why we said we would support Apple right from the start (in this case alone). Companies like Qualcomm offer far too little to society but more importantly, they set a dangerous precedent to be exploited by all sorts of other companies and harm productive companies.

02.07.17

ITC and FTC Weigh in on Competition/Antitrust and the Patents-in-Standards Question

Posted in America, Antitrust, Hardware, Patents, RAND, Standard at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related to the FRAND/RAND debates but currently focused on hardware

No trespassing

Summary: Regulatory agencies in the US (International/Federal Trade Commission) grapple with anticompetitive aspects of patents

IN PREVIOUS years we wrote a great deal about the ITC. It’s the US-centric agency (not “International” as its name conveniently and misleadingly suggests) that helps embargo rivals from abroad; it does so with patents as a tool/blunt instrument.

The other day MIP wrote about what we can expect from the ITC in 2017, citing what it called the “first antitrust claim for 25 years.” To quote:

Highlights at the International Trade Commission in 2016 included the most Section 337 investigations since 2011, the first live hearing for a decade and the first antitrust claim for 25 years. Michael Loney asks ITC practitioners what trends they expect in 2017

What we have come to expect from the ITC (see past writings) is servitude to US corporations that control the political platform/establishment and public discourse. Disdain for ITC ‘justice’ is something they have come to deserve. Remember all those antitrust cases (EU, Korea and more) against Intel, whose offences are plenty and include patent aggression (not to mention lobbying for software patents)? Well, based on this new report, Intel’s arch-rival “AMD filed a legal complaint against a number of companies accusing them of infringing its patents covering graphics processing technologies. The company requested the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC) to investigate the matter and, if the ITC finds in their favor, ban products based on chips that infringe on AMD’s intellectual property rights.”

“What we have come to expect from the ITC (see past writings) is servitude to US corporations that control the political platform/establishment and public discourse.”ITC again. Guess in whose favour it is likely to rule? Even if many of these patents are applicable to or are required by industry standards…

Andy Updegrove spent a long time writing about anticompetitive aspects of standards with patents in them. He now says that a “Court Rules Standards Incorporated by Reference into Laws Need not be Free”. To quote: “When standards developed by the private sector become laws, should anyone be able to download a copy for free? At first blush, the answer seems too obvious to debate. But yesterday, a U.S. district court held otherwise, saying that the developer of a standard that has been “incorporated by reference” (IBR) into a law continues to have the right to enforce its copyright. It also confirmed the right to charge a reasonable fee for an IBR standard.”

“This is a case and opportunity for the FTC to show it has teeth; it’s also a case by which to squash software patents abuse, as some of the patents at the centre of these shakedowns are Qualcomm’s software patents.”The subject is contentious and hotly-debated these days, in particular because of Qualcomm, which faces lawsuits, antitrust investigations and so on. MIP, noting the latest development in China (covered here two weeks ago), wrote last week that the “FTC charged Qualcomm with practicing unfair methods of competition under Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Meanwhile, Apple has sued the telecommunications company for $1 billion worth of rebated royalty fees that Apple says Qualcomm is withholding. Other trade commissions, such as Korea’s, have investigated and ruled against Qualcomm’s practices, and Apple has additionally sued the company in China.”

This is a case and opportunity for the FTC to show it has teeth; it’s also a case by which to squash software patents abuse, as some of the patents at the centre of these shakedowns are Qualcomm’s software patents.

Are regulatory bodies like the FTC and ITC likely to recognise that for the world to advance and develop we need standards that are not usable by billionaire corporations alone? Are they competition facilitators or merely gatekeepers (wolves in sheep’s clothing)?

07.17.16

Microsoft and Its Patent Minions at Nokia Still Have Patent Stacking Ambitions Against Android/Linux OEMs

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The role of Ericsson and the EPO’s PR agency is mentioned as well

Calculator for tax

Summary: Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders

THE long if not endless war waged by Microsoft against GNU/Linux is far from over. This past week, e.g. in our daily links, we gave several examples of the latest assaults by Microsoft (Android antitrust, Linux booting restrictions, lobbying against freedom-respecting policies and more), aside from the patent angle. Microsoft sure knows what it’s doing and if Microsoft succeeds, Linux-powered products will lose their broad appeal due to removed (thanks to legal threats) features and artificially-elevated prices. In this post we shall focus on the patent aspects alone, as we so typically do in order to keep things simpler.

“Microsoft sure knows what it’s doing and if Microsoft succeeds, Linux-powered products will lose their broad appeal due to removed (thanks to legal threats) features and artificially-elevated prices.”Let’s start with the Microsoft-friendly advocacy site, IAM ‘magazine’. IAM’s innuendo-filled focus on China’s patent activity as of late [1, 2] finally culminates in China’s “misuse of competition law for protectionist policies,” as if the West never ever does this (it’s certainly the norm at the USPTO and ITC). IAM wants to make China’s system (patents, courts etc.) look unfair and unjust, as it did the other day too. China is apparently very mean because there’s bias there that’s hardly unique to China. Huawei is the one major Android OEM that Microsoft never managed to blackmail using patents (it reportedly did try over the years) and IAM now says that “Huawei attracts flak from Nokia, while adversary Samsung signs major deal with the Finnish company” (good cop, bad cop). It is obviously a loaded headline and IAM does not tell readers that Nokia’s patent troll, MOSAID (now Conversant), is paying IAM. What a farce of a ‘news’ site. MOSAID (fed with Nokia patents at Microsoft’s instruction) can be viewed as somewhat of an extension of these entities and after Microsoft effectively hijacked Nokia it’s taxing Google/Android (hence Linux) in a royalty stacking fashion. This happens right now not only in the Western world but also in Asia, albeit Huawei has been one of the very few exceptions (the Chinese government, which is connected to it, seems to have protected it). “Here’s Why Nokia Is About To Get More Money Out Of Its Patents” is a new article from Fortune (writing a lot about patents so far this month) which reminds us that Microsoft essentially turned Nokia into a patent aggressor. Put another way, Microsoft made Nokia yet another one of its (many) patent trolls that are openly against Android and Linux. “I booked http://nokiaplanp.com,” wrote Benjamin Henrion, but that was “years ago, I was right.” The P stands for Patents and it happened around the time people were making jokes about Nokia’s plans under Microsoft’s mole, Elop (there were nearly a dozen such plans with a different alphabetic letter for each).

People are kindly asked to remember what Microsoft did to Nokia as revisionism about it is quite routine nowadays. Not only Nokia engages in such behaviour; Ericsson does this too and it goes as far as south Asia, e.g. India. European patent trolls come to India even if there are no software patents in India and virtually no patent trolls either, as we mentioned here before. Well, Micromax was last mentioned here a couple of months ago in relation to patent trolls, primarily Ericsson’s (the equivalent of MOSAID/Conversant to Nokia) and here is a new blog post about it:

Ericsson has been going all out to enforce its Standard Essentials Patents (SEP) against several mobile phone companies, such as Micromax, Intex and Lava, among others, who are primarily selling mobile phones in India. The outcome of these law suits will no doubt play a significant role in defining the future of licensing and enforcement of SEP in India.

The latest in these law suits is an interim judgement by The High Court of Delhi in the matter between TELEFONKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON (Ericsson) and LAVA INTERNATIONAL LTD (Lava). The interim judgement is in favour of Ericsson. More importantly, the judgement deals with various aspects of licensing and enforcement of SEP.

Ericsson keeps 'hiding' behind proxies that are patent trolls in order to shake down practicing companies. It’s hardly even covert like Microsoft’s scheme. Everyone knows that Ericsson is doing this. Standard-essential patents (SEPs) are used here (Nokia has many of these too) and speaking of which, the Kat who is the most pro-software patents (based on years of posting history) wrote about the EPO's PR firm the other day, noting its take on SEP holders. “The final speaker was Mark Bezant from FTI consulting,” she wrote. “He mentioned that he is amongst the FRAND experts in the pending UK case of Unwired Planet v Samsung and Huawei [last reported by IPKat here]. He noted the two key issues in FRAND disputes: (a) the obligations placed on the SEP holders, and (b) the appropriate level of royalty rates. After reminding the audience of some of the methods discussed by Garreth Wong, he mentioned particular issues that arise in practice, such as having to rely on outdated licences or inherently complicated agreements. With respect to the incremental method of calculating royalties, he noted the difficulty in understanding the exact value a single patent has added to a standard. The most common approach, he explained, is looking at established comparable rates and matching them to the situation at hand. Mr Bezant concluded that one must establish a number of factors before assessing whether a licence is FRAND, such as the validity of the patents, the number of declared essential patents, the number of essential patents confirmed by a court, and the qualitative assessment performed by experts on the patents.”

“Remember that there are practically no workarounds for SEPs (by definition) and FRAND is not compatible with FOSS.”It’s rather curious to see Battistelli’s PR firm (at the expense of the EPO) promoting a software patents loophole and patent aggression. Then again, they also promote the UPC and pay IAM, which incidentally gets paid by patent trolls also. It is a hostile world out there and it makes life hard for FOSS proponents. Remember that there are practically no workarounds for SEPs (by definition) and FRAND is not compatible with FOSS.

07.13.16

The Open Invention Network Keeps Growing, But It Helps Large Corporations, Not Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, IBM, OIN, Patents, RAND at 6:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Piggy bank OIN

Summary: Free/Open Source software (FOSS) continues to be used as a cover for large corporations (like Google, IBM, NEC, Philips and Sony) to maintain a grip on patent pools and act as gatekeepers with software patents that they openwash (not even cross-license, as Oracle v Google serves to illustrate)

WE were never huge fans of OIN, which is why OIN’s CEO and PR people tried hard to convince us otherwise. I saw first-hand accounts where patent trolls were repelled by OIN, which didn’t quite seem to care (maybe because OIN cannot do anything at all about patent trolls, other than attempt to buy/harvest patents before they’re bought to be used offensively). OIN is basically the world’s biggest legitimiser of software patents. IBM, the main company behind OIN (recall its first head of operations, Jerry Rosenthal from IBM), is a patent bully and a notorious software patents proponent, so how can one honestly expect OIN to be part of a true solution? IBM is demonstrably part of many problems.

“IBM is demonstrably part of many problems.”According to this new article from Fortune, joining OIN makes one “a Patron of Open-Source Software” (what a ludicrous headline). To quote from the article: “It’s called the Open Invention Network, and its other members are Google, IBM, Red Hat rht , NEC nec-electronics , Philips phg , Sony sne , and SUSE (a unit of Britain’s Micro Focus). Fortune is the first to report Toyota’s startling move.

“Formed in 2005, OIN’s mission is to protect and encourage the collaborative development and use of open-source software, like the Linux operating system, which can be freely copied, altered, and distributed, and which no one person or company owns. OIN pursues a variety of strategies aimed at protecting the users and developers of such software against the threat of patent suits by proprietary software manufacturers, like Microsoft and Apple. Such suits, if successful, could deny users the freedoms that make open-source software desirable.

“That Toyota would now join the group reflects the growing importance that software is playing in cars, and the growing number of automakers who believe that open-source software is the best approach to providing many of the needed solutions for its vehicles. Open-source champions say such software is cheaper, more flexible, and of higher quality, because it benefits from the pooled resources of collaborative input.”

Toyota, a very close Microsoft partner (probably more so than any other vehicles maker), claims to have joined OIN, but what good will that do for FOSS? Nothing. Toyota is not even a software company. It’s about as relevant to FOSS as that openwashing campaign from Tesla (and later Panasonic). Total nonsense. It’s about as helpful to FOSS as RAND is and speaking of RAND (or FRAND), this new article from IP Watch speaks about FRAND in relation to Europe, where the term FRAND is typically a Trojan horse (or surrogate) for software patents in Europe.

“Toyota, a very close Microsoft partner (probably more so than any other vehicles maker), claims to have joined OIN, but what good will that do for FOSS?”Going back to OIN, it has done virtually nothing so far to protect FOSS. It’s like bogus insurance plan which does not actually work or cover anything (no matter the circumstances). Where is OIN every time Microsoft blackmails Linux/Android OEMs? Speaking of which, Professor Crouch has this new article about insurance based on patents (or copyright, trademark, and trade secret). He says that “Hammond’s insurance company USLI had refused to indemnify Hammond based in-part upon the intellectual property exclusion found in the policy that specifically excluded coverage for any “loss, cost, or expense . . . [a]rising out of any infringement of copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property rights.” Agreeing, the court particularly found that the basis for TCA’s attorney fee requests stemmed from the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act as well as the Copyright Act – even though no intellectual property infringement claim had been asserted in the underlying case.”

Look what we have come to. With misnomers like “intellectual property”, which compare ideas to “property” and ascribe physical attributes to them (like insurance traditionally did, covering for damage caused to physical things), no wonder the media says joining OIN is becoming “a Patron of Open-Source Software” (FOSS inherently rejects the notion of patron or owner, except in the copyright assignment sense).

“Fortune is the first to report Toyota’s startling move,” its author wrote, but in reality Fortune is the media partner to peddle Toyota’s marketing/propaganda, along with OIN’s agenda.

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