Summary: Arguments against the GPLv3 turn out to have come from companies which all along were nothing but trouble
HE third version of the GPL is largely accepted, widely adopted, and those who are affected by it are mostly out of business, e.g. Novell. Novell and SUSE opposed the GPLv3. “Linus is changing distros,” told us iophk, quoting Linus Torvalds as saying:” I gave OpenSUSE a try, because it worked so well at install-time on the Macbook Air, but I have to say, I’ve had enough. There is no way in hell I can honestly suggest that to anybody else any more.”
“That’s good news,” says iophk. But another company which the GPLv3 affects is TiVo, which not only pioneered the malpractice now known as “TiVoization” but also became a patent aggressor with growing appetite (it wants of billions of dollars from software patents). TiVo is a very bad company, no matter if it leverages Linux. See our TiVo wiki page for details. Might all Americans with cable television be forced to pay “TiVo tax” for some software patents?
The GPLv3 sought to address two problems which TiVo makes real. The obvious one is “TiVoization”; The other one is software patents. Sadly, a Microsoft marketing executive created a company which routinely bashes the GPL. It is called Black Duck and days ago we found yet more statistics that contradict its dubious, proprietary output (saturated with Microsoft input after a Microsoft deal). We put that in our daily links.
In other news, trolls suffer a loss against Nintendo in the US:
Today sees Nintendo of America prevailing in a patent infringement lawsuit. At the center of the case was the Wii remote, Wii Balance Board, and Wii Fit software. Impulse technology claimed that these three devices or software infringed upon their patent (U.S. Patent No 5,524,637) which was issued in 1996.
Note that this is an American lawsuit. Nintendo is not an American company, but this is where the patent system breeds trolls. We need the GPLv3 to prevent this, but first the licence must become widespread. It’s clear why Microsoft spreads a lot of FUD about it, usually through proxies. █
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Summary: Despite elimination of file system patents, the road remains long in the struggle for software freedom
THE FFII’S mailing lists started debating the news about Microsoft’s FAT patents. “You know the malaria thing,” said their president, quoting Richard Stallman as saying that “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitos will eliminate malaria.”
One subscriber asked: “It is the same patent that was recognized by German Court?”
“Yes,” replied another person, “it is 352 patent.”
We wrote about the ruling in Germany before.
Shane McGlaun notes that:
I’m betting this is really good news for smartphone makers. Open-source poster boy Linus Torvalds stepped up and helped stop a Microsoft patent from being used to choke licensing fees out of other companies. The patent Microsoft owns is being used to force Google Android and Linux handset users to pay licensing fees.
This is indeed, based on what the OIN's CEO told me, what Microsoft often uses to tax Linux and Android. Torvalds’ fight against the FAT patent (he thinks the patent fight is a sign of Microsoft's business dying) is definitely big news and one that other pro-Linux sites are addressing:
There is a Microsoft patent #352 which deals with “storing filenames with lots of characters in old filesystems such as the Windows FAT (File Allocation Table) filesystem that are designed to use very short filenames. Mobile phone makers use this type of technology so that their devices interoperate with other operating systems, including Windows,” reports Wired. You can read more about the patent here.
This whole development helps show that Torvalds takes a stand against patents, even though he tolerates and even “likes’ Tivoization. We ought to remember that TiVo is bad not just for this practice but also for patent aggression. As one Microsoft booster puts it:
TiVo today accused Motorola and Time Warner Cable, a Motorola Customer, of violating patents covering the company’s digital video recorder technology.
Let’s hope that Torvalds will decide to do about Tivoization what he already does about software patents. Both are detrimental to users of software, which is just about everyone in the twenty-first century. █
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The Best Tool For Freedom is a Free Tool
Two friends have a good chat about free software at OSCON.
The CarrierIQ issue, even if it is part of an organized campaign to smear and ruin Android , is showing people the dangers of using non free software. Even one piece of non free software can betray users, so mostly free, “pragmatic” systems can be just as bad as regular non free systems. The free software community should capitalize on this awareness to change people’s attitudes towards their devices so that they will reject non free software in the future. Software freedom must be complete for users to have real conrtol and privacy.
Richard Stallman wrote an extensive review of Android back in September. It lists all of the parts of available phones that can be used maliciously against users, which surprisingly include the radio control firmware. The conclusion was unequivocal, “Android is a major step towards an ethical, user-controlled, free-software portable phone, but there is a long way to go. … While any computing system might have bugs, these devices might be bugs.”
When the CarrierIQ scandal broke, Mr. Stallman was not surprised. His comment was,
The root cause of this problem is that the users don’t control the software on these phones. So if they didn’t put in this surveillance package [Carrier IQ], they would put in some other. The users’ only protection against malicious features (surveillance, intentional restrictions, and back doors) is to insist on free software.
Anyone in the Open Source community who’s surprised should think hard about what the Free Software Society has been telling them. About four years ago at a “Web 2.0″ meeting, Eben Moglen urged the Tim O’Reilly and the Open Source community to quit, “wasting time promoting commercial products.” O’Reilly was sad that Moglen did not want to talk about protecting people’s data on other people’s computers in “the cloud,” but CarrierIQ makes it plain that those rights and protections are meaningless if the user is stripped of privacy by malware in their pocket. It might have been useful ten years ago to hide scary talk about freedom from big companies like IBM. It worked, thanks, but talk about “best tool for the job” and “pragmatic” mixes of free and non free software should now be considered counter productive and the results dangerous.
There are community alternatives to carrier issued Android. Stallman mentions Replicant, a 100% free software replacement for Android. There is also a less careful distribution called CyanogenMod that is focused on performance and includes non free software from Google and perhaps device drivers. Jeff Hoogland, the founder of Bodhi GNU/Linux, is working on Debian for cell phones and we can be sure many others are as well. In the mean time, if you must have a smart phone, it might as well be Android because there is no chance a phone from Apple or Microsoft will be liberated, but don’t expect it to be a Freedom Box the community really wants [2 and don't trust it until it's really free.
Sadly, US law is mostly a hindrance. Senator Al Franklin had some very pointed questions about possible violations of law for the company and a lawsuit has been launched against the guilty parties - Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ. That's good but it will be difficult to prove what actually happened, and the free software community can do better. Like Vista and Windows 7, CarrierIQ establishes encrypted communications to hide the data transmitted. It would be better to have free software on your cell phone, so the FSF has petitioned the Librarian of Congress for a DMCA Exemption Without that, it may be against US law for people to replace the software on their phones or even to delete CarrierIQ malware.
The lack of freedom in cell phones is not a natural state but is unlikely to end without changes and enforcement of US law. Android has emerged as the top cell phone OS because it is free software and creates a productive commons for the odd hundred companies that must cooperate to make a cell phoneThe obnoxious US patent system has allowed Microsoft and Apple to practice judicial extortion that should have been blocked by US anti-trust and racketeering laws[1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Spectrum licensing itself is a technically obsolete and harmful practice but the FCC could demand adherence to technical standards, demand the publication of technical standards required to operate phones, and forbid practices such as phone locking as the price carriers pay for spectrum as it transitions to open spectrum.
We are in this hole because a long running propaganda campaign by non free software owners has played down ethical issues while convincing people that they are helpless. Billions of dollars in propaganda spending still drown out the basic truth of the situation and non free software use remains prevalent even among people who have every reason to fear spying by the rich and powerful. CarrierIQ gives us a good chance to fix that.
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Summary: The largest Free/libre software advocacy group issues a formal statement and call for action against Microsoft’s TiVoization push
ON SEVERAL occasions before we mentioned the situation with regards to UEFI for Vista 8 [1, 2, 3] and we are gratified to see the FSF getting involved because it has a lot of influence, so it can make things happen. From its formal statement:
Microsoft has announced that if computer makers wish to distribute machines with the Windows 8 compatibility logo, they will have to implement a measure called “Secure Boot.” Secure Boot is designed to protect against malware by preventing computers from loading unauthorized binary programs when booting. In practice, this means that computers implementing it won’t boot unauthorized operating systems — including initially authorized systems that have been modified without being re-approved.
Please go ahead and sign the statement.
This just helps show that the FSF was right all along about TiVoization. It had insight and foresight. Speaking of the FSF, its founder Richard Stallman has just told me that “My feelings regarding Jobs are about his work, not about him personally. What I said about Jobs was about his work.” This is worth clarifying for all those who took his words out of context (and we chose not to feed these by doing an article about it). █
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Financial security to Microsoft, environmental disaster for the rest
Summary: The lesser-realised problem with machines that are made to include TiVoization for Microsoft compliance; more “security” FUD from Microsoft
IT has been a while since we last wrote about the UEFI scandal [1, 2]. Nothing has actually been resolved, despite the comforting sense that the authorities have been informed and Microsoft issued a statement (which was no reassurance).
Several years ago we wrote some articles about the impact of Windows Vista on the environment, but it wasn’t until someone from Asia pointed this out that we realised TiVoization seriously impedes reuse:
Consumers Don’t Own Computers “Designed for Windows 8″, and They Go to Landfills Earlier (Side Effects of “Trusted Computing”)
Microsoft Windows 8 alpha is released and downloadable. But no, I am not recommending it. Nor am I denouncing it in favor of GNU/Linux (well, not in this article anyway). What you should be aware of and concerned about as a consumer is those machines labeled as “Designed for Windows 8″. Much more so if you care about the environmental and humanitarian problems caused by e-wastes, for these machines will end up much faster as e-wastes than the ordinary machines manufactured now.
Machines labeled as “Designed for Windows 8″ have to support UEFI. UEFI is said to have many nice features, which I am not knowledgeable about and will not discuss. But I can assure you that one of those features is a downright hoax, scam, and lie. The “secure boot” feature in UEFI is claimed to make your computer more secure by disallowing intrusions from untrusted sources. This and certain other features in UEFI are important elements of Trusted Computing, a mechanism advocated by Microsoft and other big IT companies. The claim is that booting a computer from an untrusted source (such as a tux usb key which has applications in tourism, education, environment preservation, LOHAS, and ethics) is a security threat and should be avoided.
There is just one tiny problem: it’s not you, the consumer, who gets to decide who is to trust. The propaganda claims that the consumers are too dumb (well, ok, actually phrased in a much more polite way) to make their own decisions about whom to trust. (“Microsoft or Chao-Kuei?”) Software booting from an untrusted source may contain rootkit, for example, which would gain absolute control of your computer. The real, unsaid intention, however, is to prevent consumers from using alternative players and readers on alternative operating systems to circumvent the human-right infringing and infamous Digital Rights Management. If the big IT companies let you decide whom to trust, then they cannot trust you as a DRM-abiding consumer. With the secure booting mechanism in UEFI, the IT companies finally can trust that you will not be able to ask your computer to do what is best in your interest, for example exercising your fair use right and other rights requested in the digital consumer bill of right.
This abusive behaviour from Microsoft (and Apple) should not be tolerated silently because it is yet another example of using “security” to pass new and self-serving rules that harm everyone’s freedom. In a similar vein, Microsoft is smearing the free Web browsers/competition, very much as usual (although the competition does not quite do that itself). This latest attack too uses “security” and to quote The Register:
Microsoft has unveiled a website aimed at raising awareness of browser security by comparing the ability of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome to withstand attacks from malware, phishing, and other types of threats.
Your Browser Matters gives the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome a paltry 2 and 2.5 points respectively out of a possible score of 4. Visit the site using the IE 9, however, and the browser gets a perfect score. IE 7 gets only 1 point, and IE 6 receives no points at all. The site refused to rate Apple’s Safari browser in tests run by The Register.
We recently saw how Microsoft's friend used "security" to derail Free/open source adoption in Bristol. █
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The criminal court in London
Summary: News about CPTN, the Open Invention Network (OIN), and Microsoft patent cases
WAY back in the days, Novell took great pride in its OIN membership, reassuring us all that many of its patents were wonderfully innovative and benevolent because of the OIN. Novell actually used this propaganda for marketing of Novell’s products, even proprietary ones. It was the “goodwill” PR. Now that Novell is eager to give those patents to Microsoft, what is a person supposed to call Novell? There are many words that fit here and our readers and intelligent enough to fill the gap.
The latest CPTN development is now described by IDG, which correctly states that this is “Microsoft’s Purchase”, not the shell it’s hiding behind (like OuterCurve [1, 2] and others) for regulatory reasons and PR purposes. Novell should be shamed and boycotted for what it is doing here. Even when it’s sold to AttachMSFT, its products ought to be avoided. There is no point in asking Novell to withdraw the CPTN agreement because a withdrawal is not going to happen. Novell is now run by a bunch of Microsoft vassals, to whom monetary gifts from Microsoft — Trojan horses included — are a matter of priority.
“Novell should be shamed and boycotted for what it is doing here.”So anyway, what will it be for OIN if CPTN (Microsoft proxy) gets some of the patents once owned by the OIN? We covered this some months ago when companies reacted by joining the OIN before the closure of Novell’s deal. Ever since then OIN grew 28 percent (in the first quarter alone!) and CIS — with roots in OSDL because of Stuart Cohen — will speak about that very soon. Facebook, a patent aggressor with Microsoft ownership (a partial stake), has also just joined the OIN this month and that says a lot. It was already mentioned in that previous post about Facebook joining. Since Microsoft Florian and other Linux haters from Microsoft circles spread so much FUD about the OIN, we can tell for sure that the OIN is doing something positive. So thanks, Florian, for validating what we already knew. Reading Florian is like reading manipulative strategies from within Microosft, the bias, defamation, FUD, and lies included. He is currently pushing for Microsoft to get Novell’s (and probably Nokia’s) patents, by proxy. As for the Nokia situation which he gloats over (premature sealing of the Microsoft deal [1, 2] with Elop), this should definitely get reported to the anti-cartel authorities in Germany, just like CPTN. Microsoft’s Elop, representing Nokia, signed the deal with his former employer very quickly, before an investigation for this cartel-like tactic or entryism could be announced. Even seniors at Nokia too called it a "take over" as opposed to a deal. This is an example of corruption, a white-collar offence that nobody seems to be investigating even though a lot of people complain. This is why Microsoft is generally distrusted or even loathed throughout the industry.
Some ‘Linux companies’ are notorious for a dubious patent strategy and no company is more notorious for it than TiVo, which turned into an aggressor and a loser in its fight for relevance. Here is the latest from the TiVo-EchoStar court case [1, 2]
A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that EchoStar infringed TiVo patents for digital recording technology, raising hopes the long legal battle could end with a TiVo victory.
TiVo shares shot up after the ruling, trading more than 30 percent higher in the early afternoon.
This is nothing to be celebrated. And one need not pardon TiVo for Tivoization, either.
Microsoft is also in court because of patent violations. It is the important case of i4i. Microsoft is in fact at the Supreme Court because it knowingly infringed patents and also engaged in trial misconduct, quite characteristically. Here is some of the latest coverage from IDG, in addition to SJVN’s take [1, 2]. There is another news article today about patent troll Ric Richardson, who used that joke of a ‘company’ called Uniloc (see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]) to get a lot of money for code he did not write at all. Watch him help this propaganda piece titled “Innovation festival”:
Inventor Ric Richardson made a name (and a whole lot of money) for himself when his company Uniloc successfully sued Microsoft for a breach of their anti-piracy software patent.
Innovation in software happens at the keyboard, not a “festival” or even a patent lawyer’s office. Now, if only these patent trolls could lead Microsoft to finally flip-flopping on the software patents stance. It would be good to have more such trolls suing Microsoft. 50 is not enough. █
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Summary: TiVo’s shift to a strategy of patent litigation is not paying off, patent trolling becomes common, Microsoft rides the wave
TiVo is known for pioneering the practice of “Tivoization”, which prevents running code on particular machines if that code is modified. Tivoization was one of the reasons for making the third version of the GPL. TiVo is a notable user of Linux, but just using the code does not make TiVo a friendly company. In fact, as we have shown many time before (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), TiVo is a patent aggressor.
According to this summary from TechDirt, TiVo’s strategy as a patent aggressor is not working out.
TiVo has been spending a lot of effort suing others for patent infringement, but apparently not very much on actually improving their own services and giving customers a reason to buy them over the competition. So while it may be winning some of its patent lawsuits, it hasn’t helped much for the business, which is rapidly bleeding customers and losing marketshare.
Incidentally, TechDirt has also just written about law practices that turn to patent trolling.
From an economic standpoint, this activity is a pure dead weight loss on economic activity. There is nothing good that comes from it. You basically have companies that have ignored a patent they got for whatever reason, suddenly rediscovering it and using it to go after totally unrelated companies who actually innovated and brought products to market (almost always with no knowledge whatsoever of the questionable patent in the first place). And suddenly the actual innovators have to pay up to a company that did absolutely nothing with the invention.
This is in complete contradiction to the goals of the patent office. And watch what Microsoft is doing right now, looking for a patent on Fog Computing.
Microsoft has filed a patent to lock-down a method for moving data between different “clouds.”
As we showed last week, “Microsoft seems to be patenting stuff like crazy.” █
‘“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio” —Marshall Phelps
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Summary: A lot of patent news from the past few days
QUITE A LOT has happened since the last Patents Roundup and plenty of news relates to Microsoft as a threat to Free software.
An article from Law.com has rejuvenated [1, 2] interest in the real purpose of the world's largest patent troll, headed by Microsoft’s former chief, Nahtan Myhrvold. Mike Masnick calls this troll, Intellectual Ventures (IV), a “pyramid scheme”. He explains why:
Intellectual Ventures, of course, is the Nathan Myhrvold company that has been building up a huge portfolio of patents with which to get big tech companies to pay many millions of dollars to not get sued — and, according to many, to get a cut of future deals as well, making the whole thing sound suspiciously like a pyramid scheme.
But, a year ago, we noted that the company appeared to be getting antsy. While it was bringing in some hefty fees from a small group of companies who bought into the equity pyramid (which neatly lets the world outside be confused over what’s “investment” and what’s “revenue”), there was concern that investors were getting impatient. Pouring billions of dollars into a company that isn’t doing much can make some investors a little anxious. And while we still don’t know of any direct lawsuits, Zusha Elinson has noticed that Intellectual Ventures’ former patents are starting to show up in court, often involving some of the most well known names normally associated with “patent trolling.”
One reader of ours calls it “Mafia blues”, explaining that Intellectual Ventures “Make[s] the dirt job by others.” It’s an arsenal for hire. They use attack dogs to do their dirty deeds and friends/investors are ‘protected’ from this. Who are those friends/investors? Good question. Facebook seems like one that's a recent addition.
Bill Gates himself is an investor in Intellectual Ventures (private investment), which got Intellectual Ventures about $5 billion to get the ball rolling, i.e. harvesting patents. Microsoft itself turns out to be an investor and so is Apple (which occasionally uses patents against Linux contenders), according to this bit of information found in the corner of the article mentioned some days ago.
Both Apple and Microsoft have been reported to be IV investors.
It is interesting to find Apple investing in such “pyramid schemes” of patents. When it comes to patents, Apple and Microsoft enjoy a special peace (if not affinity). They cross-license. And as we pointed out some days ago, Google contributes its own share of problems, but at least it is a member of the OIN.
Another part of this problem is IBM, whose policy on software patents is unfriendly to Free software not because it’s suing but because it allows others to do so, to an extent. An IBM person currently runs the USPTO, so this is important. IBM’s view of the patent system impacts the policy on technology patents.There are finally some Slashdot comments about it (this has made the front page) and also an updated summary.
In its Amicus Brief to the US Supreme Court on the Bilski case, IBM is arguing that “patent protection has promoted the free sharing of source code [...] which has fueled the explosive growth of open source software development.”
Read also page 42 of the IBM letter:
In addition, disclosure of software inventions promotes collaboration among software developers (such as open source development)
IBM tends to be seen as an eternal friend of Free software because of its pledges and sincere contributions, but by choosing to continue to accumulate software patents, IBM opens the door for others like Microsoft to pose a real threat. Another company which tends to be associated with Linux is TiVo , but as we regularly show, TiVo is a patent aggressor as well. Watch how one company is forced to pay TiVo $200 million just for patents.
Dish Network and its sister company EchoStar must cough up an extra $200 million to TiVo for continuing to offer DVR functionality in their set-top boxes after being slapped with a court injunction.
A few days ago we also saw the BBC spreading patent propaganda where criminalisation of patent infringement gets justified as a severe action. In relation to that article (one among two) from the BBC, Pamela Jones from Groklaw writes: “Hmm. Let’s see. Could we put Steve Ballmer in jail, then, for the i4i patent? Wait. Uh oh. Look at the picture of Mr. Baylis. I think he might be combing his hair in violation of patent No. 4,022,227, Method of Concealing Partial Baldness. Officers, put Mr. Baylis in the clink while we sort this out, will you? And since the CATO Institute recently announced that most companies infringe patents, I believe we could shut down the entire world economy in no time flat by following Mr. Baylis’ suggestion.”
Glyn Moody had this to say:
Which is the old confusion between theft and infringement. Indeed, it’s probably impossible to nick a patent, since it’s a government-granted monopoly, and they’re pretty hard to steal.
And it’s foolish on a practical level: imagine the current insanity of patent law cases turned into even higher-stake criminal cases, and the burden they would imposed on an already stretched legal system.
So, Trevor, do stick to inventing clever things, and leave stupid intellectual monopolies alone.
Regarding Microsoft's call for harmonisation of patent systems across the world, Moody wrote:
Riiight: “bold” as in “infect the rest of the world with the insanity that is the US patent system” bold, I imagine – not forgetting software as “patentable subject matter” while we’re at it.
Danke, aber nein, danke, Horacio.
Pamela Jones wrote this: “Microsoft suggests an international patent system. That way, it can kill off its competition, most particularly FOSS, everywhere at once. If you are reckless, you’ll go along with them.”
Peter Glaskowsky at CNET calls it a “premature patent proposal,” further arguing:
I really have no problem with harmonization if it is properly done, but I think it would be tremendously difficult to achieve good results. The reality of patent protection is radically different from that of copyrights because patents are allowed based on the merits of the application; someone has to make a judgment call.
In other news that we mentioned before (regarding the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]), here are some articles about the latest development:
Here is a very interesting insight about this case.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, i4i’s chairman, Loudon Owen called Microsoft’s brief an “extraordinary document” that “captures the hostile attitude of Microsoft toward inventors who dare to enforce patents against them.” But with friends like Dell and Hewlett-Packard each filing amicus curiae briefs in support of Microsoft’s motion to stay the injunction, i4i is looking to have to fight more software and computer giants than just Microsoft. The AmeriKat predicts that with the addition of Dell and Hewlett-Packard’s briefs and in applying the third and fourth factors in the test for an injunction as set out in eBay Inc v MercExchange she would be surprised if the Court of Appeals does not lift or in someway amend the injunction given the far-reaching effect on third parties like Dell and HP.
Isn’t it enlightening that Microsoft and its allies pretend that the sky will be falling if Word gets banned? As PC World rightly points out, many alternatives to Word exist and they are a lot cheaper (or free).
First, there are plenty of alternative word processors out there, most of which read Word files perfectly well. Sure, there might be a few formatting glitches, but that’s to be expected during any file conversion. Microsoft Office users, particularly those who rely heavily on the well-honed integration between Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint, would experience the most problems. But, again, the ban would affect new sales of Word, not existing copies. So users would have time to develop workarounds.
Plus, there’d be one big silver lining to a Microsoft Word ban: A true universal document format could take hold, one that replaces today’s defacto standard — Microsoft’s doc/docx — that’s tied too closely to the whims of one software vendor.
Word ban? Sure, why not?
GCN has a similar new article, but the list of proposed alternatives is very limited and disputable.
In other interesting news, Microsoft has quietly settled yet another patent lawsuit where the scale of damages claimed was hundreds of millions of dollars. Only one publication (that we could find) actually covered it, twice even:
i. Microsoft settles Tucson firm’s patent lawsuit on imaging technology
Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest software maker, settled a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Tucson-based Research Corporation Technologies Inc. that sought hundreds of millions of dollars over a process to improve images on computer screens.
ii. Microsoft settles with local company
Microsoft Corp. reached a settlement with a Tucson firm that accused the software giant of infringing on patented digital-imaging technology, heading off a jury trial.
Check out this rant about the USPTO. It comes from a reputable source.
The U.S. patent office gets nearly 500,000 applications every year. Figuring out who owns what, typically in court, has morphed into a business worth $10-billion (U.S.) a year in the United States, where the global patent war is mainly being waged.
The ITC is revisiting bans in an important case where patent laws are seemingly being violated. So, there is at least a new sign that recognition of the problem remains poor and another embargo may be on its way.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has voted to investigate technology-related patent complaints brought by two companies, with the vendors asking the agency to ban the import of a wide range of products using flash memory.
In one case, Samsung Electronics of South Korea filed a complaint, and in the second, Samsung is among the targets in the investigation. The two cases involve different types of flash memory.
A Samsung representative didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the two cases.
If this is what “innovation” is all about, then perhaps we need less of it. █
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