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Federal Agents Should Prosecute Microsoft for Market Abuses With Patents Following Extortiongate

Barnes & Noble shows how Microsoft is 'pulling a SCO'

Barnes and Noble in San Antonio

Summary: Microsoft's patent attacks on Linux are revealed by Barnes & Noble for everyone to see (good publishing job!) while the FTC considers changing the patent system

MICROSOFT is becoming less of a company and more like a mafia, as our previous post might as well show. Even those employees who "move on" merely serve the same power structures, which are dependent upon patent monopolies. The two Microsoft co-founders, former CEO, and CTO are all in the patents business now. They work from outside Microsoft but still serve Microsoft.

Fortunately, Groklaw has obtained some nuclear evidence that will cause Microsoft a lot of trouble. Maybe it will even help end software patents, which only promote monopoly abuse. As important and timely background, the FTC weighs in on patent reform based on this document [PDF] which Rob Tiller from Red Hat writes about in a Red Hat site. To quote a key part from the FTC, software patents “often cover 'very abstract conceptual innovations' that can't be simply described given our current understanding of the area [...] the symbolic rules and procedures adopted by the field of software engineers.” Here is how Tiller put it:

Last month the Federal Trade Commission issued a report that acknowledged important problems in the U.S. Patent system as it affects software. The government doesn't do that every day, so that's good news. The FTC report also suggested some reforms that could mitigate some of those problems.

The report, entitled The Evolving IP Marketplace: Aligning Patent Notice and Remedies with Competition (PDF), is long, but not unapproachable, and parts are almost enjoyable. Some of my favorite parts related to the notice problem that is especially problematic in the area of software patents. If a patent does not give clear notice of what is patented, it creates uncertainty and undermines innovation and competition. The FTC report cited testimony that in the IT sector, patents are often vague, ambiguous, and difficult to interpret.

The report acknowledged that software patents “often cover 'very abstract conceptual innovations' that can't be simply described given our current understanding of the area,” and suggested that English-language claims may not map well to “the symbolic rules and procedures adopted by the field of software engineers.” FTC at 83. The report criticized “functional claiming” in the software context, which involves a patent that claims a function without describing how to achieve the function. The report also recognizes that patent applicants have incentives to be as vague as possible, so that they can later claim the patent covers the broadest area possible. The report doesn't quite spell this out, but this means that many times it's difficult or impossible to be certain of what a software patent covers.

Needless to say, unlike Tiller, many patent lawyers keep defending trolls, who are pretty much the same (the trolls own the patents, whereas the lawyers get selected to wage wars for someone else's patents, much like neo-mercenaries). The patent lawyers would hate to see software patents go away, but sometimes they do, even in the USPTO. From last month:

One Click Patent Reexamination over - with claims amended and other Amazon applications rejected in light of my prior art

The USPTO has recently issued a ""notice of intent to issue a reexamination certificate" for the one-click patent, which was subject to a reexamination request that I filed in light of some prior art that I found. The claims were amended to remove their broad monopoly on "One click shopping", confining it to situations in which there is a shopping cart involved.

There we have some reason for the FTC to stop such patents. Moreover, regarding the Barnes & Noble lawsuit [1, 2], Groklaw got Barnes & Noble's answer, affirmative defenses, and counterclaims [PDF], which Pamela Jones et al. converted into HTML. It helps show Microsoft's Horacio Gutierrez as the main racketeer in a scare-and-extort (shock and awe-like) campaign to make money out of Linux. To quote Jones' summary:

Microsoft has a scheme, Barnes & Noble asserts, to dominate Android and make it undesirable to device manufacturers and customers by demanding "exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions" -- a license fee that it says is more than Microsoft charges for its entire operating system for mobile devices, Windows 7. Others have, it believes, signed it. Barnes & Noble says the deal with Nokia is in furtherance of this scheme.

The patents asserted are "trivial, not infringed and invalid", Barnes & Noble says, and merely a vehicle in furtherance of the scheme, as they "are not even close to covering the entire functionality of Barnes & Noble’s NookTM and Nook ColorTM devices, or of the AndroidTM Operating System."

If ever you wondered what a meeting with Microsoft would be like to discuss such a matter, Barnes & Noble tells you. It's not a pretty sight. Finally, someone tells us what's been going on behind closed doors. After reading this, my blood is boiling. I'm going right out to buy a Nook, and I don't even need an eReader.

There has already been a discussion about this in IRC, so due to lack of time, we just append it below in its raw form. The final point is that there are grounds for the US DOJ or FTC to intervene. Microsoft is abusing patents to extort or eliminate the competition. As "twitter" put it in his recent comment, "Barnes and Noble’s defense against Microsoft is explosive stuff. There’s nothing that reasonable people have not been saying since 2004 but now we have the details of the scam being presented in court. I try to put this in context here and in my Microsoft patent extortion timeline. The EU should stop listening to mobbiest like Florian Mueller who claim that Microsoft’s licensing of software patents is somehow “cooperative” or FRAND. Anti-trust regulators now have clear and convincing evidence of how Microsoft abuses the power they lobby for. Hopefully Congress will act to abolish software patents and the US Department of Justice will prosecute Microsoft for their decade long scam."

twitterwow, Barnes and Noble has responded to Microsoft in court. 27 14:43
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Groklaw - Barnes & Noble Charges Microsoft with Misusing Patents to Further an Anticompetive Scheme Against Android .::. Size~: 154.58 KBApr 27 14:43
twitterPerhaps Microsoft's nasty little scheme will collapse in court faster than I expected.  Apr 27 14:44
twitterWill the charges finally wake up the US DOJ?Apr 27 14:45
gnufreexUS DOJ ok with MSFT destroying foreign companiesApr 27 14:45
gnufreexOne Nokia less is good for USAApr 27 14:46
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] Tech Drive-in: How to Upgrade to !Ubuntu 11.04 #Natty Narwhal Easily 27 14:46
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] Love their Stargate and football stadium: #MinecraftApr 27 14:46
TechrightsBot-trTitle: How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" Easily | Tech Drive-in .::. Size~: 47.55 KBApr 27 14:46
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Minecraft | SCHNEENET Internet Solutions .::. Size~: 2.28 KBApr 27 14:46
gnufreexBut I hope EU protects itself.Apr 27 14:46
MinceRit never doesApr 27 14:46
gnufreexAnd bans Microsoft everything.Apr 27 14:46
MinceRthe EU is nothing more than a conduit that makes it easier for megacorps to buy laws in european countriesApr 27 14:47
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] !OMG !Kubuntu: !Linux Video editor #KdenLive updates with rotoscoping, stop motion, light graffiti effects and more 27 14:47
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Linux Video editor KdenLive updates with rotoscoping, stop motion, light graffiti effects and more .::. Size~: 36.69 KBApr 27 14:48
*sebsebseb (~3seb@unaffiliated/sebsebseb) has joined #techrightsApr 27 14:48
sebsebsebhiApr 27 14:49
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[joabj/@joabj] AOL’s Patch Adding 8,000 Bloggers (Forbes): 27 14:49
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] #Androinica: Google: 39% of smartphones used in bathroom, 79% for shopping; ads are everywhere !androidApr 27 14:49
TechrightsBot-trTitle: AOL’s Patch Adding 8,000 Bloggers in ‘Full-On Course Correction’ - Jeff Bercovici - Mixed Media - Forbes .::. Size~: 109.71 KBApr 27 14:49
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Androinica  €» Google: 39% of smartphones used in bathroom, 79% for shopping; ads are everywhere .::. Size~: 47.87 KBApr 27 14:49
gnufreexMinceR: Politicians here says it will be vote by people if Serbia is going into EU or not. I will probably vote no. Apr 27 14:51
MinceRgood luckApr 27 14:51
MinceRin any case, hungary is a good example of how the EU sticks to its supposed "values"Apr 27 14:51
gnufreexBut we can't get into EU anyways.Apr 27 14:52
gnufreexIf Croatia goes first, they will vetoApr 27 14:52
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] Dustin Kirkland: Introducing ecryptfs-recover-private -- Recover your Encrypted Private Directory! !uApr 27 14:54
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] Doctor Who, Doctor Shmoo. Let's talk about something interesting....Apr 27 14:54
TechrightsBot-trTitle: From the Canyon Edge - :-Dustin Kirkland: Introducing ecryptfs-recover-private -- Recover your Encrypted Private Directory! .::. Size~: 55.14 KBApr 27 14:54
sebsebsebgnufreex: MinceR  ok I just joined here, so missed stuff I guess, but I guess most European counteries want to be in the EUApr 27 14:56
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] Always amazed that git is around 500x faster than bzr on the same code....Apr 27 14:56
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] #Launchpad News: #Gufw in Launchpad (interview with Marcos Costales) 27 14:56
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Launchpad Blog .::. Size~: 9.35 KBApr 27 14:56
gnufreexsebsebseb: That is they official policy of most european goverments.Apr 27 14:56
MinceRsebsebseb: probably for the moneyApr 27 14:56
sebsebsebMinceR: sure, and how people can move around country forf work, when in the EU, and stuff like thatApr 27 14:57
gnufreexsebsebseb: And govt's are politicians. More seats for them if they get into EU.Apr 27 14:57
gnufreexEU parlament has 450 seats or so. Apr 27 14:57
sebsebsebprobably more advantages really gained from being in the EU, for a European country, than therea re for not being inApr 27 14:57
gnufreexSo every politicaian wants to argue there all day.Apr 27 14:57
sebsebsebas for the Euro it seems, it has turned out to be a good thing that UK isn't in itApr 27 14:57
sebsebsebEuro zone is having problems, going by main streame BBC newsApr 27 14:58
MinceRplus they get to be outside the country they're fucking upApr 27 14:59
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] Valorie Zimmerman: #GSoC and Season of !KDE - Let's GO! 27 14:59
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[richslxh/@richslxh] @fabsh The one the Americans call "soccer" ^^Apr 27 14:59
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Linux Grandma: GSoC and Season of KDE - Let's GO! .::. Size~: 69.91 KBApr 27 14:59
twitterYeah, but Google and other Android customers are not foreign -> (06:51:39 AM) gnufreex: US DOJ ok with MSFT destroying foreign companiesApr 27 14:59
MinceRso they get to waste taxpayers' money on luxuries in a place that has actual infrastructureApr 27 14:59
MinceRactual roads, etc.Apr 27 14:59
twitterMy ISP is a DPI shithole 27 15:00
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Mediacom Using DPI To Hijack Searches, 404 Errors - Slashdot .::. Size~: 91.26 KBApr 27 15:00
twitter"Verteiron writes "Cable company Mediacom recently began using deep packet inspection to redirect 404 errors, Google and Bing searches to their own, ad-laden "search engine". Despite repeated complaints from customers, Mediacom continues this connection hijacking even after the user has opted out of the process. Months after the problem was first reported, the company seems unwilling or unable to fix it and has even experimented with injeApr 27 15:00
twitter 27 15:01
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[jwildeboer/@jwildeboer] Apple: "crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot" - rather a crowd of slaves as there is no opt-out ... #ApplegateApr 27 15:01
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] ♺ @andyc: @sandersch No. My nasal passages and sinuses do not support Dutch. Sorry.Apr 27 15:01
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] Doctor Who is possible the *only* scifi series *ever* that I stopped watching because I found it lame.Apr 27 15:01
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] #WebUpd8: ThemeSelector: !GNOME Shell Extension To Change Themes (With Previews) 27 15:01
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[richslxh/@richslxh] @fabsh Haven't you ever seen "Arzt Wer"? :)Apr 27 15:01
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[jwildeboer/@jwildeboer] Nokia - #Zombian AKA Symbian dumped at Accenture, new phones wont come b4 2012 - anyone *still* thinks it was a good deal?Apr 27 15:01
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Why Mediacom's DPI policy is both wrong and dangerous .::. Size~: 56.45 KBApr 27 15:01
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Apple - Press Info - Apple Q&A on Location Data .::. Size~: 10.89 KBApr 27 15:01
TechrightsBot-trTitle: ThemeSelector: GNOME Shell Extension To Change Themes (With Previews) ~ Web Upd8: Ubuntu / Linux blog .::. Size~: 73.88 KBApr 27 15:01
twitter 27 15:01
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Mediacom Search Guide .::. Size~: 8.09 KBApr 27 15:01
twitter 27 15:01
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Mediacom is Hijacking HTTP Requests to Google and 404 Responses from Other Sites .::. Size~: 75.83 KBApr 27 15:01
twitter 27 15:01
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Mediacom Puts Its Own Ads On Other Websites, Including Google & Apple | Techdirt .::. Size~: 114.51 KBApr 27 15:01
gnufreextwitter: It seems that USA wants MSFT to have total monopoly. Maybe beacuse they can't have backdoors in FOSS. Apr 27 15:02
twitterSome idiots want that.Apr 27 15:02
twitterThey might not prevail once the true cost is known.Apr 27 15:02
twitterMicrosoft's direct lawsuits are starting to reveal that true cost.Apr 27 15:03
twitterBarns and Noble's fight back is great.  As PJ noted, the company never signed a NDA and can spill all the beans.Apr 27 15:04
gnufreexI am rooting for themApr 27 15:04
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[richslxh/@richslxh] @fabsh There is a Facebook German Dalek fan club called "'Exterminieren!'" rofl!Apr 27 15:04
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] @richslxh In their infinite hubris, yes.Apr 27 15:04
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] ♺ @jwildeboer: Nokia - #Zombian AKA Symbian dumped at Accenture, new phones wont come b4 2012 - anyone *still* thinks it was a good deal?Apr 27 15:04
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[richslxh/@richslxh] @fabsh Apparently a German TV station got Dr. Who as a package deal together with Desperate Housewives. :)Apr 27 15:04
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[toros/@toros] Victor Palau's Blog: An !Ubuntu Adventure: The Unboxing of the DELL 2120 27 15:04
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] @richslxh Facebook? Is that the network you can get on and be FUCKING ANNOYED by Charlie Sheen?Apr 27 15:04
TechrightsBot-trTitle: An Ubuntu Adventure: The Unboxing of the DELL 2120 €«  Victor Palau's Blog .::. Size~: 34.6 KBApr 27 15:04
gnufreexHope they get some things on daylightApr 27 15:04
twitterTheir defense echos everything reasonable people have noticed and said. 27 15:04
gnufreexlike MSFT vs ComesApr 27 15:04
TechrightsBot-trTitle: Journal of twitter (104583) .::. Size~: 49.16 KBApr 27 15:04
twitterOh yeah, the sun is shining on Microsoft's nasty extortion. Apr 27 15:05
*hemimaniac has quit (Quit: Leaving)Apr 27 15:05
gnufreexI want to see more MSFT internal docsApr 27 15:05
gnufreexMore smoking gunsApr 27 15:05
gnufreexAnd MSFT slaves will still argue against that.Apr 27 15:06
sebsebsebgnufreex: MinceR  WOW they got Carla Schroder doing a session for Ubuntu Open WeekApr 27 15:06
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[fabsh/@fabsh] @richslxh Nice. That's about the same level of interest in both shows for me.... #yawnApr 27 15:06
-TRIdentica/#techrights-[richslxh/@richslxh] @fabsh No Dr Who, no Meat Pie? What kind of a savage are you?! :PApr 27 15:06
twitterIt will be hard for M$ PR to square the message of "protection" and "innovation" with the reality of licensing extortion and absurd feature restrictions.Apr 27 15:06
gnufreexsebsebseb: Who's that?Apr 27 15:06
sebsebsebgnufreex: MinceR Introduction to AudacityApr 27 15:06
sebsebsebshe has wrote some sort of bookApr 27 15:06
sebsebsebfor Linux andApr 27 15:06
sebsebsebwas the Linux Today editor and stuff lke thatApr 27 15:06
gnufreex! Carla SchroderApr 27 15:07
gnufreex!google  Carla SchroderApr 27 15:07
TechrightsBot-tr[1] -, Linux Stuff | 27 15:07
TechrightsBot-tr[2] - Carla Schroder - O'Reilly Media | 27 15:07
TechrightsBot-tr[3] - :: Portrait: LinuxToday managing editor Carla Schroder | 27 15:07
TechrightsBot-tr[4] - Tux Computing | 27 15:07
twittergot fired by a "Linux" magazine too and told people their most cynical imagination about Microsoft's involvement would be correctApr 27 15:07

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