Is Europe Being Assimilated to America, Patent-wise?

Posted in America, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Patents at 11:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having observed some disturbing developments in Europe, it is worth turning more attention to the state of European law on software patentability. According to the following new FAQ, things are not so rosy.

Frequently Asked Question: Do software patents exist in the EU?

Answer: The problem is that software patents exist in some ways in the EU. The power of patent governance is split between a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.

The short answer is that it’s complicated, but Europe’s stance appears to have weakened, which is appalling. Just take a look at what American users need to cope with, based on this new blog item.

As a beginner Linux user, I only recently realized that few people are aware or care that they are breaking U.S. law by using unlicensed codecs. Even fewer know that the codecs they use are unlicensed, or what to do about it. Warning dialogs (e.g., in Ubuntu) provide no practical alternative to installing the codecs, and are an unwelcome interruption to workflow.

Hope for patent sanity on this side of the ocean is not lost. However, it’s important to be aware of the weaknesses. Patent sprees seem to be on the up, indicated by most recent stories, such as the following two:

Shares of Transmeta nearly quadrupled in value after the company said it reached an agreement with Intel, on a patent lawsuit, to settle all claims between them and license the Transmeta patent portfolio to Intel.

SanDisk said it filed suit against 25 companies, in three different rounds, in two venues on Wednesday, seeking to prevent those companies from shipping products SanDisk says infringe its patents.

Mozilla ‘Pulls a Novell’, Distributes DRM-riddled Prizes

Posted in Apple, DRM, GNU/Linux, Novell at 11:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We like you so much, so we give you competitors’ products”

Isn’t it troubling when a company which takes prides in open source actually distributes proprietary software products as awards while at the same time ignoring smaller players that thrive in open source? Well, Mozilla is now boasting an Apple Mac to earn this criticism, which is well ‘earned’.

And you do realize that other manufacturers offer laptops pre-loaded with Firefox and Linux, right?

Mozilla gives a proprietary, DRM-oriented software and hardware from a company that has it excluded from distribution and had it excluded from market share charts. Didn’t Mozilla slam Apple just a couple of months ago for promoting duopoly? This reminded me of Novell doing the same thing with iPods. I remember this because I criticised them at the time. That was long before the deal with Microsoft and also a time when I advocated SUSE. Bear in mind that Apple not only refused to port iTunes to Linux, but it also tried to block Linux software for iPods about a month ago. To make matters worse, its co-founder slammed open source about a month ago.

Let’s look at the bright side. Novell offered iPods, not Zunes, which were not even out in the market at the time.

Microsoft ZUN

Microsoft Separates Camps, Divides Open Source and Free Software Community, Breaks Linux Compatibility

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OSI, Turbolinux at 11:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Divide-and-conquer strategy used in the Free open source world and the Linux world

The differences between the OSI invasion and the Linux invasions as we refer to them are subtle but not so great. With Microsoft’s acceptance by the OSI I find my RSS feeds ‘polluted’ by projects that claims to have gone ‘Open Source’, but these projects are tied to a proprietary Microsoft stack, which makes them almost worthless to anyone but Microsoft. There are other motives to Microsoft’s new membership in the OSI.

Microsoft’s motives
So why is Microsoft, whose CEO Steve Balmer once referred to the open source operating system Linux as a “cancer,” now seeking approval of its two licenses as open source? I think the answer is two fold.

First, Microsoft needs to do everything it can to counter the perception (and reality) that it has monopoly power. For example, it is having to jump through very small hoops in Europe in order to comply with a 2004 anti-competition EU court ruling. Just this month it has agreed to make workgroup server interoperability information available to open-source developers. Like it or not, Microsoft has to open up and if it is going to open up it might as well do so on its own terms.

Second, open standards are increasingly valued by buyers in their technology decisions. [...]

Those two points also apply to the effect of the Linux deals. Sadly, rather than value standards, binary bridges are built and they hurt compatibility rather than improve it. If you look at the Linux deals (most recently the deal with Turbolinux), you’ll find that talks about so-called ‘interoperability’ are actually about making Linux incompatible and divided.

What seems clear is that these various patent covenant deals will result in fragmenting the capabilities of the participating Linux distributions such that they will wind up offering some features and functions that are diverse and possibly incompatible. And that sounds an awful lot like a cunning Volish plan to divide and conquer.

Why are Linux companies foolish enough to allow this? Money.

But to echo Groklaw, “Why, why, why OSI?”

XenSource and Novell Come to Microsoft’s Rescue

Posted in Boycott Novell, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Servers, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 10:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What are partners for?

Finally. We have yet an argument which intersects with another that we frequently cover. XenSource was snatched along with Novell’s direction in order to work in isolation for virtualisation that favours Windows.

XenSource has worked closely with Red Hat and Novell to integrate Xen into their latest Linux distributions and is collborating closely with Microsoft on its implementation of Xen, dubbed Viridian, for Windows Server 2008. Citrix does not own an operating system but sells a platform that offers desktop and application virtualization, and now server virtualization.

“Xen and Novell were well paid and they now please Microsoft and help its fight against VMWare.”You can hopefully see that Xen is in some sense converging with Viridian under the new Citrix/Microsoft regime [1, 2, 3, 4]. As we emphasised in the past, Ron Hovsepian envisions a future where Linux is only run as a guest atop Windows in the datacentre [1, 2, 4]. Also consider as an example yesterday’s news about patents and licensing (anti-GPL venom) in Microsoft’s Linux virtualisation and the Vista/Longhorn discriminatory EULA.

This comes at a very crucial time because virtualisation is very quickly made more popular and as VMWare skyrockets, Microsoft is left further behind. Here is a fragment from the report about VMware posting a 90% revenue jump.

Microsoft has in recent months attempted to curtail VMware’s stance as market leader in the field of software virtualisation by buddying up with Citrix and Novell.

Xen and Novell were well paid and they now please Microsoft and help its fight against VMWare. They are both pawns in a game dominated by kings and queens. Viridian is well behind and Microsoft knows that it needs to recruit other companies to beat VMWare. Ironically, even open source and Linux companies are now helping Microsoft beat VMWare, which is rather Linux-oriented (VMWare even uses a hacked 2.4 Linux kernel in one of its products). Also, ironically, Xen and Novell used to actually compete against Microsoft, not help it.

Antitrust Action to End in Europe, Begin in South Korea

Posted in Action, Antitrust, Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Samba at 10:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft has decided to withdraw all its appeals in Europe and quickly escape after turning a big defeat into a win.

Microsoft said on Wednesday it had formally withdrawn two remaining appeals before the European Union’s Court of First Instance against European Commission antitrust decisions.

The following new article indicates that Microsoft is unlikely to escape heavy fine though. In fact, billions in fines are foreseen, but given what Microsoft has just achieved in Europe, these fines are insignificant in the long term. Europe has mistakenly enabled Microsoft to continue its monopoly abuse and exclude Free software rivals.

More about the appeals:

It [Microsoft] also appealed against the Commission’s demands that it make the protocols available to open-source software developers.

However, in light of the agreement reached between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Monday, these appeals became redundant.

What a disaster. In South Korea, a lawsuit has meanwhile been launched to protest against monopoly abuse.

According to Korean newspaper Chosun, the US software mammoth has been accused of causing a loss in sales revenue estimated at W30bn (US$1=W918) because the firm’s Windows operating system comes pre-loaded with a media player and instant messaging.

Seoul Central District Court confirmed yesterday that Digito was suing Microsoft in the US and Korea, claiming that the software giant had violated the Fair Trade Act since 2000.

This was pretty much foreseen. Hopefully, lawsuits in Asia will be more fruitful. They also prove that complaints about Microsoft are consistent and they are not a case of Europe being “anti-American” (some such accusations are made).

Microsoft No

Articles About Microsoft Dropping a GPL/Samba Bomb on Europe

Posted in Boycott Novell, Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Samba, Servers, SUN at 10:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have covered most of the following points before, but here are some more perspectives, including Samba’s.

From vnunet.com:

Microsoft’s EU patent pledge incompatible with GPL

Linux vendors will be unable to license Microsoft’s interoperability patents under the terms that were mandated by the European Commission, open source legal experts argue.

It is claimed that the the terms are incompatible with the General Public Licence (GPL), the licence that governs the Linux operating system.

From Glyn Moody:

I Was Wrong: Microsoft Won [in Europe's case]

I could feel it in my bones: the great victory of the EU over MS is a sham. Here’s why.

Reuters present Samba’s side which, despite some setbacks, has some strengths.

Samba is a non-profit organisation so a lack of profits could not kill it, making it the last real competitor standing.

Note, however, that by setting the terms as Microsoft did, it basically arranged the’ killing’ of the “the last real competitor standing.” By spreading money around it is knocking Sun Microsystems and Novell off the case it can then fight even against Free software in total isolation. This connects very nicely with the recent Samba interview, whose transcript was put on Groklaw a month ago. Microsoft bought its way, not earned it.

“This is the ‘reward’ which Microsoft receives for breaking standards.”What made this whole situation utterly disturbing is that Microsoft had corrupted standards deliberately. What did it receive in return? Or rather — what did the consumer receive in return?

Now, having faced a company that corrupted the standards, everyone must be assimilated while relying on reverse engineers such as the Samba team. At the same time, money needs to be spent on patents (if not documentation as well).

This is the ‘reward’ which Microsoft receives for breaking standards. It not only elevates revenue, but it also saturates presence (monopoly). It does not get any more outrageous than this.

Quote of the Day: Not All XML is Open

Posted in Asia, Open XML, OpenDocument, Quote, Standard at 9:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spotted in an essay found through Bob Sutor’s blog:

I heard Microsoft claiming that OOXML is open because it is in XML. In “open” they mean that anyone can use, process, manipulate, interpret OOXML documents. Is that really so? I say not!


The claim from Microsoft regarding OOXML being open because it is an XML format hits that very point I was making. This is just plain wrong and people need to understand why.

Some have said that Microsoft gives a bad name to XML, whose purpose was not to contain binary enclosures, patents, and redundancy.

While on this topic of standards, it is time to congratulate Hasan from Open Malaysia, for raising awareness of real standards.

OOXML is a monopoly

UBS’s Abhey Lamba Gets it Wrong on Novell

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Novell at 9:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell is a coupons lifeline

A week or so ago I had a discussion about analysts (particularly their hidden motives and lack of understanding). Let’s set aside technical understanding, which the MBAs of the 90s no longer think they should have. That understanding can also be ascribed to business models, which evolve endlessly.

“Free software is distributed, not sold.”My father agreed with me and since he’s in finance and investments he should probably know. Analysts are rarely worth listening to. Let’s face the fact that many of the figures and a lot of the analysis is being sold or served to fit an hypothesis and data is intended to be incomplete and therefore biased. Particularly, where Free software is concerned, the conventional rules of economics are broken. I have had arguments with analysts over the fact that Linux adoption, for example, cannot be measured using sales as a criterion. Free software is distributed, not sold. It can be sold, sometimes. But that escapes the big picture.

Last month UBS unleashed some ‘findings’ that were not favourable to Linux and many other analysts, who actually understand the rules of this game, rebutted fiercely. So here we have another finding which can be considered misinformed. It is based on the following observation.

UBS analyst Abhey Lamba this morning picked up coverage of Novell (NOVL) with a Neutral rating. “Novell’s business is in a state of transition, as the company’s legacy business is declining, and its new ventures, like the Linux business, have yet to gain meaningful traction,” Lamba writes.

They seem to be completely missing the point that we made back in September when the press merely parroted Novell PR. Novell is fooling the world with figures that are inflated by coupons that will not last. Surely, many analysts are unaware of this. They are unlikely to take this into consideration when plotting their graphs.

Novell coupons

Image from Wikimedia

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