01.05.08

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Patents Versus Society (and That Intel-OLPC Story)

Posted in Africa, America, Asia, Fraud, FUD, Hardware, Microsoft, OLPC, Patents at 12:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sad news again

Patents, patent, patents. How much do we love them? Let us count the ways.

Got a Wish? Pay Microsoft.

That’s right. Microsoft seems to be the proud owner of the wishlist idea.

Microsoft has been granted a patent for electronic Wish Lists. The patent, 7,315,834, was filed in April 2005 and granted on New Year’s Day.

This makes a nice addition to a portfolio of bizarre patents like the emoticons. Microsoft has truly turned from a patents skeptic into a patents lover.

Apple Keeps Filing Away

Patents from Apple keep flooding in. The quality of many of these is being questioned.

Apple’s always enjoyed patenting the near-absurd, just to get us speculating in the wrong direction or to give its thousands of patent lawyers something to do during a slow design cycle. We can’t really imagine Apple has this pair of “products” prepped and waiting in the wings of Macworld, but it’s still fun to look.

We have already shown how Apple patents are castrating decent features that are found in GNU/Linux.

LANCOR versus OLPC

LANCOR is a company whose head carries the burden of a very shady past and even a prison sentence. The company is currently attacking the One Laptop Per Child charity, which is undeterred (but nonetheless distracted). Once again patents are to blame and the case seems like more of an harassment with patents. It is not an actual solid case.

Here’s what OLPC says was hidden from the court:

* LANCOR has no valid patent
* OLPC hasn’t sold any XO laptops in Nigeria
* it’s a non-profit
* the beta XO laptops tested in Nigeria were not for sale and were not given away
* OLPC never signed a EULA
* OLPC never reverse engineered anything
* its keyboards that will be distributed use all public domain techniques and not LANCOR’s Konyin keyboard

Children of the world have been betrayed not only by patents, but also by other quiet forces. You are urged to follow the link and learn more about then story which the press does not cover properly (due to ownerships and advertisers). Here are some of the latest reports about Intel’s role in sabotaging OLPC:

1. One Laptop Per Child President Fires Back At Intel

“We got constant complaints from people in the field that they were being bullied by Intel,” said Bender. “That was the message we got from anybody and everybody working on these educational problems in the developing world.”

2. Laptop Project Blames Intel for Breakup

Negroponte said Intel even tried to undo a deal One Laptop had already sealed in Peru by citing flaws in the One Laptop “XO” machine and telling government ministers “we ought to know, because we are on the board.” Such hostile comments were prohibited, Negroponte claimed, under the July peace treaty that brought Intel into the One Laptop Per Child camp.

“I want to say we tried, but it was never a partnership,” Negroponte said. “There’s not one single thing in their contract or agreement that they lived up to.”

3. Intel’s OLPC moves blighted by the old paranoia

The OLPC project is not about raking in money or cut-throat competition, it is about getting those without connectivity an entry into the digital world. It is about empowering those without power. It is a non-profit for a reason. Didn’t you get this?

By pushing the Classmate, you are doing everything that you should not do. You are dividing a market that needs no division and you look like childish, tantrum-throwing bullies.

4. Laptop-Project Founder Faults Intel

Oscar Becerra Tresierra, general director for educational technology at Peru’s Ministry of Education, says that after the country recently agreed to buy 272,500 OLPC laptops for primary-school students, an Intel sales representative tried “to scare us” by claiming the machines and their power adapters didn’t work. “I don’t feel very happy about it,” he said. “We wouldn’t like the project to fail because somebody is spreading gossip about the machines that doesn’t turn out to be true.”

The short story is that Intel made a ‘special’ deal with OLPC under the strict condition that OLPC cannot say anything negative about Intel. It’s a form of “gagging for money”. Meanwhile, Microsoft was caught bribing (one among several recent examples) in Nigeria for a deal involving Intel’s Classmate PCs.

We have recently shown that there might even be yet another incident of lawsuit-by-proxy here. Remember that Microsoft and/or Intel seem to have scared Thailand, which then dropped its OLPC contracts/commitment. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, but little or no press coverage.

This is a very large and complex story which would certainly distract us and not fit the theme and focus of this Web site. If you want it to be covered more extensively here, please say something. I have already investigated this for a couple of years, but I publish my findings elsewhere.

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