05.03.10

Behind the Microsoft Puppetmaster: SCO-Type Libel, Acacia-Type Patent Trolls, and Novell-Type Patent Deals to Make GNU/Linux Not Free (Gratis)

Posted in Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents, Samsung, SCO at 3:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Donkey Kong

Summary: Microsoft has been trying anything from copyright libel to patent trolls to actually suing companies like TomTom (after using extortion), so what are the implications?

THREE years ago we wrote about Microsoft’s 3 (or more) “Generations of Anti-Linux Lawsuits, by Proxy”. It is neither news nor rumour that Microsoft is sending companies to fight its battles against competitors, GNU/Linux included. One which we cannot be sure Microsoft was involved in is the Acacia lawsuit which ended some days ago (here is Red Hat’s own version/copy of the press release). Just like in the case of SCO, this whole mess took years to end and the GNU/Linux system was found not guilty (the software patent in question is junk). The damage done is one of reputation (FUD) and lawyers/litigation fees, which would be beneficial to Microsoft either way (no matter of the outcome of these lawsuits). Slashdot wrote about the subject and so did Groklaw, which added a reference to SCO:

Say, that’s what SCO wanted, and Microsoft. Everyone wants to use IP bogo lawsuits to get money from Linux, it seems.

Paula Rooney also mentioned SCO in her coverage of the Acacia case:

Now that the SCO and IP Innovation cases are disposed of, it anyone else want to take on Linux?

SCO and Acacia are both sharing some connections with Microsoft.

TechDirt wrote about the SCO case which never seems to end. There is also yet another cartoon about it [1, 2] as coverage carries on.

Well, this is fascinating. Here’s an order from Judge Ted Stewart in a dispute between Novell and its insurer, Vigilant Insurance Company. Novell tried to get them to pay for the SCO v. Novell litigation back in 2004 and they refused, so Novell sued last May. They were seeking to have at least some of their expense to defend from SCO’s attacks covered by the insurer, but Judge Stewart just ruled on summary judgment [PDF] that slander of title isn’t included in the policy and SCO’s initial complaint was for slander of title only, so Vigilant doesn’t have to pay.

[...]

You know what is sort of odd? This order was signed on April 27. The jury in SCO v. Novell ruled that SCO doesn’t own the copyrights in dispute on March 30, 2010. Yet Judge Stewart never mentions that.

Pogson wrote about “Trying to Tax GNU/Linux,” noting that:

There are the doers and the slugs. Slug are living things and need to survive but they do slimy stuff to eat what others produce. In the world of IT there are all kinds of slugs trying to tax the doers of GNU/Linux:

* M$ shaking down manufacturers for “royalties”
* other more obvious patent trolls sued RedHat and Novell and Lost
* SCO tried to claim copyright that software they did not own was copied in GNU/Linux

Microsoft has already initiated or at least supported lawsuits against Linux. What does that say about Microsoft’s relationship with Free/open source software? As we found out a few days ago, Microsoft was apparently going to sue HTC before HTC decided to cough out some ‘protection’ money. HTC is coming up with the Android-based “Incredible” quite soon and it’s just as incredible as the name suggests. Why should Microsoft make money from it given that it contributed not a single line of code to it? Welcome to the bizarre world of software patents and racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] as a profitable business model that does not put you in jail, assuming you have the right connections in the government.

Here is a look at the HTC Incredible:

“The Droid Incredible by HTC is an absolutely amazing device,” says PC Magazine, giving the phone its Editors’ Choice award and a 4.5 star rating. “The most powerful phone on the U.S. market today, it reflects and enhances the state of the art smartphone…It’s one of our highest-rated phones in the past year.”

The HTC Legend finally allows rooting, which makes one wonder if HTC can just sell its phones without an operating system (and without Microsoft extortion tax) to install an operating system of one’s own choice.

The HTC Legend, probably one of the best Android devices ever, has finally been rooted, which means you can now access the smartphone’s file system.

Here is what SJVN wrote about Microsoft’s extortion:

For years, Microsoft has made patent threats against Linux. Mind you, Microsoft has never proven, or even attempted to prove, any of these claims. But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from using the threat of Linux patent lawsuit to force companies like Amazon into paying them off. Now, Microsoft has upped the ante. Microsoft has muscled mobile phone maker HTC into paying Microsoft off for patents that may apply to its Google Android-powered phones. In short, without actually proving that Linux is violating Microsoft’s patents, the Redmond giant is ‘taxing’ companies for using Linux.

The ‘Microsoft press’ chose the headline “Microsoft Attacks Android in HTC Patent Deal” (strong wording) and Samsung expects to sell half of its phones with Microsoft’s extortion tax included in the cost (please do not buy Samsung or HTC phones by the way).

There is another sign today that Android continues to pick up steam in the smartphone industry. Reuters is reporting that Samsung plans to put Android on 50% of it’s smartphones in 2010, and possibly more beyond this year.

The HTC situation is also covered here, along with a new example of the patent system going awry.

Texas-based DDB Technologies, an intellectual property-holding company, has sued a host of US sporting leagues and companies which it alleges copied its live simulation, play-by-play text, graphics, animation and other patented interactive media-based technologies.

Just last week it filed a lawsuit against the National Basketball Association (NBA) and has also brought cases against ESPN, the NFL and Yahoo. The company recently settled a case against Major League Baseball, with the defendants, as part of the settlement, agreeing to buy a patent and entering into a licensing agreement with another.

It has been a while since we last covered Novell’s OpenBallnux, but here is a weekly summary of news and a new video titled “Working With Suse Studio”.


Finally, as a quick reminder, we urge readers to avoid products from HTC, LG, Samsung, Novell, and other companies that pay Microsoft for Linux. Only by refusing to buy from them will they (and Microsoft) get the message that extortion is not an acceptable business model and that software patents need to be shunned.

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