05.04.10

Gemini version available ♊︎

Patents Roundup: Red Hat on Patent Trolls; Apple Antitrust; Microsoft Attacks Theora, Which is Needed to Save Our Video Culture

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 2:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ogg versus MPEG

Summary: Ogg Theora is being smeared and demoted by Microsoft and its boosters while H.264 is pushed hard, even by Apple which now faces an antitrust inquiry for anti-competitiveness

A FEW days ago we summarised the Acacia hoopla by stating that it’s all over:

There is a somewhat belated announcement from Novell and Red Hat’s Rob Tiller wrote about it too. He is confident despite the fact that Red Hat does not always win against patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

We learned many things from this experience, but I’ll note just three here. We now know for certain that those in the business of bringing software patent lawsuits are not invincible, even in the supposedly patent-friendly jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Texas. We know that Texas juries are willing to reject bogus infringement claims and invalidate bad software patents. And we know that attacks on open source based on FUD will not stand up when subjected to the light of truth.

One blogger from Dr. Dobbs says that there is growth in “Theora FUD” at the moment (also to do with patent claims).

A blogger named Hugo Roy posted a piece called An Open Letter to Steve Jobs in which he picked on Steve a bit about the openness of H.264. A few valid points were made, but most interestingly, Hugo then posted an email response he says came from Steve himself, which included the following inflammatory quote:

A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents.

If this is true, it is bad news for Theora indeed. Can the Mozilla foundation afford to hang a giant “Kick Me” sign on the next version of Firefox? Can they afford to litigate against even a single patent lawsuit, much less this consortium Steve is quoted as knowing of?

Apple’s many abuses as of late (going after bloggers, blocking third-party developers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], veiled threat against Ogg, etc.) do add up. The FTC has just launched an antitrust inquiry, which is not as bad as that may sound.

According to the New York Post, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are negotiating which of them will launch an inquiry into a clause in the iPhone OS 4 SDK that bans the porting of software originally written for Adobe’s Flash, Sun’s Java or Microsoft’s Silverlight/Mono to the iPhone OS.

The FTC is usually quite toothless and the FCC nearly went after Apple once before (right after Microsoft connections were formed inside the FCC). Apple also has an edgy history with European antitrust, mostly over the music business. What the FTC really needs to crack down on is AstroTurfing, including some from Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. The FTC promised that it would address the problem — one that we covered in old posts such as:

The FTC or the DOJ may also want to investigate Microsoft for racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Microsoft has resorted to outright extortion against its #1 competition, which is GNU/Linux. As Penguin Pete put it:

Funny how it’s always Linux which Microsoft is alleging is infringing on Microsoft’s patent portfolio, isn’t it? Not FreeBSD, not OpenBSD, not NetBSD, not Solaris (open or closed), not Plan Nine From Bell Labs, not ReactOS, not Minix, not GNU-HURD, not any of the flavors of proprietary Unix.

This whole extortion may also end when the Bilski case is once again concluded, assuming that it also kills software patents. Patent trolls/lawyers and monopolies will fight tooth and nail for software patents. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is not helping, either.

Sonia Sotomayor, or Justice Sotomayor is the newest, and maybe the most worrying judge on the US Supreme Court.

Sotomayor was previously married to Kevin Noonan,[1] a patent lawyer who is very pro-patent.

SJVN wrote about the subject, starting with a sound bite that berates lawyers:

First, we kill all the patent lawyers

Actually, I don’t think we should kill all the patent lawyers. Some of my best friends are patent attorneys — no, really. But I’d happily stick a knife into the American patent system.

In the beginning, the U.S. patent system was meant to encourage inventors and innovation. Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said, “The Patent System added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.” That was then. This is now.

Today, unless the Supreme Court does the right thing and tosses out business practice and, by implication, software patents with the proper decision in the Bilski case, we’re stuck with a system designed to wreck anyone who actually tries to implement his own ideas.

You see, with many software patents there is no specific language, no hard code, but only descriptions of general processes that can be implemented in multiple ways. Now, you might think you could avoid patent trouble by looking up the appropriate patents and not using them. Good luck with that.

[...]

This is why Microsoft, despite being the loser in some whopping patent lawsuits, such as the $200 million-plus it owes i4i for violating its patents and the $1.5 billion it once owed Alcatel-Lucent, is happy to threaten other companies, especially those that use Linux or open-source software, such as Amazon and TomTom into licensing agreements.

That last example about Alcatel-Lucent includes reasons to embrace Theora, but Microsoft is strongly against Theora, as we recently explained and showed in:

Microsoft continues to justify ignoring Theora. They are using their familiar FUD to justify using something that they are covered for or paid for. As always, their friend Bott joins the attack on Theora (a pile of the usual Microsoft propaganda via ZDNet’s Bott/Foley). It’s extremely disingenuous and The Source explains why:

Oof. ZDNet’s Ed Bott attacks the FSF hard in “Ogg versus the world: don’t fall for open-source FUD“.

One issue

Mr. Bott calls out some of the points made on the PlayOgg FAQ as being “FUD”, “outright lies”, “technically absurd”, “factually dead wrong”, and maybe even downright anti-kittens-with-funny-captions-underneath.

Let’s look at one of his examples (we’ll only take the first one, but the entire article is chock-full of fallacious fun).

[...]

People like Mr. Bott who carry water for organizations like Microsoft are going to resort to hypocrisy, hair-splitting and strawman-bashing tactics.

For example, Mr. Bott seems quite content to quote the CEO of the MPEG-LA asserting that “no one in the market should be under the misimpression that other codecs such as Theora are patent free” in the very article where he is taking the FSF to task for FUD.

The MPEG-LA CEO is a patent troll. The Source concludes with: “So, be aware of that mindset when you write. There will always be someone out there ready to take a cheap shot or play integrity-free games with the point you are trying to make. You can’t stop them – because they aren’t after the truth – but you don’t have to give up free points on the goal either.”

“[P]atent trolls aren’t a pathology of [software patents], but a natural consequence of the system. Not a bug, a feature.”
      –Carlo Piana
Carlo Piana (Samba lawyer) explains that “Fighting trolls is [is not] getting rid of [software patents]. Getting rid of [software patents] is a way to defeat trolls, though.” He also shrewdly points out that “patent trolls aren’t a pathology of [software patents], but a natural consequence of the system. Not a bug, a feature.”

MPEG-LA is essentially a pool and an example of a troll/bully because of the way it coerces from the outside. As some other sources warn a lot these days, MPEG-LA is a huge risk to our culture because a lot of our videos got trapped in MPEG-LA’s so-called ‘property’ (MPEG-LA members are the ones to loot everyone and MPEG-LA is just their ‘front group’, a la MPAA/RIAA). We really need a codec like Theora and it should be defended from the self-serving members of MPEG-LA.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Linux News or Marketing Platform?

    Ads everywhere: Phoronix puts them at the top, bottom, navigation bar, left, and right just to read some Microsoft junk (puff pieces about something that nobody other than Microsoft even uses); in addition there are pop-ups asking for consent to send visitors’ data to hundreds of data brokers



  2. Daily Links at Techrights Turn 15, Time to Give Them an Upgrade

    This year we have several 15-year anniversaries; one of them is Daily Links (it turned 15 earlier this week) and we've been working to improve these batches of links, making them a lot more extensive and somewhat better structured/clustered



  3. Back to Focusing on Unified Patent Court (UPC) Crimes and Illegal Patent Agenda, Including the EPO's

    The EPO's (European Patent Office, Europe's second-largest institution) violations of constitutions, laws and so on merit more coverage, seeing that what's left of the "media" not only fails to cover scandalous things but is actively cheering for criminals (in exchange for money)



  4. European Patent Office Staff Votes in Favour of Freedom of Association (97% of Voters in Support)

    The Central Staff Committee (CSC) at the EPO makes a strong case for António Campinos to stop breaking and law and actually start obeying court orders (he’s no better than Benoît Battistelli and he uses worse language already)



  5. Links 02/02/2023: Glibc 2.37 and Go 1.20

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 01, 2023

    IRC logs for Wednesday, February 01, 2023



  7. Links 01/02/2023: Security Problems, Unrest, and More

    Links for the day



  8. Links 01/02/2023: Stables Kernels and Upcoming COSMIC From System76

    Links for the day



  9. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 31, 2023



  10. Links 31/01/2023: Catchup Again, Wayland in Xfce 4.20

    Links for the day



  11. Links 31/01/2023: elementary OS 7

    Links for the day



  12. Intimidation Against Nitrux Development Team Upsets the Community and Makes the Media Less Trustworthy

    Nitrux is being criticised for being “very unappealing”; but a look behind the scenes reveals an angry reviewer (habitual mouthpiece of the Linux Foundation and Linux foes) trying to intimidate Nitrux developers, who are unpaid volunteers rather than “corporate” developers



  13. Links 31/01/2023: GNOME 44 Wallpapers and Alpha

    Links for the day



  14. Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) and KU Leuven Boosting Americans and Cancellers of the Father of Free Software

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and its founder, Richard M. Stallman (RMS), along with the SFLC one might add, have been under a siege by the trademark-abusing FSFE and SFC; Belgium helps legitimise the ‘fakes’



  15. Techrights in the Next 5 or 10 Years

    Now that I’m free from the shackles of a company (it deteriorated a lot after grabbing Gates Foundation money under an NDA) the site Techrights can flourish and become more active



  16. 60 Days of Articles About Sirius 'Open Source' and the Long Road Ahead

    The Sirius ‘Open Source’ series ended after 60 days (parts published every day except the day my SSD died completely and very suddenly); the video above explains what’s to come and what lessons can be learned from the 21-year collective experience (my wife and I; work periods combined) in a company that still claims, in vain, to be “Open Source”



  17. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 30, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, January 30, 2023



  18. Taking Techrights to the Next Level in 2023

    I've reached a state of "closure" when it comes to my employer (almost 12 years for me, 9+ years for my wife); expect Techrights to become more active than ever before and belatedly publish important articles, based on longstanding investigations that take a lot of effort



  19. The ISO Delusion: When the Employer Doesn’t Realise That Outsourcing Clients' Passwords to LassPass After Security Breaches Is a Terrible Idea

    The mentality or the general mindset at Sirius ‘Open Source’ was not compatible with that of security conscientiousness and it seemed abundantly clear that paper mills (e.g. ISO certification) cannot compensate for that



  20. Links 30/01/2023: Plasma Mobile 23.01 and GNU Taler 0.9.1

    Links for the day



  21. EPO Management Isn't Listening to Staff, It's Just Trying to Divide and Demoralise the Staff Instead

    “On 18 January 2023,” the staff representatives tell European Patent Office (EPO) colleagues, “the staff representation met with the administration in a Working Group on the project “Bringing Teams Together”. It was the first meeting since the departure of PD General Administration and the radical changes made to the project. We voiced the major concerns of staff, the organization chaos and unrest caused by the project among teams and made concrete proposals.”



  22. Links 30/01/2023: Coreboot 4.19 and Budgie 10.7

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 29, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 29, 2023



  24. [Meme] With Superheroes Like These...

    Ever since the new managers arrived the talent has fled the company that falsely credits itself with "Open Source"



  25. Not Tolerating Proprietary 'Bossware' in the Workplace (or at Home in Case of Work-From-Home)

    The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.



  26. The ISO Delusion: A Stack of Proprietary Junk (Slack) Failing Miserably

    When the company where I worked for nearly 12 years spoke of pragmatism it was merely making excuses to adopt proprietary software at the expense of already-working and functional Free software



  27. Debian 11 on My Main Rig: So Far Mostly OK, But Missing Some Software From Debian 10

    Distributions of GNU/Linux keep urging us to move to the latest, but is the latest always the greatest? On Friday my Debian 10 drive died, so I started moving to Debian 11 on a new drive and here's what that did to my life.



  28. Stigmatising GNU/Linux for Not Withstanding Hardware Failures

    Nowadays "the news" is polluted with a lot of GNU/Linux-hostile nonsense; like with patents, the signal-to-noise ratio is appalling and here we deal with a poor 'report' about "Linux servers" failing to work



  29. Microsofters Inside Sirius 'Open Source'

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been employing incompetent managers for years — a sentiment shared among colleagues by the way; today we examine some glaring examples with redacted communications to prove it



  30. Links 29/01/2023: GNOME 43.3 Fixes and Lots About Games

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts