05.08.11

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How Red Hat Gets Extorted by Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 4:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Hat headquarters

Summary: Why Red Hat is already harmed by Microsoft’s software patents strategy, which is a scheme that distorts the market where GNU/Linux is gradually winning everything

A FEW days ago we explained that Red Hat was still being extorted by patent trolls with links going back to Microsoft. Over at TechDirt, Mike Masnick explains that Red Hat should not pay those patent trolls. “I certainly understand the reasoning,” he writes. “And I definitely understand the short-term cost-benefit analysis. If you can pay off the patent holder for less than it’ll take to fight the case, even if you win, that seems like a good deal. Except… in the long run, this may be penny-wise and pound-foolish, because as you build up the reputation as a company who will fold as long as the settlement demands are under a certain level, then all you do is encourage more trolling behavior, leading to more new lawsuits with more patent holders demanding a handout.

“Again, I can certainly understand the basic reasoning for settling, and can’t really begrudge any company that decides to settle to avoid a lawsuit, but it is a little disappointing that this just perpetuates the problem.”

Over at TechEye, an author has this to say:

His view is that software patents shouldn’t even exist because they impede innovation. Whitehurst also thinks that the court system is not properly equipped to handle patent disputes.

Whitehurst said that most of the patent trolling happens in courts in the Eastern District of Texas, generally with a jury that has not completed college and are not technologically savvy enough to work out if a patent is valid or not.

After all, this a part of the US where opposable thumbs are considered innovation and its residents are being asked to understand stuff that a PHD can’t get, he implied.

Most of the patent suits filed against Red Hat relate to middleware, which is esoteric at the best of times. Whitehurst said.

Another method for extorting Red Hat comes more directly from Microsoft, which is receiving patent payments from some of Red Hat’s large customers. For instance, Amazon pays Microsoft for Red Hat, which in turn happily flaunts its relationship with Red Hat these days in Red Hat’s event. This whole strategy is working out for Microsoft and Microsoft Florian is currently playing the role of shameless fan for anti-Linux and anti-Android cases like Oracle’s. He is leaning on journalists to warp their coverage of these issues and normalise Microsoft’s racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], as though it is only fair and just. Florian is a very good liar and he spends a lot of time distorting reality (or spinning) in sites such as LWN, which are learning to treat him like a troll.

“Another method for extorting Red Hat comes more directly from Microsoft, which is receiving patent payments from some of Red Hat’s large customers.”LWN warns about “victory for the trolls” in reference to one who previously worked for (and was paid by) Microsoft and now attacks Linux with software patents. People tend to forget that the world’s largest patent troll came from Microsoft and was funded by Microsoft. We are talking about abominations like Intellectual Ventures, which is sort of imitated based on this essay from a former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. He writes about “Facebook for Patents”, which is his term for referring to this: “In what is akin to a “Facebook for Patents” — a company named Article One Partners, which received the Silicon Alley Tech Startup of the Year prize, offers compensation to researchers from 176 countries to strengthen patents, reduce the risk of infringement assertions by competitors, and improve patent quality.”

They strive to “strengthen patents,” eh? We’ve heard it all before. This whole piece from the Huff & Puff is patent propaganda.

“#BPAI decision involving the definition of GPU in #patent claim,” writes Rachael Vaughn, who links to Karen G. Hazzah’s report which she titled “BPAI criticizes Applicant’s claim term definition because the definition gave examples”

Takeaway: The Applicant in Ex parte Brunner offered evidence of the meaning of “graphics processing unit,” in the form of an IEEE article “GPU Computing.” The BPAI found that the article did not provide a definition of the term, and instead described examples of GPUs. The Board adopted the Examiner’s broader interpretation of GPU: “any processing unit that carries out graphical operations, such as outputting display data to a display device.”

The solution to this is to push for elimination of all software patents, be they related to hardware or not (that’s the loophole for spreading software patents in the EU and NZ). There is no room for monopolies on mathematics as this devastates science and technology as a whole.

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