11.01.11

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Latest Analysis of Patent Assault on Linux

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Oracle at 3:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Larry Elllison on stage
Photo from Oracle Corporate Communications

Summary: There is no going back for Linux/Android domination, but Apple and Microsoft try to collude against it now, with patents, patent trolls, and Larry Ellison (who calls Steve Jobs his “best friend” and idol”)

THE ANTICS of Microsoft have pushed it further away from “patent troll” realms and more into the realms of organised crime. Racketeering is, after all, a crime. But provided one is big (as in rich) enough and sufficiently connected in governments and/or media, the laws do not get enforced properly or even regularly. The media can ensure the public opinion gets slanted and politicians need not take action to please the population. We see a lot of this in Occupy Wall Street.

“The media can ensure the public opinion gets slanted and politicians need not take action to please the population.”As we explained on numerous occasions last month, Microsoft has a bunch of lobbyists and corruptible ‘journalists’ whom it uses to spin what it is doing as “acceptable” and a matter of enforcing the law rather than breaking the law. Caution is required in the face of Microsoft lobbyists’ spin that seeks to portray Google as a patent aggressor. It is very far-fetched and it is clear that they try to paint Google, the victim, as a company deserving Microsoft’s extortion. As the SCOracle trial takes a break the Microsoft FUD resumes in a noticeable way. Those who cannot become competitive turn litigious and even extort companies. Why actually make stuff and compete when you can pay some lawyers to attack the competition and rip it off using legal instruments and illegal tactics that are a breach of the RICO Act? A company that copied other people’s work and then used illegal tactics to stomp on them falsely claims (owing to a Chronicle columnist who ended up helping Microsoft with a propaganda piece) that Android “stands on Microsoft’s shoulders”.

Yes, Microsoft is trying to claim that it owns Android and people need to go to Microsoft to “license” Android, Microsoft’s competition. How it that different from what protection rackets always were? It is not different. “It reads to me as though the MS lawyer is saying “It’s an Operating System, and we own Operating Systems”,” writes one person in USENET.

This type of nonsense helps ‘normalise’ extortion using a PR campaign which deceives even self-proclaimed FOSS proponents (who don’t even use Linux). For shame. This is how public opinion gets distorted.

“Yes, Microsoft is trying to claim that it owns Android and people need to go to Microsoft to “license” Android, Microsoft’s competition.”The MSBBC, as usual, bats for that same side and we cannot help wondering if Katherine Noyes actually wrote this headline (probably the editor’s choice). Racketeering is not a joke and Microsoft is not a “fan” of Android. Microsoft is attacking Android and someone in regulatory agencies should take action. “Software patents are legalised extortion” says this new headline from an opposer of software patents, who writes:

By refusing to kowtow to the US software patent racket, Europe could experience a new golden age of technology, says Mike Lee.

From its theoretical description, a patent system for software seems like a great idea.

Rather than keeping their best code to themselves, software engineers can register their creations with the government, creating a marketplace of functionality. Anyone creating new products can save time and money by licensing, rather than reinventing.

If the patent system actually worked anything like that, software patents would be a no-brainer, but it doesn’t, and they’re not.

In fact, quite the opposite. Instead, the patent office contains vaguely worded descriptions written and held by lawyers, not for accelerating innovation, but for taxing it.

Many proponents of software patents are parasites like watchtroll, who already has his own words of little or no value. Patent lawyers cannot speak on behalf of people who make the software that patent lawyers are trying to tax; generally speaking, people who never practised software do not deserve a voice on the matter unless they become producing parties rather than bullies (for hire) who help subvert competition and tax everyone. Timothy B. Lee put it well in the following new article which he posted in Forbes:

People Should Listen to Computer Programmers about Software Patents

[...]

So too with software. The people complaining loudest about software patents are the very people whose efforts software patents are allegedly designed to encourage. If most of them think they’d be better off without that “protection,” that should give policymakers cause for soul-searching.

I doubt it’s a coincidence that this Sullivan reader is a patent law professor. While software patents don’t benefit the average computer programmer or software firm, they’re tremendously beneficial to the lawyers who make a living prosecuting and litigating software patents, and the law professors who make a living training the next generation of patent lawyers.

In Microsoft’s case, much of the lobbying comes from patent lawyers and managers, not developers. And there are no patents mentioned because they know they can achieve more by empty threats than by truthful means that are not dubious and even borderline criminal. Microsoft’s friends at Blackboard also leveraged patent FUD and got a lot of flak for it. Here is a little update about that:

The last time Techdirt wrote about the learning company, Blackboard, was in the context of its attempt to enforce a ridiculously broad patent on the field. Even before the patent was thrown out completely, Blackboard made an unusual move: it offered to exempt open source projects and those who contributed to them from its patent attacks:

As part of the Pledge, Blackboard promises never to pursue patent actions against anyone using such systems including professors contributing to open source projects, open source initiatives, commercially developed open source add-on applications to proprietary products and vendors hosting and supporting open source applications. Blackboard is also extending its pledge to many specifically identified open source initiatives within the course management system space whether or not they may include proprietary elements within their applications, such as Sakai, Moodle, ATutor, Elgg and Bodington.

Commitments to limit potential patent protection are uncommon, particularly for enterprise software companies. The Patent Pledge — in terms of its sweeping scope, strong commitment and public nature — is unprecedented for a product company such as Blackboard.

A proper action to take would be throwing away this patent altogether. Such patents, broad software patents to be more specific, should not exist. Some companies are bragging about these because the USPTO allows this to happen. We need to also strike at this root, the institutional failure, in order to prevent companies like Microsoft from fraudulently claiming ownership of Linux. Speaking of which, Microsoft’s partner Tuxera is still enabling Microsoft to tax Linux through file systems. Companies like Tuxera and Novell too are part of the problem we ought to tackle.

It’s not just Microsoft though. Its allies from Apple are attacking too. All that Apple can do now is sue, sue, sue. It has failed for over a year. So has Jobs’ “best friend” Larry Ellison. Samsung is tired of playing defence, so it “demands Iphone 4S source code” as things get more abrasive:

KOREAN ELECTRONICS GIANT Samsung is demanding the source code for the Iphone 4S firmware in its latest spat with Apple over patents.

Incidentally, Red Hat’s Open Source site had a new blog post about “Patent reform and patent totalitarianism”. To quote:

Touted as the most extensive revision of the patent law since 1952, the America Invents Act of 2011 was signed by the President on September 16. You might think in light of the celebration and rhetoric, that the Act was tackling the big problems such as patent trolls, broad and abstract patents, the billions squandered in the smartphone wars, or opportunistic litigation against users. You might think that. But you would be wrong.

It is not just about smartphones, either. But the smartphones market has become a good symptom of a broken system.

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2 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    November 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Gravatar

    There is no going back for Linux/Android domination, but Apple and Microsoft try to collude against it now, with patents, patent trolls, and Larry Ellison (who calls Steve Jobs his “best friend” and idol”)

    Well, at least he does not say he “envies” Apple the way you have said you do.

    FUD:

    Yes, Microsoft is trying to claim that it owns Android and people need to go to Microsoft to “license” Android, Microsoft’s competition.

    Where has Microsoft claimed that it owns Android? Nowhere. That is a claim you out and out made up.

    FUD:

    How it that different from what protection rackets always were? It is not different. “It reads to me as though the MS lawyer is saying “It’s an Operating System, and we own Operating Systems”,” writes one person in USENET.

    Your “evidence”: the words of a COLA cultist you will not even name.

    This is your best evidence of “extortion” – your own lies about Microsoft claiming ownership of Android and the words of an unnamed cult member. In other words: you have no evidence at all.

    FUD:

    It’s not just Microsoft though. Its allies from Apple are attacking too. All that Apple can do now is sue, sue, sue. It has failed for over a year. So has Jobs’ “best friend” Larry Ellison. Samsung is tired of playing defence, so it “demands Iphone 4S source code” as things get more abrasive:

    Apple is a Microsoft allie? What? You made that up. And the idea that Apple can only sue is insane – one does not get to the top of user satisfaction surveys in multiple markets by not having massive amounts of innovation and a high level of quality.

    And why would Apple give Samsung access to their code given how Samsung has been shown to be copying Apple as best they can. Utter insanity. Samsung just wants it to be easier for them to copy Apple.

  2. walterbyrd said,

    November 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Gravatar

    > Where has Microsoft claimed that it owns Android?

    If Microsoft does not claim to own Android, then why is Microsoft saying it should be paid for Andorid?

    Isn’t that like me saying: “nice house you have there, hate to see anything happen to it. I expect your house payments to come to me now.”

    If I don’t own the house you live in, why should you pay me for it?

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