03.19.13

Gemini version available ♊︎

How Apple Attacked (and Marginalised) the Linux-powered WebOS

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palm Pre with WebOS and Palm OS

Summary: Professor Michael Risch talks about WebOS, responds to our criticism

There is a fascinating story about WebOS, the operating system built on Linux and optimised to work well on the Web, using some portable framework that is Web-compatible (a growing trend in SDKs). Apple’s devices are poor at Web browsing, so WebOS (now open source as we hoped but unfortunately patents-encumbered) and some platforms like Android, which now has Chrome, have had a huge potential for growth, mostly at Apple’s and Nokia’s expense. Android is well ahead of Apple in technical terms and “Samsung [is] Innovating Faster Than Apple” claims a minister. So anyway, after Apple threatened Palm with lawsuits [1, 2] we find out in Risch’s rant about the already-controversial SHIELD act that WebOS was derailed by Apple:

Consider Palm, which developed WebOS, and made stuff. Consider HP, which has spent billions of dollars in research and development. HP bought Palm, and made WebOS tablets. For various reasons, maybe in part due to patent claims from other tablet makers like Apple, HP decides to stop selling WebOS tablets. HP then decides to enforce Palm’s patents. Mind you, HP didn’t just buy the patents, it bought the company. And then it made stuff, it researched, it developed, and it has even licensed WebOS out to LG try to resurrect it for televisions. Is HP a troll now? It falls under the text of this act. I think that just cannot be right, and yet there it is, in black and white.

Pamela Jones wrote: “Apple did that? I didn’t know that. If so, then I spit in their general direction. I love WebOS, and Apple needs to cut it out. It can’t be the only tablet maker in the universe. The more they sue and threaten, the more determined I am never to buy anything from them again.”

Wired had Risch (prominent in the debate over patent trolls) as a guest in a debate full of lawyers whose opinions omit the obvious solution (here is
another recent example) and after our criticism of his suggestions he wrote to me to say: “Thanks for reading, even if you don’t agree. I’m glad to hear that I’m even slightly controversial, as I usually see myself as plain vanilla.

“I outside us was a bit surprised by your characterization of the op-ed, though. For one thing, I quote Stallman’s editorial. For another, my very first suggestion was: ” More patents should be rejected, and especially weak software patents. Limiting these should continue regardless of who – troll or product company – owns those patents.” I realize that this doesn’t go far enough for those who would abolish software patents, but it’s hardly a defense. Indeed, at least one person shared this sentiment as the takeaway from the op-ed on twitter. I actually had a lot more written about software patents, but they limited me to 1100 words, so anything not core to the primary argument got slashed – so it goes.”

I replied by saying that “I do believe that we need to end software patents as a whole.”

“I hear you,” he said, “I know a lot a people feel that way. Even though I disagree, at least that would be owner neutral!”

That’s why it’s a debate. Every debate has some factions on each side. Anup Malani, writing this paper about patents, says: “Counter-intuitively, we propose raising the stakes of patent litigation by providing enhanced rewards to victorious patent holders and imposing enhanced penalties on owners of patents that are invalidated at trial.” This is not the obvious solution, either. It evades the obvious fix which is related to scope, not legal action.

Stephen Ornes, a writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote this article in the New Scientist yesterday. He opposes software patents on the ground that they are akin to patenting mathematics. To quote:

AT SOME point in their career every mathematician comes up against the question, is mathematics invented or discovered? The query makes some cranky. The answer doesn’t directly affect their work, after all, and the discussion often leads nowhere useful. Spending time debating the ultimate nature of mathematics takes away from actually doing it.

Some scholars take issue with the terms themselves. In his 2008 essay Mathematical Platonism and Its Opposites, Harvard University mathematician Barry Mazur called discovery and invention “those two too-brittle words”. One might be tempted to defuse the question altogether with a merger: perhaps maths involves inventing new relationships between things we have discovered.

It’s a metaphysical query, a nerdy way to ask whether or not some pre-existing truths underlie our existence. Here we bump up against theology. If mathematical ideas are discovered – the Platonist position – then a proof is a real-world encounter with an immortal truth. But then where, exactly, is this ethereal pool of truths? Did prime numbers exist before the big bang?

If, on the other hand, mathematics is invented, then proofs spring from human intelligence a bit like art or law. But then why do mathematicians across time and space always agree on what’s right and wrong?

The question about invention versus discovery flares up every few years, often in a different guise. The latest incarnation concerns something very down to earth: money. In this case, the discovery versus invention question has profound consequences. In fact, there may be no mathematical question with higher stakes. That’s because mathematics powers the algorithms that drive computer software, and software is big business, worth over $300 billion a year to the global economy.

If we start with the hypothesis that algorithms are reducible to maths — which they are — then it becomes apparent that the patent system is inherently broken in the scope sense. Talking about damages in litigation is not the point. We must identify and address root causes, not symptoms.

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. “Wintel” “Secure” uEFI Firmware Used to Store Persistent Malware, and Security Theater Boot is Worthless

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  2. No Linux Foundation IRS Disclosures Since 2018

    The publicly-available records or IRS information about the Linux Foundation is suspiciously behind; compared to other organisations with a "tax-exempt" status the Linux Foundation is one year behind already



  3. Jim Zemlin Has Deleted All of His Tweets

    The Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin seems to have become rather publicity-shy (screenshots above are self-explanatory; latest snapshot), but years ago he could not contain his excitement about Microsoft, which he said was "loved" by what it was attacking. Days ago it became apparent that Microsoft’s patent troll is still attacking Linux with patents and Zemlin’s decision to appoint Microsoft as the At-Large Director (in effect bossing Linus Torvalds) at the ‘Linux’ Foundation’s Board of Directors is already backfiring. She not only gets her whole salary from Microsoft but also allegedly protects sexual predators who assault women… by hiring them despite repeated warnings; if the leadership of the ‘Linux’ Foundation protects sexual predators who strangle women (even paying them a salary and giving them management positions), how can the ‘Linux’ Foundation ever claim to represent inclusion and diversity?



  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft's Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley has warrant for his arrest, albeit only after a lot of harm and damage had already been done (to multiple people) and Microsoft started paying him



  5. The Committee on Patent Law (PLC) Informed About Overlooked Issues “Which Might Have a Bearing on the Validity of EPO Patents.”

    In a publication circulated or prepared last week the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO explains a situation never explored in so-called 'media' (the very little that's left of it)



  6. Links 6/12/2021: HowTos and Patents

    Links for the day



  7. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 05, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 05, 2021



  8. Gemini Space/Protocol: Taking IRC Logs to the Next Level

    Tonight we begin the migration to GemText for our daily IRC logs, having already made them available over gemini://



  9. Links 6/12/2021: Gnuastro 0.16 and Linux 5.16 RC4

    Links for the day



  10. Links 5/12/2021: Touchpad Gestures in XWayland

    Links for the day



  11. Society Needs to Take Back Computing, Data, and Networks

    Why GemText needs to become 'the new HTML' (but remain very simple) in order for cyberspace to be taken away from state-connected and military-funded corporations that spy on people and abuse society at large



  12. [Meme] Meanwhile in Austria...

    With lobbyists-led leadership one might be led to believe that a treaty strictly requiring ratification by the UK is somehow feasible (even if technically and legally it's moot already)



  13. The EPO's Web Site is a Parade of Endless Lies and Celebration of Gross Violations of the Law

    The EPO's noise site (formerly it had a "news" section, but it has not been honest for about a decade) is a torrent of lies, cover-up, and promotion of crimes; maybe the lies are obvious for everybody to see (at least EPO insiders), but nevertheless a rebuttal seems necessary



  14. The Letter EPO Management Does Not Want Applicants to See (or Respond to)

    A letter from the Munich Staff Committee at the EPO highlights the worrying extent of neglect of patent quality under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; the management of the EPO did not even bother replying to that letter (instead it was busy outsourcing the EPO to Microsoft)



  15. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 04, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 04, 2021



  16. EPO-Bribed IAM 'Media' Has Praised Quality, Which Even EPO Staff (Examiners) Does Not Praise

    It's easy to see something is terribly wrong when the people who do the actual work do not agree with the media's praise of their work (a praise motivated by a nefarious, alternate agenda)



  17. Tux Machines is 17.5 Years Old Today

    Tux Machines -- our 'sister site' for GNU/Linux news -- started in 2004. We're soon entering 2022.



  18. Approaching 100

    We'll soon have 100 files in Git; if that matters at all...



  19. Improving Gemini by Posting IRC Logs (and Scrollback) as GemText

    Our adoption of Gemini and of GemText increases; with nearly 100,000 page requests in the first 3 days of Decembe (over gemini://) it’s clear that the growing potential of the protocol is realised, hence the rapid growth too; Gemini is great for self-hosting, which is in turn essential when publishing suppressed and controversial information (subject to censorship through blackmail and other ‘creative’ means)



  20. Links 4/12/2021: IPFire 2.27 Core Update 162 and Genode OS Framework 21.11

    Links for the day



  21. Links 4/12/2021: Gedit Plans and More

    Links for the day



  22. Links 4/12/2021: Turnip Becomes Vulkan 1.1 Conformant

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 03, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, December 03, 2021



  24. Links 4/12/2021: EndeavourOS Atlantis, Krita 5.0.0 Beta 5, Istio 1.11.5, and Wine 6.23; International Day Against DRM (IDAD) on December 10th

    Links for the day



  25. Another Gemini Milestone: 1,500 Active Capsules

    This page from Balázs Botond plots a graph, based on these statistics that now (as of minutes ago) say: “We successfully connected recently to 1500 of them.” Less than a fortnight ago more than 1,800 capsules overall were registered by Lupa, almost quadrupling in a single year



  26. [Meme] António Campinos and Socialist Posturing

    Staff of the EPO isn’t as gullible as António Campinos needs it to be



  27. António Campinos as EPO President is Considered Worse Than Benoît Battistelli (in Some Regards) After 3.5 Years in Europe's Second-Largest Institution

    The EPO's demise at the hands of people who don't understand patents and don't care what the EPO exists for is a real crisis which European media is unwilling to even speak about; today we share some internal publications and comment on them



  28. Media Coverage for Sale

    Today we're highlighting a couple of new examples (there are many other examples which can be found any day of the year) demonstrating that the World Wide Web is like a corporate spamfarm in "news" clothing



  29. Links 3/12/2021: GNU Poke 1.4 and KDDockWidgets 1.5.0

    Links for the day



  30. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 02, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, December 02, 2021


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