Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Uses LOT Network to Spread Lies and Promote Its Protection Racket

An aggregator (DPA) or a vision so shallow that even Microsoft can enlist

LOT Network: A WHOLE LOT OF SOFTWARE PATENTS



Summary: A Red Hat- and Google-centric aggregator of software patents adds Microsoft as a member even though Microsoft continues to arm and fund patent trolls; the main/net effect of this move appears to be promotion of "Azure IP Advantage" (protection from Microsoft's trolls as long as one pays Microsoft monthly fees)

THE COMPANY of endless lies is at it again, having leveraged many US patents (software patents wrongly granted by the USPTO) against GNU/Linux.



"Microsoft loves Linux" is a lie. And now Microsoft wants us to think that Microsoft battles patent trolls. This too is a Microsoft lie, albeit one that corporate media is happy to play along with, e.g. with headlines such as "Microsoft joins the LOT Network to help fight patent trolls" (a lie, the latter part in particular).

Deducted from fact-checking is the abundant evidence which is widely available, such as Microsoft's patent troll Intellectual Ventures, which is the world's largest. We wrote about it as recently as yesterday. The dedicated Microsoft propaganda sites (these sites' names give that away) promote the same fiction that Microsoft is against patent trolls. Just don't let facts get in the way...

There's also this batch of hours-old headlines about patents Microsoft can and possibly will use against Android OEMs [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft loves its patents and it actively uses them for litigation and shakedown purposes.

So what explains this lunacy we saw yesterday evening in the media? This press release [1, 2] from Microsoft started it. It is a lie because Microsoft actively contributes to patent trolls and their attacks, but the title of the press release says Microsoft wants to "Protect its Community Against Patent Troll Attacks" (whose patent trolls and which community?).

It didn't take long for Red Hat to play along with this publicity stunt that misleads. Remember that Red Hat hires managers from Microsoft (it's well documented), so Red Hat will defend its shareholders rather than the Free software community. Red Hat is also still applying for software patents while propping up LOT Network, which is not the solution at all. This is what Red Hat said about its beloved LOT Network:

We are excited to see Microsoft – a top 10 recipient of U.S. patents - announce today it is joining the LOT Network (LOT), a company we helped form. Since 2014, Red Hat and other top companies around the world have come to recognize LOT as an innovative response to patent assertion entities (PAEs). Microsoft is a welcome addition to LOT’s almost 300 members, which together hold more than one million patent assets.

[...]

Red Hat is committed to LOT’s mission and to broadening its reach. We believe that LOT is a significant tool in weakening the threat that PAEs pose to operating companies, including those that distribute free and open source software. We are pleased Microsoft has joined our ranks, and look forward to working with them to expand the reach of LOT.


As we explained a few months back, LOT Network had become somewhat of a joke because it is a proponent of software patents. It's like its purpose is to protect software patents from the community's scrutiny rather than protect the community from software patents. It is, in that regard, somewhat similar to OIN. Earlier this week [1, 2] we showed that Microsoft's patent trolls are still attacking Microsoft's rivals in new lawsuits, so how can the company pretend to have changed its strategy? Erich Andersen (Microsoft) says they're "helping to lead the way toward addressing the patent troll problem" (but Microsoft actively contributes to this problem!) and yet LWN framed it as follows: "Microsoft has announced that it has joined the LOT Network, which is an organization set up to help thwart patent trolls by licensing any member's patents to all members if they end up in the hands of a troll."

But Microsoft itself does exactly that, e.g. passing Nokia's patents to this troll in bulk. Microsoft's site, which LWN cites for its "facts", says this:

We are pleased to announce that Microsoft is joining the LOT Network, a growing, non-profit community of companies that is helping to lead the way toward addressing the patent troll problem, an issue that impacts businesses of all sizes.

Microsoft has seen this problem firsthand. We’ve faced hundreds of meritless patent assertions and lawsuits over the years, and we want to do more to help others dealing with this issue. In most cases, the opportunists behind these assertions were not involved in the research and development of the ideas that came to be embodied in patents. Many do not even understand the technical concepts described in them. In the most extreme cases, we’ve seen mass mailings and campaigns to extract value from small businesses who are not equipped to understand patents. Although these problems are less acute in the US today than in the past, in part because of changes in the law, the challenge persists for many businesses. Entrepreneur magazine cited a recent study showing that 40 percent of small companies involved in patent litigation reported “significant operational impact” from those suits, which some described as a “death knell.”


It then mentions Microsoft's protection racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21], known as "Azure IP Advantage" (same as the scheme Microsoft set up with Novell). There's 'special' protection from trolls only for those who host with Azure. It's like GNU/Linux users need to reach a patent settlement with Microsoft, paid in several installments (Azure subscription). With a host like Amazon/AWS one risks patent lawsuits, albeit not from Microsoft directly.

Mary Jo Foley, a career Microsoft booster (for well over a decade), perpetuates Microsoft's misleading claims and promotes their extortion racket, which Andersen introduces as follows:

This also means we are continuing on the path we started with the introduction of the Azure IP Advantage program in 2017. As part of that program, Microsoft said that it would defend and indemnify developers against claims of intellectual property infringement even if the service powering Azure was built on open source. We also said that if we transferred a patent to a company in the business of asserting patents, then Azure customers would get a license for free. Our LOT membership expands this pledge to other companies in the LOT network.


So they're basically saying, "host everything in Azure (even GNU/Linux) and you'll be safer from trolls" ("even the trolls that we're funding and arming"). This is, for the most part, just a marketing opportunity for Microsoft. It also helps distort the record, e.g. on Microsoft's major role in sponsoring and giving patents to patent trolls. How long before Jim Zemlin congratulates Microsoft?

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