EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.13.09

OIN Receives Thanks from Many, CodePlex Foundation Receives Thumbs-Down from Many

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Windows at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hand with thumb down

Summary: Putting in perspective some of Microsoft’s latest attacks on GNU/Linux and an apparent deflection

SHORTLY after the OIN had intercepted Microsoft’s attempt to float anti-GNU/Linux patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], many responses were posted. Among them there is one from Eben Moglen. who wrote that “Our community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks for interrupting this arms trade, and calling attention to a bad business practice.” He also wrote:

An announcement by the Open Invention Network has disclosed publicly for the first time another, previously-secret front in our community’s efforts to protect itself against anti-competitive aggression by Microsoft. OIN’s transaction with Allied Security Trust to buy patents, supposedly reading on free software, offered to the troll market by Microsoft prevented what could have been a very unpleasant experience for the whole free software ecosystem.

Selling patents to organizations that have no purpose except to bring litigation—entities which do not themselves make anything or conduct any research, which do not indeed contribute in any tangible or intangible way to the progress of civilization—is not standard commercial practice. What Microsoft is really doing here is sowing disruption, creating fear, uncertainty and doubt at the expense of encouraging the very sort of misbehavior in the patent system that hurts everyone in the industry, including them.

Jay Lyman posts a superb, concise summary of the responses which matter.

This week, we saw some of the software patent skirmishes that are driving and validating this thinking. There was first news that the Open Invention Network, the consortium dedicated to legal and IP defense of Linux, had bought some software patents that related to Linux, which admittedly is not hard to do these days. It turned out the 22 Linux-focused patents were purchased from Allied Security Trust, which had actually purchased them from none other than Microsoft. This might not have meant a whole lot, with OIN proclaiming a victory and Microsoft stating simply that the patents did not hold much value to them. However, the plot thickened as we heard from FOSS defender Eben Moglen, from Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin and from vendor Red Hat, that Microsoft may have been shopping the patents around to would-be patent trolls who would do the dirty work of FUD on their own.

Here is the follow-on article from Groklaw, which finally relates this alleged trolling attempt to Microsoft’s so-called “Open Source” Foundation. Yesterday we explained why it's a farce, which only comprises the usual members [1, 2].

Microsoft doesn’t control it. What it used to be able to do in the dark now falls out of its noxious bag of tricks into the Internet’s bright light, stage front and center. And there stands Microsoft in the spotlight, with its pants down, and let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight.

Take the failed patent hustle of a couple of days ago, apparently maneuvering to enable proxy patent trolls to sue Linux. The idea, I gather, was to damage Linux, but without any way to trace it back to Microsoft. Thank you OIN and AST for foiling the plan. And by the way, are courts supposed to be used like this, to attack the competition? The court system is designed for adjudicating conflicts that are real. If you get damaged, you can go to court and try to be made whole. And so far as I know, there is no definition of abuse of monopoly that would exclude what just happened from being part of what antitrust law covers.

Then there is the hypocrisy factor. Ironically, Microsoft’s lead attorney in the i4i patent litigation was sanctioned by the judge in the Memorandum and Order because he persistently argued to the jury that patent trolls shouldn’t be allowed to seek money damages. And yet, out in the back, behind the garage, so to speak, it’s “Psst… trolls, wanna buy a patent?”

Here is where Pamela Jones refers to Microsoft’s new foundation:

What won’t Miguel do for Microsoft, I ask myself? I take that as good news, frankly, as the new foundation wouldn’t be needed by Microsoft to “supplement” what others already have in place if they could undermine what the community already has. So Microsoft funds and runs a new Brand X open source foundation which will be entirely under Microsoft’s thumb. Now do you see the purpose of the GPL? Why the F in FOSS is so vital? If all that matters is viewing the code or excellence of code or whatever that concept was in the longstanding debate, look what you get: Microsoft’s Brand X open source foundation to sell you patent licenses to proprietary code. An offer they hope you can’t refuse. How do you like it?

Richard Adhikari of ECT correctly points out that “FOSS fans” (yes, the real ones) are not buying Microsoft’s story. From the summary:

The CodePlex Foundation, according to Redmond, enables the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities. Those OSS communities, however, aren’t entirely trustful of Microsoft’s intentions.

Sam Ramji still has 3 months to go at Microsoft; one has to wonder who he shall work for next. Experience suggests that departing Microsoft employees become an HR issue. Ramji’s job has been — to a great extent — lying to the press on Microsoft’s behalf; it was not easy, especially while Microsoft was attacking GNU/Linux behind closed doors. Microsoft is still lying without any qualm. According to David Williams, Microsoft says that CodePlex is accepted by Linux and the open source community. “According to [Microsoft's] Sara Ford,” he writes, “the site is accepted and welcomed among the fans of open source and Linux software.” Utter nonsense. Maybe it’s this type of people who endorse it.

He [Ramji] will serve as president of the CodePlex Foundation for at least the first 100 days but is also departing Microsoft before the end of the month for another software vendor.

The Microsoft-sponsored blog called the whole thing a “soap opera”, thus trivialising serious issues. That’s funny. When Microsoft attacks GNU/Linux from multiple directions — potentially breaking some laws in the process (depending on location) — and then further abuses the “Open Source” brand, all it can be called is just a “soap opera”? On the other hand, positions are at least provided from the other side of this story:

Bergelt said he suspects that strategic agenda was to stall or slow the growth of Linux by seeing the patents ultimately fall into the hands of organizations that would use them to pursue lawsuits against people who use or distribute Linux. Microsoft has said that it believes Linux and other open-source programs violate more than 200 of its patents.

Here are all the recent events sorted contextually. One has to wonder if the CodePlex Foundation announcement timing was intended to quell the storm over Microsoft’s attempt to sue GNU/Linux vendors by proxy. It was mas perhaps intended to change the focus of debate in the press; that would not be the first time Microsoft deliberately does this.

“One has to wonder if the CodePlex Foundation announcement timing was intended to quell the storm over Microsoft’s attempt to sue GNU/Linux vendors by proxy.”Over at the Mono-Nono Web site, one commenter argues that “The whole “microsoft opening up to open source” things reminds me of this movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3bI71P_8O8

“We come in peace”.

“Do not run! We are your friends!”

Yeah… right!”

There is already some FUD out there, such as the essay titled “Will Microsoft’s Open Source Initiative Kill Linux?”

This comes from Ken Hess, who has gone ahead with a lot of trollish anti-Linux rhetorics recently. He once invited Microsoft to hire him in one of his columns. Apart from the headline, however, the body of arguments seems rather reasonable.

In other patent news that we shall write about later, Microsoft has managed to overturn a patent judgment regarding Alcatel-Lucent’s claims. From Reuters:

A U.S. court of appeals on Friday overturned a $358 million damages award against software maker Microsoft Corp in a long-running patent dispute with French telecoms equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles many patent and trademark cases, held that Microsoft did indirectly infringe Alcatel’s patents, but said the damages awarded against the firm were not justified and must be retried.

We wrote a lot about this case in the past [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s seemingly never-ending. Then again, that’s the nature of intellectual monopolies; those with deeper pockets can endure the test of ‘justice’ for longer, file more motions, and thus ‘win’.

“The Company believes that existing copyright law and available trade secret protections, as opposed to patent law, are better suited to protecting computer software developments.” —Oracle Corporation, IBiblio: Oracle Corporation’s position paper on software patents

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. Jose_X said,

    September 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Gravatar

    >> “The Company believes that existing copyright law and available trade secret protections, as opposed to patent law, are better suited to protecting computer software developments.” —Oracle Corporation, IBiblio: Oracle Corporation’s position paper on software patents

    That was from 1994, I think, but it was still useful.

    The critic replies at the bottom against the argument that software being inexpensive to produce is a key point distinguishing software from traditional types of patentable material.

    It’s good to see their arguments with their flaws since these args are used by others.

    >> If someone can spend a few weeks and develop a fuel
    additive that doubles the fuel efficiency of automobiles, the reward should
    reflect the billions that are at stake, and not the few weeks of effort needed
    for the inventor (who is either very lucky or very smart).

    If sw is cheap to develop, inventions happen quickly from many inventors and happen more if these inventors share. There are many billions more being sacrificed if we give monopolies (whether the monopolies are even given to the “right” person). The opportunity costs of preventing thousands from leveraging “inventions” outweighs by a lot the gains from having that invention made public at the time the patent was granted (again, assuming the monopolies were given to the “right” person and we have a real breakthrough here). Chances are that less capable inventors broadly patent some invention idea before the more capable inventors do so or before these other inventors get to the real breakthroughs. Should we even allow one smart person to neutralize 1000 other smart ones? Should we allow 1 genius to neutralize 10 others?

    Alternatively, there aren’t even billions at stake (as might be the case in some manufacturing sector) since inventions are cheap and hence happen at lower costs so more readily. Software inventions happen on-demand.

    The cost factor (and some related properties of software) is a key ingredient. It puts software inventions on the level of literary (math, law, etc) inventions rather than manufacturing inventions. Copyright already protects software.

    Remember, you can’t copy/paste a chunk of that new innovative skyscraper so as to use it in your own product, but you can copy/paste arbitrarily complex chunks of software. Costs, the degree of being able to leverage prior developments, and the large number of inventors in play are all interrelated, are a big deal, and are key to rationalizing why software is not like manufacturing.

    BTW, Einstein was a patent examiner. Did he require patent protection to be motivated to develop the theory of relativity? Did he get there by himself? No and no.

    Could Einstein have been cut off (discouraged, etc) from making those developments if someone else had patented some of the basic concepts or hunches (maybe someone that had kept correspondence with Einstein) ahead of knowing the full details? Yes (if patents were allowed and ethics level were low and in particular if patents were automatic like copyrights once you describe the invention on paper). Broad patents are always easier to write and always pre-empt the more detailed developments.

    Are the people getting patents today making inventions of the significance and gain to society as was the theory of relativity? I don’t think so, yet these people are getting patents left and right so as to monopolize areas of development that could very likely be developed much faster (and in parallel) by many others if the patents were not an obstacle.

    There is a very real cost in granting patents that prevent greater faster development or development that would happen regardless. We have to ask, does this person controlling this area (which might cover lots of ground, as patent claims are very general and low in detail, and where many more breakthroughs could be taking place or would need to take place to solve certain problems) from today through the next 20 years give society more than if we leave everyone free for the next 20 years? That is doubtful if the area is an important one.

    Because advancement is so dependent on many ideas and experts contributing and coming together, it generally makes no sense to have monopolies if we want to promote growth. Note that many invent to solve a problem (eg, to make money) or for other reasons without needing a patent as a motivator. To justify a patent, we might look towards things like high costs to manufacture or experiment. Yes, I’m returning to that point: costs (and related factors) are key to concluding whether a monopoly grant would (very likely) hinder or else possibly instead promote growth.

    Finally, Oracle makes many interesting points like the high immediate costs patents pose to the industry and how software has developed fast and far under the expectation that patents were not legal or were not being enforced or taken out very much.

    If Oracle were to write that position paper today (assuming they felt the same way), they could make a stronger case by pointing to the wide spread of the Internet and computing (even lower costs to distribute software; greater opportunity for collaboration; more people able to participate). They could point to the huge world of FOSS: the gains this has to society and how it comes about from a focus on the sharing of ideas as these are expressed. They could point to the growing costs the system places on the industry. They could point to the deterioration of the quality of the granted patents. They could point to how much easier it is to run to the patent office with someone else’s idea because of all the sharing that is going on by people that don’t patent anything.

What Else is New


  1. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  2. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  3. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    nder the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  4. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject



  5. [ES] Interrumpiendo la Propagánda Distractante de Battistelli: los Empleados de la EPO Protestará de Nuevo en una Quincena

    La exágerada extravagancia (desperdicio de dinero) en la Ceremonia de Premiación al Inventor Europeo de la EPO tendrá que competir por atención de los medios con miles de empleados de la EPO (en todaslas sedes de la EPO) marchándo en las calles para protestar por los abusos de la EPO



  6. Windows and Microsoft's Other 'Burning Platforms'

    It's not just Windows for phones that's reaching minuscule market share levels but also Windows, but Microsoft is skilled at hiding this (cannibalising Windows using something people do not even want, then counting that cannibal, Vista 10)



  7. Links 24/5/2016: CRYENGINE Source Code is Out on GitHub, Jono Bacon Leaves GitHub

    Links for the day



  8. Links 23/5/2016: GNOME 3.22, Calculate Linux 15.17

    Links for the day



  9. 'Celebrity' Patent Trolls and the Elusive Battle Against Patent Trolls (or Eastern District of Texas Courts) Rather Than Software Patents

    Some of last week's more important reports, which serve to demonstrate how the system is attempting to tackle a side-effect of software patents rather than the patents themselves (their irrational scope)



  10. The Circus of Patent 'Reporting' (by Omission) on the Subject of Software Patents in the US and USPTO Bias

    look at some of the latest oddities in the US patent system and much of the reporting about software patenting (more or less monopolised by those who profit from it, not harmed by it)



  11. IP3 Demonstrates That Today's Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates' Game, Won't Protect the Mythical Small Inventor

    Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?



  12. Disrupting Battistelli's Distracting Propaganda: EPO Staff to Protest Again in About a Fortnight

    The overly extravagant (waste of money) EPO European Inventor Award will have to compete for media attention with thousands of EPO staff (in all EPO sites) marching in the streets to protest against the EPO's abuses



  13. Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO's President Battistelli is 'Buying' Votes of Small Member States

    Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious 'circle' now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)



  14. [ES] Los Mitos de la EPO ‘Calidad’ de Patentes y de ‘Creación’ de Patentes: Basados en Ventas de Cafe y Trauma

    La carrera hacia el fondo, o la ridícula asumpción de Battistelli de que otorgar más y más patentenes más rápidamente (e.g. usando PACE) sería beneficióso a largo término, puede guíar al final colapse del valor de la EPO y la pérdida de su lárgamente ganada reputación a nivel mundial



  15. Links 22/5/2016: Systemd 230, Debian Installer Alpha 6

    Links for the day



  16. EPO Patent 'Quality' and 'Patent Creation' Myth: Capsule-Based Coffee Sales and Trauma

    The race to the bottom, or Battistelli's ludicrous assumption that granting more and more patents faster (e.g. using PACE) would be beneficial in the long run, may lead to the ultimate collapse of the EPO's value and demise of its long-earned reputation worldwide



  17. Guest Post: How Vista 10 Imposes Itself on Users of Windows

    A reader's experience being nagged by Microsoft, as documented and explained by this reader



  18. [ES] El Notorio Tirano de la EPO, Benoît Battistelli, Se Reune Con Otros Tiranos, Reportes de Que ‘Limpia’ el Consejo Administrativo

    El régimen de Battistelli, talvez la fuente de verguénza más grande, alegadamente está “cortejándo países pequeños/corruptos para asegurárse de que los delegados que votarón contra él serán remplazados”



  19. [ES] Comentadores Anónimos Debaten Si la EPO de Battistelli Puede Revocar las Pensiones de Empleados Que Se Atreveen — GASP — a Buscar Empleo Alternativo

    Una mirada a las causas de desesperación e imensa presión en la EPO, donde las pensiónes pueden ser cortadas como medio de represália y la gente puede ser negada empleo aún después de dejar la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO)



  20. [ES] Otra Casi Vacía Presentación de la EPO en La Hague

    El propagandístico “estudio social” de Battistelli (básicamente un montón de engañosas afirmacionesdisfrazadas como ‘investigación’) ayuda a demostrar que los empleados de la EPO no tiene absolutamente fe en la gerencia



  21. Links 21/5/2016: Manjaro Linux RC, Flock 2016 Schedule

    Links for the day



  22. USPTO Ignores a Lot of Cases Against Software Patents to Justify Resumption of More Software Patenting

    The US patent system (USPTO) is so obsessed with granting as many patents as possible -- even bogus patents in areas that are no longer patent-eligible -- that its guidelines are further perturbed and whose appeals board is massively overwhelmed/overworked/understaffed



  23. Notorious EPO Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, Meets Other Tyrants, Reportedly 'Cleanses' the Administrative Council

    The Battistelli regime, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of Europe right now, is allegedly "courting smaller countries to make sure the delegates who voted against him will be replaced"



  24. Links 20/5/2016: Purism Tablet, ChromeOS PCs Outsell 'Mac'-Branded PCs

    Links for the day



  25. CAFC Rules Against Software Patents But Witness With Horror the Silence From Patent Lawyers (Bias by Omission)

    In an effort to protect software patents in the United States, where these patents came from in the first place (and continue to spread from), patent lawyers pretend not to see cases where software patents get invalidated and instead focus on the rare exception



  26. It's All Just Artificial Distractions From EPO Management, 'Yellow' Union Comes Under Scrutiny Again

    What's happening inside the EPO these days and what meaningless rubbish the management of the EPO would rather have the media obsessed with



  27. Anonymous Commenters Debate Whether Battistelli's EPO Can Revoke Pensions of Dismissed Employees Who Dare -- GASP -- Find Alternative Employment

    A look at causes for desperation and immense pressure at the EPO, where pensions can be cut as means of reprisal and people can be denied employment even after they leave the European Patent Office (EPO)



  28. Australian Productivity Commission's Research Calls for Ban on Software Patents, Davies Collison Cave Calls for Complaints Against This Finding

    As the push against software patents grows in Australia, much to the chagrin of Australian software developers, Davies Collison Cave (patent law firm) publicly calls for opposition, calling its side "the truth" and pretending it represents "Australian innovators."



  29. Links 19/5/2016: Wine-Staging 1.9.10, Android N

    Links for the day



  30. Another Almost Empty EPO Presentation at The Hague

    The propagandistic "social study" of Battistelli (basically a lot of misleading claims disguised as 'research') helps demonstrate that EPO staff has absolutely no faith in the management


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts