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. Cementing Autocracy: The European Patent Office Against Democracy, Against Media, and Against the Rule of Law

    The European Patent Office (EPO) actively undermines democracy in Europe, it undermines the freedom of the press (by paying it for puff pieces), and it undermines the rule of law by giving one single tyrant total power in Eponia and immunity from outside Eponia (even when he breaks his own rules)



  2. Links 28/9/2016: New Red Hat Offices, Fedora 25 'Frozen'

    Links for the day



  3. Team Battistelli Intensifies the Attack on the Boards of Appeal Again

    The lawless state of the EPO, where the rule of law is basically reducible to Battistelli's ego and insecurities, is again demonstrated with an escalation and perhaps another fake 'trial' in the making (after guilt repeatedly fails to be established)



  4. After the EPO Paid the Financial Times to Produce Propaganda the Newspaper Continues to Produce UPC Puff Pieces, Just Ahead of EU Council Meeting

    How the media, including the Financial Times, has been used (and even paid!) by the EPO in exchange for self-serving (to the EPO) messages and articles



  5. Beware the Patent Law Firms Insinuating That Software Patents Are Back Because of McRO

    By repeatedly claiming (and then generalising) that CAFC accepted a software patent the patent microcosm (meta-industry) hopes to convince us that we should continue to pursue software patents in the US, i.e. pay them a lot more money for something of little/no value



  6. The US Supreme Court Might Soon Tighten Patent Scope in the United States Even Further, the USPTO Produces Patent Maximalism Propaganda

    A struggle brewing between the patent 'industry' (profiting from irrational saturation) and the highest US court, as well as the Government Accountability Office (GAO)



  7. Patent Trolling a Growing Problem in East Asia (Software Patents Also), Whereas in the US the Problem Goes Away Along With Software Patents

    A look at two contrasting stories, one in Asia where patent litigation and hype are on the rise (same in Europe due to the EPO) and another in the US where a lot of patents face growing uncertainty and a high invalidation rate



  8. The EPO's Continued Push for Software Patents, Marginalisation of Appeals (Reassessment), and Deviation From the EPC

    A roundup of new developments at the EPO, where things further exacerbate and patent quality continues its downward spiral



  9. The Battistelli Effect: “We Will be Gradually Forced to File Our Patent Applications Outside the EPO in the Interests of Our Clients”

    While the EPO dusts off old files and grants in haste without quality control (won't be sustainable for more than a couple more years) the applicants are moving away as trust in the EPO erodes rapidly and profoundly



  10. Links 27/9/2016: Lenovo Layoffs, OPNFV Third Software Release

    Links for the day



  11. The Moral Depravity of the European Patent Office Under Battistelli

    The European Patent Office (EPO) comes under heavy criticism from its very own employees, who also seem to recognise that lobbying for the UPC is a very bad idea which discredits the European Patent Organisation



  12. Links 26/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC8, SuperTux 0.5

    Links for the day



  13. What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become



  14. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  15. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  16. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government



  17. Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

    Links for the day



  18. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  19. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  20. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  21. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  22. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  23. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)



  24. Journalism 101: Do Not Believe Anything That Benoît Battistelli and the EPO's Management Say (Also Don't Fall for the UPC Hype)

    A survey/review (or an overview) of recent articles about the EPO and why they're wrong (mostly because they parrot the official lies from Battistelli's department)



  25. Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM 'Magazine' Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

    Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent



  26. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Going Places and Suing Microsoft Rivals, Microsoft Wants More 'Linux Patent Tax'

    Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn's MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)



  27. Links 22/9/2016: Linux Professional Institute Redesign, Red Hat Upgraded

    Links for the day



  28. Links 22/9/2016: Red Hat's Latest Results, GNOME 3.22 Released

    Links for the day



  29. The Patent Law Firms in the US Relentlessly Lobby for Software Patents Resurgence by Placing Emphasis Only on Rare Outcomes

    Decisions against software patents continue to be ignored or intentionally overlooked by patent law firms, which instead saturate the media with the few cases where courts unexpectedly rule in favour of software patents



  30. Links 21/9/2016: Lenovo Helps Microsoft Block GNU/Linux Installations

    Links for the day


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