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10.04.18

Microsoft’s Patent Trolls Are Alive and Well, Seeding Destruction Among Microsoft’s Competition

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 5:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono with teeth

Summary: Richard Lloyd shows that Intellectual Ventures continues to distribute its patents, sometimes to patent trolls from Texas (e.g. Dominion Harbor) and sometimes to others; Finjan, another Microsoft-funded troll, is fighting to salvage its software patents while suing Microsoft’s rivals in the security space

THE ABUSES of the EPO are only outweighed in severity by the protection racket of Microsoft; the latest incarnation of this protection racket of Microsoft is known as "IP Advantage". To receive ‘protection’ from Microsoft and its trolls one needs to pay monthly rental fees to Microsoft (Azure), even if one is a GNU/Linux user. Microsoft did something similar a decade ago with Novell. Back then too the marketing term “Advantage” was (mis)used spuriously.

“Microsoft did something similar a decade ago with Novell. Back then too the marketing term “Advantage” was (mis)used spuriously.”The phenomenon known as patent trolls has waned in the US, but it is not gone. Trolls’ booster Richard Lloyd (IAM) won’t say it in these words, but the trolls he covers (and loves, as some pay his salary) are losing hope, money, and morale. The US is finally nailing them.

Based on the latest update from Dallas (Texas), the USPTO continues to grant fake patents or software patents by the bucketloads (and Iancu makes these things worse). Some of these patents get granted to trolls and Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures is imploding, having already passed thousands of its patents to other trolls in Texas. As Lloyd has just put it:

Intellectual Ventures is in the process of selling its third Invention Investment Fund, in a further indication of how the giant NPE is scaling back its business. IAM understands that the buyer is Micron. The sale has been confirmed to IAM by three separate sources, with a fourth identifying the US-based semiconductor giant as the buyer. IV declined to comment for this story.

For the iconic [sic] NPE, the sale is another step in its disposal programme which has ramped up significantly in recent years as it looks to whittle down a portfolio that at one point totalled over 35,000 individual patents. It is also a reflection of how much the climate has changed for IV’s investors – which for the third fund included Microsoft and Sony – with suggestions that several have become increasingly uncomfortable with a monetisation strategy based around assertion.

[...]

For its part, as well as upping its rate of disposals, Intellectual Ventures has also seen a significant amount of flux among its senior leadership with Van Arsdale, a key player in many recent deals, announcing last month that he is leaving the business.

While many in the patent community will seize on this latest news as another sign of IV’s decline, with a portfolio that still makes it one of the largest patent owners in the US and many of the assets being sold to assertion entities, it remains a potent force for now.

They also still target, sometimes with lawsuits, Microsoft’s competition.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft-backed and Microsoft-financed patent troll Finjan (last covered here yesterday) is trying to salvage its fake patents and here’s a new press release that they’ve paid to distribute through expensive wires to investors (there are actually shareholders willing to invest in trolls still). It’s about a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes review (IPR):

Finjan Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FNJN), and its subsidiary, Finjan, Inc. (“Finjan”), today announced that the USPTO, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) entered a decision on appeal (Appeal 2018-007444) in favor of Finjan, and reversed Examiner’s rejection of certain challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,015,182 (the “’182 Patent”) on reexamination.

Based on 35 U.S.C. § 101 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) many of Finjan’s patents are fake patents; Finjan is really afraid of them being tested. The Federal Circuit already squashed many of them (except one) and if Finjan is left with no patents it would be rendered worthless and maybe declare bankruptcy (at long last). Of course Finjan can always just ask other Microsoft trolls to sell it some new patents; Finjan got some dubious patents from IBM last year and Finjan has since then ramped its legal assault on Microsoft’s rivals.

Patent troll Uniloc was paid by Microsoft after long legal battles and nowadays it constantly goes after Apple, wishing for another pot of gold. Unified Patents fired back (files IPRs) and Apple continues to antagonise, resulting in another lawsuit as AppleInsider has just reported: (it happened yesterday)

Patent troll Uniloc returned to form on Wednesday after a months-long hiatus from lobbing allegations against Apple, this time challenging the company’s AirDrop file sharing technology with a 2006 Philips patent.

We pity the people who still believe or suddenly believe that Microsoft has changed. If anything, it has only changed for the worse; it’s more subtle in its attacks and is nowadays attacking less directly and infiltrating organisations it wishes to destroy. That’s what they must mean by the “new Microsoft”.

06.01.18

Three Years After Openwashing Its Patents Panasonic Gives These Patents to Patent Trolls

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 1:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A reminder of how worthless and futile patent pledges can be in practice

Panasonic

Summary: Panasonic has begun feeding large patent trolls and a Microsoft-connected law firm frames the victims of Microsoft’s patent trolls as the principal threat, not the trolls themselves

REMEMBER Novell’s promises regarding patents? Well, Microsoft has those patents now (they’re under CPTN). What about Red Hat, which claims to have established a patent “standstill” with Microsoft?

“Basically, all those patent pledges or promises are worthless; they’re a way of keeping one’s cake while eating it in the back room.”Well, Red Hat is still pursuing actual software patents at the USPTO. What does that tell us about Red Hat? Truth be told, the only way to ensure these patents don’t pose a danger is to altogether eliminate them, not make some pledges (mere words on paper that can be thrown away in case of a takeover, even if not especially a hostile takeover). Basically, all those patent pledges or promises are worthless; they’re a way of keeping one’s cake while eating it in the back room. They reserve the right to pass such patents around.

Not too long ago Panasonic was openwashing its patents. We were highly sceptical of Panasonic at the time and very critical of all the media which repeated the claims from Panasonic. It turns out that we were right because Panasonic finally gives a lot of these to patent trolls. Re-armament by Canada’s truly massive patent troll WiLAN has just been reported in this press release; the patents are handed over to a subsidiary (proxy) of the troll:

Wi-LAN Inc. (“WiLAN”), a Quarterhill Inc.(“Quarterhill”) company (TSX: QTRH) (NASDAQ: QTRH), today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Security Video Camera Systems, Inc., has acquired a portfolio of patents from Panasonic Corporation (“Panasonic”). The portfolio contains 34 patent families comprising 96 patents worldwide. The acquisition was made under WiLAN’s partnership program which features the sharing of revenues generated from a licensing program.

We wrote about Wi-LAN last month; Canada needs to get these thugs under control.

Meanwhile, as per this Microsoft-connected firm (Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. is the firm of Microsoft’s former patent chief), “Cloud Cybersecurity Solutions Under Siege From Patents, Again: Cybersecurity Companies Protect Customers From Malicious Attacks, But Can They Protect Themselves?”

Jonathan Barnard writes (at the very end):

Regardless of the outcome in this case, the question still remains–while companies like Symantec and Trend Micro continue to protect their customers from malicious cloud-based cyber-attacks, can they protect themselves from the continued onslaught of competitor-based lawsuits? Trend Micro may have an “easier” time protecting its cybersecurity solutions and IP as it’s currently only facing patent infringement litigation on one front from CUPP. The task may prove more difficult for cybersecurity giant Symantec however, since in addition to playing defense in a patent infringement lawsuit against Finjan, it’s also playing offense by enforcing several of its own web security, threat prevention, and antivirus patents against other cybersecurity competitors like Zscaler.

Funny how this Microsoft-connected firm neglects to mention the Microsoft-funded patent troll Finjan (in the same space, security) until the very end. They make some of the victims of this troll (i.e. companies that actually make something) seem like the biggest risk. Isn’t that an odd reversal? A self-serving one for sure…

04.22.18

The EPO is Dying and Those Who Have Killed It Are Becoming Very Rich in the Process

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We wouldn’t be surprised if Campinos became known/remembered as the EPO’s last President (ever), just like Ron Hovsepian at Novell

French patent office
The EPO is a French patent office. When quality does not matter it’s just another French patent office (like INPI), run mostly by French people who are connected to Battistelli.

Summary: Following the footsteps of Ron Hovsepian at Novell, Battistelli at the EPO (along with Team Battistelli) may mean the end of the EPO as we know it (or the end altogether); one manager and a cabal of confidants make themselves obscenely rich by basically sacrificing the very organisation they were entrusted to serve

THE EPO is so out of control that examiners must give up any genuine ambition of doing their job properly, as per the EPC.

A trusted source wrote to tell us about Battistelli’s “last present,” saying that he now decides to “make it two times harder to refuse applications.” This comes from a reliable source.

We have been hearing and reading similar things for quite some time, but it only seems to get worse over time. The vision of endless growth is misguided and it’s bound to cause massive layoffs some time soon. The Office and by extension the Organisation is in disarray. It cannot survive like this. But Office management has tenures and can just ‘move on’ when the Office implodes (probably after management rewarding itself with lots of massive bonuses) and the Organisation is occupied/dominated by people from national patent offices, so the death of the EPO might actually be good for them in the long run.

“A trusted source wrote to tell us about Battistelli’s “last present,” saying that he now decides to “make it two times harder to refuse applications.” This comes from a reliable source.”Are we seeing the end time of the Office? Do not be misled by the constant lies from Battistelli, who according to a recent poll has single-digit approval rates among stakeholders and his choice of succession (another Frenchman, Campinos) is cause for optimism for just 1 in 7 stakeholders. The EPO, to us at least, seems like the failed organisations we covered before. In 2006 until around 2010 we wrote thousands of articles about Novell right here in this Web site; Novell quickly imploded after it had signed a submissive patent deal with Microsoft. We now see the same symptoms at the EPO, with management granting itself humongous wages, pay rises, bonuses etc. while staff gets laid off and business runs dry. Prior to 2006 I was a huge fan of Novell and SUSE, but when a manager called Ron Hovsepian took over he rapidly destroyed Novell, wrongly assuming that patents would somehow save the company; at the end they got picked up by Microsoft. Wikipedia calls CPTN “a consortium of technology companies led by Microsoft that acquired a portfolio of 882 patents as part of the sale of Novell to Attachmate” and we we wrote a lot about it. Mr. Hovsepian became a very rich man while he destroyed the company; the same is true for Battistelli right now.

“An Office which controls the Boards of Appeal (like Battistelli does) is an instrument which totally lacks oversight.”Putting aside the Novell analogy (I dedicated 4 years of my life to covering that), how about IP Kat? It doesn’t even write so much nowadays (this year) and sometimes it seems like IP Kat is on the same side as patent trolls, more so after its founder (Jeremy) left. It’s like the blog is run by Bristows (Team UPC), which now does this multi-part puff piece about a Microsoft-connected think tank called Fordham IP.

Where’s their coverage of EPO matters? EPO scandals?

The Boards of Appeal at the EPO are complaining that they are understaffed, besieged, and even abused. IP Kat‘s Eibhlin Vardy managed to write something that overlooks all this, courtesy of lawyers from Kilburn & Strode:

The EPO is not this GuestKat’s natural habitat, and so she was glad to be reminded of the consultation on the new rules of procedures of the Boards of Appeal from Katfriend Gwilym Roberts of Kilburn & Strode.

Nothing has been said about the complaints from the Boards of Appeal (just a day or two beforehand). How come? The EPO wrote: “We look forward to receiving your comments on proposed changes to our appeal procedure.”

This is the sort of fluff that IP Kat is repeating. Well, the Boards of Appeal actually complain, but this is how the EPO framed it: “2017 was a year of growth for the EPO Boards of Appeal in terms of their overall quantitative performance.”

Growth?

Battistelli has shrunk them. They complain about understaffing.

At IP Kat (the way it’s run nowadays) the comments are, as usual, better than the posts. “A friend of the Boards” who is the sole commenter wrote:

It is a bit easy to complain that the boards are slow. They are slow due to the fact that the BA are dramatically understaffed, and everybody knows the cause of this understaffing. Even if from July 2018 onwards the staffing level may slowly get back to normal, so that the backlog can be brought to a decent level, this will take years. And here the BA are not to blame!

In the last three years the backlog has grown by 500 files/year. On the 31.12 of the following years the backlog was: 7907 in 2015, 8418 in 2016 and 8 946 in 2017.

In their present version the RPBA are in place since 2005, so it cannot said that they come as a surprise. Neither the fact that any request filed at the BA should be substantiated.

The bulk of the amendments proposed is simply to codify the recent case law of the BA in matters of procedure. But one stance which is established now for many years, will not change: it is fatal to wait to go to the BA to file requests which could have been filed earlier. Nothing new under the sun!

When one looks at T 2046/14, it is a prime example of how the attitude of an applicant can be detrimental to its interests by not being pro-active. In this case, it is no surprise that the patent has been revoked as the MR, AR 1 and 2, as well as AR 6-8 were all offending Art 123(2), reason for which the patent was revoked by the OD. AR 3-5 filed when entering appeal where not defended before the OD, and were filed without any substantiation as to why they would overcome the objections under Art 123(2). AR 9 was filed during OP when the decision had fallen that none of the preceding requests were not allowable and/or not admitted. AR 10-12, totally new requests, were filed when entering appeal and no reasons where given as to why they could overcome the objections. On top of it, they were divergent.

All those late filed requests were dealt with under the present RPBA, which already have enough bite.

As far as preliminary opinions are concerned, the vast majority of BA are already informing the parties about their opinion, but I doubt that they will ever become binding, or they will have to deal with all objections raised in the procedure.

Minutes of first instance are already playing an important role. For example the BA looks at them when an alleged procedural violation is brought in. In the absence of reaction of the party to the minutes, the substantial procedural violation is generally dismissed. But in any case, the BA cannot order an amendment to the minutes, and they have never done, for the simple reason they were not present.

However, this brings in a problem. The minutes of the OP before the first instance are not part of the decision as such, and hence not open to appeal. They are actually the property of the minute writer and of the countersigning officer. You may even request an OP for attempting to amend the minutes, but it is left to the discretion of the signatories of the minutes whether they want to amend them or not. As said the BA cannot force a change to the minutes. Looking at cases, most of the requests to amend minutes are not successful and the new rule will not change a lot.

An Office which controls the Boards of Appeal (like Battistelli does) is an instrument which totally lacks oversight. This is why Battistelli can keep looting the budget/coffers, grant lots of bogus monopolies (like a drunken maniac on a money-printing or patent-printing machine), hire friends and their family members, and nobody will say or do a thing to stop him, not even when helping himself to the cookie jar ('bonuses'). Those who attempt to say something can end up like Judge Corcoran or key staff like Els Hardon — a cautionary couple of tales for sure. The EPO is dysfunctional beyond repair.

“Those who attempt to say something can end up like Judge Corcoran or key staff like Els Hardon — a cautionary couple of tales for sure.”The modus operandi at play here is a rather familiar one; we saw that not only in Novell. It is very common in financial institutions where a manager or a small bunch of managers take massive risks (at the company’s or shareholders’ expense), e.g. toxic, high-risk loans. They know it’s a bubble that will inevitably implode, causing the business to collapse. But on this road to the collapse it seems like they bring about explosive quarter-to-quarter growth, so they give themselves many successive bonuses, probably stash these somewhere offshore and when the business goes bankrupt and all the staff gets laid off they just can’t care less; nobody will go after their hidden money or demand back these bonuses. They become obscenely rich/ridiculously well-defended by expensive and well-connected law firms and probably never have to pursue a job anywhere anymore. Generally speaking, destruction of an organisation for self enrichment is a widely known phenomenon with many known examples of it. Just to be clear, the way it usually works is, a person does not intentionally strive for destruction but simply prioritises making oneself (and friends/spouse/other) rich, so if that priority/priorities necessitates destruction, then so be it. This is why accountability or impartial audit structures must exist. The EPO deprecated these under Battistelli.

05.12.17

Our Assessment: Unitary Patent (UPC) Will Crumble Along With Battistelli’s Regime at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Novell, Patents at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Better days will come, but it might be too late to save the jobs of examiners (and hence the EPO as we knew it, with some of the brightest minds of Europe)

Nice sunset
Keep hope…

Summary: A reflection and an opinion on where the EPO stands and what it means for the UPC, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere (it’s all talk and lobbying)

READERS often ask what can be done to repair and redeem the EPO amid endless scandals and abuses committed by the management. Readers are almost always more pessimistic than us; we’re not overly optimistic but we are certainly seeing progress in the right direction (e.g. most member states voting in favour of ousting Battistelli, Kongstad being allegedly pushes out by the Danish government and more). It’s a long, tiring process that requires patience; I wrote many thousands of articles about Novell, for example, and eventually, after 4 years of activism, the company virtually died. Some prominent developers attributed the company’s demise to Techrights. I have already experienced this kind of process, which typically requires a lot of patience and eventually triggers departures (resignations, early retirements etc.) at the very top. It’s already happening at the EPO (Ciaran McGinley, Minnoye, Kongstad and so on) and Team Battistelli signals a run for the money, which is another symptom of collapse (people trying to secure their post-career savings, pensions and so on).

“It’s a long, tiring process that requires patience; I wrote many thousands of articles about Novell, for example, and eventually, after 4 years of activism, the company virtually died.”A translation of a Telegraaf report about the EPO was published today or yesterday by SUEPO. It’s the Dutch newspaper that accused Battistelli of "terror" half a year ago and here is a translation of this latest article, citing again those memorable accusations of “terror”:

Complaint against the State concerning problems at Patent Office

RIJSWIJK – The European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk is the subject of discussion once again due to problems on the workfloor. Two trade unions at the international organisation, where a striking number of employees committed suicide in 2014, have submitted a complaint against the Netherlands. The reason: violation of the right to access to the courts.

At the EPO, which employs a few thousand people, there has been talk of a culture of intimidation by the management for years, resulting in serious damage to the working atmosphere within the organisation. “The management is also making it impossible for the trade unions to effectively represent the interests of their members,” says lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld. “Although an organisation like the Patent Office enjoys immunity from jurisdiction under normal circumstances, this does not apply if the trade unions have no effective legal remedy to raise the problems. In accordance with established case law at the European Court, a national court can adopt jurisdiction in this case.”

SEE ALSO: Concerns about ’terror’ at Patent Office

On Tuesday, Zegveld submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. “As a signatory state, the Netherlands is obliged to ensure that the European Treaty is guaranteed on its territory. Instead of this, violations of human rights are being covered up.”

The issue at the Patent Office is in fact being debated in the Dutch House of Representatives today.

The organisation has now been led with a firm hand for years by the French despot Benoît Battistelli. State Secretary Van Dam (Economic Affairs) stated at the end of last year that he would be keeping a finger on the pulse at the Patent Office.

We predict or project that Battistelli will only end his term if the delegates are ‘generous’ enough to believe it’s somehow acceptable to let him carry on because he’s already near the end of his second term. Having said that, he will never see the UPC come to fruition, meaning that 8 years at the helm will have ended up as a miserable failure.

“We predict or project that Battistelli will only end his term if the delegates are ‘generous’ enough to believe it’s somehow acceptable to let him carry on because he’s already near the end of his second term.”Based on comments received earlier today, EPO insiders have been exposed to more Kool-Aid than most. Who knows, maybe Battistelli ‘pulls a Flint’ and lets that Kool-Aid slip into the water supply of the Isar or even the Isar building. Either way, we are gratified to see more people (even former Kats) openly recognising that one side of the argument over UPC has been muzzled, left out, suppressed etc. Quite a few of these former Kats are not optimistic about the UPC compared to the Kats who virtually took over that blog. Some of them are too shy to speak about it publicly, but there is broad realisation that the UPC is sort of stuck. Found today [via Benjamin Henrion] was this podcast about “Insight Into Litigation Before the UPC”, a new UPC puff piece promoted by a law firm, and various responses to it (from Francisco Moreno too), e.g. explaining that we “could revert all those 10 reasons to support the UPC” (rewriting the lobbying-type headline from Withers & Rogers — a firm whose actions would harm British businesses).

“For UK businesses,” it claims, “there is a clear advantage to being able to litigate in one’s mother tongue. This will be possible at all UPC hearings…”

“The truth of the matter is, the UPC is built very loosely on a pile of lies.”First of all, the UK isn’t in the UPC (Brexit makes that pretty much impossible) but perhaps more importantly, not many British companies would pursue litigation abroad (where they don’t operate) and they would be very much exposed to more litigation from other countries (if not other continents). Funny how they don’t mention that…

The truth of the matter is, the UPC is built very loosely on a pile of lies. Some of the lies are truly incredible and are complete reversals of the truth! Here is Francisco Moreno highlighting the next UPC think tank, which claims “[d]iversity of views and opinion” (an utter lie. Battistelli and Team UPC clearly misportray their lobbying event).

As Henrion pointed out, “they never invite the critics. Yet another echo chamber with the usual suspects.”

“If anyone knows who is likely to replace Kongstad, please do get in touch with us as close scrutiny of the candidates would help guide the choice made by delegates (most of whom already want Battistelli kicked out).”See the screenshot. Yes, that’s Battistelli right there and the “Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court conference” in Munich will cost ‘only’ €600 for one single day! Talk about barrier to outside participation. With Battistelli in there, we are reminded of the fact that he is the person to blame for chaos inside and outside the EPO. He wanted to become the ‘face’ of UPC and instead he will be immortalised as a horrible dictator who crashed the EPO.

Will Battistelli manage to rewrite the rules to make himself eligible for another term (he was ineligibly even for the current term, due to his age and political activity)? Will he use the failure of the UPC as an excuse for buying more time? One sure thing is, the EPO’s management is crumbling right now. Minnoye is leaving soon (we’ll have a departure ‘gift’ for him), Battistelli’s popularity is at an all-time low (probably in the history of the EPO as a whole), and the Council is prospectively headless. If anyone knows who is likely to replace Kongstad, please do get in touch with us as close scrutiny of the candidates would help guide the choice made by delegates (most of whom already want Battistelli kicked out).

02.27.17

As Long as Software Patents Are Granted and Microsoft Equips Trolls With Them, “Azure IP Advantage” is an Attack on Free/Libre Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 3:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This definitely impacts GNU/Linux when Microsoft shamelessly passes Nokia‘s patents, for instance, to active patent trolls

Email cache proves Turkish oil minister’s links to Isis oil trade, WikiLeaks claims
Pay us or face the consequences? Terror tactics or Mafia tactics?

Summary: Microsoft is feeding enemies of GNU/Linux and Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) in order to sell its ‘protection’, which it names “IP Advantage” in a rather Orwellian fashion (same naming as back in the Novell days)

SOFTWARE patents are the most potent threat to Free/libre software. As we noted here just over a fortnight ago, Microsoft continues to use software patents to divide and conquer Free/libre software, essentially dividing it based on “safe” and “unsafe” (from litigation over patents). It’s that classic modus operandi that goes along the lines of, “pay us, or terrible things will happen…”

Corporate Counsel, a very popular site among lawyers, decided to write about Microsoft’s de facto attack (as above) but missed the main point. Having caught up with it nearly 3 weeks later, the summary (article’s body is behind walled gardens) says “Microsoft’s conversations with customers have led it to tackle an emerging risk through Azure IP Advantage, but others say the ‘umbrella’ program may not yet be legal necessity.”

“Microsoft can try to increase perceived and/or actual threat, making the only “safe” option for hosting of Free/libre software the option which is monthly payments to Microsoft (Azure subscription/veiled patent royalties).”Microsoft can send or unleash its many patent trolls (named here over the years, as recently as months ago) to make it more of a “legal necessity.” Microsoft can try to increase perceived and/or actual threat, making the only “safe” option for hosting of Free/libre software the option which is monthly payments to Microsoft (Azure subscription/veiled patent royalties). This strategy was last explained here two weeks ago and it shouldn’t be too hard to understand. It’s similar to what Microsoft attempted over a decade ago with Novell. We wrote literally thousands of articles on this topic. It doesn’t take a patent strategist to grasp it.

The threat of software patents is still very much real, in spite of Alice (whose impact can end as soon as SCOTUS under Trump revisits the matter, caving in to anti-§ 101 lobbyists).

“The threat of software patents is still very much real, in spite of Alice (whose impact can end as soon as SCOTUS under Trump revisits the matter, caving in to anti-§ 101 lobbyists).”Just in the past few days alone we saw patent maximalists from Greenberg Traurig promoting software patents [1, 2], among other things. They definitely want software patents back and they relentlessly work towards that goal, as we show here almost every day. They keep setting up more and more front groups for that purpose and they try to scandalise public officials whom they don’t agree with. They essentially try to oust reformers.

Software patents in the US are still being advertised; they are also still being celebrated in press releases, e.g. this new one (aside from that other press release about their activity in Texas) which says “Jigsaw, a leading provider of virtual training and education technology, recently became the first e-learning software to receive a patent for its game-changing, multi-dimensional learning solution. The patent, granted December 20, 2016, was especially noteworthy, as software patents of any kind are difficult to acquire and only infrequently approved by the U.S. Patent Office. Jigsaw’s proprietary technology proved itself unique not only among virtual learning tools, but among all software products.”

“Recall what, in the area of server-side security, the Microsoft-connected (financed, like Blackboard) Finjan had done until as recently as earlier this year.”They sound like another Blackboard-like entity, which probably intends to sue the competition, including Free/libre software (remember the sabre-rattling and patent lawsuits from the Microsoft-connected Blackboard).

Here is another new press release which speaks about newly-granted software patents:

IOMAXIS LLC, a leader in innovative computing and communication technologies, announced today that it has been granted two new patents for novel security approaches in the area of cloud-based computing by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patents, which give the company ownership of two unique approaches to identifying threats in cloud-computing environments, serve as part of IOMAXIS’ new cloud security practice. The establishment of the new practice provides commercial and federal clients unparalleled protection from internal and external threats within cloud-computing environments.

Recall what, in the area of server-side security, the Microsoft-connected (financed, like Blackboard) Finjan had done until as recently as earlier this year.

“If they start to sue and shake down more of these companies, raising the temperature in the room and making managers sweat a little, will Microsoft then step in to offer “Azure IP Advantage” for “intellectual property peace of mind” (a term it used ad infinitum back in the Novell days)?”Let it be emphasised in case it’s not obvious. There are many entities out there, both large and small (as large as the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures), which are strongly connected to Microsoft and are habitually threatening, using software patents of course, Free/libre software projects and companies that develop/distribute/deploy/support/maintain these. If they start to sue and shake down more of these companies, raising the temperature in the room and making managers sweat a little, will Microsoft then step in to offer “Azure IP Advantage” for “intellectual property peace of mind” (a term it used ad infinitum back in the Novell days)?

02.09.17

Microsoft Offers That Infamous “IP Peace of Mind” to Free/Open Source Software Users as Long as They Pay Rents to Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old tricks, new sheep’s clothing (don't change tactics, just market them better!)

Gates on SUSE

Summary: Having disguised Android and Chrome OS patent settlements as OEM "bundling" deals (preinstalling Microsoft spyware), Microsoft now comes up with a new way to market its “protection” (of FOSS it didn’t even develop) from patent trolls, which requires that people pay Microsoft a subscription fee

LAST NIGHT, just before midnight, people started sending links like this or the original from Microsoft. It is despicable and it “does not work against trolls,” as Benjamin Henrion pointed out to me. In short, a massive patent troll claims that it offers protection from trolls and it’s all over the news, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4] (a near-exhaustive list of articles is not needed because there are many articles like these that are puff pieces). Not all the above was composed by Microsoft boosters, but it started from Microsoft and then Microsoft boosters, who probably coordinated this with Microsoft’s PR agencies before or during the charm offensive.

“What Microsoft basically says here is, use only our services (and pay us every month) for using Free/Open Source software that we did not even develop — only threatened and occasionally attacked — then enjoy “IP Peace of Mind” (or else we and our patent trolls will sue you with software patents).”Microsoft has got some nerve doing this; the company operates its own in-house patent troll (plus peripheral ones); it regularly attacks GNU/Linux with patents, yet now it pretends to be “defensive”? Or pretends to combat trolls? It doesn’t get any more laughable than this. This is the same company that keeps expounding and repeating the lie that it “loves [GNU/]Linux” (while constantly attacking GNU/Linux, GNU/Linux vendors and GNU/Linux advocates behind the scenes — we still have some new stories about that on the way).

What Microsoft basically says here is, use only our services (and pay us every month) for using Free/Open Source software that we did not even develop — only threatened and occasionally attacked — then enjoy “IP Peace of Mind” (or else we and our patent trolls will sue you with software patents). Microsoft already did this with Novell a decade ago. It’s not a new trick. It perpetually said, buy SUSE (pay us for patents) or risk lawsuits. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer even directly threatened Red Hat and its customers. He publicly said: “People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”

“Just because Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation (slush funds; that’s all it takes to ‘join’) doesn’t mean that Microsoft suddenly “loves [GNU/]Linux” or that all is OK now.”Dozens of new (or “news”) articles about Microsoft and patent trolls are currently googlebombing (filling up the indexes for searches), distracting from Microsoft as the patent troll or a ‘puppetmaster’ of trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. If this wasn’t the real purpose of this PR charade, then maybe it’s a side perk. Incidentally, the other day Linux Journal published an article about Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux. It started like this:

From vs. to + for Microsoft and [GNU/]Linux

In November 2016, Microsoft became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation, the primary sponsor of top-drawer Linux talent (including Linus), as well as a leading organizer of [GNU/]Linux conferences and source of [GNU/]Linux news.

Does it matter that Microsoft has a long history of fighting [GNU/]Linux with patent claims? Seems it should. Run a Google search for “microsoft linux patents”, and you’ll get almost a half-million results, most of which raise questions. Is Microsoft now ready to settle or drop claims? Is this about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer? Is it just a seat at a table it can’t hurt Microsoft to sit at?

Just because Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation (slush funds; that’s all it takes to ‘join’) doesn’t mean that Microsoft suddenly “loves [GNU/]Linux” or that all is OK now. From what we’re able to see, Microsoft is now trying to distinguish its offerings based on perceived protection from a problem that it itself created. People should be disgusted; nobody should praise Microsoft for this. Microsoft is again dividing the community; there’s the ‘protected’ option and the ‘under threat’ (of litigation) option.

OpenSUSE’s (or SUSE’s) Refusal to Publicly Acknowledge It Got Cracked Shows Face-Saving Arrogance Just Like Novell’s

Posted in Deception, Novell, OpenSUSE, Security, Servers, SLES/SLED at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUSE (or MicroFocus) won’t even tell customers when its systems are in fact compromised

Novell cuffs

Summary: The same old and very notorious behaviour we found in Novell persists at SUSE under MicroFocus leadership; security neglected and keeping up appearances more important than honesty

TECHRIGHTS wrote many thousands of articles about Novell. We know Novell extremely well and we have documented its terrible behaviour for over half a decade, well before we began focusing on the EPO for example. As we shall show later, in a separate post, Microsoft’s and Novell’s “IP Peace of Mind” is making a comeback (as of last night), but right now we wish to focus on the crack I first wrote about on Monday (it has since then generated some press coverage, e.g. [1-3] below).

“Remember that no evidence has been presented by SUSE and moreover the gross negligence here is a bad sign in general.”A lot of people still miss the key point. IDG even went ahead with a rather misleading headline, as did Softpedia; rather than state the actual news (that OpenSUSE got cracked) the title says or overstates the ‘damage control’ from SUSE, diverting attention to what was not affected rather than what was affected (a politician’s trick). We used to see lots of that kind of spin back in the Novell days and the 2 articles below, having sought comment from SUSE, give SUSE the benefit of the doubt here. Remember that no evidence has been presented by SUSE and moreover the gross negligence here is a bad sign in general. That’s just “faith-based” security. My article about it was so short that it was mostly a screenshot, yet we understand that further coverage is on its way. So let’s elaborate a little. “They were using an outdated version of WordPress and got zapped,” one person wrote to me after I had published my findings. “It was just the front-end, no code was touched.” But says who? SUSE? Can we believe them?

“Nobody has yet covered that issue as properly as we hoped (poor security practices at SUSE) and the fact that they COMPLETELY FAILED or refused to publicly acknowledge what had happened is a serious aspect of it.”Whatever caused the defacement, it shows that they lost control of their platform. They did get cracked. Softpedia reported that “openSUSE devs immediately restored the news.opensuse.org website from a recent backup” (so the back end too appears to have been compromised).

Nobody has yet covered that issue as properly as we hoped (poor security practices at SUSE) and the fact that they COMPLETELY FAILED or refused to publicly acknowledge what had happened is a serious aspect of it. We waited patiently to see if an announcement would be made by then, even a reassurance that users should not worry. But nothing came out! To this date (half a week later). They attempted to cover it up, which is BAD BAD BAD. For a so-called “Enterprise-Grade” thing which SUSE tries to market itself as (selling SLE*) this is a serious breach of trust. Who would trust SUSE now?

“If someone injected a back door inside SLED and SLES, SUSE would probably say not a thing, only belatedly removing it and then lying about the whole thing, just like Microsoft does.”3 news sites and my own site wrote about it, but not a single word has been uttered by SUSE. They know they got cracked and they are not telling anyone, except when journalists ask them for comment (and press them with evidence).

OpenSUSE has a history of security issues in its sites (see “openSUSE Forum Hacked; 79500 Users Data Compromised” from 2014). Where are the reporters who are willing to ask SUSE some tough questions? Don’t let this slide. If someone injected a back door inside SLED and SLES, SUSE would probably say not a thing, only belatedly removing it and then lying about the whole thing, just like Microsoft does.

In the news:

  1. Kurdish Hacker Posts Anti-ISIS Message on openSUSE’s Website, Data Remains Safe

    Softpedia was informed by Dr. Roy Schestowitz that the openSUSE News (news.opensuse.org) website got defaced by Kurdish hacker MuhmadEmad on the day of February 6, 2017.

    It would appear that the server where the news.opensuse.org website is hosted is isolated from the rest of openSUSE’s infrastructure, which means that the hacker did not have access to any contributor data, such as email and passwords, nor to the ISO images of the openSUSE Linux operating system.

    We already talked with openSUSE Chairman Richard Brown, who confirms for Softpedia that the offered openSUSE downloads remain safe and consistent, and users should not worry about anything. The vigilant openSUSE devs immediately restored the news.opensuse.org website from a recent backup, so everything is operating normally at this time.

  2. OpenSUSE site hacked; quickly restored

    The openSUSE team acted quickly to restore the site. When I talked to Richard Brown, openSUSE chairman, he said that “the server that hosts ‘news.opensuse.org’ is isolated from the majority of openSUSE infrastructure by design, so there was no breach of any other part of openSUSEs infrastructure, especially our build, test and download systems. Our offered downloads remain safe and consistent and there was no breach of any openSUSE contributor data.”

    The team is still investigating the reason for the breach so I don’t have much information. The site ran a WordPress install and it seems that WordPress was compromised.

    This site is not managed by the SUSE or openSUSE team. It is handled by the IT team of MicroFocus. However, Brown said that SUSE management certainly doesn’t want any such incident to happen again and they are considering moving the site to the infrastructure managed by SUSE and openSUSE team.

  3. Best Distros, openSUSE Whoops, Debian 9 One Step Closer

    In the latest Linux news, the news.opensuse.org got hacked and displayed “KurDish HaCk3rS WaS Here” for a while Monday and while the site has been restored, no comment on the hack has been issued. Elsewhere, Debian 9.0 has entered its final freeze in the last steps in preparations for release. FOSS Force has named their winner for top distro of 2016 and Swapnil Bhartiya shared his picks for the best for 2017. Blogger DarkDuck said MX-16 Xfce is “very close to the ideal” and Alwan Rosyidi found Solus OS is giving Elementary OS a run for its money. Phoronix.com’s Michael Larabel explained why he uses Fedora and Jeremy Garcia announced the winners of the 2016 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards.

    [...]

    openSUSE’s news portal was compromised Monday by a hacker or group of hackers called MuhmadEmad, via the message left in its place. A Kurdish flag with the message “HaCkeD by MuhmadEmad – KurDish HaCk3rS WaS Here” was displayed for hours before it was taken down and the site’s content restored. Roy Schestowitz has a screen capture and said that openSUSE has not yet publicly acknowledged the hack. Swapnil Bhartiya spoke to Richard Brown, openSUSE chairman, who said that site was isolated from most SUSE infrastructure, especially the distribution code. There was no breach of any contributor data either. The site in question is run by MicroFocus, but all are investigating to make sure it’s an isolated incident.

06.27.16

Techrights (Almost) at 10: From Software Patents to Novell and to Present Focus on EPO

Posted in Apple, Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Patents at 9:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A weak and/or incompetent EPO would harm everyone in the world

10 dollars

Summary: A short story about how and why we ended up writing so much about the European Patent Office (EPO) and the impact beyond Europe

THE EPO has become a subject of considerable debate and focus here. It started around 2014 after we had primarily focused on the US patent system, the USPTO.

For those who have not been reading the site since its inception, here is a short introduction.

I had been a GNU/Linux advocate well before this site existed and an opponent of software patents (not patents as a whole) for a little longer than that. People who have themselves developed software don’t find it difficult to understand why copyrights, not patents, are suitable protection for one’s work (protection from plagiarism, misuse, misattribution, and so on).

The earliest goal of the site, back almost 10 years ago, was to end the software patents assault by Microsoft against GNU/Linux and Free software in general — an assault which began if not publicly culminated with the Microsoft/Novell patent deal. Novell took several years to decline after this deal and ultimately, unsurprisingly, Microsoft grabbed Novell’s own software patents, in a joint takeover along with Apple, Oracle, etc. These companies do not want Linux and Android to succeed, not without them being heavily taxed by the proprietary software oligopoly (Microsoft, Apple and Oracle still have ongoing patent/copyright fights against Android).

Apple’s attack on Linux (through Android) officially began in 2010, whereupon we wrote a great deal about Apple and shortly afterwards Oracle joined this war. It had already shown some hostility towards Red Hat, just shortly before the Microsoft/Novell deal in 2006.

For those who are not yet seeing a pattern, let it be spelled out clearly; the rise of Free software and GNU/Linux gave power to new actors such as Google, which made proper use of Free software in order to build back- and front-end stacks (databases, operating systems, AI, Web servers and so on). This meant that gadgets-selling giants, database giants, operating systems giants/monopolies etc. that were and still are proprietary (e.g. iOS, Mac OS X, Oracle, Windows) needed to either crash/crush emergent forces or tax them, using either patents or copyrights (this goes back to 2003 with the Microsoft-backed SCO assault on Linux).

Right now, in 2016, the aforementioned issues are unresolved. Microsoft is still attacking Linux (but more cleverly, with shrewdly-worded announcements that brand/frame patent settlements as bundling deals), Apple still has several patent cases against Android OEMs, and Oracle refuses to give up even after 6 years in the courtroom (against Android through Google). The cause of utmost importance here deals not only with software patents anymore but also with some design patents (Apple v Samsung) and copyright on APIs (Oracle v Google).

About 8 years ago we expressed concerns about software patents in Europe due to FRAND lobbying (from companies like Microsoft) and Brimelow’s loophole “as such”. We thereafter didn’t keep a close eye on the EPO for quite some time. Not much seemed to happen, but new kinds of abuses started to emerge and these seemed to be related to the resurrection of the “EU patent” or “community patent”, this time under a new kind of name and marketing (equating maximalism with union, unity, universality etc.) accompanied by/with repression of staff and suppression of critics. Even the staff union of the EPO, which had existed for several decades, came under unprecedented (even outside the EPO) attacks.

The reason we now focus a great deal on the EPO is that we have reasonably good understanding of the matters involved. We also have many articles on the subject, which helps us create a cohesive story with a lot of cross-referencing. Our goal now is to help other people (EPO insiders as well as politicians who are outsiders) gain an equally good understanding of why the EPO’s management must be chopped laterally and replaced en masse. It is the only way to save the EPO right now. Delegates that make up the Administrative Council probably have a good grip on the current situation, but they are afraid (or tied up by Battistelli’s hand on the budget), so they are not likely to do anything. The EPO needs somewhat of a revolution and strikes/demonstrations are steps towards that.

In the coming days we shall have a lot to write about the EPO and we will devote plenty of time and resources to ensure this historic period in the EPO is properly documented. We welcome feedback from readers and we hope that new material will continue to flow in. Now that everyone in the UK (and increasingly beyond) talks about “Brexit” it looks like Battistelli will definitely fail to deliver on his promises. He will be remembered not as a pioneer manager who compromised the rule of law for some ‘necessary’ reform but as a ruthless tyrant that shattered the EPO’s reputation for many years if not decades to come.

The EPO will outlive Battistelli and it is everyone’s job, especially at the EPO, to fight for patent quality (i.e. defy Battistelli’s ‘productivity’ obsession or lunacy). Remember that patent offices live or die (or make or break if not perish) based on the value or perceived value of their granted patents, i.e. examination that increases certainty in a court of law. Being an ENA graduate, Battistelli perhaps hopes that his predecessor will be left to deal with the aftermath of his atrocious policies (brain drain, low patent quality, reputation problems). Then the blame might be misplaced. A retired Battistelli would have little or nothing to worry about, but what about patent examiners who are far from retirement? How about retired examiners whose pension will be at risk? Given some upcoming Battistelli ‘reforms’, many people’s pensions are already at risk. This is just bad for Europe’s competitiveness across many sectors (medicine, chemistry, physics, telecommunication and many more). As patents get granted and assigned not just to European applicants (only the employees of the EPO are European), this may also means innovation will happen in the courts (lawyers’ strategies with patent trolls) rather than in the laboratories. Patent monopolies that are granted for the sake of being granted (artificially elevating some measure of EPO ‘output’) rather than to promote innovation can retard human progress as a whole.

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