Tilting at windmills

Duncan Mac-Vicar P.'s blog


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Linus Torvalds Responds To Microsoft Patent Claims

>The holder of the Linux trademark suggests Microsoft should name the patents it alleges have been violated so the claims can be tested in court.

Remarkable:

>”It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does,” said Torvalds, holder of the Linux trademark. If the source code for Windows could be subjected to the same critical review that Linux has been, Microsoft would find itself in violation of patents held by other companies, said Torvalds.

Also:

>Microsoft would prefer not to actually sue anyone, particularly a Linux user who’s also a Microsoft customer. “They’d have to name the patents then, and they’re probably happier with the FUD [fear, uncertainty, doubt] than with any lawsuit,” Torvalds predicted.

[Complete article][1].

[1]: http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=199600443


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Some quotes from the Microsoft patent FUD

There has been soime noise around an [article in Fortune Magazine][2] where Microsoft says “Linux infringes intellectual property”.

This FUD has always a especial characteristic:

* They talk about “intellectual property”, not about patents or copyright, trying to create confusion.

This FUD strategy is lead by their lawyer Horacio Gutierrez. Then they are able to say things like “Opensource has high quality because it contains Microsoft intellectual property”. As they mixed patents and copyright, this can lead people to think open source has copied Microsoft code into their programs, instead of the real fact: U.S. patent system is screwed and every obvious concept or idea is patented (like the double click of a mouse).

This is a very dirty game. The quality of the software is not very determined by the patents you implement, but how the code is implemented. Microsoft products are a good example: Lot of obvious patents (most of them invalid, as they file so many that [they end patenting “intellectual property” from other people][1]) but [horrible quality][6].

Open source software contains no code from Microsoft nor other proprietary company. This is easy to check: the code is open and available. You can’t say the same about Microsoft. Do they include open source software illegally in their products? Nobody knows. The source code is not available. This could be used as a FUD weapon, if the community would be interested in playing dirty games, of course.

Some quotes from the noise generated in the press:

From [Is Microsoft Still Just Posturing Over Open Source?][3]:

>For now, though, the most to do is continue to say “we’ll see.” Microsoft is still continuing to say things without putting court filings where its mouth is.

From [Open-source users, companies scoff at Microsoft threats][4]:

>”Microsoft is certainly not the only owner of patents in this area, and perhaps not even the owner of the largest number of patents in these areas,” he said. “Microsoft will need to be careful what it starts, given that it cannot know where this will end.”

>Lindsay, Zemlin and others also said they believe Microsoft is exploiting the patent system in the U.S. to buy time as it tries to compete in an industry where it is no longer a thought leader.

>”It’s just like with SCO Group — when they no longer had a product to sell, it started suing people,” he said. “It looks like Microsoft is throwing in the towel on trying to be innovative.”

From [Microsoft details patent breaches][5]:

>Open-source proponents are frustrated by Microsoft’s repeated allusions to patent violations because “they never say what patents being violated, never make any assertions, never put the evidence out there,” said Larry Augustin, a technology startup investor who launched SourceForge.net, a prominent open-source development site, in 1999.

>If Microsoft were to start suing, it could also kick off a patent war on a grand scale. An organization called the Open Innovation Network, funded by IBM Corp., Red Hat Inc. and others, has amassed a vast number of software patents. In the event of a Microsoft lawsuit against open source companies or customers, the OIN would retaliate in kind.

>”We believe it’s highly likely that Microsoft would infringe some of our patents,” said Jerry Rosenthal, OIN’s chief executive.

[1]: http://www.bluej.org/mrt/?p=21
[2]: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28/100033867/i…
[3]: http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/05/is_microsoft_st.html
[4]: http://www.linuxworld.com.au/index.php/id;672245206;fp;2;fpid;1
[5]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1700AP_Microsoft_Open_Source.html
[6]: http://www.google.com/search?q=windows+vista+sucks


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El “T-GOV” y las plataformas integradas de servicios públicos

Renato Jijena, un conocido abogado chileno que mezcla las leyes con la tecnología, ha escrito en [La Segunda, un árticulo que merece comentarios][1].

>Si el Estado debe permitir el acceso a los datos y documentos que le afectan o le interesan a los ciudadanos o administrados, razones de “economía de gestión” abonan que se le pueda ofrecer una opción que les permita en un sólo ámbito conectarse con todos los servicios públicos a la vez, para evitar acudir a cada servicio por separado. Previo a este objetivo, el primer paso, hacia el cual debe apuntar el plan de formación, es el de integrar a los diversos servicios públicos, lo que no resulta fácil por el diverso grado de desarrollo tecnológico de cada uno.

En este último párrafo se habla de interoperabilidad y acceso. Si vamos a los [numerosos documentos][3] de la [IDABC][4] ( Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens) así [como otras][5] investigaciones de la unión europea, o incluso [la prensa][2], podremos darnos cuenta que la estrategia de la Unión Europea tiene al open source y al software libre como una fuerte componente. ¿Las razones?

Interoperabilidad

Este es el punto central de la columna de Renato. No sirven más y más sistemas aislados, pero aqui se juega al huevo y la gallina, ya que nuevos sistemas no se pueden integrar si los antiguos no ofrecen conectividad. Hoy la tecnología ofrece muchas posilbilidades para que sistemas se interconecten.

Me sorprende que en esto estemos tan débiles, puesto que siempre que quiero comentar un tema, lo que más me cuesta encontrar son justamente, datos, estadísticas, etc. Datos públicos que deben dormir en alguna carpeta y que simplemente no puedo tener acceso digitalmente. Si estos servicios y datos se ofrecieran abiertamente, no sólo a personas sino también a sistemas, tal como Google ofrece libre acceso a fotos y mapas satelitales o a su sistema de búsqueda desde aplicaciones de terceros, sistemas tanto públicos como privados podrían interconectarse.

No creo que un sistema centralizado y único sea posible. Va en contra de la misma evolución de la Web. Pero si creo que todos los sistemas debieran estar conectados de alguna manera. Unas especies de [“mashups”][7] públicas.

Reutilización

La Unión Europea sabe que lo mejor es utilizar soluciones probadas, por eso intenta utilizar software abierto donde sea posible y se intentará que cada sistema desarrollado desde cero sea liberado bajo una licencia opensource, de modo que cualquier otro estado de la UE lo pueda reutilizar, o incluso, cualquier país.

Formatos proprietarios

Vayan hoy a cualquier sitio público y con excepción de documentos PDF, muchos documentos están en formatos proprietarios, secretos, patentados, y que requieren de software carísimo para poder ser presentados.

¿Guardaría un gobierno datos públicos en formatos digitales que sólo una empresa es capaz de decodificar? Hoy se hace. Word y Excel es una plaga en los sectores públicos. El [Open Document Format][6] se ha posicionado rápidamente en muchos países como una forma abierta de codificar datos públicos.

Utilizar formatos proprietarios para datos públicos debería considerarse discriminación al acceso a dichos datos, asi como irresponsabilidad del gobierno.

[1]: http://blogs.lasegunda.com/zona_opinion/archives/2007/03/el_t-gov_y_las.asp
[2]: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/07/08/eu_calls_for_open_source/
[3]: http://europa.eu.int/idabc/en/document/2623
[4]: http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/en/home
[5]: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/egovernment_research/index…
[6]: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument
[7]: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_%28aplicaci%C3%B3n_web_h%C3%ADbrida%29


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GPLv3 draft. C++ CRTP

A new discussion draft of the GNU GPL has been released. [Go here to see more][1]. Note the end of the Patents section in the changes guide:

>specifically granted to recipients of the covered work under this License[, unless you entered into that arrangement, or that patent license was granted, prior to March 28, 2007].

I heard for first time about the [Curiously Recurring Template Pattern][3] when I read the [Eigen library][2] webpage. Now I found [this example][4] by Bruce Eckel that makes it much clearer:

//: generics/Mixins.cpp

#include

#include

#include

using namespace std;

template<class T> class TimeStamped : public T {

  
long timeStamp;

public:

  
TimeStamped() { timeStamp = time(0); }

  
long getStamp() { return timeStamp; }

};

template<class T> class SerialNumbered : public T {

  
long serialNumber;

  static
long counter;

public:

  
SerialNumbered() { serialNumber = counter++; }

  
long getSerialNumber() { return serialNumber; }

};

// Define and initialize the static storage:

template<class T> long SerialNumbered<T>::counter = 1;

int main() {

  
TimeStamped<SerialNumbered<string> > mixin1, mixin2;

  
mixin1.append(“test string 1″); // A string method

  
mixin2.append(“test string 2″);

  
cout << mixin1 << ” ” << mixin1.getStamp() << ” ” <<

    
mixin1.getSerialNumber() << endl;

  
cout << mixin2 << ” ” << mixin2.getStamp() << ” ” <<

    
mixin2.getSerialNumber() << endl;

}

The effect you get is basically what you get with [Ruby Mixins][5].

[1]: http://gplv3.fsf.org/gpl3-dd3-guide
[2]: http://bjacob.livejournal.com/tag/kde+eigen
[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiously_Recurring_Template_Pattern
[4]: http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=132988
[5]: http://www.juixe.com/techknow/index.php/2006/06/15/mixins-in-ruby/


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More journalist crap

Some days ago I got in my google news alerts an [article from Reuters][1] titled “Novell-Could-Be-Banned-From-Selling-Linux”. I found it really interesting as most of the heat and FUD are gone since a few weeks.

Today the article was [picked by OSNews][2], and I thought “Oh no…. here we go again”.

But the OSNews story, had an update:

>Update: [The FSF claims this is being hyped][4].

So, [last week prize for research lazyness][3] was awarded to Dan Nicolae Alexa.

This week prize for FUD, and “unnecessary waves” goes to Jim Finkle.

[1]: http://www.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUSN0219839720070202
[2]: http://www.osnews.com/story.php/17153/Novell-Could-Be-Banned-From-Selling-Linux/
[3]: http://duncan.mac-vicar.com/blog/archives/172
[4]: http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS6837365670.html


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Patent retracted

I [blogged yesterday][2] about Microsoft patenting prior art. Today, they have [apologized and retracted the patent][1].

>Many thanks to the members of the community that brought this to my attention — and here’s the latest. The patent application was a mistake and one that should not have happened. To fix this, Microsoft will be removing the patent application. Our sincere apologies to Michael Kölling and the BlueJ community.'”

Ok. They did it, but? This raises lot of questions and proves lot of things.

* The U.S. software patent ecosystem is a mess.
* How many similar “stolen” ideas has Microsoft filed or patented?

Seriously I don’t believe this was a evil move from somebody trying to steal from BlueJ, but I do think this is the consequence of a business model and company culture, where they abuse an already screwed system, and try to flood the patent office with crap they even call intellectual property.

[1]: http://listserv.acm.org/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0701d&L=sigcse-members&F…


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Bastards

It seems Microsoft has not only been patenting obvious stuff lately but now they are trying to patent innovation done by other people.

* [They are trying to patent RSS readers][2]
* They copied all features of BlueJ into Visual Studio, admitted it, and then applied for a patent. [Read about it here][1].

[1]: http://www.bluej.org/mrt/?p=21
[2]: http://mashable.com/2006/12/21/microsoft-tries-to-patent-rss-readers/

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