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The New Protection Racket

Date: 01 June, 2007

By: Chief

Imagey, my, my, Microsoft has just done it again. Steve (Cueball) Ballmer says that GNU/Linux infringes on M$ patents. Okay, Cueball, once again which patents and specifically, what free software infringes on M$ patents and how? Well guess what? M$ refuses to say. Quoting Fortune magazine:

"Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez sat down with Fortune recently to map out their strategy for getting FOSS users to pay royalties. Revealing the precise figure for the first time, they state that FOSS infringes on no fewer than 235 Microsoft patents.

"Gutierrez refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed, lest FOSS advocates start filing challenges to them."

Got that part people? The "refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed" part. Yeah, that part. No beef. — just air and hot air at that.

So Micro$cum is making an allegation and no more than that — yet refuses to back that allegation up. Refuses to 'show us the beef'. Why would M$ do such a thing?

The extortion and protection racket

It is in point of fact just exactly that. Micro$cum is attempting to extort money from corporate users of GNU/Linux by calling their version of extortion "royalties" or "cross-licensing" (giving M$ access to another company's patents). If a company refuses to pay the M$ imposed protection (extortion) money then M$, which has extremely deep pockets, can sue the other company straight into the grave.

Thus if company 'A' is approached by M$ and told to pay up or be sued out of existence — more than likely company 'A' will pay whatever M$ wants in the way of protection money so the company can stay in business. And that makes it extortion.

Let us get very real about this right here and now — Micro$cum has made an allegation — without providing any proof of patent infringement whatsoever — and expects every corporate user to pay up or be sued. That is extortion. And the extortion/protection racket is a crime.

Here is a definition of the extortion/protection racket from Wikipedia:

"Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either obtains money, property or services from another through coercion or intimidation or threatens one with physical harm unless they are paid money or property. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. The simple four words "pay up or else" are sufficient to constitute the crime of extortion. An extortionate threat made to another in jest is still extortion" (emphasis added).

You read that and then try and tell me what M$ is attempting to do is not crime. Micro$cum has become nothing short of an organized crime family. The Ballmer-Gates crime family.

And don't think for a second that this new extortion game has not been tried before. In fact there is an ongoing case in federal court The SCO Group (TSCOG) versus IBM. That case has been going on since 2003 with no end in sight. It has cost millions upon millions of dollars in legal fees for both sides and IBM has been consistently wiping the court room floor with TSCOG — as well they should.

The SCO Group, an itty-bitty company without any profit in the past several years (if ever) brought that suit against IBM knowing full well it did not have a case (you can read all about it here and here). But where did TSCOG come up with millions to pay their lawyers for this extortion lawsuit? BayStar Capital for one — at the verbal behest of guess who? Yup — Micro$cum.

Even though the TSCOG saga continues the suit has fully failed. Hence M$ has decided to quit lurking in the dark and step up to the plate and take over what TSCOG and M$ initially started — a new 21st century version of the old extortion/protection racket. Just this time the financial pockets are very, very deep.

In this new flavor of the extortion/protection racket the thugs are lawyers (aren't they always?). No they won't break your legs if you don't pay up — they will simply sue you into bankruptcy. Cut and dried, nothing personal, merely business. Yeah, the Ballmer-Gates mob has finally reared its bald and ugly head.

For Micro$cum however the ultimate goal is to destroy free software. In other words no other computer operating system is allowed unless approved by and money paid to M$. The same holds true with free software packages, be they email, word processing, whatever. Only those approved by M$ shall be allowed to exist — for an appropriate yearly royalty fee that is.

Now all this hollering about the M$ patent extortion crap could be brought to a real quick halt if the Ballmer-Gates crime family (assuming they have any gonads at all) would simply:

If Micro$cum did that then free software developers could:

Regrettably this is not to be because Micro$cum is a criminal enterprise — a racketeering business. And that fact could not have been made any plainer. Remember "Gutierrez refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed, lest FOSS advocates start filing challenges to them." It is quite similar to the 'we know where the bomb is but we are not going to tell you unless you pay us'. In fact there is no difference at all between the two. 'Pay up or else' has become M$'s new theme song.

Another reason that M$ refuses to publicly disclose which patents are at issue is that Micro$cum may have stolen some free software code and claimed it as their own. M$ has been caught at this numerous times and been fined many billions of dollars for their theft. To be sure, in just the last three years M$ has been fined four billion greenbacks. Why, just this year Micro$cum was penalized, by a jury no less, 1.52 billion for MP3 codec code theft. But M$ is a crime syndicate and all they know is illegal activity.

Still another reason for hiding the patents and code from public view is that I do not believe M$ has a legal leg to stand on (not that that will stop M$ for a second, as they are a criminal enterprise). Could it be the M$ people themselves do not believe the patents in question are valid? It could very well be, I suspect.

There is this little thing called "prior art" for one. Quoting Walter J. Blenko, Jr.:

"In analyzing an existing patent or in deciding whether to file a patent application for an invention, it is almost always necessary to consider the "prior art." Prior art may be defined very broadly as the entire body of knowledge from the beginning of time to the present. For example, in a U.S. Supreme Court case more than 50 years ago, the work of Benvenuto Cellini, the noted Italian artist who died in 1571, was cited in the judicial opinion as part of the prior art, invalidating a patent for the lost-wax casting of jewelry."

Quite a hurdle for M$ or anyone else to clear. Blenko's article can be read here.

Furthermore with the recent Supreme court decision in KSR Int'l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., those patents might be as valid as tits on a boar hog. In KSR the court focused on the "ordinary" and the "obvious:"

"[T]he results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws. Were it otherwise patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts. See U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 8. These premises led to the bar on patents claiming obvious subject matter established in Hotchkiss and codified in §103. Application of the bar must not be confined within a test or formulation too constrained to serve its purpose."

Thus whether or not a patent is valid can very well depend on the "obvious" and the "ordinary." If it is "obvious" or "ordinary" — no patent for you (bad programmer, no donut). And as we all know, Micro$cum does not normally create or invent, it steals.

It is way beyond time to bring the Ballmer-Gates crime family into a court room, a criminal court room to be sure. They need in the worst possible way to be shown the door to their new home — prison cells.

I have used free software for several years and I shall continue, no matter what, to use free software. It is of very high quality, I get no viruses, worms, trojans, malware or rootkits of any kind, the software just works, all the time.

Now attend to the fact that free software is about freedom and choice — not price. Here are your freedoms (from the Free Software Definition at Gnu.org):

If you wish to read the entire General Public License (GPL) you can do so here. As far as licenses go it is a wonderful license and fully levels the playing field — for all. Sure beats the hell out of Micro$cum's hideous "End User License Agreement" wouldn't you say?

As for the Ballmer-Gates crime family — screw 'em and feed 'em fish heads in prison, says I.

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