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Posts tagged as “Patents”

Deb Nicholson Talks (What Else?) Software Patents

The FOSS Force Interview

Back in June I had the opportunity to meet Deb Nicholson, a person who is well known to people who frequent open source and Linux conferences.

I was dog tired, having had only about four hours sleep. I’d gotten up at about five in the morning, much earlier than I think is civilized, in order to make it to Charlotte in time for the opening ceremonies at the SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF). I’d allowed for traffic jams in the morning rush hour traffic that didn’t happen and so arrived early enough to have time to try to catch a nap on an inviting and empty couch I found in the vendor hallway that turned out to be part of the booth space for Internet Systems Consortium.

Deb Nicholson
Deb Nicholson
Luckily for me, Chuck Aurora, who had driven up from Mississippi with his family to maintain the booth and try to grab a few contacts, was generous when he arrived with his teenage daughter in tow, and wasn’t perturbed that I’d mistaken his booth for a public rest area. I didn’t need to get up and find someplace else to sleep, he said, exhibiting the southern hospitality I’d been told to expect at SELF. I was free to go ahead and nap if I could.

Patent Trolls Working Overtime

Unified Patents LogoThe trolls are still at it. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court was busy ruling against them last year — between January and June it ruled against patent holders six times — the number of cases being brought by non-practicing entities (NPE), which is one measure of a troll, continues to rise. According to a report published in June by patent defense organization UnifiedPatents, there will be about eight thousand tech related patent disputes this year, with over six thousand of these expected to go to trial.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Newegg Goes Over Patent Judge’s Head

There’s been an interesting development on the patent front, which has been deceptively quiet for some time. Surprisingly, the latest news involves a case that went to trial nearly two years ago. It’s not a surprise, however, that the case was tried in the Eastern District of Texas, infamous for awarding verdicts in favor of patent holders. Also not surprising, the plaintiff is a non-practicing entity (NPE), a fancy term for “troll.”

East Texas Federal Court
U.S. courthouse in Marshall, Texas
Back in November, 2013, a jury in Marshall, Texas found that online retailer Newegg infringed on a patent held by TQP Development because it mixed the use of SSL and RC4 on its websites. The jury awarded $2.3 million, less than half of the $5.1 million that TQP’s damage expert had said would be fair. At the time, TQP had sued more than 120 companies over the same patent, collecting $45 million in settlements.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

2014’s Five Biggest Stories Affecting FOSS

Another year has come and gone, and as you might have guessed, 2014 still wasn’t the year of the Linux desktop.

Covering FOSS and Linux isn’t nearly as exciting as it was a decade or so ago — but that’s a good thing. Back then, we were at war with nearly every proprietary software vendor on the planet and faced threats from all directions, including up and down. To be sure, we didn’t start the wars we were fighting, as PROFAL (the People’s Republic of FOSS and Linux) only wished for peaceful coexistence.

The dust settled long ago and it appears as if we won most of these wars we didn’t start. Even our old arch enemy Microsoft is now waving the flag of peace and is seeking to normalize relations with us. And our old arch-arch enemy, SCO, doesn’t even exist any more — at least not in any form that we would recognize as the SCO of old. May Caldera rest in peace.

That doesn’t mean there’s not still news to be covered in the FOSS world. There is — and plenty of it. But these days, it’s mostly about advancements in technology, new start-ups and new alliances. We still face threats, to be sure, from crackers, spooks, politicians, the RIAA and the MPAA, but these forces threaten all of computerdom, not just FOSS, so we’ve been able to nurture some new strange bedfellows to join us in our struggles.

As years go, 2014 wasn’t the most boring year in the history of the free software movement, but it also wasn’t overly exciting. Again, that’s a good thing as it means there was no battening down the hatches and stuff. Still, there were many trends in the news this year which directly affect the purveyors and users of FOSS.

Here’s my top five list:

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

5 Questions for Microsoft’s New CEO

Right now it’s too soon to tell what kind of CEO Satya Nadella will be for Microsoft. He may be a good guy who understands just how much his company has erred ethically, almost since day one, and who has plans to realign the company he now guides to a position where it can become a positive force in the tech arena. I’m not expecting that. I’ve learned over the years to not expect anything sane or ethical from the Redmond company, no matter who’s in charge or doing the talking.

As a FOSS proponent, there are a few questions I’d like to ask Mr. Nadella if I had the chance. His answers would tell me much of what I’d like to know about the new boss at Microsoft and his plans for the company.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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