Legal

Legal issues, mostly with relevance to Free software

History Repeats Itself: Patent Abusers Successfully Stymie Anti-Patent Troll Bill In The Senate

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Legal

Back in December, we noted that the House Judiciary Committee had approved an unfortunately watered-down, anti-patent troll bill. It was better than nothing, but we hoped that the Senate would approve a much stronger version. For a while it seemed like that was likely to happen, but... those who abuse patents are pretty damn powerful. Even those who have been hit by patent trolls in the past, like Apple and Microsoft, have decided to join forces in lobbying against meaningful patent reform. They've been pushing to water down the Senate's bill, taking out nearly everything that would make the bill useful -- and it appears that they're succeeding.

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Here's Hoping The Supreme Court Does Not Blow Another Opportunity To Fix The Software Patent Problem

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Legal

Four years ago, the Supreme Court had a chance to establish once and for all whether or not software was patentable. The Bilski case got all sorts of attention as various parties lined up to explain why software patents were either evil, innovation-killing monsters or the sole cause of innovation since the cotton gin and everything in between (only slight exaggeration). Rather than actually answer the question everyone was asking, the Supreme Court decided to rule especially narrowly, rejecting the specific patents at stake in the case and saying that the current test used to determine patentability (the so-called "machine-or-transformation" test) need not be the only test for patentability. However, it declined to say what tests should be used, leaving it up to the lower courts to start ruling blindly, making up new tests as they went along. And muddle along blindly they did -- right up to the height of pure absurdism in the CAFC (appeals court that handles patents) ruling in the Alice v. CLS Bank case, in which every single judge disagreed with each other. The ruling was 135 pages of confused mess where all justices only agreed on a single paragraph, which (like Bilski) said this particular patent was invalid, but no one could agree why.

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SCO & NSA: The Great Digital Whack-A-Mole Game

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Legal

Since leaving SCO, McBride’s life has continued with the sort of gangsteresque intrigue that defined him in the days when he was Linux’s public-enemy-number-one. Last May he made news when The Salt Lake Tribune reported that he had turned over a four year old audio recording of a conversation he had with Mark Shurtleff, who had been Utah’s Attorney General when the recording was made.

The conversation turned around a bad debt McBride was trying to collect.

It seems that McBride invested $286,000 with businessman Mark Robbins, who had promised a $5 million return which McBride had hoped to use to cover legal expenses in the SCO vs. IBM case. Unfortunately for McBride, Robbins skipped town to avoid being served a bench warrant in an unrelated civil case and was nowhere to be found. In an attempt to collect the debt, McBride established a website, Skyline Cowboy, which the Tribune described as “a sort of virtual bounty-hunting operation aimed at flushing out Robbins.”

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No Licence Needed for Kubuntu Derivative Distributions

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KDE
Legal

Later last year rumours of this nonsense started appearing in the tech press so instead of writing a grumpy blog post I e-mailed the community council and said they needed to nip it in the bud and state that no licence is needed to make a derivative distribution. Time passed, at some point Canonical changed their licence policy to be called an Intellectual property rights policy and be much more vague about any licences needed for binary packages. Now the community council have put out a Statement on Canonical Package Licensing which is also extremely vague and generally apologetic for Canonical doing this.

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How Linux defenders attack bad software patents before they’re approved

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Linux
Legal

arstechnica.com: Despite the rise in the number of patent trolls launching lawsuits affecting open source software, there are some glimmers of hope. The America Invents Act that was signed into law in September 2011 has provided new ways to prevent the issuance of over-broad software patents that could fuel future lawsuits.

FSF, other groups join EFF to sue NSA over unconstitutional surveillance

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OSS
Security
Legal

fsf.org: The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today joined eighteen other activist and advocacy organizations in challenging the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance of telecommunications in the United States with a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

SCO Finally Shows its Legal Strategy Going Forward

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Legal

groklaw.net: SCO was ordered by the judge, the Hon. David Nuffer, to tell him what claims it believes survived SCO's massive loss to Novell, in order to go forward in SCO v. IBM, and it has now done so.

Ladies and Gentlemen, SCO v. IBM Is Officially Reopened

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Legal

groklaw.net: The Hon. David Nuffer has ruled on the SCO v. IBM motions, granting SCO's motion for reconsideration and reopening the case, which IBM did not object to. Judge Nuffer apologizes to the parties for the error in his previous order refusing to reopen the case.

Mark Shuttleworth takes SA government to court

Filed under
Ubuntu
Legal

mybroadband.co.za: Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth has taken the South African government to court to have the country’s exchange control system declared unconstitutional.

Opera quietly settles lawsuit

Filed under
Software
Legal

h-online.com: Opera's multi-million dollar lawsuit against a former employee who, it claimed, had leaked trade secrets to Mozilla has been settled. Details of the settlement are, however, confidential.

Microsoft accused of locking out Linux in EU antitrust complaint

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Linux
Microsoft
Legal

arstechnica.com: A Spanish group that represents open source software users has accused Microsoft of using an "obstruction mechanism" to prevent buyers of Windows 8 computers from installing Linux-based operating systems.

Also: Ultimate PC security requires UEFI

Python Settles Trademark Dispute

Filed under
Software
Legal

computerworlduk.com: The Python Software Foundation (PSF) have announced they have reached a settlement with POBox Hosting Ltd of the UK over their trademark application for the term 'Python' in connection with cloud hosting.

2012: Top Ten FOSS Legal Developments

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OSS
Legal

lawandlifesiliconvalley.com: The year 2012 had many important FOSS legal developments which reflects the continued increase in FOSS use. Continuing the tradition of looking back over top ten legal developments in FOSS my selection of the top ten issues for 2012 are as follows:

Red Hat feuds with Rising Tide Systems

Filed under
Linux
Legal

techeye.net: A row has erupted between two Linux distributors with one of them accusing the other of breaching the GPL.

Red Hat's Latest Legal Battle? Storage.

Filed under
Linux
Legal

datamation.com: Red Hat is the most successful pure play open source company on the planet, generating over $1 billion in revenue a year. Its success is rooted in a strong legal basis and understanding of how open source software works.

Microsoft inks patent deal with service provider using Linux servers

Filed under
Linux
Microsoft
Legal

zdnet.com: Microsoft's latest patent licensing deal isn't like its recent Android/Chrome OS arrangements. It is with a service provider running Linux boxes in its own datacenters.

BOOM! BOOM! Out Go The Lights on Oracle v Google

Filed under
OSS
Legal
  • BOOM! BOOM! Out Go The Lights on Oracle v Google
  • Ah! The Morning After...
  • Roundup: Oracle API Claims Defeated

Time runs out for timezone lawsuit

Filed under
Linux
Legal

itworld.com: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is touting a victory in a copyright lawsuit that had the potential to shut down the database that all Linux and UNIX-based platforms and many time-based applications use to keep track of the ever-changing global timezones.

Oracle Drags Microsoft, Red Hat Into Itanium Lawsuit Swamp

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Linux
Legal

wired.com: As Oracle and HP’s lawsuit over the doomed Itanium chip drags on like some Dickensian subplot, it’s time to introduce two new characters: Microsoft and Red Hat.

Creative Commons and FreeSound.org Phase Out Sampling Licenses, Choose More Freedom

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Legal

A few years ago, I discovered a site called "FreeSound.org" which sounded quite exciting, but turned out to be rather disappointing because the content was released under the Creative Commons "Sampling+" license, which is not a free license.

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