( – promoted by buhdydharma )
When a $230 Billion multi-national corporation mugs one of the little guys – is it even a crime in this day and age? Not if you ask the multi-national corporation it ain’t. The corporate gangsters at Microsoft seem to think that their immensity grants them impunity.
Microsoft has a long history of stealing technology and rolling over any small fry who might object. They love to throw their weight around, and they’ve become infamous in the computer world for doing so with a Mafioso-like intensity. They leave a long trail of lawsuits and guilty verdicts but they’re too big to care. They spit on the law because they can. They epitomize the worst of capitalism.
It isn’t at all unusual for a large and active corporation to have a few lawsuits against it. What is different about Microsoft is the nature of the suits, their number, and that they are found clearly guilty on just about every one that goes to trial. A fair number they just buy out of to avoid the embarrassment of yet another loss.
Microsoft has so many actions against it, we can only cover the most important. Most of Microsoft’s (alleged) victims don’t have the resources to sue, especially since Microsoft may have already used their own technology to destroy them.
Microsoft recently charged a former employee with espionage. The story is making the rounds in the computer industry and there are at least a couple of interesting wrinkles – but as I read about it, I couldn’t help but think about all the other times down through the decades when Microsoft acted more like La Cosa Nostra than your friendly neighborhood computer software monster.
Ex-employee calls Microsoft spying lawsuit ‘desperate’
Former worker claims company stole his technology, using lawsuit to shut him up
“Microsoft’s complaint against me in Washington is shameful and a desperate attempt to put pressure on me and my family from continuing to pursue our legal rights in the federal court in Los Angeles,” said Miki Mullor in a statement he issued Friday.
Mullor, who was employed by Microsoft from November 2005 to September 2008, was sued by the company earlier this month for allegedly downloading documents related to a Microsoft antipiracy technology used by computer makers to lock Windows to their PCs. According to Microsoft, Mullor used his position to locate and download documents pertaining to the technology, dubbed “OEM Activation 2.0,” because he planned to file a patent-infringement lawsuit against the company.
According to Mullor, however, he is the injured party. In 2003, a year after he was issued U.S. Patent No. 6,411,941, he said he met with Microsoft to talk about the technology. “[I] had several discussions with a Microsoft lawyer and employees of Microsoft’s Anti-Piracy Group about my invention and the benefits Microsoft could realize by using it,” Mullor said. “Microsoft declined and said they had no interest in my invention.”
While he was working for Microsoft, the company began developing OEM Activation 2.0, Mullor claimed. “OEM Activation is a blatant copy of my invention,” he said. “In fact, the same Microsoft person that I explained my invention to back in 2003 was involved in the development of OEM Activation.”
The kicker here is that the company has made billions off of this technology, which they just blatantly stole from Anchora, Miki Mullor’s company. What Mullor has invented amounts to what has been described as ‘the Holy Grail’ of computer security. He told Microsoft all about it, they feigned no interest and then copied his technology outright. It’s blatant theft.
Mullor’s invention allows computer manufacturers to tie the operating system pre-installed on the computers they make to the specific chip on each computer so that particular copy of the operating system can only be run on that particular piece of hardware, and authentication can be managed remotely. The method makes use of the non-volatile memory area of the computer BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), a part of the computer chip itself which is devilishly hard to hack. This raised digital security/anti-piracy technology to a whole new level, hence the patent.
Because of this invention it is (virtually) impossible to pirate a copy of WV and run it on multiple computers as you could with all previous versions of Windows. This has been a death-knell for software pirates and a boon for Microsoft.
Just think about all the copies of Windows Vista sold in China alone now that you can’t pirate the software. It’s been huge for Microsoft.
“Since Windows Vista became available for consumers, client revenue has grown over 20% on average. This quarter, a rapidly expanding personal computer market, progress against software piracy, and three quarters of Windows customers adopting premium versions drove client revenue to $4.1 billion, an increase of 25%.”
“…So if PC units grew by 14% to 16%, our shipped units that we were paid for grew by 20%, and all of that delta was effectively a fight against unlicensed PCs, so the growth that we saw in the business segment, in particular internationally, really helped us in terms of overall unit sales”
This company has become famous for their ruthlessness. They have for decades rolled over, bullied, and chewed up and spat out their competition. And they have shown a distinct predilection for stealing over innovating.
It would be in very much everyone’s interest that Microsoft be stopped, for this is a crude, bullying tactic that crushes the dreams and work of a once burgeoning company for very little gain.
The following is but a narrow slice of Microsoft’s long and sordid history of ethical misconduct and legal wrongdoing:
1998 – Department of Justice antitrust action against Microsoft – going to trial now. Originally brought based on Microsoft’s leveraging its monopoly to crush Netscape, it continues to broaden. The key to this action is whether or not Microsoft has a monopoly. If they are shown to have a monopoly, then it will be relatively easy to show they have leveraged that monopoly illegally.
Pundits in the press and in academia have one thing to say to Microsoft: “settle now”. In the words of one prominent antitrust scholar, “If Microsoft looses this case, the repercussions could be stunning”.
Microsoft, realizing judge Jackson is competent on technology matters, sassed the judge in his own courtroom, a technique they have used in the past to provoke an angry response, which they then use to get the judge removed on grounds of “prejudice”. Judge Jackson remained cool as a cucumber, so Microsoft is now stuck with a judge who is technologically competent and ill disposed to their tricks (they fooled him last time – it isn’t going to happen again).
[ UPDATE: Finding of Fact – Guilty! – NOV 1999 – Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson concluded that Microsoft did have a monopoly and used it improperly to leverage other products. The judge then appointed a mediator, judge Richard Posner, and urged both sides to settle the case (Jackson really doesn’t want to have to hand down a final verdict). ]
[ UPDATE: Finding of Law – Guilty! – 3 APR 2000 – After negotiations finally failed, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson handed down a final verdict in his Finding of Law. Nearly all charges by the Department of Justice were upheld. A couple of minor items were set aside as “not proven”, which means they can be brought up again. ]
[ UPDATE: Appeals Court Gets Case – 26 SEP 2000 – The Department of Justice had requested the case be expedited directly to the Supreme Court, but the Supremes decided to send it to the DC Court of Appeals first. Microsoft had campaigned strongly for the DC court which they feel is pro Microsoft. In an unusual move, the entire court will hear the case. ]
[ UPDATE: Microsoft Loses Appeal – 29 JUN 2001 – Microsoft suffered a stunning defeat in the DC Court of Appeals (which everyone had presumend would let them off). For analysis, see our article Appeals Court: “Guilty!”. ]
[ UPDATE: Justice asks for Acceleration – 13 JUL 2001 – The Department of Justice has asked the Court of Appeals to waive the 52 day period for Microsoft to ask for a rehearing of the case. They base this on the fact that the verdict was by all 7 judges and was unanimous, so the court is certain not to allow a rehearing. This indicates Justice intends to attack the Windows XP release. ]
1998 – Attorneys General of 20 states sue Microsoft. These suits have been partially rolled into the Department of Justice case, but in a way that does not preclude the states bringing additional charges upon conclusion of Justice’s case. (Top)
1998 – Sun Microsystems sues Microsoft – the Java case – being tried now. Microsoft, recognizing that Sun’s Java environment could make Windows irrelevant, determined to corrupt and pervert it. To that end they needed to license the language from Sun. Sun, wishing to promote Java to the greatest extent possible, felt licensing it to Microsoft would be greatly to their advantage, although Gosling, its primary creator, felt dealing with Microsoft at all was too dangerous.
Sun wrote terms into the license designed to prevent Microsoft from corrupting and perverting Java. Sun’s claim is that Microsoft clearly and immediately violated these terms and continues to do so.
[ NEWS FLASH! 17 NOV 1998 – Judge Ronald Whyte handed Microsoft an injunction requiring them to make their Java compliant or remove it entirely within 90 days. 19 NOV 1998 – Microsoft has stated they will bring their Java into compliance with Sun’s requirements. ]
MS accuses Mullor of joining the company to spy on it. What kind of logic is this? Miki Mullor was a known entity to Microsoft, and his interests and theirs clearly overlapped. They had had a significant level of interaction back when Mullor pitched his invention to them in an effort to license the technology to Microsoft (who said they weren’t interested, right?). According to Mullor, he also informed them in writing of his company and his patent during the hiring process.
Why wouldn’t he go to work for MS? They must have thought it was to a good purpose or they wouldn’t have hired him. If they had any qualms about him or his patent, why was it not addressed during the hiring and on-boarding process? Do they expect us to believe that Microsoft failed to do common due diligence? These guys aren’t stupid. That’s not one of their problems.
This case strikes me as yet another outrageous example of what Microsoft does. This is who they are.
A small sampling of extremely unflattering Microsoft-related diaries found at Daily Kos:
So how much longer are we going to let these corporate behemoths throw their weight around like schoolyard bullies and muscle in on the genius and the blood, sweat and tears of small time entrepreneurs? Haven’t we all had about as much screwing from corporate America as we can take? Haven’t they raped America enough for it to be over now?
Isn’t it about time for the little guy to catch a break in America?