There’s this blog called FOSS PATENTS written by a Florian Mueller, and when a software-patent-related issue heats up, reporters often seek out his comments for their stories. I’m not sure this is a good idea, and I’d like to offer some evidence; articles he wrote on a currently-hot story back in October 2010 and November 2010. This is a small but representative sample of his (many) offerings on the subject.

I’m not mad at Florian, who has every right to publish his opinions. I am a little irritated with the media for passing on those opinions so uncritically, and think the time for that has passed.



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From: Omar (May 24 2012, at 07:55)

I think the issue is the media rush to find an expert whenever they don't understand something, which is often.

They never bother to ensure that said expert is actually an expert.

The media exists to sell stories/adverts not disseminate the truth, sensationalism sells facts often don't. That's why nearly everything both cures and causes cancer.

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From: Michael Davis (May 24 2012, at 08:08)

Pamela Jones at Groklaw (http://www.groklaw.net) has been saying the same thing for a long time!

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From: Richard (May 24 2012, at 08:10)

There are two important pieces of context here...

He has a profile on patent issues because he was a leader of the campaign to prevent the EU from extending wide patent cover to software. His blogging under the name FOSS Patents dates from this period and he was seen as being at least a 'friend of the community' at that point.

I'm genuinely confused by the number of mainstream media outlets who publish quotes from him without also mentioning that Oracle is a consulting client of his - which might be considered to taint his opinions, at the very least. Not to mention his work for/with Microsoft in the past, which one might also think would make him non-neutral...

I think it was pretty clear from the start that his reporting on the Google/Oracle case was one-sided - I wouldn't necessarily accuse him of being 'bought', but he obviously had an opinion and wasn't shy in reporting from that point of view.

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From: ant (May 24 2012, at 08:22)

a little correction: it is not "reporters often seek out his comments for their stories", but it is FlorianMu who actively spamming reporters w. links to his fresh shi...(pardon)analyses.

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From: David Smith (May 24 2012, at 08:33)

His positions seem reasonable for someone who is in Oracle's employ.

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From: Hub (May 24 2012, at 08:51)

It is pretty common knowledge that most of the time the media does not have the skills to understand what they are talking about and then either pull the info out of their rectum, or they just interview the SMW du jour that has "insights"...

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From: John Cowan (May 24 2012, at 10:17)

I don't think that your evidence justifies your conclusion, though the conclusion is certainly justified on other grounds, like Florian not publishing his connection with Oracle and Microsoft. The conventional wisdom of 2010 was that direct traverse ("It's not so") defenses aren't a reasonable legal strategy in infringement cases unless bolstered by the threat of countersuit. That may be the conventional wisdom of 2013 too, depending on what the Federal Circuit does (and heaven knows they are not defendant-friendly).

Anyway, if you wish to become an MSM expert, it's necessary to have a heavy bias in one direction or the other (there can only be two), so that you can be presented in tandem with an equal and opposite expert in accordance with Becker's Law.

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From: Tom (May 24 2012, at 14:18)

I think you've left our an important Florian-ism.

http://www.fosspatents.com/2011/03/googles-android-faces-serious-linux.html

His accusations turned out to be bunk. He was just jumping on anything anti-Android he could find.

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From: Matej Cepl (May 25 2012, at 03:10)

http://jan.wildeboer.net/2012/04/closing-remarks-on-fosspatents/

Yes, both Jan and me work for Red Hat; no, neither of us speaks for anybody else than for ourselves.

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From: Anon Y. Mous (May 25 2012, at 03:53)

Florian Mueller is well-known from his MS-loving, patents-are-better-than-beer, Linux-FUD-spreading posts on Slashdot.

How media can rely on such a source without any criticism at all is beyond me...

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From: Bud Gibson (May 25 2012, at 07:05)

Remains the issue of API copyright.

One wonders that Sun didn't pursue the claims against Google because they seemed tenuous at best. When trying to sell your failing enterprise, a smart strategy is to point to all the things you didn't pursue that could lead to higher valuation, hoping that the ego of your buyer will get the better of him.

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