Mono Officially a Minefield, is OOO Too?

Posted in Deception, Mono, Office Suites at 8:03 pm by Shane Coyle

Here is a comment by Microsoft’s Bob Muglia in an interview on eWeek:

There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers. But we certainly have no intention of releasing the source code to .Net to the community, but the community is free to go with Mono and enhance that and build solutions for customers.

So, Novell customers are “legally” entitled to the IP associated with Mono, and the “community” is free to go and enhace Mono for Novell’s benefit at their own risk? In the situation described by the analysis of the MS Patent Promise, individual developers wouldn’t be permitted to distribute these improvements and the “community” would not benefit. This is why the patents must be granted to everyone’s free use, does Novell really think that the community is going to continue to develop their proprietary software for them?

Questions remain regarding the VBA support Novell is adding to OpenOffice.org and whether it too could be an IP minefield, not to mention the “Interoperability” portion of the MS-Novell pact regarding compatibility for the MS Office XML Format in OpenOffice. One statement I found curious was:

The agreement is designed to ensure that customers using OpenOffice.org will continue to be able to read and write documents using future Microsoft Office file formats, as they do with the existing closed and proprietary file formats employed by Microsoft Office today.

So, Microsoft is OK with this feature? There has long been wonder on how MS felt about OSS projects reverse engineering their proprietary file formats? Oh wait, notice how it says “customers using OpenOffice.org” and recall that MS is only indemnifying Novell “customers”.

Yes, this tin foil hat is itchy.

Eben Moglen is My Hero

Posted in Action, Deals, Novell, Samba at 7:22 pm by Shane Coyle

It seems that Eben Moglen is done with his review of the MS-Novell deal, and apparently he has some concerns:

They have showed us what we need to see, they have answered our questions, we had complete and unfettered access to senior executives at Novell…. We are now working by peaceable negotiations to protect our client’s legal interest, and we see no likelihood that we’re going to adopt steps that involve the use of legal compulsion. If we are unable to work the situation out peacefully, that may change.

WooHoo! Here comes the cavalry. Also from the article, Novell is working on a full response, but have preliminarily denied the Samba team’s request to repudiate the MS-Novell pact.

Also, PJ at Groklaw has even more on the subject, and she’s my hero too.

Mouse Traps and Overly Broad Patents

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Patents at 12:34 pm by Shane Coyle

Even Microsoft would never claim that their is any misappropriated code in Linux or in any of the major OSS projects, what they are claiming is that they have Patents that cover the concepts used in modern computing.

Of course, MS have never stated with specificity what Patents they feel are being violated; they would rather ‘license than litigate’ but refuse to tell you what you’re buying. Maybe it’s because they are a little worried about how those Patents would hold up to scrutiny.

Imagine if someone had patented “A method for the termination of undesired rodents without manual intervention” years ago, what would the state of the Mouse Trap industry be? Even today, 40 Patents per year are granted for Mouse Trap innovations, with over 4,000 Mouse Trap patents on file in total.

I was taught you patent an implementation of an idea, and you get a limited monopoly over the method in exchange for making its workings public. Yes, someone may be inspired by your invention and improve it or do it better – that’s the point!

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.
- Thomas Jefferson

The USPTO is broken. The number of Patent applications has increased exponentially during the last decade or two, and Patent examiners rarely have a comprehensive knowledge of the technologies covered in the Patent applications they review.

Patent applicants purposely game the system to keep their patents pending for years, then finally allow these “Submarine Patents” to surface much to the dismay of an entire industry that also made that same Obvious innovation all those years ago.

Until we see real reform in terms of US Patent law and its stifing of innovation in the software industry, the dark cloud of IP litigation will continue to hover over all of us. In the meantime, we can only wait for MS to finally disclose their “evidence” of infringement, and if the SCO case is any indicator, that could be decades.

Was Oracle Linux One Competitor Too Many?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, Oracle at 1:55 am by Shane Coyle

Here is an interesting quote, from an interview by Jack Messman who was Novell Chief at the time (March 2006):

What about the market for operating systems? How will that change?

Because of the costs of software and hardware development you’ll find two major open source operating systems left in a few years: Red Hat and Novell.

There’ll still be hobbyist systems, but for business two is perfect. Any less and you’ll have one company dominating to the detriment of the industry, any more and development costs go way up.

Our approach is different to Red Hat’s. Red Hat is totally open source, whereas we offer a mixed stack. We do open enterprise software but also have proprietary code that’s built to open standards. Our customers don’t have heterogeneous software environments either, for that matter.

Perhaps for business two is perfect, and perhaps Novell was worried that those two would be Oracle and RedHat, not SuSE. Of course, GNU/Linux is about more than business, its about liberty and freedom, but MS and Novell won’t ever get that.

Module “Novell” Taints the Community

Posted in Boycott Novell, Humour at 12:00 am by Shane Coyle

Announcing the availability of the official Boycott Novell banner, with a catchy new slogan.

Boycott Novell

Feel free to download the image and post it in your own pages to show support and/or link to the site. I will work on a smaller button shortly. Enjoy.

Boycott Novell Half Banner

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