11.24.06

What About the EC Ruling?

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Samba at 1:55 am by Shane Coyle

We all may be looking in the wrong direction here, what if this deal with Novell is Microsoft’s way of legitimizing the need for licensing of their “IP” to achieve interoperability and undermine the EC ruling?

As you may know, Microsoft is appealing the EC ruling, and it will take months for it to play out. In the ruling, Microsoft was ordered to provide necessary documentation to allow rivals to access MS protocols. Essentially, Microsoft has not complied with the judgement and provided the necessary technical documentation to allow for interoperating with their servers and desktops. In fact, Microsoft has attempted to submit license terms, which included the charging of royalties, to the court in response to this judgement, terms which were rejected.

Perhaps the hope is that the Novell interoperability deal says to the EC that MS’ claims that their Interoperability Licensing terms for use of their Intellectual Property are indeed reasonable and non-discriminatory, and enough to at least reduce the severity of the ruling.

As noted in this article, Microsoft has negotiated directly with companies in the past to undermine the EC rulings, including Novell.

He noted that Microsoft has undercut support for the EC’s decision by cutting deals with individual vendors. “Microsoft reached a private agreement with Sun [Microsystems], so Sun dropped out of the case,” he said. “And it reached a private agreement with Novell, so Novell dropped out of the case.”

[editor note: the linked/quoted article is from Apr 7, 2005 - the "private agreement" referred to in the quote is not the recent deal of November 2006]

Ask yourself, why would Novell approach MS over interoperability when the EC ruling is forcing them to hand over the info? Why would Novell be publicizing benefits of the deal in areas of Europe where software patents aren’t even valid? Microsoft is paying Novell off to help them with the EC Antitrust case.

Novell now legitimizes Microsofts position that developers, even if they write their own code (samba), still should license and pay royalties to Microsoft for their “IP” (specs, I suppose) to be able to interoperate with Windows. Microsoft does not want to publish that information so that just anyone can interoperate with Windows without paying royalties, Novell helps their argument now.

If true, MS will get off very cheap if they get the case reversed or reduced (compared to what they payed Novell, plus they get royalties!). Brilliant, really.

Just the other day, Microsoft indicated that they would prefer to license rather than litigate, perhaps with Novell’s help once again they will be able to license rather than comply with the EC ruling.

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