03.04.07

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Microsoft Takes Patents Game to Europe, Uses Novell as Excuse (Then Grabs Toys and Goes Back Home)

Posted in Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Servers, Standard at 1:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Our recent discussions revolved around the events in Europe, as well as financial results. As we digress, let us take a deeper look at pertinent stories which affect Novell directly or indirectly.

Patents and Novell are mentioned in the following article, which among many things, explains how interoperability is affected by previous Microsoft-Novell technical relationships. It is unlikely that Novell will fire a shot at Microsoft now, having just reconciliated. Essentially, one of the loudest protesters in this heated debate has been muted through a deal. And that’s not good for anybody, except Microsoft of course.

EC’s New Penalty Threat Tightens Screws on Microsoft

The EU said Thursday that three years after the landmark antitrust ruling, the U.S. software company was still using heavy-handed tactics to choke rivals in the software sector, but did not name any specific competitors.

“This is a company which apparently does not like to have to conform with antitrust decisions,” said EU Commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd.

The following article has been eye catching for a variety of reasons. Highlighted below are fragments of interest:

Microsoft Fires Back at EU

Mr. Smith noted that Microsoft has submitted revised technical documents running about 8,000 pages, with documentation supporting its pricing calculations totaling about 1,500 pages.

“We hope to get feedback about the technical documentation and that it will take a constructive form,” he said. “We have spent a great deal of time and money on compliance. We believe we’ve been fair and reasonable in setting the proposed protocol prices.”

So, the game continues. Microsoft lawyers extend deadlines, they are pushing boundaries, and then deliver an ‘encyclopaedia’, hoping to slow down the whole process. This is not the first time. It relates to another issues which this site frequently discusses — document formats/standards. Have a look:

How to Write a Standard (If you Must)

If possible choose an implementation that has layers of complexity from years of undisciplined agglomeration of features. Of course this will lead to a specification of Byzantine complexity and epic length. But since no one will actually read the specification, there is no harm. In fact the length and complexity can bring several benefits: 1. Any criticism of the specification can automatically be dismissed as nitpicking. For example, if you are presented with a list of 500 faults in a 6,000 pages specification, you can respond, “That is less than 10%. You are just nitpicking. We can fix that in release 1.1″. … 2. Further, since review periods at ISO and most other standards bodies are of fixed length, regardless of the length of the specification, a sufficiently large specification will ensure that it receives no, or only cursory review.

Thickness of documentation can imperil judgment and action.

Here are a couple of items which are even more interesting. While one person argues that Germany chooses Linux for its quality, Microsoft continues with its software patents crusade in Germany. Needless to say, it loses.

Federal Patent Court declares FAT patent of Microsoft null and void

The Federal Patent Court has declared a Microsoft patent on the file allocation system File Allocation Table (FAT) invalid for the Federal Republic of Germany.

So, there are happy endings after all. But the EU fines should still be paid rather than escaped, or compliance reached (ideally). Moreover, Novell absolutely must stop, as we mentioned before, flaunting ‘protection’ from patent litigation in Germany and England, where software patents are out of the question.

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