ZDNet UK has an analystical 5-page coverage of the Novell/Microsoft deal and what it actually means as we glance ahead.
“Microsoft is emerging as the common denominator in multiple strategies for identity management, which is not completely altruistic and could have strategic benefits by putting it in a stronger position at the hub of identity management across several providers’ product lines,” Goulde says.
Interestingly, in the case of the Sun deal, the software giant was also happy to fork out significant amounts of money to seal the pact. Microsoft paid Sun $700m upfront to resolve anti-trust issues, a further $900m to lay various patent matters to rest and $350m in royalties. Sun also agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on an ongoing basis for including some of its technology in its servers.
All of this means, ironically, that Microsoft has now paid out large sums to help out two competitors at times in their lives when an injection of cash certainly hasn’t gone amiss.
This confirms what we have said all along. Novell (executives?) were probably just paid to swallow the bait and gradually lead to Novell’s unfortunate demise. SCO’s dealings with Microsoft did them no favours either.
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The following new ruling will certainly lead to plenty of debates. On the face of it, Microsoft has defeated software patents in court. It makes some strong precedence.
In a stunning 7-1 decision with extremely broad implications in the field of patents and patentability, the US Supreme Court has overturned a Federal Circuit ruling that was in favor of AT&T, and has apparently affirmed Microsoft’s arguments that software coupled with the device on which the software is installed cannot be considered patentable.
You can look back at other patent complaints from Microsoft. I cannot find a particular quote that I have in mind. It is statement from the AT&T trial which I quoted several times in the past. It showed Microsoft acknowledging that software should not be patentable. It addressed a question asked by the judge. Maybe their lawyers accidentally let it slip. Palm have been on the same boat recently.
Following yesterday’s surprising announcement that patent firm NTP is taking portable computing pioneer Palm to court over alleged IP infringement, the PDA and smartphone manufacturer has fired back with a statement detailing its position on the matter
Looking ahead, there are more problems to overcome. As it turns out, Microsoft will embed .NET its Web technology, essentially bringing it (or forcefeeding it) to other platforms.
Microsoft is integrating the .Net framework into its new Silverlight browser technology for running multimedia applications on the Web, the company revealed Monday.
As we have stressed several times before, .NET is a patents-encumbered technology. Reasons to avoid Silverlight, however, go far beyond that.
- No IDE for me – The development path is currently platform specific to Windows. Not even an open compiler or server side compiler for Linux is available. Use Expression Blend on my Mac? Not happening.
- No plug in for Linux – Even Adobe has managed to deliver it’s modern plugin to Linux users. I only use Linux as a server platform, but with Ubuntu, etc making inroads on the desktop,it’s nice to have it as an option.
Update: I have found the document
[PDF] which I had in mind.
MR. OLSON [for Microsoft]: The ’580 patent is a program, as I understand it, that’s married to a computer, has to be married to a computer in order to be patented.
JUSTICE SCALIA: You can’t patent, you know, on-off, on-off code in the abstract, can you?
MR. OLSON: That’s correct, Justice Scalia.
Update #2: Here are a couple links to support our assertion that software patents have lost much of their power in the United States.
Analysis: Less patent shield for code
Clearing the way for wider worldwide distribution of computer software code, and saving Microsoft Corp. millions of dollars in patent damages, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it is not illegal to send Windows code abroad for copying and installing in foreign-made computers, even if the code incorporates a part of someone else’s patented invention.
Supreme Court to Patent Appeals Court: Drop Dead
Then the justices cupped their hands astride their mouths and shouted in unison: Fewer patents!
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This is becoming tedious. Yet again, as we have mentioned before, a lobbying arm for Microsoft gets to throw dirt in the GPLv3′s face
[rel="nofollow"]. Never once has C|Net enabled the other side of the debate to bring balance. They have been doing the same thing — on several occasions even — when the Microsoft legal battles in the EU were hot in the press. Perhaps it is time to just ignore C|Net altogether.
Do not be misled by the press and also check the affiliation of those who speak. There is a coordinated effort to get people scared of the GPLv3. This licence is bad news to Microsoft and Novell and they won’t take the transition without resistance, however aggressive it might be.
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As many of you probably know by now, work on the GPLv3 may have driven Eben Moglen to the point of exhausion. He intends to leave his position FSF when the chore is done. And yet, it will be done. Novell will not escape the ‘wrath of Freedom’.
Looking ahead, he [Eben Moglen] will continue his work on open source and the law, but he’ll be doing it at the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center). There, he’ll be working on “refining organizational structures, innovating strategies for setting up ‘project conservancies’ — a new type of shared container for multiple free software projects — which gives those projects administrative and legal advantages with minimal overhead.”
We covered the GPLv3 many times before, in a variety of contexts, with various pointers included. It’s in the archive. Hopefully this will serve well those who research, of which there are plenty based the this site’s statistics. Our focus was the consequence of the licence on the Novell/Microsoft deal; but it also addresses similar deals which could be attempted in the future.
As we have come to see, similar (albeit low-profile) deals have made since November. None of them was truly addressed by the software licence of Linux, which is GPLv2. It remains to be seen if Linux will join GNU in its journey towards the GPLv3. It no longer seems far fetched. It is truly needed at a time when Microsoft continues its silent war. The company is apparently building and piling up an arsenal with which to litigate against the free operating system (distributors and/or users).
To close off with a tribute to Eben Moglan, here is an old talk where he rebuts SCO’s arguments and explains that Linux is not just free in an economical sense (the usual FUD about Linux destroying the economy). Rather, it’s about freedom to have knowledge of what we use, to share it, and to improve it. The flow of compelling arguments makes a strong case, but it’s a very long talk.
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