05.13.07

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Microsoft Gets Specific, Sorta

Posted in Action, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 8:31 pm by Shane Coyle

Well, as Roy just recently pointed out, here (finally) comes Microsoft’s legal attack on Free Software.

Ever since the Microvell deal, both companies have gone to great pains to paint the deal as a non-specific patent cooperation agreement, but lately it appears that the true nature of the agreement is finally coming to light. Novell agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on "certain open source offerings shipped under the agreement" in exchange for a promise from MS not to enforce their perceived patent rights against Novell customers and contributors.

As is well known, FUD is best when it is non-specific and thus unimpeachable. In earlier statements, Microsoft has been very careful to never make any concrete statement regarding potential infringement, but now they are apparently confident enough to start listing some statistics – meaning they have, indeed, performed a detailed analysis and should be able to respond to any requests for specificity in regards to their legal claims.

I look forward to the next few days, you can be sure that some of the larger Linux-related companies and organizations out there will take some exception to Mr Smith’s assertions. It appears that we are on the eve of the "Patent Apocalypse", and I for one am looking forward to the fight.

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A Single Comment

  1. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 13, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Gravatar

    In another context (a forum), I have argued that Microsoft is now clinging onto the last straw. Its inability to adapt to other markets and new paradigms (just consider the Zune, mobile and embedded space, Origami, even the XBox 360, which has lost $5-6 billion and keeps losing about $200-300 million per quarter) has led it to frustration. This is now being confirmed by others, e.g.:

    Reading between the lines with Bill Hilf: Microsoft must really be hurting
    http://weblog.infoworld.com/openresource/archives/2007/05/microsoft_confi.html

    Someone whom I know recently said that Microsoft would evolve into a patent troll whose portfolio becomes the main asset. Looking at this from a financial point of view:

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/309852_software02.html
    Software Notebook: Microsoft’s cash pile isn’t what it used to be

    “But Microsoft has taken a series of steps to reduce its cash balance. Specifically, by Microsoft’s count, the company has paid out nearly $100 billion through dividends and repurchasing its own stock in the past five years.”

    So, Microsoft has already lost over half of its cash pile, in just two years. Its recent financial figures came from the investors, not from sales.

    http://biz.yahoo.com/seekingalpha/070503/34354_id.html?.v=1
    Microsoft’s Record Quarter: Shareholders Paid for Most of the Upside Surprise

    “Said another way, Microsoft achieved record breaking earnings during the Vista launch quarter by taking money out of its assets, not through amazing sales of Vista and Office.” … Now taking money of its savings account isn’t necessarily a big deal… However, as a point in contrast, Apple Inc. has been launching a lot of products over the last nine months and has added almost $2 billion to its balance sheet and assets in the same period that Microsoft’s assets dropped $6 billion.”

    I believe that now is the time when Microsoft will get very ugly. The anti-Google slurs and anti-Linux crusade have only just begun.

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