A Look Back at Noteworthy Stories

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Interoperability, Law, Microsoft, Novell, OSDL, Patent Covenant, Patents at 10:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is no point in denying the fact that the past fortnight has been crazy. We have seen a mountain of tension erupting, with many consequences to explore. Here is a bunch of very recently stories that are worth a mention.

The first is a one-page report [PDF warning] with a legal point of view. It argues that Microsoft officially jumped the shark on May 14th. It comments on the Forbes article which broke the news and then suggests that careful attention was paid to the need for dramatic effect.

“This article has been written with a great deal of skill. It has painted the scenario in a dramatic manner and one which highlights some dire consequences. It even ends on an enigmatic phone call to Mr Ballmer, in which he ominously declines to cross a bridge (that would be the ‘sue your customers’ bridge, not the One-Step-Closer-to-Patent-Armageddon bridge–that’s been crossed already)…”

Yesterday, Shane wrote a nice short piece on the economic of FUD. He was referring to the Linux Foundation’s official rebuttal in BusinessWeek. The story behind this succinct LF rebuttal is told by one of its members, who also explains the role of the LF.

The Linux Foundation was formed to perform a number of roles: one is to speak out on issues of concern to the Linux ecosystem in particular, and open source in general. Another is what we refer to internally by the shorthand handle as “the Legal Protect” function. That means that we launch internally as well support externally a variety of initiatives that legally strengthen the Linux ecosystem.

Here is a piece explaining what Microsoft fears more than GNU/Linux. It is what some believe to be the inevitable transition to Free software everywhere.

I believe their [Microsoft's] choice of defense gives us the clue: they are hinting strongly at a possible battle with intellectual property (IP). They see don’t see Linux as the real threat: they see the goals and ideals of free and open source software taking hold and becoming the main threat. Because in Microsoft’s nightmare world where copyleft and open source becomes the norm, they would begin to lose their IP and the very thing they think makes them Microsoft.


Choke off the “oxygen” of free software, and you might eliminate the threat. Or, specifically in Microsoft’s case, poison the atmosphere instead. They get the same results.

This is very much validated by the fact that Microsoft has stubbornly attacked the GPL recently. The licence comes under fire from a large number of directions and if you follow the money trail, then you usually find Microsoft.

In news relating more closely to Novell, Groklaw suggests that SCO’s case against Novell has almost run out of steam. In reference to their new fight for a patent reform, one might find articles with deceiving headlines, such as “EFF Defends Novell Partnership” (but not necessarily Novell’s partnership with Microsoft). Similar deceiving headlines were spotted when Google was asked to open up more. The headlines could be interpreted as though Eben Moglen demands, through the GPLv3, that Google should make all of its source code openly available.

Microsoft gets a voice in another article where it explains why one needs to pay for interoperability, rather than rely on standards (not implementation). It’s another shot calling for distributors to repeat Novell’s mistake.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: Novell Gets a Linux Deal with FileEngine (Updated)

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Novell, Servers, SLES/SLED at 9:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As indicated in last week’s post, every Saturday we’ll strive to cover (or at least mention) a story which praises Novell rather than criticise it. This week we have a truly Linux-oriented deal, courtesy of Novell.

The award winning FileEngine small business server adopts Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Operating System.

Nowhere in the press release do we find “interoperability” or “intellectual property”, which is an encouraging and refreshing change.

Updated: here is another case of technical (visual) progress from the Opensuse team. It is a mockup of an animated bootstrap screen [Large GIF warning].

“***” means the *** and ***, equivalent offerings and any offerings marketed as “***”.

Posted in Deals, Deception, Microsoft, Novell, OpenOffice, Patent Covenant, Samba at 4:58 pm by Shane Coyle

Unfortunately, the title of this posting is indicative of the what you will find if you want to have a look at Exhibit B of the Microvell deal, the "payments" section – the one that would likely list which open source products shipped under the agreement Novell agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on, and perhaps even why.

Actually, exhibit C is even worse, as a matter of fact Exhibit C is as follows:


*** Portion for which confidential treatment requested.

From the non-redacted portions of the agreement, we finally learn about what a "clone product" is, and then we notice that, as Bruce Perens had noted early on after the agreement’s release, OpenOffice.org, StarOffice, OpenXchange and Wine are specifically excluded from the protection, but it also stipulates that Novell is not conceding that these are indeed "clone products".

1.7 “Clone Product” means a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party (“Prior Product”) and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product. Those portions of a product that are otherwise licensed to one Party from the other Party, or that are compliant with a specification of a standards organization as to which the other Party has consented to the use of its Patents therefor, shall not be considered in determining whether the product is a Clone Product.
(i) The Parties agree that products sold, licensed, supplied, distributed or otherwise made available by a Party for Revenue before the Effective Date (“Existing Products”) will not be deemed Clone Products. For purposes of clarification, the parties acknowledge that any features and functionality of such Existing Products (“Existing Product Functionality”) may be considered in determining whether a new product (or major component thereof) meets the requirements set forth in the first paragraph of this definition, provided that, even if a new product (or major component thereof) meets such requirements, only those Patents covering inventions in new features and functionality in such Clone Product may be asserted against such Clone Product, and only with regard to Clone Product Functionality. For purposes of this subsection (i), “Clone Product Functionality” means features or functionality (other than Existing Product Functionality) that add to meeting the requirements set forth in the first paragraph of this definition.
(ii) Notwithstanding subsection (i) above, Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice and OpenOffice are not subject to such subsection (i), however, the exclusion of such products from such subsection (i) is without implication as to (and shall not affect the determination of) whether such products (or any features or functionality thereof) are Clone Products. Further, the Parties agree that (A) no inference shall be drawn from the reference to the above products in this subsection as to whether such products are Clone Products and (B) this subsection shall not be admitted or referred to in evidence in any dispute regarding an evaluation of whether any of the products referred to in this subsection is a Clone Product.

Another noteworthy aspect is the absence of the word Samba from the agreement, especially when OOO and Wine are specifically singled out. It appears that Microsoft is especially concerned about Wine, even specifically excluding it from the Release section:

4.1 Parties and Subsidiaries. The parties, on behalf of themselves and their Subsidiaries, irrevocably release each other and their respective present Subsidiaries from any liability for Patent infringement (including any infringement by Excluded Products) arising prior to the Effective Date, provided the foregoing release does not apply to any other parties, including the parties’ respective Distributors and Customers.
4.2 Customers and Distributors. The parties, on behalf of themselves and their Subsidiaries, irrevocably release the direct and indirect Distributors of the Parties from any liability for Patent infringement arising on account of using, importing, offering for sale, selling, licensing, supplying, distributing, otherwise making available, or promoting the commercialization of the Parties’ products and services (including Excluded Products) prior to the Effective Date, provided the foregoing release does not apply to Wine or to any product for which such other Party did not receive Revenue directly or indirectly. The parties, on behalf of themselves and their Subsidiaries, also irrevocably release the respective direct and indirect Customers of the other Party from any liability for Patent infringement arising on account of using the Parties’ products and services (including Excluded Products) obtained prior to the Effective Date, provided the foregoing release does not apply to Wine or to any product for which such other Party did not receive Revenue directly or indirectly.

Groklaw’s discussion includes quite a few attempts at deciphering the redacted portions, some sections provide more context than the Exhibit C listed above. There is hope for transparency, however, since the parties have only stipulated to keep the details confidential until November 1, 2016. And, if they both use Microsoft’s OOXML to store the agreement, perhaps we can get to it in 2012.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts