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06.04.07

More Musings on the Xandrosoft Deal

Posted in Antitrust, Corel, Deals, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Open XML, Patent Covenant, Patents, Site News, Standard, Xandros at 11:36 pm by Shane Coyle

A somewhat staccato listing of some of the thoughts bouncing around my head today RE: Xandrosoft.

Is an IP License Required to Implement OOXML?
The ISO committee members, as well as numerous governmental IT departments, may very well want to take a close look at the recent "Microvell" and "Xandrosoft" deals, since it appears this is the second consecutive vendor that pledged to participate in implementing OOXML that also simultaneously took out an MS IP License of some kind, including patent coverage for customers.

Is the OOXML "standard" encumbered by additional Microsoft patents or other IP? Is it necessary to license this additional IP in order to bring a "blessed" implementation to market? As a matter of fact, of all of the companies to pledge to implement ooxml, the only one I don’t recall as having taken an MS IP license at the time is Corel, which brings me to…

The Usual Suspects
As Stephen Walli noted earlier, one of Xandros’ major investors is Corel, a company which certainly is no stranger to dealings with Microsoft, whether it be licensing or litigating – sorta like Novell, or Sun, or Caldera(SCO) for that matter.

Stephen had wondered aloud if, seeing as Xandros has no apparent patent portfolio to bargain with, somehow Corel’s patents could have found their way into this deal between Xandros and Microsoft. If true, I am wondering if it is also the fact that MS’ communications protocol license and patent covenant from this deal are finding their way to Corel for their OOXML implementation…

If so, that would be 3-for-3; you can pledge to implement OOXML, but be sure to take out the appropriate license to compensate Microsoft for their IP: hardly an "open" standard, if true, and something that Microsoft may want to clarify so that no one else draws such a conclusion.

Site News: www.boycottxandros.com
On an administrative note, Roy and I have decided that Xandros doesn’t get their own boycott website, sorry if that offends them in some odd way (if someone wants to volunteer to run the site, I will reconsider…). Otherwise, the www.boycottxandros.com domain will (shortly) be setup to redirect to our Xandros category.

Site News: Polls Voted Off
The polls have never really taken off, occasionally they get a boost when the diggers and slashdotters come through, but for the most part they have either lacked compelling subject matter (my fault) or perhaps poor exploitation buried there on the sidebar. In any event, I am shutting down the polls feature.

For the record, there were two questions:

Do you believe other Linux vendors should enter into similar pacts with Microsoft?
Yes: 22% No: 78% Votes: 533
Should the GPLv3 include the ‘Microvell grandfather clause’?
Yes: 66% No: 34% Votes: 149

Patents Deal Where There’s No Going Back (Updated)

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents at 9:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here’s a short news item that is truly a gem:

Timeline: Court rules Microsoft patent deal can’t be terminated

Timeline Inc. said a U.S court has ruled that the company’s patent agreement with Microsoft Corp. cannot be terminated, and that Timeline’s remedy for any alleged breaches would be to seek damages.

I can vividly recall Andrea Jaeger’s reply to our enquiry in the opensuse mailing list. He was saying that Novell’s deal with Microsoft was irrevocable. Who are the lawyers that took a look and studied the contract with Microsoft prior to signing? And what about Xandros? Did they employ any lawyers at all? In hindsight, GPLv3 probably renders the Xandros deal obsolete in most respects (much to Microsoft’s misfortune). Still, they try to get ‘ammunition’ for the courts (if the FSF ever ends up there).

Update: It gets worse. Have a look at this other new item:

Patent creators say Microsoft lied to get better deal on DVR patents

Microsoft is facing a patent lawsuit over its failed Ultimate TV DVR system. The lawsuit, filed by joint venture company Intellivision (no relation to the Mattel console), accuses the company of making fraudulent and misleading claims in order to acquire intellectual property without having to make royalty payments.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Saber rattling anyone?

Free Software Arsneral Exposed, Leaving Microsoft Shy

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Steve Ballmer at 9:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Over the years, many stereotypes have developed which plagued open source and Linux. The recent attacks, which led to a stubborn (and vocal) defence, have made Free software stronger. A mountain of disinformation had erupted and soon emptied itself. The ZDNet community has more to say about this, but in relation to technical merits.

The objective is to show for all to see how lean and mean GNU/Linux is as compared to Windows, and demonstrate that they are so different that GNU/Linux cannot be infringing so many patents and behave so differently. It is impossible to describe such differences with words, so we need a great, visible show. I guess people would like to buy stuff there, and there would be less waste of time and money than in a courtroom.

Another concern some businesses have had relates to IP, but on the face of it, the Open Solutions Alliance has just taken action that will put many myths and fears to rest.

As part of its requirement for membership to the OSA, which launched in February to promote and develop interoperable open source solutions, Palamida is now offering to scan the interoperability-related code of OSA members for potential intellectual property (IP) and security issues.

This is encouraging indeed. To use some sarcasm, here is an item from Free Software Magazine which pokes fun at Microsoft’s ownership mischiefs.

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come we don’t need to spend more than the GDP of many smaller countries, on advertising, that tries to brainwash the public into only “using” our operating systems?

It appears to have indeed ended up as a PR disaster to Microsoft. They bury themselves deeper in the quicksand as more and more customers begin to recognise the real motives.

More Defeats for Patents Mean a Decreased Perceived Threat

Posted in FUD, Microsoft, Patents at 9:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A look at yesterday’s news reveals that patents are gradually (yet quickly) losing their relevance. Along with their declining status, one should expect the relentless FUD to be far less effective. Consider these:

New business model: Reverse Patent Trolling

Want an eight-figure check in time for Christmas shopping? Sure you do. Microsoft’s vague patent threats against Linux create an opportunity to do a nifty variation on the patent trolling business model.

[...]

Naturally, Microsoft, in order to win, needs to keep the actual list of patents secret.

So, shall one be scared at all? Consider the following interesting development as well:

Raytheon inventions are programs and not patentable

The High Court has backed the Comptroller General of Patents in refusing a company a patent for inventions which were computer programs.

This just confirms what we already know. A known beg-for-traffic troll (Murphy) takes a look at some of the arguments as well:

So, bottom line: is software mathematical? Yes on the science based side, No on the data processing side.

If you are not familiar with the term “beg-for-traffic troll”, have a look at this new short article:

Do not feed the troll

Linux people tend to look up and understand technical issues, and even legal ones such as the differences between patent, copyright, and trademark. If you’ve been reading Linux sites and software licenses for a while, you pick up the basics. And magazines don’t hire fact checkers any more, and if a magazine pays a columnist less, doesn’t edit his work, and calls it a “blog” they can hold it to a lower standard of quality anyway.

[...]

Please. Do not feed the troll. Comment forms equal hits and money. If you must respond, email the publication’s editor (be sure to put in “NOT FOR PUBLICATION”) and post your comments–use “nofollow” links if you choose to link–on your own blog or on a competing site. The Mainstream IT Media is becoming more and more driven by raw traffic numbers, and as editors see good results from trolling, they’ll tend to rely on it more.

This one particular item from Murphy isn’t a good one, but we mentioned ones that stood out in the past.

Mark Shuttleworth Was Wrong, and the Xandros Deal Proves It

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Ubuntu, Xandros at 9:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

You may recall, Mark Shuttleworth’s argument that Microsoft is not the real enemy here; It’s our friend, he argues. Well, this argument (however ‘cute’ it may seem), motivated by the need to eliminate patent trolls, no longer seems easy to embrace, let alone accept.

Microsoft is attacking Free software. It doesn’t do this in the courtroom, but protection rackets are effective nonetheless. And that’s just what the Xandros deal is about (as well as a punch at the GPL).

The following item contrasts Mark’s views and explains why Microsoft will continue to fight Free software, rather than sidle with it.

Mark Shuttleworth recently wrote that “Microsoft is not the real threat”.

[...]

Today, right now, the software industry is divided and it is at war. The battle lines are drawn, almost every firm in the industry is clearly on one side or the other. The fight is over a simple thing – how to survive in a changing world.

Linux vendors and Open Source companies absolutely must stop pretending that Microsoft likes them. This is nothing but an attempt to embrace and eliminate. That’s what Microsoft’s Linux Lab (Port 25) is all about. It’s a door to negotiating deals that are harmful to the threat as a whole.

Xandros Aftermath: GPL ‘Poison’, Standards Abolishment

Posted in Deals, Europe, GPL, Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents, Samba, Xandros at 9:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is an overwhelming amount of information to wade through, but here are just a couple of items (mind the quoted bits) that highlight some early findings.

Xandros Linux signs up for Microsoft patent protection

Microsoft will provide Xandros users with a patent covenant that protect users of the software from intellectual property claims. Microsoft will provide the patent license directly to the end user, which allows it to circumvent patent licensing requirements in the General Public Licence (GPL) that governs Linux.

[...]

Co-author of the GPLv3 Eben Moglen has denounced exclusive patent deals with Microsoft as a “divide and conquer” tactic that is designed to break up the open source community.

Microsoft and Xandros declined to comment on the implications of GPLv3 on the deal, pointing out that licence is currently in a draft stage and might still change.

It seems as though Microsoft has identified an ever-declining small victim that can be used as a tool to hinder and stifle GPLv3. Also, have a look at the deal’s impact on everything which Novell is already guilty affecting in negative way.

The Microsoft Xandros Deal (thanks, Shane, for the headsup)

What does it mean for Microsoft

They get a new protocol licensee which I’m sure they’ll be pleased to trumpet to the EU.

They get a renewed messaging platform for their continued
infatuation with customers and patents instead of customers and
solutions. It’s a broken platform which shows no leadership, but that apparently won’t stop them from pushing it.

They get to continue the messaging shades of grey around Microsoft Office Open XML and ODF. “Xandros and Microsoft share the view that competing office productivity applications should, by design, make it easy for customers to exchange files with one another.” Microsoft sees its death in ODF. They will fight like a cornered rat and message appropriately.

Novell, meet Xandros. You share guilt. Soon enough, you will share a pain as well. Partnerships with Microsoft are a death knell and you ought to have read the writings on the wall. Soon enough, Xandors will be too heavily reliant on Microsoft (just like the Novell marionette), or be perceived as a another Linux department of that company, lobbying for the same (ant-Free software) agenda.

In Vino, Veritas

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Protocol, Windows, Wine, Xandros at 9:58 am by Shane Coyle

Microsoft’s True Targets Come To Light

I was pondering just recently, why Xandros? (I also pondered "why, Xandros?", but that is another discussion), and realized that Xandros includes CrossOver Office as a major feature in their distribution. In fact, the ability to "Run Windows Programs" is the primary feature listed on the first product I clicked on.

It has been noted here on this site, and elsewhere, that the non-redacted portions of the Microvell deal indicate that it seems Microsoft has a particular concern over Wine, perhaps it is because of statements such as this:

CrossOver Linux allows you to install many popular Windows productivity applications, plugins and games in Linux, without needing a Microsoft Operating System license. [editors note: emphasis mine]

Apparently, Microsoft (and Novell and Xandros) feel that you do need a Microsoft IP license, however.

Updates: Stephen Walli’s blog – Once More Unto the Breach - has a quite bit on the "Xandrosoft deal", as well as updated thoughts from Matt Asay, and Matthew Aslett.

Good News to Novell and Apache

Posted in Africa, GNU/Linux, GPL, Novell, SLES/SLED at 9:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A Tectonic article reveals that Novell has just signed a deal with a South African bank. Under the deal, 12,000 desktops are expected to be shifted to GNU/Linux.

With 12 000 desktops switching to Linux this is very likely the most significant Linux and open source implementation in South Africa to date.

Elevating news if all that is said there is true! Microsoft and “intellectual property” have no presence in this one particular scoop.

To repeat some older news, the Free Software Foundation confirms its certainties. It is convinced that Novell’s so-called ‘patent protection’ will be extended to everybody else (if it is valid at all).

Microsoft’s covenant not to sue users of Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise will be extended to all General Public License v3 users as soon as Novell includes GPLv3 code within its Linux distribution, according to the Free Software Foundation.

Microsoft begs to differ and we shall see if this ends up in court where disagreements can be resolved.

In other (largely encouraging) news to Apache, the Free Software Foundation, and GPLv3 (perhaps much to Microvell’s discomfort), there is apparently another licence breakthrough.

The forthcoming GPLv3 license will be compatible with the Apache Software License, the Free Software Foundation has announced. It could enable some of the most popular free and open source software projects to be merged for the first time.

Things are looking bright for GPLv3. It also becomes apparent that — contrary to Microsoft’s argument — GPLv3 achieves much more than painting Microsoft a victim. For this reason, wide adoption by developers is expected.

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