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06.07.07

LG: Another Cross Licensing Deal with Microsoft Includes “Linux-based Embedded Devices”

Posted in Boycott Novell, Fuji Xerox, GNU/Linux, LG, Microsoft, Patent Covenant, Patents, Samsung at 6:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

After the deal with Fuji-Xerox and Samsung, Microsoft seems to have found another victim, with which it claims to have swapped patents, including Linux-related ones.

There is not much to see here because the previous deals with Fuji-Xerox and Samsung are similar (wording varies however). There is little to be worried about, but small companies that use embedded Linux ought to put an end to coverages such as this, which remain non-specific. Why would Linux require coverage? What Microsoft patents does Linux infringe on? Not a word from Microsoft. Recall deals where companies got betrayed or overcharged because patents simply remained hidden. In any event, here is the obnoxious part of news:

Under the agreement, LG will be able to use Microsoft-patented technology in its products, including Linux-based embedded devices.

To eliminate the path of destruction, one ought to force Microsoft to show its hands. Better sooner than later.

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13 Comments

  1. Shane Coyle said,

    June 7, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Gravatar

    Well, in this case I doubt LG was using OOO, Mono, or even Wine, if we’re talking embedded devices it’s just the Kernel, and maybe Samba that Microsoft could be claiming to allow them a right to use.

    Still trying to figure out what it is that Microsoft is licensing to these companies, a right to use what? Software in general?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 7, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Gravatar

    There was a discussion about the wording a while back. It’s very vague, but it appeared not to have been the kenrel the last time (possibly just Mono on the phones). In any event, there is no technical collaboration (to defend the cash cow with OOXML), sales ‘tax’, or interoperability ‘tax’.

    Note: I have modified the site’s tagline to “Exploring the reality behind exclusionary deals with Microsoft and their subtle (yet severe) implications”. Hopefully it aligns with our extended scope, which is rooted in the Novell deal.

  3. Jack said,

    June 7, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Gravatar

    I’ve been writing about this since it all started up with Novell in November at our blog and web site, but our readers are still very confused as to what the heck is going on (it could very well be the writing, I know). They are not lawyers, and want to know how this affects the IT manager — not the legal team or the FSF.

    What are the direct consequences if MS continues to snap up vendors? I’m not talking the “religious” implications of such a scenario — I’m talking the day-to-day business of IT guys and managers in the trenches. I’m hearing “this is bad” from all over, and understand completely where that is coming from, but how does it hurt interoperability, which is one of the main concerns of IT managers today?

    -jack

  4. Shane Coyle said,

    June 7, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Gravatar

    I guess I’d have to ask – how does it help interoperability? If Microsoft wanted to interact with Linux better, it is quite easy – it’s all open source, they can have a look at what the interfaces are and go at it. Or, even easier, use an established open standard / protocol. Or, document their own interfaces and protocols for Free use, as the EC ruling is requiring. Like Red Hat maintains, interoperability shouldn’t require an agreement.

    The technical interoperability aspect of these deals is a red herring, the objectionable portion of these deal is precedent they set that the tax being imposed on implementing interoperability is justifiable, the manner in which they willfully circumvent the expressed intent of the GPLv2, and the fact that they amount to enabling a monopolist derive revenue from their only competition in the form of royalties based on spurious and vague claims.

  5. Shane Coyle said,

    June 7, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Gravatar

    But, again, what has this deal gained the day-to-day guys in the trenches? Microsoft’s ODF support plugin for Office is awful, Novell’s OOXML is incomplete at best (and many believe that has always been Microsoft’s intention with this absurd and impossible-to-implement ‘standard’ – one they cannot even afford the manpower to implement more than once themselves).

    There may be hope for ODF support in Office, but it won’t be coming from Novell or Microsoft.

    Recently, Kevan Barney tried to push off the availability of a VHD file for Microsoft Virtual Server as a Fruit of the collaboration, but I suppose there wasn’t any meat to that assertion after all.

  6. gpl1 said,

    June 7, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Gravatar

    This may be bigger than it seemed to me at first, dealing with the grandfather clause and section 11. From a post at Groklaw:

    “Pay attention! This is Microsoft’s countermove (or springing the trap)
    Authored by: gdeinsta on Thursday, June 07 2007 @ 11:12 AM EDT

    Assuming Linux eventually converts to GPL3 this would bar LG from using Linux in their devices. LG is a major, major manufacturer. Linux is being used in more and more appliances, especially phones. There is even an agreement among most of the major phone makers to adopt Linux. That’s why Linux now includes improved real-time support, despite the initial opposition of Linus; it is too important an opportunity to ignore.

    Hardware manufacturers aren’t like Linux distributors; the O/S is not a major part of their product. And there are huge capital investments required to become a hardware manufacturer, plus economies of scale, which means that hardware manufacturers don’t just come and go. Brands come and go, but the manufacturers behind them are the same, they just put on different nameplates.

    This move is designed to drive a wedge between the EFF and Linus and stop Linus from ever switching to GPL3.”

    http://www.groklaw.net/comment.php?mode=display&sid=20070606120901152&title=Pay%20attention%21%20This%20is%20Microsoft%27s%20countermove%20%28or%20springing%20the%20trap%29&type=article&order=&hideanonymous=0&pid=581186#c581261

    (I think instead of the EFF, he actually meant the FSF)

  7. gpl1 said,

    June 7, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Gravatar

    Jack: Microsoft is not about compatibility. If they succeed with their monopolistic strategy, Linux will not be free any longer, (and you will have no competition protection against monopolistic pricing) just as Microsoft’s Bill Hilf said. The only reason you have any compatibility is because of free software developers reverse engineering Microsoft’s deliberately obfuscated protocols.

    Remember, one of the main developers behind SAMBA which gives you Windows interoperability resigned from Novell after they made that awful deal in November.

    http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20050205010415933

    http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20061221081000710

    From the mouth of the company who wants ‘interoperability”—–

    “The Free Software movement is dead. Linux doesn’t exist in 2007.” Head of Microsoft’s Linux Labs, Manager Bill Hilf

    http://www.bangkokpost.net/090507_Database/09May2007_data05.php

  8. Jack said,

    June 7, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Gravatar

    Thanks! On a side note, I didn’t mean to sound on one side of the issue or the other. I was looking for more straightforward info, as I imagine many people are hese days, and that’s what I got. Appreciate the links!

  9. gpl1 said,

    June 7, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Gravatar

    Ooh, I also forgot another thing. The patent deal, while a nice moneymaker and FUD for MS, is actually very stupid for a Linux company to sign because it omits (not that these deals should be encouraged at all) programs like OO.org, server to connected client, sendmail, wine, etc. Status of Mono is unknown, probably for FUD reasons again, things that Novell didn’t make, etc. Anyone who feels protected has fallen for it.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070525211117353

    “1.9 “Other Excluded Products” means (a) office productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc.) of the Parties that are hosted by or running on a computer acting as a server for a connected client device, and (b) new features and functions in the following categories of products of the Parties, but not to the extent the products embody operating system software or other enabling technologies: (i) video game consoles (e.g., Xbox video game consoles), console games, video game applications designed to run on a computer, and on-line video gaming services (e.g., Xbox live); (ii) business applications designed, marketed and used to meet the data processing requirements of particular business functions, such as accounting, payroll, human resources, project management, personnel performance management, sales management, financial forecasting, financial reporting, customer relationship management, and supply chain management; (iii) mail transfer agents (aka email servers); and (iv) unified communications.”

  10. shane said,

    June 7, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Bruce Lowry provided some convoluted explanation that for Novell customers OOO didn’t get automatic coverage, but does get covenant coverage, whatever that means…

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 7, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Gravatar

    @ gpl1:

    > “…This move is designed to drive a wedge between the
    > EFF and Linus and stop Linus from ever switching to GPL3.”

    Yes, that appears to make sense. This is not the first time pressure is applied using some deal. The Xandros deal had an element of this as well.

  12. Nubian Oracle said,

    June 8, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Gravatar

    We have one patent. Currently 22 companies reference it, including Microsoft. All without permission or license. So we now have the right to sue them? Anyone know a good lawyer?

    The patent is an established patented broadcast presentation system and method patent (number 5577042) that is being assigned to the companies listed below.

    Abstract for current patent – A broadcast and presentation system for synthesis of diverse data transmission signals and multimedia application subsystems. The system includes a signal processing line for transmitting information signals in multiple formats, a plurality of application subsystems for receiving input information in a predetermined signal format, a switching matrix for receiving input signals from the signal processing line and outputting the signals to the application subsystems that are described in destination and identification information that is embedded in the signal. The system further includes converters if necessary for receiving signals in one format and outputting the signals in another format according to the identification information that is embedded in the signal. The switching matrix may be programmable and controlled by a processor. A method of transmitting information signals includes embedding an information signal with destination and identification information; routing the information signal to a selected destination in accordance with the embedded destination information; and directing the signal to an application subsystem for processing the information signal at the selected destination in accordance with the embedded signal identification information. A method of receiving information signals includes receiving an information signal that has identification information embedded in the signal and routing the information signal to a selected application subsystem that is specified in the embedded identification information.

    Current U.S. Class: 370/257 ; 340/2.1; 370/232; 370/468; 379/243 Current International Class: H04L 12/28 (20060101) Current Public References which cited the patent with the patent Number and Title.

    1 US7155734 Methods of operating a data broadcast service
    2 US7069368 System of co-located computers in a framework including removable function modules for adding modular functionality
    3 US7051111 Multiple source proxy management system
    4 US7039116 Methods and apparatus for embedding and format conversion of compressed video data
    5 US6944826 Method of operating a system of co-located computers and remote human interfaces
    6 US6886055 Computer on a card with a remote human interface
    7 US6791977 Reclocker circuit and router cell
    8 US6788956 Terminal to execute a terminal application
    9 US6654616 Wireless area network having flexible backhauls for creating backhaul network
    10 US6487330 Optical switch, method of manufacturing same, and optical communication equipment using same
    11 US6473858 Method and apparatus for broadcasting data with access control
    12 US6370152 Distributed SNMP agent for frame relay switching network
    13 US6370155 High density unit shelf network interface card and method
    14 US6259672 Method and apparatus for providing delayed communications within a communication system
    15 US6229576 Editing system with router for connection to HDTV circuitry
    16 US6226038 HDTV editing and effects previsualization using SDTV devices
    17 US6226371 Communication system with assembly carrier unit
    18 US6160853 Modem concentrator
    19 US6016520 Method of viewing at a client viewing station a multiple media title stored at a server and containing a plurality of topics utilizing anticipatory caching
    20 US5999966 Control network-directed video conferencing switching system and method
    21 US5841969 Single bus architecture supporting subsystems of various criticality levels
    22 US5754787 System for electronically publishing objects with header specifying minimum and maximum required transport delivery rates and threshold being amount publisher is willing to pay
    23 US5729684 Method and apparatus for heterogeneous multimedia conferencing using multipoint references

  13. Phillip Coombs said,

    December 16, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Gravatar

    When I originally wrote the patent, I undertood how far reaching it was. I understood it was creating a whole new class of technologies. When we disclosed what we were doing in January 1993, I even coined the phrase “Convergence” and referred to the enviroment as “converged” and as a “converged network” which created an “interoperable environment”.

    There were many witnesses to what was going on in those days. Jim “Rusty” Lewis, Mike McGraw, Bill Kurtz, and William Westscott to name a few, plus the meetings and presentations we gave to MCI, Pacific Telesys, AT&T and NYEX. We convinced enough people that AT&T, MCI and Pacific Telesys cooperated to allow us to engage in a national video conference durig NAB Convention in 1993 and convince Cincinnati Bell to step out of the way.

    I am frankly tired of watching how downplayed our role at McGraw Broadcast and Gemini Group has been when it comes to “converged communications”. This patent defined Convergence.

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