07.19.07

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A Patent Reform is Here, Microsoft’s Anti-Linux Weapons Get Blunt

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OIN, Oracle, Patent Covenant, Patents at 9:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here is some reassuring news about the House Committee approving a patent bill in the United States. It is another step in the right direction.

House Committee Approves Patent Reform Legislation Favored by Software Companies

You may wish to remind yourself why software companies are concerned.

For all of the hype these days over enormous jury verdicts — including the record $1.5 billion judgement against Microsoft Corp. in March — few juries ever decide a patent dispute. The huge stakes and the unpredictability of juries ensure that “most companies choke down some kind of a settlement or licensing deal,” says veteran patent litigator Woody Jameson, a partner at Duane Morris in Atlanta. And, of course, the cost of just getting in front of a jury is staggering: a big patent trial now costs each side more than $4 million to try.

As the following article indicates (and rightly so), Microsoft’s weapon remains fear, but it’s truly just a clawless toothless tiger. Microsoft knows it.

“If [Microsoft] found the knife, they’d use it — but I don’t think they found the knife,” Bottomley says, referring to patent violations. He rattled off a few of the Linux community’s defenses: “Patent law is supposed to protect people who wish to publish their ideas. I suspect these ideas were never published. Whoever invented [something] first is entitled to the patent — it wouldn’t be unlikely to be [the open source community], in which case the patent would be invalid.”

Let’s not forget the Open Invention Network which, as Matt puts it, offers peace of mind. Novell should have simply joined OIN and augmented its arsenal rather than sign a deal with Microsoft.

Then there is Oracle licensing agreement with the Open Invention Network, formed in 2005 to protect Linux from patent threats. By agreeing to a royalty free license to the OIN patents Oracle also agreed not to assert its patents against the Linux operating system.

So if you can avoid suing anyone for patent infringement related to those 150 standards, you’re safe from IBM, and if you’re using any form of Linux, you are safe from patent infringement claims made by Oracle.

Now, that sounds like peace of mind.

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2 Comments

  1. Mike said,

    July 20, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Gravatar

    Novell did join the IOIN, in fact it seeded it with a number of patents. Microsoft joining the OIN be the big deal

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 20, 2007 at 4:57 am

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    I had this in mind when I wrote this. It is also why I chose the words “joined OIN and augmented its arsenal” rather than “joined OIN”, which is what I was going to write before realising that we had been corrected before. Novell also made a small contribution to the FSF, but it was so minor that it’s almost negligible. A 5,000-men company could do a lot more to protect Free software, but it seems to have lost focus and settled for a ‘mixed source’ strategy.

    Novell’s recent EFF backing is commendable, but at the time (OSBC) it seemed like an attempt to save face.

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