07.25.07

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Patent Lawyer in Microsoft’s Defense on GNU GPLv3 Issues

Posted in GPL, Law, Microsoft at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hmm… an article quoting an attorney who argues Microsoft is immune to GPLv3. To quote the less pro-Microsoft parts:

These [Linux] partnerships, in some cases, restrict the freedoms normally associated with the use and distribution of open source software.

To combat this strategy, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), authors of the General Public License (the open-source license under which most future open-source applications are expected to be distributed), have included new provisions in the third version of this licence that are designed to turn such patent-protection deals to the advantage of the open-source community.

[...]

“If you ever have to defend your patent in court, you have to prove that there wasn’t any prior art. The other party is likely to cite similar ideas to your patent to disprove it. It’s possible some could be struck down.

“These patents are worth more to Microsoft challenged than unchallenged,” she added.

I have spent a quarter of an hour trying to identify ties (if any exist) between the individual/firm and Microsoft. No strong evidence can be found, so they might as well get the benefit of the doubt on this one.

With media placements such as this one from C|Net (published just yesterday), you never really know. This particular one comes from a business that sells Windows products. It takes cheap shots at Linux laptops which threaten the business and C|Net offers this FUD some room. This happened a lot in the past. The EU, ODF, GPL, and Linux got criticized in C|Net, usually by well-know Microsoft lobbyists such as CompTIA.

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2 Comments

  1. Simon said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:29 am

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    Well ianal, but this interpretation makes sense to me – that MS can’t be bound to gplv3 by actions they took before gpl3 existed. However, it has made them publically disown any involvement with gpl3 code and state that their agreement with novell does not apply to gpl3 code. So essentially, as soon as Novell start to distribute gpl3 code, as they have said they will, those patent covenants become, for novell customers, a promise from MS only not to sue them for use of non-gpl3 code (and thus Novell cannot claim that sles is immune from ms patent agression). As more gpl3 code gets incorporated novell loses more of its ms patent based supposed advantage and the impact of the deal fades and dies completely after the fice years is up.

    Of course, if MS can be snagged in some way (the vouchers arguably might allow this, no-one knows until someone has a good look at the wording) – so that Novell distributing gpl3 code extends ms patent protection to everyone using that code – that’s even better.

  2. gpl1 said,

    July 25, 2007 at 9:03 pm

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    The GPL is not a contract. This lawyer doesn’t seem to understand the copyright issues of a Free Software license when she’s talking about contracts and meeting of the mind issues.

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