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02.19.08

Microsoft OOXML: Patents, Patents, Patents (…x14)

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Deception, GPL, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work. Maybe there is no way Io avoid this problem but it does bother me. Maybe we can define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open. Or maybe we could patent something related to this.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Amazing it might seem how frequently Microsoft can lie about this. The company systematically denies the software patent risk, which is an inherent component of OOXML. For those naive enough to take Microsoft’s word (or Word), the ODF Alliance has compiled a document that explains this properly. [PDF] [via Bob Sutor]

Microsoft has a patent promise, the Open Specification Promise (OSP) and a Covenant Not to Sue, relating to OOXML. If you want to implement OOXML with confidence that you are not infringing on any intellectual property rights (IPR), these coverages are not adequate. They have gaps.

Rob Weir uses some sarcasm to get across the point that software patents are used as an obstacle to interoperability.

So, if anyone shows you interoperability, ask yourself whether both sides of the interaction actually fully understand the data that is being exchanged. If not, this is not really full interoperability. It is just an illusion.

This post is also good for a quick laugh, especially the ELIZA portions of the text.

The key question here can be foreseen. Is there any precedece where lawsuits are launched to defend a widely deployed protocol, so-called ‘standard’ (de facto or otherwise) or format? Well, who needs a search for precedence when there is news available that was published just hours ago in Reuters. Watch what Motorola says in its defense (Motorola uses GNU/Linux extensively by the way):

Research In Motion sues Motorola over patents

In addition, RIM alleges that Motorola “is demanding exorbitant royalties…for patents that Motorola claims are essential to various standards for mobile wireless telecommunications and wireless computing that RIM practices.”

“OOXML is patents. Yes, patents are in OOXML. Don’t let anybody fool you.”Read that statement again if you haven’t and think about OOXML while you read it. RIM, mind you, is not a struggling company. It does not beg for money to protect its short- or long-term survival (think about SCO). Rather, it fights to maintain dominance and it uses patents covering “standards” to achieve this goal of ‘taxing’ its competitor out of relevance (Motorola is the stagnating business here, still wrestling with plenty of ongoing reorgs and staff reductions).

It was quite recently that Microsoft admitted it needs to control (and protect using patents) the ‘standard’ in order for its business to remain relevant. There are many antitrust documents that back this long-enduring attitude. It’s time to break the ice — for good. OOXML is patents. Yes, patents are in OOXML. Don’t let anybody fool you.

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2 Comments

  1. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    February 19, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Gravatar

    One notable absent in the specifications covered by Microsoft OSP is…VBA

    (see http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/default.mspx)

    Interestingly enough, Microsoft gives away the VBA specs if you send an email at officeff@microsoft.com

    As seen here, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/840817

    “Microsoft Office Binary File Formats

    Microsoft makes its .doc, .xls, .xlsb, and .ppt binary file format specifications available under a royalty-free covenant not to sue to anyone who wishes to implement all or part of these specifications in their products. Implementation includes the ability to use the specification documentation for analysis and forensic reference purposes. Microsoft Office Drawing File Format for 2007 and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) File Format for 2007 are also available under this program.”

    So one might expect why is VBA absent…

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 19, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Gravatar

    Here’s a recent one I read:

    The macro language subset of Visual Basic has been the bread and butter architecture for those tasked with building advanced formatting in Microsoft’s signature Excel and Word suites.

    http://www.regdeveloper.co.uk/2008/01/14/office_mac_08_vba/

    They still need some walls, some gaps, uncertainty. Licensing issues aside…

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