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Microsoft Talks to Open Source “Community Members” About Patent Royalties

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments””

Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008

Here is just a quick shot from the hip.

Watch this smug new article closely enough and you will see just what vision Microsoft has for Free software, which it implicitly considers as separate from its own provisional idea of Open Source (self-serving of course).

And Microsoft is in “on-going dialog” with community members over making it easier to find the royalties in its documents.

Microsoft wants open source software to accept software patents globally and also pay for the privilege of using mathematics. Thank you, Novell.

No Patents in Linux

Say No to Novell

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  1. AlexH said,

    May 19, 2008 at 10:21 am


    Sigh. I realise that you want to read everything in the most negative light, but…

    … pointing out the royalty-bearing areas of a document is actually a good thing. For the CIFS documentation, they handed over to Samba a document and listed the patents that they said applied to the standard. With that list, the Samba team can now actively avoid those patents to ensure that they’re not infringing them.

    Yes, software patents are bad, but surely it’s better to have a map of the landmines than to try and find them manually?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 19, 2008 at 10:31 am


    Would you like to scan through thousands of patents just before you start programming? Need Microsoft openly restrict access to protocols that should have been a commodity and became a necessity sometimes through sheer market abuse? What about Microsoft’s appeal in the EU?

  3. AlexH said,

    May 19, 2008 at 11:03 am


    The whole EU process is exactly why Samba got this list of patents:

    “Under the agreement, Microsoft is required to make available and keep current a list of patent numbers it believes are related to the Microsoft implementation of the workgroup server protocols, without granting an implicit patent license to any Free Software implementation.”


    Samba don’t have to scan through thousands of patents; that’s precisely the point. You’re arguing against yourself again: the alternative to being provided a list of patents is that projects like Samba absolutely have to go through thousands of patents or (more likely) ignore patents and try to deal with issues when they arise.

  4. Miles said,

    May 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm


    I wonder if Roy will ever pluck his head from the sand he hides it in.

  5. AlexH said,

    May 19, 2008 at 12:41 pm



    The sad thing is, it’s not like Roy’s position on this issue is wrong. Software patents are terrible, and do direct measurable harm to free software.

    But we live in a world where a number of major places – the US, Japan – have them, and you have to live with that. If Microsoft, and everyone else, *explicitly* said what patents they believe they have, that would actually help enormously. Agreements like http://www.protocolfreedom.org/ are actually a good thing in this context.

    By coming out against things like this, without thinking them through, we risk further damage on top of the existing damage of software patents.

  6. Miles said,

    May 19, 2008 at 1:05 pm


    No, I wholeheartedly agree that software patents are bad – I don’t think you’ll find anyone who truly disagrees there (or at least, I’ve never met anyone who disagrees – online or otherwise).

    My point is that Roy doesn’t acknowledge any evidence that doesn’t match his own perception of reality and simply hides his head in the sand when any is presented.

    He doesn’t ever read the articles he links to (as I’m sure you’ve discovered) and never bothers to think things through logically, and so only serves to mislead himself and others who don’t bother to read said articles (or do any thinking of their own).

    He jumps to conclusions all the time without knowing all of the facts and just assumes the worst about the people and groups he doesn’t like.

    “I don’t like group XYZ, so whenever XYZ does anything… it must be fore some evil purpose.”

    That’s classic “Roy logic”.

  7. Rui Miguel Silva Seabra said,

    May 19, 2008 at 4:41 pm


    Knowing a specific patent is by no means a way to circunvent it. Specially if it involves around document formats, file systems or network protocols.

    How could you work around RSA? You couldn’t.
    When did RSA become widespread? After the patent expired.
    What was the result?

    20 years delay of introducing encryption to computer users on a massively spread form.

    HOW on earth can anyone be so naïve as to even think patents are circunventable if known…

  8. Xanadu said,

    May 19, 2008 at 4:52 pm


    Miles: You sound like you have some hard time convincing yourself that this blog is lying that you have to repeat that theory like a parrot over and over and over. It sounds fun that the generalization you posted about Roy always ignoring evidence comes with zero evidence altogether. I actually think you were trying to convince yourself more than anyone else there.

  9. Dan O'Brian said,

    May 19, 2008 at 5:54 pm


    One need look no further than this thread (AlexH’s proof) or today’s anti-Mono FUD to see what Miles is referring to.

    So Xanadu, sounds more like you are the one trying to convince yourself that this whole site isn’t a sham.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 19, 2008 at 5:57 pm


    The whole EU process is exactly why Samba got this list of patents:

    Samba was the exception and by no means the norm and it came after like a decade of fighting in vain.

  11. ZiggyFish said,

    May 19, 2008 at 7:18 pm


    Dan O’Brian, Miles and AlexH (and any other name you call your self):

    Firstly, get a life.

    Secondly, you seem to forget the point of this site. The site is call BoycottNovel for a reason.

    Thirdly, you never back up your statements.

    Fourthly, you seem to have ignored Rui Miguel Silva Seabra’s comment.

    And Fifthly you won’t reply to this comment because you know I’m right.

  12. ZiggyFish said,

    May 19, 2008 at 7:21 pm


    Roy Schestowitz:

    And even then it was only the EU lawsuit that they were forced to give Samba the docs needed.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 19, 2008 at 7:28 pm


    Carlo Piana could tell you about the hell they had to go through merely to get access to /protocols/ and for Microsoft to stop “F**cking with Samba” (Jeremy Allison’s own words on technical sabotage rumours).

  14. AlexH said,

    May 20, 2008 at 2:21 am


    @Rui: obviously, if there is no way around a patent, you’re screwed. Is it better to know that a patent you can’t get past exists? I would argue it is.

    If you have to deal with a jurisdiction where software patents exist, it’s better to know what you’re dealing with. I don’t see why this is such a difficult concept.

    @ZiggyFish: I actually always back up my statements with references and citations. I know you don’t come here for a balanced point of view, but if you have a factual problem with anything I say, then challenge me on it.

  15. plh said,

    May 20, 2008 at 5:16 am


    “Microsoft wants open source software to accept software patents globally and also pay for the privilege of using mathematics.”

    And pay for the privilege of using inventions which Microsoft has stolen from them or others with parachronistic patents like its extended clipboard formats, RSS subscription, and Enlightenment-style pager patents.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 20, 2008 at 7:20 am


    …and Enlightenment-style pager patents.

    Well, for that type of job (legal attack over virtual desktops) they have proxies like Acacia, with former Microsoft employees [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

  17. Sally said,

    May 20, 2008 at 4:11 pm


    “But we live in a world where a number of major places – the US, Japan – have them, and you have to live with that. ”

    Just like unjust marijuana laws, no, we don’t have to live with that. Just because a law is passed doesn’t make it moral or correct, wealthy men pass unjust laws while fooling the people with lies. Whether patents may or may not have been a good thing at one time is debatable, but right now they are evil and the law must be changed. In America most of the people are dumb and fat, so expect them not to care about patents as a whole, but in countries where the people aren’t so complacent and stupid, they care enough to protest against them.

    We live on a rock, bound by gravity, we will never get off and anywhere if we continue the corrupt, wealthy elite to control us and stifle innovation. The U.S. space program is one example of wasted potential which needs to open up in order for us to progress as a people.

  18. ZiggyFish said,

    May 20, 2008 at 5:40 pm


    @Rui: obviously, if there is no way around a patent, you’re screwed. Is it better to know that a patent you can’t get past exists? I would argue it is.

    But in that case it’s better of no one knowing (which is what the situation with option source). If no one knows about it, no one can sue (btw, which is also another fundamental problem with patents)

    If you have to deal with a jurisdiction where software patents exist, it’s better to know what you’re dealing with. I don’t see why this is such a difficult concept.

    The problem isn’t software makers, it’s the software patents. If you deal with the software (the actual software that infringes on the patents) it’s self, your only dealing with the symptom of the problem and NOT solving or preventing the problem from occurring again.

    Murphy’s Law states:

    It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later.

    Software patents are anti-competitive in there nature (there are companies that are founded around software patents.), But you can still protect your products though copy write laws which is non anti-competitive.

    So after I’ve said that. Tell me AlexH, why should software patents exist (here’s your chance to prove me wrong about you in my previous post)?

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 20, 2008 at 8:38 pm


    I agree there’s a sense of defeatism here. Alex, were apartheid, sexism, slavery and oppression just to be accepted and coped with? Or did some countries end up defeating those because people demanded justice?

    Just as there’s nothing fair or ethical about apartheid, sexism, slavery and oppression, there’s no legitimacy to software patents.

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