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Mr. Shuttleworth Misunderstands Microsoft’s Software Patents Tactics

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Ubuntu at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Talk is cheap. Show me the code.”

Linus Torvalds


icrosoft has only threatened Linux without ever showing any evidence to back it slanderous allegations. That’s FUD and saber-rattling, but it’s not a lawsuit. At the same time, Microsoft quietly resorted to extortion of large Linux users. The mainstream press hardly covers this hush-hush fiasco.

Nonetheless, Mark Shuttleworth, who on Wednesday advocated GPLv3, seems to believe that:

  1. Microsoft has not attacked yet
  2. Microsoft won’t attack

In a way, both of these assertions are wrong. The extortion, a mafia-like technique which is documented even by Microsoft, is akin to lynching (punishment without a trial) and Microsoft might already be attacking Linux, by proxy. Here is what he said:

Shuttleworth smirked and then responded.

“I don’t believe Microsoft is going to sue any open source software vendor, doing so would be tantamount to launching nuclear war.”

The audience erupted into laughter.

“We do copyright assignment and I really do believe that’s a valuable practice,” Shuttleworth continued. “As part of our copyright assignment we don’t ask for any statement about patents, we accept the code, it’s a contribution and we take responsibility for it and we carry that forward.”

Mark seems indifferent when it comes to Mono in Ubuntu (Fedora and Debian possibly beg to differ), but copyrights come into play as well. He neglects to account for a point that he made before. The patent trolls are a big problem, more so when they are former Microsoft employees!

Microsoft won’t sue Linux. Of course not, that would be just as foolish as what SCO did (possibly at the behest of Microsoft). they’ll use patent trolls (shell companies) instead. Remember FireStar, which attacked Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4]? Guess what? There turns out to be a Microsoft connection.

Why go to the effort of developing new software when you can use patents to extort other companies? A story about FireStar Software, which has not updated its software since 2003, preferring to rely on lawyers rather than programmers, to assure its income…


“Under terms of the agreement FireStar Software and Microsoft and will be participating in joint marketing and sales activities targeting Insurance companies faced with issues of rapidly developing applications compliant with industry standards.”

Microsoft connections also exist in another patent troll that attacked Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Don’t forget Intellectual Ventures, which is almost a Microsoft spin-off given the personal involvement of Mhyrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

All of this is a strategy of creating and using laws that sideline the competition. The DMCA, which Microsoft is promoting [1, 2, 3], is another such example. It’s reaching Canada while the founder of Red Hat is trying to fight a political (and easily corruptible) muscle. From the news:

His long history with open source development has him concerned about the provisions of Bill C-61 prohibiting software that circumvents technological measures (AKA technical protection measures, or TPMs).

Despite an exemption in Bill C-61 that allows users to circumvent TPMs for the purpose of making software interoperable, Young told ComputerWorld Canada Thursday this could have unintended consequences.

“I don’t want to come across as being hugely anti- (Bill C-61) but I am concerned about one particular feature,” Young said. “It errs on the side of making technology illegal as opposed to making behaviour illegal.”

Because technology could change over the next few years, it’s hard to predict the effect of making circumvention tools illegal.

“It’s the equivalent to making screwdrivers and pliers illegal because they can be used to break and enter instead of making the act of breaking and entering illegal,” Young said.

It’s important to understand the fight against vital rights, which includes an abuse of the system that injures Free software the most.

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