Microsoft is suing someone for not paying Mono rather than paying for Java makes a big difference in the view of the public eye regarding merit and ultimate success. The public understanding of “which side is morally right” would be accompanied for sure by a slew of Microsoft propaganda, that would say: Mono is an intentional direct rewrite of Microsoft IP and enables free rides based on our IP.
It would be hard to convince why Microsoft should not be entitled to collect royalties for such a big chunk of IP, if Novell does pay Microsoft.
“It would be hard to convince why Microsoft should not be entitled to collect royalties for such a big chunk of IP, if Novell does pay Microsoft.”This makes it so much harder for something like Groklaw to counter the propaganda, which is also something Microsoft learned from the SCO-case.
The idea is basically to show that Mono is something like a specially-designed Trojan horse, that masks itself with free-licensing and therefore makes it seem legit and on the same perceived risk-scale than other technologies.
While the original dotnet is genuine (although it borrows and builds on top of a lot of other ideas – just like cars do built on the same old concepts and evolve), Mono is specifically and superficially created, as to incorporate the very same underlying technology – all the blueprints for copying are purposely thrown on the table, and so letting Mono grow fulfills 2 goals:
Goal No. 1
Keep the other numerous car-makers from advancing their technology (which like Java, Python, etc. are also available for free and libre) and therefore prevent the possibility of building useful stuff with other stuff than Microsoft (these are the apps like navigation, car-radios, etc.) Or short: Draining attention away and diverting the landscape so to prepare conquest (divide and conquer). This is done by the license and cannot be debated on why GPL for Java should be good and GPL for Mono should be bad and therefore perceived with more caution.
Goal No. 2
Lure as many developers into building useful apps (or the entire car) with Microsoft-technology.
In my opinion, Microsoft can’t do that by developing Mono itself, if it wants to sue for licensing afterwards, because it gets harder to release stuff intentionally UNDER GPL (as opposed to their usual proprietary licenses) and later prove you didn’t know what your INTENTION was by pretending to not understood the consequences of the GPL (even v2)…
This is the major point Microsoft learned from the SCO-fiasco, as it was hard to prove that when SCO actively was part of UnitedLinux, it didn’t know exactly what it was doing with their “so-called IP” when releasing it under the terms the GPL…
So Microsoft changes and finds the perfect partner to fulfill its goals: Hurt Red Hat as much as possible, and letting Novell only continue develop “Mono” under its protection-racket as to give this project the perception it is legally save for Novell-users. Otherwise, Microsoft would have been forced to stop Novell from developing Mono or start to sue Novell, while with every day passing by, it would have gotten harder to argue that Microsoft stood there so long seeing what Novell was doing (including Mono in Linux), and not to find a “solution” (=cross-patent-licensing) or litigate right away.
Now as Novell is under Microsoft “guided control”, Microsoft can much more easily claim that Novell started building something that mimics Microsoft-technology as close as possible in the past, then talked with Microsoft about this (and other) technology resulting in “covenants not to sue” and others distributors or users who want to use Mono too (which resembles dotnet not only from the outside (the look of the apps: the car’s shape), but also from the inside (the technology or motor)) should clearly see that Microsoft is entitled to demand royalties from costumers who built their stuff by using a copy of Microsoft-technology to get a “free-ride”…
“Someone has to weigh these arguments in, if s/he choses to defend usage of Mono by claiming it is on the same scale as usage of Java.”It is much, much harder to prove such a case and nurture such a claim for MS with regards to using Java (for example), as MS themselves built dotnet on ideas relating to Java, which could then be proven to be mostly prior art. Java-technology would also get defended by a company like Sun (or Google), and MS had to prove the infringing IP of Java resembling dotnet, which would be easy in case of dotnet vs. mono.
So the litigation-scenario IS a major factor for anyone, who tries to compare the risk of possible litigation on the basis of IP-claims between dotnet and Mono and dotnet and Java. Someone has to weigh these arguments in, if s/he choses to defend usage of Mono by claiming it is on the same scale as usage of Java.
From Microsoft’s perspective and the public viewing of such a case, it is clearly not. Even the possible danger from Sun suing over Java is clearly not comparable, because Sun knew what it did when releasing GPL-Java and would have a hard stand to sue anyone not wanting to pay patent-royalties afterwards. If Microsoft would do the same as sun and release an official “Microsoft-certified” dotnet-variant under GPL, later license demanding through litigation would instantly lose a great deal of appeal.
So Microsoft having set up everything in place in its favor with Novell, now sits back and laughs silently as they have found the ONE weak-spot, with they trying to split FLOSS-land: The GPLv2 only and LGPLv2 only, which are poorly designed to such a clever patent-scam-attack. Microsoft weapon is a GPL-tarnished sword called Mono, developed by Novell.
At least, this is how I perceive this whole Microsoft-Novell-nonsense. Now the hard part is to prove this theory other than to wait and let it prove itself. So all we can and should do is make that threat as transparent as possible by exposing its nature to the fullest by just describing it as precisely as possible without making anything up.
Maybe this analogy helps a little to achieve this goal, and raise the awareness to where the difference (and danger) lies. █