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09.26.08

A Triumph for Common Sense in the Patent System

Posted in Courtroom, Dell, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 11:25 pm by Shane Coyle

Those were the words of Microsoft counsel Tom Burt, regarding the upholding of a previous ruling overturning the $1.5B Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft patent infringement judgment.

Curiously, according to the Associated Press article, it appears that Microsoft willingly stepped in to this conflict as a defendant after Lucent Technologies filed suit against PC manufacturers Dell and Gateway.

In February 2007, a jury in U.S. District Court in San Diego determined Microsoft infringed on two patents that cover the encoding and decoding of audio into the digital MP3 format, a popular way to convert music from CDs into files on computers and vice versa.

Six months later, the judge who presided over the case, Rudi M. Brewster, vacated the ruling, saying Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software does not infringe on one of the two patents in question.

Brewster, siding with Microsoft, also said the second patent is jointly owned by both Alcatel-Lucent and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, a German company that Microsoft paid $16 million in exchange for use of the technology. Since Fraunhofer did not sue Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker was in the clear.

The MP3 patent claims were just two of 15 made by Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2003 against PC makers Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. for technology developed by Bell Labs, Lucent’s research arm.

Later that year, Microsoft added itself to the list of defendants, saying the patents were closely tied to its Windows operating system. France’s Alcatel bought Lucent in 2006.

So, Microsoft are the (sorta) good guys here? I’m at a loss for words, but good for them I guess.

I find it a bit funny that they didn’t try to argue that software is not a component, and that there needs to be a device for a patent, like they had previously.

Once upon a time, I somewhat jokingly had speculated about Microsoft trying to “pull a Goo-Tube” and step in with their deep pockets when they saw decent technologies were about to be assailed with spurious patent claims – maybe it was more true than I ever thought?

Probably not likely, but what do you think? Tellme.

Novell’s Got the NAC

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell, Security, Standard, Windows at 10:42 am by Shane Coyle

But not for Linux… yet

It appears that Novell’s ZENworks is gaining some Network Access Control (NAC) functionality, a product of their Senforce acquisition. As Sean Michael Kerner points out over at Enterprise Networking Planet, there is some confusion about Novell’s NAC implementation as it relates to Linux. Specifically, at this point, Novell is not supporting Linux endpoints – not SUSE, no one.

Apparently, it was a ‘business decision’ to go forward with a mainly Windows-compatible feature set, despite the fact that the NAC is actually running on a Linux kernel, albeit a customized non-SUSE one. I guess that Novell doesn’t see much of a Linux market out there, which is weird because it appears that Red Hat does.

The surprises don’t end there. Although ZENworks NAC is built on top of a Linux kernel, it does not actually support the OS as an enforcement endpoint. Ferre explained that Linux support wasn’t a priority because Novell sees a higher demand for Windows-compatible solutions, owing to the density of Windows devices in the enterprise.

“It was a decision on coming to market,” Ferre said. “We needed to either deliver on what is in the most demand and get to market sooner, or we could have held off and release at a later date. Based on where the market is today, we wanted to move forward immediately rather than wait for Linux compatibility.”

Still, he added that Linux support may be in the works.

“We are offering testing capability on Windows and Mac OS X,” Ferre said. “Linux is a logical extension since we have SUSE Linux, and it is something we will be looking at in the near term.”

In addition, the article notes that the ZENworks NAC does not – again “at this point” – support the Trusted Network Content (TNC) standard, something that even Microsoft is apparently doing with their own Network Access Protection (NAP). (Is it really necessary for them to use a seperate, nearly identical, acronym for their offering – what’s wrong with “NAC” Microsoft? Do we need more acronyms for the same thing?) This lack of TNC support is despite the fact that Novell characterizes TNC as a vendor-neutral open standard, and “the way things will go”. Still, TNC compatibility is not yet in the works “at this point”, and Linux support merely “may be” in the works.

It just seems to me like Novell is rushing this product to market, in order to claim “me too!” when other vendors speak of their having Network Access Control products available, and in the process appear to be quite disorganized and give the appearance that Linux endpoints are either few and far between and therefore not worthy of the development investment, or just not a priority to Novell – a self proclaimed “Linux Company”.

This one has them seeming more and more like the “Windows Complement” some had foreseen.

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