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Important Step for Software Patents in the European Union

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 4:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest against EPO

This just in via The New York Times:

Alison Brimelow, president of the European Patent Office, has referred the deeply contentious question about how to assess the patentability of software-related inventions to her office’s top appeals body, the enlarged board of appeal (EBoA), the EPO said late Friday.


In November 2006 Neal Macrossan, an Australian entrepreneur software developer, lost an appeal against the U.K. Patent Office’s rejection of his patent application. He wanted patent protection for a method for producing documents “for use in the formation of a corporate entity using a data processing system.”

On the same day the U.K. Court of Appeal threw out a challenge against a patent owned by IT company Aerotel for a computer program that created a new network infrastructure for a group of computers.

The three judges presiding over the cases considered the first a business method, and therefore unpatentable, while the second was seen as a patentable hardware change. Another U.K. judge called for a referral to the EPO’s top appeals body to clarify the law concerning software patentability.

Referral to the enlarged board of appeal (EBoA) is something that FFII supported and it can be found in their Web site. There is also a page done by the Bio-activists of Greenpeace which explains what they did when the issue of life patents went to the EBoA. For context relating to this example, here is an old press release.

Greenpeace calls European Union to ban patent on Indian Wheat

Say No To Patents On Life!

New Delhi, India — Say No To Patents On Life! Greenpeace calls on European Union to Ban Patent on Seeds; ‘Chapati Chor’ Monsanto to be targetted by Indian Farmers

Greenpeace calls on European Union to Ban Patent on Seeds; ‘Chapati Chor’ Monsanto to be targetted by Indian Farmers

New Delhi, India — Say No To Patents On Life! Greenpeace calls on European Union to Ban Patent on Seeds; ‘Chapati Chor’ Monsanto to be targetted by Indian Farmers
Greenpeace calls on European Union to Ban Patent on Seeds; ‘Chapati Chor’ Monsanto to be targetted by Indian Farmers

New Delhi 30 January 2004: Greenpeace activists today confronted Mr. Stephano Gatto, Counselor, Trade and Economic Affairs European Commission and briefed him about Monsanto’s role in blatant bio-piracy of Indian wheat. The activists demanded that the European Union ban patenting of seeds and close all loopholes in the existing law that is abused by multinational agro-science companies to patent plants, animals as well as their genetic resources.

“It is imperative that Europe Union takes an uncompromising stand against monopolies on seeds and not allow multinationals like Monsanto to appropriate biological diversity of the south with back-door patenting,” said Dr. Ashesh Tayal, Scientific Advisor, Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace had filed legal opposition against Monsanto’s patent on a variety of Indian wheat at the European Patents Office (EPO) in Munich on 27th January. Greenpeace investigations of the patent reveal that it is incorrectly recorded as an invention while there is evidence that Indian farmers have bred, cultivated and processed wheat for baking purposes long before Monsanto filed its patent.

Greenpeace has been mobilizing farmers and consumers community around the world with a post-card campaign targeting Monsanto and Indian Government demanding revoking of the wheat patent. Greenpeace has also been holding round-tables with Farmers groups to counter the threat to Indian bio-diversity from Multinational corporations.

“We definitely expect the wheat patent to be revoked in total. Further steps have to follow. Earlier Monsanto had taken a patent where they claimed even the use of the flour to make chapatis. These patents shows that companies systematically are trying to convert patent law to an instrument to gain control over all aspects of agriculture, from farmer’s seed to people’s food,” said Dr. Christoph Then, Patent Expert of Greenpeace Germany.

“In reaction to Greenpeace opposition to the wheat patent, Monsanto officials in India have claimed that the company is out of the cereal business in Europe and the patent therefore is of no consequence. If this is so, they need to immediately withdraw the patent. We urge Monsanto to stop these attempts of bio piracy. Farmers in India are deeply outraged and feel cheated. These varieties are developed by our farmers after years of hard field work and it is high time that Government of India woke up and took action” said Krishan Bir Chaudhary of Bharat Krishak Samaj.

By challenging this patent on traditional Indian wheat, Greenpeace is throwing a larger challenge to the monopolistic patent system that operates in Europe, which allows for life forms to be patented.

For further information, please contact:
Dr Ashesh Tayal, Scientific Advisor, Greenpeace India at atayal@dialb.greenpeace.org or at +91 98455 35404
or Divya Raghunandan, GE Campaigner at draghuna@dialb.greenpeace.org or at +91 98455 35406.

Getting back to Alison Brimelow, here is the full document that she sent [PDF] with the covering letter and the document as HTML below. Thanks to Tony Manco for the conversions, including this paged version for better viewing.

EPO letter

Read the rest of this entry »

Novell’s Stock Falls Below $4

Posted in Finance, Novell at 1:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell shares fell below $4 some weeks ago and the stock has not done particularly well since then. It’s happening again today. The image below shows Novell descending below $4 in today’s trading session. Should Novell go private?

Novell's stock falls below $4

Novell is losing

Novell’s Fork of OpenOffice.org Promoted in OpenOffice.org’s Own Turf

Posted in Debian, Fork, GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenOffice, SUN at 1:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forkers and disruptors in the #openoffice.org channel? Well, it’s hard to tell for sure, but one reader has notified us about someone in this channel who is promoting #go-oo. “There’s a guy in #openoffice.org sending people to #go-oo,” he writes. Moreover, we were told that the person is not trolling, he’s talking to people in private and we append proof of this.

For the uninitiated, go-oo is Novell's fork of OpenOffice.org. it has been that way since the patchset became rather isolated without changes going upstream. There is some discussion of this in LWN.net and we last mentioned this a couple of hours ago.

Finally, here are the logs showing promotion of go-oo in the #openoffice.org IRC channel and in private.

* In #openoffice.org:
16:34 < [anon]> is it possible to have KDE‘s file dialog in openoffice?
16:36 < Mirra> it‘s called #go-oo :>

16:36 < MechtiIde> unfortunaly not [anon]
16:37 < [anon]> MechtiIde: but i had that in 2.4
16:37 < [anon]> was it removed in 3.0?
16:37 < Mirra> [anon]: listen to my >:)
16:37 < MechtiIde> where do you get 2.4 from [anon] ?
16:37 < [anon]> 2.4.1
16:37 < [anon]> from gentoo
16:37 < [anon]> maybe its not vanila

* In private:
16:37 -!- Irssi: Starting query in freenode with Mirra
16:37 <Mirra> DUDE
16:38 <[anon]> hey
16:38 <Mirra> #go-oo it‘s a fork of openoffice (which is used in the major distributions like suse and debian and I dont know) :)
16:38 <Mirra> it‘s an improved version – with native file dialog

16:38 <Mirra> join the channel and check out the latest version :)
16:38 <[anon]> who‘s driving the project, novell ?
16:39 <Mirra> not officially I think
16:43 <Mirra> it seems novell sponsors some developers to work on go-oo, but they do a good job
16:43 <[anon]> ok
16:43 <[anon]> i‘ll try it when it gets to gentoo

16:44 <Mirra> due to the novell deal you also profit from an increased compatibility between microsoft formats :)
16:44 <Mirra> http://go-oo.org/download/ it says gentoo provides it in their repos..

On Mixed Source, Mono, and Other Forms of ‘Piracy’

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 12:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Code contamination possibilities further explored, confusion
and obfuscation in the details

A few days ago we summarised key points about Microsoft’s latest “mixed source” chorus and its threats against Red Hat. Glyn Moody, whose writing topics frequently intersect with ours, has just published a detailed analysis in Linux Journal.

What was noteworthy was that at this period Microsoft couldn’t even bring itself to utter the words “free software” or “open source”. Instead, throughout the hour-long chat I had with him, the Microsoftie insisted on referring to something he called “non-commercial software”. The intent was plain: only Microsoft and its proprietary chums sold “commercial” software, while the other, unnameable stuff – aka free software – wasn’t “real” or “commercial” stuff, but some kind of toy version that no sane IT manager would touch.


So there we have it: “open source” is no longer a useful term, everything is “mixed source”. Microsoft has obviously woken up to the fact that the “free” and “open” memes are increasingly powerful, as people realise the advantages of sharing and collaborative development. Microsoft has been trying to co-opt that feel-good factor for a while, first with its “Shared Source” label – free software without the freedom – and more recently by getting a couple of its licences approved by the Open Source Initiative.


Microsoft’s Mafia-like obsession with enforcing “control” and demanding “respect” is reflected in a later statement from Gutierrez in the same interview – well, more of a threat, actually:

“If every effort to license proves not to be fruitful, ultimately we have a responsibility to customers that have licenses and to our shareholders to ensure our intellectual property is respected,” he said.

Software patents – what he is referring to here – are intellectual monopolies specifically framed to stop the kind of frictionless sharing of programming ideas that lies at the heart of free software, and that powers its unique ability to build on the work of others. In many ways, such monopolies go to the heart of the difference between the worlds of open and closed software: any company unwilling to licence freely software patents it may have acquired (for defensive reasons, say, against patent trolls – the ultimate symptom of a diseased system) is by definition not a company that truly supports free software. There is no “middle” ground – sorry, Horacio.

Over at LinuxToday, Orwell is quoted as saying: “If thought can corrupt language, then language can also corrupt thought.” We touched on that before [1, 2, 3] (Microsoft’s control of perception using verbiage).

Further down in the discussion thread, this issue is being kicked around a little further and Mono comes up. An anonymous reader, posting under the heading “Beware an enemy bearing gifts,” writes:

I wonder if by “mixed source” and releasing some of their old stuff to the open source community, they mean to somehow taint the open source community with their code in hopes that it will make it into some release and strengthen their claims of IP ownership? Maybe not even actual code, but structures, concepts, ideas that were developed at some Microsoft sponsored event,conference, ex-employee, etc etc. Will they try to muddy the lines between what they own and what is GNU licensed enough to drag smaller open source companies into court long enough to bankrupt them and scare other companies into signing Novell type agreements? They’ve already proven that they can drag out flimsy cases for years (the SCO conspiracy anyone?), so imagine what their lawyers could do after a few years of this. Excuse me if I’m a little skeptical when they stop whining and suing and decide to be friends. Cuz when the drums stop beating, the enemy attacks. An army of lawyers vs a community of coders.

If you can’t beat them, give them a present, point at them and yell THIEF!

Glyn Moody’s prompt reply to this is that “It’s already happening.” He gives an example:

Look at Mono, which is based on .NET’s structures.

Moody previously shed some more light on Mono (why it’s “patently different” from Samba) and in response to the comment above, says El Perro Loco:

I have always seen Mono as a *very bad thing*. In my opinion, it is as close to treason as it can be. I try to keep my machines Mono-free.
And, by the way, since de Icaza is involved both in Mono and Gnome, I stay away from Gnome, too.

Just for the record.

It has been known for years that .NET is ‘protected’ by software patents. And yet, this never seems to bother those who bother with Mono (some of whom are Novell employees).

.Net patent could stifle standards effort

Microsoft is in the process of applying for a wide-ranging patent that covers a variety of functions related to its .Net initiative.


Patents have become an increasingly common way for software makers to exert control over their intellectual property. One of the concerns about the proliferation of technology patents is the impact it could have on standards development. Some developers fear the trend will let a few patent holders dictate the direction of standards.

It’s unclear what effect the Microsoft .Net patents would have on the standards process. Microsoft already has submitted many of the fundamentals of .Net to a standards body known as ECMA, formerly called the European Computer Manufacturers Association.


People like Free Software Foundation guru Richard Stallman have urged boycotts of companies that aggressively enforce patents.

Meanwhile, Bruce Perens, a consultant and leader of the open-source movement, worries that Microsoft’s patents could shut out alternative software development. “Microsoft is being careful to patent every aspect of APIs related to .Net,” he said. “It’s preventing the open-source community from being involved in this area.”

Open-source developers are already hard at work trying to build open-source implementations of .Net. One of them, the Mono Project, provides many of the same APIs as .Net. When the Mono Project is completed next year, developers will be able to build .Net applications that run on Linux and Unix.

Earlier on we also mentioned the "pirate" propaganda from Microsoft, which follows a systematic push for brainwash, just as Microsoft promised its investors and openly states in its SEC filings. One person believes that Microsoft's latest threats under the guise and in the name of "intellectual property" are all related to this. They were in fact discussed in the very same article from Paul Krill, who interviewed a Microsoft legal representative, the man behind the litigious fight against Free software (he consistently plays the role of “bad cop” in this game).

A few years ago, the patent wars saber rattling was going on a lot more than now. microsofts home made ‘talk-like-a-pirate’ day was yesterday, and this line no doubt reflects that.

Those who look carefully at the interview with Paul Krlll will easily find that IDG weaves in the ‘fight on piracy’ with the issues of software patents and GNU/Linux. This proximity impacts perception — a perception that even the FSF has just published an article to complain about.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced something they called “Global Anti-Piracy Day”.

Software companies like Microsoft often refer to copying they don’t approve of as “piracy.” They suggest that such copying is ethically equivalent to murder and robbery. Even these far-fetched analogies are not enough for Microsoft, who in their press release yesterday updated the comparison to draw a connection between such copying and organized crime: “There is growing evidence that highly organized, transnational criminal organizations and networks are involved in the counterfeiting of software…”

Even the US Senate, while recently considering legislation addressing unauthorized copying, had the sense to strike the term “piracy” from its text. You know the term is over-the-top when people receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the entertainment industry still feel shy about using it.

Watch this space as we shall follow up on that shortly.

“There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.“

Bob Muglia, Microsoft

Symbian is Not About Freedom, It’s About DRM and Software Patents (Update)

Posted in Deception, DRM, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Patents at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An open-source lip service, side-stepping Freedom

IS SYMBIAN really open source? And if so, then what is the meaning of open source compared to — let us say — Free software in its purer form?

Two years before Symbian is actually EPL-licensed, its guys already announce this very broadly just so that they can present this in the press as “open source”, giving the illusion that it’s “Equally® Open®” w.r.t. Linux. It’s worth adding that Symbian has attacked Linux in the press for years, often using “fragmentation” as a weapon of choice.

We covered some of these issues earlier in the week and decided to stay quiet about Symbian, but now they have begun spreading some FUD about the GPL, which is precisely what Nokia appears to be escaping. Nokia, a massive lobbyist for software patents in Europe, wanted to justify restricting people’s freedom just about a month before taking control of Symbian and announcing an ‘open source’ strategy for it, only under the terms of the IBM-affiliated Eclipse Public License (EPL). We note from Wikipedia that “The Eclipse Foundation replaces IBM as the Agreement Steward in the EPL,” but its roots remain. IBM does not care so much about freedom; not as much as it cares about openness, especially open standards and cross-platform capabilities. Nokia might be after more lenience — a licence or community that tolerates and facilitates hostile technologies like DRM.

“Nokia might be after more lenience — a licence or community that tolerates and facilitates hostile technologies like DRM.”Pointing to this news article, one reader writes to us and warns: “Both ZDNet rep David Meyer and Symbian rep David Wood spread a little old-fashioned disinformation about the GPL.”

Some of this appears in page 2 of the article. “Wood provides the disinformation and Meyer provides a snide comment or three,” alerts the reader.

It’s worth adding that it was only about a month ago that David Meyer physically visited Symbian, so there might be reasons for affinity here. Maybe not, but who knows?

As long as Symbian pursues software patents (Novell does this too and so does Sun Microsystems) it can only be treated as an open source dabbler. Another black sheep which comes to mind is TiVo, whose Tivoization problems are further exacerbated by its obsession with software patents, which are used offensively and aggressively. Here is the latest report on that situation (recently mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4]).

Off and on for the past six years I’ve been an armchair quarterback for TiVo telling them they should do anything and everything to become profitable, among other things: they should offer pay-per-view downloads (I asked for this in 2002), they should broker deals with cable companies, that they should release software for PCs, that they should move to international markets, and that while I’m not a fan of software patents in general I feel the TiVo patents are original and worth fighting.

What I realized this week is that TiVo has spent the past couple years starting battles on all these fronts, and it looks like (at least to this outside observer) like TiVo is winning on all fronts. Even as their CEO admits more people are using DVRs and skipping lots of ads, I’d say TiVo is doing well.

For Symbian to be treated like a respected member of an open source community it ought to at least set aside the GPL falsehoods and somehow make up for ruining the UK patent system. Software patents are dangerous and moronic, for reasons that the following new post explains.

[w]e believe that the patents system has moved much away from it[s] original purpose but we especially believe the problem is in software patents/algorithms. Saying that algorithms nowadays are more complex and therefore is ok to patent is incorrect. Algorithms get built over others and with knowledge of previous algorithms, a lot of people are near about the same distance from the frontier. The chances of different people hitting the same method to solve a problem is much higher now than before. This is especially true in the entrepreneurial culture (startups) of today.

An open source software patent lobbyist is much like vegetarian cannibal. Goodwill value is earned not just by visibility of some source code and Microsoft too has found that out. Symbian should know better.

Update: in Mr. Meyer’s defence, he later posted this in his blog.

Symbian, GPL tension and ‘bright lines’


I gave Wood a call. He conceded that there was “tension between these remarks”, but pointed me to an article by Bruce Perens (the originator of the phrase “open source”) which discusses something called ‘bright lines’ – effectively ways of separating open source code from proprietary code in a way that avoids GPL violations.

It’s a fascinating article (and flattering, of course, since it responds to an exclusive of ours), and well worth reading. Whether or not it solves the issue of what can be allowed under the GPL, I don’t know. But ‘bright lines’ is the idea that’s informing Symbian’s metamorphosis into open source. So there you go.

Novell Markets Its OpenOffice.org Fork Using Patents-Encumbered Microsoft Add-ons

Posted in Fork, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN, Ubuntu at 10:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Become a Novell customer, be ‘safe’?

Novell’s attempt to steal Sun Microsystems’ thunder (OpenOffice.org charm) was previously covered in [1, 2]. It’s a fork. It’s there for everyone to see, even with some software patents on top of it. Well, Ubuntu’s coming release will exclude OpenOffice.org 3.0, in part because of Novell’s Microsoft-esque version of the software, which contains patent poison and helps the spreading of OOXML.

Finally, one of the headline features of OpenOffice.org 3.0 that many people have asked about is support for Microsoft Office 2007 documents. Thanks to our use of the Go-oo patch set, we already support this important feature with 2.4.1.

We encouraged GNU/Linux users to lobby against this. It’s not the nature of the fork that makes it dangerous; it is the forker, a Microsoft ally, which makes this untrustworthy.

Had Novell been serious about Free software and open standards, it would not have sold out to Microsoft and OOXML back in 2006. In fact, some time next year, even Microsoft will have surrendered to ODF, thus confirming that the real international standard is growing dominant and never going away. The Register has this new article regarding Microsoft’s time line.

In May Microsoft moved to appease its critics and reassure regulators by proclaiming that Office 2007 SP2 will support rival file format OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.1 used by openistas such as IBM and Sun Microsystems.

As another side note worthy of a mention, Microsoft’s accessibility smear against ODF is FUD that’s growing thinner than ever before owing to this announcement: [via Glyn Moody]

Today I am more than pleased to share with you news of the AEGIS project, a €12.6m investment in accessibility, with the vast majority of it focused on open source solutions.

What is AEGIS?

AEGIS stands for “open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards”. It is a major research and development investment in building accessibility into future mainstream Information & Communication Technologies.

ODF comes complete with many of the necessary features, yet it is not based on a single reference implementation, which makes it elegant. Why again is Novell helping OOXML? Oh, that’s right. Microsoft bribed paid Novell to do so.

Novell gets 'bribed'

Citrix, Microsoft and Novell Come Together

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 9:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A lesson in buying out one’s competition

Novell loves the monopoly

NOVELL, Microsoft and Citrix are still working to elevate Windows Server or the Microsoft-taxed GNU/Ballnux [1, 2, 3, 4] (only as a guest machine) while excluding or demoting others. None of this has changed since the last time it was covered, but this article from The Register provides some more evidence.

Part of it says: “Now that Microsoft has Windows Server 2008 and its Hyper-V hypervisor in the field, it won’t be long before Scalent has to deliver support. Hyper-V is running in the labs now, but as a startup, Scalent has to limit its production products to the ones customers will pay for. “Hyper-V support is inevitable,” says Epstein. The Xen hypervisors inside Novell’s SUSE Linux and Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux, which are compatible with V/OE as is the free-standing XenServer hypervisor from Citrix Systems. Thanks to a partnership between XenSource, the original creator of Xen and now part of Citrix, and Microsoft, Hyper-V is Xen-compatible, which means Hyper-V support should not be that big of a deal to deliver.”

In summary, Microsoft needed to capture Xen [1, 2, 3] and Novell only to use them to sell Windows Server and hurt GNU/Linux competitors — a pressuring tactic whose Grand Aim is software patent tax. Red Hat has already escaped this relationship by acquiring the company behind KVM and Ubuntu too has moved to KVM. They can't rely on Citrix, Microsoft’s digital spouse.

“Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SuSE Linux is appropriately covered.”

Steve Ballmer

Horacio Gutierrez’s Latest Threat Against GNU/Linux Was Seeded by Microsoft

Posted in Asia, Europe, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

WELL, it’s rather fascinating how Microsoft controls not only the press; it tames or gains influence over many blogs too. It’s sometimes paid for.

Several days ago we mentioned how Paul Krill offered a platform (IDG) for Microsoft FUD just days after a Microsoft mouthpiece had done the very same thing (in CNET). Timing was suspicious because for a low-key person to have similar coverages coincide like this is a tad unnatural. It was probably intended to invoke fear, spread misinformation, and confuse the public. By changing perceptions around open source, Microsoft wants to have GNU/Linux abolished in favour of Windows, even as an underlying platform for Free software.

Some of these recent events seem not to have happened as spontaneously as an innocent observer might imagine. Microsoft appears to have been contacting journalists for its carefully-crafted messages to be spread and absorbed (Novell does this too). They are said to have approached even a loud critic (of the patent system and Microsoft) such as Mike Masnick. He is at least the only person who speaks out about it in public when he says something along the lines of “I’m not interested in Microsoft’s imaginary property people, but it’s them who came to me.”

Indeed, Masnick has just published a relatively detailed post about it.

Last week, Microsoft was kind enough to invite me to sit down, one-on-one with Horacio Gutierrez, the company’s VP and Deputy General Counsel in charge of intellectual property and licensing. As you might imagine, given my views on the patent system in general, and Microsoft’s gradual embrace of the patent system specifically, he and I disagreed on a fair amount. We agreed that the patent system should be focused on encouraging innovation. We agreed that there were abuses of the system. From there, our views pretty much diverged, though the conversation was fun and lively.

Gutierrez began the conversation by focusing on all of the “benefits” that Microsoft sees to the patent system, which focused on all of the licensing deals that the company has done. He positioned it by noting that the patent portfolio allows the Microsoft to get into deeper business relationships with other entities. Specifically, he noted that in many cases what began as a patent licensing discussion eventually leads to a much more complete business relationship that increases interoperability. He cited deals with both Sun and Novell as examples of this.

Yes, Novell. It’s always mentioned there as Microsoft’s justification and reason for all GNU/Linux vendors to pay Microsoft for unnamed software patents. Further down in it says:

In discussing all of this with Gutierrez, I brought up the company’s continual FUD campaign, where it goes to the press to wave that pointy stick around, in announcing that Linux violates over 200 Microsoft patents. Gutierrez noted that he was among the Microsoft execs who had made those statements, and he stood by them, claiming that Richard Stallman agrees, and falling back on his earlier claim of all complex products violating some patents, which is why he says they just want Linux vendors to work out some sort of patent licensing agreement. That, of course, doesn’t answer the question of why Microsoft keeps screaming about patent infringement, but never bothers to show what patents anyone infringes on.

What was the purpose of all this? It appears as though Microsoft is determined to plaster its FUD all over the Web and have people talk about Linux in the context of patents, “mixed source”, and “piracy”. The existence in fear, confusion, uncertainty and doubt serves Microsoft very well. In the South African press, Microsoft’s latest provocations begged for the article “Microsoft Makes Mockery of Interoperability.”

Microsoft needs to get rid of its chief IP lawyer and its patent strategy if it wants further efforts at interoperability to be taken seriously by open source vendors and users.

In at least two interviews with IT publications this week, Horacio Gutierrez reaffirmed that the company intends to try and force open source companies to sign patent licensing deals or face lawsuits.


The intellectual property that is trying Gutierrez’s patience is not any line of copyrighted code, nor any trademark or trade secret. It’s a bunch of patents that Microsoft claims it owns. In the bizarro-world that is US patent law, companies can get government-granted monopolies on procedures that are taught to programmers at high school as if they were some sort of valuable asset.

The article above states that Microsoft needs to sack Horacio Gutierrez, but Gutierrez merely represents Microsoft’s strategy as whole. Again, it’s Microsoft itself that sent him out to spread all that FUD, and Masnick’s experience is one that others can probably attest to. Paul Krill tried to grill him on patents, without any success; instead, he gave Gutierrez|Microsoft the podium they craved. IDG threw this article all over its extensive network of domains, probably for mass effect.

“IDG threw this article all over its extensive network of domains, probably for mass effect.”It becomes increasingly probable that Microsoft bets on becoming another SCO (with higher success rates in terms of ‘indemnification’); its other chief lawyers and patent people, such as Marshall Phelps, seem to suggest so too. Over the weekend we will cover Microsoft’s financial situation and show the evident decline, which requires urgent change of strategy and a return to price-fixing era, as opposed to dumping techniques.

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

We already wrote, on numerous occasions in fact, about Microsoft breaking the law in India and South Africa, amassing patents in countries that quite explicitly forbid software patents. They rely on back doors and rule-bending. Despite rumours about Marshall Phelps, he might still be fully engaged with Microsoft, in terms of professional capacity. He seems familiar with the company’s patent strategy and also, according to this new post, he predicts that Microsoft’s patents arsenal might grow by a factor of 5 within just a couple of years.

Microsoft to have 50,000 patents within two years, Phelps reveals


The company’s filing strategy is based on two key points, he explained. The first is that it needs protection in what it believes to be its key markets: the US, Europe, Japan and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, among others. The second is that it has to have a presence in countries that have a software manufacturing capability; that means the same countries as above, but also others such as Taiwan. Europe, Phelps said, likes to think that it is different because it says it does not grant software patents “but they can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway”.

Whenever he says “protection”, what he actually means to say is “intellectual monopoly.” For some companies it is difficult to think of competing without some sort of a God-gifted monopoly, as it the company earned some Holy Right to preserve its business and not let competition ever grow. But to paraphrase a friend, business is an opportunity, not a right. Investment is a risk, not a guarantee.

“Protection” in this context means a fence and a barrier in the face of superior or more cost-effective technology. Microsoft is better at coping with competition when it’s able to crush it or to buy it. With GNU/Linux it’s a little more complicated, so lawyers step in and try to manipulate the law.

Steve Ballmer license

Image from Wikimedia

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