12.06.08

OOXML is Patent Trap, Royalties Render it Obsolete

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

MICROSOFT OOXML remains a patent issue, as pointed out by the SFLC in the past. It is disappointing that ISO, as corrupt as it is (filled with and influenced by cronies), permits this to happen despite so many warnings. Andy Updegrove has a pointer to this bit of new analysis covering patent issues in OOXML and how these foolishly get neglected.

I am publishing this post almost three months later than my initial plan, mainly because the past three months were very complicated ones.

There are many “open standards” definitions, and this great amount of interpretations or views about the subject, allowed distortions to make possible that almost anything on IT market could be classified as an “Open Standard” by marketing departments.

For me, and certainly for many of you, an open standard must meet two basic requirements:

1. Have been developed and is maintained through an open and transparent process.

2. Have open licensing.

[...]

The second one, is the so-called RAND (Ressonable And non-discriminatory). One don’t need to “force the brain” to realize that this model is quite complicated to use in practice, because what is reasonable to me may not be for you and to believe that something can be non-discriminatory on our current world is a little bit difficult task, OK ? (if someone disagree with that, please explain me how a Cuban company may RAND license technology from an USA company ?). ISO accepts RAND licensing and OpenXML can be cited as an example of this type of licensing (indeed, if there is anyone encouraged to answer the previous question, please improve the response explaining me how Cuba – an ISO member – can get a RAND license to develop an OpenXML based software… ISO is really a complicated institution.). In other words, for the USA economic reality, a technology license that costs U.S. $ 500 K may be reasonable, but I can’t assure that this resonable in Brazil (same on other countries)… a value like that would be considered “reasonable”? Maybe the participation on international standardization process to latter offer RAND licensing of its IPR may be a good deal.

[...]

As you can see, an specification called as an “open standard” can be licensed by one of the three models mentioned above or be the victim of the fourth type and I write this text to warn everyone about this problem.

To those who believe that amid tough times these patents won’t be used, a quick look at the patent storm we so often cover here is probably required. To assume that rights — however imaginary and ludicrous they may seem — won’t be asserted is to forget that Microsoft is already threatening the whole world using patents. Here is a case of abuse of the patent system, which is characteristic of Microsoft's patent troll.

A few months ago, we pointed to Joe Mullin’s excellent article detailing how various patent attorneys were finding a lucrative side business in registering or buying their own patents and suing companies themselves. It’s just that much more lucrative. Mullin is back, describing two Silicon Valley patent attorneys, Dominic Kotab and Kevin Zilka, who have been registering or buying a bunch of patents, and have been quite active in both setting up multiple shell companies, and suing many different defendants.

More abuse of the system is highlighted in another related context that we touched on a week ago.

I’m long overdue on some promised posts concerning the patent system and the harm it does for the healthcare field, but it’s going to have to wait a little while longer. In the meantime, it’s good to see that more people (including those in a position to do something about it) are noticing this as well. While we often feel that the EU goes overboard in declaring monopolies or anti-competitive behavior, it’s finally realizing the one area where monopolies really do tend to be a problem: patents.

Those who are not willing to mess with patents and royalties should steer clear of OOXML. Germany is the latest country to put its weight behind ODF. Other countries are likely to do likewise. OOXML means you have to pay, and not just for Microsoft Office.

OOXML

NB: Speaking of patents, the FFII seems to be undergoing some self-improving organisational changes. Their agenda page states:

8.8. Setup new organisation (S. Uhlmann)

The proposed resolution is:

Set up a new association, transferring as many asserts of the FFII as possible to this new organization (when possible by law), allow it to act in the name of the FFII, ask supporters and members of the FFII to join it.

Justification:

The current problems with the tax office and the public benefit status are harming the FFII. Not only that it costs money. The unclear future and the possibility of unknown liabilities are blocking us. Also it creates friction between ourselves in discussing all these problems.

The idea is to set up another FFII 2.0. The old FFII 1.0 just fades out. The tax office can go after the old “empty shell” but all new activities are done under the FFII 2.0 umbrella. The liabilities will be isolated within FII 1.0.

The new organistion could be set up in another country where association law is more relaxed. May that be Belgium, Poland or even another German e.V. again (maybe with a different foundation place). That should be discussed.

The board of FFII 2.0 could be the same board as FFII 1.0 as a sign that this is not a split-up or separatist movement but only a legal/organisational measure to solve the legal/organisational problem and that we the FFII-people all stand behind FFII 2.0. That should be discussed.

The name of FFII 2.0 should make clear that this is the same FFII as FFII 1.0. E.g. by choosing the same name (if legally possible) or a similar name which is also abbreviated as FFII. That should be discussed.

All members of FFII 1.0 are encouraged to join FFII 2.0. I think it would not be difficult to explain them that this is just because of legal problems and our incompatibility with the public benefit status of German association law.

Everyone is invited to bring proposals for the new association including statutes to the GA.

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13 Comments

  1. jo Shields said,

    December 6, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Gravatar

    Why the Mono logo? What does it have to do with this “article”

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Gravatar

    Novell’s OOXML translator is a Trojan horse for Mono, i.e. more Microsoft patents.

  3. AlexH said,

    December 6, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Gravatar

    We should petition to have this dangerous patent risk removed from OpenOffice.org immediately.

  4. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Gravatar

    Yeah, and tell SUN to remove their own OOXML-code, too…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  5. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Gravatar

    …and the code for opening and saving to .DOC, too, of course!

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  6. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Gravatar

    How about voting SUN out of OOo altogether because they have sealed a patent-agreement with Microsoft?

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2004/apr04/04-02SunAgreementPR.mspx
    http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-22_11-5188082.html

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Gravatar

    Not about GNU/Linux and does not involve Mono/.NET and OOXML.

  8. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Gravatar

    What’s the difference??!?, they’ve included the ‘OOXML-trap’ in the mainline code, and they have received millions of dollars from eeeevil Micro$oft!!!! ;p

    Let them feel the sacred wrath of righeous FLOSS crusaders like your humble self…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  9. stevetheFLY said,

    December 6, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Gravatar

    I bet Jonathan I. Schwartz and Steve Ballmer take nude sauna sessions together!! Shameless treason! Flail them! We want blood! ;ppp

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  10. jo Shields said,

    December 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Gravatar

    Novell’s OOXML translator is a Trojan horse for Mono, i.e. more Microsoft patents.

    You’re behaving more unhinged than usual. This is an impressive feat.

    Novell’s deprecated OOXML support for OOo 2.x (no longer needed, since Sun have their own support in 3.x) has never had the slightest thing to do with Mono. It doesn’t require it, or use it.

    And, for a change, your link has nothing to do with the point you’re making.

    Seriously, it’s gone past silly now. Are you on something?

  11. Sydney Sider said,

    December 6, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Gravatar

    Think rationally about this for a moment Roy. Is there a single case of Microsoft suing over a software patient? They moment they did most of their portfolio would be either toast or at risk.

  12. salvin said,

    December 6, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh, don’t you try to be _rational_ with Roy; he doesn’t like that… ;)

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Gravatar

    Sydney,

    re Bilski has already done the trick.

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