EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.25.09

How Red Hat Dodged a Novell-Like Microsoft Deal Despite Lobbying for Software Patents

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Red Hat, SUN at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar

Summary: Microsoft releases — via CNET — information about its secret patent “projects”

WE HAVE BEEN AWARE for a couple of years now that Red Hat too was discussing patents with Microsoft but no deal was ever signed other than the recent virtualisation collaboration. It involves no patents at all. This issue is entirely off the table, so what came to fruition is inherently different.

Microsoft now boasts a sort of PR placement. This was seeded in CNET, which has just broken the news about Microsoft unleashing its story about patent deals and their secret history.

The story has a lot to do with Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps, who wrote a book on his patent strategy. He was not fired but instead he took some time aside to write this book, apparently. It’s a book on how to burn GNU/Linux, but it’s titled “burning the ships” — a phrase that Matt Asay recited very frequently (he said “boats” though, also in a separate context).

Here is an interesting portion of the new article:

The Novell deal, though, is the most interesting tale and the one to which Phelps and co-author David Kline go into the most detail. It began as “Project Summer”–an effort to get at least one major Linux vendor to sign a pact with Microsoft by the summer of 2004. It began with a well-regarded salesperson, Susan Hauser, being tapped to confidentially meet with customers and see how much support there was for some sort of Microsoft-Linux partnership.

The customers were game, Phelps and Kline write, but unwilling to become a party in the negotiations themselves. As the effort took longer than Microsoft wanted it became “project next summer,” the authors quip. The company met with Red Hat, starting in the fall of 2004, as part of “Project Bridge Builder,” though talks broke down after a year and a half. Just as those talks were collapsing, in June 2006, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner got a call from Novell’s then-president, Ron Hovsepian. A few days after that, Brad Smith called Hovsepian back and a new effort, “Project Blue,” was born.

The sides first met face to face two weeks later at a Hyatt near the Chicago airport. That meeting took place amid a convention of female bodybuilders. Another meeting took place in September, this time at Microsoft’s outside counsel’s office–in the same conference room where several months earlier Microsoft had hammered out an agreement with Sun Microsystems.

“Given the challenges of coming together with Novell,” Smith says in the book, “I thought it made sense to meet in the same conference room… Plus, since the room had been lucky for us once before, I figured that couldn’t hurt either.”

Talks progressed, but had not reached a conclusion. Smith suggested the two sides set an October 31 deadline for reaching a deal. Novell agreed that the deal would be “done or dead by Halloween.” After the last-minute end-run around the GPL, the two sides got the deal done and announced it to the world on November 2, 2006.

Pamela Jones added (in reference to that last sentence): “So it was a deliberate end run around the GPL, with a Microsoft goal of getting paid for each copy of Linux sold — just like SCO — but thanks to GPLv3, it was an end run that led straight into a brick wall.”

The story about Red Hat agrees with something that we already knew, but Red Hat was given a lot of flak recently because of its attitude or at least its approach towards software patents [1, 2, 3, 4]. Heise offers a very detailed analysis that we recommend reading.

The disclosure that Red Hat have applied for a patent on what might strike some as an obscure corner of the software ecosystem has caused others to re-evaluate how open and collaborative Red Hat actually are. As the AMQP 1.0 standard entered into its final phase, a 2007 Red Hat patent application, the company now refers to as a “defensive” patent, on an obvious extension of AMQP, was automatically disclosed and caused quite stir. What is AMQP, why is it important, what has Red Hat done to cause a ruckus within the AMQP community, and what does it mean to open source in general.

Red Hat could probably do a lot more to help the fight against software patents in Europe because now is a crucial time.

WMGarrison has just told us that he had “been studying Red Hat’s position on software patents [...] basically, they seem to be in favour of software patents, against business methods, and mainly for interoperability protection.”

The summary of Garrison’s long article goes like this:

In this article we revisit the historical 2005 Software Patent Directive, the most heavily lobbied European law ever, and look at Red Hat’s public policy statements regarding this law. Our conclusion: Red Hat Instead, they endorsed the propaganda term “Computer Implemented Invention” and they lobbied for amendments that would legislate for, not against, software patents across Europe where the letter of the law still forbade them.

As we respect and very much value the opinion of the FFII, giving the benefit of the doubt to Red Hat would be hard in this case. Can Red Hat make a formal clarification about its stance on software parents? Uncertainty helps not at all and it’s beneficial neither to Red Hat nor to Free software; it’s beneficial to Microsoft.

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.”

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. Pieter Hintjens said,

    March 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    Nice article. It’s seemed to many of us in the FOSS community that the patents were the ultimate way for larger firms to control and profit from the FOSS economy. This is why, IMO, IBM can enthusiastically collect patents while also investing in open source.

    I see William has submitted his article to Slashdot, it’s here in the firehose: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=3892567&art_pos=2

What Else is New


  1. Immunity of the European Patent Office and Lack of Oversight Within the Organisation Mean That It's a Rogue Entity Above the Law

    In light of remarks from the Attorney General in the Netherlands and in light of some recent and highly disturbing developments (like Board 28 folding for Benoît Battistelli), it is increasingly apparent that the EPO is disconnected from any accountability whatsoever



  2. Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are at War With European Democracy, Which They View as an Obstacle to Money and Power

    Some of the latest hints of the vain attitude which EPO managers and UPC-leaning law firms have adopted, as part of their plan to impose the UPC on Europe in spite of public resistance (or apathy due to lack of information and consultation)



  3. Links 1/10/2016: Linux 4.7.6 and 4.4.23, Blender 2.78

    Links for the day



  4. Dutch Court Rules Against SUEPO (in a Reversal), But EPO Management Would Have Ignored the Ruling Even If SUEPO Won (Updated)

    SUEPO loses a case against EPO management, but the EPO's overzealous management was going to ignore the ruling anyway



  5. New Paper Provides Evidence of Sinking Patent Quality at the EPO, Refuting the Liar in Chief Battistelli

    In spite of Battistelli's claims (lies) about patent quality under his watch, reality suggests that so-called 'production' is simply rushed issuance of invalid patents (one step away from rubberstamping, in order to meet unreasonable, imposed-from-the-top targets)



  6. Battistelli Locks EPO Staff Union Out of Social Conference So That He Can Lie About the Union and the Social Climate

    The attacks on staff of the EPO carry on, with brainwash sessions meticulously scheduled to ensure that Administrative Council delegates are just their master's voice, or the voice of the person whom they are in principle supposed to oversee



  7. Unprecedented Levels of UPC Lobbying by Big Business Europe (Multinationals) and Their Patent Law Firms

    A quick look at some of the latest deception which is intended to bamboozle European politicians and have them play along with the unitary [sic] patent for private interests of the super-rich



  8. Links 29/9/2016: Russia Moving to FOSS, New Nmap and PostgreSQL Releases

    Links for the day



  9. Team UPC is Interjecting Itself Into the Media Ahead of Tomorrow's Lobbying Push Against the European Council and Against European Interests

    A quick look at the growing bulk of UPC lobbying (by the legal firms which stand to benefit from it) ahead of tomorrow's European Council meeting which is expected to discuss a unitary patent system



  10. IP Kat is Lobbying Heavily for the UPC, Courtesy of Team UPC

    When does an IP (or patent) blog become little more than an aggregation of interest groups and self-serving patent law firms, whose agenda overlaps that of Team Battistelli?



  11. Leaked: Conclusions of the Secretive EPO Board 28 Meeting (8th of September 2016)

    The agenda and outcome of the secretive meeting of the Board of the Administrative Council of the EPO



  12. Letter From the Dutch Institute of Patent Attorneys (Nederlandse Orde van Octrooigemachtigden) to the Administrative Council of the EPO

    The Netherlands Institute of Patent Attorneys, a group representing a large number of Dutch patent practitioners, is against Benoît Battistelli and his horrible behaviour at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  13. EPO's Board 28 Notes Battistelli's “Three Current Investigations/Disciplinary Proceedings Involving SUEPO Members in The Hague."

    The attack on SUEPO (EPO staff representatives) at The Hague appears to have been silently expanded to a third person, showing an obvious increase in Battistelli's attacks on truth-tellers



  14. Links 28/9/2016: Alpine Linux 3.4.4, Endless OS 3.0

    Links for the day



  15. Cementing Autocracy: The European Patent Office Against Democracy, Against Media, and Against the Rule of Law

    The European Patent Office (EPO) actively undermines democracy in Europe, it undermines the freedom of the press (by paying it for puff pieces), and it undermines the rule of law by giving one single tyrant total power in Eponia and immunity from outside Eponia (even when he breaks his own rules)



  16. Links 28/9/2016: New Red Hat Offices, Fedora 25 'Frozen'

    Links for the day



  17. Team Battistelli Intensifies the Attack on the Boards of Appeal Again

    The lawless state of the EPO, where the rule of law is basically reducible to Battistelli's ego and insecurities, is again demonstrated with an escalation and perhaps another fake 'trial' in the making (after guilt repeatedly fails to be established)



  18. After the EPO Paid the Financial Times to Produce Propaganda the Newspaper Continues to Produce UPC Puff Pieces, Just Ahead of EU Council Meeting

    How the media, including the Financial Times, has been used (and even paid!) by the EPO in exchange for self-serving (to the EPO) messages and articles



  19. Beware the Patent Law Firms Insinuating That Software Patents Are Back Because of McRO

    By repeatedly claiming (and then generalising) that CAFC accepted a software patent the patent microcosm (meta-industry) hopes to convince us that we should continue to pursue software patents in the US, i.e. pay them a lot more money for something of little/no value



  20. The US Supreme Court Might Soon Tighten Patent Scope in the United States Even Further, the USPTO Produces Patent Maximalism Propaganda

    A struggle brewing between the patent 'industry' (profiting from irrational saturation) and the highest US court, as well as the Government Accountability Office (GAO)



  21. Patent Trolling a Growing Problem in East Asia (Software Patents Also), Whereas in the US the Problem Goes Away Along With Software Patents

    A look at two contrasting stories, one in Asia where patent litigation and hype are on the rise (same in Europe due to the EPO) and another in the US where a lot of patents face growing uncertainty and a high invalidation rate



  22. The EPO's Continued Push for Software Patents, Marginalisation of Appeals (Reassessment), and Deviation From the EPC

    A roundup of new developments at the EPO, where things further exacerbate and patent quality continues its downward spiral



  23. The Battistelli Effect: “We Will be Gradually Forced to File Our Patent Applications Outside the EPO in the Interests of Our Clients”

    While the EPO dusts off old files and grants in haste without quality control (won't be sustainable for more than a couple more years) the applicants are moving away as trust in the EPO erodes rapidly and profoundly



  24. Links 27/9/2016: Lenovo Layoffs, OPNFV Third Software Release

    Links for the day



  25. The Moral Depravity of the European Patent Office Under Battistelli

    The European Patent Office (EPO) comes under heavy criticism from its very own employees, who also seem to recognise that lobbying for the UPC is a very bad idea which discredits the European Patent Organisation



  26. Links 26/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC8, SuperTux 0.5

    Links for the day



  27. What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become



  28. The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and 'Expensive') Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

    A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge



  29. Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

    A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption



  30. Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

    The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts