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.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

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. Fraunhofer is Again Evergreening Software Patents to Maintain Its Codecs Cartel, Forcing Everyone to Pay to View/Stream Multimedia Files

    The roller-coaster of software patents on multimedia isn't stopping; we know the culprits who can be named for perpetuating this injustice



  2. [Humour/Meme] Focusing on the Bombings and Who's Included in the Bombings

    Supremacist agenda disguised as "tolerant and inclusive" is still objectionable supremacist agenda



  3. Manners Are a Good Thing. The Yardstick or the Standard of Manners Changes Over Time.

    Entirely legitimate grievances of African-Americans are being exploited by people who aren’t even African-American (and usually don’t speak for African-Americans) to warp the debate from one about software ethics and technical issues, not to mention war crimes of companies that employ many programmers, to something which is unlikely to really help African-Americans (also, they don't employ any African-Americans)



  4. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 07, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, July 07, 2020



  5. Links 8/7/2020: Huawei’s GNU/Linux PC, Sparky 5.12, and Endless OS 3.8.4 Released

    Links for the day



  6. [Humour] Television Channels That Don't Speak of Real Looting But Participate in Looting

    People may need to look beyond (or outside) the television screen to grasp what's going on



  7. (Software) Freedom is Elusive Without the Ability to Concentrate

    Software is consuming people's minds; to make matters worse, people have become so attached to such software that they're unable to see it and get away from it (they associate that software with "social life")



  8. Monopolies Erode Freedom, Freedom Erodes Monopolies

    "There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free."



  9. Links 7/7/2020: NomadBSD 1.3.2, Clonezilla Live 2.6.7 and DRM Comes to Cars

    Links for the day



  10. [Humour] IAM Ranked Top for Quality of EPO Propaganda

    Contrary to what the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps saying, patent quality is slipping very fast in Europe (based on the EPO's own analysis!) but patent trolls-funded publishers deny that



  11. When They're Done With Patents on Foods and Recipes They'll Have Patents on Fashion, Taste and Smell

    The mental dysfunction — an infectious condition — that says everything in the world must be patented should be resisted; it overlooks the fact that patents were introduced to protect/promote actual invention, not thoughts, feelings, nature and art



  12. [Humour/Meme] IBM's Money is Unhealthy to the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

    IBM will never be happy as long as RMS (Richard Stallman) has a say in the FSF — directly or indirectly — or even in the GNU Project, both of which he himself created back when IBM was the biggest monopolist



  13. IRC Proceedings: Monday, July 06, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, July 06, 2020



  14. Never Let IBM/Red Hat Lecture Us on Morality

    Ethics and morality should not be taught by those who themselves need a lesson; in the meantime we're losing the courage to speak freely and those who commit atrocious acts like it a lot better that way



  15. [Humour/Meme] Wear the Red Hat as the Open Org Becomes Openwash

    IBM is changing Red Hat and not for the better; sooner or later IBM will become another Microsoft and changing from one to the other will be like swapping 'masters'



  16. IBM is Imposing Non-Free, Privacy-Infringing Tools and Patent Tolls on Red Hat Staff

    There are signs that Red Hat under IBM will be more like assimilation to IBM, not IBM assimilating to the 'Red Hat way' or the so-called 'open org'



  17. They Tell the Free Software Community That It is Racist While Saying Nothing at All About Trump's Racism (Because He Gives Them Government and Military Contracts)

    While their president compares 'foreign' people to a virus (using innuendo, dog whistles and racist rhetoric reminiscent of the Nazi era) the big US corporations (American surveillance giants) turn their attention to rather innocuous words inside people's code (which almost nobody sees anyway)



  18. LibreOffice 'Personal Edition' Seems Like a Marketing and Communication Fluke

    Had LibreOffice developers (and the Document Foundation) communicated these changes more openly, they would have averted/avoided some of the FUD



  19. It Almost Feels Like Microsoft Has Already 'Bought' Canonical

    Canonical's disturbing trajectory and betrayal of the community continue unabated; one can easily get the impression that Ubuntu exists to help Microsoft at some level



  20. Update to GNU Project Bleeding into Microsoft

    Update



  21. Microsoft is Going to Get Tired of Whining About “GAFA” and Accept That It's Just as Bad If Not a Lot Worse at Privacy

    Microsoft is being treated by the US government as if it's not abusing anything, let alone people's privacy; if anything, this demonstrates the degree to which Microsoft infiltrated or 'vendor-captured' regulatory branches



  22. Links 6/7/2020: LibreOffice 7.0 RC1, MX-19.2 KDE Beta 1, Linux 5.8 RC4

    Links for the day



  23. ZDNet's 'Linux' Section: Linux is Full of Problems and It Loves/Embraces Software Patents

    Software patents promotion and GNU/Linux FUD; your daily dosage of 'news' from the tabloid known as ZDNet...



  24. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, July 05, 2020

    IRC logs for Sunday, July 05, 2020



  25. Links 5/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Mate Beta and GNOME Gingerblue

    Links for the day



  26. Technological Progress? Only If We Assume The Wrong Things...

    When we're told that we're all dumb we're being given increasingly dumb technology (and they tell us dumber is better)



  27. Linux Foundation Still Owned and Controlled Largely -- and More Over Time -- by Surveillance Companies (Openwashing Services for Bad Practices and Bad Actors)

    The Linux Foundation‘s growing role in spying or the focus on data-mining operations is an eternal reminder or warning that the Foundation follows power and money, not freedom or ethics (it began as a salary-paying venture, crowdfunding among large corporations which conduct mass surveillance)



  28. Sharing is Caring, as Those Who Share Usually Care

    Going back to our human roots, people who cooperate and collaborate are vastly more likely to survive and thrive; Free software is almost guaranteed to become the norm when/once everyone demands it (proprietary software is too divisive, supremacist and even racist)



  29. Systems Can Crash and People Can Die by Changing Language (Even in Parameter and Function Space) to Appease Activists

    It seems clear that Intel takes the lead in trying to change Linux not in technical means but purely social means; even when (and where) that can compromise the robustness of the kernel (Intel is nowadays known for profoundly defective chips with back doors)



  30. António Campinos Should Speak to Peasants, Not Litigation Lawyers

    Mr. Campinos does not work for campinos but against campinos; he represents the people who sue or threaten them using ludicrous patents that should never have been granted (e.g. in Ethiopia)


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

Recent Posts