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Microsoft: Red Hat Should be Happy to Take Microsoft Patents

Posted in Europe, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents, SUN, Videos at 3:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ogg Theora

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Summary: The latest developments in Microsoft’s subversive battle against better-priced (and simply better) competition

Red Hat and OIN

It was only a few days ago that we wrote about OIN’s press release. Its most recent effort will help a belated fight against specific Microsoft patents. There is some more coverage of this now, e.g.:

That’s the latest in a long saga which is Microsoft’s patent attack on Linux. Red Hat plays a role in this retaliation after the TomTom case; it needs to remove barriers that Microsoft deliberately creates to intimidate Linux vendors. Now watch this from ZDNet:

On the one hand, Microsoft might release patents to Red Hat as part of a partnership. On the other hand “Microsoft has an interest in protecting intellectual property.” On the other hand it won’t sue open source on patent infringements. On the other hand Microsoft has an obligation to its shareholders.

Microsoft’s Oliver Bell, who has been asking about Boycott Novell, is seemingly threatening or pressuring Red Hat in one way or another (see video at the top for comparison). Harish Pillay had this to share after ZDNet had upset him with inaccurate reporting:

Oliver then went on to say that Red Hat should be happy to take MS patents and make money out of it and in doing so, MS would want a cut. The comment was not accepted by me and I handwaved to the moderator to move on as it was not the thrust of the my question.

I was tweeting the whole event (did not use a tag, but check twitter.com/harishpillay). Interesting, Oliver tweeted back about the patent issue and I suggested that he should consider getting MS into OIN and make all of the software patents freely available to ALL open source developers (commercial or otherwise). MS can continue to do their standard royalty extract from those patents that they placed in OIN from people who use it but keep the code secret.

As we last mentioned yesterday, Microsoft declined an invitation to join OIN. When it comes to Linux, Microsoft is most likely interested in using software patents offensively, not defensively. Microsoft has always been an aggressor.

Red Hat and Europe

According to this report, Red Hat will be pushing against software patents in Europe, thus contradicting some suspicions caused by undeniable hypocrisy [1, 2, 3].

Red Hat is today expected to join others in making the case against the enforcement of patents in software across the European Union.

The company is expected to submit an 11-page report to regulators, which makes the case that patents in software damages innovation in software.

Earlier this month, Richard Stallman and the FFII protested in the streets of Germany against software patents [1, 2]. There is now a new interview from Germany and it happens to cover not only software patents and those protests; it speaks about Red Hat too

When he attended a rally in Munich this month, Richard Stallman took time out of his busy schedule to talk with our News Editor, Britta Wülfing. The conversation covered everything from Software as a Service, to patents, protests, international politics, and protecting your freedom.


Linux Pro: They offer Red Hat, what about that? Is that not 100 percent free software?

Stallman: No.

Linux Pro: They claim it to be.

Stallman: I don’t know what they say. I’d be surprised if they said anything about free software at all. We talk with the people who make Fedora. They almost removed all the non-free software, but they did not remove the non-free firmware from the Linux kernel itself.

Linux Pro: But wouldn’t that be difficult?

Stallman: It’s not difficult at all. It’s just a choice whether you do it. The reason it’s not difficult is we’ve already done the work. We have a Linux Libre where we have removed the non-free firmware. So if you want a free version GNU/Linux distro you do have to get it from us.

Linux Pro: “From us” means the FSF?

Stallman: Us is FSF in America. That does this.

Some more responses regarding software patents are still being sent to the Enlarged Board of Appeal with the intention of impacting the EPO’s judgment.

If the Enlarged Board of Appeal should jump over the admissibility hurdle they will find themselves confronted with demands linke ‘we want more of the same’ from the usual pro-patent stakeholders interested in more or less maintaining the status quo, as well as with flawed ‘get rid of software patents’ rethoric of well-known abolitionist groups or individuals representing that way of thinking. Mr Bakels’ approach brings in some fresh air but I am somewhat in doubt as to the EBA would dare even only to deal explicitly with such deviation from long established concepts of case law.

We’ve just found the following talk from former head of the FFII regarding software patents in Europe. It’s a little old, but it only came to YouTube a few weeks ago.

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This is not about the buyout, but rather it’s about software patents, which continue to bother everyone but lawyers. Here is the latest:

i. Sun Successfully Defends Itself Against $100M Patent Suit

A jury denies the claim for than $100 million in damages from Sun for alleged patent infringement, breach of contract, interference with an existing contract, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition that had been filed by Versata, formerly called Trilogy Software. Versata claimed Sun stole its technology for a product configurator designed to model a software development project throughout the entire product cycle, from requirements to marketing and sales.

ii. Oracle Sued by I2 for Patent Infringement

Oracle has been sued for alleged patent infringement by supply chain management vendor i2 Technologies, i2 said on Wednesday.

The suit charges Oracle with infringing on 11 of i2′s patents. I2 is seeking monetary damages and royalty payments, or else an injunction to block the alleged infringement.

What does being part of a large company mean to MySQL and other big projects that are Free?

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  1. NotZed said,

    May 1, 2009 at 9:10 am


    “What does being part of a large company mean to MySQL and other big projects that are Free?”

    It means they’ll have the money and resources to implement features and provide support all of it’s existing users only ever dreamed of. MySQL is a product that needs a hell of a lot of loving to bring it up to scratch, and real money can provide a significant boost to the effort.

    What happens may or may not be awesome home-brew beer-free, but it’ll still be free like speech is supposed to be in some countries.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Linus(‘s minix) has plenty of big companies behind it lately, and nobody’s crying wolf over that (yet). Not to mention openoffice ‘dot’ org.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I can’t work out these comparisons because they don’t compute so well.

    Linux has many companies behind it and OIN serves as a patent pool. OOo is owned by a company with only one office suite. MySQL is now owned by a former/existing competitor whose emphasis on Free software is dubious.

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