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07.24.09

Red Hat Asks Microsoft to Stop the Patent Racketeering

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell at 5:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Summary: Had Microsoft been up to any good, it would rescind the patent threats too, implicitly claims Red Hat

WHEN Microsoft gave its self-serving patch to Linux [1, 2, 3], it pretended to have done something generous, but as the next post will show, Microsoft merely violated the GPL and decided to correct this.

Microsoft’s patent racketeering against Linux was last seen over a week ago, so Red Hat uses this opportunity to tell Microsoft that it must end.

“To win the respect and trust of the Linux community, Microsoft should unequivocally disavow such conduct and pledge that its patents will never be used against Linux or other open source developers and users,” Red Hat stated.

Microsoft however has a different opinion. Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, has blogged his own response to Red Hat’s call.

Asay wrote about this too:

Red Hat’s legal team has given a half-hearted pat on the back to Microsoft’s open sourcing of Linux device drivers this week.

The observation of the Bible’s James came to mind: “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.”

[...]

The spirit of Red Hat’s comment–compete on the basis of technology and execution, not patent threats–is absolutely correct. But the course of action suggested by Red Hat’s legal team for Microsoft is a double standard that no company or individual should follow.

From IDG:

While applauding Microsoft’s contribution of code to the Linux community this week, Red Hat nonetheless urged its rival to pledge that it will never use its patents against Linux.

The funny thing is that Microsoft knows it merely complied with the GPL, but this never prevented the company from pretending to have done something owing to niceties. Dishonesty rather.

Now that Sun Microsystems is sold to Oracle, many will say that Red Hat is the largest or at least most prominent among open source companies. So it is sad that the following Register Webcast, which is about “open source”, is speaking to Novell and Microsoft; they don’t describe themselves as open source companies.

Experts from The Register, Novell, Freeform Dynamics and Microsoft will provide their opinions, practical advice and answers to attendee questions throughout this hour-long event. Topics include:

# What are organisations adopting when it comes to Open Source and Proprietary software?

[...]

# Virtualization and flexible operations
# Novell and Microsoft working together

Why is a show which purports to be about open source so overly focused on Microsoft on Novell? Those two companies are mixing code and using software patents. That’s not open source.

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4 Comments

  1. zatoichi said,

    July 24, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Gravatar

    “Implictly claims”? I think it’s more like “Based on what Red Hat said, Roy claims…”

    And no one is imputing Mother Teresa-like motives to Microsoft in this. As I’ve pointed out, they released the Hyper-V drivers because they had no alternative to doing so, that’s clear.

    However what all of you seem to be missing–even after I told you–is that open source (I don’t think Greg is a “free software” guy, either) backed Microsoft into a corner and made it say “Uncle!” (Metaphorically speaking, of course; I’m not anthropomorphizing here, as people are very prone to doing on this site. Don’t get confused.)

    And there are stories about Mother Teresa, too.

  2. Nemesis said,

    July 24, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Gravatar

    “Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

    Mark S said that, but im very very sure the PEOPLE MS are getting to pay for the patents (they are using to make money with because of what it does).. THEY WOULD KNOW.

    You think MS goes to a company and says “we have some patents so give up some money”. You really think the world works like that.

    Mark, and anyone else have to work out thats its NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, you are not the company doing deals with MS, you are not signing any cheques to them. They dont have to tell you SQUAT.

    So to whine constantly about what businesses do (conducting business) all the time does not help your cause.

    It’s like you saying “oh dear, MS is selling software!!” . Yes, they are it’s what they do. No one is holding a gun to your head to use MS, or its products, and no one expects MS to walk up and down your street yelling out loud, “just so you know we did some business deals today”.

    If you lose credibility from this level of ‘reporting’ no one will take any notice of you when you actually have something of value to report.

    As for their “goodwill to obey the law” im sure MS could have re-written the offending code as opposed to release it. Again, reporting non-report worthy subjects greatly limits your influence.

    7000 posts of rubbish not worth anything if they are false and misleading.

    7 accurate, well researched, factual reports would be far better.

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 24, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Gravatar

    The OEM racketeering needs to be dealt with as well, as does the astroturfing.

  4. Yuhong Bao said,

    July 24, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Gravatar

    In fact, only hours after MS’s Linux patch, tridge posted a revised version of the MS FAT LFN patent workaround patch:
    http://lkml.org/lkml/2009/7/20/425

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