Summary: Contrary to abundant FUD out there, ODF is not at risk due to the i4i lawsuit
OUR PREVIOUS posts covering i4i vs Microsoft [1, 2, 3] have concentrated solely on OOXML/Office simply because there is unique history to this case. i4i did not specifically target OOXML (or document formats in general) as some people wish for this to seem. For details, have a look at older posts such as:
- Microsoft Accused of “Willful and Deliberate” infringement and “Discovery Misconduct” in Another Patent Case
- XML Patents, Microsoft Aggression, and ODF Hostility
- Microsoft is Again Paying the Huge Price for Wanting Anti-Free Software Laws
- Reader Explains “Microsoft Innovation”
So, is someone playing tit-for-tat or an-eye-for-an-eye? Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” In the weird, wonderful world of digital technology where greedy corporations can convert standards (that should rightfully belong in the commons) into private property, anything can happen.
ODF Not Implicated In i4i Suit
That contradicts assertions by Burton Group analyst Guy Creese, who told Visual Studio Magazine that the patent could spell trouble for the next version of ODF because “ODF 1.2 will move to a similar custom schema that OOXML has.”
Likewise, Gartner analyst Brian Prentice told CNET that the fallout from the lawsuit may “also impact ODF.”
Need it be said that the Burton Group is in Microsoft's pocket and also a prominent opposer of ODF for years? As for the latter, Gartner’s Brian Prentice is a big lobbyist for software patents and apparent promoter of Microsoft, based on his writing history that we documented in recent months [1, 2, 3, 4]. That’s not even to mention Garner in general [1, 2, 3, 4]. Here is the source of the FUD and here is IDG linking to Ziff Davis (eWeek), both of which have business relationships with Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Here is Kolakowski fueling Gartner’s FUD:
“If the validity of the patent is upheld then the immediate question is whether this will also impact ODF [OpenDocument Format],” Brian Prentice, an analyst with Gartner, wrote in an Aug. 12 blog posting. “If so, then this turns out to be a significantly more important issue and one which will crystallize the fury of the anti-patentistas.”
What may not be known to most readers is that the author, Nick Kolakowski, is also running eWeek’s Microsoft site, where almost every post is an advert for Microsoft, so it’s essentially part of that large network in the mainstream media whose only purpose it to create buzz and increase presence of Microsoft, a marketing company to a great degree. IDG did the same thing in other languages and Matt Asay, who is not too familiar with the matters at hand, took the bait and passed it on via CNET’s wires. He was soon corrected (with the correction appearing only at the bottom).
Update: See Sean Michael Kerner’s post, suggesting that two particulars (i4i is not a patent troll and i4i and Microsoft had a business relationship) suggest that the open-source world has little to fear from this suit.
Why is CNET passing misguided blog opinions as news, even though the writer is hardly familiar with the document formats debate? There is also a good deal of anti-GNU/Linux passing via CNET/Gartner [1, 2]. Then, like in a broken telephone effect, Lora Bentley parroted Asay (before his correction was made). Sooner or later, the whole Web got saturated with disinformation, creating an atmosphere of fear of OpenOffice.org and ODF (one person says: “Indeed, but it makes me worry about ODF and OO.org”).
The fear is substanceless in this case as the real issue is Microsoft’s patent aggression and XML patents. i4i sued Microsoft because Microsoft stabbed them in the back (see links at the top) and in a similar vein, it is Microsoft which suffers from ODF the most, so to grind an axe with ODF is only expected from Microsoft, whose XML patents we wrote about in:
- Signs That Microsoft Might Prepare for ‘Patent Terror’ Against Rival Office Suites
- Microsoft’s OOXML Patents, Apple’s Endorsement, and the Rise of OpenOffice.org
- Microsoft Keeps Trying to Inject Software Patents Into ODF and Other Standards
- Microsoft ‘Patents’ ODF Whilst Also Harming It
- Microsoft Hostility Towards XML Expands to Hostility Towards HTML
- Patents Roundup: OASIS Takes Stance Against Software Patents, Microsoft Loses Again
- XML Patents, Microsoft Aggression, and ODF Hostility
- Microsoft’s ‘ODF Patent’ as Vacuous as Its Promise of Interoperability
- Reader’s Article: The Microsoft Patent Threat to ODF
- On Microsoft’s Software Patents and ODF Fragmentation
In better news today, OpenOffice 3.1 gets a pretty decent review from PC Pro while OpenOffice.org 3.1.1 Release Candidate 1 is announced.
OpenOffice 3.1 brings some welcome new features and some much needed polish, says Simon Jones
OpenOffice.org has recently released version 3.1 of its eponymous software suite, a minor upgrade that brings some welcome features and some much needed polish to the nearest thing Microsoft Office has to a competitor.
The document debate in Denmark is also heating up (mostly articles in Danish), but Leif Lodahl drops some information in English by stating that the “Danish Competition Authority; Public purchase of office software should also in the future support either OOXML or ODF”
“How does making several mutually-incompatible formats actually beneficial through competition?”Also he added (his English is not so strong): “Danish Competition Authority; to select ODF as the one standard will not increase competition”
There is another conversation there where Christian Lanng is corresponding with a proven Microsoft proponent about the subject. He argues that “The Danish Competition Authority rule that choosing ODF or OOXML alone would be limiting for competition” and that “only by choosing both formats can we INCREASE competition.”
This makes no sense. How does making several mutually-incompatible formats actually beneficial through competition? We saw the same pattern of deception earlier this month in India and last year in Malaysia. It is classic spin where competition between office suites is suddenly recast as a preferred competition between formats, which would be destructive to people’s data and work flow. Here is the article in Danish. One has to wonder whose strings are bring pulled and by whom? █
“37 letters with exactly the same words. Some of the senders didn’t even care to remove the ‘Type company name here’ text.
Simular letters has been circulating in Denmark as an e-mail from the Danish MD Jørgen Bardenfleth to customers and business partners.
I call it fraud, cheating and disgusting. If I wasn’t anti-Microsoft before, I am now. Disgusting !”