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

10.10.09

ECIS on the Patent Licensing Paradox, Microsoft Confesses Licensing Tricks

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Interview, Microsoft, Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European map

Summary: Further discussion of the European Commission’s provisional agreement with Microsoft; licensing complications at Microsoft turn out to be deliberate

THE European Commission has permitted Microsoft to discriminate against Free software [1, 2] and it also failed to address Microsoft's racketeering tactics against Free software. Most press coverage, however, is focused only on the terms regarding Web browsers and a screen-based ballot.

Groklaw has this new audio chat (with transcripts) regarding the latest developments. Here is an interesting part of it:

Ashwin van Rooijen: Yeah. Well, I think the open source issue is important. In many markets, Microsoft faces meaningful competition — any meaningful competition — only from open source developers. So it is very important that they can actually create interoperable products. And the current template patent license that was part of the undertaking — I believe it was Annex C of the undertaking — is clearly not compatible with open source licensing schemes and especially not with the GPL. It requires, for example, that developers that take a license, that take a patent license, notify all the other developers that they distribute the software to of the various patents which Microsoft claims to have in its software. And obviously, that’s an obligation which cannot be reconciled with the GPL. And there are other provisions as well which I think would need to be resolved.

38:34

Q: Well, there’s also been a history of Microsoft claiming patent infringement, but not communicating the numbers of the patents in question.

38:42

Thomas Vinje: that’s been a very serious issue indeed. And patent FUD, in that regard –

38:48

Q: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

38:49

Thomas Vinje: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, which we certainly believe and has been engaged in to cause concern mainly among potential consumers of open source software about potential patent liability. That’s been a serious concern. There are some things in this proposed undertaking that would help to address that problem. And we should say more generally that not everything in the proposed interoperability undertaking is bad; there are some very serious problems with it, some really rather obnoxious devils in the details –

39:28

Q: Could you be more specific?

39:29

Thomas Vinje: Well, we’ve been talking about the patent one, and the standards one, and we could address other ones as well. But nonetheless, there are some — we’re not certainly saying that it’s unsaveable — I mean, this is a document which could be modified and turned into something which would be very useful. Not necessarily a panacea, it’s not going to change the landscape of the industry and make it competitive tomorrow in ways that it isn’t today, or even next year in ways that it isn’t today, but it potentially would be a very useful arrangement. Ashwin, I’ve spoken a lot, why don’t you mention some of the other devils in the details of the proposed interoperability undertaking?

The good news is that there is still room for modification. Microsoft has attempted to complicate things for Free software, using fees that supposedly correspond to software patents (they are not legal in Europe).

Speaking of complication in licences, IDG has shed some light on why Microsoft licensing is such a complicated thing. The truth may seem like a joke, but it’s not; it comes from Microsoft’s own mouth:

Navigating Microsoft’s complex rules and programs for software licensing has been notoriously difficult for businesses — a pain point not lost on the company, which for years has said it is trying to simplify the process for customers.

But remarks made recently by Microsoft’s top executive, as well as suspicions raised by customers and software consultants, suggest that Microsoft keeps its licensing complicated for a reason, and that it has no plans to make it any simpler in the foreseeable future.

[...]

Customers tend to take a big-picture view of licensing, according to Elop — that is, they look at the value it adds to their businesses overall, rather than dwell on the minutia of individual licenses required for the products they use.

“Customers want the amount they pay to be tied to the value that they’re driving, the usage they’re getting — that’s why these models are so complicated,” he said. “For different customers, these things are measured in different ways.

“What a customer will do generally is take a big step back and say, what am I paying for e-mail? What am I paying for collaboration? And they will make a determination as to whether they think that’s fair value or less than fair value,” he said.

Ouch. Why has Microsoft said the truth out in public? It would be used against it now that the cat is out of the bag.

“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.”

Arno Edelmann, Microsoft’s European business security product manager

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

What Else is New


  1. EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

    The EPO's long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it's difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework



  2. The European Patent Office Increases Surveillance: Can't Get Food Without Being Spied on

    The infamous "War on Cash" has been 'won' at Europe's second-largest institution, where people's diet can now be monitored and indefinitely retained on the system



  3. To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

    Don't let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions



  4. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Has the Full Support of Techrights

    Our support for the FSF is strong enough that we want to occasionally suggest improvements; there are growing frictions designed to isolate the FSF and cause self-restraint/censorship



  5. Why We Support Phoronix (Whereas Some Others Do Not)

    Some people try to characterise Michael Larabel as the 'bad boy' of Linux even though Michael is probably the hardest working Linux journalist out there



  6. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

    "AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won't be followed all the time."



  7. Links 20/8/2019: DragonFlyBSD Developing DSynth

    Links for the day



  8. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Narcissism in The Community

    "Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important."



  9. Breaking the Law Has Become the Norm at the European Patent Office

    The European Patent Office’s ongoing practice of destroying critics/whistleblowers and crushing unions, judges, examiners etc. — as well as threats and bribery of the media — ultimately mean a perpetual state of lawlessness that, if it prevails, will let patent trolls raid the European economy and stall innovation



  10. Links 20/8/2019: KMyMoney 5.0.6, Kdenlive 19.08

    Links for the day



  11. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free Software in Education

    "If everyone learns to code, then everyone gains some understanding of how to code in other languages."



  12. Links 19/8/2019: Another Linux 5.3 RC, OpenSUSE's Richard Brown Steps Down, Slackware Creates Patreon Page, Qt 6 Initiated

    Links for the day



  13. Speaking Truth to Monopolies (or How to Write Guest Posts in Techrights)

    We need to have more articles tackling the passage of all power — especially when it comes to software — to few large monopolies that disregard human rights or actively participate in their abolishment in the digital realm



  14. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free as in Speech

    "While a new breed of so-called anarchists campaign against expression that even the state allows, people are also foolishly overplaying the relevance of the state to free speech issues -- as if it's not a freedom issue when a project is increasingly thought-policed, because the thought-policing isn't on a state level."



  15. Toxic Culture at Microsoft

    Racism, intolerance, sexism and bullying are rampant at Microsoft; but Microsoft would rather deflect/divert/sidetrack to Google and so-called 'GAFA'



  16. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Introduction

    "The FSF isn't just threatened, it will hit a large iceberg in the future that changes it permanently."



  17. Linux Journal and Linux.com Should Have Been Kept Going

    There's apparently no good explanation for the effective shutdown of Linux Journal and Linux.com; London Trust Media Holdings (LTMH), owner of Linux Journal, saw numbers improving and the Linux Foundation, steward of Linux.com, is loaded with money



  18. 2019 Microsoft Glossary

    How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press



  19. 2019 Surveillance Glossary

    Distortion of technical and nontechnical terms in this day and age of '1984'



  20. Openwashing Report: It's Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently 'Open' Now Even Though It's Actually Proprietary.

    The latest examples (this past week's) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance



  21. GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

    A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)



  22. Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

    Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world



  23. Links 18/8/2019: New KNOPPIX and Emmabuntus Released

    Links for the day



  24. Links 17/8/2019: Unigine 2.9 and Git 2.23

    Links for the day



  25. Computer-Generated Patent Applications Show That Patents and Innovations Are Very Different Things

    The 'cheapening' of the concept of 'inventor' (or 'invention') undermines the whole foundation/basis of the patent system and deep inside patent law firms know it



  26. Concerns About IBM's Commitment to OpenSource.com After the Fall of Linux.com and Linux Journal

    The Web site OpenSource.com is over two decades old; in its current form it's about a decade old and it contains plenty of good articles, but will IBM think so too and, if so, will investment in the site carry on?



  27. Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

    At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?



  28. Caturdays and Sundays at Techrights Will Get Busier

    Our plan to spend the weekends writing more articles about Software Freedom; it seems like a high-priority issue



  29. Why Techrights Doesn't Do Social Control Media

    Being managed and censored by platform owners (sometimes their shareholders) isn’t an alluring proposition when a site challenges conformist norms and the status quo; Techrights belongs in a platform of its own



  30. Patent Prosecution Highways and Examination Highways Are Dooming the EPO

    Speed is not a measure of quality; but today's EPO is just trying to get as much money as possible, as fast as possible (before the whole thing implodes)


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