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01.21.10

Indian Activists Fight Back Against Microsoft Patents as Jeremy Allison Repeats Warning, Cites Mono as Patent Trap

Posted in Asia, Australia, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Standard at 6:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The LUG of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi complains about attempts by Microsoft to poison Indian standards with software patents; LCA receives a wakeup call regarding Novell’s malfunctioning Mono

Microsoft is trying to impose software patents on India, despite these patents being against the law (Indian patents exclude software). Microsoft behaves the same way in South Africa; it is so desperate to illegalise its competition that it breaks the law in order to change or overcome the law. Under a saner system, Microsoft would possibly be put before courts across the world. Microsoft deliberately ignores the law.

“Under a saner system, Microsoft would possibly be put before courts across the world. Microsoft deliberately ignores the law.”Indian citizens understand suppression fairly well because stories about the British are not so distant in their history. They too are some of the most active when it comes to resisting the invader, whose patents are being used as a tool to tell locals that they are not permitted to write their own software. Instead, they must rent software from a company that was found guilty of tax evasion in their country — a company which was actually found guilt of monopoly abuse in many other parts of the world. It really takes some nerve, does it not?

The GNU/Linux Users Group of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi has just responded to the latest round of lobbying for software patents in Indian standards. To quote a portion:

This document examines the Draft Policy on Open Standards for e­Government v2.4 dated 25.11.2009 and the process followed in adopting the same. You can download from http://fosscomm.in/OpenStandards .

If v2.4 is adopted as official policy, it will result in:

1. The legitimization of proprietary standards that entail the payment of royalty fees and huge foreign exchange outflows. This cost will be paid by Indian taxpayers and pocketed by monopolistic vendors located in foreign countries, since most proprietary standards are controlled by entities outside India. Unlike royalty­free open standards, the usage of proprietary standards will mean that users will, directly or indirectly, pay a royalty to a private entity for the privilege of communicating with the government.
2. Reduce e­Government in India to a mess of incompatible systems that cannot communicate with each other, thus defeating the very purpose of e­Government, if multiple standards for the same purpose are allowed.

Further away near Australia, LCA takes place and it seems to be spectacularly well organised based on press coverage.

Jeremy Allison, a Brit, has just given a talk at LCA and he repeats his warning about Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. ITWire reports:

LCA 2010: Allison warns of patent traps in Mono

Patents are the only threat that Microsoft can brandish against free and open source software and that is exactly why people should be wary of the Mono project, free software advocate and Samba hacker Jeremy Allison told a packed auditorium at the 11th LCA today.

Allison’s presentation, titled “Microsoft and free software: the elephant in the room” was held in the second largest auditorium but it was difficult to find standing room once he got going.

Sporting a T-shirt with the Samba logo on the front, and “opening windows to a wider world” on the rear, Allison presented a meticulously prepared set of arguments to show that patents were the only way which the word’s largest software company had left to attack FOSS.

Mono is an attempt to create an open source clone of Microsoft’s .NET development environment; the project was begun by Novell vice-president Miguel de Icaza who claims this will pull Windows developers over to GNU/Linux.

Allison said the patent war would be a never-ending conflict. “All the patent promises about Mono count for nothing,” he said. Other methods of harming FOSS had not borne the expected fruit.

It’s worth remembering that Jeremy Allison used to work for Novell, where Mono is being developed for Microsoft to enjoy. Allison quit Novell right after it had signed the deal with Microsoft. He did an interview with Boycott Novell.

Here is more coverage about the points made by Jeremy Allison:

Microsoft to declare patent war on iPhone/Android?

A key Linux developer has predicted Microsoft will use its huge patent portfolio to cripple smartphone competitors and boost its woeful Windows Mobile market share.

Microsoft will increasingly utilise its patent library to try and stifle any competition for netbook OSes and reassert itself in the mobile phone space, a prominent open source developer has argued.

[...]

That strategy is likely to be particularly prominent in the market for non-PC devices such as netbooks and smart phones, where Windows doesn’t enjoy the same strength of market share. While co-marketing schemes have seen former Linux supporters such as Asus largely shift to Windows, maintaining overall share and eliminating new competitors is critical to Microsoft’s survival, Allison said.

Canonical/Ubuntu is hopefully paying attention to this. As for Mono, it possibly imitates a dying technology based on the Microsoft choir itself. This one is new:

Connecting the dots, however, I’m tempted to push this a little forward. Contrary to what Microsoft envisioned or hoped or simply told us, the Windows ecosystem is not moving towards a .NET centric solution, but .NET is only a powerful and sophisticated execution and development environment on top of Windows .

The #1 framework or language is Java, based on data from those who track programming.

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