Summary: Another pseudo-FOSS company is suing its rivals using software patents, this time targeting Apple and Microsoft
Emblaze, whose companies include Magic Software and Matrix IT, said that the Vole’s IIS Smooth Streaming system and Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming application use its technology.
Here is the press release and some more news coverage [1, 2, 3]. Emblaze and ACCESS are part of the sick obsession with software patents and patent pools. They attack the rest of the Linux ecosystem with words and threats. It is just like TiVo [1, 2, 3] or Akamai and we addressed this subject before. These are the companies that endorse and pay for software patents rather than promote GNU/Linux as a free operating system. Works With U, a Web site which is focused on Ubuntu, has just published this short essay about the harms of software patents when it comes to GNU/Linux.
Patented codecs are also unlike other non-free software upon which many Linux users rely because they have completely GPL-compatible equivalents that work just as well. Proprietary graphics and wireless drivers are necessary because no equally functional open-source drivers exist; in contrast, the Ogg Vorbis audio codec and Ogg Theora video compressor function just as well by most measures as the proprietary codecs, such as mp3 and the mpegs, that they seek to replace.
Emblaze’s action might only provoke and justify retaliatory action from Microsoft and even Apple, which is also a problem when it comes to software patents. Microsoft loves to say that its actions against companies like TomTom, for example, can be rationalised by those 50+ patent lawsuits against it.
About a decade ago, Microsoft responded to this problem by grooming and funding what would become the world's largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures (Apple funded this too). Based on this new job opening, this patent troll keeps growing. “Intellectual Ventures looking for a patent attorney in Bellevue (Washington) next to Redmond,” wrote the president of the FFII some hours ago. What Emblaze, ACCESS and that whole LiMo bunch are doing by playing with software patents against Microsoft and Apple is legitimising those patents and providing a pretext for attacks on Free software. You don’t make peace by starting a “defensive” or “precautionary” war. █