Summary: Microsoft to be paid for Linux-powered products from I-O Data and Apple wants ‘Linux tax’ (from Android) too
SOFTWARE PATENTS are not illegal in Japan (it’s one of the very few countries that accept them rather than except them), but Microsoft continues to refuse to tell what makes its racketeering justified (see the Amazon deal for example [1, 2, 3, 4]).
Sanyo, which is based in Japan, is one of the companies that fell for exFAT, but what patents does I-O Data think that it’s paying Microsoft for? It will not tell. And so Microsoft’s extortion carries on:
This time it says “Linux” in the title of the press release from Microsoft. They get more and more aggressive all the time, deal after deal.
REDMOND, Wash. and KANAZAWA, Japan, March 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Microsoft Corp. and I-O Data Device Inc. have entered into an agreement that will provide I-O Data’s customers with patent coverage for their use of I-O Data’s products running Linux and other related open source software.
Here is the coverage so far:
Redmond-based Microsoft Corp. said late Wednesday that it is in a deal with Japanese firm I-O Data Device Inc., where it will provide I-O Data’s customers patent coverage for their use of I-O Data’s products running Linux and other open source software. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, the firms said that I-O Data is compensating Microsoft for the IP coverage. Microsoft has been inking a number of deals with companies–many of them network attached storage providers like I-O Data–over possible patent violations in Linux.
Just this week, Microsoft convinced Japanese hardware vendor I-O Data to sign up for Microsoft patent licensing to protect against Linux patent issues. Over the last three years Microsoft has been successful at getting multiple vendors including Amazon, Novell, Brother International Corp, Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd, Kyocera Mita Corp., LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and TomTom International BV to buy into their argument that they need protection from Linux patent infringement.
SCO was never that successful.
Time and again, people in the open source community have asked that Microsoft lay their patents on the table so that Linux vendors could deal with Microsoft’s concerns. To date Microsoft has not done so.
So why has Microsoft succeeded where SCO failed when it comes to Linux patents?
This is similar to the deal with Melco, which Microsoft reportedly sued in order to extort.
Microsoft seeks to normalise unthinkable extortion and it needs to be stopped. Where are companies like IBM hiding when this extortion is happening? Don’t they see it as a duty to challenge this? Well, some of these companies like IBM and Google quietly support software patents, but with this conspiracy of silence they continue to hurt Linux, and especially Free software.
Microsoft’s attack on Linux is now joined by Apple’s attack on Android [1, 2, 3]. They both use software patents and make a lot of people very angry, including (former) supporters of themselves. Even Apple enthusiasts are left with a bad taste.
There are two aspects surrounding Apple’s patent litigation against HTC that demand further consideration. First, the severe problems with the U.S. patent system as a whole, particularly with regard to software patents. Second, the strategic implications of Apple’s decision to file suit.
Apple is challenging the whole of Android (and to an extent Linux too), as one member of the FFII put it. “Apple is a public danger that use[s] software patents to suppress competition,” says FFII’s president.
Most software and Internet firms have pledged not to sue unless someone first sues them. Sun, Google, Oracle, Cisco and many more think that patents would have an ugly effect on the market otherwise. Apple appears to have left that defensive ideal by waging patent war with Android using HTC as its proxy.
The problem is proprietary software, which usually goes hand-in-hand with software patents (IBM and Google are predominantly proprietary too). Support Free software and call for the abolishment of software patents internationally. █