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

08.05.10

Microsoft Extorts Salesforce: Salesforce to Make Sales, Microsoft to Make the Money

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Servers at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft ripoff logo

Summary: Another timely lesson about the harms of software patents, which help Microsoft extort its rivals without ever taking them to court and having the patents tested

SOFTWARE patents are a nasty thing. In fact, over in Australia (and now in Slashdot) Ben Sturmfels works towards abolishment of software patents (for background see [1, 2, 3]). This is important because of precedence. In light of this heroic Australian action, OStatic brings up Sun’s Schwartz’ testimony about Microsoft extortion from Gates and Ballmer.

Schwartz goes on to detail a meeting he was in with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer from Microsoft, in which Gates allegedly “skipped the small talk” and said: “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.”

The move by Australian software leaders to abolish patents seems a little over the top. Some ideas scream out for patents, and many software titans have been built on fairly patented software. Still, if anyone has any question that software patents get exploited, Schwartz’s post called “What I Couldn’t Say” is worth rereading.

Microsoft racketeering with software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] recently hit Salesforce, which Microsoft sued with software patents for no apparent reason other than greed (it was sued by Salesforce in return). Salesforce uses GNU/Linux just about everywhere, at least on the server side. According to this press release from Microsoft, Salesforce allowed Microsoft to have itself extorted. Yes, Microsoft has once again successfully extorted using software patents and Mary Jo Foley says that ‘[w]hile the terms of the agreement aren’t being disclosed “Microsoft is being compensated by Salesforce.com”.’

The press calls it a “settlement”, but it doesn’t quite capture the fact that Microsoft is being paid a ‘patent tax’ by Salesforce (it’s the same with TomTom, which shows Microsoft becoming a Linux-sucking leech). From the Wall Street Journal:

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) announced Wednesday a settlement to their patent suits against one another, ending a three-month tussle the two software companies had over various software patents.

More on this racketeering:

In other news, a ‘company’ (patent troll) that sued Microsoft for patent violations didn’t get its way.

It is possible that Salesforce would have won against Microsoft in court, but litigation is expensive. By issuing threats/lawsuits Microsoft has managed to turn Salesforce into a cash cow, using just a few papers with the USPTO’s rubber stamp.

Software patents need to die because they destroy the software industry and only empower monopolies.

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

12 Comments

  1. Florian Mueller said,

    August 5, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Gravatar

    My position on software patents is still the same, but concerning the way they are used, I think this here isn’t the worst-case scenario. In fact, it would be great news if the different companies against whom IBM holds certain mainframe-related IPRs could also get a license deal and then grow their business — but IBM, unlike Microsoft, doesn’t allow competitors to do that unless, hopefully, forced by regulators to grant licenses on FRAND terms.

    If IBM could content itself with being only what you, Roy, call a “leech”, that would be a fundamental improvement.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    IBM leeches a lot using patents. Last time I checked, they make about a billion dollars per year just from patent tax (and Phelps had a role in it).

    twitter Reply:

    RAND is not acceptable either, especially the way Microsoft wields it. In fact, RAND is a propaganda term that should be avoided.

    … It is true that these licenses do not discriminate against any specific person, but they do discriminate against the free software community, and that makes them unreasonable. Thus, half of the term “RAND” is deceptive and the other half is prejudiced. Standards bodies should recognize that these licenses are discriminatory, and drop the use of the term “reasonable and non-discriminatory” or “RAND” to describe them. Until they do so, writers who do not wish to join in the whitewashing would do well to reject that term. To accept and use it merely because patent-wielding companies have made it widespread is to let those companies dictate the views you express.

    If you care about your sanity, privacy, software freedom and other basic rights dependent on a free computer/network you might also replace Windows 7 with GNU/Linux or other free software. Either way, you should not pretend that there is anything fair or reasonable about software patents.

    twitter Reply:

    It is difficult to reconcile Florian’s thoughts. I just noticed where he says,

    I’d only be concerned if someone suspected me of supporting an agenda that is anticompetitive and harms innovation … [and] In particular, I don’t want software patents to hurt either category [free or non free]. More importantly, I want FOSS to put competitive pressure on everyone because that will ensure that I also get to buy high-quality proprietary software at reasonable prices. I believe in choice.

    The FSF has made a reasonable case that fee only licensing that Florian advocates as “RAND” always discriminates against free software. The news about Salesforce demonstrates that damage is also done to non free software, thereby reducing the “choice” Florian seem to value over his freedom. Florian’s “Focus” on IBM, Groklaw and other organizations on the Microsoft hit list is looking harder to justify in reasonable terms. An honest person with his goals has to conclude that software patents are always bad and work to eliminate them rather than selectively chase offenses.

    twitter Reply:

    ack bad formatting. the passage above should have Florian’s statement clearly quoted:

    “I’d only be concerned if someone suspected me of supporting an agenda that is anticompetitive and harms innovation … [and] In particular, I don’t want software patents to hurt either category [free or non free]. More importantly, I want FOSS to put competitive pressure on everyone because that will ensure that I also get to buy high-quality proprietary software at reasonable prices. I believe in choice.”

    This should be obvious to anyone who follows the link provided.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Well, Florian is against software patents, but I don’t agree with his approach (respectfully). It was earlier that I found this submission about Salesforce. He still uses Slashdot to slant stories and push his agenda. Florian is spreading FUD against GNU/Linux in this case, because the deal/settlement is not about Linux. the FFII called it “‘Linux tax’ troll post”, which is funny because the FFII is in some way a succession of Florian’s work (it just took his campaign a few years ago) and here it is labelling Florian’s submission “troll”.

    Florian Mueller Reply:

    For the sake of accuracy:

    The FFII started the fight against software patents long before me. I became aware of the problem in the EU because of the FFII. I later handed my NoSoftwarePatents campaign to them, but still, they’re not just a succession of my work.

    Concerning the fact that Salesforce recognized a need to pay royalties for patents that read on Linux, we discussed that on Twitter yesterday and I believe that my interpretation is right.

    It’s not about FUD.

    The FFII Twitter account is used by multiple people. The most likely one to say that kind of thing about me there is “arebenti”. He’s been against my work all along, going back to the year 2004.

    I’ve mentioned the Salesforce deal in my most recent blog posting (on Microsoft’s use of patents):
    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/08/microsofts-use-of-patents.html

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Defending Microsoft’s patent extortion is delusional at best. I will post a quick rebuttal later.

    Notice that IBM did not sue anyone and it actually gives lists of patents when inquired (Microsoft didn’t when it comes to Linux, which it sued through companies).

    Florian Mueller Reply:

    @twitter I don’t have a hit list based on who competes with Microsoft but based on my priority focus on exclusionary use (and, as a #2 topic, hypocrisy).

    twitter Reply:

    Please do not misscharacterize what I say, Florian. I do not know if you have a hit list to match the lists of journalists and websites you publish to, but I can say Microsoft does. Microsoft email exposed in court show that Microsoft’s hit list is basically the rest of the world with resources focused on key areas through programs like EDGI, Comphot and many, specialized lobbying groups. Tim Bray, Peter Guttman, Peter Quinn, Richard Stallman and PJ can also tell you that Microsoft’s hit list can be very personal.

    In your latest blog post you summarize your strained defense of Microsoft’s patent extortion,

    Microsoft doesn’t use its patents in a destructive way. They don’t just sit on their patents without doing nothing, but they’re a cooperative right holder who doesn’t use them to shut out competition.

    This opinion is not supported by Microsoft’s private letters and public statements about their schemes to exclude and destroy free software.

    Confronted with facts, you and fellow patent supporters have turned to smears. You had the nerve to republish nonsense from Forbes claiming that Groklaw and the FSF are corporate stooges. You then attempt to smear Roy by linking to Dana’s article that makes fun of you calling PJ an IBM troll. Dana is also a patent supporter and his comparison of your charges and Roy’s do Roy a great disservice. Roy’s assertion that your efforts serve Microsoft’s interests is reasonable and well supported. People who defend the indefensible always dip to the personal level because the facts do not support what they would like to prove.

    The threat Microsoft poses to free software can not be judged one issue at a time any more than their actions occur in isolation. Microsoft’s legal, technical, and social attack on the rest of the world, particularly free software, must be judged as a whole. Together, these things make Microsoft the primary threat to free software outside of the general decline of democracy in the Western world. Microsoft is a failing company but it is still a dangerous one. It should be noted that Microsoft and partners are chief collaborators with Communist China and are happy to see network and software freedom removed elsewhere too.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    PJ has some questions for Florian now.

  2. twitter said,

    August 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Gravatar

    PJ also covers Eban Moglen’s keynot at LibrePlanet 2010, where he talks about forming alliances with companies that depend on and contribute to free software.

    We need to think about the grand strategy of our continued forceful campaigning for free as in freedom. But we also need to be extremely aware of the extent to which we can now capitalize upon the achievements we have already set up and the alliances with forces not necessarily concerned with freedom that our technological sophistication has brought to them. … Microsoft will continue to attempt to get paid for what we do, by forcing people — or quasi-forcing people through intimidatory conduct — to take patent licenses to run our software….If we are to quell this nuisance we can only do so in cooperation with others who see clearly that this is a threat to the welfare of their customers.

    This is quite a relevant topic. The trouble people some people are making for Microsoft competitors who are also natural free software allies is right in line with Microsoft’s usual divisive policies. I see above even some of the usual BSD vrs GPL trolls. None of us should surrender our software freedom to any company, but we can encourage companies like IBM, Google and others that are not outright hostile to software freedom to continue their genuine march toward software freedom. Convicted felon, Microsoft, should never be trusted or paid because they are the worst of the exploiters. I look forward to a company ranking page similar to the FSF software license explanation page.

What Else is New


  1. Links 10/12/2016: KDE neon User LTS Edition, AsteroidOS in Headlines Again

    Links for the day



  2. “Corrupt Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić Today in Zagreb at 25th Anniversary of SIPO Croatia”

    Shortly after Željko Topić lost his court case for the third time (over allegations of corruption at SIPO), his EPO boss Benoît Battistelli joins SIPO celebrations



  3. The US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Maintains High Pace of Patent Invalidation, in Spite of Appeals to CAFC

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), i.e. the court system, has become the last resort of serial litigators, as the PTAB gets in their way more and more often following AIA and Alice



  4. Good Luck to the US Supreme Court in Eliminating a Supremely Unjust Misuse of Patent Law

    In an important upcoming patent case, gross abuse of patent laws for the support of dubious business models can finally be tackled



  5. EPO Protest This Coming Wednesday Strives to Restore the Rule of Law and Freedom of Speech at the Office

    The level of autocracy at the European Patent Organisation, an institution which has effectively positioned itself above the law with Battistelli and his minions in charge of the Office, faces growing backlash from staff



  6. The EPO is Collapsing. Attacks on Journalists, Interns as Staff, Patents on Plants, and Bureaucratic Red Tape...

    A look at some of the latest issues surrounding the European Patent Office, whose insistence on denying the problems and instead attacking those who bring up legitimate concerns, will spell its doom



  7. Ignore the Bristows UPC Echo Chamber, the UPC is Not Happening

    Response to some of the latest UPC promotion, courtesy of some of the usual suspects, who stand to benefit financially if the UPC ever becomes a reality



  8. British Media Slams Battistelli for Attempting to Cover Up 2 Years of Juridical Abuses With Help From the Administrative Council of the EPO

    A growing voice of concern about the integrity of the European Patent Organisation, whose management appears to be in cahoots (overseers/regulators included) so as to cover up its own serious abuses



  9. Boards of Appeal Still Under Attack From Team Battistelli While the EPO Proceeds to Granting Patents on Carlsberg BEER!

    The lunacy of the EPO with its patent maximalism will likely go unchecked (and uncorrected) if Battistelli gets his way and turns the EPO into another SIPO (Croatian in the human rights sense and Chinese in the quality sense)



  10. Memo “Deliberately Leaked to Cover up the UPC” With Its Many Associated Issues Amid Brexit

    Some eye-opening updates about the awkward move from Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who made promises (expression of intent) she can neither fulfill nor justify to the British public



  11. Links 8/12/2016: Korora GNU/Linux 25, SparkyLinux 4.5.1

    Links for the day



  12. Links 7/12/2016: ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5, Ubuntu Touch OTA-14

    Links for the day



  13. The UPC Scam Part VII: A Fine Mess in the Making, as Nothing Can be Made of It Amid/After Brexit

    The final part in this multi-part series about UPC, which cannot be implemented in the UK as long as Brexit is on the agenda



  14. The UPC Scam Part VI: The Real Story Which People Missed Due to Puff Pieces Seeded by Battistelli-Bribed Media is That UPC Technically Cannot Come to the UK

    Another long installment in a multi-part series about UPC at times of post-truth Battistelli-led EPO, which pays the media to repeat the lies and pretend that the UPC is inevitable so as to compel politicians to welcome it regardless of desirability and practicability



  15. EPO Spiraling Down the Drain as Experienced Examiners and Judges Are Seemingly Being Replaced by Interns

    Implementing yet more of his terrible ideas and so-called 'reforms', Battistelli seems to be racing to the bottom of everything (patent quality, staff experience, labour rights, working conditions, access to justice etc.)



  16. A Lot of News From the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Today, With Some Important Decisions on Patents Coming Soon

    A roundup of today's outcomes from the US Supreme Court, which intends to review and decide on important patent cases



  17. In Historic Blow to Design Patents, Apple Loses to Samsung at the Supreme Court

    A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS



  18. Good Riddance. Ray Niro is Dead.

    The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)



  19. EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

    The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge



  20. Lobbying Disguised as 'Reporting' by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

    A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)



  21. USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

    A look at yesterday's "Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility," which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these



  22. More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft 'Joined' (Paid) the Linux Foundation

    A quick look at the past week's news and clues about Microsoft's (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)



  23. Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

    Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat



  24. Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)



  25. Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

    The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays



  26. Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli's 'Reform' (Organisational Suicide Plan)

    Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin's 'branch' of the EPO will be folded onto Munich's



  27. Caricature: the Maas App

    The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon



  28. Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

    Links for the day



  29. Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk 'Justice' in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

    A look at Battistelli's response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month



  30. The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

    "Good for trolls" is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts