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12.04.10

Microsoft-funded ‘Satellites’ With Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 10:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Earth in hand

Summary: Companies that are associated with (also paid by) Microsoft use software patents to cause damage in the Free software world

WE ALREADY know for a fact (based on press releases) that Microsoft has been paying Acacia on a few occasions. Bruce Perens once wrote that Microsoft’s “license payment to SCO is simply a good-looking way to pass along a bribe” and days ago we saw Microsoft paying TurboHercules as well. IBM calls such companies "satellite proxies". As Larry Goldfarb (a key investor in SCO) once put it: “Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Last month there was a lot of discussion about the unknown, namely Red Hat's NDA with Acacia, which we last mentioned a week ago (EN | ES). Sam Varghese says that Red Hat keeps dodging the issue, which also helps feed Microsoft mobbyists like Florian Müller. That’s just what Microsoft wants.

The query was simple: “Would Red Hat like to comment on Perens’ allegations? Would the company like to make the terms of the deal available to iTWire? Or do I accept Perens’ allegations as holding substance?”

It took two weeks of waiting but when a response arrived, it was meaningless.

“”Red Hat routinely addresses attempts to impede the innovative forces of open source via allegations of patent infringement,” ran the reply, routed through its PR company in Australia

“We can confirm that Red Hat, Inc and Software Tree LLC have settled patent litigation that was pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 6:09-cv-00097-LED).”

The Microsoft-funded Blackboard, which is a software patents agitator, is giving up, but it has done enough to spread FUD about Free software like Moodle. To quote the only article we found about this latest development:

Blackboard Inc.’s protracted legal fight to retain the software patent it used to successfully sue course-management rival Desire2Learn is over. It lost.

The USPTO keeps granting software monopolies this week and they are celebrated with press releases [1, 2, 3], one of which reveals another pool of patents that sounds like more trouble: “Tippr said the patent license is separate from its white label group buying platform, and is aimed at patent licensing and protection to independent software developer, deal site, or publishers. The firm said that “no one else in the industry has a more comprehensive patent portfolio.”

Patent pools are essentially private clubs corresponding to a particular area in the industry; only companies which are well established in the areas are allowed into this club, assuming they were granted enough monopolies (patents). Those without patents will need to pay admission fees to the rest of the members of this club. There is a word to describe what goes in here. It’s called a “cartel”.

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