02.17.12

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Harming the GPL With Doomsday Predictions and FRAND

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents, RAND at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft lobbying for Linux tax

Reichstag

Summary: What Linux/Android foes are up to these days

MICROSOFT is trying to eliminate Free software by diluting or killing licences that pose a threat to its business. One method for elimination is disinformation and another is legal instruments that are not compatible with particular licences, such as the GPL.

Firms with strong Microsoft connections, such as Black Duck or OpenLogic (which reports “strong growth” right now) deliver the message Microsoft craves and “[t]he horror is coming,” writes the FFII’s president, “FRAND written in EU law by the Greens” (link).

To quote:

Amendment 260
Heide Rühle, Emilie Turunen
Proposal for a regulation
Annex 2 – point 3 – point c

(c) intellectual property rights essential to
the implementation of specifications are
licensed to applicants on a (fair) reasonable
and non-discriminatory basis ((F)RAND),
which includes licensing essential
intellectual property without compensation.

Microsoft hired a self-serving lobbyist, Florian Müller, to promote FRAND. It also bought Novell’s patents along with Linux foes and the US DOJ lets it be. To quote: “CPTN was the name of a holding company – owned equally by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC – created to purchase the patents of Novell when it was being acquired by Attachmate. In its announcement, the DoJ noted that Novell patents that Apple had acquired were “important to the open source community and to Linux-based software in particular”. But it also pointed out that Novell was a participant in the Open Invention Network, a patent pool which requires patent-holders to offer a perpetual, royalty-free license for use of their patents in the “Linux-system”. The DoJ looked into whether Apple would be permitted to use the change of ownership to avoid OIN commitments and concluded it would not. Apple also committed to honour Novell’s OIN licensing commitments.”

Considering legal attacks on Android from Apple, Microsoft and Oracle (an OIN member), the above decision was foolish and irresponsible. Groklaw has the latest on the Oracle case. Google tries squashing another patent, but let’s remember CPTN provides more potential ammunition. To quote:

Google is seeking to immediately knock out one of the remaining six patents asserted in this case, this time by summary judgment. In a letter to the court filed yesterday Google asks that claim 14 of U.S. Patent No. 6,192,476 be found invalid on the grounds that it claims unpatentable subject matter. (715 [PDF; Text])

The case is also covered in IDG.

Carrying on along the same lines, Microsoft's extortion against Android is weakened as more patents are being pulled. Microsoft boosters understate the importance of this and Bloomberg‘s usual propaganda carries on with opening paragraphs like this: “Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the largest software maker, said it would be “fair and reasonable” in licensing its industry-standard technology, pledging to negotiate with competitors instead of trying to block sales of their products.”

Yes, Microsoft hired at least one lobbyist to push this propaganda, so it’s not surprising that PR people push it into news. There are tricks. Serious extortion as “play nice”, eh? And while passing patents to trolls for attacks on Linux it “will not be a patent troll”, or so it wants people to believe.

Speaking of patents, recall the impact of the Skype purchase and also see Cisco’s response to it:

Networking company Cisco said Wednesday that it is challenging Microsoft’s $8.5 billion takeover of Skype at the European Union’s top court to ensure Microsoft won’t block other video conferencing services.

The European Commission, the EU’s competition regulator, cleared the takeover in October and the merger was completed later that month. Microsoft Corp. hopes that owning Skype will allow it to better compete across platforms with other tech giants including Apple Inc. or Google Inc.

But for Cisco Systems Inc., the world’s largest maker of computer networking equipment, the Skype deal creates a serious challenger to its video conferencing systems.

The problem there is patents too. We covered this before. What we increasingly see is Microsoft becoming a decreasingly-practising patent parasite.

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