Microsoft Successfully Used FRAND to Inject Software Patents Into Europe and Discriminate Against Free Software
Summary: Under many people’s noses, and with help from an army of lobbyists, Microsoft and its allies exclude their main competitors, through legislation
The FRAND debate has got lawyers dedicated to the matter [1, 2, 3] and there is a great deal of deception in the pipeline, promoting software patents through FRAND even in Europe. As Pamela Jones notes in her reply to the EU Commission’s page:
Note that, sadly, the Guidelines recognize patent licensing of software as legitimate (p. 5, plus first sentence, above, from the draft), although they seem to exempt non-practicing entities (p. 41, 133(c)) from the benefits of this acceptance. Another detail, on page 69, is: “Where the pool has a dominant position on the market, royalties and other licensing terms should be FRAND and licences should be non-exclusive.” I gather they are adopting Google’s suggestion that de facto standards should be licensed as FRAND. Someone needs to explain to them, though, that FRAND excludes the GPL, the license on Linux. The purpose of all this is supposed to be to encourage competition, after all. Instructions on how to email or mail the Commission with comments are on the linked page.
What about the fact that in effect Microsoft has been able to “buy” noncompliance? By that I mean, the browser screen was supposed to be made available for 5 years. It wasn’t made available for 14 months. Is the browser screen going to be kept in effect 14 months longer than the original cutoff date, to make up for that breach? According to this New York Times article, the date is still 2014. If so, Microsoft makes out like a bandit, once again. I’ve written to the EU Commission asking them about this issue, and I’ll post any reply I receive.
At least the EU Commission is doing something, which is more than the US is doing. But Microsoft… how can anyone still be naive about Microsoft? Why would any agency believe what they say without checking, setting up a system where nobody had to check up on them for two years, given the track record? And they can’t say nobody warned them.
And may I add, no agency should believe what they say about their competitors without checking, either. Take it from the US, where we watched Microsoft’s fancy dancing to delay obedience to the US compliance requirements after the US v. Microsoft case. The EU Commission itself has some experience with having to fine Microsoft to ensure compliance before, too. Now we have been watching Microsoft on an anti-Google FUD campaign, in the media and to regulators, along with its running dogs, all of whom complain about Google in chorus. I have concluded, personally, that Microsoft just doesn’t want to be the only tech company punished for anticompetitive behavior.