“[Microsoft's] Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”
–Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO
Summary: The SCO v. IBM case is reopened, despite a glaring lack of funds, resuming the FUD against Linux
Microsoft is now openly — not just covertly [1, 2] — supporting Apple’s fight against Android. “Microsoft disagrees that Judge Posner created a “categorical rule” or “blanket prohibition” on injunctive relief for infringement of SEPs,” says this post. “It calls the question of a RAND-encumbered patent owner’s entitlement to injunction relief “an interesting question — but not a question presented on appeal here.” Microsoft argues that RAND commitments must be considered as part of the eBay analysis, which it says Judge Posner precisely did here” (Posner is against software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]).
Here we have Microsoft interfering with a competitor using a proxy or a litigation ally. It is typical Microsoft behaviour which goes back to the SCO case and prior to it, too. According to this [via], SCO’s case is still going on:
The Hon. David Nuffer has ruled on the SCO v. IBM motions, granting SCO’s motion for reconsideration and reopening the case, which IBM did not object to. Judge Nuffer apologizes to the parties for the error in his previous order refusing to reopen the case. Sounds like a mensch to me. I love it when judges don’t pretend something is the lawyers’ fault when it’s really the judge’s fault. He’s newly assigned to this case, and it’s been going on for over a decade, so he specifically tells the parties not to assume his familiarity, asking them to provide him with enough detail in the various briefs going forward to work with. And he has essentially accepted the IBM suggestions on how to go forward, which SCO did not want to happen. I was fairly confident he would, though, precisely because he’s new and he surely needs some time and help from the parties to get up to speed.
The pro-FOSS news site says: “After both parties have submitted their motions, the court will decide whether the case will be closed without further hearings with a summary judgement or if it will be re-opened in earnest.”
A Microsoft partner says “IBM’s lawsuit with SCO over just who owns Unix has crawled out of the grave and seems set to shuffle back into US courts.
“For the uninitiated, or those who’ve successfully tried to forget this turgid saga, a brief summary: SCO in 2003 sued IBM for doing something nasty to bits of Unix it owned. Or felt it owned. SCO also sued Novell, which it felt did not own some copyrights for Unix.
“Many private school educations later for the offspring of the lawyers involved SCO lost against Novell. By this time SCO was out of cash with which to keep up the fight against Big Blue, so the matter hibernated for a while.”
The news that lawyers for The SCO Group have filed a new motion to reopen its case against IBM was greeted with incredulity, to put it mildly. Turns out that the bankrupt SCO really isn’t attempting to retry the case — there are some loose ends from the long and drawn-out proceedings that still need to be tied up. The motion did provide an excuse for traveling once more down memory lane, though.
What we have here is Microsoft-funded litigation. This one involved copyrights and Microsoft is currently trying patents, also using proxies to enhance impact (e.g. patent-stacking).
Thankfully there are some actions to curb patents in the US right now, even if some are misguided and badly-aimed [1, 2, 3]. Recently we got this ruling [1, 2] that “May Be A Boon For Biotech Startups” (no more patents on nature's basic genetics) and the text in Groklaw opens with:
I join the judgment of the Court, and all of its opinion except Part I–A and some portions of the rest of the opinion going into fine details of molecular biology. I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even my own belief. It suffices for me to affirm, having studied the opinions below and the expert briefs presented here, that the portion of DNA isolated from its natural state sought to be patented is identical to that portion of the DNA in its natural state; and that complementary DNA (cDNA) is a synthetic creation not normally present in nature.
Watch the patents boosters react. Pamela Jones replies to this booster by saying: “He’s arguing CLS Bank was wrongly decided. Still. The law is quite specific that you can’t patent function in such a broad way it closes off all competition such that no one else can make a device that “scrolls intuitively”. But with software patents, that’s exactly what has been happening, and that isn’t even talking about the fact that software is mathematics and should not be patentable subject matter in the first place. But if it is going to be, the issue isn’t hardware or software; it’s specificity. If you want a patent, then, and it’s 100% software, be specific so you patent only the precise way you did what you did; that leaves room for others to do it a different way. And that is what President Obama said he’d like to retrain the USPTO examiners so they recognize the difference.”
In order to defend Linux we must watch out for patents on software and those who promote them. Microsoft is trying to sustain a SCO-like smear and scare, showing that the copyright plot against Linux is not completely dead yet (Microsoft has since then moved on to patents). █