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11.10.15

Only Days After Red Hat Legitimised Microsoft’s Patents Against Linux Another Linux-Using Company Falls Victim to Microsoft’s Patent Extortion

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Red Hat deal surely serves to legitimise such moves, just as Novell’s deal did

Red Hat at store

Summary: Microsoft is now going after Star Micronics, using threats (with patents) to give Star Micronics paid ‘permission’ to use Linux-based operating systems in its products

It should be obvious by now that the “new Microsoft” — whatever that means — is a Microsoft that uses patents to pressure, to blackmail and to manipulate companies that use Linux, Android, Chrome OS and so on. Recall this year’s examples alone. These include Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS, and Dell. Microsoft used patents to compel them to do to Android and/or Chrome OS what Microsoft had insisted on. It’s basically a tool of extortion. It is not impossible that Microsoft also threatened to sue Red Hat using patents (even innuendo) to pressure Red Hat into a bad deal that harms Free software as a whole. Since Red Hat is so secretive about it, who knows? We contacted the lawyers who were involved in making the agreement on patents (Carlo Piana and Rob Tiller), but still no response. It has been days now.

“Red Hat helped Microsoft openwashing, reputation laundering, and at the same time it bolstered Microsoft’s patents, which it uses all the time to compel companies (especially those that use Linux) to beg Microsoft for mercy and sometimes pay up for something Microsoft only attacks and in no way created.”Red Hat staff should pay attention to today’s (just announced by Microsoft) patent blackmail deal. When Red Hat staff (salaried engineers for the most part) claim that the deal with Microsoft is a “win” they delude themselves in the same way SUSE staff did at the time of the Novell-Microsoft deal. According to this article: “As for the Red Hat partnership that Microsoft has struck, it looks far reaching. The partnership calls for a Red Hat engineering team to move to Redmond to provide joint technical support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads running in the Microsoft Azure public cloud and on its hybrid cloud offerings.”

If there’s a deja vu here, it’s because of Novell. Microsoft must be enjoying the boost Red Hat gave to its patents, by essentially agreeing on a patent “standstill” (for Red Hat only for all we know and based on today’s news). The Microsoft media really loves this deal and it’s easy to see why. Red Hat helped Microsoft openwashing, reputation laundering, and at the same time it bolstered Microsoft’s patents, which it uses all the time to compel companies (especially those that use Linux) to beg Microsoft for mercy and sometimes pay up for something Microsoft only attacks and in no way created. This is an injustice of the highest order.

We already wrote 5 articles about the Red Hat deal, namely:

  1. Media Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft Deal Includes Microsoft Talking Points and Moles, No Discussion About Patent Aspects
  2. Red Hat’s Deal With Microsoft Resurrects Fears of Software Patents Against GNU/Linux and Introduces ‘Triple-Dipping’ of Fees
  3. More Information Emerges About the Microsoft-Red Hat Patent Agreement
  4. Red Hat Sells Out With a Microsoft Patent Deal
  5. Summary of the Red Hat-Microsoft Patent Agreement of 2015

Red Hat wants us to believe that there is a “gentle” Microsoft led by Nadella, but if that’s really the case, then why is Microsoft blackmailing yet another company using patents? It’s specifically to do with Linux/Android, based on the announcements. To quote one of them: “Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC today announced their patent licensing agreement with Star Micronics that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for Star Micronics’ Android-based commercial printers and computing devices.”

Yes, Android. And it’s not a small company, it employs about 2,500 people.

In the mean time, as reported by Sam Varghese [1], Microsoft is unwilling to comment on extension of the SUSE deal. It runs out in less than 2 months. Is this divide and rule in the making? Did Red Hat step into a trap? We shall know more soon…

I had a very long conversation with Red Hat staff and I hope that their CEO will eventually decide to be transparent about the patent agreement with Microsoft. Even Novell was more transparent than that (at the time).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft unwilling to comment on extension of SUSE deal

    Microsoft has refused to say openly whether it will be extending the patent-licensing deal that it signed with Novell back in 2006. At that time, SUSE Linux was a part of Novell.

    Novell has since been acquired by the Attachmate Group which, in turn, was bought by the British mainframe company Micro Focus.

    In July 2011, Microsoft announced that the agreement with SUSE would be extended until January 1, 2016.

    iTWire asked Microsoft about the SUSE agreement after Red Hat and Microsoft announced a deal a few days back on cloud installations, wherein Microsoft said it would be making Red Hat the preferred enterprise Linux distribution for installing on its Azure cloud offering.

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A Single Comment

  1. zparihar said,

    November 10, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Gravatar

    I think its about time that Linus Torvalds start speaking up about this issue.
    He should through a fit at them like he did with NVidia to grab the attention of everyone get people to wake up.

    Microsoft needs to be called out at all levels now. They’re blatantly stealing the community’s work and profiting.

    LINUS TORVALDS: Speak up!!!

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