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03.20.16

More Voices in the Media Against Microsoft’s Patent Aggression Against Linux, Prospects of Joining the Open Invention Network (OIN)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Various journalists and bloggers express dissatisfaction with if not anger and disappointment at Microsoft’s hateful attitude towards GNU/Linux, which it is still attacking using software patents and threats of lawsuits

THERE is definitely growing awareness of Microsoft’s campaign against Linux. That’s progress. The company spent nearly a whole decade attacking Linux with patents, usually keeping a lot of it under the table, or behind NDAs. The secrecy isn’t working too well anymore.

“The Cultural Defeat of Microsoft” is a new essay which, in spite of not touching the patent aspect, helps reveal the core issues which led Microsoft to its patent aggression. Swapnil Bhartiya ‘wakes up’ to this whole situation, having written about this over a week ago (he flip-flopped on Microsoft’s intentions). Based on E-mails we’ve been receiving, many are pissed off at Bhartiya’s very latest article on the subject, saying that it’s akin to a yuppie nuremburg defense (for Microsoft). He spoke of a “section of the open source community that blindly hates Microsoft,” but that’s a fallacy because some people just know and remember what Microsoft has done, there’s no blindness about it. In fact, those who forget or are ignorant about it are blind. We’ll spare the insults here (some people are upset at Bhartiya) and just say that concern about Microsoft’s patent aggression isn’t misplaced and there’s no valid excuse for Microsoft doing this.

In relation to Phipps’ suggestions Bhartiya wrote:

5 reasons Microsoft may never give up on Linux patent claims

[...]

There are many reasons why Microsoft may not join the Open Innovation Network (OIN) anytime soon. First of all, if a company doesn’t want to use patents as a weapon, it won’t, whether or not it joins OIN.

At the same time, joining OIN doesn’t guarantee that a company won’t use patents as a weapon. Both Oracle and Google are OIN members and they have locked horns in one of the fieriest battles in the open source world. IBM is one of the founders of OIN and it has also sued companies (like Groupon) over various patents.

So as much as I believe joining OIN sends a positive message, I don’t think that’s _the_ ultimate solution.

This we can agree on. We wrote about the above issues several times before. But the joining (OIN) would at least be symbolic. There is still no indication whatsoever from Microsoft that it intends to stop the patent aggression. None. We shall expand on that point at some later stage and a later post.

Days before Bhartiya, SJVN wrote a similar article

The one thing Microsoft must do – but won’t – to gain open-source trust

[...]

So, why are people still paying up rather than fighting? Because patent litigation is incredibly expensive. It’s cheaper to pay a $5 to $15 per device licensing fee than to pay a small fortune and take even a remote chance of failure in court.

And Microsoft? Come on, back in 2014, Microsoft was already making about $3.4 billion from its Android patents. Samsung alone paid Microsoft a billion bucks to license its Android patents. This is serious money even by Fortune 500 standards.

In its last quarter, between volume licensing and patents, Microsoft accounted for approximately 9 percent of Microsoft’s total revenue.

And, that, of course, is why Microsoft is never going to stop charging for its Android patents. So long as the boys from Redmond can milk these patents for billions every year, they’re going to keep them.

An article by Susan Linton from around that time said: “A lot of speculation surrounded and followed Microsoft’s latest announcements with many questioning some its statements and motives. Most surmise it’s only because Microsoft needs Linux and Open Source that it’s changed its tune. Several have said that if Microsoft truly wanted to show its new leaf, they’d stop suing companies for dodgy patent infringement claims. Today Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols stated that’s pretty much how he sees it. Most of the patents Microsoft is suing over are for ideas already in the public domain. Microsoft will never give up that revenue stream. Why should they when companies like Canonical and Red Hat sign deals with them despite their actions? “So long as Microsoft can profit from Android patents while still working with open-source enterprises, the company has no reason whatsoever to change its ways.””

Does anyone believe that this is acceptable? Or that Microsoft “loves Linux” as it wants us to believe? Microsoft does not need to ‘make’ peace with Linux; GNU/Linux was never resisting peace, it’s only Microsoft that’s attacking. Even sites that are full of Microsoft apologists are unimpressed by what Microsoft has done. See the following:

Is Microsoft Trying To Attack Open Source And Linux With Its “Patent Bombs”?

[...]

Last week, Microsoft got involved in a legal issue and secured patent licenses from Wistron of Taiwan and Rakuten of Japan around Linux and Android technologies. While Microsoft is already making billions with its patents in Android, its history of Linux-related patent trolling isn’t hidden from anyone. The open source community remains frightened of Microsoft as no one knows who could be the next one to get a notice from Microsoft’s legal guys.

In another case that violates the trust of open source community, Microsoft has recently claimed that it came up with the idea for Continuum and “invented” the concept. On the other hand, Canonical has been working on Convergence since 2013, even though it was never released to the public up until recently.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft has made some serious contributions to the open source community and expressed its love for Linux. However, if Redmond really cares, it should work transparently to win the trust of the open source community as any company’s success in the world of open source depends on its users and developers.

Satya Nadella should also consider joining the Open Innovation Network (OIN) and sending a message the open source world to become a trusted member of the community.

Notice that both the above and the article from Bhartiya say “Innovation Network” rather than Invention Network. They don’t seem to have been keeping up with that area.

The noteworthy thing is, more and more voices now recognise the issue and call for cessation of patent aggression. That’s important progress.

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