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Microsoft Offers That Infamous “IP Peace of Mind” to Free/Open Source Software Users as Long as They Pay Rents to Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old tricks, new sheep’s clothing (don't change tactics, just market them better!)

Gates on SUSE

Summary: Having disguised Android and Chrome OS patent settlements as OEM "bundling" deals (preinstalling Microsoft spyware), Microsoft now comes up with a new way to market its “protection” (of FOSS it didn’t even develop) from patent trolls, which requires that people pay Microsoft a subscription fee

LAST NIGHT, just before midnight, people started sending links like this or the original from Microsoft. It is despicable and it “does not work against trolls,” as Benjamin Henrion pointed out to me. In short, a massive patent troll claims that it offers protection from trolls and it’s all over the news, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4] (a near-exhaustive list of articles is not needed because there are many articles like these that are puff pieces). Not all the above was composed by Microsoft boosters, but it started from Microsoft and then Microsoft boosters, who probably coordinated this with Microsoft’s PR agencies before or during the charm offensive.

“What Microsoft basically says here is, use only our services (and pay us every month) for using Free/Open Source software that we did not even develop — only threatened and occasionally attacked — then enjoy “IP Peace of Mind” (or else we and our patent trolls will sue you with software patents).”Microsoft has got some nerve doing this; the company operates its own in-house patent troll (plus peripheral ones); it regularly attacks GNU/Linux with patents, yet now it pretends to be “defensive”? Or pretends to combat trolls? It doesn’t get any more laughable than this. This is the same company that keeps expounding and repeating the lie that it “loves [GNU/]Linux” (while constantly attacking GNU/Linux, GNU/Linux vendors and GNU/Linux advocates behind the scenes — we still have some new stories about that on the way).

What Microsoft basically says here is, use only our services (and pay us every month) for using Free/Open Source software that we did not even develop — only threatened and occasionally attacked — then enjoy “IP Peace of Mind” (or else we and our patent trolls will sue you with software patents). Microsoft already did this with Novell a decade ago. It’s not a new trick. It perpetually said, buy SUSE (pay us for patents) or risk lawsuits. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer even directly threatened Red Hat and its customers. He publicly said: “People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”

“Just because Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation (slush funds; that’s all it takes to ‘join’) doesn’t mean that Microsoft suddenly “loves [GNU/]Linux” or that all is OK now.”Dozens of new (or “news”) articles about Microsoft and patent trolls are currently googlebombing (filling up the indexes for searches), distracting from Microsoft as the patent troll or a ‘puppetmaster’ of trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. If this wasn’t the real purpose of this PR charade, then maybe it’s a side perk. Incidentally, the other day Linux Journal published an article about Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux. It started like this:

From vs. to + for Microsoft and [GNU/]Linux

In November 2016, Microsoft became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation, the primary sponsor of top-drawer Linux talent (including Linus), as well as a leading organizer of [GNU/]Linux conferences and source of [GNU/]Linux news.

Does it matter that Microsoft has a long history of fighting [GNU/]Linux with patent claims? Seems it should. Run a Google search for “microsoft linux patents”, and you’ll get almost a half-million results, most of which raise questions. Is Microsoft now ready to settle or drop claims? Is this about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer? Is it just a seat at a table it can’t hurt Microsoft to sit at?

Just because Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation (slush funds; that’s all it takes to ‘join’) doesn’t mean that Microsoft suddenly “loves [GNU/]Linux” or that all is OK now. From what we’re able to see, Microsoft is now trying to distinguish its offerings based on perceived protection from a problem that it itself created. People should be disgusted; nobody should praise Microsoft for this. Microsoft is again dividing the community; there’s the ‘protected’ option and the ‘under threat’ (of litigation) option.

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