Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Signs Patent Deal with Alpine, Software Patents Still Under Attack (Updated)

This cross-licensing deal has apparently nothing at all to do with Linux or Free software, but it demonstrates Microsoft's increased focus on patents. Additionally, Microsoft is extracting revenue from technologies it did not develop and this contributes to the illusion that all companies must cross-license intangible assets in one form or another, under negotiable terms.

A patent cross-licensing agreement between Microsoft and Alpine Electronics has implications for in-car and other consumer electronics products.

[...]

Presumably Alpine has some IP that Microsoft could usefully include in Windows Automotive. The companies are keeping mum about the financial side of the deal, revealing only that the cash is flowing from Alpine to Microsoft.


That last bit is reminiscent of the deal with JVC, which isn't really about Linux, unless someone tries to stretch it. JVC later joined forces with Funai.

In other news, ZDNet has a short analysis of the questions introduced by scrutiny against business method patents.

It’s the case of In re Bilski, due to be heard soon by a full panel of the Federal Circuit.

Crouch writes that the court is asking some basic questions, including whether the State Street decision, which allowed business methods patents, should be overturned. That case is also used to justify software patents.

[...]

If patents on business methods and software are invalidated as a class, the SCO case disappears and U.S. patent law starts to look a lot more like European law, in which copyright is software’s primary protection.


The author, Dana, gets it. It is not the first time that he implicitly (or even explicitly) warns about excessive patents (or patentability) as an enemy to innovation and leadership in the United States. The USPTO is undoing the nation's advantage while adhering to this illusion that a country will sustain its wealth using intellectual monopolies (which are not honoured elsewhere anyway).

Update: About Linux (far-fetched speculation), there's also this.

The vendors aren't saying whether the arrangement applies to Linux software used by Alpine.

[...]

The statement has raised speculation that Microsoft may be charging Alpine for its use of the Linux operating system in some of its products. Alpine is a founding member of an industry group known as Emblix that promotes the use of Embedded Linux in consumer products.

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