06.18.07

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Linspire Has No Patents, So What Did Microsoft Pay Linspire For? (Updated and Corrected)

Posted in FUD, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Xandros at 2:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Having just taken a glance at Groklaw News Picks (which I help maintain), I could not ignore PJ’s comment. It indicates that our initial assessment was correct. Just as we have seen before, a company (it’s Linspire turn now) takes some money to eat the bait. This followed the route Corel and Novell had taken.

[PJ: Actually, I went to USPTO and did a simple search and I can’t find any [Linspire] patents at all. So what kind of patent deal is this, and what precisely is Microsoft paying Linspire for? It can’t be interoperability. You can do that with Linux anyway, without any need for an agreement. Yet, news reports are saying Linspire got some money. So if that is true, what was it for? And if it’s a straight patent license, how is it not a violation of GPLv2, let alone v3?] -

The point of interest here is the endowment, the money. GPL aside, here you have a company that pays competitors to sell off their businesses and become victims of taxation. This is monopoly abuse and this aspect of it is covered in the following video. Many years ago, vicious monopolies found ways to make money regardless of which product is bought.

Mandriva, which is at the verge of bankruptcy, is now at the center of some questions and speculations. The Linux Foundation’s involvement might actually be needed here. Mandriva, unlike Linspire and Xandors, has some decent userbase and it contributes code. It doesn’t just repackage somebody else’s work.

Let us return to Groklaw for a moment. Also in Groklaw last night, the new (and hopefully improved) patent processing system got some coverage and a careful first look. This has been muchly anticipated, but one wonders what happens to existing (old) patents. It’s easy to shelf patents, but harder to get them cleaned up, eliminated on grounds of validity (e.g. prior art, “trivial”), or organised (e.g. duplication management). Is the USPTO just broken beyond repair? Have a look.

What the USPTO is also looking for is whether or not the application is sufficiently new and nonobvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art to qualify for a patent under current law. Trust me when I tell you that the USPTO has no clue when it comes to FOSS prior art. If you could have blocked Amazon’s One-Click patent application so it never issued, would you have?

There are clearly some challenges ahead, but as long as the patent system is perceived as a farce (at least by some), the effect of IP FUD will be minimal. The last thing we need is a USPTO with credibility (and a sharp tooth, which it hasn’t).

Update: Have a look at the following item which explains why Mandriva will not sign any patent deals with Microsoft.

Mandriva and Microsoft

So in conclusion from my ramblings, Mandriva would have nothing to gain while everything to loose by signing such an agreement.

By reading the speculations about this so far, it all seems like 99% FUD to me while the only valid reasoning behind the speculations being the fact that a few other vendors has already done so..

I have been saying all along that Mandriva, unlike Linspire and Xandros, has an open source spirit, so it won’t be victimised. I apologise for an incorrect assertion (mistake pointed out by a reader), which I have just corrected.

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3 Comments

  1. Sam Hiser said,

    June 18, 2007 at 12:46 pm

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    These deals are not about patents. They are about vig (extortion & racketeering). In particular, they are about Microsoft preserving a crippled form of interoperability between non-Microsoft application and others around the Microsoft document formats.

    They’ve sold it pretty well under disguise.

  2. Adam Williamson said,

    June 18, 2007 at 6:41 pm

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    Mandriva is not ‘at the edge of bankruptcy’. As explained on the company blog – http://corp.mandriva.com/webteam/2007/04/23/raising-cash/ and following posts – we have recently received substantial additional investment.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 18, 2007 at 7:37 pm

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    @ Adam:

    Sorry about this. I have corrected the text.

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