01.30.08

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Novell and Microsoft Amass Patents While Free Software Comes Under Fire

Posted in Action, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SUN at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work. Maybe there is no way Io avoid this problem but it does bother me. Maybe we can define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open. Or maybe we could patent something related to this.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Software patents incompatible with Free software, but Novell does them…

Novell maintains his habit of using patents for 'competitive' 'advantage'. It has juts been awarded another patent for something quite bizarre:

• Techniques for dynamically establishing and managing trust relationships. Lloyd Leon Burch, Payson; Douglas G. Earl, Orem; Stephen R. Carter, Spanish Fork. Assigned to Novell Inc., Provo. Filed Feb. 3, 2004. Patent No. 7,316,027.

Microsoft, like Novell, likes patents. But its loveraffair with patents has been reaching some worrisome peaks recently and it’s not hard to see why.

Fact: According to the latest annual report on patents released this month, the number of patents awarded in 2007 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was down a full 9.5 percent from 2006’s all-time high. In addition, some 80 percent of the companies on the list of top recipients (including IBM, repeating for its 14th straight year at the top of the list) received fewer patents than they had the year before. Only one American company in the top 25 earned more patents in 2007 than it had the year before: Microsoft.

Meanwhile, be aware that there is a legal attack on ClamAV, which is open source.

We have another Pick Your Brain request. This one comes from Barracuda Networks, the email and web security appliances company, but it’s about an attack on ClamAV, the Open Source antivirus product.

Bruce Byfield has published a good article about this.

Barracuda Networks is actively seeking the support of the free and open source software (FOSS) community in its battle against a patent suit brought against it by Trend Micro. The suit revolves around Barracuda’s distribution of Clam Antivirus (ClamAV), the well-known FOSS security software, with its firewall and Web filter hardware appliances.

The case is the second piece of software patent litigation to directly involve FOSS. The first was a case brought against Red Hat and Novell by IP Innovation for the inclusion of virtual workspaces in their Linux distributions.

There is also Sun’s ZFS to keep in mind. Remember the NetApp lawsuit?

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