05.27.08

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Did Microsoft Tell Novell What Software Patents It Supposedly Infringes?

Posted in Bill Gates, Corel, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Windows at 11:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Speak up, Novell

Software patents are insane. How insane? Totally. If you don’t believe this, here are a couple of new examples:

1. Patent-pending spellcheck software?!

Patent-pending spellcheck software, that is?!

First of all, patenting software or any algorithm based on the idiotic claim that it’s actually a “business concept, method and system” (if not even an “apparatus” when they forcefully include the computer in the patent claim) is theft. It’s slavery. It’d dictatorship with the complicity of the USPTO.

2. Patent breach by ‘virtually all websites’? Pay up, firm demands [Hat tip: gggggg]

A SINGAPORE firm has threatened to sue websites that use pictures or graphics to link to another page, claiming it owns the patent for a technology used by millions around the world.

In a move that has come under fire from the online community, VueStar Technologies has sent ‘invoices’ to local website operators asking for thousands of dollars in licensing fees.

The company, which said ‘virtually all websites’ are infringing on its patent, is also planning to take on giants like Mircosoft and Google.

Now that it’s (hopefully) agreed that software patents are insane, let’s consider the stance of a company whose chief once said: “[I]f people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” Needless to mention, he had said this when he was locked outside a fence, before he engaged in sheer abuse and corruption to enter; then he decided to build imaginary fences (garden walls) for further protection. He soon became obsessed with them.

The following new article contains some bits of interest (highlighted in red) that reflect on Microsoft’s existing policy.

Likewise, Microsoft promotes its efforts to sign cross-licensing deals, such as the one with Novell, as a way to encourage interoperability. But along with those pacts came Microsoft’s threat of legal action against companies that don’t have a deal in place. In 2007, Microsoft said that Linux infringes on 235 of its patents.

Open-source products are subject to patent litigation if they infringe on Microsoft patents, just as proprietary products face legal action for infringement, said Gutierrez. “There’s no reason why the same laws of nature shouldn’t apply to them as they apply to any other proprietary vendor,” he said.

[...]

Curiously, Microsoft declines to specify which of its patents are relevant to Linux. “We do discuss the details of our technologies and patents with companies that are engaged in good-faith licensing dialog,” said Gutierrez. “That’s the proper context in which to have it, that’s the way it’s handled in the industry.”

But others think there’s probably another reason that Microsoft won’t specify which of its patents are relevant. “As soon as you declare patents you believe are infringed, they become the subject of re-examination,” Rosoff noted.

Rosoff doesn’t think that Microsoft actually intends to sue anyone using Linux. “This is part of a campaign to cast uncertainty over the IP heritage of open-source software,” he said.

According to this, Microsoft ought to have discussed details of the said software patents with Novell. Can Novell share the knowledge with the rest of the world? Or was it never discussed at all, in which case Microsoft is being dishonest?

Shouldn’t Novell, as an almost ‘free rider’ in a world of Free software and a confessed betrayer of the GNU GPL, be obliged to turn transparent about this? Whose side is Novell on? It sure seems like Novell sidled with Microsoft, so it keeps silent in order to continue this “part of a campaign to cast uncertainty,” if one was quoting from the article above. Who could blame Novell? It makes money out of "patent terrorism". It ought to be more than obvious that Novell sold out to Microsoft in a way much worse than Corel did.

MS Novell

Speaking of Corel, Rex Ballard had the following to say in response to my message last night (about Asustek’s Linux-loaded motherboards):


“Don’t underestimate Microsoft. They do have tactics, which they have been allowed to continue to use under the Bush administration, which makes it very hard for Linux to establish a strong foothold in the OEM distribution channel.

“…COREL offered a motherboard maker Linux licenses at 50 cents/board, and millions of these motherboards were ordered by OEMs and Kiosk dealers alike. The problem was that Microsoft’s OEM license agreement forbade ANY interference with the Microsoft controlled boot sequence.”“This isn’t the first time a motherboard maker has offered Linux as part of their package. The first time, that I can remember, was back in 1999, when COREL offered a motherboard maker Linux licenses at 50 cents/board, and millions of these motherboards were ordered by OEMs and Kiosk dealers alike. The problem was that Microsoft’s OEM license agreement forbade ANY interference with the Microsoft controlled boot sequence. Furthermore, the OEM licenses were sold in bulk, which meant that selling a machine without Windows didn’t save you any money. In fact, if you didn’t meet your minimum commitment order, you could even LOSE money, since the discounts you received depended on your ability to honor a minimum commitment order, usually calculated to be far more licenses than you could actually sell with the machines.

“Since the licenses were non-transferable, the OEMs couldn’t sell them to other OEMs or retailers. Since Microsoft maintained tight-fisted control over the configuration, the OEMs couldn’t pre-install the Linux OS, and were even forbidden from enclosing the Linux distribution disk provided by the Board maker, as part of their configuration.”


Consider this in light of what we wrote very recently about Microsoft's attack against Linux on motherboards. When Microsoft is unable to use its lawyers to forbid competition, it simply buys that competition. Novell used to be one of the leading players in the Linux world. So was Corel.

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2 Comments

  1. Shane Coyle said,

    May 30, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Once before, it had come up that Microsoft was willing to disclose allegedly infringed patents, although they have denied it ever happened in the Novell deal.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 30, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Gravatar

    Thanks! I couldn’t remember precisely all the details (who said what, and what actually happened).

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