Bonum Certa Men Certa

A Victory in Europe for Microsoft's Absurd Patents and So-called 'Innovation'

The other side of the coin

Monopoly has money



Blinded by shallow coverage in the mainstream media, yesterday we expressed restrained optimism about the European resolution to Microsoft's antitrust case. Upon closer inspection, and after actually looking at the papers, the bad news may possibly outweigh what seemed beneficial.

The patent part [of the deal in the EU] is terrible. Worse than terrible. They are not blocked from offering patent deals, only constrained as to how much to charge for a license, which is not and never was the issue. So they'll beef up those initiatives, I'm sure. However, the good part is that they were compelled to separate the patent license offer out and make it optional. Thanks, but no thanks.

[...]

I'm guessing Microsoft lawyers are high fiving each other, having snatched an important victory from utter and total defeat. The rest is excellent, of course, and in no way do I mean to detract from the hard work and persistence that the EU Commission has shown. However, I don't think they understand how seriously broken the US patent system is currently, and how easy it is to abuse it, or they don't feel it's their job to fix the US problems, or how central patents are to Microsoft's current strategy against FOSS.


I does change the tune, doesn't it?

We shall continue to stress that Microsoft claims "innovation" for what it actually devised to drive competition out of the market. Minor and pointless 'extensions' to standards such as LDAP, to use just one example, are not innovation. They are means of breaking interoperability and sabotaging other products in a mixed environment. On the issue of innovation, Jeremy Allison of Samba has just published the following column.

Innovation is a weasel word. It used to earn an honest living, but now it's been hijacked by marketing people for dishonest purposes. It's now in the same category as "rich". Does anyone now hear the words "rich user experience" or "rich client" without thinking of a bloated, Windows-only client that doesn't use open or standard protocols? Controlling the language like this is power. Whoever defines the words we use can control the way we think about things. Our knowledge of language limits how we can express our thoughts. Innovation these days is being used as a code word for large, corporate controlled research and development, regardless of any results it might produce.


In short, there are two messages to take here:

  1. Microsoft was arguably victorious in Europe. Its patent deals spree has gotten a little boost.
  2. There is nothing innovative in Microsoft's work, which it still charges fees for. It is a game of smoke and mirror and, sadly enough, some people fall for it.


It is reassuring to find that "Show Us the Code" folks have decided to launch a Wiki whose purpose is to squash Microsoft's patent FUD.

Show Us the Code is gearing up now for round two. This time around we’ll pack a more permanent punch.

A wiki will be setup in the near future, the goal? To list every patent that patent trolls can drum up to try to destroy linux, and to find a legal means in which to invalidate those patents, be it prior art or by other means. Of course in this realm we do have public enemy number 1 to worry about but that should not be the sole focus of this wiki.


This is an excellent first step. Grabbing contributors from Groklaw, however, would be hard. The Groklaw community has probably become the de facto standard for this type of activity.

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