Bonum Certa Men Certa

On Patent Deals, Fonts, Apple, and OOXML

We previously compared the Novell/Microsoft deal to an older (and very similar) deal between Apple and Microsoft. More curiously, there have been smaller patent deals involving Microsoft and Apple since that big one, including this fairly recent one.

Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp.said Thursday they have renewed their font licensing agreement. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Under the agreement, Apple users will have ongoing use of the latest versions of Microsoft Windows core fonts, the companies said.

This deal seems to predate Apple's announcement of support for OOXML (poor support, as one can always expect when it comes to proprietary formats). Both the deal and the announcement predate Apple's decision to provide ODF support in Leopard.

In NOOOXML/FFII's Web site, a caricature was once published which aligned with our view that both Novell and Apple need to support OOXML for financial reasons (dependency on Microsoft leads to proxy strategies. In Apple's case, it is less obvious (more subtle evidence, i.e. no 'smoking gun'), but in Novell's case, all one has to do is look at its SEC filing.

Returning to the issue at hand, there are two new points to be considered, namely:

  1. Is Apple being lured by Microsoft to sustain its notorious (and forgotten) fonts monopoly? Don't forget Linspire's role, either. By all means, mind the fact that fonts are being negotiated in these patent deals and they remain a barrier, which Novell appears to pass only under Windows, not GNU/Linux (possibly for legal reasons, at Microsoft's order).
  2. What role do these Apple deals play when it comes to ODF/OOXML, if any at all?

We might just carry on wondering, but all we have is evidence from which unsafe conclusion can be drawn.

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