Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft and Novell Still Fight Against Freedom of Software, But Is Horacio Gutierrez Lying?

Microvell



"Microsoft executives had previously told Computer Business Review that the company had not carried out a detailed patent assessment before reaching its patent covenant agreement with Novell.

"We did not do a drains-up inventory," said Microsoft's UK server director, Bruce Lynn in February.."

--CBR



Horacio Gutierrez
Picture contributed by a reader



"Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said that although Microsoft won’t discuss specific patents publicly, it has discussed them in private with companies like Novell Inc."

--IDG



Liar liar, hat's on fire!



Horacio Gutierrez in hell
Picture contributed by a reader



Following Microsoft's latest threats, as implicitly issued against Red Hat, Matt Asay tries to embellish things by pretending there is zero danger. He is already being refuted in LinuxToday, but more importantly, being careless and pathetic does not necessarily make one safe(r). In his new posts, "The dying embers of Microsoft's IP claims against open source," he tries to turn the table.



Indeed, I'd argue that one primary reason for shacking up with Novell wasn't Microsoft's patent portfolio, but rather Novell's: Novell had key IP that goes to the heart of Microsoft's Office business. The Linux patent covenant was a way for Microsoft to clean up its own patent violations. Funny, that. When I was at Novell my team in the CTO's office never worried about a patent lawsuit from Microsoft.

But that's just the way the modern software world works: it's such a thicket of conflicting IP claims that the only rational (and workable) solution is to overlook competing claims.


Novell's impressive patent portfolio was mentioned as a possibility before, but it resolves no issues for companies other than Novell, so the deal remains selfish and malicious (exploiting loopholes in GPLv2). Having searched the Web for a while, Asay also nets this old finding and stresses the danger by reiterating what his former employer, Novell, is trying to achieve together with Microsoft:

This is the same Microsoft that aggressively went after Red Hat in 2006 through a patent agreement with Novell, and subsequently dumped over $350 million into Novell in 2007 to fuel its attempt to kill Red Hat.


Yes, it is an anti-Red Hat deal, "Red Hat" being representative of virtually any large distributor that has not signed a software patents deal. Red Hat possesses more wealth and installed base than most, so it makes it more of a target.

There is a new article over at Silicon.com and it discusses the Novell/Microsoft deal in the context of GPLv3. One part of it reads:

The 2006 agreement between Microsoft and Novell was struck ostensibly to make Linux and Windows work better together. But it also created an uneasy truce; indeed, commentators argue that Microsoft has recently started telling people it will not sue open source software users for patent infringement provided the users purchased software from a vendor that is paying Microsoft for the privilege of using its patented technology.


We increasingly find Microsoft trying to pressure other companies into treasonous patent deals. The press, including IDC, is helping Microsoft and Novell. We warned about IDG's Paul Krill before [1, 2, 3, 4], saying that he was too close or sympathetic towards the convicted monopolist. Well, here he is giving the podium to one of Microsoft's worst sources of FUD: Horacio Gutierrez. Below is the opening part which, as usual, puts forth Novell as Microsoft's 'ammunition':

Microsoft has been making moves on the licensing front and accommodations with open source, such as its controversial 2006 agreement with Novell pertaining to Suse Linux. Looking to elaborate on Microsoft's activities, Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel for Intellectual Property and Licensing, met last week with InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill at InfoWorld offices in San Francisco.


This is the second Gutierrez 'public appearance' in less than one week. Who is pursuing whom for publicity? It's almost like a new Microsoft campaign to intimidate and to turn the heat up on GNU/Linux competitors. Those editors let Microsoft spew out lots more FUD in the press, almost unchallenged.

It's only to be expected from the likes of Ina Fried [1, 2], Maureen O'Gara [1, 2], and Paul Krill. Further down, inside the actual interview, Microsoft's Gutierrez says: "Microsoft publishes every patent that Microsoft gets issued and we have had deeper, detailed discussions in the context of private licensing conversations, which by the way is the practice that every technology company follows. So to answer your question, yes, we have divulged them. We have talked about them with a number of companies that have shown interest in having a good faith licensing discussion with Microsoft."

“Horacio Gutierrez is likely to be lying.”Groklaw caught that bit and added: "Note that IIRC Novell claimed it did not get a list. Later in the interview, he also seems to almost, maybe say something about the GPL. I hesitate to characterize it, and I don't want to overquote either, but do take a look."

Pamela Jones is right as we spotted this contradiction over a year ago. Horacio Gutierrez is likely to be lying.

Regardless of all this, Microsoft has its own patent trolls to resort to aggressive action. Microsoft created and still funds the world's largest patent troll, which is already expanding to countries where there is resistance to them. Additionally, Acacia, which accommodates former Microsoft seniors [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], is still busy patent-trolling the whole world.

If a company's sole business is licensing and litigating patents, plus it's run by lawyers, what isn't protected by privilege?

That's the question being asked in a discovery fight between Diagnostic Systems Corp., which is a subsidiary of patent-holding company Acacia Research Corp., and a multitude of software companies it sued for patent infringement in the Central District of California.


Acacia has already targeted two Linux vendors, but not Free software projects. Microsoft's FOSS embrace and extend attempts [1, 2], as well as open source scams [1, 2, 3], appear to carry on uninterrupted.

All of these developments are merely things to keep an eye on because Microsoft is gradually falling, and being the vicious company which it is, Groklaw supposes it'll devolve and become the next SCO Group.

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