Bonum Certa Men Certa

If Microsoft Speaks for Patent 'Reform', for FOSS, and for Small Businesses

Racing to block the competition using Big Tobacco-esque tactics...

BRM P180



Summary: Headsup about Microsoft's latest attempts to hijack the voice of its opposition so as to ensure the competition does not get to speak and receive the priority it deserves

Reform of the patent systems is on everybody's lips, but each party means something else when it says "reform". Basically, many corporations want the patent systems to become more friendly towards them (Microsoft is lobbying on the matter right now [1, 2]) and mere people are hardly taking part in this debate, which includes the Patent Reform Act of 2011 [1, 2, 3] (put forth by senators who are being lobbied by corporations).



Even though Google starts moving in the right direction (more seriously challenging software patents while, just like Red Hat, adding some software patents to its own stash, allegedly for defensive purposes), the Larry Page-led company is trying to amass new patents in bulk, unlike Red Hat whose role is quite unique. Basically, Google is still too shy to say that it wants software patents nuked (the shareholders might not understand such a stance), whereas Red Hat sends a less ambiguous message.

Meanwhile, there is a coalition of companies which defend patent monopolies using the "fair" spin (like the "F" in FRAND). The new article "Patent Reform Act 2011: Winners and Losers" sheds some light on it, as well as on other things:

Two other supporters of the bill are Microsoft and IBM but a group representing fourteen technology companies that include some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley — such as Apple, Google, Cisco, Intel and Symantec issued a statement Thursday saying that the senate judiciary bill still needs a lot of work. These companies are all part of a group called the Coalition for Patent Fairness which is a diverse group of companies and industry associations dedicated to enhancing U.S. innovation, job creation, and competitiveness in the global market by modernizing and strengthening our nation’s patent system. Coalition for Patent Fairness members include Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Cisco, Dell, Google, Intel, Intuit, Micron, Oracle, RIM, SAP, Symantec, Verizon.


Having recently embedded itself inside the FOSS community (by paying FOSDEM organisers for example), Microsoft is now trying to subvert and water down public policies like its front group ACT does. Following this duo's subversion of EIFv2 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], they once again pretend to be FOSS or SMB representatives as amid OOXML outage in Australia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] Gary Gray makes commitments to "open source". See this new report titled "Microsoft seeks inclusion after open source mandate":

Software giant welcomes AGIMO's open source policy.

Microsoft has called for the Australian Government's agencies to engage with "all forms" of software development communities - be they proprietary or open source - in response to official moves in Canberra to embrace open source alternatives.

In a letter to Special Minister of State Gary Gray released on Monday, the software giant welcomed the Federal Government's newly revised open source policy, which required agencies to consider open source in IT procurements.

[...]

Microsoft also offered to contribute to the development of a Federal Guide to Open Source Software, noting that its experience as a vendor to Government could be of some value to AGIMO's review.


Microsoft is just trying to intervene so that it does not get excluded based on the fact that it sells unacceptable lock-in. This is where the pretence comes into play. If Microsoft can pretend to be a FOSS embracer and also use front groups to speak 'on behalf' of small businesses, then no public policy will get rid of the real issue. For what it's worth, Novell helped Microsoft a lot in this regard (pretending that Microsoft is friendly towards GNU/Linux). Due to Novell influence (at least in part), OOXML in LibreOffice remains problematic, and that's despite the PR statement from LibreOffice. To quote a new article: "As of now, LibreOffice doesn't look very different and other than incorporating patches from the Novell Go-OO project, it's pretty much the same although it appears that the fork will diverge further in coming versions. Moreover, a lot of cleaning house has taken place under the hood. As of now, there's no roadmap on where the project is headed." This is the type of thing which helps Microsoft lobby for OOXML in Australia and the Novell-funded Go-OO team should be ashamed of itself.

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