2007/05/23-27: OSBC article and some……

Sorry I have had some troubles with my server for the past few days so here is a catch up:

Here is what the Open Source vendors said about the Microsoft Patent Issue Part I

Linux patents claims a diversion from innovation
Microsoft claims dominate Open Source Business Conference

By Paul Krill

Microsoft’s claim that open source Linux violates 235 of its patents dominated the opening proceedings of the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, though none of the speakers mentioned the company by name.

Open source is impacting proprietary software companies, said Matt Asay, vice president of business development at Alfresco and chair of the OSBC. Their business model requires them to make money in an alternative way, he said.

“It’s very hard to shift a model to open source,” Asay said. On one side of the equation, a company tries to be a friend to open source, but on the on other side is the chief executive, said Asay, in an apparent reference to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, who has, in the past, been outspoken in his opposition to open source.

Asay then reeled off statements, such as noting the 235 patents figure and complaints about willing infringement of IP, without directly naming any source as the origin of these statements.

Red Hat’s Matthew Szulik, chairman and chief executive of the Linux vendor, focused less on the patents issue but did say patents “are a relatively new idea in the software industry”.

“The issue shouldn’t be focused on patents. It should be focused on innovation,” Szulik said. “We have a great respect as an industry for intellectual property,” said Szulik.

Aside from patents, Szulik said the open-source industry has to bolster its service provision capabilities. “The industry for open source has to scale itself,” Szulik said.

Now for some more on the subject:

Explainer: Microsoft – Linux patent wars

Microsoft wants open-source software users to pay royalties on 235 alleged patent violations. A number of big vendors have been involved:

By Computerworld reporters

Microsoft believes that Linux and open source software violates 235 of its patents and it wants violators to pay up. The company for years has been bashing the open source community and this latest move may well be the bloodiest battle yet.

Microsoft’s legal general Brad Smith gave a broad breakdown of the alleged violations during an interview with Fortune magazine,but has not detailed specific patents that have been violated. Smith said the Linux kernel violates 42 patents and the operating system’s user interface violates 65. The Open Office application suite violates 45 patents and open source e-mail applications infringe on 15. Other open source software applications infringe on 68 patents.
What is the official word from Microsoft?

Microsoft’s Intellectual Property team is handling this issue and it isn’t saying anything beyond a statement released to the press by Horacio Gutierrez, vice president of intellectual property and licensing: “Even the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, noted last year that Linux infringes well over 200 patents from multiple companies. [Gutierrez cited this passage.]

The real question is not whether there exist substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them. Microsoft and Novell developed a solution that meets the needs of customers, furthers interoperability and advances the interests of the industry as a whole. Any customer that is concerned about Linux IP issues needs only to obtain their open source subscriptions from Novell.”
How does this relate to Microsoft’s partnership with Novell last year?

As part of the deal, the two agreed not to sue each other’s customers over patent and intellectual property infringements. Dell joined the pair earlier this month. The Covenant to Customers ruffled major feathers in the Linux and open source community for its many loopholes and missing details and led to accusations that Novell was bamboozled again by Microsoft.
How did the open source community react?

Richard Stallman, the leader of the Free Software Foundation, says the next version of the GNU General Public License, GPL 3.0, which is nearing final draft, will be crafted to block the type of patent/IP deal Novell and Microsoft cut.
What is at stake for users?

Users found to be using software that infringes on patents could be held liable, but first Microsoft will have to reveal the specific patents it is talking about. Until then, Microsoft is turning up the heat but nobody is about to get burned. Users should check their contracts from vendors that supply open source products. Vendors such as Red Hat and Sun offer limited forms of protection.
How much will Microsoft want vendors/users to pay?

Unknown – it is likely Microsoft would target a few key vendors and distributors whose software has trickled down into many other open source packages. Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux are two very popular Linux distributions that could come under the microscope.
Why is Microsoft doing this now?

Linux/open source is getting its tentacles deep into many companies and Microsoft wants to control this as much as it can in order to maximize its own profits. Also, the open source desktop operating system and applications are starting to chip at Microsoft’s revenue foundation — Office and Windows.

“Microsoft is being pushed on a lot of sides and they are showing that they are going to respond,” says Laura DiDio, an analyst with the Yankee Group who has been following software indemnity issues for years. “This is very interesting. Another question is will you see other companies like Apple, which is based on Unix, will they say Linux and open source infringes on our side.”

Is this a new tactic from Microsoft?

No. Microsoft has been threatening to use this weapon for some time, but this is the most concrete step it has taken. The company started building up to this crescendo for many years by protecting its own users over patent and other infringement cases. In 2003, it signed a licensing deal with the SCO Group to insulate Microsoft customers from copyright infringement issues.

In a move similar to what Microsoft could now do after having alleged patent infringement, SCO sued IBM and sent letters to 1,500 Linux users warning them of potential copyright infringement and other legal issues. Also in 2003, Microsoft moved to clear up indemnity issues with its users by lifting a cap on what it would pay to protect volume licensing customers from infringement suits over Microsoft products.

In 2004, the program was expanded again to include almost all customers. At the time, critics said it was mostly a marketing move, but in the light of this week’s infringement allegations it may have been setting a defence before going on offence.
What can Microsoft do if vendors do not voluntarily comply?

Microsoft could take them to court, but smaller open source and Linux vendors without the financial means to fight would likely cave in long before that happens.
Does this mean the end of some open source products?

That is to be determined, but if Microsoft pushes the issue it could throw open source software into chaos. The company for years has been labelled by critics as the master of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). The FUD aspect alone could cause enough ripples with the buying public that Microsoft would never have to put any teeth behind the threat of legal action.
How unpopular is this going to be?

If you like reading blogs and discussion threads then crank up your browser because the acid tongues are already wagging. Microsoft is well within its legal rights to protect what it has invested billions to create, but that doesn’t mean the process won’t have a pungent odour.

thats all for now and this is from computerworld

I have to finish up now. Happy Computing!

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