"Microsoft wants royalties for open-source software"

Bryan J. Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Wed May 16 14:27:17 UTC 2007

On Tue, 2007-05-15 at 09:21 +0300, SaadAlDine AlSaidi wrote:
> Hello All,
> I guess as always microsoft will try everything thing it has to stand against 
> the vast spread of open-source operating systems and software, they clam 
> their patent violation on some softwares by relaying on English words and 
> even key-board shortcuts. 
> Lucky, up till now no court, not even the American ones could or hopefully 
> ever will give them the right or make them win a case.

First off, there was a demonization (e-Week?) of HP merely stating that
patents are an issue in the US.  HP has been openly licensing their
patents for their GPL donations as much as IBM, Red Hat and others.  HP
has only been warning that people in community-developed software need
to knowledgeable -- especially US developers -- not that any
community-developed software (including Linux) necessarily violates any
patents.  Popular, community-developed software developers tend to be
more knowledgeable than most commercial software developers out of
necessity -- their code is exposed.

Second, Microsoft is _not_ going to be suing anyone from their own
words.  This is FUD, pure and simple -- and Microsoft is counting on the
ignorance of people or, worse yet, demonizations of it as an American
company (please, don't fall into the trap of US corporation-bashing, it
doesn't address the real IP/ownership/licensing issues which are _easy_
to do in reality).  Microsoft _knows_ that if it starts suing Linux,
IBM** -- the 8,000lbs. patent gorilla (who is not always a "friend" of
pro-Linux companies (or clients who buy from their competitors) when
they cross IBM's market, don't get me started ;) -- would smack
Microsoft so far back that they would never recover.  There is enough of
a "counter patent portfolio" between various Linux companies that
Microsoft would quickly find itself overburdened with lawsuits and,
possibly, having to pull products off the shelf -- including its
profitable Windows and Office.  Microsoft not about to slit its own

Third and more specific, on the point that Microsoft complains about
countless of their patents in OpenOffice.org, people forget that
OpenOffice.org is a copyright of Sun Microsystems.  Sun has a
cross-patent/code license with Microsoft circa 2003 -- I mean, does
anyone realize why OpenOffice.org got far more compatible with newer
Microsoft Office v10/11 (XP/2003) as of about 2004?  The license between
Microsft and Sun!  ;)  So Microsoft can_not_ go after OpenOffice.org,
let alone any commercial licensees, and it's very unlikely they'd have
any stance on anyone who makes a LGPL derivative of it either (although
we can't know for sure since the terms of their license is not public).
It's the same reason why the whole whoopla on the OpenXML import/export
is a non-issue as well.

Lastly, as a hard-core American Libertarian and pro-Capitalist, I have
done my part to educate people on community-developed software.  That
includes the fact that Linux, like other community-developed software,
is an individual choice developers and corporates make.  That is not
only extremely compatible with capitalism, but a guaranteed right of
assembly.  In fact, it's far more American than government-created
corporate monopolies, which is the facist (literally) economic model.
In fact, the US basically invented the labor union (itself a free
enterprise community in a capitalist market), and the labor union only
became an "issue" in our capitalist society when it was
government-mandated/protected (which is where the socialist aspect
creates an unbalance, because it removed individual choice and free
market balance).

Remember, Red Hat** is an American company too, and they understand the
balance of community and capitalism, and their entire "we give away
everything we do, no proprietary IP here" attitude is why they are
virtually the _only_ major Linux company that is fully GPLv3**
compatible.  Red Hat is the ultimate American ideal of the "provide for
the common defense, promote the general welfare."  I always like to
point out the contrasting, but complementary terms "Provide" (defense)
and "Promote" (welfare).  I won't go any further than to point that out
-- but it's exactly what Red Hat does, as well as -- of its own free
will -- additionally providing for our welfare as the biggest, single
code contributor in the Linux community (not withstanding the copyright
sign-overs to the FSF collective).

Get out and get these facts known!  Stomp the FUD!

**NOTE:  Some of my blog articles on this ...

The Five Types of Linux Corporations:  

Software, IP, Licensing and GPL 2 v. 3:  

-- Bryan J. Smith
   American, Capitalist and Pro-Community as an Individual Choice

Bryan J. Smith         Professional, Technical Annoyance
mailto:b.j.smith at ieee.org   http://thebs413.blogspot.com
        Fission Power:  An Inconvenient Solution

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