decoration decoration
Stories

GROKLAW
When you want to know more...
decoration
For layout only
Home
Archives
Site Map
Search
About Groklaw
Awards
Legal Research
Timelines
ApplevSamsung
ApplevSamsung p.2
ArchiveExplorer
Autozone
Bilski
Cases
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Contracts/Documents
Courts
DRM
Gordon v MS
GPL
Grokdoc
HTML How To
IPI v RH
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
Lodsys
MS Litigations
MSvB&N
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
ODF/OOXML
OOXML Appeals
OraclevGoogle
Patents
ProjectMonterey
Psystar
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v IBM
SCO v Novell
SCO:Soup2Nuts
SCOsource
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Transcripts
Unix Books
Your contributions keep Groklaw going.
To donate to Groklaw 2.0:

Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Contact PJ

Click here to email PJ. You won't find me on Facebook Donate Paypal


User Functions

Username:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.


What's New

STORIES
No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


Sponsors

Hosting:
hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Webmaster
Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Monday, November 08 2004 @ 08:30 AM EST

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission has widened its investigation into Microsoft's alleged antitrust practices, after RealNetworks filed a complaint charging Microsoft with violating fair business practices by bundling Media Player into its operating system, the same charge that prevailed in the EU.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is quietly moving forward with its patent plans. News.com has a fascinating article that quotes a spokesman as saying that they are seeking to enter into cross-licensing deals with the top 30 technology companies, so that they can have access to the patents they are most interested in and can offer their customers indemnification from patent infringement lawsuits. How charming. A little club. The "We Are The Only Ones Allowed to Write Software Any More" Club. On page two, the spokesman says that they are looking to do cross-licensing deals, not to sue. However, note this ominous phrasing:

"That said, Microsoft is pursuing negotiations with companies it feels are using its intellectual property. 'It's not possible for us to just look the other way,' he said."

So, the assault begins. Are you noticing over there in Europe? Do you see what you have to look forward to? Microsoft can't just look the other way, you know. If you empower them, you will feel it too. The EU has it in the power of its hand to block this patent plan. FOSS companies have few if any patents to cross license, which will no doubt lead to phase two of the strategy. If you want to use GNU/Linux systems, the time to notice what is going on is now.

Speaking of anticompetitive moves, by now you have seen the eWeek report on Microsoft's Royalty Free Protocol License Agreement on Internet protocols and the Larry Blunk email that started it all. Larry Rosen has noted that this license appears to be like the Sender ID license, which means that the obvious remedy is for standards bodies to stand firm against this license. What I haven't seen being covered about the license is its connection to the antitrust settlement. So, let's look at the details.

First, let's take a look at the January status report on Microsoft's compliance with the antitrust case Final Judgments, where it makes clear that licensing the protocols is a result of compliance pressure on the company. The final judgment requires Microsoft to offer licenses to use "the Communications Protocols", so competitors can readily compete:

JOINT STATUS REPORT ON MICROSOFT'S COMPLIANCE WITH THE FINAL JUDGMENTS

The United States of America, Plaintiff in United States v. Microsoft, CA No. 98-1232 (CKK), and the Plaintiffs in New York, et. al. v. Microsoft, CA No. 98-1233 (CKK), the States of New York, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin (the "New York Group"), and the States of California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Utah, and the District of Columbia (the "California Group") (collectively "Plaintiffs"), together with Defendant Microsoft hereby file a Joint Status Report on Microsoft's Compliance with the Final Judgments, pursuant to this Court's Order of May†14, 2003.(1) . . . .

Remedial Goals of Section III.E The Final Judgment requires Microsoft to offer licenses to use the Communications Protocols ("CPs") that fall within the purview of Section III.E. The remedial goals of Section III.E were summarized in this Court's opinion in New York v. Microsoft Corp., 224 F. Supp.2d 76, 172-73 (D.D.C. 2002): As the Court concluded supra, Parts III.B.3.a, III.C.1, server operating systems can perform a function akin to that performed by traditional middleware because they provide a platform for applications running "for" use on a PC. The mandatory disclosure of the communications protocols relied upon by Microsoft's PC operating system to interoperate with its server operating systems will advance the ability of non-Microsoft server operating systems to interoperate, or communicate, with the ubiquitous Windows PC client. Advancement of the communication between non-Microsoft server operating systems and Windows clients will further the ability of these non-Microsoft server operating systems to provide a platform which competes with Windows itself. The Competitive Impact Statement filed by the United States sets forth its view of the role of Section III.E: "This provision will protect opportunities for the development and use of non-Microsoft middleware by ensuring that competing, non-Microsoft server products on which such middleware can be hosted and served will have the same access to and ability to interoperate with Windows operating system products as do Microsoft's server operating systems." Revised Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact Statement, 66 Fed. Reg. 59,452 at 59,469 (Nov. 28, 2001). Accordingly, the remedy embodied in Section III.E is intended to provide developers of server operating system products, and other server software that interoperates with the Windows PC client, with the opportunity and ability to achieve access to the Windows PC client equivalent to that of Microsoft's server software. If software developers avail themselves of that access, middleware solutions residing on servers can be introduced, and that could increase competition to Windows.

The section of the joint status report authored by Microsoft mentions that they would be releasing, under the above pressure, licenses for more protocols:

Remedial Goals of Section III.E

The Final Judgment requires Microsoft to offer licenses to use the Communications Protocols ("CPs") that fall within the purview of Section III.E. The remedial goals of Section III.E were summarized in this Court's opinion in New York v. Microsoft Corp., 224 F. Supp.2d 76, 172-73 (D.D.C. 2002):

As the Court concluded supra, Parts III.B.3.a, III.C.1, server operating systems can perform a function akin to that performed by traditional middleware because they provide a platform for applications running "for" use on a PC. The mandatory disclosure of the communications protocols relied upon by Microsoft's PC operating system to interoperate with its server operating systems will advance the ability of non-Microsoft server operating systems to interoperate, or communicate, with the ubiquitous Windows PC client. Advancement of the communication between non-Microsoft server operating systems and Windows clients will further the ability of these non-Microsoft server operating systems to provide a platform which competes with Windows itself.

The Competitive Impact Statement filed by the United States sets forth its view of the role of Section III.E: "This provision will protect opportunities for the development and use of non-Microsoft middleware by ensuring that competing, non-Microsoft server products on which such middleware can be hosted and served will have the same access to and ability to interoperate with Windows operating system products as do Microsoft's server operating systems." Revised Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact Statement, 66 Fed. Reg. 59,452 at 59,469 (Nov. 28, 2001).

Accordingly, the remedy embodied in Section III.E is intended to provide developers of server operating system products, and other server software that interoperates with the Windows PC client, with the opportunity and ability to achieve access to the Windows PC client equivalent to that of Microsoft's server software. If software developers avail themselves of that access, middleware solutions residing on servers can be introduced, and that could increase competition to Windows.

So that is the purpose. On this page, Microsoft explains further:

Microsoft works with many other companies and industry initiatives to enable Microsoft products to provide interoperability with multiple networks and network services. Network protocols are developed and promoted by a variety of formal standards bodies, industry consortia, and individual companies worldwide. Microsoft actively participates and contributes to the standardization process in many standards bodies and develops implementations to make the Windows operating system interoperable with other products that implement these protocols. In addition, the documentation for a subset of protocols previously provided only under the Microsoft Protocol License Agreement for Development and Product Distribution now reside on MSDN. . . .

If you wish, a royalty-free implementation license is available covering any or all of these published protocols. See the FAQ for more details regarding this license. To the extent that Microsoft is obligated through its participation in standards setting activities to offer licenses on other terms and conditions, Microsoft will also comply with those obligations.

So the list of 130 protocols on Exhibit A, Technical Documentation, attached to the royalty free protocol license agreement, isn't a list of things Microsoft claims 100% ownership of. On the MCCP protocol license home page, Microsoft says this:

Microsoft has also added a subset of the MCPP protocols on MSDN.† Many of the protocols used by Windows 2000 and Windows XP client operating systems to interoperate or communicate with Microsoft server operating systems are also available through standards organizations or otherwise published and available from third party sources. †A royalty-free license for such published protocols is available from Microsoft, for those who wish to ensure that they have a license under any intellectual property rights Microsoft may have in any or all of those published protocols.

They explicitly say:

Implementation of these Protocols and, to the extent Microsoft is not the owner or sole owner of the Technical Documentation for these Protocols, use of this Technical Documentation may require securing additional rights from third parties. Licensee is responsible for contacting such third parties directly to discuss licensing details.

Therefore, saying that Microsoft came up with this list to try to claim the internet is inaccurate, if you put the period there. If you look at the list of protocols, AppleTalk heads the list, and it's obvious that Microsoft isn't asserting ownership of AppleTalk. However, anyone signing on for a license, under the terms Microsoft sets forth, is signing away rights the implications of which are alarming. Note that Samba has a notice that they will not accept submissions from anyone who has signed:

In order to avoid any potential licensing issues we also ask that anyone who has signed the Microsoft CIFS Royalty Free Agreement not submit patches to Samba, nor base patches on the referenced specification.

Glenn Peterson is quoted in the eWeek article on that very point:

"Glenn Peterson, an IP attorney and shareholder with Sacramento-based law firm McDonough Holland & Allen, agreed with Blunk. 'It is not clear to what degree, if any, that Microsoft has enforceable intellectual property rights in the 130 protocols identified in the so-called 'royalty-free' license agreement. Thus, by signing the agreement as it presently stands, one might be agreeing to certain things gratuitously, meaning simply that the licensee agrees to give Microsoft continuing control over how the protocols are used,' Peterson said. 'Among other things, the agreement gives Microsoft ongoing control over enhancements and updates, including the right to charge a license for them in the future.

"'The Technical Documentation compliance requirement ensures that Microsoft maintains control over interoperations and improvements to the protocols,' he said, adding that this is of even more concern. 'Basically, it prohibits researchers from making enhancements designed to improve interoperative performance. . . .

"'The agreement also allows Microsoft to terminate the licensee on 30 days' notice, and subjects the licensee to the jurisdiction of Washington state courts. It further provides that Microsoft recover legal fees incurred in any dispute over the agreement. . . .Without refinement and clarification of the rights actually conveyed in the agreement, licensees may be shackling themselves with significant contractual burdens that would not apply in the public domain.'"

Leave it to Microsoft to be bad even when it's trying to look good. What they seem to be inviting is a voluntary giving up of rights to their benefit, kind of like the spider inviting the fly for dinner. Sounds fine to them, no doubt, but what would be *your* motive?

The link to the Sender ID license, which Larry Rosen was the first to notice, is significant, and brings that issue back to the fore. The same issues that arose in that matter are also relevant to this license. It's a license that excludes the FOSS community that uses and prefers to use the GPL. Coincidence? I suspect not. But note in Microsoft's FAQ that while you are free to sign away your firstborn to Microsoft if you volunteer to do it by signing the license, any standards body that sets different terms for a protocol trumps the license as far as what Microsoft says it will do, which really makes one wonder why anyone would ever sign up for these licenses. Note how vaguely Microsoft describes what you are getting:

Q. When I sign a royalty-free agreement for these protocols, what am I licensing?

A. The list of protocols under this license includes protocols for which documentation has been published, and that Microsoft has implemented in Windows client operating systems to interoperate with Windows server operating systems (up to and including Windows Server 2003). However, just because a protocol appears on the list does not mean that Microsoft is the owner or sole owner of rights in that protocol or its documentation. What the royalty-free license does is ensure that a license is available from Microsoft under whatever rights it may have in the published documentation and/or protocols on the list.

Q. I noticed a number of these protocols are available for license via other avenues - for instance, under license agreements promulgated by members of a standards setting body. If I already have rights to implement protocols (e.g., under other agreements), do I also have to sign a royalty-free license?

A. No, unless you wish to obtain rights available under the royalty-free license that are not available under other license agreements you may have.

Q. Is the royalty-free license the only way Microsoft is making the protocols covered by it available for license?

A. Not necessarily. For example, some protocols may be covered by previously signed MCPP development agreements (see question on this below); other protocols may be available for license (by Microsoft or others) through, for example, standards setting activities. To the extent that Microsoft is obligated through its participation in a standards setting activity to offer licenses on other terms and conditions, Microsoft will also comply with those obligations.

Q. If I sign a royalty-free license agreement for these protocols, does it affect my rights, or my ability to license them, under other agreements that may be available now or in the future - for instance, under a license agreement offered by Microsoft in connection with its participation in a standards-setting body?

A. No. The royalty-free license does not supersede or replace the terms of any other license agreement relating to these protocols that you may now or later have with Microsoft.

All the bland doubletalk can't change the weirdness of what they say they are offering and why. The ball is, therefore, in the court of the various standards organizations. If they accept exclusionary "royalty free licenses" like Sender ID's and the protocol license and attach them to a standard, they are exiling the GPL from that standard, as Larry Rosen and others have already explained.

Note from the MCCP FAQ that the monitoring of Microsoft under the terms of the final judgment is not eternal, and neither is any MCCP license. For that matter, even during the monitoring time period, the terms of the license are subject to change:

Q. What is the term of these licensing agreements? Can I continue to distribute and develop products implementing the licensed protocols after the end of my agreement and/or the Final Judgment?

A. The term of the MCPP Development Agreement is five years, at which time development rights expire but certain distribution rights continue indefinitely, subject in either case to applicable termination provisions. Licensees may also renew their rights by entering into a new MCPP development agreement under then current terms. Throughout the term of the Final Judgment (which expires in November, 2007), Microsoft will continue to make the covered protocols available on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Thereafter, Microsoft will make a license available on commercially reasonable terms to existing licensees who wish to renew their rights to applicable technical documentation upon expiration of their program license agreement.

Q. What if I want to renew my development and distribution license after the end of the Final Judgment?

A. You can sign up to a new license agreement on commercially reasonable terms upon expiration of your program license.

Q. What if there are new covered protocols or changes to covered protocols?

A. For new or changed covered protocols, Licensees will receive updated documentation during the term of the applicable license agreement in place between them and Microsoft, as provided in that agreement, even if it extends beyond the end of the Final Judgment. Licensees may also sign up to a new development and distribution license agreement for new covered protocols contained in Microsoft's next major server release (after Microsoft Windows Server 2003), on commercially reasonable terms if that release occurs after the end of the Final Judgment.

Q. Does Microsoft ever change the program agreements?

A. Yes, Microsoft reviews the program agreements on an ongoing basis and makes changes from time to time. Microsoft will make the revised agreements available to all prospective and existing licensees in accordance with its obligation to offer the program on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. You can review current documents by returning to this site at any time. . . .

Q. What rights are granted under the program regarding client/server communications with the Microsoft Windows client operating systems that preceded Windows 2000 and Windows XP?

A. Microsoft is authorizing licensees to enable users of their server products to communicate with the predecessor Windows clients, as well as those described in the Final Judgment. This increase in license scope does not require payment of any additional royalties.

They would like you to trust them completely as to the future. Do you? So, why is Microsoft doing this? Rosen, in the eWeek article presented his guess:

"'As much as I can tell, this is the same license that the open-source community found unacceptable in the Sender ID matter,' Rosen said. 'Microsoft now seems to be imposing that agreement on many other potential IETF standards. This is probably Microsoft's strategy, to impose licensing friction in the open-source distribution process,' he said. 'IETF's failure to respond appropriately to the Sender ID proposal has left the door wide open for this mischief.'"

What can be done, if anything? Groklaw began with the idea that FUD only works when the truth isn't well known or understood. I think that fundamental premise has proven sound. I also note that the October Joint Status Report, which Groklaw reported on at the time, said that the Technical Committee is also now monitoring Longhorn "to enable early detection and resolution of any potential areas of concern. Plaintiffs anticipate that these discussions will continue throughout the Longhorn development and testing cycle and will report to the Court on any resulting compliance issues as necessary."

The Technical Committee overseeing Microsoft's compliance may not be aware that Microsoft's "reasonable and nondiscriminatory" licenses are, in fact, discriminatory toward Microsoft's primary competition. Complaints sent to the Technical Committee's attention may have at least an educational effect, if nothing more. Knowledge has its own power over time. Because the Final Judgment requires Microsoft to offer "reasonable and nondiscriminatory" license terms, they should be interested in learning that the license terms in fact unreasonably discriminate against Linux and all GPL software.

The Final Judgment in the case, entered by United States District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District of Columbia in November 2002, mandated the creation of a three-person Technical Committee to assist in both monitoring compliance with and enforcing the terms of the settlement. Complaints may be submitted via email to Complaints@TheTC.org.

There is also a web site established for coordinated state enforcement of federal court judgments against the Microsoft Corporation and they say: "If you believe Microsoft is violating either of the state final judgments, you can file a complaint by submitting an on-line complaint or by mailing a written complaint (along with supporting documentation, if available) to:

"Coordinated State Enforcement of Microsoft Antitrust Judgments
c/o California Office of the Attorney General
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 11000
San Francisco, CA 94102"

Additionally, can you think of any reason why EU investigators wouldn't be interested in anticompetitive behavior on Microsoft's part, including attempts to exclude its principal competition from standards?


  


Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses | 143 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Govt. & Antitrust...
Authored by: kberrien on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 08:40 AM EST
Given the results of the election, I myself have no faith in any toughening of
the govt case against MS. At the opening of the first administration the gloves
where put on. I don't expect them to come off again in the second
administration.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 08:47 AM EST
N/T

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 08:50 AM EST
Damm - missed the first posting. Better luck next time.

While I might be being overly suspicious of the Beast of Redmond, my first
reaction when I read this is that Microsoft is trying to set itself up as de
facto owner of the Internet. This could be achieved by having a lot of people
signing up for this so-called license, and then claiming that they all
acknowledge Microsoft's claim (and hence the claim stands, QED).

I think someone wants to have a word with the compliance people in the USA. It
seems that Microsoft is twisting the trms of the judgement against them in order
to advance their commercial position in areas that they cannot (up to now)
control.

Of course for Microsoft to gain widespread acceptance of their "Internet
IP" claims, they will have to successfully assert them in the USA, Europe,
and the rest of the world. The USA might be easy (they can simply buy the
judges, or failing that they can buy Bthe goverment). Everywhere else might be
tricky given the increasing hostility against Microsoft.

BTW, anyone want to bet that Microsoft is currently buying the new European
Commission? Particularly since the EC is probably one of the most corrupt
organisations in the world (literally millions of Euros are missing, and the
audit office has refused to sign the annual accounts for several years now).

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ asked for this section to stop
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 08:56 AM EST
we should comply with her wishes really, this thread serves no purpose

skip (not logged in)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Expiration
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 08:57 AM EST
It's curious that the Final Judgement expires in 2007. I recall that the Consent
Decrees for some of the AT&T antitrust actions didn't seem to have any
expiration date, which was one of the factors that eventually led to the breakup
of the Bell System.

Perhaps the folks setting the terms for MS thought they might effect a
behavioral change in MS that would obviate the need for controls, though I can't
see why they'd have thought so.

Obviously considerable care is needed when deciding whether to "take
advantage" of MS' offers.

Larry N.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cross-licensing
Authored by: Vaino Vaher on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 09:25 AM EST
How tempted would the Top-30 companies be (the ones that Microsoft wants to
cross-license with)? Sun is on the wagon already, of course. HP used to be a
respectable company once upon a time, but now seems to be trying to
"out-Dell" Dell. Fiorina probably would be proud to appear next to
Bill in the media.

But the rest? What has Microsoft to bring to the table in the area of IP and
patents? Why would anyone want to cross-license their valuable patents in
exchange for Microsofts pulp? (Unless Microsoft illegaly flexes its monopoly
muscle.)

And have those companies not seen the pile of corporate corpses in Microsofts
back yard?
I highly doubt IBM, TI, Cisco, Nokia, Sony et al will be tempted.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 09:40 AM EST
I really appreciate you posting stories like this, and I hope that once the SCO
fiasco is over you continue this site to help fight these futures battles that
will occur.

Many thanks PJ :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Spider and the Fly
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:01 AM EST
There may be some readers not familiar with the idiom in the title of this thread, or remember it only vaguely, so here's the original poem it comes from.

The Spider and the Fly

Interestingly enough, like so many other famous quotes and sayings out there, the phrase as is popularly known was never said in the original.

---
m(_ _)m

[ Reply to This | # ]

Vague Licenses
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:03 AM EST
While this license may be similar to the Sender IBM license, it is also similar
to the SCO Source Unix IP license. It doesn't offer any degree of certainty
about what you are getting and makes claims reaching far beyond what can be
shown to belong to Microsoft.

---
Rsteinmetz

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Novell to get $536M from MS
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:09 AM EST
links.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: frk3 on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:28 AM EST

This is all fine, Microsoft can do what it wants.

However, the more restrictive they get and the more outrageous their licensing and claims regarding such are, the better it will be for all in the long run.

As soon as Microsoft's antics in this area start affecting IBM and others ability to distribute Linux on their systems, or Linux distributors in general, I believe that Microsoft is going to get a number of lawsuits upside their heads. And, will probably even open up a new DoJ anti-trust investigation/suit, etc.

You just cannot license something which is not yours to license (for one thing), it's fraud. And this will come back to bite Microsoft, mark my words.

Microsoft's actions will get more frantic and outrageous between now and the release of Long-gored, IMHO.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:35 AM EST
Maybe IBM, Novell, Apple and the rest should get together and offer the same
type of licence via a joint company. For many of the protocols they has as much
right as MS to issue worthless agreements, but at least their's maybe a lot
better written.

[ Reply to This | # ]

At Last!
Authored by: dracoverdi on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:35 AM EST
I finally understand what Microsoft means by *Trusted Computing*

---
The problem with ignorance is that the afflicted are unaware of their ailment

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT and links here
Authored by: PolR on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:39 AM EST
.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Oh Dear!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:42 AM EST
"Although the project will be moderated and coordinated by OSRM, an industry group founded in 2003 with the goal to support the growth of free and open source software, contributions are to come from open source volunteers looking to document and identify the original inventor(s). The volunteers are slated to contribute via the Grokline (www.grokline.net) Web site, which is also operated by OSRM board member Pamela Jones." Link
Anybody feel like making money for Dan, and not getting paid? Here is your chance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Oh Dear! - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 01:14 PM EST
  • Oh Dear! - Authored by: John Hasler on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 02:00 PM EST
  • Wound not be the need - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 03:39 PM EST
  • ...$... - Authored by: SmyTTor on Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 12:05 AM EST
    • Oh how sad! - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 10 2004 @ 09:44 AM EST
OT, since I don't see that thread here.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:45 AM EST
It is a beautifully ironic settlement.

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20041108/bs_nm/tech_microsoft_no
vell_dc_4

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: PolR on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:46 AM EST
This invitation to the parlor is not limited to the Royalty Free Lincense Agreement. There is also this license called MCPP for protocols that Microsoft actualy owns which is also a requirement for the anti-trust settlement. It is quite nasty.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Before there was SenderID there was XML schema licensing
Authored by: dyfet on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:48 AM EST
While people have only recently focused directly on the way Microsoft licensing practices under the "claim" of Royalty Free licensing effect free software, I had been dealing with this issue since last year.

At the time the Danish Government choose to use Microsoft XML schemas for providing and publishing information to the general public. When Microsoft released a "license" for using their XML formats, that license included terms such as requiring those who sign it to surrender their right to sue. It made some vague claim about patents much like the senderID license and many of their new licenses now do, and in addition to the free software incompatible lack of sublicensing found in the SenderID license, additionally claimed control of "field of use" of any XML content so encoded in their schema. This would have required that those who used the XML format, even to access or view content, that is, the national citizens of Denmark who would use their own government's public repository, to be licensed and hence similarly contrained in their rights as a result.

Needless to say, software patents are not at this time legally binding in Europe. However, those who had actually agreed to or signed such a license would of course be constrained by it's terms regardless of whether such patents exist or ever legally come into force or not in Denmark. Since at the time I was starting to write free software to enable blind accessability to e-government services, which would include things like speech rendering of XML government repositories, such as the Danish one, I saw the issue as one both of pure anti-trust (by European Union treaty definition, going back to the definition under the original Treaty of Rome, close as one gets to "constitutional" law at the European level) and as basic restraint of trade.

At the time I filed an anti-trust complaint with the office of the European Competition minister (Monty's tenure), although this proved a very difficult, frustrating, and largely futile effort in itself. I have learned some things which would have made it easier to accomplish this since then. However, one useful result was that by filing this complaint, it helped make it nessisary for one part of the Danish government to actually respond to this issue and provided a brief oppertunity for them to consider what they were doing to their own citizenry. In this I measure the effort of filing as partially successful, although I wish at the time I had both the time and resources to have persued the issue much further, especially seeing that now they continue trying to attach similarly disgusting terms on other things, such as SenderID, and their protocol licensing program. Microsoft licensing appears to me as one part vague threat that reminds me of the mob, and one part effort to preemtivily strip others of their legal rights.

Since this site likes various documents, if anyone is really interested, I would be happy to put up a post in this thread of my original EU filing with the competition minister.

David

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sounds Like...
Authored by: resst on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:52 AM EST
What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine. So saith M$.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS strategy: Don't Identify the IP -- So What's New?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 11:08 AM EST
Lets see, a good guess is that MS has trade secrets, compyrights, and patents to
license? Or not?

SCO all over again: sue first, disclose later, or maybe never - doesn't matter.


What a coinkydink.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 11:10 AM EST
First I see a call to action to or European Union. We in the US make suffer
extreme hardship if wait to be rescued by or the European part of our
community. We must support them and possibly more importantly support a US
campaign.

This Microsoft license offer seems to have some questionable legalites. First
they do not clearly list what intellectual property is covered. Secondlly the
threaten consequences for failing to adhere to conditions that one may not hope
to knowingly abaide. Third, they are an illegal monopoly, possibly misusing
their market position.

I don't hold out much hope for a deterent to Microsoft unless a deep pocket
advesary steps forward. We need to at least create enough concern amongst
legislators that Microsoft bears scrutiny.

I've seen a fair bit of discussion about what comprises a software patent here
so far

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 11:50 AM EST
www.grokline.net

z.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: geoff lane on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 01:05 PM EST

Nobody can sign an advantagious deal with the devil.

Microsoft now knows that it can no longer control the future of personal
computing. They've never had any real control over the hardware and now that
huge new markets such as China are building up their use of PCs using home grown
designs they never will.

Now they are losing control of software. Slowly the idea that non-microsoft
products can be quite good is spreading and even as MS profits increase, they
lose market share.

Microsofts greatest fear is the chance that the next killer application comes
from the opensource world. Unable to engineer a monopoly, MS would have to
fight for market share on a even playing field. To avoid this MS needs to slow
down or halt non-MS software development.



---

[ Reply to This | # ]

The price of freedom...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 01:51 PM EST

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance". Those are wise words...

(Thomas Jefferson, for those who might not know, is one of the founding fathers of our US of A, and served as the third president, from 1801-1809)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not to worry.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 03:46 PM EST
MS is not in the unassailible position it once was. Everyone seems to assume
that MS stands alone in having money and influence in Washington circles.

That ignores two factors: IBM, and the steadily increasing pressure on MS's
bottom line that Linux and Open Source is already exerting. It also ignores the
fact that MS has committed to disposing of it's war chest by issueing dividends
over the next five years.

As long as Linux is a profit center for IBM, they will fiercely defend against
any attempts on MS's part to rein in the Linux growth rate. They have a long
history with MS and they know every trick in the books by now. In the early days
they always underestimated them because they were so buried in the past, and had
no idea that MS could, or would, pull some of the tricks they did, but that is
no longer true.

The pressure on MS can easily be seen by the fact that, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER,
they are cutting prices just to maintain their own market share- and they are no
longer delivering those mind boggling growth rates in revenues that they
formerly did. They are still growing, but their price margins are eroding and
that has only one long term effect.

They will go down. At some point, growth rates will vanish and their revenue
base will start to shrink. Long before that, they will cease to have the high
P/E's concomitant with high growth companies, and their share price will suffer
accordingly. When Wall Street starts to see the hand writing on the wall, share
prices will plunge, then plunge again.

Eventually, assuming they don't adjust their business plan to the new realities
in the software market, they will simply cease to be a factor in the software
market.

None of this will happen overnight, it will take years.

No amount of FUD will save them in the end. No amount of legislation can derail
Linux even here in the U.S. What makes everyone think that such legislation will
pass muster in the first place? It won't, not with so many companies already
making money off of Open Source software- and one of them is IBM. Who is already
bigger market cap wise than MS is. Oh, some of their sales come from selling MS
products with their hardware, but that can change over time. And it will. They
don't owe MS anything. They recover any fees that MS charges them in the sales
prices of their hardware.

Already, the market is slowly turning over.

Give it few more years and MS will just be a bad and fading memory on the OS
scene. They will be lucky just to recover all the money they already spent
developing Longhorn. Just look at how long it took for Windows 2000 to get off
the ground. They've already cut the feature list to the bone and
given up any idea of making it a new Windows version. Now, it is just going to
be an UPDATE. That alone tells you that the idea of coming out with a new
Windows version just didn't fly with their customer base.

So let them play their license games, and let fly with their patent FUD. As long
as we have people sounding the alarm, that shows that MS has no monopoly over
the Internet.

They are floundering, and soon they will be to the clutching at straws stage.
They may already be at that stage for all I know. It won't take many years after
that before everything I have said will come true.

So remember, they can fuss and rumble, and cadge and complain, and bluster and
threaten all they like. It won't change a single thing in the end. MS is going
down.

Count on it.

Cheers,

Frank

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: sbungay on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 03:59 PM EST
Well it's war, and in war the first thing you try to do is cut off the enemies
communications. Then divide and conquer.

1. Under the guise of helping out, offer royalty free licences (with strings to
be attached later).

2. Licenses are not friendly to GPL code, but this has been obfuscated to make
the poisen pill easier for standards bodies to swallow. Bottom line, GPL apps
can't use the protocols.

3. Push these protocols into the proprietary environment and use them by
default. Ensure the other protocols 'can' be supported (but make it difficult to
do so). This effectively leverages the near monopoly power of the proprietary
platform against all comers who do not (or are prevented from) having a licence
to the protocols.

4. Provide an escape route. Some of the 130 protocols are owned by others.. even
if MS played nice for a long tiome they could prop up these other kingdoms in
law suits while remaining at a safe distance.

Whaddys think? Too over the top?

---
Programmer: A red eyed mumbling mamal that converses with inanimate objects.

IANAL IAAP

[ Reply to This | # ]

I hava a problem with this - on both sides
Authored by: rharvey46 on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 04:44 PM EST
From first reading, it appeared that Microsoft was licensing public standards.
However, once I read the FAQ, it appears that Microsoft is only licensing its
source/binary code under this license. GPL and other licenses are still
permitted, without signing the Microsoft license.
This appears to be a copyright license, not a patent license. So in this case,
Microsoft has the right to limit access to their own code; however, Microsoft
does not have the right to limit access to other implementations.

On the other hand, the Open Source community does not have the right to claim
the Microsoft source or binary as its own. I have read comments on this that
seemed to imply that, since the Microsoft license was not signed, the Microsoft
code could be used without consideration of copyright or license. However, the
Open Source community does have the right to distribute its versions of the
protocols under the appropriate Open Source licenses (GPL, LPGL, Apache, etc)

In summary, I do/would have an issue with Microsoft claiming the Open Source
implementations for itself, or claiming that you must license it from Microsoft
when it is an Open Source implementation. However, I have the same issue in
regards to Open Source claiming the Microsoft implementation.

I definitely have an issue with restricted patents in regards to Open standards;
however, it appears that the Microsoft license is merely a Copyright license,
not a patent license.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Its what they do!!! They arenít know as the ďEvil Empire" for nothing..
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 05:03 PM EST

They arenít know as the ďEvil Empire" for nothing..

Its what they DO!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Anti-GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 06:03 PM EST

I wonder if this latest licensing plan of Microsoft has spawned from their perception of the GPL. That is, the GPL as being a viral license that eats up intellectual property from its unknowing owners. This license deffinately seams to have a viral aspect but instead it works for the sinister aims of Microsoft.

Therefore I propose that this license be nicknamed the Anti-GPL because of the way it attempts to emulate the GPL, but for utter evil.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft & Samba co-operating
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 06:04 PM EST
I wonder is Microsoft will provide a method for Samba to ensure that Samba
patches are not from signatories.

It would probably be wise for Samba to send a legal request for verification
access to signatories from Microsoft. If it ever came to litigation then Samba
could show 'best efforts' to ensure that the license does not apply as well as
'we removed it as soon as we were aware of the problem', which is normal
practice.

I doubt Microsoft will co-operate however FOSS must show good faith, no matter
what.

[ Reply to This | # ]

grok the list?
Authored by: phirephly on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 06:47 PM EST
I hope there is already a group as capable as the Groklaw community out there
working through this list of 130 protocols to make real list of exactly what, if
any, of each of these that MS might actually have a claim to. It would be a
great publication to have the complementary list that says "this is public
domain, this is a standard, this is open source, this was developed in part by
microsoft but released as a standard, this could belong exclusively to MS, etc,
etc".

As PJ said, it's easy to FUD when the truth is not necessarily known... but if a
list was compiled that said things like "Microsoft was in no way connected
with the creation, development, or implementation of Appletalk and owns no IP
therein and therefore has absolutely no licensing rights." with full links
and RFCs, etc. Would be most helpful to those of a timid nature to adopting the
exploding open source - and the evangelists (like me!). This community, and the
FOSS community in general, has yet to show any limits to its extraordinary
power. Let's continue to shut down the FUD. We're much larger than they are and
the strength is in the numbers. :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly -- MS's Royalty-Free Protocol Licenses
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 06:58 PM EST
Getting a little tickle out of this.

First off, it's never as bad as it seems.

Second, there's a cultural shift going on here. GPL software was spawned by
*programmers*. By definition they program even when not getting paid (IE GPL).

That said, by creating a division in the software world between GPL/Free(beer)
Software and payware they isolate themselves- most notably from the programmers
they rely upon.

What does MS do when the great programmers are working on the GPL side?

They punt... because they have alienated their talent pool.

They can't win this. You can only buy so many people.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I wonder what kind of return-fire this will draw from Novell, IBM, & Others
Authored by: Ed Freesmeyer on Monday, November 08 2004 @ 10:33 PM EST
This may be the opening salvo in the anticipated MS vs World patent war.

I hope (but cannot expect) that IBM and Novell will continue to support FOSS by
contributing code and good will as well as recommending FOSS to their customers.
I also hope (but cannot expect) that they will lend their influence to the
support of FOSS in government and elsewhere (this would also coincide with their
respective best interests and ongoing FOSS plans).

Now that MS has fired the first patent salvo against FOSS, I wonder how long it
will take before Novell, IBM and others with significant interests in FOSS
software and significant patent portfolios of their own respond ?

I think Groklaw will be a significant (if not the primary) player in this new
FUD fight. To date, MS has been boxing shadows - essentially FUD'ing with no
organized or effective opposition. Groklaw will do what Groklaw does best -
debunk the MS FUD, educate (occasionally browbeat) the media, act as a
repository of documents and analysis of MS licenses and MS schemes, and shed
light on actions that MS would prefer never see the light of day.

Essentially, this is the 'Groklaw Effect' that SCO has come to respect and
admire. This 'Groklaw Effect' has already crossed paths with the MS PR machine
to some extent as evidenced by the following examples:

1. Discussion has started concerning the MS Protocol Licensing program and
it's impact on FOSS, innovation, the patent fight in the US and EU, etc. I
believe this is good and should continue.

2. Sender ID discussion here and elsewhere combined with the rejection of
Sender ID by the open source community and ultimately by IETF. The media
reported this story with knowledge, fairness and integrity (with the exception
of a few die-hard MS shills) as well as with accuracy and the appearance of
understanding. In other words MS had reason to be disappointed with their PR
department for not better 'controlling' the media.

3. Coverage of the MS lawsuits re Lindows and the EU Software patent fight.
I think this site has made a significant difference in the awareness level of
many geeks as well as businesses and (by extension) governments as to what is at
stake with the idea of software patents as well as the types of tricks MS is
willing to pull to get their way. I think that by shining a light on the
politicions and their MS connections, we demonstrate that 'business as usual' is
no longer 'good enough'.

4. Announcements concerning OSDL and OSRM as well as opensource
indemnification programs, etc.

I believe that the number of people that follow Groklaw will eventually have the
same type of interesting impact on MS' bottom-line as we have had on the
SCOundral's bottom line. The number and frequency of new MS-specific virii will
only act to hasten the process as will the continuing delays and shrinking
feature set of latehorn.

By extension, BSA and MS-owned congresscritters will also find themselves under
scrutiny exploration and discussion of MS FUD cannot occur without discussion of
BSA tactics and activities and the laws that allow them.

PubPat will continue to challenge (and invalidate) bogus patents.

If the media simply does their research and reports events without bias, I think
the PHBs in industry will eventually get a clue.

All this adds up to a one heck of a temper tantrum from Billy Boy Wonder.

After all an educated consumer is MS's worst nightmare.

Ed

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is a nasty trap
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 12:02 AM EST
I respectfully suggest that this is a plain old snare and that dissecting the
terms and legalities of the licence is like a group of mice admiring the
workmanship on a mousetrap.

IMHO, its not about what Microsoft owns or does not own. Its about putting
yourself in Microsoft's gunsight.

By signing such an agreement you are admitting that forevermore some of your
work may require a licence to Microsoft IP - else why did you sign the licence,
dumbass?

To put it another way, as the hordes of open source developers slowly mass on
the horizon and march towards the ramparts of Mordor, you are being invited by
the Nazgul to come inside the fortress before the drawbridge is pulled up.
Frankly I'd prefer to be outside looking in.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Have at look at the IETF web site
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 03:57 AM EST
A quick search of both the RFC and Internet Draft lists on the IETF web site
(www.ietf.org) suggests that Microsoft employees have contribute to the
standards process in a number of areas. This is not a surprise really, the IETF
has always been willing to accept meaningful contributions from any source. BUT,
the IETF has for a number of years had rules about IP in contributions. These
rules are documented in RFC 2026 and RFC 2028, and further clarified by RFC
3668.

The way I read these RFCs, Microsoft must declare exactly what IP issues they
are claiming with respect to their contributions. They cannot make vague
"we might have some claims, we'll let you know after you pay a wadge of
cash to us" statements. This is to give the IETF a chance to determine the
cost/benefit of the compromised contributions, and if necessary to replace them
with something less constraining.

Give this I'd say that someone in Microsoft is playing pretty fast and loose
with the rules. I'm not suggesting that the technical people are at fault here,
from what I understand they are all pretty straight forward and honest. I
suspect a combination of marketing and legal drones have looked at this work and
decided that its an opportunity to extend the MS tax to the Internet's
infrastructure.

Possibly the IETF needs to be told formally whats going on. Its possible they
may force MS to back down, more likely however is that they will simply exclude
MS from the standards process until MS gives an undertaking not to play these
sort of games.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The SCO link
Authored by: soronlin on Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 05:06 AM EST
Remember the SCO Source licence?

It had a nice little trick in it:

1. Define "SCO Code" as all code that is based on, derived from,
similar to or smells like UNIX.

2. Provide a "licence" to all SCO Code in which SCO Group has an IP
interest.

Note that in step (1) the implication is that they own the world, but in step
(2) they only offer what is theirs.

Now up steps Microsoft and they say:

(1) Define the "Licenced Protocols" as this list of 130 mostly public
domain documents.

(2)Provide a copyright licence "To the extent Microsoft has
copyrights" and a patent licence "To the extent Microsoft has
Necessary Claims".

Now where have we seen that before?

[ Reply to This | # ]

One of the 130 - The Discard Protocol
Authored by: soronlin on Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 05:21 AM EST
Just so those people here who are not network programmers don't have any
illusions about that list of protocols, here is the whole text of one of them
(OK, it's obviously the smallest.)

http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc0863.txt
--------------------------------------------------------

Network Working Group
Request for Comments: 863

J. Postel
ISI
May 1983



Discard Protocol



This RFC specifies a standard for the ARPA Internet community. Hosts on
the ARPA Internet that choose to implement a Discard Protocol are
expected to adopt and implement this standard.

A useful debugging and measurement tool is a discard service. A discard
service simply throws away any data it receives.

TCP Based Discard Service

One discard service is defined as a connection based application on
TCP. A server listens for TCP connections on TCP port 9. Once a
connection is established any data received is thrown away. No
response is sent. This continues until the calling user terminates
the connection.

UDP Based Discard Service

Another discard service is defined as a datagram based application on
UDP. A server listens for UDP datagrams on UDP port 9. When a
datagram is received, it is thrown away. No response is sent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Maybe we can out-flank Microsoft et al for This?
Authored by: sproggit on Tuesday, November 09 2004 @ 03:37 PM EST
Team, Just a thought, but perhaps we need to help the FOSS community to start to think and act as though the entire community were one huge IP factory?

Consider, the millions of FOSS Developers who are out there churning code on a daily basis are probably generating more fresh ideas [IP] than Microsoft, SCO, Sun, and everyone else combined by one or more orders of magnitude. As I see it [and I'm making no claims of experience here] there are at least two issues for us to consider. The first relates to copyright infringement. The second relates to IP violation.

Copyright infringement can be effectively policed, as has been suggested, by improved vigilance, providing a "legally valid" way of checking in code such that every contributor must identify themself and must attest to the originality of their contribution. Such steps on the part of the FOSS community would go a long way towards protection against claims of copyright infringement.

The next issue is one of Patent or IP infringement and that is a lot more difficult for us to tackle as a dispersed group, but as a community it is absolutely possible.

Here's my suggestion:

As Groklaw has already so ably demonstrated, the application of the FOSS [many eyeballs make all bugs shallow] philosophy can dissect and disprove any theory that the massed might of SCO/BS&F have been able to throw our way. Why not patents too?

How about using the Groklaw principle such that we have a site which captures and posts every new software patent application made by any company that does not make the Novell-style stance in favour of FOSS, or which is suspected of acting in a manner deliberately hostile to FOSS? [Primarily software companies, OK?] So what would happen is that any time a company [say MS] files a patent, it is automatically posted, studied, examined, researched, checked, double-checked and rebutted. Any suggestion, even the slightest, that there might be prior art out there could be brought forward, collated, published, peer reviewed, then submitted back to the Patent Office. Yes, yes, I know, I know, PubPat is out there. But right now, they need our eyes and ears...

Last time I checked [someone please confirm/disprove for me] it's necessary for a patent to be non-obvious to someone in the same field of endeavour in order to be granted. In my narrow way of thinking, I can't file a patent for an idea if someone else thought of it first [prior art] or if it's obvious.

We have some immensely smart people in the FOSS community. Maybe we could encourage them to have a central registration site [freshmeat, sourceforge, etc] for the registration of FOSS ideas. Any idea would be valid. Sorted into category, filed and uploaded and registered. Anyone who wanted to take an idea and code to it could link to their work. However, the very act of thinking up and then filing the "Idea" means that we can encourage someone to code an example in software. The moment that happens, we have prior art. The only problem with this idea, as I see it, would occur if someone from a company such as MS saw the idea and coded to it before anyone in the FOSS community did so. Perhaps we'd need a trusted clearing house first, consisting of developers who could "knock up" a demo example, to be filed with the idea.

There is [almost] an example of just this on the internet today, and it's called The Global Ideas Bank.

I think the thing to remember here is that I'm offering an idea and a principle rather than a full solution. It will take the work of others to help shape this and take it forward. I offer this because, as SCO are finding out to their cost, the simple fact is that although our individual knowledge of the US legal system might be inconsequential, our combined might is very definitely something to be reckoned with. If companies like Microsoft are going to try to use IP to combat FOSS - on the basis that they cannot compete fairly in any other frame of reference [price, quality, etc] then in order to defend against this mis-use of the patent system, one approach might be to build up such an armory of patents or prior-art that the FOSS community becomes an IP-holding entity larger [or as big as] any big software house.

Remember - it's not necessary [I don't think] for us to register patents on this stuff. It's only necessary to publish prior art. Once that's done, noone else can claim a patent on the idea...

Going forward, you can see other areas where this would start to have an impact. For example, look at the way that MS Windows originally evolved, with Microsoft harvesting ideas from their competitors [GEM, Apple, etc] and generating Windows. MS did a very good job - they took lots of disparate ideas and aggregated them down into a single platform that worked [more or less]. However, if they had tried to perform the same thing today [and file patents] then they would be denied, purely because well established prior art exists.

The last part is the hardest of all - and that is how to determine if a proprietary company has taken FOSS [GPL'd] code and written it into a closed product without propogation of the GPL and without trying to file a patent for it. Perhaps the best means of achieving this is looking at bug reports for products. For example, if you had, say, a vulnerability published for [as an example] Firefox that included a particular signature attack for a crafted URL, and if that same vulnerability existed in a closed source browser such as Internet Explorer, then the Firefox developers might have reason to suspect that [in this example] IE might have "borrowed code" within it.

Getting from that suspicion to an opportunity to check and review the suspected source would be difficult today, but at this point in time we don't even have a means for logging and exploring these suspicions. We're blind to what may be happening with FOSS source code.We're open to abuse of our IP and not effectively geared to monitoring for violations.

We've got some mighty smart people contributing here on a regular basis. I don't know if any of these suggestions are worth exploring, but perhaps those more able than I can venture an opinion and help shape this into something with more of a purpose???

Final thought/request: rather than flame this idea if you think it's nonsense, how about rewriting it and improving it until it's better? We're pretty good at this peer review stuff when we put our hearts into it. Thanks!


[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )