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Comes v. Microsoft Resumes Today
Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 05:30 AM EST

If you are anywhere near Iowa, this is a fabulous day to start attending the trial in Comes v. Microsoft, because beginning today the plaintiffs will call the first live witness, Ronald S. Alepin, who is expected to testify until the 9th, after which John Constant is expected to take the stand.

Constant was Product Manager for DRI, and it was he who designed DR DOS, so you know he's got a few Microsoft stories to tell. Mr. Alepin was an expert witness against Microsoft and gave a presentation in the European Union Court of First Instance in Microsoft's appeal, the same one where Andrew Tridgell testified, as many of you will recall.

There's a piece of Alepin's story you may not know.

In March of 2006, Microsoft claimed that its competitors were colluding with the EU Commission, which it charged with lacking impartiality (which is what losers in court often do -- blame the court), and Microsoft tried to use the US courts to prove it, sending subpoenas to Oracle, Morrison & Foerster (of SCO v. Novell fame), Sun Microsystems, several others, and Ronald Alepin. The EU Commission filed objections to the requested discovery. The designated victims all filed a motion to quash, which was successful. Microsoft appealed, but eventually gave up, after losing a similar attempt against Novell in Massachusetts and IBM in New York.

You might find the filings in the California Alepin matter interesting. The case was Microsoft Corporation v. Ronald Alepin Morrison & Foerster et al, and the Pacer docket is a hoot in itself. It looks like SCO's handiwork, with Microsoft requests for de novo review of the magistrate judge's decisions and the works. Here are a few of the filings, all PDFs, to give you a taste:

If you only have time to read one, I'd suggest the Motion to Quash. Mr. Alepin's attorneys wrote in his objections to the subpoena that in context, "the subpoenas are retaliation for providing technical input to the Commission and if permitted will chill not only the flow of information to the Commission in this matter, but others as well." I gather Mr. Alepin doesn't intimidate easily, since he is testifying again against Microsoft in Iowa.

He is quoted as saying this, in part, in April of 2006:

Ronald Alepin, an independent consultant and former CTO for Fujitsu, disputed the idea that Microsoft had been an innovator in the field. He said that interoperability protocols were developed by companies other than Microsoft, and that Microsoft has simply extended the protocols and then refused to disclose the extensions. In so doing, he told the court, Microsoft "has hijacked standard interoperability protocols agreed by the entire industry."

"Microsoft can and is putting limits on what kind of interoperability third-party workgroup servers can offer by refusing to disclose interface information.

Here's what Alepin had to say when Microsoft argued that opening up its specifications would give its rivals a free ride:

But Ronald Alepin, the former chief technology officer of Fujitsu Software Corp. and an expert witness for Microsoft's rivals, said the company was wrong to claim that describing how its software works could help other software makers clone Microsoft products.

"It is axiomatic in our industry that specifications, properly written, do not reveal the design and should not reveal the design," he said. "We just want to be able to connect."

You can read Microsoft's side of that story in this paper, "Confidential Business Secrets: Responde of Microsoft Corporation to the Statement of Objections by the European Commission Dated 21 December 2005" [PDF], submitted by Microsoft.

Alepin also was technical adviser to the states in their antitrust action in connection with the Department of Justice antitrust action. You can read about the role the states played in this fascinating paper, "Comments of Stephen D. Houck and Kevin J. O'Connor on the States' Role in the Microsoft Case Re: Working Group on Enforcement Institutions," that mentions Alepin. I didn't follow the US v. Microsoft antitrust trial closely, so I found that paper a good overview. Perhaps you will too.

I'm sure you can see just from this little bit of research why you'll certainly never be sorry if you make it to that state courtroom in Polk County, Iowa. Trial hours are now 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 pm Central time daily.


Comes v. Microsoft Resumes Today | 187 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here, Please
Authored by: The Cornishman on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 05:44 AM EST
So that PJ can find them.

(c) assigned to PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

Methods and Concepts
Authored by: seraph_jeffery on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 05:45 AM EST
I was wondering - couldn't Novell, who holds UNIX, really come down on Microsoft
on Methods and Concepts with regard to MS DOS 3.3 and every version thereafter?
Most of the utilities have similar names (if not the same), similar function
(though usually quite watered down from the UNIX big-brother), and even the tree
structure of directories... just turning the slash backwards (and causing
problems for the Internet). I know, some will claim obviousness for much of it,
but is it really? Just a thought...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-Topic Thread
Authored by: The Cornishman on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 05:46 AM EST
Keep 'em clean and make 'em clicky :)
Instructions are on the Post a Comment page.

(c) assigned to PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

Comes v. Microsoft Resumes Today
Authored by: Stumbles on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 06:54 AM EST
Ronald Alepin.... disputed the idea that Microsoft had been an innovator..... interoperability protocols were developed by companies other than Microsoft... has simply extended the protocols and then refused to disclose the extensions....Microsoft "has hijacked standard interoperability protocols agreed by the entire industry."

I like this guy, he couldn't have said it any plainer.

You can tuna piano but you can't tune a fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

John G Roberts Jr... worked on this case too (now Supreme Court Chief Justice)!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 08:17 AM EST
From the doc file at the end of PJ's article is interesting to see that John G.
Roberts Jr (now Chief Justice on the Supreme Court, worked this case for the
states). Interesting, so he has worked over the MS IP issues before.

Quotes from paper:

"the subsequent appeal, argued by John G. Roberts, Jr. on behalf of the
States, resulted in a unanimous en banc opinion by an ideologically diverse D.C.
Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the monopoly maintenance claim at the heart
of the States’ case"...

"The oral argument before the Court of Appeals was conducted both by
representatives of the appellate division of the Antitrust Division as well as
by the States’ advocate, John G. Roberts, Jr., who is now a member of that court
and President Bush’s nominee to be Chief Justice".

Comment: So - there is someone on the Supreme Court who has experience with IP
issues and the Microsoft Monopoly situation.

What does this mean? If anything?

[ Reply to This | # ]

It comes to mind:
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 11:30 AM EST
It comes to mind that Bill Gate$ spoke out in favor of, or at least made noises,
that Windows(the product) would be object oriented. My understanding is that
OOP has a concept of users see the interfaces and not the implementation. What
I read into one of the excerpts above was that M$ didn't even want to says what
the interfaces were. That is the disconnect that I see, you tell the users what
the interfaces are and hide the implementation. But M$ wants to hide both and
be controlling in the process. M$ makes its own rules...

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Marketing - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 02:43 PM EST
    • Marketing - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 05:39 PM EST
Comes v Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 12:47 PM EST

On first reading today's article it did not make any sense to me because I had never heard of Comes v Microsoft. Here is a link to an article describing Comes v Microsoft.


Steve Stites

[ Reply to This | # ]

Fining MS in the form of royalties?
Authored by: darkonc on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 06:16 PM EST
Given that the EU is fining MS $2M/day, still isn't getting a proper response, and is considering upping their fines from there, couldn't they just demand that MS license their protocols in a GNU-friendly manner (i.e. without royalties or demands to control sub-licensing), and simply consider removal of the right of royalties the equivalent of fines?

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Thursday, January 04 2007 @ 11:07 PM EST
"It is axiomatic in our industry that specifications, properly written, do not reveal the design and should not reveal the design," he said. "We just want to be able to connect."

Totally correct.

But, Microsoft instead does not want to provide properly written specifications as we have seen in the EU.

Nor, do they want to interoperate even though they may say that.

They want it all their way.

And the best way for them to do that is to keep everything as secret as possible, and to keep it changing. And if it is changing, any properly written specifications are soon to be out of sync with the code. The fact that the code has to be constantly changing, in order for Microsoft to defeat the call for properly written specifications, even if supplied, will lead to new bugs (seems to be the case) and to interoperability problems.

But, it accomplishes their goal of not being interoperable.

Their strategy is simple:
- Do not interoperate
- Dump plenty of money into marketing, to keep their existing lockin.
- Marginalize those that want to interoperate

The strategy for FLOSS is just as simple:
- Do not worry about interoperating with Microsoft.
- Provide a better environment.
- Continue to watch Microsoft marginalize themselves.


You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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