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More Patent Threats From Microsoft
Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 05:21 PM EDT

Ina Fried has an interview with "Microsoft's top intellectual property lawyer", Horacio Gutierrez, and Gutierrez directly threatens to sue any company, like Red Hat, that refuses to sell out and do a patent deal like the one Novell signed up for:
"If every effort to license proves not to be fruitful, ultimately we have a responsibility to customers that have licenses and to our shareholders to ensure our intellectual property is respected," he said.
So, more threats to try to force Red Hat to sign a deal that violates the GPL and that the GPLv3 makes very interesting in effects for Microsoft. I almost hope they mean it this time. Talk about anticompetitive use of patents, though. Nothing but the destruction of the FOSS development model and chosen license structure will do. No one I know, including FOSS lawyers, is losing any sleep over these threats.

Oh, by the way, Gutierrez tells us something else you probably assumed:
In an effort to help head off patent disputes, Microsoft is an investor in Nathan Myrhvold's patent-buying Intellectual Ventures effort and has also made deals with several other such patent companies. "We've done deals with a number of others," Gutierrez said.
OOOOh. Scary. The giant eats babies. Quick, do whatever he tells you!! Puh lease. The last straw sinking companies clutch at is patent lawsuits and other "IP" litigation to bring up the bottom line, when they see they can't win fair and square with products people actually want.

But what is clearer to me now is that Microsoft is apparently determined to control or destroy FOSS as we know it. And they think patents give them the power to do it. What I think will really happen is a whole mess of litigation, including some antitrust claims. I don't rule out Red Hat's ability to be legally creative, of course, but no one can do a Novell-style deal again, with respect to GPLv3 code, without triggering results [PDF] I am sure Microsoft would not wish for.


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