“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”
HE FSF may be doing too little against software patents at this stage, but it must not distract anyone from a most serious peril, which even Linus Torvalds is aware of and concerned about. it’s resolvable through dissemination of knowledge.
Every now and then, Microsoft makes snide remarks at Red Hat, claiming that Red Hat and its customers owe it money. This happened one year ago, just before Acacia hired some Microsoft Intellectual Monopoly people and then sued Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Now there is some more of this from Microsoft’s mouthpiece at CNET [1, 2]. The latest post contains little more than subtle (seemingly polite) Microsoft propaganda:
That doesn’t mean Microsoft is ready to sing Kumbaya with Red Hat, or other companies that haven’t made an IP deal with Redmond. While Microsoft is patient, Gutierrez indicated that Microsoft’s patience is not unlimited.
“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.
Microsoft has, on a number of occasions, asserted that Linux violates a ton of Microsoft patents, but Microsoft has never sued a company over those claims.
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.
On the positive side, though, are deals like the Novell one, Gutierrez said. In the end, Novell has grown its business, Microsoft got added revenue and customers end up with products that work better together. Gutierrez wouldn’t name names, but he said to expect more deals along the lines of the ones Microsoft struck with Novell and Sun Microsystems.
In case it’s not obvious, this short article ought to show why Novell is so dangerous to the freedom of Free software. Red Hat is being verbally threatened again.
Microsoft is also singing Novell’s “mixed source” tune, and not for the first time either. Novell happily brags about its “mixed source” identity [1, 2, 3, 4], insisting that it is not an open source company. This serves to justify Novell's own patent FUD and empowers Microsoft’s pressure on other GNU/Linux vendors. In turn, this helps Novell.
If they ever sue, there will be a strong reason for Red Hat to go to court, and there will be public fueling for Red Hat to go all the way up to the Supreme Court, using the assistance of many others to eliminate software patents once and for all.
In the disclosure above, Microsoft’s desperate strategy is showing. They admit to investing in the world's biggest and nastiest patent troll — something we already knew about (the personal investments from Bill Gates himself).
It ought to be added that the selective media does not tell the full story. Gutierrez is also one of the men behind extortion, namely the use of threats and software patents to secretly extract money from unnamed GNU/Linux users. █
“There is nothing more that can be done. Everything we do is now available to licensees as well.”
–Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Imaginary Property Officer
Picture contributed by a reader