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Re: [SLUG] Novell and Microsoft

Sadly, having an algorithm coded in open source doesn't protect one from the
patent lawyers. For instance LAME (despite it's acronym)  is a GPL
implementation of a MP3 encoder. Hence basically anyone can use this code,
under the terms of the GPL. However any MP3 implementation contains
algorithms patented by the Fraunhofer Institute. So no matter how you write
the code, you still infringe upon the ideas articulated in their patents. So
while Fraunhofer cannot stop you distributing the code as a published work,
they can potentially want you to licence the use of their patented algorithm
in a product. But that licence doesn't usually go with the code, but with
the product that implements it. ALso section 7 of the GPL specifically says
that must cease distribution of GPL software if you believe it to be
infringing on someone else's intellectual property.

So my understanding of the agreements is that Microsoft are basically saying
to Novell - "You full well know that some of the code in SuSE Linux
infringes on our IP". (From elsewhere I read that this would possibly in
things like Mono, OpenOffice, Samba, etc). "But because we have this
arrangement, we will not enforce you to meet your patent obligations" (I
would presume there might also be bits of Novell's IP that Microsoft uses
but hasn't paid for to date). So Microsoft is providing protection for the
product, rather than the code. Therefore it would not automatically pass
protection on to other products with the same source code.

Of course the big problem with software patents, is that often seem to cover
the smallest algorithm, and also seem to often cover ideas that have been
obvious for ages, been implemented before, yet no one prior to the patent
holder bothered to register their idea.

(I am not a lawyer either :-)  )

Regards, Martin

On 11/7/06, alex@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx <
alex@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On Mon, Nov 06, 2006 at 10:50:57PM +1100, Ben wrote:
> On 11/6/06, tuxta2 <tuxta2@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >What do you people think?
> >I would be very interested to hear some opinions.
> This comment seems to be realistic, except for the finishing off bit.
> I think Microsoft has much more to gain by keeping Linux around and
> selling IP licenses for it.
> http://news.linux.com/comments.pl?sid=37578&cid=92628
> Humour piece, apparently from 1995:
> http://www.usd.edu/~bwjames/humor/ms/novel.html
> FSF article from April this year:
> http://www.fsfeurope.org/projects/ms-vs-eu/article-20060421.en.html
> My thought on Microsoft's strategy:
> embrace, extend, and emasculate or enslave.
> If software patents are widely recognised then Microsoft can force
> Linux to be nothing more than a backyard hobby, or charge for it, all
> while appearing not to be a monopoly, because after all, it's
> reasonable to charge for
> your IP, right?

Am I missing something can't we just take the code from Novell and apply
any patches to bring it up to where it is now and carry on from there,
doesn't that give every one Novell's protection ?

or something along those lines.....

ps I am not a lawyer .

> FSF won't push the GPL issue, because if they do, Microsoft will
> threaten litigation against other distros on patent grounds. The FSF
> will be able to go ahead and most likely lose, or back off and cement
> the validity of software patents.
> The only way Linux will last as an independant force in the long run
> is to fight software patents. We need to make sure there is at least
> one major market where the patents don't have force. If you have to
> license Linux in the USA, but not in the EU, Microsoft will be
> tortured by the USA corporations, so they won't push it until they've
> made the EU think licensing is OK, which is why Novell is such a good
> ally for them, as it's the strong in the EU.
> Ben
> --
> SLUG - Sydney Linux User's Group Mailing List - http://slug.org.au/
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Regards, Martin

Martin Visser