Ze worden gefinancierd door Microsoft dus kunnen ze doorgaan. Het idee van MS om onzekerhied rond Linux te scheppen.
Microsoft's New Patent War on Linux.
Mono isn't the only trap set for FOSS developers. While Microsoft has hinted at using patents to attack open source before, it has now moved from suggestion to accusation; it has turned off its safety and is taking aim at the hearts of FOSS developers, not to win them, but to shoot them.
In an article by Fortune, published by CNN, Microsoft announced that “Linux” violates at least 235 of its patents. It described a new litigation strategy for getting FOSS users to pay Microsoft royalty fees for their transgressions.
Among the patents infringed upon are 45 that apply to OpenOffice and 83 that apply to FOSS applications that are not part of the Linux kernel or its commonly associated graphical interface.
This isn’t just an attack on Linux, it’s an attack on open source development in general. That is a spectacularly bad idea for Microsoft to pursue.
Microsoft's announcements make it clear that the company isn't just working to protect its intellectual property, but that it really hopes to drag FOSS into a long term war in order to terrorize its own users who may be interested in open source, and thereby retain them as tightly held subjects within the walls of its iron curtains.
If Microsoft had any ideas to protect, it would simply lay them out and insist that Linux and other FOSS projects stop using them improperly. Instead, Microsoft is keeping its patent details a secret, while working to generate panicked headlines about the dangers inherent in using open source software.
Microsoft doesn’t want results, it wants to incite a climate of fear.
This All Happened Before.
Sound familiar? Microsoft's last assault on Linux was played similarly, albeit behind the mask of the SCO Group.
Microsoft invested tens of millions of dollars in the SCO Group, purportedly to license the company's Unix software. Why did Microsoft need such a massively expensive license from a litigation group which the rest of the tech industry--along with the stock market--valued as worthless?
Microsoft wasn't paying for the legitimate use of Unix code, it was funding the SCO Contras with illicit weapons to enable them to continue their own war against a common enemy: Linux.
Microsoft was also floating the idea that businesses faced multimillion dollar risks by using anything other than Windows in their business. “Oh no, look at me! I'm paying out craploads of money because I touched Unix! Don't make the same expensive mistake!”
Apart from a few other idiot companies who voluntarily threw money at the frauds at SCO, nobody who used Linux was found to owe the company anything. Microsoft's fantastically expensive license did keep SCO in business long enough to create years of terrorized fear surrounding the future outlook of Linux however.
[Web Host Industry News | EV1 Regrets Buying SCO License]
SCO kept making accusations of intellectual property theft, but it kept hiding all the supposed proof. Like professional contribution collectors such as Greenpeace, SCO wasn't after action-oriented results, but only hoped to keep itself in the headlines long enough to drum up some threat money.
Just like Microsoft is doing now.
The Failure of War.
The problem for Microsoft is that it’s following a strategy of failure. SCO failed because it had no leg to stand upon in its invented war on Unix copyright violations. Microsoft similarly knows that its patent pool is not only a weak weapon that will be difficult to target and fire, but one that may likely explode in its face.
The problem with patents is that they are a lot like nuclear weapons: they pose a lot of threat, but you can't actually launch them to accomplish anything useful. Once you drop one, you'll have several more being dropped in return, negating any net results.
Like the cold war nukes, the only real purpose patents serve is to create a fear of mutually assured destruction that incites entities to work together. When Creative pulled out its iPod patent against Apple, Apple turned around with a handful of patents that could scrape the remains of Zen droppings from the floor. The result was a civil agreement that funded Creative and made it an Apple partner.
Such agreements aren't possible when patent holders try to attack individuals and create a general state of fear. Image if Creative had tried to sue iPod customers, and Apple responded by suing Zen customers! The only possible result would be disgust on the part of music player customers in general, and the badmouthing of Zens and iPods in particular. Everyone would lose.
Imagine how popular it will be for Microsoft to start suing companies that have mixed Linux and Windows operations. What would that do to prop up Microsoft loyalty figures or sales?
Will it incite interest in Microsoft’s other attempts to gain the attention of developers, including Silverlight?
Microsoft's Known Unknowns.
Like the RIAA, Microsoft must face the reality that suing your own customers is a strategy of failure. But consider what else will happen if the companies that defended Linux from SCO--and who now center their business on FOSS--turn their attention to Microsoft’s patent attacks in return.
IBM certainly has some patents of its own. Is it likely that Microsoft might violate some of them? Because Microsoft's Windows source code is secret, we would never know unless the company were foolish enough to open itself to legal scrutiny by inviting such retaliation.
And of course, there is another matter that Microsoft might unwittingly crack open: by launching a full frontal assault on open source using its software patents, Microsoft risks calling the legitimacy of software patents in general into question. The US Supreme Court has not ruled on software patents before.
However Fortune reported that just a month ago, the Supreme Court “stated in a unanimous opinion that patents have been issued too readily for the past two decades, and lots are probably invalid. For a variety of technical reasons, many dispassionate observers suspect that software patents are especially vulnerable to court challenge.”
Het zou inderdaad interessant zijn als dit soort zaken eens tot de hoogste instantie werd uitgevochten in de VS. Als deze inderdaad vindt dat een hoop patenten ten onrechte zijn uitgegeven dan verandert het hele landschap.
Het is nu een standaardpraktijk geworden van Microsoft om tegenstanders met processen te bedreigen, ze richt zich daarbij ook graag op jonge ondernemingen die kwetsbaarder zijn, zoals recentelijk HTC en Salesforce
. MS heeft tenslotte meer geld dan de anderen en ze jaagt er bedrijven flink mee op kosten, maar belangrijker, investeerders in deze bedrijven kunnen terughoudend worden, en liever de uitkomst van processen willen afwachten die natuurlijk jaren kunnen slepen.
De bizarre situatie is nu onstaan dat MS royalties vangt voor elke Android telefoon die HTC bouwt
, terwijl Google niets vangt. Google stond HTC bij in de jurische kosten, maar HTC had kon gewoon niet nog meer verwikkelingen gebruiken want ze zit al met Apple in gevecht over patenten. Jonge bedrijven zijn nu eenmaal erg afhankelijk van het vertrouwen van investeerders als aandeelhouders, banken.
Dit soort praktijken zijn niet alleen onethisch, ze ondermijnen de rechtstaat zelf, omdat het recht gebruikt wordt voor oneigelijke doeleinden. Recht als middel om onrecht te bedrijven.
[Reactie gewijzigd door degener op 10 juli 2010 14:41]