Category Archives: Intellectual Property

Who Wins the MS/Linux Patent War?

Today Microsoft declared open warfare on Open Source Software, particularly on Linux. Microsoft claims that Linux violates 235 patents Microsoft holds, although it refuses to tell exactly which patents are infringed or which portions of the Linux Kernel or other programs in the Linux stack do the infringing. But that’s not the point of this post, I’ll leave it to others to determine if Microsoft’s claims are specious or credible, what I’m interested in is who wins over the medium term.

In the long term I am confident that Open Source will prevail, but in the short to medium term uptake of OSS may well be reduced while Microsoft adoption will not be enhanced. So what will people be deploying?

Consider the following:

-In 2004 Sun and Microsoft signed a wide ranging agreement that settled ongoing litigation and cross-licensed various technologies, so theoretically Sun software is immune to charges of patent infringement from Microsoft.

-Solaris 10, in binary form, is free to use for any and all purposes. You can download it today and install it on a production server tonight. Sun will even give you a license.

-Sun is in the process of making Solaris open source. Check out the progress at Open Solaris or even download a Solaris “distribution”.

-The pricing for supported Solaris on x86 is comparable to or better than supported RHEL. So you can run unsupported Solaris (think CentOS) or supported Solaris (RHEL) at about the same price.

So now imagine that you are a CIO who likes open source, particularly cheap to free server software that can do powerful things, but you’d rather sit out the Linux – Microsoft slug fest. I’ve never installed or used Solaris, not even once, but I’m considering it.

Quit Making it Hard for Us

Yet another easy workaround for for a Digital Rights Management scheme is announced and still the music industry doesn’t get it. As this article shows, circumventing DRM will never be a major issue for the technology community without the imposition of draconian laws.

More importantly, it shows that the only way the music industry can impose a pay per play model on its customers is through force. What consumers want is to own music. We’ll pay for it, but we want to use it anywhere we want, any time we want and make backup copies for our personal use.

What happened to businesses meeting customer demand instead of demanding that customers fit your business model? Give us unrestricted files in common formats and you won’t believe the amount of money you’ll make.

Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act

This is an awful bill that has been introduced by Senator Hatch of Utah. It can be read in full here. Its not a long bill but its passage would, I believe, signal the beginning of the end of the general purpose computer. I have written a letter to my senators in opposition to the bill and I urge you to do the same. The text of my letter is included below. Feel free to use it yourself and modify it to your taste.

Dear Senator :

I am writing in opposition to the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (IICA) recently introduced by Senator Hatch and others. My objection to this bill is two fold:

1)It is overly broad and would have adverse impacts on emerging technology that has substantial possibility to benefit Americans. Specifically I believe this law would outlaw general purpose computers (computers, like the one on your desk that can be programed by a knowledgeable person to do many different tasks).

Since these machines can be used to infringe on copyrights, and the manufacturers know they can be used to violate copyrights, under what theory would they not be in violation of the IICA? The same might be said of other technology like the Internet, Cable Television, recordable CD/DVD burners, etc. . In order for manufacturers to continue to sell these types of products they would have to re-engineer them to insure there was no possible way they could have any infringing uses at great cost and no benefit to the public.

2.As a general rule, additional legislation that strengthens the protections given to copyright and other intellectual property holders and allows them to barricade themselves against the tide of technological advancement is bad for America. If industries, such as the movie industry, fail because of technological advances, it should be remembered it was technological advances one hundred years ago that created those industries. How many industries, new jobs and competitive advantages for America are we strangling in the crib for the sake of these entrenched rent seekers?

I cannot imagine a different wording that would make this bill palatable and I urge you to oppose this bill and its potential disastrous economic consequences.


Write them now while there is still time to make a difference.