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Red Hat Rejects Microsoft Patent Deal Overtures 201

Posted by jamie
Geekgal writes "Red Hat has slammed the door shut on any possibility of entering into a patent protection deal similar to the one Microsoft recently announced with Novell, eWeek is reporting. While Microsoft has repeatedly said it wants to work with Red Hat and would like to structure a relationship where its customers can be assured of the same thing as Novell's customers now are, Mark Webbink, Red Hat's deputy general counsel, says 'we do not believe there is a need for or basis for the type of relationship defined in the Microsoft-Novell announcement.' Interestingly enough, Microsoft also says that it has not ruled out going it alone and providing some sort of indemnification for its customers who also use Red Hat Linux." Meanwhile, Eben Moglen, the FSF general counsel, promises that GPLv3 will explicitly outlaw deals like this. (Of course everyone's on v2, so calling the Novell deal "DOA" would be premature.)
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Red Hat Rejects Microsoft Patent Deal Overtures

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  • WHY!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#16869064) Journal
    Microsoft also says that it has not ruled out going it alone and providing some sort of indemnification for its customers who also use Red Hat Linux.

    WHY!? Why on Earth would Microsoft feel the need to offer indemnification to someone's customers in the first place? Why not just, y'know, not sue them without making some big announcement? How is it possible that we've entered a time when a software company saying "We've decided NOT to sue someone" will actually create positive PR?
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#16869068)
    As Novell becomes THE Linux for companies with a Linux-Windows infrastructure, Red Hat will look back on this day as when they lost warp field containment and got stuck in Redmond tractor beam in search of revenue.

    Bet me.

  • Re:WHY!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:42AM (#16869154)
    Because Microsoft wants to turn Linux into a platform for its products -- a last ditch effort to try and marginalize FOSS. First, they sign a deal with a few prominent Linux vendors, claiming that they will indemnify only those particular distros. Then, having given all the big enterprise Linux users a reason to switch over to those distros, Microsoft starts publishing software for those distros specifically, keeping it all closed of course. Finally, after a few years, Linux has become a platform for proprietary products...and is no longer a threat to Microsoft. By ensuring that only major Linux vendors are in on it, Microsoft helps sideline other FOSS projects, killing the culture of openness and freedom and limiting choice. Notice that no overtures have been made for non-commercial distros or distros that are popular among home users: Microsoft is not threatened by them. It's about the server market, and about Microsoft's continuing inability to maintain more than a 30% market share.
  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@NoSpAm.annexia.org> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:49AM (#16869262) Homepage

    Yes, it's particularly brilliant how MS have done this FUD without even specifying any supposedly "infringed" patents. They've made sweeping statements about "owning" this that and the other (eg. "owning" ".Net") which it simply isn't possible to do, and everyone is repeating their FUD. Well done Microsoft.

    Rich.

  • by LibertineR (591918) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:51AM (#16869292)
    Microsoft if anything, is pragmatic. If they can squeeze the market down to a few Linux vendors that either play well with Windows or don't, that can leverage .NET or not, that can integrate into an Active Directory solution or not, you think they wont help market that?

    How many companies and vertical markets does Microsoft have to kill off before some of you get it?

  • Three years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overshoot (39700) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:53AM (#16869306)
    WHY!? Why on Earth would Microsoft feel the need to offer indemnification to someone's customers in the first place?
    Read the coverage of the Microvell deal -- the "promise not to sue" expires in three years.

    First, get them dependent on MS technologies such as Mono, then tell them time is up and they have to pay or get sued into oblivion.

    "Nice little enterprise IT setup you have here. Pity if a court slapped an injunction on it."

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:53AM (#16869314)
    Meanwhile, Eben Moglen, the FSF general counsel, promises that GPLv3 will explicitly outlaw deals like this.
    Up till now everybody's been saying "GPLv3 is too complex and restrictive for actual use, GPLv2 has proven its worth and we're going to stick with that".

    But I'm guessing GPLv3 just got a big boost in popularity. I wonder if the FSF is going to send Ballmer a thank-you note?
  • Way to go Red Hat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pbailey (225135) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:00AM (#16869380)
    Thank goodness these guys didn't get into bed with M$ too. There is still hope. Won't be doing any business with Novell/Suse in the future though....
  • by heroofhyr (777687) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:02AM (#16869406)
    Is there some way anyone could see what patents they've allegedly got that are being infringed? I know Dan Ravicher supposedly compiled some list which includes 20+ patents owned by Microsoft, and that because of the "engineer no looky at law breaking listy" rule in US patent legislation it isn't widely available, but is it actually available at all or do we just have to take his word for it that it exists and is accurate? If it's the latter, that seems an awful lot like those ethereal Communist lists compiled by Joseph McCarthy. Can't I just click through some MS-style EULA and promise not to use any of the information myself? It can't be a coincidence that the guy who made this list nobody is allowed to see just happens to own a company that provides "insurance" to programmers against patent infringements, can it?
  • Go FSF! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:39AM (#16869960)
    I for one will be welcoming the GPL3.

    In the mean time, though would it be possible to create a GPL 2.1? Maybe add a clause like this (taken from the CPL):


    b) Subject to the terms of this Agreement, each Contributor hereby grants Recipient a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under Licensed Patents to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import and otherwise transfer the Contribution of such Contributor, if any, in source code and object code form. This patent license shall apply to the combination of the Contribution and the Program if, at the time the Contribution is added by the Contributor, such addition of the Contribution causes such combination to be covered by the Licensed Patents. The patent license shall not apply to any other combinations which include the Contribution. No hardware per se is licensed hereunder.

    c) Recipient understands that although each Contributor grants the licenses to its Contributions set forth herein, no assurances are provided by any Contributor that the Program does not infringe the patent or other intellectual property rights of any other entity. Each Contributor disclaims any liability to Recipient for claims brought by any other entity based on infringement of intellectual property rights or otherwise. As a condition to exercising the rights and licenses granted hereunder, each Recipient hereby assumes sole responsibility to secure any other intellectual property rights needed, if any. For example, if a third party patent license is required to allow Recipient to distribute the Program, it is Recipient's responsibility to acquire that license before distributing the Program.

    ...

    If Recipient institutes patent litigation against a Contributor with respect to a patent applicable to software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit), then any patent licenses granted by that Contributor to such Recipient under this Agreement shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed. In addition, if Recipient institutes patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the Program itself (excluding combinations of the Program with other software or hardware) infringes such Recipient's patent(s), then such Recipient's rights granted under Section 2(b) shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.


    Then, the "or later" clause could be use on existing software and all new versions could hopefully be switched to the 2.1 version.
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:46AM (#16870058) Homepage
    Does anyone have a list of Microsoft patents that affect GNU/Linux?
    Like, what exactly are they providing indemnification for?
    And how many of them likely have plenty of prior art that could be used to fight in court?
    Are there any that we should specifically be worried about?

    Additionally, another thing I don't get about this is that by making this Novell deal, they seem to be indicating that they are willing to sue customers of other distros for patent infringement. But since when do CUSTOMERS get sued for patent infringement? Last I checked it was only the vendors of infringing products that could get sued for patent infringement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 16, 2006 @12:04PM (#16870324)
    Prediction: in five years time, Trusted Computing hardware will be widespread and Microsoft's networking software will be using trusted network connects. In other words, you won't be able to connect to a Microsoft machine unless you are running code that has been blessed (signed) by a Microsoft key.
  • by molnarcs (675885) <molnarcs@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#16870678) Homepage Journal
    LibertineR, you forget that RH already offers complete protection from any patent litigation to its customers. Basically, they want to force Microsoft's hands. MS doesn't want to sue actually, with the EU decision hanging above their heads, and countless of patents others might have (OIN, SUN, even RH), especially in the server space.

    The Novell-MS "protection" is simply worthless compared to what RH has to offer [redhat.com]. On top of that, FSF is going to release glibc/gcc/etc. under GPL v3 - which will explicitly prohibit MS-Novell deals. Which means, that in probably less than a year, Novell will be in a legal poopoo, or will remain stuck with the latest glibc that was released under GPL v2 - in other words, it will be at a technological disadvantage compared to other distroes. Actually, it is Novell whose days are numbered, not RH (especially with SUN's GPLing java, and RH owning Jboss!)

  • by twitter (104583) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @01:24PM (#16871664) Homepage Journal
    The "indemnification" only extends to M$ customers. It's kind of stupid to promise not to sue your own customers, but the threat is really aimed at companies who are about to dump their shit all together. The idea being conveyed is that M$ might forgive your cheating heart if you keep paying them. As Bruce Perens pointed out [slashdot.org], M$ is effectively selling Linux licenses. It might not look like a sale now, because they are offering thirty pieces of silver to a select few, but the deal is to recognize M$'s bogus patents. Once that recognition is granted, M$ will attempt to collect licensing fees from free software vendors.

    Red hat is right to reject such a deal. If M$ pulls it off, it will represent the largest theft of IP ever. In the last round of theft, the non free companies closed off software that was government funded. In this theft they lay claim to anything and everything of value anyone ever writes. Now that's evil.

  • Novell in a corner? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by greylion3 (555507) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @01:51PM (#16872130) Homepage
    Just a thought here; if the rest of the Linux world moves on to GPLv3, does that prevent Novell from updating SuSE?
    Has Novell effectively run itself into a corner with the MS-deal?
  • Re:Good for them (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 10scjed (695280) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:14PM (#16872484) Homepage
    1) Boycott Novell [boycottnovell.com]

    2) Nice, Redhat!

  • by molnarcs (675885) <molnarcs@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:33PM (#16872784) Homepage Journal
    You are recirculating the same argument you had yesterday. I have already answered your question, remember?

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=206274&cid=168 23028 [slashdot.org]

    In the case of SUN-MS, the deal covered software developed by SUN & MS. In the case of Novell-MS, the deal covers software developed be MS and distributed by Novell. But I guess you don't really want to have an answer to your question - you simply want to repeat the same statements over and over again, that SUN made the same deal like Novell with MS, even if that assumption is patently (excuse me) false.

  • Re:WHY!? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:46PM (#16874152) Journal
    I have been saying for some time now, IMHO, Microsoft is preparing for the day when the operating system is purely commodity, and the real money is in the apps, which need to change more than the os does, since they run on TOP. That day isn't too far away, and Linux is proving it.

    MS is hedging their bets, simple as that. If Linux DOES gain a foothold on the desktop soon, MS apps will run on it. If Linux ever became the most popular OS for servers, then workstations, then home system, then MS apps will run on it and you won't be able to blame Bill Gates for bad security any more.

    I believe MS is first and foremost concerned about profits, not ideology. If more and more computers shipped with SuSE, MS Office, plus other MS apps, they could live with it and still be profitable. They hope it doesn't happen that way, but they are preparing just in case, which is what their stockholders would expect.

    I would imagine a very small voice in Bill Gates head would love to not have to deal with the security issues that come up when you are the OS maker. All the blame, "fucking hackers", and anti-fanboys. But then he would look at his bank statement and think "oh yea, THATS why we put up with all that shit".

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