Saturday, April 21, 2007

Samsung, Microsoft - Linux

This "patent indemnity" system is turning patent monopolies into patent cartels as protection rackets. They are all so clearly anticompetitive that they should not be allowed whatsoever.

I've been part of some negotiations to sell some new applications that include GPL software to some established service providers to be deployed in their networks. They're all freaked out about "patent indemnity": how will a little company offer patent indemnity along with the apps they deliver? When the little company tells them "we abide by the GPL, so we're safe from license problems, and we wrote the new code ourselves", that's not good enough. The big companies now love to say "what if something happens to you like how Verizon is shutting down Vonage on patents, how will we cope with losing your services?" Even though Vonage has deep pockets, and there's nothing GPL about their conflict with Verizon.

Not only are the patents monopolizing innovations, and way too broadly. The entire racket has big, risk-averse companies avoiding business with the source of most innovation and economic growth: little companies. We are heading for a total freezeup of real innovation and growth. And these bogus patents, used like a weapon, are killing it.

I don't understand what the companies signing these deals are thinking.
It seems like suicide to me. You sign the deal, and MS agrees not to sue you for awhile. But eventually you have to re-sign the deal, and MS can dictate whatever terms they want... because if you don't sign the deal, you won't be able to distribute Linux anymore?

After all, MS can argue in court that your acceptance of the prior deal was basically an admission that you wouldn't have been allowed to distribute Linux without their blessing. So as soon as you sign the deal, you are forever controlled by MS (at least with regard to Linux distribution). Why would a company purposefully agree to have one of their business plans depend upon the whims of another company?

I typically don't like conspiracy theories, but it is almost as if Microsoft is creating these deals (using shady behind-the-scenes payoffs?) in order to create a climate where they can, eventually, either crush Linux through patents, or at least make money off of every Linux sale.


yogijp said...

Microsoft Freshman Course: How To Monetize Patents

Microsoft's deputy general counsel of intellectual property, Marshall Phelps, spent 28 years at IBM figuring out how to get a return on its huge patent portfolio; IBM now collects a billion a year in royalties. Microsoft hired Phelps in June 2003 and put him to work to do the same thing for Microsoft.

yogijp said...

Pirates of the bio-world

The monopoly over the viruses makes them useful as a possible weapon of bioterrorism and for research away from the public domain. Such is the reluctance to forgo the viruses that when the issue was brought up before the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organisation in May, destruction of the viruses was put off indefinitely and it was decided to review the research being done on them. The deadline set for the review was a distant 2011.

The developing countries are then being asked by the drug companies to buy vaccines made with the help of the viruses they supply freely under the WHO scheme. The prices quoted by the companies are too high for the countries. Hence Indonesia's angry reaction.

yogijp said...

yogijp said...