Feeds

MS to Europe: opening source would break patent laws

The international incident as antitrust weapon

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

Could this be a gauntlet? In its response to the European Commission's accusations of anti-competitive behaviour, Microsoft has claimed that the Commission forcing it to license its source code would break international patent laws. And it has noted: "The proceedings before the Commission are inevitably affected by the settlement that Microsoft has entered into with the US Department of Justice."

These little snippets from the 102 page document, which was leaked to Bloomberg yesterday, might just be read as Microsoft drawing a line in the sand. The Commission does indeed have the power to force Microsoft to license its source code, but if it did so it would, in Microsoft's view, be breaking international law, and setting itself up for a tussle with the US authorities and the World Trade Organisation. It almost sounds like a threat, and that might not be wise at this juncture. The reference to the DoJ deal reinforces this - if the penalties imposed by the Commission are seriously tougher than those negotiated in the US, the sometimes precarious detente between European and US antitrust authorities could collapse. Do you feel lucky, Mario?

Microsoft does however seem to be over-egging the pudding by going on about "compulsory licensing," which is what it claims Sun and IBM have asked for. Sun's complaint, could be tackled effectively simply by allowing the company access to those parts of Microsoft's code that link client systems to servers - WABI was a long time ago, and Sun most definitely didn't ask the Commission for help in reviving it. IBM's complaint, on the other hand, is an enigma. Until Microsoft mentioned it we'd no idea that IBM had made a complaint, and frankly, we doubt it has. Big Blue skulking in the shadows in Brussels alleyways again, undoubtedly, sticking stilettos into hapless monopolists...

In the document Microsoft also defends itself against charges that it made up letters of support from its customers; this seems deliciously lame. There were 34 letters, Microsoft says that the Commission may have shown that five or six of the companies concerned didn't know the information would be used in its antitrust defence, but that at least 23 did know this. Which according to our calculations leaves at least five Microsoft doesn't know about, or thinks it hasn't got caught for yet.

The issue seems to have arisen in the first place from the sheer idiocy of the mechanism Microsoft adopted in order to obtain the letters of support. Two lawyers, one from Microsoft, were given the task of interviewing senior technology execs of the companies involved, and from these interviews they drafted letters for the companies to sign. The notion of just asking your supporters to write letters, and not getting yourself involved in a process whereby the letters would inevitably be massaged, seems to have been entirely alien to Microsoft. Which is pretty much par for the course. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.