Feeds

Red Hat pushes Microsoft for patents statement

It's not what you do...

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

Red Hat has called on Microsoft to resist threatening developers and customers with prosecution over possible infringements of patented technologies in Linux

Mark Webbink, Red Hat’s deputy general counsel, on Wednesday called on Microsoft to make a written pledge not to threaten developers with infringement claims.

In the event of disputes, Microsoft should approach Linux distributors with complaints and avoid SCO Group’s tactic of prosecuting customers, he says.

Speaking at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California, Webbink proclaimed: “If Microsoft has IP that needs to be respected, [then] come to the companies… leave our customers out of the middle – it’s the civil thing to do.”

The presence of IP in Linux is both a murky subject and keen talking point. According to Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), also appearing at LinuxWorld after Webbink, 15,000 patent issues are “relevant” to the Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python (LAMP) stack, of which 300 are “colorable claims” relevant to Linux. A colorable claim is something that may not be legitimate but merely appears to have legitimacy.

According to Webbink, Microsoft’s goal is to ramp up its of number patent filings. He noted Microsoft’s wish to file 3,000 patents a year - compared to approximately 200 in 1994.

The problem this poses for ISVs and customers is the cost associated with fighting patent infringement actions. Simply researching each patent can cost $5,000 per patent, meaning organizations may settle in the early stages of a case to minimize their costs. “It’s not a game, it’s expensive for a company to look at a patent portfolio,” Webbink said

Worse, most software patents are invalid. Webbink quoted research that found 67 per cent of all software patents filed between 1988 and 1996 did not stand up, while one in two claims are currently thrown out rather than registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

This leads Webbink to conclude that Microsoft, and other companies also aggressively filing patents, are doing so to protect their business and restrict the competition. “Patents are about maintaining market share and preventing others competing effectively,” he said.

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
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
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
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
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.