Feeds

Free software lawyers warn over Microsoft patent pledge

Developers told to leave well alone

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has warned that promises made by Microsoft over its Office Open XML (OOXML) document formats could leave open source software developers at risk of legal action.

The SFLC found a number of shortcomings in Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (OSP).

The OSP document was first written by the software giant in 2006 to put a lid on developers' concerns that they could violate patents that relate to OOXML, the file format Microsoft is currently pushing to get approved with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

But the SFLC said that the OSP lacks watertight promise for developers and said: "the OSP provides no assurance to GPL developers and that it is unsafe to rely upon the OSP for any free software implementation, whether under the GPL(General Public License) or another free software license.".

The OSP small print reveals limits to Microsoft’s specifications with patent protections that only apply to current versions, but provides no provision for future versions, which weakens the firm’s claim that its promise was "irrevocable", said the SFLC.

The team also cautioned that software developers who write Microsoft-derived code could be limited in how that code, such as the OOXML specification, is used.

“The OSP doesn’t permit free software implementation: it permits implementation under free software licenses so long as the resulting code isn’t used freely,” said the SFLC.

Unsurprisingly, the team recommends against OOXML being adopted by the ISO as an international standard.

Meanwhile, ISO members from 33 countries have until 29 March to change their minds and give Microsoft's OOXML their blessing.

Last autumn the majority voted no to adopting it as an international standard file format. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
HTML5 vs native: Harry Coder and the mudblood mobile app princes
Developers just want their ideas to generate money
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.