Feeds

Microsoft and Linux trade patent words in Europe

USification-of-EU play

Reducing security risks from open source software

Microsoft has teamed with General Electric to petition European regulators on a fundamental principle that will continue to drive a wedge between the company and open source supporters.

The duo filed an amicus brief arguing that regulators should believe in the existence of patents in software and that these patents should then be enforceable in European Union courts.

The filing is important because Microsoft is arguing for a continuation of status quo: the ability to turn ambiguities in a part of existing EU law over software patents to the favor of patent holders by bringing and winning cases. Patent holders could then argue for future enforcement based on that case law.

It's a type of creeping enforcement that open-source advocates oppose and have argued will turn Europe into the kind of costly patent battle-ground that characterizes the US.

It opens the way for expensive and opportunistic legal actions and ambulance-chasing lawsuits of claimed patent violations, which typically favor those with the lawyers and money to win.

Often, the mere threat of action is sufficient to make companies settle with litigants.

Worse, patent holders can argue they should be allowed to charge others for invoking a method in a piece of software or on a system because there are similarities with their patent. Patent holders are, therefore, locking down the market stifling innovation.

Microsoft's US legal action, quickly settled, against GPS device manufacturer TomTom illustrates this: Microsoft said TomTom had violated eight of its patents, three of them for FAT - a widely implemented technology but something Microsoft has patents on. Eventually, TomTom agreed to pay royalties to Microsoft to license the three FAT patents.

This produced two responses. Linux advocates called on engineers to rip out FAT from systems. They also posted Microsoft's FAT patents to a web site for peer review by the legal community and patent experts, to help find prior art that could potentially invalidate Microsoft's claim.

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Next page: Enlarged Board

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.