I see from a CNET article that, one by one, Linux distribution
companies are coming out publicly to clarify they have no interest in
"licensing" Microsoft's undisclosed (and likely invalid) software patents.
Some clarity on the companies that have signed software patent deals:
Novell: I suspect they didn't realize what they were getting into, and
can be forgiven. The GPLv3 specifically grandfathers this deal,
indicating that the FSF and others agree that Novell can be forgiven.
There are interesting possibilities that a mistake by Microsoft in not
having an expiry date for the SuSE certificates that Micorosft may be
seen as distributing GPLv3 covered code and thus unable to enforce
patents expressed in covered code.
Lindows / Xandros: Nothing firm, but I don't get the impression that
these companies plan to be in the Linux/FLOSS distribution business in
the long-term anyway. Both seem focused on other applications. In the
case of Lindows they have moved their "distribution" to largely being a
minor rebranding of Ubuntu, and could drop that at any time to focus on
Click-n-Run based business. Search for "Xandros Management Tools" for
what appears to be their multi-platform focus :
LG Electronics: This is a hardware manufacturer, and not a FLOSS or
Linux company, so doesn't need to be listed except for the fact that
they get mentioned in the media as if this were a "Linux" deal. For
them treating software patents as similar to hardware patents makes
sense as they aren't in the software business, and the ways in which
software and hardware are different doesn't really affect them (all
their products have a non-zero marginal cost given they are tangible in
nature). Chances are many of the undisclosed patents involved in this
deal are perfectly legitimate hardware patents.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant:
Please help us tell the Canadian Parliament to protect our property
rights as owners of Information Technology. Sign the petition!
"The government, lobbied by legacy copyright holders and hardware
manufacturers, can pry my camcorder, computer, home theatre, or
portable media player from my cold dead hands!"
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