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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- InformationWeek: "Microsoft Strikes Linux

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- InformationWeek: "Microsoft Strikes Linux Patent Deal With LG Electronics"
Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2007 16:44:58 +0200

Hey GNUtian ciaran, I'd greatly appreciate your comments (other GNUtians
are welcomed to comment as well). TIA.

Microsoft Strikes Linux Patent Deal With LG Electronics 

Under a deal with LG Electronics, Microsoft will forgo any Linux-related
patent claims and in return gain access to certain intellectual property
produced by LG. 

By Paul McDougall 
Jun 7, 2007 10:00 AM 

In its second such agreement this week, Microsoft has struck a deal
under which it will extend amnesty to a company that's using what the
software maker claims is patented Microsoft intellectual property
embedded in the open source Linux computer operating system. 

Under a deal with LG Electronics, disclosed late Wednesday, Microsoft
will forgo any Linux-related patent claims against the South Korean
electronics manufacturer. In return, Microsoft will gain access to
certain intellectual property produced by LG. 

Microsoft insists that the Linux kernel infringes on 42 Microsoft
patents and that other open source software programs violate an
additional 193. LG uses Linux in a number of its consumer-electronics
products, including smartphones. 

In a statement, Jeong Hwan Lee, executive VP for intellectual property
at LG, said the intellectual property that his company is licensing to
Microsoft concerns "patents directed to computer architecture utilized
in game consoles and other products." 

The deal also gives Microsoft access to technology used by LG that's
patented by MicroConnect Group. 

Specific financial terms of the cross-licensing pact weren't disclosed,
but Microsoft said the arrangement calls for it to make "net balancing"
payments to LG. That implies that the two companies have agreed that the
technology to which Microsoft gains access is more valuable than the
Microsoft technology claimed to be part of Linux. 

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a cross-licensing agreement with
Linux distributor Xandros. That pact also includes a provision under
which Microsoft pledges not to pursue patent claims against Xandros
arising from its distribution of Linux. 

Last November, Microsoft reached a similar accord with Novell. 

The deals are controversial. The Free Software Foundation, which governs
open source software licensing, denies Microsoft's contention that Linux
and other open source programs contain Microsoft intellectual property. 

The FSF is in the midst of updating its open source license in ways
intended to make it more difficult for Microsoft to strike
patent-protection deals with Linux distributors and users. 

Among other things, the forthcoming third version of the General Public
License, expected to be released this summer, is backdated to forbid
Linux distributors from entering patent protection deals with commercial
software developers as of March 28. 

It would also force participants in prior agreements to extend patent
protection to all Linux users. The FSF is hoping the latter provision
will convince Microsoft to exit the Novell deal. 

Ironically, LG Electronics is a member of a group called the Consumer
Electronics Linux Forum. The group comprises a number of electronics
manufacturers that embed Linux into their products. On its Web site,
CELF says part of its mission is "to operate completely within the
letter and the spirit of the open source community." 

The FSF and other open source advocates are likely to question whether
LG's tie-up with Microsoft is part of that mission. 


"Moglen had remarked: 'Anything that is worth copying is worth sharing.'
He also argued: 'The more we give away, the richer we become.' "

     -- Free Software's Moglen Canvasses His Sharing Message In India

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