by Kaj Kandler
On Sunday, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general council, gave an interview to Fortune magazine, where he alleged that OpenOffice.org violates 45 Microsoft patents. The article is about the general assertion that various open source project violate 235 patents where Microsoft claims to be the inventor. However, Microsoft chooses not to name which are the patents or the alleged infringements.
The article shines a broader light on the issues with software patents and gives an informative summary about the Novell/Microsoft deal from late last year. It also exposes some of the conditions that Richard Stallmann, the most ardent defender of open source, puts on journalists in order to grant an interview.
In short Microsoft scares people about alleged patents it holds that are violated by open source projects. It even claims that it made already secret deals with some fortune 500 companies to license these patents. This tactic reminds me of the SCO claim that Linux infringes on its Unix patent portfolio. Under scrutiny of the courts and especially IBM’s ability to deal with patent claims it evaporated into nothing. We will have to see if Microsoft has more legs to stand on. In the mean time one should not be scared, such risks are everywhere.
by Kaj Kandler
Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has found the Open Document Format to be compatible with free software licensing, such as the General Public License (GPL) and the Apache License. SFLC wrote an “OpenDocument Opinion Letter” on behalf of the Apache Software Foundation and and the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The letter is signed by the SFLC’s legal council, Eben Mogley. The opinion concludes with the following findings.
This means that “Free Open Source Projects” can use the format. We can expect more OSS development teams to adopt the format and see more applications supporting it or like the Plone foundation using it in some other way. This is also another confirmation supporting the State of Massachusetts’ decision to use it for longterm storage.
- Under the relevant OASIS patent policy, all Essential Claims held by OASIS Technical Committee Obligated Members are available to all implementors of ODF on terms compatible with free and open source software licenses.
- Sunâ€™s license terms for access to its Essential Claims are fully compatible with free and open source software licensing.
- Sunâ€™s terms are compatible with contribution and licensing under the policies and license of the Apache Software Foundation.
- Sunâ€™s terms are not in conflict with Section 7 of the Free Software Foundationâ€™s GNU General Public License, and are not otherwise incompatible with the GPL.