Microsoft relentless in protecting its turf at all costs
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March 3, 2015
Microsoft said today it is reserving the right to sue companies making Android devices running
its Office Suite for possible Windows patent infringements. It's not the first time the Redmond
behemoth takes such an approach and it won't be the last.
The software giant has decided against signing a licence with Open Invention Network (OIN), a
group of 1,300 companies dedicated to defending Linux against patent lawsuits.
Merely signing an OIN licence could have stopped the practice of Microsoft accusing Android
and other Linux makers of infringing on its Windows patents and signing them up to IP licensing
The decision followed a meeting with OIN members in December, where the subject of Microsoft
signing an OIN licence was apparently discussed.
OIN veteran chief executive Keith Bergelt met Microsoft’s then-new chief of patent licensing and
intellectual property, Eric Andersen.
Bergelt said yesterday his meeting had been a courtesy call to discuss various differences and
that he’d also held such a meeting with Andersen’s predecessor, Horacio Gutierrez.
Proceedings were constructive, Bergelt said, but any hopes that Andersen’s appointment heralded
a shift in the giant’s shakedown of Linux device makers and software firms were dashed shortly after,
when the OIN chief followed up.
“It told me it is not prepared to go through with the process,” Bergelt said. “I don’t think it
has a good reason.”
We contacted Microsoft to find out what reasons it had for not signing an OIN licence, and if the company
might sign it in future, but a spokesperson declined to comment.
The OIN was launched in 2005 to defend Linux against attacks from claims of intellectual property
and patent infringement, then primarily from the now defunct SCO Group.
SCO had opened a $3 billion prosecution suit against IBM, claiming it had infringed on its
patents in Linux, before also opening a similar front against Novell about a year later.
OIN licensees assign relevant Linux or open-sources patents to a common pool. Licensees can use
these patents while also granting their utilization to others on a royalty free basis, without threat
of legal prosecution.
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