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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 deals, however.

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.

Source: Microsoft.

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