26 October 2007

EU forces Microsoft to cage open source patent dogs

EU forces Microsoft to cage open source patent dogs - Business - www.itnews.com.au

"Under terms of the ruling, Microsoft will publish an irrevocable pledge not to assert any patents it may have over the interoperability information against non-commercial open source software development projects.

Commercial projects will be able to safeguard themselves against interoperability patent claims at a reduced royalty fee of 0.4 percent of revenues. Microsoft had initially demanded a 5.95 percent royalty rate.
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Okay, that's kinda sorta good. So, under the EU ruling, Microsoft agrees not to sue open source projects (in the EU, at least).

But all this hubbub was never about suing just open source projects -- it was about suing commercial sellers of open source products (at least, that's how I saw it).

In that, the EU has kind of befuddled me -- the new ruling "allows" commerical projects to "safeguard themselves against interoperability patent claims at a reduced royalty fee of 0.4 percent of revenues." Eh?

How in the hell is Microsoft going to collect this royalty if the EU doesn't recognized software patents? Like the rest of the world, the EU doesn't allow patents on software, which is considered just a set of algorithms in a computer. The US, along with Japan, is pretty much alone in the world in allowing software patents. (Remember folks -- patents are different from copyrights. The latter allows use with acknowledgment -- the former stifles innovation by disallowing use by others.)

So, what court will they prove their case in whose ruling will be valid in the EU? The Galactic Court?

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