This is a few days old but as many have reported, Microsoft finally conceded in the EU antitrust case that is well over 2 years old. But did Microsoft really lose? Glyn Moody thinks Microsoft won and cites the EU FAQ which says:
Can open source software developers implement patented interoperability information?
Open source software developers use various “open source” licenses to distribute their software. Some of these licenses are incompatible with the patent licenses offered by Microsoft. It is up to the commercial open source distributors to ensure that their software products do not infringe upon Microsoft’s patents. If they consider that one or more of Microsoft’s patents would apply to their software product, they can either design around these patents, challenge their validity or take a patent license from Microsoft.
The devil is in the details, clearly.
Moody links to Pieter Hintjens, Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), who says:
Let’s be clear here. Microsoft only has one real, uncompromising enemy. It’s not the EU, and not Apple (in which it has a nice stake), nor IBM (both firms actually agree on the need to turn their patents into a tool to tax the FOSS economy), nor Ebay, Amazon, and not even Google. The real enemy of Microsoft is not a company at all, it’s a license, the GPLv3.
GPLv3 is the wooden stake aimed directly at Microsoft’s vampire heart. It enables a community of software developers and users who are completely protected from the vicious monopoly practices that have destroyed so many businesses over the years. A huge market that Microsoft cannot penetrate. Zero percent penetration. Worse, this economy is rapidly becoming the world’s software factory, Linux is becoming the TCP/IP of operating systems, and it’s carrying a tidal wave of free and aggressively competitive software that makes Microsoft’s old, slow, expensive products look fat and slow, and stupid.
Even Groklaw is skeptical.
They are compelled now to let Open Source competitors have access to their interoperability information. That part of the settlement is in most respects very good for FOSS. The royalty on that is reduced to a flat fee of €10 000, which I’m sure Linus could have easily paid when he was a student and starting the Linux development. Not.
I’d call it a split decision, maybe not even that good. There is a need for greater understanding of how FOSS is developed, how the GPL, the most popular FOSS license, works and what it means in a patent context, unless folks just want to kill it off, of course. Why anyone but Microsoft would want that is a mystery to me. The EU Commission is calling it a great day for Open Source. I’m afraid I can’t agree with respects to the patent part of the settlement. But this is one day in a long struggle. It’s not the final chapter.
Everything is not what you read in the mainstream media, especially when it comes to multi-million dollar settlements between the EU and a monopolist.