Microsoft prohibits GPLed work via licensing of CIFS standards

xdrudis at xdrudis at
Sat Apr 6 19:20:28 UTC 2002

El Sat, Apr 06, 2002 at 06:40:00PM +0100, Martin Keegan deia:
> If there's a solid case, I'm well up for doing the paperwork to submit a
> formal complaint about this issue to the UK Office of Fair Trading, with
> whom I was in contact by phone yesterday. What needs to be demonstrated is
> evidence of abuse of a dominant position. 

I don't know if there is a solid case (IANAL, and IANAUKC) 
What I know is that the license only cites (not limiting itself to) two 
USA patents. First of all we shsould know whether there is an European 
or UK (in your case) patent. If they aren't the license is void of any force. 
(USA patents only apply to the USA). The problem is how do you know 
if there is any patent or not. You can never be 100% sure, I'd say, and 
then you can't go and tell your comrades: keep calm, no real threat here. 
That's the problem with patents, legal insecurity and therefore very 
effective FUD. If you find the patent, then you can file the complaint
to the UK Office for Fair Trading (or invalidate the patent on subject matter 
grounds, maybe). But this would only stop this strike. There'll be more 
and more. Microsoft can hire many lawyers and patent attorneys.   

There are some hints and todos here:

> This document linked from Advogato purports to be a combination of a
> copyright licence (as far as I can see -- and on closer inspection, 3.1
> says so) governing copying the Technical Reference document and a patent
> licence governing implementation of any system which comes under the
> claims of the patents mentioned. 

I get the same impression. The force of the copyright license is ridiculous. 
It does no harm. We don't republish the specification and that's it. 
The probem is the patent license. 

So what I tried to say is that the most effective 
way to fight this is getting rid of software patents, which are just yet illegal 
in Europe, but are about to be legalised if we don't do something to stop 
our politicians legalising them. We must also stop the EPO (and I'm told the 
UKPTO) from issuing patents that don't conform to the law.

Without software patents, those types of licenses are impossible, and nobody 
could forbid nobody to write, publish or trade in tehir own software. 
I heard that UK is the country pushing for software patents in Europe. So 
your help  trying to change that would be more useful (IMHO) than fighting 
this single license. If you want to help your country fellows in keeping 
our law system sane, you may want to read

Writing to your MEPs and Ministers would be most useful. And there is 
some care to be taken not too be carreid away by playing with words 
("we won't patent software, just methods to calculate things with 
a general computer", "we won't patent programs as such, just programs 
run on computers", and things like that) 

> In practical terms, what this is is the US government forcing Microsoft to
> disclose technical information relating to one of the essential facilities
> it controls, and Microsoft doing so in such a way as to discriminate
> against one of its principal competitors.

Microsoft can't fight this competitor in the current market. Their business 
model is broken, and they live on inertia. Their only 
recourse is to change the law so that the market is handled to them by 
our own lawmakers. That's exactly what they're doing in Europe through the BSA.

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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