Microsoft prohibits GPLed work via licensing of CIFS standards

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Sat Apr 6 20:48:54 UTC 2002

El Sat, Apr 06, 2002 at 09:20:39PM +0100, Martin Keegan deia:
> On Sat, 6 Apr 2002, Jeroen Dekkers wrote:
> > Why do we care about those patents at all? I agree that the USA is an
> It's not the patents (the Ethernet patents have been great for free
> software), it's the licensing. Intellectual Property law (copyrights,

I disagree. The problem is the patents grant he owner the right to 
impose any license (yes, yes, there is other law too, so you can't 
ask the licensee for his first son). 

Any patent is a deal between society and the patentee. Society is supposed 
to gain an invention that it wouldn't know otherwise, and the patenty 
gets the privilege to take away the freedom of members of the society to 
commercialise the invention (for 20 years maximum). 

I don' know about mechanics, chemicals, etc. And I don't know about 
electronics, which is, I guess, what the Ethernet patent is about. 
Possibly in those fields patents are a good deal as you say. I don't
work in that, so I don't know.

But for software, patents 
are a bad deal for society. It gains a discovery it would have got anyway 
sooner or later (probably as soon as it needs it, because you don't have 
to build an expensive laboratory to innovate in software), and pays with freedom 
to commercialise software. Since software is information it pays with 
freedom to distribute information, (free expression, anyone?) 
and that is more than what you pay 
when letting your patent office grant a patent for a car engine. After 
all, many more people benefit from new car engines than are able to 
set up a car engine factory but can't because of the patent. 
For software, there are just as many people benefiting from new 
software than there are with a computer to write it and distribute it, 
so you pay with many more people's freedoms for something you would 
have anyway. I call that a bad deal.

So the problem is software patents. Not a particular way of licensing.

> patents, etc) says Microsoft can license the patents and its copyrighted
> work as it wants to. Competition law says otherwise.

Current European law (European Patent Convention article 52) says 
you can't patent programs for computers as such. If you can't patent 
them, you can't license them. The problem is the EPO does not obey 
that law. 
> I'll tell you why we should care about this (namely the action by
> Microsoft which occasioned this thread):
> This action is an attempt to hurt Samba. Samba is critical to the

I agree, samba is critical. But I think we should cure the disease, 
not the symptoms. 

Sorry, I'm preaching to the choir, ain't I?. Your "It's not the patents"
is what got me started. 

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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