[FSFE PR][EN] Microsoft: "Our software patents preclude interoperability"

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Thu Apr 27 20:49:11 CEST 2006

           Microsoft: "Our software patents preclude interoperability"

Throughout the last two days in European Court, Microsoft tried to
explain to the European Court and Commission its "Blue Bubble Theorem"
about Active Directory Services (ADS) being surrounded by a Blue
Bubble within which interoperability was impossible.

Carlo Piana, Free Software Foundation Europe's lawyer on the case
explains: "The interventions made perfectly clear that the Blue Bubble
only existed in the lawyers' pleadings. Meanwhile, Microsoft left no
doubt as to the legal nature of that Bubble: a conglomerate of 46
patents that it claims it holds on ADS, whose main effect is to
prevent interoperability and, eventually, competition."

So Microsoft maintains that without licenses to these software
patents, which they would strongly object to and essentially referred
to as "expropriation", forcing the interoperability information to be
released might turn out to be irrelevant: Future competitors might
find themselves involved in costly software patent litigation rather

"This proves effectively how software patents are fundamentally
opposed to competiton, and thus harm economy and society. In the
European fight about software patents, the proponents tried to make
the claim software patents were about innovation. Today Microsoft once
more demonstrated how they are indeed helping build and maintain
illegal monopolies", Georg Greve, president of Free Software
Foundation Europe (FSFE) said today and continued: "It reminded me of
a 1991 quote of Bill Gates that summarises software patents rather
effectively [1]:

       'If people had understood how patents would be granted when
        most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents,
        the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The
        solution ... is patent exchanges ... and patenting as much as
        we can... A future start-up with no patents of its own will be
        forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That
        price might be high: Established companies have an interest in
        excluding future competitors.'"

FSFE referred to that quote in a feature article [2] earlier this
week. Greve concludes: "Software patents are limited mini-monopolies
on ideas that should allow to share ideas for the inspiration and
benefit for society. In software they have the opposite effect and
build mega-monopolies."

 [1] http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/001447.shtml
 [2] http://www.fsfeurope.org/projects/ms-vs-eu/article-20060421.it.html

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

 The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a charitable
 non-governmental organisation dedicated to all aspects of Free
 Software in Europe. Access to software determines who may participate
 in a digital society. Therefore the freedoms to use, copy, modify and
 redistribute software - as described in the Free Software definition
 - allow equal participation in the information age.  Creating
 awareness of these issues, securing Free Software politically and
 legally, and giving people freedom by supporting development of Free
 Software are central issues of the FSF Europe, which was founded in
 2001 as the European sister organisation of the Free Software
 Foundation in the United States.


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