Linux and Patent Risks
Subject:   Don't assume that you are safer using Microsoft
Date:   2004-08-11 04:42:50
From:   nzheretic
Response to: No guarantee of indemnification with proprietary software, either

Even Microsoft License 6 customers are not provided much protection by Microsoft's extended enterprise warrenty. Microsoft does not cover you for any code written by the customer or third parties, even if the infringing IP is in Microsoft's own code using Microsoft's provided API.

An example of this is Microsoft's licensing of patented technology for only itself without granting the right for end users and developers to use the same patented technology. Microsoft licensed Database/Datawarehouse technology from Timeline Inc, but unlike Oracle and other database vendors, Microsoft chose a license that did not grant Microsoft's customers the right to fully use that technology. Timeline has extended it's patent claims to cover many featured widely used by developers , both ISV and in house.

Timeline Inc has won a US
Washington Court of Appeal judgment against Microsoft

for the right to sue Microsoft's customers, and
subsequently sued Cognos. On February 13, 2004, Cognos settled at cost to Cognos totaling $1.75 million

In a lot of ways you are better with GPL licensed techology
, which effectively grants all downstream users the
right to use the patents from upstream developers under the terms of the GPL.

Software Patent are inherently bad but are also pushing an interesting trend. Pushing vendors towards adopting the GPL-like licensing as a form of simpler form of cross licensing arrangement.