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Microsoft and LG Electronics Sign Linux Covenant 263

Posted by Zonk
from the another-company-of-the-willing dept.
rs232 wrote with a PC World link discussing another alliance between Microsoft and a vendor via Linux. The vendor this time around is electronics maker LG, and marks the fifth company to license unspecified patents relating to Linux or Linux devices from the OS giant. "'This agreement is focused only on exchange of patent rights,' said David Kaefer, general manager of IP licensing at Microsoft. 'The open-source elements of the deal do utilize a covenant model similar to the Xandros and Novell deals, but this deal is most similar to recent agreements with Samsung and Fuji Xerox.' Those deals were signed this year in April and March, respectively. Both covered general access to intellectual property contained in patent portfolios and included protection for customers using Linux-based software."
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Microsoft and LG Electronics Sign Linux Covenant

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  • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:32PM (#19427965)
    they might as well just start folding their money into paper airplanes and throw em into Redmond
    • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:38PM (#19428107)
      apparently you like everyone else isn't reading the deals properly.

      When all is said and done MSFT is PAYING Novell 140 million dollars.

      That's right people MSFT is paying protection money to Linux vendors, while telling the press the exact opposite.

      read the facts for yourself. not MSFT PR spin only.
      • by Anarke_Incarnate (733529) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:42PM (#19428181)
        To be fair, Novell PAID MS a lot of money. However, MS PAID Novell a LOT more :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fenux (193823)
        RTFA:
        In addition, LG will be making ongoing payments to Microsoft to cover Microsoft patents as they relate to Linux-based embedded devices that LG produces.
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:12PM (#19428705) Homepage

        When all is said and done MSFT is PAYING Novell 140 million dollars.

        That's right people MSFT is paying protection money to Linux vendors, while telling the press the exact opposite.

        Microsoft is basically buying rights to all of the patents owned by the companies they sign these deals with, so MS can go ahead and infringe on them at will. Pretty sweet deal when you're Microsoft. If anyone else violates the patent, those groups will have to fight against Microsoft's competition.

        They also create the perception that anyone who hasn't signed such an agreement is likely to be in violation and therefore in a sketchy legal position. They haven't proven it or anything, merely asserted it and gotten some credibility by having people sign up and appear to agree.

        Microsoft is NOT paying protection money to Linux vendors. They're making it look like those companies got something in return for giving up a whole lot more in the end. They're buying the perception that it's in the interest of everyone else to do the same, as well as access to a load of patents in others portfolios. If Microsoft is offering you cash, they're not doing it for altruistic reasons.

        Sure, the vendor got the candy bar ... but then they're going to get buggered by the dirty old man they should have stayed away from in the first place.

        Cheers
        • Along with the appearances, I beleive that M$ is trying to position themselves for some kind of hostile takeover of Linux. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but keep your eyes on these deals as they make more of them.
          • by Tony (765)
            Linux isn't a company, so no hostile takeover can occur.

            However, now that Linux has become commercialized, it's possible to take over those companies.
          • by HermMunster (972336) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @07:27PM (#19431337)
            I've been saying this over and over. What Microsoft is after is more than one thing, but primarily they are after IP. They can't legally take the IP so they are leveraging this, in a criminal monopolistic way, to actually steal the IP. Microsoft can't create the IP fast enough themselves and in enough areas that they need to cross-license. In the end they are trying to indemnify themselves against lawsuits while still holding onto every vestige of IP they can get.

            They are essentially extorting the IP from these guys while making Linux the bad guys. This is wrong and people should be pushing back at these companies for entering into such baseless agreements. They are going after some of the little guys (Xandros) in order to try to put more weight behind their current situation.

            If anyone knows much about Xandros they know these guys are nothing in the Linux industry yet it made headlines. It is simply due to the Linux vs Microsoft names.

            We need to know those IPs so we can push back. People should be putting a concerted effort into suing Microsoft for abandonment of the IP since they won't bring forward any evidence. They should be sued for slander (making false accusations that they know to be false in an attempt to have others believe those accusations to be true and to intentionally do harm.) They then need to be sued for libel for getting that material printed and not making an effort to correct it.

            I don't think there should be no closed proprietary software. I just think that Microsoft is just wrong in pushing the industry by misleading vendors and others.
        • by Chris Burke (6130)
          I'm pretty sure you had a compelling point, but I can't begin to remember it after that metaphor at the end. Ouch my brain. :P
        • Being pedantic... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @06:50PM (#19430901) Homepage
          Microsoft is basically buying rights to all of the patents owned by the companies they sign these deals with, so MS can go ahead and infringe on them at will.

          If you have paid for the right to use a patent then you cannot possibly infringe by definition.

          Microsoft is buying rights to other people's patents because it makes a huge amount of stuff and there is a significant probability that they would otherwise infringe.

          Other people want access to Microsoft because there is a significant chance that the stuff they build on top of Linux might infringe even if Linux does not.

          Microsoft has a metric crapload of patents. The chance that Linux does not infringe at all is rather small. The real issue there is not infringement but what attempts they will or can make to enforce.

          I don't think that the regulatory regime is going to be such that Microsoft can safely engage in SCO style tactics even if they wanted to.

          • Re:Being pedantic... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @09:24PM (#19432385) Homepage Journal
            I would like to remind people that if Microsoft ever tries to enforce any patents Linux violates, they will have to deal with a huge, somewhat concerted effort to invalidate as many Microsoft patents as possible. Imagine what a couple hundred dedicated and knowledgeable geeks can dig in terms of prior art. While the geeks may not be a significant nuisance for Microsoft, anyone who has cross-licensing agreements will consider those patents they paid for that are now invalid as a reason to re-negotiate the deal with MS. In this scenario, while Microsoft may not bleed to death from the patent invalidation suits, they will find themselves in a much weaker position regarding their patent licensing partners than they find themselves now.

            BTW, how much does it cost to fight a patent invalidation suit when you have some clear prior art? Is it possible to ask the USPTO (we are almost always talking US software-related patents) to re-examine a patent in light of some newly found prior art?
      • False Statement (Score:5, Insightful)

        by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:46PM (#19429317)
        That's right people MSFT is paying protection money to Linux vendors...

        Your statement is very clever, but untrue.

        Yes, microsoft is paying linux vendors. But history has shown that Microsoft has an end-game in mind that will harm everyone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Ragingguppy (464321)
        I think the Open Source community should consider Litigation against Microsoft and serving them with a cease and desist order. In most countries there are laws against slandering a person or another group of people. If Microsoft believes that there are patents being violated they should talk to the developers of that software and get them to change it. They are basically saying to the customers of the Open Source community that Linux is violating their patents but they haven't demonstrated proof to the comm
    • by The_Abortionist (930834) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:43PM (#19428193) Homepage
      After all, how many billion dollars did MS spend to make Windows XP and Vista the best operating systems this universe has ever seen? And some people thought they could just go and steal everything without having Microsoft fight back?

      235 patents.

      I say again: 235 patents.

      Considering how rock solid Windows has been since Windows 2000, and that Linux is still a little flaky, I'm guessing the kernel developers didn't have access to the stability patents by Microsoft.

      Well, I'm really only surprised that LG didnt just license Windows instead and be rid of all the issues at once.
    • by seaton carew (593626) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:04PM (#19428591)
      Isn't the effect/aim of this to *prevent* LG from using Linux in any device
      once GPL3 is out?

      Question: Can Samsung/LG/etc legally use Linux in their product once
      1) They have signed one of these satanic "patent deals"
      2) GPL3 is out

      If not, have Microsoft have effectively cornered the entire embedded systems
      market? Maybe they finally figured out that the future of computing is not
      necessarily on the desktop...

      I stall can't figure out what's in it for LG.
      • I stall can't figure out what's in it for LG.
        Millions of dollars, and possibly some other perks too.

        Someone really needs to put an end to this patent threat nonsense.
        • by Cyno (85911)
          Its easy, just boycott Microsoft. I hereby call for an official boycott, effective immediately. Microsoft is not promoting a healthy and competitive tech industry. If you care about technology and the economy then stop buying, selling or promoting Microsoft products. Instead recommend alternatives from ethical competitors.

          Linux is an obvious choice.
          But so is BSD, Solaris, HPUX, AIX, OSX, and anything not affiliated, partnered or influenced by Microsoft.

          When monopolies choose to declare war on their cust
      • Question: Can Samsung/LG/etc legally use Linux in their product once
        1) They have signed one of these satanic "patent deals"
        2) GPL3 is out

        We haven't seen the wording of the deal, so we can't say. Perhaps the agreement is so vague that it covers nothing that can be pinned down - like the Novell deal? Such deals appear to be (to me) just words, with no legal effect (if they wanted to protect actual products, they would name them... not too hard, is it?).

        My personal take on all these deals is that Micro

    • No more LG products for me. No recommendations toward their products. Recommendations are now against them when people come into my store. Same for Xandros. That company is now on the black list for all Linux products, demos, suggestions, and negative comments only on web postings. Believe me I have a great memory for the bad stuff that these companies do.
  • Be prepared to see more and more of this sort of thing.
    Embrace, extend and extinguish [wikipedia.org]

    When will the USDOJ step in and put a stop to this? Probably never.
    Goodbye GNU/Linux. I loved you, while you lasted.
    • by ronadams (987516) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:36PM (#19428059) Homepage
      You're probably just being your namesake, pair-a-noyd. By the way, I just noticed a new package is available in my stable-supported channel: ms-bsod-import. I wonder what that means?
    • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      Why would the DOJ be interested in Microsoft licensing its patents?
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:24PM (#19428913) Homepage

        Why would the DOJ be interested in Microsoft licensing its patents?

        Anti-trust.

        MS is pressuring people to sign these agreements under the veil that they could get sued by Microsoft -- even though none of their claims have been released or validated.

        Snidely imply that Linux violates your patents, get people to sign up and cross license their patents with you, then use that as further pressure to get other people to sign up for licensing agreements. These companies didn't go to MS and say "hey, we'd like to do that" -- I bet thy got told that if they *didn't*, then they could be subject to legal action.

        Illegally using your market dominance to unfairly compete -- too bad the USDOJ lost their balls to actually do anything. Notice, they still haven't complied with the EUs requirements.

        Basically, they're just thumbing their nose at people who are pointing out what they are doing is supposed to be illegal.

        Cheers
        • The US government has to follow the law with respect to anti-trust. That doesn't mean that everything a monopolist company does that competitors (or FOSS advocates) don't like is automatically illegal. It isn't the "pressure" of being sued that is driving companies to sign these agreements, it's cold, hard cash. You know, that thing that the most Linux vendors find hard to come by since their "product" can be downloaded for free.
    • by Compholio (770966) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:43PM (#19428205)

      Embrace, extend and extinguish
      Don't worry, most of our community doesn't embrace back. It's kinda like the girls we slashdotters chase after - no matter how hard we try they're NEVER going to embrace us. Sure, we might get mixed signals from a couple but it's nothing serious.
  • Help! I'm confused (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:36PM (#19428073) Homepage
    Why do I keep seeing headlines about companies signing patent deals with a company who said that Linux infringes on exactly 225 of their patents, but doesn't know which ones? Why are companies signing patent deals with a company to protect them from patents without knowing what they are? This is sounding like SCO -vs- IBM 2.0, but even more bizarre. What the heck is going on?
    • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:44PM (#19428215)
      go read the deals themselves. Ignore the headlines and read the friggin deals.

      Novel pays MSFT $100 odd million. MSFT pays novel $240 million.

      Novell nets $140 million dollars, and MSFT literally spews FUD, when MSFT did the paying.

      Xandros and LG are just cashing in on the deal. Not for Linux's sake but for free money from MSFT.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It works like this:

      "Hi! I'm from Microsoft!"

      "Oh, hello there!"

      "Would you like some money?"

      "Geee, sure!"

      "Fine, just sign right here."
    • This is just business as usual with patents - big companies sign cross licensing / "non-aggression treaties" with each other so that they can bomb, err, sue smaller companies without the big companies feeling threatened. This is only interesting because it may include some specific wording that will run afoul of GPLv3.

  • First they came... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Howitzer86 (964585) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:39PM (#19428123)
    When Microsoft came for Novel,
    I remained silent;
    I did not use OpenSUSE.

    When they locked Xandros into a deal,
    I remained silent;
    I did not use their software either.

    When they came for LG Electronics,
    I did not speak out;
    As I did not think it meant anything.

    And finally when the suits came for Ubuntu,
    there was no one left to speak out.




    Embrace, Extend, Destroy.
    • Thank you! At least there's someone with some damn sense around here.

      Don't you people get it? Microsoft is trying to destroy Linux as a viable platform for corporate use.

      Hello? Linus? You need to sue Microsoft for slander of title.
      • Destroy it for Corp use? You might be onto something but I have a different take.

        Corporations that are using Linux are generally already using vendor supplied OSes such as RHEL. I suspect that MS is more concerned about Linux in the consumer market right now than the Enterprise and here is why. Vista is not an upgrade option for many of the PCs that are still quite new, and the anti-piracy measures in Vista are sincere enough that casual copying won't happen either. This leaves Joe Six-Pack (free as in
    • by non (130182)
      to whom do would you speak, LG? they made their decision, based on strategic business values in the face of the threat of legal action on the part of microsoft. you can bet the covenant they signed contains an NDA concerning the patents involved; this is what microsoft wants, to intimidate by threat.
    • And finally when the suits came for Ubuntu, there was no one left to speak out.

      These corporate deals have no force of legal precedence, so they are irrelevant w.r.t. Linux being defended in any potential court cases. It's more about Microsoft paying for advertising and corporations paying for blue-sky warm fuzzies.

    • But then again, I might be biased. ;->

      First they came for CP/M.

      But I didn't speak up,

      Because I didn't care about an operating system.

      Then they came for WordPerfect.

      But I didn't speak up,

      Because their word processor was supposed to be so easy.

      Then they came for Lotus 1-2-3.

      But I didn't speak up,

      Because their spreadsheet promised to be compatible.

      Then they came for Netscape.

      But I didn't speak up,

      Because they gave me their web browser for free.

      Then they came for the heart of our network.

      But I didn't speak u
  • What a deal (Score:2, Redundant)

    by tsa (15680)
    From TFA: As part of the deal, Microsoft will have access to LG patents that cover computer architecture utilized in game consoles and other products and will license other LG patents that are owned by system integrator MicroConnect Group, which is based in Manchester, England.

    So Microsoft 'owns' LG now, and what does LG get? A lot of hot air, it seems to me.
    • Re:What a deal (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mrsmiggs (1013037) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @03:51PM (#19428343)
      It's a cross patent protection deal, just like the same deal Apple has with Microsoft. It is in no way as significant as the Novell or Xandros deals. If LG didn't ship Linux products this wouldn't be news but would still have the exact same affect on the consumer: zero.

      Both companies are simply saying we could sue each other but we won't.

  • That it's patents are worth something when it has to PAY everyone to license them ? Isn't the point to COLLECT money for your patents ? I know they have a long term plan and more money than god, but I don't believe this will pay off in the future. I think by the time this deal, and the others like it even start to recoup M$'s investment, there will be some form of patent reform, that will make these deals useless.
  • One quick point... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TihSon (1065170) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:00PM (#19428531) Homepage

    Before I get my qwerty in a knot over this, am I not correct in pointing out these covenants and agreements apply only to companies who deal with the U.S.A., while doing business in said state?

    Last time I checked, I live elsewhere, my current distro is E.U. based, and my probable future distro is based in the Isle of Man, so why should I care about Americans shooting themselves in the foot?

  • These agreements give Microsoft a little legal clout in the short term, but if they mean that LG and other companies feel safe using Linux now, that's a big problem for Microsoft: even if Microsoft actually had valid patents that impact Linux, they run out in an average of a decade, and any Windows customer they have lost to Linux by then is a problem for them.

    In fact, these agreements are so obviously bad for Microsoft that I really wonder when the other shoe will drop.
    • by andydread (758754)

      I have tried very hard to see some good in this and I believe you're right.

      I think also the disgust that these companies may feel after having to cough-up to Microsoft's shake-down shenanigans will be the main driver in them accelerating their migration away from MS products. This will backfire in MS face in the future for sure. It is an act of desparation on the part of Mr Steve Balmer. This guy is vicious and cut-throat. The nightmare for Mr. Balmer Is being caught between a group of angry Tux penguin

    • Or they view linux as expensive as its no longer free.

      How do you know they did not pay MS? If so then perhaps MS windowsCE might appear cheaper. This is microsofts plan all along.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:03PM (#19428573) Homepage
    Microsoft is basically signing reciprocal agreements with all of these companies saying that MS won't sue them for patent violation and vice versa.

    Is this basically giving Microsoft free access to everyone else's patent portfolio? It's not like they've specifically enumerated which patents are at issue here. So if these companies are signing something which says "I promise never to sue MS for patent infringement", and furthering the belief that open source must be in violation, aren't MS getting a tremendous advantage and leverage over the rest of the industry?

    Man I wish the USDOJ hadn't dropped the ball on anti-trust proceedings.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 1gig (102295)
      You hit the nail on the head. MS is really after the cross patent part of these deals. They are getting tired of being sued for patent violations them selfs. So the best protection is to cross license with everyone and there brother. Once they protect them selfs then we need to watch out as they have protected them selfs from retaliation if they decide to go after Linux in a big way. True we have a few companies on our side but still if they can limit the number of companies that can file in retaliation whe
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looks to me that what MS is doing here is borderline illegal.
  • by tji (74570) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:12PM (#19428703)
    Except this time they're doing it directly, rather than through their shill:

    http://lwn.net/Articles/73592/ [lwn.net]

  • The OS Wars (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2007 @04:25PM (#19428943)
    Linspire: Oh, they're coming! They're coming! Just like last time!

    Debian: We've got to wait it out for reinforments.

    Linspire: They killed Private Xandros and Assimilated General SUSE! We've next!

    BOOOOOOOOM!

    Debian: LG Electronics!

    Linspire: They're gone...

    Red Hat: (removes his hat)

    Ubuntu: (plays a funeral tune on his bugle)
  • Mark Twain loved good farce, and he would love the charade that is Microsoft's patent claims. For those of you who might have not read Huckleberry Finn, or have forgotten Mark Twain's farcical "Royal Nonesuch" skit, here is the wikipedia summary:

    "Royal Nonesuch" is a song from the 1974 musical film, Huckleberry Finn based on the book by Mark Twain. Like the song Royalty!, this song is also sung by Harvey Korman as "The King" (of France) and David Wayne as The Duke (of Bilgwater). Performing this song is th

  • Well, many people wondered how you could make money off OSS, here is your example.
    • by Kythe (4779)
      Who says you can't make money off of Linux?

      The great thing is, you don't actually have to sell someone anything. They'll just hand you money. One of the greatest swindles in history.
  • MS is paying these companies money so that MS wont sue them for patent infringment? WTF?????? Either someone has lost it big time in Redmond or MS is actually scrambling so they dont get sued. Gee I wonder if Vista has some GPL'd code in it.
    • How can I get Microsoft to pay me to keep Microsoft from suing me? Microsoft doesn't sue me most every day! It seems I am missing out on an opportunity, here...
  • get the facts... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ammoQ (454616)
    What MS is really doing is covering their ass. Looking back, during the last years, MS has been paying again and again because someone claimed that MS violates their patents. While MS can afford that, it's definitely not funny to license MP3 patents from Frauenhofer and then get sued by Alcatel for the same technology. For that reason, MS is making patent swap deals to protect themselfs. (Maybe a litte FUD is good for their business, too)
    Linux is not the main topic of the game... but they need the construct
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @06:25PM (#19430599)
    My next monitor won't be LG. You see, I'm quite satisfied with the product, but this latest act excludes you from the companies I'd want to support.

    It is my money and I care who I give it to.
  • by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @06:49PM (#19430891) Journal
    I'd like to see a good analysis of why MS is doing this. That they are doing a bunch of these deals in rapid succession indicates that they've got a plan - but what is it?

    Perhaps all these deals are to give an aura of legitimacy to their patent claims, enabling them to spread FUD more effectively.

    Perhaps they want to get enough people to continue Linux support under GPLv2.

    Perhaps it's an attempt to tie Linux to some actual companies, which they can later undercut and drive out of business (which is how they've dealt with their traditional competitors until now, but which hasn't worked against open source.)

    Honestly, I haven't been able to figure out what this is about.

  • enough companies sign up with MS and then decide as a whole to apply patent rights against everyone else not a customer of one of the companies?

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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