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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
  2. <html newsdate="2012-02-14">
  3. <head>
  4. <title>Nortel/Rockstar, Google/Motorola deals create balance of terror on
  5. software patents</title>
  6. </head>
  7. <body>
  8. <h1>Nortel/Rockstar, Google/Motorola deals create balance of terror on
  9. software patents</h1>
  10. <p newsteaser="yes">On Monday, the US Department of Justice approved the sale of
  11. Nortel's
  12. patent portfolio to a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft. At the same
  13. time, the DOJ and the European Commission allowed Google to buy
  14. Motorola Mobility, thus giving the search company a sizable patent
  15. portfolio.</p>
  16. <p>
  17. "We appreciate that competition authorities in the US and Europe continue to
  18. take software patents seriously as a risk to competition," says Karsten
  19. Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "However, we
  20. believe that the commitments made by Google, Microsoft and Apple regarding
  21. their patent licensing policies are not sufficient to allow everyone to compete
  22. on equal terms."
  23. </p>
  24. <p>
  25. The terms of those commitments do nothing to ensure that the software patents
  26. in the portfolios in question can be implemented in Free Software.
  27. </p>
  28. <p>
  29. While Microsoft has said that it will not seek injunctions against
  30. companies using its standard-essential patents, this policy merely restates
  31. the commitments Microsoft has already made to standards organisations.
  32. Microsoft will only license its patents on so-called "RAND" terms (short
  33. for "reasonable and non-discriminatory"). These typically require the
  34. company that implements the patents to pay a licensing fee per unit.
  35. </p>
  36. <p>
  37. Despite their name, such conditions are largely incompatible with Free
  38. Software based on <a href="http://fsfe.org/activities/os/def.html">Open
  39. Standards</a>, standards which can be implemented by anyone in any business or
  40. software model. This means that Microsoft remains free to use its patents to
  41. block or harm some of its most important Free Software competitors, such as
  42. the GNU/Linux operating system and the LibreOffice productivity suite.
  43. </p>
  44. <p>
  45. "By greenlighting both the Google and Nortel transactions, the DOJ has merely
  46. created a balance of terror where patents are concerned," says Gerloff. "Small
  47. companies and individual software developers don't have the deep pockets
  48. required to play the patent litigation game. They will suffer as a result of
  49. this deal, along with the shareholders of Google, Microsoft and Apple.
  50. When elephants dance, the smaller wildlife gets crushed."
  51. </p>
  52. <p>
  53. FSFE submitted a comprehensive
  54. <a href="http://fsfe.org/campaigns/swpat/nortel.en.html">statement of
  55. concern</a> to the US Department of Justice in September 2011.
  56. </p>
  57. </body>
  58. <tags>
  59. <tag>front-page</tag>
  60. <tag>patents</tag>
  61. </tags>
  62. </html>