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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  2. <html newsdate="2018-10-23">
  3. <head>
  4. <title>
  5. Free Software changing Microsoft's patent strategy
  6. </title>
  7. </head>
  8. <body>
  9. <h1>Free Software changing Microsoft's patent strategy</h1>
  10. <p newsteaser ="yes">In October Microsoft took a big step concerning its
  11. software patents by joining the <a href="">LOT
  12. Network</a> (LOT stands for "License on Transfer") and the <a
  13. href="">Open Invention Network
  14. (OIN)</a>. This is a clear sign of progress on the long road to handing
  15. control of technology to the people, and the FSFE encourages Microsoft
  16. to take additional steps in this direction.</p>
  17. <p>The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) works towards a world
  18. where software does what software users want it to do, and believes that
  19. everybody should be able to participate in the development and
  20. distribution of software, if they are interested to do so. Since its
  21. foundation, the FSFE has <a href="/campaigns/swpat/swpat.html">raised
  22. awareness about the dangers of software patents</a>, which among other
  23. things add legal and financial risks to commercial Free Software
  24. software development. In short, software patents are harming users,
  25. developers, and society at large.</p>
  26. <p>Since the 2000s, Microsoft has used software patents to slow down
  27. Free Software adoption in businesses and public administration by
  28. claiming patent infringement of important Free Software components and
  29. taking billions of dollars from Free Software re-distributors, including
  30. companies selling phones with Android systems.</p>
  31. <p>However, in recent years Microsoft has published non-core software
  32. under Free Software licenses, purchased Github (a platform used a lot
  33. for Free Software development), and communicated more positively about
  34. Free Software. Now, Microsoft joins LOT and the OIN, two organisations
  35. that work to solve the problems created by software patents.</p>
  36. <p><a href="">LOT strives</a> to
  37. protect members against so-called "non-practicing entities", which are
  38. companies that operate by extracting money from others through patents
  39. that they hold, despite not developing products or services of their own
  40. based on these patents. Non-practicing entities are not interested in
  41. any cross-licensing of patents.</p>
  42. <p>The OIN works to protect a defined set of Free Software technologies
  43. from patent litigation. More than 2.600 members of the OIN have signed a
  44. non-aggression agreement that covers a defined list of Free Software
  45. packages called the <a
  46. href="">"Linux
  47. system definition"</a>. In a nutshell, this means that under the "Linux
  48. system definition" all members of the OIN have a license for the patents
  49. of all the others members. However, any member, including Microsoft, can
  50. withdraw from the OIN agreement within 30 days.</p>
  51. <p>It must be emphasized that joining LOT and the OIN does not
  52. automatically solve the general problem of software patents, nor some
  53. specific patent threats. Indeed, Microsoft has neither dismantled nor
  54. freely licensed its entire patent portfolio, and would therefore still
  55. be able to sue companies and projects not covered by LOT's and the OIN's
  56. agreements.</p>
  57. <p>The FSFE nevertheless welcomes Microsoft's steps, and encourages them
  58. to continue in this direction. We join our sister organisation, the Free
  59. Software Foundation (FSF), in <a
  60. href="">their
  61. statement</a> that Microsoft should:</p>
  62. <ul>
  63. <li>"make a clear, unambiguous statement that it has ceased all patent
  64. infringement claims on the use of Linux in Android";</li>
  65. <li>"work within the OIN to expand the definition of what it calls the
  66. "Linux System" so that the list of packages protected from patents
  67. actually includes everything found in a GNU/Linux system"; and</li>
  68. <li>"use the past patent royalties extorted from Free Software to fund
  69. the effective abolition of all patents covering ideas in software".</li>
  70. </ul>
  71. <p>The FSFE will continue to support companies in their efforts to use
  72. and develop more Free Software, and to end the problem of software
  73. patents.</p>
  74. <p><blockquote>"The change of Microsoft's approach shows how crucial
  75. persistence and patience are on the long road to software freedom. For
  76. decades, thousands of Free Software contributors have explained the
  77. advantages of software freedom to individual users and developers,
  78. companies, and the public sector. Over time, this created more and more
  79. demand for Free Software, a demand which companies wanting to stay
  80. relevant in the future cannot ignore. To achieve the next steps, users
  81. should continue to demand Free Software, and developers should use their
  82. power to demand from potential employees that they show a strong
  83. interest to work with Free Software", says Matthias Kirschner, President
  84. of the FSFE.</blockquote></p>
  85. </body>
  86. <tags>
  87. <tag>front-page</tag>
  88. <tag content="Patents">patents</tag>
  89. </tags>
  90. </html>