Enterprise Linux Log

Jun 19 2007   11:50AM GMT

No patent deal possible, says Red Hat and Ubuntu (and now Mandriva too)

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We predicted that the Linspire-Microsoft deal was no big deal at all to Linux this week over at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com with the help of analyst Gordon Haff, but today it’s official: Red Hat and Ubuntu (via Canonical Ltd.) have categorically rejected any patent compromises with the devil Microsoft.

ZDNet reports on both players:

Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s CEO, said in a blog posting on Saturday, that Canonical has declined to talk to Microsoft about any agreement that provides legal protection to Ubuntu users related to “unspecified patents”.

Red Hat said there would be no such deal. Referring to previous statements distancing itself from Microsoft, the company insisted: “Red Hat’s standpoint has not changed.”

The revelations come on the heels of several recent Novell-like deals involving Xandros, Linspire and LG Electronics. Earlier this month Xandros entered into a patent protection deal with Microsoft and then last week Linspire did the same. Worries about Microsoft momentum in the Linux space were quashed by Gordon Haff, who said these “small potatoes” were of no real concern to industry leader Red Hat.

Red Hat’s Tim Yeaton told me as much in a face-to-face meeting at the Red Hat Summit in San Diego last month, but it appears Microsoft thinks it can outmaneuver or flank his company. John Rabena, an intellectual property attorney based in the Washington, D.C., offices of Sughrue Mion, laid out the basics of what he perceived as MS’s plan in an interview our site ran in May. “The fact that they did not name specific patents does not have any real significance yet, so I would expect this could be Microsoft looking for a broad agreement across the industry,” he said. We called it “arm twisting” in our headline, but there might not be any arms left to twist.

Mandriva is also following suit, it would seem, although things aren’t official just yet:

“As far as patent protection is concerned, we are not great fans of software patents which we consider as counter productive. We also believe what we see, and until we see hard evidence from, say, SCO or Microsoft, that there are pieces of codes in our software that infringe existing patents, we will assume that any other announcement is just FUD. So we don’t believe it is necessary for us to get protection from Microsoft to do our job [...] We also believe what we see, and up to now, there has been absolutely no hard evidence from any of the FUD propagators that Linux and open source applications are in breach of any patents. So we think that, as in any democracy, people are innocent unless proven guilty and we can continue working in good faith. So we don’t believe it is necessary for us to get protection from Microsoft to do our job or to pay protection money to anyone. We plan to keep developing and distributing innovative and exciting products and making them available to the largest number in the true spirit of open source.” — Francois Bancilhon.

Mandriva was another of the smaller vendors Gordon pointed out in his analysis of this month’s string of events. With that vendor out of the picture, and with Red Hat and Ubuntu standing strong on previously made statements, could this little run of Redmond’s be over before it started?

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