[ubuntu-uk] Linspire and MS deal

Mark Harrison Mark at yourpropertyexpert.com
Thu Jun 14 15:42:52 BST 2007

Michael wrote:
> I only ask because according to LinuxDesktop.com's account of the patent 
> deal [http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS9642338710.html], or at least 
> the earlier draft pasted up on Ubuntu Forums, there's an EULA involved:
> "According to sources, customers of Linspire's Linspire Linux 
> distribution who wish to take advantage of the newly licensed Microsoft 
> technologies for VoIP, multimedia, and TrueType fonts will be required 
> to signify their acceptance of a Microsoft patent license, much as when 
> users install Adobe's PDF Reader or other proprietary software on Linux. 
> Presumably, the patent license will also contain language that offers 
> Lindows users protection against possible infringement of Microsoft 
> patents by Linux."
> [http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=2842006]
It's worth remembering in all this that Canonical has some huge 
advantages in NOT being based in the US.

There are three massive differences between Patent law in the US and 
Patent law in Europe. One of them is that there are a whole bunch of 
things (software mainly) that ARE patentable in the US, but cannot be 
patented in Europe.

I do think that the US is shooting itself in the foot on its attitude to 
Intellectual Property. While its legal regime helps a few large 
companies, it seriously hinders many time that number of smaller ones - 
and most (90%+) economic growth and new job creation in the last 10 
years has come from small businesses, not big ones over there.



Oh, and the other two big differences:

- In Europe ANY disclosure of the invention other than under NDA counts 
as prior art and invalidates any subsequent patent application. In the 
US, an inventor may disclose the invention, and then has a year's grace 
period in which they may make a patent application without their 
disclosure (or anything derivative) counting as prior art. (To be fair, 
Europe does have a free "initial filing" scheme that sort of replicates 
this, but the basic deal is you HAVE to talk to the patent office first.)

- In the US, only registered Patent Attorneys may file applications. Net 
result, typical patent filing costs including legal fees - $10,000 
minimum, $100,000 typical. In the UK (and, I believe, in most other 
countries in Europe) anyone may file a patent. Patent agents can give 
advice and improve on the legalese, but anyone may send in a 1/77 to the 
Patent office and establish an initial filing date.

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