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Legal: Marshall Phelps of MS on the Business of Patents
Posted Aug 03, 2004 - 05:48 AM
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From the Florida Swampland dept.: "Marshall Phelps tries to dispel the notion that Microsoft is preparing a patent assault on open-source software. He notes that at IBM he never initiated a single lawsuit and says, 'Iím not running a litigation shop, Iím running a licensing shop.Ē He adds he took the job only when Gates promised him he wanted to change the way Microsoft 'interfaced' with the technology world and argues that licensing 'is inherently pro-competitive.' But when asked if Microsoft would license its technology to rivals in the open-source community, Phelps says that 'somebody who is taking software pursuant to the GPL cannot take a license Ö Section 7 [of the GPL] is its own world.'

Open-source supporters like Ravicher say that Microsoft misunderstands the GPL, and that it accommodates some creative ways to compensate big companies for using their intellectual property. Microsoft employees like Phelps claim the open-source folks misunderstand their affable intentions when it comes to patents. Such discord is often the precursor to future legal imbroglios. As history amply shows, when it comes to wielding something as valuable and dangerous as patents, itís hard to play nice.'"

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