Microsoft Strikes GPLv3 Software From Linspire Patent Deal - InformationWeek
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7/17/2007
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Microsoft Strikes GPLv3 Software From Linspire Patent Deal

Microsoft says software that's licensed under GPLv3 isn't covered by the patent protection deal it recently signed with desktop Linux distributor Linspire.

Microsoft says software that's licensed under a new version of a popular open source license isn't covered by the patent protection deal it recently signed with desktop Linux distributor Linspire.

In a posting on its Web site, Microsoft said the Linspire client software protected by the patent deal doesn't include any parts of the distribution that "comprise or include Foundry Products, Clone Products, GPLv3 Software, or Other Excluded Products."

The document was published on July 5, three weeks after Microsoft struck a deal with Linspire through which Linspire's customers are indemnified against Microsoft's patent claims against Linux users.

In the interim, the Free Software Foundation published the third version of the General Public License. Among other things, GPLv3 forbids users of the license to strike exclusive patent protection agreements with commercial software developers. It also prohibits companies that distribute software covered by GPLv3 from suing open source users.

Microsoft has since been treating GPLv3 software as though it were radioactive.

"Microsoft isn't a party to the GPLv3 license and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license," the company said in a statement released shortly after GPLv3 was published on June 29.

In addition to excluding GPLv3 software from the Linspire deal, Microsoft recently said that it wouldn't distribute any GPLv3 software under its SUSE Linux alliance with Novell, even as it maintains in public statements that the antilawsuit provisions in the license have no legal weight.

Some observers believe that by barring GPLv3 code from its patent protection and software distribution deals, the company is looking to eliminate any situations that might compromise its right to sue open source users should it choose to do so. Microsoft, without being specific, has claimed that Linux and other free software programs violate 235 of its patents.

Linspire distributes what it bills as "the world's easiest Linux desktop," based on the Ubuntu distribution.

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