Microsoft Claims Rights to All Internet Protocols
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In a move blatant and sweeping even for the company perceived by many to be megalomania personified, Microsoft has drafted an Internet protocol licensing agreement which includes essentially every single Internet protocol ever created, several (if not the majority) of which Microsoft has never touched, let alone helped to develop. Microsoft asserts that it is necessary to protect any intellectual property rights which they may have in these protocols, and further that “the company provides the Royalty Free Protocol License Agreement in order to satisfy its obligation with standard-setting organisations.”

Say what??


There are, count them, 130 protocols listed in the Microsoft license, including HTTP, DNS, POP3, ping, quote of the day, Bluetooth, and, yes, believe it or not, AppleTalk.

What are they playing at?

While some of the listed protocols very clearly belong to others, there are many which just sort of evolved over time, and which have no real “owner” to claim them. The state of the law is not entirely clear as to what happens when someone steps in and, if Aunty may use legal jargon, squats on intellectual property where nobody else challenges the adverse possession.

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The license, which appeared on the Microsoft website earlier this year, was brought to the attention of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) by Larry Blunk, with Merit University’s Merit Network – a non-profit network research organization. Said Mr. Blunk, “It is my concern that by merely suggesting they may hold applicable rights to these protocols, Microsoft is injecting a significant amount of unwarranted uncertainty and doubt regarding non-Microsoft implementations of these protocols. It is quite likely that an individual or organisation would be intimidated into signing the licence agreement simply due to Microsoft’s vast financial and legal resources.”

And said Microsoft, in response, “We’ve read and reviewed Mr. Blunk’s letter and are actively discussing the letter with both the IAB and Mr. Blunk to appropriately address the issues he’s raised. While we believe that this is a case of honest confusion we want to make sure that our responses and overall commitment to furthering standards development are clear.”

Honest confusion? On the part of whom? Over what?

 

Is Microsoft trying to pull a coup?

Or, as the Microsoft spokesperson asserted, are they just trying to protect any intellectual property rights which they may already have, but….of which they are so unaware that they can’t spell them out specifically?

On the other hand, who knows…perhaps Microsoft was quietly developing all these standards well before anyone else..you know..back when Al Gore was inventing the Internet.

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8 thoughts on “Microsoft Claims Rights to All Internet Protocols
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  1. This strikes me as very similar to the secured credit card predatory banking practices that were recently cited in the Wall Street Journal. Here lawyers, regardless of statutary limits, sue victims of the credit card scammers hoping that the victims do not show up in court and thus they get a summary judgement regardless of the merits of the lawsuit.

    Gates has presumably retained some council of this sort of persuasion. “Let’s draft a license for all IP pertaining to the Internet and see if it sticks or if anyone challenges us. If people sign it, then we can claim we own it an can modify these standards or otherwise challenge the standards bodies. Hmmm. Sounds like a good idea. When can we post a draft for the most gullible to sign?”

    The Internet standards bodies ought to take him to task on this one. Heck, Apple and Xerox should take him to task, as should the Dod and half of the other entities that were responsible for the IP related to the Internet. Next, Gates will claim he invented the GUI…oops he already tried that and lost that suit. Perhaps he will claim he invented the browser…oops, someone already beat him to that. How about Javascript…nope Sun got him there. Ethernet…nope, that would be Xerox. And, on and on the list goes. How gullible does Microsoft lawyers think the world is? Especially after they have been losing so many suits…Novell’s most recent to the tune of 1/2 a billion. Well, they have some $60 billion in reserves to fight off a challenge. Wonder if a few IP lawyers would take it on for a percentage of the $60B?

  2. “Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Repeating it over and over doesn’t make it so. If this is typical of your information gathering I have to assume that the rest of what is printed here is suspect as well.”

    Dear Mr. Kladel,

    Aunty’s reference to the rumour that Mr. Gore claimed to invent the Internet was a tongue-in-cheek reference to an incident in our collective cultural memory.

    Remember, a healthy sense of irony is your friend.

    Well, apparently not.

    Kissy kissy,

    Aunty

  3. Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Repeating it over and over doesn’t make it so. If this is typical of your information gathering I have to assume that the rest of what is printed here is suspect as well.

  4. When Microsoft is reduced to employing a Spokesperson who uses split infinitives,it is time to shoot it in the head

  5. The robber barons of Microsoft are continuing their present march. If it was good for the railroad owners, its good for sofware empires. Enjoy.

  6. Amazing! I suspect that page is going to be seriously adjusted fairly soon (prob. by adding HTML & ArpaNet & the Universe & everything) :)
    BTW, don’t want to be pedantic, but I somehow that “…Microsoft [is] trying to pull a coupe”, since a coupe or coupé is a type of carriage, although they *might* be trying to pull a coup!

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