Microsoft Takes Sender I.D.’s Case to the FTC Authentication Summit

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Despite the miserable failure suffered by Microsoft’s efforts to win support for their Sender I.D. email authentication system, with such august institutions the Apache project, the Debian project, and even the IETF’s authentication working group all roundly rejecting Sender I.D. on technical as well as legal and moral grounds, and following AOL’s reversal of their rejection of Sender I.D., Microsoft has renewed their bid for email authentication domination.

Speaking at the Federal Trade Commission’s Email Authentication Summit, Microsoft’s David Kaefer, with their patent licensing office, claimed that the open source sector, of which Apache and Debian are part, were “ignoring ‘commercial realities’ that require his employer to retain substantial control over its patents.” [Translation: “The commercial reality is that we want to own the space and reap all the profit from that ownership.”]

Kaefer added that “Intellectual property is not just an inconvenience that can be ignored. We’re starting to see patent issues and open-source issues coming together…There are commercial realities that come along with that.”

Countered Apache Software Foundation Vice-President Daniel Quinlan, “Key Internet standards currently are freely available, no patent licensing from Microsoft. We want to make sure it stays that way for e-mail and other important parts of the Internet.” The Apache and Debian projects’ rejection of Sender I.D. was predicated in large part on the incompatibility of the Sender I.D. license, and pending patent applications, with the way that Internet infrastructure software is typically developed and distributed. Enormous chunks of the Internet infrastructure are built on and require the free sharing and development of open source and open standards network services software. Microsoft’s Sender I.D. licensing scheme, as well as their patent applications for Sender I.D., do not support the free flow of development, improvement, and distribution and redistribution of email handling packages which would need to incorporate Sender I.D. into their algorithms.

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