Commission is about to enter legal house-to-house fighting!"
"The grammar of human language, the railway track width and the radio
frequency of the telephony system have something in common", Georg
Greve, president of Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) says:
"These conventions are supposed to make co-operation and interaction
between human beings and technical equipment possible. Conventions
can never be 'inventions'!"
In software, this does not seem to be so obvious to everyone: The
European Commission published a press release yesterday regarding
new proposals from Microsoft in the pending antitrust suit in which
FSF Europe is participating as a third party, also representing the
According to this release, Microsoft wants to ban software developers
from publishing Free Software on the basis of the interface
information requested. This information is needed for Windows and
GNU/Linux-based computers to interoperate in a company network.
"The proposal specifically precludes the information from being used
in a Free Software implementation, such as the Samba workgroup server
software. As Samba is the only remaining major competitor of Microsoft
in this market, the Microsoft proposal translates to: Of course we
will give you the specifications - unless you happen to be a serious
competitor of ours, that is," explains Greve. "The European Court
decided in December 2004 that Microsoft is to publish this information
immediately. This proposal, if accepted, will effectively revert the
court decision for the most serious competitor of Microsoft in this
Regarding publication of the specifications, the commission concludes
"This should be possible for the protocols that do not embody
"By accepting the notion that some protocols may be considered
innovation, the European Commission opened a pandora's box of legal
house-to-house fighting: Microsoft will declare all the protocols
as innovative and will defend them for as long as they can. Its
would-be competitors and the Commission on the other hand will never
be able to compete with Microsoft's army of several hundreds
lawyers", Greve explains in a press release of FSFE.
He concludes: "We therefore recommend to not be misled by the incorrect
notion of applying the label of inventions to mere conventions -- and
decide about the new fine. It is very clear to us that Microsoft is
trying to drag its feet as long as they can. This way they are abusing
the good will of Ms. Kroes at the expense of European citizens and the
"We are keeping our engagement to ensure our best support to the
Commission in this litigation, even under these circumstances and
without any real achievement on the implementation of the measures.
However, I am still confident that our views will prevail, as I have
been personally reassured that the Commission takes our position in very
high regard" closes Carlo Piana, who is representing the FSFE towards
the European Court.