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Re: http://www.fsf.org/news/dont-depend-on-mono



On Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 10:05 AM, Adam Jackson<ajax redhat com> wrote:
[snip]
> So, if Frobnitz Inc. distributed Mono, and then filed suit against
> Microsoft for infringing one of Frobnitz' patents in the Microsoft C#
> implementation, they would lose the right to distribute Mono [1].
[snip]
> In other words, it's a MAD agreement.  You're not even agreeing that any

Sadly most MAD agreements are also uni-lateral disarmament agreements.
They are only really mutual when the participants are true peers and
otherwise magnify existing power imbalances between the parties.

Try this alternative scenario: Over time Frobnitz amasses a large
portfolio of patents which it places in trust to help defend its free
software business.  Frobnitz scrupulously avoids encumbered technoligy
without irrevocable free software compatible licenses, but it does
rely heavily on technology available under terms like the ones under
discussion.  Later Microsoft initiates spurious patent litigation
against Frobnitz which will ultimately fail but cost frobnitz millions
in the process (perhaps as part of an attempted takeover).  Normally
Frobnitz would use its defensive portfolio to discourage this sort of
attack, but unfortunately this option has been eliminated because any
patent litigation would result in the revocation of permission for
several pieces of technology which it is openly and publicly
practicing, depends on for compatibility, etc.

If Frobnitz doesn't think the MAD-covered patents are valid or
applicable and that it could quickly and cheaply fight them, then it
doesn't matter much, but in that case it didn't really need the MAD
grant at all. If they are valid then frobnitz would be better off if
they retained the flexibility of

So to sometimes these 'MAD' terms are just 'AD', nothing much mutual about them.

Of course, if you aren't the sort that would keep a patent stockpile
for defense, the distinction is moot. But, it's still naive to look at
that kind of 'MAD' grant as a cure-all.



-greg
[speaking for no one but himself]


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