IPI to the rescue of Microsoft… NOT!

Many of you will already know our good friend Mr Thomas Giovanetti of the of the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) from the WIPO reports of Karsten Gerloff ( "WIPO is not about creativity", "Free Software commies", "Lawrence Lessig is whining") and the comments of Brian Gough ("Tom G infringing BBC copyright").

As I heard today, on 28 November 2005 the European Court told the IPI to get lost with their application to become third party in the Microsoft vs European Commission antitrust case.

You may know that the Free Software Foundation Europe joined the antitrust investigation against Microsoft to make sure the Free Software perspective and interests were represented and soon afterwards involved the Samba Team in the proceedings. Together, the Samba Team and FSFE have provided essential arguments for the European Commission to come to its historic antitrust ruling.

When Microsoft appealed against this ruling at the European Court, the FSFE became third party, representing the Samba Team. In the joint Samba/FSFE task force, we have managed to help supply the arguments needed to turn down Microsofts request for more time to allow competition. We then repeatedly unmasked Microsofts bogus specification licensing proposals as the attempts to play for time they were. At some point, Bloomberg even credited the FSFE for a 0.2% drop in Microsoft shares.

Around this time, the IPI asked to join the case. Guess which side they wanted to support? Yup, right in one: IPI of course asked to defend the convicted monopolist. They were one of three organisations describing themselves as

    not-for-profit-corporations 'think-tanks' whose missions involve the promotion globally of strong intellectual property rights in the technology sector, including software and information technology, as a means of encouraging innovation and economic development. 

 

The organisations were: International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI), the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) and the Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF). The European Court was pretty clear that if they are what they say they are, they had no legitimate interest in this case. In fact the Court ruling states that:

    45 It is quite clear that IIPI, IPI and PFF have not shown an interest in the result of the case within the meaning of the case-law above. 

Indeed one could ask where that sudden interest came from. The sponsor list of the PFF gives an idea. It lists, among many others, Disney, HP, Google, Intel, Cisco, SUN, Time Warner, and of course Microsoft. The sponsoring lists for IPI and IIPI are secret, but most likely contain a lot of overlap, in particular where Microsoft is concerned.

 

The fourth party that tried to be admitted to the court in support of the monopoly was the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners, Inc (IAMCP). At least they were up-front about whose interests they represent, or were they? They indeed tried to argue that they represent the interests of their members. They seemed surprised to find that the European Court is able to read, as the bylaws of the IAMCP do not contain anything about representing the interests of its members.

So their application was shot down just like that of IIPI, IPI and PFF. Furthermore all four were ordered to not only cover their own expenses, but also those of the European Commission and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) who had to spend time in dealing with their attempt to come to the aid of the convicted monopolist.

Coincidentally, the FSFE/Samba joint task force under coordination of Italian lawyer Carlo Piana completed today 12 pages of answers to a set of questions by the European Commission about the Microsoft Work Group Server Protocol Program (WSPP), the latest attempt of Microsoft to dodge the bullet of actually having to compete with its competitors.

Now we’re waiting for the next round.

Meanwhile, please do not forget to spread the word and

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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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