Jeremy Allison on Mono, software patents

The Samba team’s excellent Jeremy Allison writes about the problem that Mono poses for Free Software.

The core problem is that Mono implements technology that is very likely patented by Microsoft. Microsoft, in its turn, has now started to aggressively enforce its software patents, as shown by its lawsuit against TomTom earlier this year.

Jeremy highlights an important difference between the agreement that Samba has with Microsoft, and the deal that Mono’s backer Novell has struck with Microsoft. Both concern software patents that are covered in a specification. However:

Miguel’s employer, Novell, has a patent agreement with Microsoft that exempts Mono users from Microsoft patent aggression, so long as you get Mono from Novell. Miguel takes pains to point this out. This is not a level playing field, or software freedom for all. This is a preferred supplier trying to pretend there is no problem. Sure there isn’t a problem, for them. If it isn’t good enough for Miguel, why is it good enough for other developers ?

This cool-headed and knowledgeable analysis is definitely worth a read.