back to article Microsoft promises no patent prosecution of open-source .NET

Microsoft is promising not to pursue patent claims against Linux and open-source software using the open-source implementation of .NET, Project Mono. The company has said that third party implementations of its C# and the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) - a language runtime - will be made available under its Community …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Just 'cos there's mud on the sheep-skin, there's still a wolf under there. Just maintain your guard...

  2. Corrine

    uh huh

    Can I get a legally binding document on that?

  3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Embrace, extend, extinguish

    The promise does not apply to future versions of the specification, non-required optional portions of the specification, extensions to the specification or deviations from the specification - even when those extensions and deviations are required to match Microsoft's implementation.

    I do not need mono, and I will keep it that way - at least until Microsoft earns a reputation for not abusing its near monopoly in operating systems.

  4. ChrisInBelgium


    'I was bringing you over to the other side of the river, you promised not to sting me. You did anyway, and now we'll both drown and die! Why?'

    Scorpion: 'I'm sorry, it's my nature'

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Remember the MS "ISO standard" Office file formats?

    Its a standard

    You can use it safety


    How many bit relied on the specifics of the Office implementation?

    This is *really* starting to look like another MS Trojan Horse .

    And the MS "Community Promise?" MS do contracts. Like their cross licensing ones where they kneecapped compatible makers by the number of processors, not the number of installed copies of their software (with a gagging clause so you can't talk about it).

    They also do litigation. Tom Tom and the FAT file format should serve as a reminder to what happens when reckon they can shake someone down. If it's not legally enforcible MS will use this “Promise” as a method to poison the well.

    We are Microsoft. All your open source belong to us.

  6. Grant
    Thumb Up

    Just because your paranoid doesn't mean....

    Stallman generally goes to far for me but he still has a good effect on the industry. It was not clear to me in the article if Community promise is a legally binding document or just PR.

  7. Steve Roper
    Gates Horns

    So they say now

    but, like a politician's election promise, there's nothing to stop Microsoft's beancounters further down the track from reneging on it and suing Linux into oblivion - and because they own the patent, the law would be on their side regardless of any "promises" they'd made previously.

    Moreover, Microsoft have a predatory track record and their real motives here are about making Linux dependent on them so they can lock it down at some future date. They're a profit-making corporation. They are NOT doing this out of community spirit or the goodness of their hearts; they are doing it as part of a strategy to eliminate or control a competing system. Remember "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish"? They haven't changed.

    No, I'm with Stallman on this one. Keep Microsoft's proprietary shit OUT of Linux.

  8. P Saunders
    Paris Hilton

    Well that's OK then

    MS promised not to pursue patent claims and as we all know, MS is as good as its word. Of course its words are predatory, anti-competitive, monopolistic and dishonest. have I left any out?

    Paris, 'cause she's none of those words.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Shades of the 1930's?

    To me this sounds much the same as when the British PM came back fro Germany with a worthless sheet of paper declaring peace. We all know what happened soon afterwards.

    Promises can be broken & broken very easily. Until a non revokable commitment is written down on paper & signed by Balmer & Gates and lodged with a third part like the OIN I won't accept a word they say.

    They will have to go a lot further than some weasel words probably dreampt up by some press office lackey.

    As the Native Americans are reputed to have said 'Whiteman speaks with forked tongue'.

    Grenade (still with the pin in I hope)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti microsoft paranoia rules still I see...

    Some people spending too long doing dental examinations of gift horses if you ask me...

  11. eckythump

    Mono is not the answer...

    Mono is the question.

    The answer is :-

    apt-get purge libmono0 mono-common libgdiplus

  12. Peter Bradley


    As far as I can tell, the promise only covers the use of C# and the CLI, it doesn't cover the whole of the .NET framework. So, for example, I imagine that things like ASP.NET, ADO.NET, LINQ, WCF, WWF and so on are not covered.

    These are only things I've ever been worried about.

    So this doesn't go far enough for me, assuming I'm correct about coverage.



  13. Anonymous Coward

    To the point

    "Microsoft have a predatory track record and their real motives here are about making Linux dependent on them so they can lock it down at some future date. They're a profit-making corporation. They are NOT doing this out of community spirit or the goodness of their hearts; they are doing it as part of a strategy to eliminate or control a competing system."

    Best summation of facts about the subject I've seen. Well done ;~)

  14. The Mole

    No problems

    Microsoft has issued a public statement saying that they are giving up their patent rights in these situations. A judge would not allow them to renegade on that promise as they would effectively be committing entrapment and acting in very bad faith. Even if they did find a sympathetic judge the most they could probably achieve from it is an injunction preventing the infringing applications from being distributed in the future, I doubt that a judge would even award costs as they have explicitly allowed the situation to come about anyway.

  15. A M Street

    @ AC

    "Some people spending too long doing dental examinations of gift horses if you ask me..."

    See also: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

    Looks like the second situation here to my mind.

  16. James Hughes 1

    I asked before on the other article

    What patent? I just want to know which patent(s) MS think they can bring in to play. AFAIK, c# is a specification for a language. Is it actually that spec that is patented? (can you actually do that?) or is it part of the implementation of the language that is patented (in which case can it be got round?).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tough luck

    Mono users knew what they were letting themselves in for. C# was and is a Microsoft specific language, like Visual Basic. If there is a cross platform doohicky that sort of lets them use it on other platforms, then they do so at their own risk.

    And which idiot would sign a license that accepts the validity of Microsoft's patents?

    ""It is common practice in the software industry to register patents as protection against litigation, rather than as an intent to litigate. Thus mere existence of a patent, without a claim of infringement, is not sufficient reason to warrant exclusion from the Ubuntu Project."

    MS could simply publish a paper and hence prevent future patent attack on that subject. Lets not be so naive here, they patent to attack and counterattack and if you had a business worth attacking, you would not be immune.

    When Ubuntu starts taking a greater share against Windows, then Microsoft will make the 'claim for infringement' and point out all these licenses that accepted the validity of Microsoft's patent as evidence the patent should stand.

    Mono should not be in Ubuntu.

  18. Vahokif
    Gates Halo

    This IS legally binding

    "Q: Is this Community Promise legally binding on Microsoft and will it be available in the future to me and to others?

    A: Yes, the CP is legally binding upon Microsoft. The CP is a unilateral promise from Microsoft and in these circumstances unilateral promises may be enforced against the party making such a promise. Because the CP states that the promise is irrevocable, it may not be withdrawn by Microsoft. The CP is, and will be, available to everyone now and in the future for the specifications to which it applies. As stated in the CP, the only time Microsoft can withdraw its promise against a specific person or company for a specific Covered Specification is if that person or company brings (or voluntarily participates in) a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft regarding Microsoft’s implementation of the same Covered Specification. This type of “suspension” clause is common industry practice. "

    tl;dr they can't sue you, ever

    Also, Mono contains

    1) parts that are covered by the ECMA standard

    2) original namespaces (like Mono.Simd)

    3) open-sourced Microsoft stuff (like ASP.NET, under the OSI-approved MS-PL license)

    4) parts that are in .NET but not covered by the standard (like Winforms)

    which is why Miguel de Icaza says they'll be splitting their distribution up into definitely safe (1 and 2) and potentially dodgy (3 and 4) packages, which is what already happens on Ubuntu for instance.

  19. Rob Beard

    Re: Anti Microsoft paranoia

    "Some people spending too long doing dental examinations of gift horses if you ask me..."

    Don't you mean 'trojan horse'. The problem is, Microsoft have a pretty crappy track record, they don't really innovate, they just copy ideas and try and kill off the competition, sometimes it works (i.e. IE versus Netscape - although now Firefox is fighting back) and sometimes it doesn't (Zune vs iPod). It's all well and good that Microsoft are making a promise, but as said in other comments, it's not legally binding.

    If Microsoft were not going to sue for patent infringement then why don't they join the Open Invention Network ( and pass the patents along to them.

    Luckily Linux is just a kernel and doesn't include Mono (as far as I know) and with thousands (if not hundreds and thousands) of applications out there released under the GPL hopefully there would be drop in replacements which don't use Mono which can be swapped in at a moments notice if Microsoft do start trying to kill off Mono (remember, the Free Software community work much faster than Microsoft in releasing software) so say if Ubuntu was blocked by patents then they could probably have a new release out without the offending software with in weeks or maybe even days (okay it would probably be KDE based rather than Gnome based considering Gnome seem to be more involved with Mono).


  20. Dave Murray Silver badge

    For once the paranoids are wrong

    The MS Community Promise may sound like PR but it IS a legally binding document that they can't renege on. It applies to developers, distributors, and users without regard to the development model, copyright licenses or the associated business model of an implementation.

    Possible issues come with what is and is not covered by the CP. It only covers the ECMA standards for C# and the CLI. Mono is a lot more than that and everything else is not covered - ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms, etc. Also the CP only covers implementations that implement all required portions of a specification; partial implementations are not covered

  21. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Pay Back Time..... the Capitalists' Dream Nightmare coming to AI Theatre near you.

    Time everyone realised that there are no real rules, only crooked biased laws and virtual regulation, and everything and anything which is peddled and pimped as New and News is simply imagined and selectively shared and then made to order by tame Media and IT communications for Zeroday exploiting for Flash Cash/IOU Currency Bills.

    For a fine local example of the genre, you need look no further than here to find all the conspiring elements .....

    However, now that the Virtual Source Nature of Reality is Uncovered and Exposed, are the Past and Continuing Abuses of its Programs and Players Doomed to either Spectacular Catastrophic Failure and the Natural and Savage Justice of Conscientious SWIFT Market Revenge or Wisely Encouraged to Radically Changed Constructive Action with a Novel Intelligence Lead........ for Intelligence is what has been Missing, with its Place taken by Personal Greed.

    There's a New Game in Town ....... and it is Floating in the City, BetaTesting for ITs SMARTer Brokers into Control of the Cloud for AIMissions Accomplished with CyberSpace and ITs ARGonauts/Great Game Players.

  22. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @James Hughes

    Given the mind-numbing cluelessness of some judges and the utterly broken nature of the US patent system, MS don't *need* to have a patent right now. The mere threat that maybe they might write one later and maybe some judge will be daft enough to uphold it is enough to put the brakes on anyone who doesn't have a legal fighting fund or a portfolio they can retaliate with.

    I heard (a guy on a nearby desk used to work for the company in question) the other week about an electronics firm that lost a patent case for the "invention" of putting their kit inside a metal box to shield against interference. Apparently it was recognised that Mr Faraday might have established some prior art on the basic idea, but that using a cage *in this product* (some random box of electronics) was an inventive step.

    To my mind, patent cases long ago passed the point where they were an abuse of the legal process. Where once they protected inventors and delivered a net benefit to society, they now harrass inventors and have no redeeming benefits. Reform would be fairly straight-forward, but since politicians appear to lose their intelligence the further up the greasy pole they rise, perhaps the simple abolition of all IP rights is the only likely way out. That would be a shame, since much good would be lost, but it would still be better than the present mess where IP rights can be stolen by the rich and powerful and then used to bash the original creators.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    There was no word...

    "There was no word on why Microsoft has made the promise"

    Easy - to piss off Richard Stallman - what else?

  24. Jason Bloomberg

    Microsoft took my children, my home, my money ...

    Seems to me the real complaint is that Microsoft may facilitate what users actually want.

    That says more about Linux than it does about Microsoft. What Stallman and Linux fanbois are justifiably scared of is more proof that Linux Apps do not deliver in the general purpose desktop PC arena. If they did they would have absolutely nothing to fear.

  25. 3si

    Bah Humbug

    First - MS provided financial backing for Mono in the past. Mono is not just .Net on Linux, it's .Net on practically everything (Linux, Solaris, Symbian etc.).

    Second Richard Stallman is not an 'Open Source Evangalist', he is a free software advocate and in his strange little world, the two are totally different. RMS has spoken out repeatedly about Open Source before conceding that it is 'Not the enemy'. He has also published a paper on the FSF website titled 'Open Source misses the point of Free Software' ( Have a read of it and then tell me he has any positive influence on OSS.

  26. Miles Leadlem


    "... and open-source evangelist Richard Stallman" - now that's some knowledge you have (

  27. Amiga64
    Thumb Up

    They've convinced me!

    I was previously on the fence about mono. Now I know the following:

    - MS wants us to use mono on Linux.

    - There are definitely patent claims around mono.

    Just say no!

  28. Hugh_Pym

    @By The Mole

    It doesn't even have to get to a judge. There are stages to the way MS abuses it's power and Money.

    1. "leaked' rumour about litigation.

    2. Threat of legal action too vague to contest.

    3. leveraged 'out of court agreements' that aim to set precedents.

    4. A legal action so complex that, although bound to fail, will cost too much in lawyers fees to contest.

    4. A legal action so complex that, although bound to fail, takes so long to contest that it becomes a war of attrition.

    5. Lobbying the government to change the law in as part of the above.

    6. Attempts to change the English language so that agreements no longer mean what everybody thought they did.

    These MS's stock in trade. Of course nobody trusts them.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No need for paranoia

    There is no need to stress over MS lawsuits. You'll never be able to do anything useful with Mono other than display "Hello World" is a poorly rendered form.

    Far, far too much of the API remains stubbed out or not even implemented.

    Come back and talk to me in about 3 years when it is ready for use in the real-world.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember Microsoft's stated total monopoly goal

    Do not be fooled by the predator seemingly snoozing contentedly while you get within striking distance. The recent standards dirty tricks and the attack on TomTom are enough to say the mindset has not changed.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a non-issue

    C# / .NET adds nothing significant to Linux or computing in general. Anyone who builds anything using .NET (on Linux or otherwise) is building on a promise from a pathological liar. Legally binding in theory, but who will hold them to it in practice?

    It's a shame for the people who waste their time, just like the time I've wasted learning every MS technology I've ever learned, and building everything I've ever built with those technologies.

  32. Doug

    patent promise is *NOT* conveyed

    "Microsoft is promising not to pursue patent claims against Linux and open-source software using the open-source implementation of .NET, Project Mono"

    Except the do-not-sue promise is *not* passed on to downstream customers using the Open Source project Mono !!

  33. Daniel 1

    You'd be alright with C#

    You'd probably run into more difficulties if you started using some open source reimplementation of VB .NET, or something, because these extension languages are considered 'products' within Microsoft's lumpen marketing literature.

    C# has been an ECMA standard for nearly a decade. What you lose, by being wedded to C# is the Common Language Runtime - which is a bit of a sham, anyway. A good .NET programmer knows how to use the classes and methods available to them, and cares little about what local dialect of loop structures and conditionals are wrapped around them; a bad one just flings together whatever visual studio offfers them, using the same linear 'yeah-but-no-but-yeah-but-no-but' IF...ELSE logic they've always used. (indeed, while the 'Tower of Babel' like prospect of inheriting some creeping horror written by 9 VB guys, a Perl programmer, two semi-retired COBOL gurus and a wierdo who writes in nothing but IronLisp, has kept most people away from considering .NET projects - especially failing ones; of which there are depressingly meany - in fact, what you find, is that it's usually the 9 VB dorks, and their total failure at abstraction, or using the right data access methods, that has caused the ship to run aground. I'm sure we've all seen the code from the guy who calls string methods on static strings: IF strMyOutput.ToLower() = "HELLO WORLD".ToLower() THEN Response.Write("I'm so full of win, I have to keep visiting the toilet, just to get rid of some of it.") END IF).

    Either way, a deliberate lack of curiousity about .NET coding is almost as much of a sin as a deliberate ignorance of Linux. It reveals a lack of vision - a discomfort with travelling beyond one's comfort zone - that suggests that the comfort zone, itself, is rather more restricted than is desirable. Lack of curiousity is not a characteristic of skilled programmer. Your data doesn't necessarily want to be free, anyway, it just wants to be useful. It just so happens that one of the best ways of making it useful, is to also make it free. Even Microsoft seems to have grasped part of that message.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Legally binding, but is Microsoft legally bound?

    "The MS Community Promise may sound like PR but it IS a legally binding document that they can't renege on. It applies to developers, distributors, and users without regard to the development model, copyright licenses or the associated business model of an implementation."

    I don't doubt for one second that there is some hidden note or piece of legalese or other Infernal Mechanik somewhere else which can be used to invalidate this at a stroke.

    Let us not forget that whilst something may be legally binding, Microsoft have largely refused to be legally bound.

  35. Janko Hrasko

    MS promised a lot of stuff...

    ...getting my coat...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the problem?

    This seems like MS are making a genuine attempt to reach out to the FOSS community and other OSes, in much the same way that IBM and Sun did, but it's being welcomed with a level of paranoia that makes RMS look positively sane. How come IBM and Sun were welcomed and MS are shunned? It can't be because of the dubious business practices, because they all check the box on that one.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    RE: What's the problem?

    Other companies indulge in dubious business practices to gain an advantage in their business, which is usually the business of making and selling a product or providing a service. Microsoft IS dubious business practices. Lock in is not the means. It is the end.

    Ask yourself this: why was .NET created in the first place? What gap did it fill that was not already filled? What is its purpose?

  38. WhatWasThat?
    Gates Halo

    @ AC 15:55 (RE: What's the problem?)

    >why was .NET created in the first place?

    .NET was created to create a Common Language Interface (CLI) across all MS supported languages. This included VB(.NET), C++, and C#. It allowed all of them to be compiled into the same "binary" file, which is essentially just an XML document that controls a Common Language Runtime. This would be able to run on all current and future versions of MS Windows without the fear of DLL Hell. In short, it was MS' way of crushing Java.

    >What gap did it fill that was not already filled?

    .NET resolved a large complaint from Win32 programmers - DLL Hell. By basing everything against a common library that supported previous implementations, a program written for Windows 2000 would work, drag-and-drop, with Windows Vista (or Windows 2052). This encountered hiccups (Framework 1, 1.1 to 2) but has steadied into something (amazingly) reliable with 2.0 - 3.5.

    >What is its purpose?

    .NET was always implicitly designed to run on other machines besides the desktop. This might have been officially limited to WinMobile or EmbeddedXP, but it has always been expected to run on other POSIX compliant operating systems. Yes, that's right. NT was POSIX compliant and so, too, are all NT kernel based WinOS's (2L, XP, etc). What are other examples of POSIX compliant operating systems? UNIX and Linux.

    Is this for the OSS, FSF, or Linux communities? Heck NO! This is to allow the large user base of WinOS developers to drop WinOS apps into Linux and Unix environs with little or no code change, or even change in development style or language. I can imagine Bill laughing at the thought of all the WinOS cowboys frolicking in the Linux Wilds... and the terror in Torvalds and Stallman at the same thought.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Don't go there

    Mono is just a piece of cheese in a mousetrap. Pass it by.

  40. Christopher E. Stith
    Gates Horns

    This is binding in the US, but only for the two standards in their current form

    Anything separate or any new Microsoft-specific extensions that don't hold strictly to the standards would not necessarily be covered. That's what they'll sue over after people think this means they can completely recreate .NET.

  41. Law


    "See also: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.""

    Shouldn't that be Beware of Geeks bearing gifts?? ;)

    As a .net dabbler, I quite like Mono - the guys have done a really decent job on it... but if I was a freetard I wouldn't trust microsoft based on a promise... and what doesn't this promise cover...

  42. Anonymous Coward


    only the clinically paranoid, or socially awkward nerds who can't work co-operatively could possibly question the genuine and honest actions of li'll ole Steve Ballmer and those great guys up there at Redmond.

    Cause, they have a history of working productively with a whole range of partners to encourage s healthy and varied ecosystem of operating systems and applications.

    One has only to think of Microsoft's sterling work on supporting standard and open file formats, their helpful remarks that Linux is cancer, their steadfast attempts to drive the internet surfing public into using Firefox (copyright Microsoft).

    Ask Homer Simpson. How did that vicious caricature come about?

  43. norman
    Gates Horns

    Grandma, what big eyes have.

    "Meanwhile, Microsoft stressed that third parties are free to implement technologies under the Community Promise without signing a license."

    Did they say anything about actually developing and using it in Linux, or just that it can be implemented in Windows?

    You need to watch the wording of the MicroSphinx.

  44. Rex Alfie Lee

    OSS - Why Mono?

    Why would anyone from the OSS community want to develop in Mono anyway? You are using a product developed by some of the biggest scum on the planet. Why endorse this company by developing using C#? This doesn't make sense. OSS supporting The Digital Mafiosa is aresounding failure to OSS. Use Java, C or C++ by all means but C#...must be an M$ supporter, not an OSS supporter.

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