[FSFE PR][EN] EU antitrust case over: Samba receives interoperability information

Free Software Foundation Europe press at fsfeurope.org
Thu Dec 20 18:21:15 CET 2007

EU antitrust case over: Samba receives interoperability information

  In 2004 the European Commission found Microsoft guilty of monopoly
  abuse in the IT marketplace and demanded that complete
  interoperability information be made available to competitors.
  Microsoft objected to this decision and was overruled in September
  2007 by the European Court of First Instance (CFI). The CFI found
  Microsoft guilty of deliberate obstruction of interoperability and
  upheld the obligation for Microsoft to share its protocol information.

  The Samba Team has decided to make use of Micrsoft's obligation under
  the European judgements. Through the Protocol Freedom Information
  Foundation (PFIF), network interoperability information has been
  requested and a one-time access fee of 10.000 EUR is being paid to
  give Samba team full access to important specifications.

"One case is over and interoperability won. The European Court made
clear that interoperability information should not be kept secret and
the agreement shows that Microsoft saw no way to continue its
obstruction of interoperability in this area. This establishes a
standard which everyone will have to meet from now on," summarizes Georg
Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

Jonas Öberg, FSFE's vice president, continues: "Other winners are all
users of Workgroup productivity applications: Samba will now gain full
access to all the information necessary for full interoperability with
today's and tomorrow's Microsoft Workgroup Server products. All users
stand to benefit from this, even those using Microsoft's products,
because increased competition is likely to put pressure on Microsoft's
pricing and decrease Microsoft's margins."

"Under the current situation, thanks to the improvements that we have
been able to obtain, the agreement is the best solution possible. It
does not solve all the open issues we have with Microsoft, it just
partially remedies an unfair and illegal situation. It is not a
settlement, it is compliance to the remedies imposed by the Commission
and upheld by the EC Courts. And at least it is now fully compatible
with Free Software licensing," comments Carlo Piana, legal counsel of
the FSFE.

Piana continues: "We have been able once for all to receive a list of
the patents that Microsoft claims to be reading on the specifications.
Incredibly we have never been exactly told which those patents were.
This should be helpful to stop FUD against Samba, and we hope the same
will happen with other Free Software projects. It is standard practice:
if you have an issue with somebody, you should tell what this issue is,
or shut up completely."

"The European Commission has been criticised harshly for its agreement
with Microsoft, in particular its failure to declare potentially
relevant patents of Microsoft invalid," Jonas Öberg continues: "The
system is broken and needs fixing, but it is not for civil
administration to declare specific patents valid or invalid. We need
informed, transparent and democratic dialog on this issue."

Georg Greve adds: "The European Commission got further than any other
antitrust authority in the world and was more successful. They deserve
our gratitude and support for having gone 80% of the way. All the same
one could have hoped for the courage to also mention the problems caused
by software patents for interoperability and thus competition, including
a clear request to the proper political places to address this issue."

"We should also not forget that this is only about one area in which
Microsoft is showing the same behaviour. There are outstanding antitrust
complaints from both the European Committee for Interoperable Systems
(ECIS) and Opera about different abusive behaviours in the office,
Internet and web browser area," Greve adds. "If the same methods are
abusive in one area, they should also be abusive in another. So if the
European Commission wants to follow the positive example it set since
1998, it should not fail to also investigate the other complaints."

"The overall summary is positive. When FSFE set out in 2001 to support
the European Commission in its antitrust investigation against
Microsoft, our goal was to make this information available to Free
Software. Working jointly with the Samba team since 2003, we managed to
do just that."

Jonas Öberg concludes: "Software patents were a problem then and they
remain a problem today. We will need to solve this problem politically,
and FSFE intends to keep working on this. Meanwhile I'd like to thank
all the volunteers and employees of FSFE and Samba who worked on this
amazing success for Free Software with little or no support while others
were allowing themselves to be solicited out of the case. Our thanks
also goes to everyone who supported our work over the years and helped
make this success possible."

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

    The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
    non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
    involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
    participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in
    the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
    Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
    furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
    modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these
    issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving
    people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central
    issues of the FSFE.


    Georg Greve		+41-76-5611866
    Jonas Öberg		+46-733-423962
    Carlo Piana		+39-347-8835209
    Shane Coughlan	+41-79-2633406
    Ciaran O'Riordan	+32-477-364419

    You can reach the FSFE switchboard from:

    Belgium:     +32 2 747 03 57
    Germany:     +49 700 373 38 76 73
    Sweden:      +46 31 7802160
    Switzerland: +41 43 500 03 66
    UK:          +44 29 200 08 17 7

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