Another week, another Linux vendor signs Microsoft's 'IP protection' clause, supposedly saving its customers from potential Microsoft patent-infringement lawsuits.
On June 14, Linspire -- the company Microsoft sued for use of the "Lindows" trademark a few years back -- signed a patent agreement with Microsoft. Linspire is the third Linux distro vendor (the other two being Novell and Xandros) to sign such a contract.
Beyond giving Microsoft more fuel for its claim that Linux and open-source software violates 235 of Microsoft's patents (which these Linux customers need patent-infringement protection against in order to maintain peace of mind), Linspire also furthers a number of other Microsoft goals with this deal:
* Linspire is joining with Novell and Microsoft to create more translators allowing Open Office to share documents with Office 2007. Because Microsoft has been dinged -- especially by government customers in the U.S. and abroad -- for its resistance to supporting Open Office ODF format, it has been working overtime to show how dedicated it is to Open XML-ODF interoperability.
* Linspire is making Live Search the default Web search engine in Linspire 5.0. Every little search deal helps, when you're trying to pull yourself out from a distant third place in search share.
* Linspire has licensed Microsoft TrueType fonts, "including Arial, Georgia®, Times New Roman and Verdana." However, as the fine press-release print notes, "Linspire customers only receive these three technologies (instant messaging, digital media and TrueType fonts) if they purchase a patent SKU. The technologies are not shipped with all Linspire 5.0 distributions."
My ZDNet blogging colleague Larry Dignan wonders whether Red Hat might be next to join Microsoft's patent-protection racket. I think Red Hat will continue to hold out from helping Microsoft plant more fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of customers who dare to use Linux alongside Windows. Do you think Red Hat will succumb?