Surprise patents may spell trouble for open source efforts to
interoperate with .NET:
"...One patent is believed to underlie Windows' file
transfer protocol, which will probably be used in .Net. The patent
covers only the encryption procedures for how a user password is
changed, but as part of the transfer protocol, it is a potential
dependency for all developers who have to mimic the Windows file
system and seek to interoperate with it. For example, successful
interoperation with Samba might make the Samba project subject to
Microsoft demands for patent licenses and royalties.
"The real danger is that there are hidden patents" on .Net
technologies, said Eric Allman, chief technology officer of
Sendmail and the original author of the dominant message transfer
agent software on the Internet. Developers who use .Net may be
subject at any time to demands for royalties. A patent owner that
declines to issue a license may also go to court and ask for an
injunction against the further use of its technology, said Tim
Cahn, an attorney of Legal Strategies Group, an Internet law firm
in Emeryville, Calif.
Jeremy Allison, a lead developer of Samba technology for file
sharing between Linux and Windows systems, said keeping an
open-source project in step with Microsoft's changes to its
architecture "is a constant treadmill. If they think Microsoft is
going to play fair, they're insane."
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