Microsoft Protection Beats Linux
Companies"> Under this latest indemnification move, Microsoft is also now offering its OEM partners trade secrets-related claim coverage, which had not been offered before, as this is a concern to its channel partners. Asked whether Microsoft and its channel partners had seen a spike in litigation specific to its products and IP, Kaefer said there had been a "modest rise, mostly in the OEM category, which is where most of the claims come, given that they are our largest volume distributors."Microsofts ISV Royalty partners had also previously had geographic limitations on their coverage, but those have now been removed and they have the same protections as the OEMs. "This latest move shows our commitment to giving the same protections across the channel," Kaefer said. Microsoft also removed the previous caps for legal defense costs, but it introduced financial caps for settlements and damage claims. "Those caps are based on an equation that looks at the amount of business that particular channel partner has done with Microsoft over a period of time, essentially the value of our product that they shipped over a specific period of time, and that is the capped amount," he said. Microsoft believes this is a reasonable solution given what we see in the industry, Kaefer said. For example, Hewlett-Packard Co., Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. have all made moves recently to protect their enterprise Linux customers. Red Hats Open Source Assurance Plan is designed to protect customers Linux investments and ensure that they are legally able to continue to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux without any interruption. Novell, of Provo, Utah, set up a Linux Indemnification Program for its SuSE Enterprise Linux customers, under certain conditions, to protect against IP challenges to Linux and help reduce the barriers to Linux adoption in the enterprise. HP in September announced that it will indemnify its customers against any legal liability from the use of Linux. Microsofts plan goes further, according to Kaefer. "What you see from the Linux providers is not even close to the bar of what we are offering here," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
While Microsofts 200 largest OEM partners already had some liability coverage before, they are now all being given uniform termsas part of the companys antitrust settlement with the Department of Justicewhich are generally updated and published in August.