Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 09:02:39 MDT

On Thu, Apr 13, 2000 at 08:56:36AM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> >
> My point exactly, but you and Zero seem to think that some european
> court is gonna issue an arrest warrant to the FFL to apprehend Bill
> Gates from his pad in Medina and that the US Gov't is just gonna sit
> idly by and let this shit go on.
No, I don't believe that. What I _do_ believe is that it's possible
that some senior Microsoft France execs may end up doing time, and Bill
will have to take care where his flights land in case some zealous
prosecutor decides to arrest him for complicity if he lands on French

> > Ahem: Champagne and Burgundy are _regions_ of France. Their produce
> > is appelation controlee, meaning it's graded by quality. This is to
> > some extent a hold-over from the agricultural age, and you'll note the
> > tendency to name modern wines by the grape they're produced from -- which
> > isn't a controlled designation.
> If someone in California makes wine that is indistinguishable from
> champagne to a panel of tasters in a double blind test, it is champagne,
> and they should be free to call it that.

By that reasoning, if I can make an operating system that is
indistinguishable from Windows (presumably by reverse-engineering all
their APIs), I should be free to call it Windows. Right?

> Accepting the claims of the
> French for 'cultural heritage', when that 'heritage' is nothing more
> than a desire to maintain their elite attitude as being the 'superior
> culture' of the planet is ludicrous.

Nonsense. Appelation controlee status is just a variation on trademark
law, one that you don't recognize because you're a parochial-minded
American with very little experience of the outside world.

Calling Californian bubbly "Champagne" is an attempt to violate the
regional trademark.

> > Anheur-Busch are still allowed to call their product "Budweiser" in most
> > parts of Europe (although in the Czech republic and Switzerland "Budweiser"
> > is an apellation controlee and AB's product isn't brewed in the right way or
> > the right place to carry the name "Budweiser").
> Frankly I side with the Czechs. Budweiser (american) sucks. It would do
> us good to make them produce their products to a quality standard (any
> quality standard, just name one...)
You realise you've just swapped sides in this argument?

> > Ahem. How much of Airbus is government owned? I seem to recall some rather
> > large shareholders that are private companies, like British Aerospace ...
> >
> > I guess you're just sore because Airbus is outselling Boeing 60/40 at
> > present, without the hidden subsidy of military R&D contracts ;-)
> So the government subsidy of the workers benefits packages isn't a
> subsidy????

Of _course_ it's a subsidy! So is the F-22 contract Boeing is feeding off.
What annoys me is the hypocrisy of US politicians claiming that it's
unfair for Airbus to receive government subsidies when their own big
aerospace contractor is snarfing billions out of the public trough under
the rubric "defense spending", although the government has little or no
interest in buying actual military hardware built with that money. A
good chunk of it ends up feeding into civilian R&D, in much the same way that
the Boeing 747 got started as a re-working of Boeing's failed bid for the
C-5 contract.

Look, the issue here is that governments play favourites with their
domestic markets. And they aren't going to stop, either, because if one
stops, the others will continue; their own companies will enjoy a
competitive advantage, and governments still see companies based on their
soil as strategic assets (paying tax to them).

This is an entirely different issue from trademark law, and variants
thereon like the appelation controllee stuff (which doesn't exist in
the USA but is widely recognized as having the weight of trademark
law elsewhere in the world). Incidentally, it can be argued that those
Californian bubbly producers who call their produce Champagne have exactly
the same relationship to the real thing that Chinese software pirates
have with Microsoft: they're simply infringing a form of intellectual
property that isn't recognized [much] in their home country.

-- Charlie

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