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In brief: Sun gives Microsoft lay-away plan option

Apr 12, 20045 mins

Also: Privacy concerns cloud Google e-mail service; India turns tables on outsourcing; Ballmer: Everyone is responsible for security; Intel gets the lead out; and more

  • As part of their landmark agreement reached this month, Microsoft has the option to pay Sun  millions of dollars each year to shield itself from patent infringement lawsuits, Lee Patch, Sun’s vice president for legal affairs, said last week. Microsoft will make the payments if it decides to extend a part of the agreement known as the “Covenant Not to Sue for Damages,” under which the companies agreed not to sue each other for past infringements. The agreement gives Microsoft the option to extend the covenant for up to 10 more years by making annual payments to Sun. The payments could total up to $450 million by 2014, Patch said. Furthermore, if Microsoft makes the payments each year and does not take Sun to court over patent issues, in 2014 the companies will enter a broad cross-licensing agreement covering all their patents and patent applications filed up to that date. The covenant not to sue is part of the settlement and 10-year collaboration pact Microsoft and Sun struck last week. As part of the deal, Microsoft has agreed to pay Sun $900 million to resolve patent disputes, $700 million to settle Sun’s anti-trust case against it, and $350 million in royalties to license Sun technology. Microsoft did not comment on this story.

  • The gigabyte storage capacity and long memory of Google’s planned Web-based e-mail service are making it a target for privacy campaigners – and the name, Gmail, soon could be the subject of a trademark dispute, too. A coalition of 28 privacy and civil liberties groups wrote to Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page last week urging them to reconsider the service, which the coalition said sets potentially dangerous precedents for the automated scanning of private communications. When Google announced the Gmail service, the company said it would scan the text of all incoming e-mail to place appropriate advertisements. The service may conflict with European privacy laws and should be suspended until privacy issues are addressed, the coalition wrote. The letter’s signatories include the World Privacy Forum and the Consumer Federation of America. Meanwhile, following Google’s use of the name Gmail in a press release, financial service provider The Market Age registered its interest in the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Market Age launched a Web-based e-mail service called Gmail in mid-2002.

  • Talk about a twist. India software giant Infosys Technologies said last week it would invest $20 million into a business consulting subsidiary in the U.S. that will be managed by four former senior executives of global consulting firms. Infosys Consulting is being led by CEO Stephen Pratt, who until recently was the global leader of the CRM practice at Deloitte Consulting, the business and IT consulting division of accounting giant Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. The new company plans to hire 75 consultants in the U.S. in the first year, Pratt says. Infosys Consulting has as its managing directors: Romil Bahl, formerly vice president of consulting services at Electronic Data Systems; Raj Joshi, former CEO of Deloitte Consulting Offshore Technology Group; and Paul Cole, former head of the global operations of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young’s CRM practice.

  • It takes a secure village Everyone, from computer users to software vendors to government agencies, is responsible for cybersecurity, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said last week in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Ballmer said that among the future steps Microsoft will take on security is a service pack for Windows XP, due out in a few months, that will have a firewall turned on by default. A similar update to Microsoft’s server operating system will come later. The company also is working on ways to block viruses and worms before computers execute their code, he added. Ballmer called on government agencies to work with vendors on security research, to pass laws that target cybercriminals. He also talked to Tom Ridge, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, about ways to better anticipate cyberattacks.

  • Facing growing pressure to reduce health risks, Intel  and National Semiconductor will start taking lead out of their chip-making process, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News . Lead, the chief component of chip-making, can seep out of discarded computers into ground water, can cause a host of problems, including learning disabilities in children and neurological and reproductive disorders. Beginning this year, Intel will eliminate 95% of the lead used in its microprocessors and chipsets. National Semiconductor will offer lead-free packages for its complete line of chips.

  • IBM  plans to acquire Daksh eServices, a business process outsourcing company in Gurgaon, near Delhi. IBM said last week it hopes to enhance its ability to deliver CRM and back-office services to its clients in various industries by this acquisition. It also will increase the scope of IBM’s global network of 22 business transformation delivery centers, adding capabilities in India and the Philippines, IBM said. The company is not new to using India to deliver low-cost services to its customers. The 9,000 employees at its Bangalore subsidiary handle software development for IBM and its clients. Daksh eServices is one of India’s largest independent business process outsourcing companies. It offers customer care, technical support and back-office transaction processing services to companies worldwide, including In addition to its facilities in India, Daksh set up a business process outsourcing facility in Manila in the Philippines in January that is expected to employ 1,000 people by year-end.