Comodo, is their policy legal?

I was truly amazed by the comodo firewall in xp, I have switched to vista and found out that the firewall solutions, at least the free ones are appalling, especially if you want to control your outbound connections and cant be bothered with lots of tweaking within the various firewalls.

I do have one concern however, I guess its a matter of time before other software publishers get tired of comodo´s approach and impose that a fee should be required to obtain a product like the firewall or antivirus.

I know similar lawsuits have been successfull in Denmark, where I reside, certain companies have offered certain services for free but have been sued and found to be in direct violation of competition treaties within the european union, thus they were forced a minimum fee upon them.

Some companies got away with symbolic fees like 1 danish crown, others were forced to up their minimum fees in order to protect other companies. I wonder if anyone in the comodo developement departement has considered this issue and if they have even taken into account that this issue may pose a problem in the near future.

Danielsan,

Forgive me my lack of citations, but my opinion is like this:

  1. I do not know of Britian’s status within the European Union - and / or what treaty obligations this presses upon them.

  2. I am somewhat familiar with the way United States law handles monopolies - and here in the U.S. you are allowed to compete in whatever way you can - within reason.
    (a) You’re not allowed to (literally) hold a gun to their heads.
    (b) You may not fit them for cement overshoes and dump them in the East River.
    (c) You may not use monopoly power “in the relevant market” to force competitors “to the wall”.

However, so long as you do not “effectively foreclose other avenues of commerce” to your competitors, you’re fine.

  1. I am absolutely puzzled about how a suit could even lie in Denmark on this particular topic? Linux has been “freeware” for milennia, the GNU license gives the recipient the right to either charge or give away free, whatever he receives from you - and so on.

So, someone decided to market an item at “zero” cost. So what? If the “relevant marketplace” decides that “zero cost” is the best economic model for that commodity, then so mote it be.

By their brilliant logic - (re the people suing them, and the court that actually allowed the suit to lie!) - if I started manufacturing a lamp bulb and sold it in denmark - and the cost was so trivially low that I could actually afford to give it away for free - or nearly so… then the makers of other lamp bulbs, that were less efficient, more expensive to make, and (ultimately) less desirable, would have a clear right to sue me because I was “costing them business”.

In a capitalistic environment, that’s listed in the Government Procurement Catalogs under the letter “Y”. (You, It Stinks Being)

In other words, if advanced in technology or technique make your products less desirable, well it just plain [vacuums] being you!

Yet, Danish courts want to hold the hands of time and progress still? That doesn’t make sense.

Jim

I’m sure they’ve taken such things into account; it hasn’t happened in a box in the corner, after all… Comodo didn’t get to the size it has by not knowing the lay of the land (so to speak).

There are also other elements that may come into play. In other areas of Common Law, if you charge someone for something, you have some responsibility/culpability for damages that occur from the usage thereof (provided such a thing were to occur), if negligence can be shown. However, if you give the same thing away free of charge without any qualifications (ie, to anyone), their is a reduction (if not complete absolution) of culpability inasfar as negligence is concerned.

I don’t know this from software, but from mountain biking… if you build/maintain a trail, and charge users an entry fee, then can sue you if they crash their bike and get hurt. However, if you build/maintain the trail, and do not charge entry, gross negligence has to be proven in order to sue (or rather, to win the suit); this would equate to something like putting explosives on the trail…

LM

Sir,

Assuming that you live in the Good 'Ole Yew, Ess of Aaay… (grin!) it may not be so simple.

Robert Henlein (sp?) said it well in Stranger in a Strange Land when he said “Lawyers swallow camels and strain on gnats.” (or something like that)

Law - and reason - are often not even remotely related.

AFAIK - and no, I’m not a lawyer, but I love to lurk findlaw.com and read the appellate opinions there, because it’s a great exercise in structured logical thinking…

Like I said, AFAIK, if you “build and maintain a trail” - and even passively allow people to use what you have deliberately built and maintained for their use - you run into what is called “the duty of reasonable care” - that is, if your trail is particularly steep in a certain spot - YOU find it challenging and enjoy it - but someone else (the d**mn-fool idiot!) does something stupid and hurts himself, it’s not a long streatch to him suing you because you - when you constructed the trail - did not exercise the “duty of reasonable care” - by making the trail too challenging!

Here’s a REAL example - no I don’t have the citation, and I admit my own evidence is hear-say - but supposedly some tom-fool idiot purchased a gasoline powered lawn mower (the classic push-mower style) - AND! - he decided to crank the bastid up, grab it with both hands, pick it up and USE IT TO TRIM HIS BUSHES!!

Unfortunately - though they say God protects fools and drunkards, God must have felt that this dude had crossed the line - as he rather seriously hurt himself on the spinning blades.

He sued the lawnmower manufacturer - AND WON!! - because the instructions for the use of the lawnmower did not specifically prohibit it’s use as a hedge trimmer!

That’s the last I heard about that - and I sure hope the lawnmower manufacturer appealed and it got overturned - because (IMHO) the judge that DIDN’T throw that right out of court as assinine committed “reversible error” that was “prejidicial” to the defendant’s case.

This is like the famous “McDonald’s Coffee Is Too Hot” lawsuit…


However, in great measure I agree with you. At least here in the U.S. of A. - the stuff that Danialsan is talking about is covered by the Sherman Anti-Trust acts. And they specifically allow competition, even seemingly ruthless competition, just so long as the competitive pressure does not absolutely foreclose access to “the relevant market” (see Omega Environmental, Inc. v. Gilbarco Inc, 127 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 1997) )

In the “Gilbarco” case, Omega alledged anti-competitive acts because Gilbarco had tied up in exclusive dealing contracts a very large percentage of the gasoline (petrol) dispenser distributors, making it difficult for Omega to compete within that same product channel. The court dismissed Omega’s claim because: (as quoted from a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court)

In Omega Environmental, Inc. v. Gilbarco, Inc., 127 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 812 (1998), the court determined that there was no violation of Section 3 when all of the competitors sold both directly and through dealers, the restraint did not prevent another competitor from putting together a network of over 100 dealers, and the market was characterized by "increasing output, decreasing prices, and significantly fluctuating market shares." 127 F.3d at 1164
(No. 05-337 - Writ for Certiorai in re: Dentsply Intl. Inc. v. United States of America - Brief of the United States in Opposition)

So - at least within the United States, a company’s decision to give away product - even potentially valuable product - at zero or little cost is not “anti-competitive” - especially when you consider Comodo’s share of “the relevant market”.

In the European Union - the treaties against “anti-competitive acts” would be engaged if Comodo’s competitors were loosing such a substantial flow of business - and if Comodo had gathered enough of the “relevant market” into it’s own hands - to exert “monopoly power” and actually exclude competition.

Additionally, I am sure that - as in the United States - Comodo would be offered the opportunity to proffer a “pro-competitive” rationale for it’s actions - specifically that by helping to clean up and secure the Internet, the sense of trust and security that a prospective purchaser feels would increase, would result in an increase in the absolute magnitude of Internet “e-tail” business in general, and particularly of the products and services that Comodo (and it’s competitiors) offer.

I feel that any kind of anti-competitive and/or anti-trust suit, (re: Sherman Act or Clayton Act in the USA - other treaties or acts in other countries), would fight an up-hill battle, simply because of the nature of the service/product that Comodo is offering.

Jim

I to live in Denmark and I have never heard of the law-suits Danielsan2000
refers to . Could you please provide some more info on them ?
To my knowledge there is no law prohibiting giving things away (licensing) for free
unless you are a de facto monopoly doing it to keep others out of the market (ie M$) .
And despite the EU-ruling against M$ bundling media-players,browsers and what not with
the OS windoze still has them .

Jim,

Please don’t make it a habit of calling me “Sir.” I might develop a complex! :wink:

Being sued is different from the suit being meritable, and doesn’t mean a loss is guaranteed. Your point is well taken about the reasonable duty; this is where posted warnings and disclaimers come in. Not that they are a guarantee either, but do make a difference in court. It should at that point fall back to gross negligence.

The lawnmower story reminds me of the one I heard about a person attempting a home burglary, with entry thru a skylight. The addlepated eejit fell and broke a leg. Following this incident, the homeowner was allegedly sued (and lost) because there was no warning sign on the skylight as to the inadvisability and possible harm from using it as a point of entrance to the home. All smells like urban legend to me.

Who’s to say how the coffee incident would’ve played out in court; since the ownership paid to make it all go away. Legal liability aside, the publicity would’ve no doubt killed them.

Tnx for the anti-trust explanations; I enjoyed it. Glad you enjoy a good legal lurk now and again, and that you (to at least some extent) use the knowledge thus gained. And no, I’m no lawyer either, although I did a lot of work preparing for a citation once; the case was dismissed and I was quite pleased with myself… ;D

LM

M’am, (laughing!)

The story you refer to is - as far as I know - NOT “urban legend” - it actually occured out on Long Island (N.Y.), and the event that happened was a bunch of kids climbed up onto the roof of their school late one night, armed with paint, gasoline, and other “wonderful things” to help (ahem!) beautify the school…

One of the kids fell thru a skylight into the gym below and hurt himself.

His family sued the school - AND WON! - because the school didn’t exercise “reasonable care” by making the fire-escape ladder too easy to reach! (or something like that - it was in Long Island Newsday many years ago - I don’t remember the details exactly)

I was livid and fuming at the legal system that would allow such inainaties to continue past the initial pleadings stage…

Gordon:

My curiosity is also “riz” as my kin-folk would say… :slight_smile:

I’m NOT an expert on international law, or stuff like that… but a real stinkeroo decision like that one would have raised interest even over here.

I’d LOVE to see Danielsan provide some citations or other information whereby someone could track this down… :slight_smile:

Heck, if I were to find it, I’d post it here just to dispell all doubt!

Jim

I have been trying to search, but this is a very old decision and I cant seem to find anything about it.

Back in the old days (some 20 years ago) some ferry and bus transportation companies offered free trips to England and Germany forth and back. The free transportation was a mean to get cheap alcohol either onboard the ferries or to haul some duty free alcohol back home. I remember going on a lot of these trips just to get drunk and get some cheap booze.

However some people started using these free trips as a mean of transportation for other purposes, why not? … they were free. The danish goverment interfered and the busses started to charge 1 danish crown and while the ferries tried the same at first the government chose to interfere in order to protect normal comercial traffic between Denmark-England and Denmark-Germany. The 1 crown charge was ruled insufficient, I stopped getting free rides to England and the tickets were brought close to the regular prices of “normal” ferries.

You could still take the bus for 1 danish crown to Germany though since this wasnt exactly ruining the business for anyone … I did this a couple of times, but it got too much, its a long busride filled with drunken idiots … including me.

But I remember the above case very clearly … unfortunately its very old and I cant find anything about it on the net.

There has been a similar case with mobile phones in Denmark, where companies tried to issue a free mobile phone as part of a package, this was deemed unfair competition as well.

yes, but the difference is that the mobile-companies gave away the phone
to get customers to pay for a subscription . You could only get the phone if you paid the subscription-fee . That is clearly unfair competition as small (new) service-providers
wouldn’t be able to afford to give away the phones to land the customer .
So it’s not comparable as Comodo doesn’t force you to buy anything to get the freebie .
The bus-affair was more a question of the Danish Government loosing tax-income.
In parts of Denmark it was virtually impossible to find a ■■■■ in a private home that
wasn’t a private import from Germany. The state “lost” hundreds of millions in sales-taxes.
Danes love saving on taxes (who doesn’t?) and politicians don’t like to be seen as kill-joys
so they came up with some excuse, like “protecting” the home-market . It sounds better
than saying : We don’t want you to go abroad and buy cheap untaxed ■■■■; not many votes in that …

Gordon, THAT’S interesting… Where are you from/at by the way?

I don’t know about where YOU are, but here in the U.S.A. - that’s perfectly legit. Cellular companies, and “affiliated retailers” do this all the time… you sign up for a year or two, and they toss in the phone.

It would be “illegal” if it was shown that there were companies interested in entering the market that - due to this “tying” process - were effectively foreclosed from the marketplace.

i. e. United States vs Microsoft - the “bundling” of the IE browser in with the software - AND the seeming inability to remove it - when tied with the outstanding market share that M$ has in the PC Operating System market (something like 95%+), constituted an anti-competitive practice, and they got ding’d for it.

(See attached: MS Findings of Fact (PDF) and MS Conclusions of Law (PDF) )

However - if a product is “tied” - and the tying entity does NOT have a “monopoly share” in the marketplace - then the “tying” is irrelevant with regard to anti-trust law (at least here in the U.S.)

Jim

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Jharris,

unfortunately it has proven to be a nightmare to find relevant material on the issue, when the danish government steps in and rules on an issue it doesnt seem to bother the media a lot, at least not much has been written about the various “competition” verdicts.

If I was rich and planned to introduce a free product for a couple of years in order to wipe out the competition I wouldnt have a monopoly at first, but eventually the small business of the same kind would have to shut down because they couldnt offer the same product for free.

The US is a large country, the implementation of any new business method is a trial and error case which often only has an impact on a certain area. In Denmark however which is a small country any given fluctuation of the market has a noticeable effect on all business, and the danish government is very protective of domestic companies and domestic-international competition, and Denmark isnt the only small country in Europe protecting its interests.

In Odense (my hometown) last year a bakery opened offering certain types of products for free, the guy owning it was very wealthy and he probably thought he could afford to loose some money in the beggining while suffocating the competition, this was however after a couple of months deemed “unfair” and he had to stop his “practice”.

Remember that we are also a partially socialistic country, a word which sometimes seems have an almost allergic effect on the ears of an american, certain business “practices” which I bet are perfectly fine in the US dont always get the “ethical” approval here.

… And that’s OK… :slight_smile:

You raise a very important and valid point: Many European “countries” are the same size - or smaller - than many U.S. “states” (provinces) - and because of that, the economic dynamics are in a smaller - and more tightly closed - system.

With regards to “ethics” ;D - my favorite saying is that “everybody has to make their own soup” (do what they believe is best for them) - but - once you make soup, you have to EAT the soup! (you sow what you reap)

Denmark has to do what they believe is best for them - and as I said before, I’m not an expert in International law. (I’m not even an expert in Unites States law!)

The situation with Comodo vis-a-vis Denmark is made even more complex by the fact that Comodo is not a “brick-and-mortar” business in Denmark, (having a real, physical place of business, selling a “real” product that you can pick up in your hands.), but is rather an “e-tail” (“click-and-mortar”) business, operating over the Internet, and physically located in a different legal jurisdiction.

Because of this, Denmark’s ability to regulate Comodo may be severely limited - not only by simple legal jurisprudence and treaty, but also political pressure - Denmark surely knows that “suing” someone like Comodo - who is ostensibly trying to do something good for “everyone” - would only serve to accomplish two things:

(1) It would give Comodo a LOT of free advertising - helping drive the paradigm that they’re trying to restrict. (it would be counter-productive)

(2) It would make Denmark out to be an Ogre in many eyes - and, given Denmark’s “socalist” nature - perhaps even in the eyes of it’s own citizens. (and that’s NOT good come election time!)

So, even if what Comodo is doing is “technically” illegal in Denmark, there may be no “practical” politically viable solution.

Even if Denmark decided to require that all inbound routers block Comodo’s traffic, that woudn’s solve the problem - mirror sites would spring up like mushrooms - and (as China is discovering), it’s like stomping on a swarm of ants - there’s just too many of the little buggers!

And (on a more personal note!) “socalism” is not anthema to ALL Americans. (I, for one, married a Russian - so I get first-hand lessons in Socalism, re: Karl Marx.)

Additionally, socalism is not a bad thing - any more than capitalism is a bad thing - it’s all a matter of implementation. Socalism can be implemented wonderfully - and Denmark is an excellent example of this - or horridly, as the old Soviet Union, and many third-world countries can testify. Likewise capitalism - I believe that (without getting into the politics of it) right now, the United States is a classic example of what happens when Capitalism goes to seed.

What is needed is a careful balancing of these two concepts - for there you find the “sweet-spot” as we say in the United States.

(sigh…)

There I go, rambling again!

Jim

In my opinion if a company is giving their product away for free that other companies are charging for, its none of their business (even if it is a loss of it for them). I think ZA pro is a good firewall, but comodo has an equally great firewall for free and being forced to pay for what was originaly free is just sick.

[i]Unfortunately - though they say God protects fools and drunkards, God must have felt that this dude had crossed the line - as he rather seriously hurt himself on the spinning blades.

He sued the lawnmower manufacturer - AND WON!! - because the instructions for the use of the lawnmower did not specifically prohibit it’s use as a hedge trimmer![/i]

You would think the law would allow for potential darwin award seekers. Just because a manual says not to do it, doesnt mean that if you get hurt doing it gives you right to compensation etc. Would he have still won if he tried to shave his privates with that lawnmower?? The manual most likely says nothing about this sort of thing but theres got to be a limit somewhere.

And I absolutely concur. In another Heinlein book - The Past Thorugh Tomorrow he makes the statement that the coal-oil manufacturers can’t sue Edison simply because his electric light bulb deprives them of business.

His privates? Ahhh! :■■■■ That’s one I would have liked to see the video on… (insert Vonage “whoo-hoo!” sound-bite!)

Unfortunately, courts are not always as rational and reasonable as I would like to see them be.

(a) This could be apocryphal - urban legend - since I have no coroborating sources.
(b) Even if true - this may well have been “overturned on appeal” because it is an obviously erroneous ruling.

With regard to Comodo and Denmark - this kind of suit laying would be even more difficult since Comodo’s core business is NOT personal computer security - but rather server-side applications and products. So - the fact that they give away valuable product to the potential detrement of other AV producers, they’re not tying anything to it. A particular provider wanting server certificates or such - is in no way “pressured” toward a Comodo purchase because of this.

Jim

p.s. is it possible to spell-check within the scope of a reply?

If you happen to be using IE, you might want to checkout IESPELL. It works great for correcting my 4 finger problems.

Lee

I’ll see if I can dig it up, but a handful of years ago, in a manual for a Husquvarna chainsaw, I found the following (or similar words to the same effect) “This appliance is not recommended for use on genitals.”.

Whilst I can see the logic of their argument, I REALLY want to know what was going through the mind of the manuals author and what on god’s green earth made him think that someone else, other than him, might entertain the same thought. :smiley:

Ewen :slight_smile:

And if I think IE harfs worse than foul donky-breath? (laughing!)

I might give that a look-up - thanks!

Jim

Sir,

At this point, I feel constrained to remind you of the famous saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it!”

On another point - I remember there was a “letter” written in one of the issues of Penthouse (:AGL) circa 1975, where one of the “letters” started off something like this: “The other day, while up a tree with a chain-saw…” Apparently he was getting “good vibrations” from it. :BNC (:LOV)

Maybe that guy went on to be a tech writer for this manufacturer? (lauging!!) :THNK

Jim

(still chuckling when I remember that… I hadn’t thought of that article for - oh - mortal DECADES…)

Hmm, I have a friend who loves going up in his trees with a chainsaw. Now I have to wonder about his motives… ;D

Welcome back, Jim. How was vacation?

LM

Totally righteous!

I may have to start a thread in General to share some pix in!

Jim