Slashdot points us to the stunning story of Nortel handing a much smaller open source rival a huge marketing opportunity by freaking out over a blog post and press release concerning a former subsidiary. That former subsidiary, Blade Network Technologies, had gone shopping for a new PBX system, and chosen Fonality's open-source Asterisk-based PBXtra system, over Nortel's competing system (even though Nortel offered them a discount). Blade agreed to go on the record about this, leading to a blog post by Tom Keating and a press release from Fonality about the win. That was a decent enough marketing opportunity, but Nortel just made it much, much bigger for Fonality. Apparently, a Nortel board member read Keating's post and pressured Blade to return the Fonality system and demand that the press release and blog post be retracted. There was some back-and-forth on this, and a Fonality exec made it quite clear to Blade that if they wanted to push the matter, it would likely end up in the press. Blade backed down, but then changed its mind again and returned the Fonality system. Nortel, for their part, insist that the only thing the Nortel board member asked of Blade was that it first talk to Nortel before using their name in any press release (though, there's simply no legal requirement that Blade do this). The end result, of course, is that Fonality's open-source system gets a ton of extra free publicity, while Nortel (who continues to lose market share) looks like a big bully. But at least their former subsidiary is using a Nortel system, right?
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