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The Real Reason For Microsoft's TomTom Lawsuit

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the get-your-conspiracy-on dept.

Microsoft 408

Glyn Moody writes "We now know that Microsoft's lawsuit isn't just against TomTom, but against Linux too: but what exactly is Microsoft hoping to achieve? Samba's Jeremy Allison has a fascinating theory: 'What people are missing about this is the either/or choice that Microsoft is giving Tom Tom. It isn't a case of cross-license and everything is ok. If Tom Tom or any other company cross licenses patents then by section 7 of GPLv2 (for the Linux kernel) they lose the rights to redistribute the kernel *at all*. Make no mistake, this is intended to force Tom Tom to violate the GPL, or change to Microsoft embedded software.' Maybe embedded Linux is starting to get too popular."

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Say It Ain't So (5, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27079849)

Ok, I'll play devil's advocate for a second. Here are the relevant parts of section 7 of the GPLv2:

If, for any reason, conditions are imposed on you that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all.

Here's an example. The US government probably prevents you from selling your open source software to Cuba or Iran. If I read section 7 correctly, that counts as a "condition imposed on you". So really you lose all rights to using that code?

You got to be careful with literal interpretation of legalese... sometimes you can push the arguments too far.

I hope the same applies to this theory that Microsoft is forcing people to violate the GPL and therefore lose their rights to the code.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Informative)

FrYGuY101 (770432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27079933)

So really you lose all rights to using that code?

You lose all rights to DISTRIBUTE that code. You can still use that code in perpetuity, though.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080083)

Since they have to distribute the code so people can use their devices they could just switch to a free FS. As I understand (IANAL) this lawsuit mostly concerns their use of FAT for their memory cards. If they used EXT2 and bundled EXT2IFS with their windows app they might well be able to avoid a lot of the hassles from Microsoft regarding this.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080413)

And would make updating the thing nearly impossible. They do firmware updates by mounting it as a USB mass storage device. Without a hardware redesign to emulate FAT (which would probably also violate M$'s patents), they're pretty much stuck here.

This is why I've been arguing for nearly a decade that file and volume formats should not be patentable, nor the means used to read and write those formats. Free and open access to data formats is fundamentally crucial to the interoperability of all hardware and software, and as such, statutes should very clearly define those as part of a class explicitly excluded from patent protection. As soon as the courts allow even one patent like this to stand, they are pretty much saying "f**k you" to the entire computing industry and depriving consumers of their fundamental right to have access to data of their own creation. That data isn't Microsoft's. It belongs to the users, and it is a violation of the most fundamental rights of the users to deny them access to content that they create merely because they choose to not use a particular software product, regardless of whether that product is made by Microsoft, AutoCAD [slashdot.org] , or anybody else.

Locking down user content is fundamentally wrong and unjust, and any laws that allow a company to do so are also fundamentally wrong and unjust. Therefore, it is our right, nay, our duty to users everywhere to violate those bits of intellectual property at every possible opportunity until it becomes such a legal nightmare for these companies that they are forced to back down. Anything less would be uncivilized. I know this is no Rosa Parks moment, but it still very much necessary for the long-term viability of computing as we know it. Just say no to data format patents.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Insightful)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080469)

You don't need to emulate the FAT long file names in order to do that. Only the long file name hack is covered by their patents. I see no good reason to even use long file names in applications like GPS or cameras, since you don't see the files most of the time.

Re:Say It Ain't So (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080879)

The problem is that these extensions aren't just used for long file names. IIRC, extra directory records in the FAT filesystem are also overloaded for other purposes like permissions, without which Linux et al would be unbootable off of FAT. I'd imagine that many of those uses would run afoul of the patent, but I could be wrong.

More to the point, if it only applies to its use for naming purposes and not to the concept of storing additional data about a file in additional directory entries with reserved type codes that older OSes ignore, then the invention should have been unpatentable anyway, as there's nothing particularly original about taking the Rock Ridge extension set from ISO-9660 and applying the exact same concept to FAT except insofar as it uses additional directory entries. That's literally all they did here. Instead of an additional entry in the system use area of the variable-length directory record, they use additional directory entries with a different type code, but that's basically caused by differences in how the filesystem describes a file....

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080739)

Without a hardware redesign to emulate FAT (which would probably also violate M$'s patents), they're pretty much stuck here.

Or they could use UDF.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080429)

Forget ext2, they can use UDF [wikipedia.org] , which is already supported on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X and is not patent encumbered.

Re:Say It Ain't So (2, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080559)

Actually, there are plenty of patents on UDF, or at least patents on ways of implementing UDF whose performance is even slightly usable.... In other words, just making sure the UDF implementation in Linux is clear of patent issues would be a major headache. There's really no good solution for storing user data that can't potentially run afoul of patents short of convincing the courts to ban data format patents and void all existing patents in this area. It's yet another clear example of how patents are stifling innovation in the field of computing for anyone without a multi-billion-dollar patent portfolio.

Re:Say It Ain't So (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080831)

UDF is an ISO/IEC standard, so the format itself is not patent encumbered. Yes, ways of implementing it are, but the important thing is that Microsoft only has 3 patents that even mention UDF, and only one of those is specific to UDF [google.com] . Also, IBM seems to be one of the largest patent holders on UDF implementations. I'm guessing they'd willing to launch a patent salvo against Microsoft should Microsoft try to sue someone over Linux' UDF implementation.

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080565)

UDF never did catch on for removable memory but I wish it would have. It has some obvious advantages, and its universally supported as well.

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080849)

Not so. Read the linked-to article.

Re:Say It Ain't So (2, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080577)

Does UDF work well on storage like flash?

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080667)

It's already being used for large flash disks.

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

Slumdog (1460213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080505)

Since they have to distribute the code so people can use their devices they could just switch to a free FS

Ok, slow down. They don't HAVE to distribute the code. They can distribute the binaries, and code on demand.

Re:Say It Ain't So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080121)

"You lose all rights to DISTRIBUTE that code."

I don't know why companies just don't get *BSD working for them instead Linux. It would save them a lot of headaches.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Insightful)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080443)

I don't know why companies just don't get *BSD working for them instead Linux. It would save them a lot of headaches.

Because the primary reason for the success of Linux is that it forces everyone to share their improvements. You get an exponential return on investment. The best you can ever hope for with BSD is an incremental return.

Re:Say It Ain't So (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080923)

Right, but then everybody gets your improvements. Where's the competition in that?

With BSD you get a solid base for your product and it's not infected with the GPL.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080951)

I don't know why companies just don't get *BSD working for them instead Linux. It would save them a lot of headaches.

Maybe because companies like Microsoft have a history of stealing BSD code [slashdot.org] , making minor changes, and then patenting their implementation [grokdoc.net] . This is why Ted Tso' said he would use the GPL for Kerberos instead of the BSD license if he had it to do over again.

Re:Say It Ain't So (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27079961)

So really you lose all rights to using that code?

Only in so much as using means the same as distributing, or more specifically distributing to those countries.

So in other words, no.

Re:Say It Ain't So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080947)

Only in so much as using means the same as distributing, or more specifically distributing to those countries.

You don't even lose the right to distribute the code (generally speaking). The GPL, after all, does not require you to provide the source code to *everyone*: only to those who received binaries from you. There is nothing in the GPL that would preclude anyone from making the code available to third parties, obviously, but YOU are NOT required to do so yourself.

So in the case of an open source embargo against another country, there'd be absolutely no problem at all - you'd only be obliged to send them the source code if you already sent them binaries, but as long as you didn't do so, everything would be fine. (In fact, given the embargo, chances are you'd want to take all reasonable steps to ensure they would NOT get binaries from you.)

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080045)

Why doesn't TomTom just stop using FAT on their memory cards and switch to one of many better formats anyway?

Re:Say It Ain't So (2, Informative)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080207)

Because then users would need to install a special app on their desktop just to copy data to/from the memory card.

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

Predius (560344) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080259)

Using FAT means they can present the file system directly to the host machine for updates/etc. Much easier than having to run an internal file system, and establish a custom communication protocol to handle pushing and pulling files.

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080175)

The US government probably prevents you from selling your open source software to Cuba or Iran. If I read section 7 correctly, that counts as a "condition imposed on you". So really you lose all rights to using that code?

Let's look at that again:

If, for any reason, conditions are imposed on you that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all.

Though IANAL, the second "distribute" seems to be in the same context as the first. That is, if you can't distribute in some context without violating the license, you can't distribute in that context at all. I don't think the "at all" is intended to mean "in any context".

Perhaps a lawyer could clarify this.

Re:Say It Ain't So (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080341)

Here's an example. The US government probably prevents you from selling your open source software to Cuba or Iran. If I read section 7 correctly, that counts as a "condition imposed on you". So really you lose all rights to using that code?

No, because the GPL doesn't oblige you to sell or otherwise distribute software to Cuba or Iran, so a law prohibiting you from doing so does not conflict with your obligations under the GPL. This isn't difficult.

Now if the law did permit you to distribute the binary code to Cuba but not the source then effectively the section would prohibit you from distributing just the binary to Cuba, but wouldn't stop you distributing it elsewhere.

Next question?

Legalese might as well be program code (2, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080419)

Legal documents aren't inherently perfect just because it's intended that they be perfect. Legalese is "code" intended to solve a problem just as surely as anything written in COBOL; legalese can have bugs in it, too.

Re:Say It Ain't So (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080619)

The US government probably prevents you from selling your open source software to Cuba or Iran. If I read section 7 correctly, that counts as a "condition imposed on you". So really you lose all rights to using that code?

No, because the only way you lose rights given by the GPL (which are not necessary to use code, anyway) is if the conditions "contradict the conditions of this License". Since the GPL does not require you to sell (or even give) software to anyone, rules which prohibit you from selling software to Cuba or Iran don't contradict the license. All it requires is, in essence, that you provide a specified license and make source code available to anyone to whom you do provide the software, whether you are selling it or not.

Re:Say It Ain't So (3, Insightful)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080765)

Here's an example. The US government probably prevents you from selling your open source software to Cuba or Iran. If I read section 7 correctly, that counts as a "condition imposed on you". So really you lose all rights to using that code?

You have misread this section. Having a condition imposed on you which prevents you from to distributing to a specific party does not prevent you from fulfilling the conditions of the license, because the license does not obligate you to distribute the program to anyone; rather, the GPL gives the conditions you must follow when you do distribute the program. Since US export restrictions do not prevent you from fulfilling the terms of the GPL when you export to a non-restricted country, the fact that there are parties which you can't distribute the program to is irrelevant.

Note, however, that only a government can enforce export restrictions; the GPL forbids you from taking on that responsibility yourself. So if you send a GPL'ed program to someone in Europe, they could legally send that program to someone in Cuba, and the GPL would forbid you from interfering. If the US were to pass a law which said that you couldn't export something that could possibly be re-exported to a sanctioned country, then that would be a problem for the GPL, but to my knowledge no such law exists.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Re:Say It Ain't So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080845)

>Note, however, that only a government can enforce export restrictions; the GPL forbids you from taking on that responsibility yourself. So if you send a GPL'ed program to someone in Europe, they could legally send that program to someone in Cuba, and the GPL would forbid you >from interfering. If the US were to pass a law which said that you couldn't export something that could possibly be re-exported to a sanctioned country, then that would be a problem for the GPL, but to my knowledge no such law exists.

Just so you know, there ARE laws preventing this if you do it willfully (in an attempt to evade export restrictions) or negligently (you should have known someone ELSE was attempting to do so).

GPL doesn't forfit your right to n (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080883)

A few thoughts here.

The GPL doesn't force you to distribute your source code unless you've distributed a derived work (ie: binary executable).

In other words when you distribute anything based on the GPL, you distribute ALL of your work, holding nothing back.

Its still your right to not distribute anything

To give a further example.
If I've built some killer utility application, and I decide I want to licence it under the GPL I can.

A friend comes to be, lets call him Adam, and he asks for the software, since he's a friend I give it to him. I can even SELL the distribution to him.

Its now his copy to use and redistribute as he likes, under the restrictions of the GPL. (He can even redistribute it for free or for more if he likes)

Later tosspot Bob comes along from a competitor's company and decides he needs it, and asks for it. I can refuse to distribute to him.
He can ask my friend Adam, and Adam can choose to distribute or not.

In this case, since no one has distributed to Bob, he has no recourse for acquiring the source code or even derived works. He can't demand it from either of us since we never distributed to him in the first place.

If he steals the code/binaries from Bob its copyright infringement, as he was never given a licence to use the software from anyone.

Now if you understand that you only need to supply source code to those you've distributed to, the fact that you can be restricted from distributing to places and people has little effect on the integrity of the GPL.

If you can't release source code to Cuba, you can't release anything to Cuba, the GPL forbids it. But that does not invalidate or contradict the licence in any form or way.

Probably the biggest misconception with the GPL is that people think once its licensed under the GPL you have no control over who you distribute it to. That's just not the case, you can distribute nothing, or everything. There is no in-between however.

CUBA and the GPL (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080921)

"Here's an example. The US government probably prevents you from selling your open source software to Cuba"

Where does it say that, there is no mention of the GPL on the U.S. Treasury Cuba Sanctions [treas.gov] site.

"I hope the same applies to this theory that Microsoft is forcing people to violate the GPL and therefore lose their rights to the code"

Microsoft claims that the Linux kernel used in Tom Tom devices violates Microsoft own patents. If Tom Tom were to start paying Microsoft royalties for such, that would be in violation of section 7.

'Yes, well, three of the eight patents in this dispute read on the Linux kernel as implemented by TomTom .. What I mean is the patents cover the implementation of the Linux kernel [techflash.com] done by TomTom in their products'

Or Maybe... (-1, Troll)

tritonman (998572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27079919)

Or maybe they are just trying to protect their intellectual property so they don't get scammed and have to fire employees for lost revenue.

Re:Or Maybe... (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080191)

maybe they are just trying to protect their intellectual property

I'm not saying that "intellectual property" is a pointless concept, but what is currently implemented is frighteningly Philip K. Dick.

Software is particularly problematic. An invention does not always come from the intellect and work of the inventor. More often than not it is merely an observation and augmentation of the work and intellect of others.

Software is nothing more than building on that which was built by others, which was built on the work of people before that, and before that, ad infinitem. Even the implementor of a statistical analysis system owes credit to the creators of the programming language used to write it, the creators of the math system, etc.

Intellectual property my ass, it is a land-grab of an environment created by two generations of engineers that worked and published without patent protection. Now college drop-out Bill Gates, sues for trivial implementations of theoretical models created by men far better than him.

Excuse Me? (4, Informative)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080587)

Gates (and Allen) developed MBASIC, and DISK BASIC. DISK BASIC used the "FAT" system to control free space.

CP/M did NOT use the same scheme. Instead, CP/M built up free space maps by scanning the directory. It also did not use a linked list. Personally, I thought FAT was weak then, and still is....

But the "industry" adopted it. It was allowed; we had a (at least) minimal common system for file systems. Enhanced to support directories and sub-directories.

Then, Microsoft designed a long filename system on top of it, that was back-compatible with the old method. THAT was patented. And, no, it wasn't even the "obvious" solution -- that would have been a mapping file.

What does this mean? It means that the long filename code SHOULD be ripped out. 8.3, baby! You want longname mapping? Linux has UMSDOS on top of FAT -- same result, no patent violation. Or, just use short names. Or, build a program that reindexes MS FAT longnames into UMSDOS (for read compatibility). Just don't write that format. It can be argued (I would try) that ANY longnames in MS FAT format that were found on a FAT filesystem then MUST have come from an MS patent licensee (because our proposed system wouldn't generate the MS FAT longname format). So, there are solutions. Maybe UMSDOS is too "crufty" to be resurrected, but it strikes me that something like posixovl.fuse could be used (with modifications).

Microsoft was creative with the MS FAT longname solution. Either deal with it, or get the patent overturned.

Re:Excuse Me? (3, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080907)

Gates (and Allen) developed MBASIC, and DISK BASIC. DISK BASIC used the "FAT" system to control free space.

Gates and company copied basic from other sources.

The FAT system is nothing more than a fixed size array allocation system, in use in many systems of the time.

CP/M did NOT use the same scheme. Instead, CP/M built up free space maps by scanning the directory. It also did not use a linked list. Personally, I thought FAT was weak then, and still is....

CP/M was better, yes.

But the "industry" adopted it.

One has to wonder about the anti-trust issues of patent usage. Yes the industry adopted it, but could it have, in any practical sense, adopted anything else?

Then, Microsoft designed a long filename system on top of it, that was back-compatible with the old method. THAT was patented. And, no, it wasn't even the "obvious" solution -- that would have been a mapping file.

The word "obvious" is subjective. LFN in FAT is implemented simply using the existing directory mechanisms. Is the only way to do something "non obvious?"

Microsoft was creative with the MS FAT longname solution. Either deal with it, or get the patent overturned.

"Creative" is not what makes something worth a patent. Was it obvious? The only answer to that is yes, as someone skilled in the art (someone with file system experience, particularly FAT) their method was the only way to do it.

Re:Or Maybe... (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080643)

So it is perfectly reasonable to deny a patent on any physical engineering product as well as long as it "does not come from the intellect and work of the inventor?" In most cases, it is impossible to describe a patent as something other than being built on the hard work and ideas of others. Does the hobbyist inventor owe his wire supplier a piece of the pie for making available the exact wire he needs for his product?
The problem with the patent system is that it isn't being used to stimulate new properties; it is being used to stifle new properties.

Misleading title. (1, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080013)

Samba's Jeremy Allison has a fascinating theory

So, in other words, it is not "The Real Reason For Microsoft's TomTom Lawsuit", but rather the theory of someone who is not connected to Microsoft, has no actual knowledge of Microsoft's reasons and strategies, and who could be considered hostile to Microsoft.

Re:Misleading title. (5, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080219)

As a Samba developer, I would think he's especially familiar with Microsoft's strategies.

Re:Misleading title. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080355)

as someone who has used samba, he is responsible for one of the worst configuration file formats ever. He obviously has skill and intelligence, but I can only conclude that he's some kind of idiot savant and borderline retarded in most areas of his life.

Re:Misleading title. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080403)

as someone who has used samba, he is responsible for one of the worst configuration file formats ever

Let's see your alternative to it, then. Show us all a better way.

Re:Misleading title. (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080545)

GP is the guy who invented the registry, you insensitive clod!

Re:Misleading title. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080467)

as someone who has used samba, he is responsible for one of the worst configuration file formats ever.

What's wrong with Samba's configuration file format? It's a Windows .INI-style format. Human readable, easy to parse, easy to write. What's not to like?

Re:Misleading title. (4, Informative)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080593)

one of the worst configuration file formats ever

Wrong.
I hold up for example: XML, the Windows Registry, and sendmail.cf

Re:Misleading title. (5, Interesting)

Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080639)

Thanks dude. I guess I should take my complements where I can :-).

We are moving to a registry based config in later versions, but I'm not sure you would think that an improvement :-).

You have to remember Samba is 17 years old, and you can still parse original smb.conf files from the first version. These things do tend to acrete over time, and it's hard to break existing configs. Not an excuse, but...... :-).

Jeremy.

Re:Misleading title. (4, Funny)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080899)

Just get me release quality AD support via 2003 server and we will call it even.

Re:Misleading title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080441)

So, in other other words, perfect Slashdot material. Now, if only they could have found a funny picture for the article and posted it under Idle...

Re:Misleading title. (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080487)

Well it seems like it's a theory about what the "real reason" might be. I'm not sure what your problem with that is. Would you prefer to only get the side of the story that Microsoft's PR people want to put out?

Re:Misleading title. (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080557)

Not exactly. The Samba folks worked with the EC judges on the Microsoft antitrust case. I say they are as familiar to Microsoft's ways as Interpol cops are with organized crime and, mind you, there is not much difference between Microsoft and organized crime when it comes to bullying companies.

Re:Misleading title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080583)

maybe it s not the real reason, but there is something of the most strategic importance for ms here, or they wouldn t take the (quite high, because of the obvious prior art) risk to lose

Re:Misleading title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080621)

And we all know how friendly Microsoft is to the "cancer of linux and open sores". Riiight.

TomTom can always port it to bsd and tell Microsoft to fuck themselves.

Should have used Ninnle! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080031)

Since Ninnle Linux it completely open source and contains not a shred of proprietary code, there's way Micro$oft can accuse it of anything. More systems using embedded Linux need to switch to Ninnle. It's secure, robust and flexible.

There was a recent post here on /. in which no less than Linus Torvalds himself professed his love for this distribution, and urged others to join the Ninnle revolution.

Really an attack on using Microsoft tech in Linux (5, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080081)

What TomTom (and others) need to do is start using EXT2/3 on their external cards and then distribute Fuse with their software. This will force FAT and with that Microsoft tech slowly but surely out of the market.

What do you think will happen when all external media starts using alternative formatting?

Re:Really an attack on using Microsoft tech in Lin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080133)

Not easy considering they distribute upgrades and maps as downloadable files that people put on a usb key to load them in the device.

Re:Really an attack on using Microsoft tech in Lin (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080225)

Absolutely nothing will happen, because either consumers won't buy devices that don't use FAT, or they'll have the proprietary apps needed already installed so there's no reason for Microsoft to add support for more filesystems.

Re:Really an attack on using Microsoft tech in Lin (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080267)

What do you think will happen when all external media starts using alternative formatting?

Microsoft to start filing patent lawsuits against users of the EXT 2/3/4 file systems.

Re:Really an attack on using Microsoft tech in Lin (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080589)

What TomTom (and others) need to do is start using EXT2/3 on their external cards and then distribute Fuse with their software.

No, the easy way out here is to not use long filenames. The patents is not about FAT, but about long filenames on FAT. If they need long filenames, distribute it as an tar file or loop back-file system file with a short name.

obligatory... (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080709)

No one will ever need more than 8 characters for a file name...

Re:obligatory... (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080861)

No one will ever need more than 8 characters for a file name...

Not when their system only has 640k of memory.

This will happen (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080833)

What will happen? Massive incompatibilities between device makers on either side of this war. The only solution is for consumers to install the EXT2 driver on their Windows PC, which is asking a lot for most people (really, I am not kidding, it is asking a lot).

It's embedded (0, Troll)

jythie (914043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080113)

Non-Industrial embedded developers are probably going to move away from linux (or at least the gnu bits) after GPLv3 anyway.

Re:It's embedded (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080249)

Well, considering that the core of embedded Linux these days seems to be busybox and the kernel, they aren't going anywhere (locked to GPLv2.)

The rest of the GNU environment will probably be shed as they force it all to GPLv3. I wonder if it wouldn't be possible to port the BSD userspace to Linux (BSD/Linux) to compensate?

Re:It's embedded (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080293)

That's a pretty broad statement, what do you propose people move too instead?

If this Microsoft lawsuit is because TomTom included code in their software that allows them to read CF cards formatted with the FAT filesystem, why hasn't MS gone after Redhat/Suse/etc?

I can't remember a linux box I've sat down at that can't read FAT...

Re:It's embedded (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080521)

Every cameras, PDA and the like I've ever owned has used FAT on removable storage. I don't if the manufacturers of those were licensed to use it - but if not, then wouldn't laches [wikipedia.org] apply?

IANAL, BPSWI could explain whether "sleeping on your rights" with regard to one person's supposed infringment may be used as a defence by someone else?

Re:It's embedded (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080935)

Every camera I've owned only writes short filenames. And the patent is being broadly licensed.

Patents, not code (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080153)

Last time I checked, MS sued TomTom over patents. If TomTom would use its patent pool to cross license patents with MS to resolve the situation, where does this violate GPL2 (which is a copyright license)?

Mod article down as "FUD".

Re:Patents, not code (5, Informative)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080239)

Actually, the GPL forbids restricting other people's freedom.

It is, and should be, a GPL violation to secretly get a patent license. If TomTom were to cave to MS without getting slapped with a GPL violation, then anyone who uses tomtom's work would be opening themselves up to patent infringement suits.

Please RTFM and actually read the GPL. A good grep would be "they do not excuse you". Search the GPL for that text and you'll zero in on what I think is a very critical "failsafe" in the GPL.

Re:Patents, not code (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080625)

Licensing a patent so that you can use and/or distribute GPL'd software in no way restricts others' use of that same software, and therefore has nothing in my opinion to do with the GPLv2. The GPLv3 was written with this in mind, and explicit entries were added to deal with patents and other such nonsense.

The kernel is not GPLv3, but GPLv2 and unless Tomtom tries to in some way restrict access to the source for the software it distributes, they are in no way violating the GPLv2 in spirit or in fact.

Re:Patents, not code (1)

AtomicJake (795218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080687)

So, either TomTom has patents and can cross-license them (patents, not code) or not. Where is Linux involved?

TomTom can use Linux and run licensed code and patented code on top of Linux. Where did you read "patents on Linux"?

[I see that MS might want to blow Linux with this patent suit -- but I can't see the "fascinating theory", which just results into "FUD".]

Re:Patents, not code (2, Interesting)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080825)

it's still not black and white. At least with GPLv2 you don't have to have all open hardware, IE the entire device doesn't have to be patent/license free, just the software that was compiled with GPL'd code. IE they are free to negotiate license's for attached devices sold in the same package. Also since the FAT resides on a separate chip, then how does a license negotiation over that affect the GPL'd code, as long as the interface used in the kernel doesn't require a license?
Otherwise every computer/TIVO, etc shipped with any DRM, or propitiatory video card, or Sony memory stick reader could be sold with GPLv2 code. Since that was changed in GPLv3, that would be different analysis.

a patent agreement would violate the GPL (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080711)

"If TomTom would use its patent pool to cross license patents with MS to resolve the situation, where does this violate GPL2 (which is a copyright license)?"

'7 [tomtom.com] . If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License'

'If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program'

Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (1, Insightful)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080167)

I love how the title uses the words "Real Reason", then goes on to cite a blog author who says "I have heard rumors...", then points to another blog that promotes a "fascinating theory".

And yet we wonder why Kdawson hasn't been reprimanded.

Re:Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (2, Funny)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080297)

And yet we wonder why Kdawson hasn't been reprimanded.

He was reprimanded most severely. That is I mean I think he was. Actually I heard they denied him cake once. Well, someone I know said they read it.

I think.....

Re:Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080679)

It meant nothing, as the cake was a lie.

Re:Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080889)

It meant nothing, as the cake was a lie.

Yeah they had pie instead and we all know pie is superior to cake.

Re:Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080737)

Oh, I think I know what you're talking about. I think I saw a discussion of that here [slashdot.org] . I'm pretty sure that's it. Yeah, that's obvious evidence that he was.

Re:Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080317)

I don't know why you got modded insightful, but CmdrTaco posted this article, not kdawson...

fascinating explanation (3, Insightful)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080539)

'then points to another blog that promotes a "fascinating theory"'

Actually that's .. points to a fascinating explanation by Jeremy Allison of the Samba project...

Re:Slashdot's Super Accurate Information Bandwagon (2, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080855)

And yet we wonder why Kdawson hasn't been reprimanded.

Uh, because he didn't post the article ?

The real reason KDawson spouts FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080919)

We know KDawson spouts a lot of FUD: but what exactly is KDawson hoping to achieve? Slashdot's Anonymous Coward has a fascinating theory: 'What people are missing about this is the either/or choice that CmdrTaco is giving Slashdot editors. It isn't a case of turning up at work, playing with a red stapler, posting a few stories and pissing off home. If KDawson or any other editor fails to generate a certain number of visitors-per-day for Slashdot, then under Section 7 of their employment contracts, they lose the right to not be anally violated by CmdrTaco. Make no mistake, this is intended to force KDawson to be anally violated, or get more visitors to Slashdot.'

Why does tomtom need long filenames anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080179)

What harm would it do their software if they stripped out the portion that gets around the 8.3 filename limitation? Do they really need long filenames that bad?

Classic GPL (-1, Troll)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080241)

Just one more case where the GPL causes unnecessary problems. Unfortunately, I'm about to be marked troll and flamebait, even though this comment is neither, because of the other way that the GPL causes problems: zealots.

Re:Classic GPL (2, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080399)

So Microsoft sues someone and the GPL is what you blame?

Re:Classic GPL (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080533)

Absolutely. If Tivo weren't using a GPL product, Microsoft wouldn't be able to hang Tivo on disconnected third party patent purchase. You like that Netflix show download? 'Cause Tivo pays Frauenhoffer for their MPEG2 MP3 decoder.

You've never in your entire life seen BSD, ZLib or MIT license cause a problem like this.

Re:Classic GPL (4, Informative)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080407)

You seem to have a misunderstanding of what the GPL is. It is a method of payment. TomTom using GPL'd software must abide by the payment method. That is, by providing the source for use or change by the people who they are selling to. Instead of dealing with dollars they deal with IP.

The problem at hand is that MS feels that TomTom should be paying for their patents, which would violate the GPL payment method.

You should be marked troll as you are obviously trolling for this response.

Re:Classic GPL (2, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080599)

At no point did I try to evaluate what GPL is; as such by definition I could not be misunderstanding the nature of GPL, as I made no observations in that direction.

Trolling is when people make ugly jokes to start a fight, not when people have an opinion you don't agree with. GPL zealots seem uniquely unable to tell the difference.

The problem at hand is that MS feels that TomTom should be paying for their patents

Wrong. The trouble is that TomTom is paying for their patents. Which means they can't use their GPLed products at all. Wait'll you realize how many other GPL vendors also break this GPL rule; it ruins almost every GPL basis device on the market.

Like that TiVo internet download? Not for long: it licenses Frauenhoffer and Dolby technologies.

Please stop lashing out with attacks every time someone disagrees with you. Slashdot's GPL community didn't used to be this rabid or ugly.

Re:Classic GPL (1)

listen (20464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080749)

Make sure you read the mere aggregation clause.
Dunce.

Re:Classic GPL (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080917)

Make sure you read the lawsuit. The mere aggregation clause isn't strong enough, as evidenced by what's happening right now.

It is, however, classic GPL zealot behavior to question the intelligence of people who disagree with them. So thanks for letting me know you're a dutiful herd member.

Re:Classic GPL (2)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080459)

It's not a problem if you agree with the principles of the GPL. Otherwise someone could modify the Linux kernel, and while being forced to release the code, they could make it illegal for anybody else to modify and distribute the code by entangling it with a patent license.

BSD has the same problem, they don't don't see it as a problem. If someone wants to close off BSD code to you and I, they can.

Re:Classic GPL (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080677)

It's not a problem if you agree with the principles of the GPL.

It is if you remember that the context is the device vendors who are going down in a tailspin because the principles of the GPL extend to cutting off everything they need to do business, such as access to purchase licensed technologies.

BSD has the same problem, they don't don't see it as a problem.

You've completely missed what's going on, here. The problem is specifically that GPL says if you license a technology you cannot have ours. BSD explicitly does not have this problem. At all.

It's unfortunate that you feel the need to replace the problem with something of your own device, then say it isn't a problem, then say BSD has the problem too. It keeps you from understanding what's wrong with GPL, these jumping through of the standard answer hoops.

If someone wants to close off BSD code to you and I, they can.

Yes. And when they do, it's almost always by moving to GPL; note what happened to the Antigrain Graphics crowd. More important here is that GPL IS ALWAYS CLOSED OFF, which is what's causing this lawsuit in the first place; it's just that the way in which it's closed off is in a fashion that people who drink the koolaid insist isn't a problem.

All the while screaming about how BSD code can be closed.

Which one do you see happening in the real world?

Re:Classic GPL (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080869)

Otherwise someone could modify the Linux kernel, and while being forced to release the code, they could make it illegal for anybody else to modify and distribute the code by entangling it with a patent license.

Which is more-or-less exactly what happened when they shipped a kernel with FAT LFN support. It's not like the kernel devs were ignorant of this patent.

Re:Classic GPL (1)

The River (1335603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080493)

Yeah, causes unnecessary "problems" in the same way that all licenses do: you can't use the software in a way the license forbids. "Unnecessary problems" are common to all non-public-domain software, and most have more of these "problems" than software licensed under the GPL.

Re:Classic GPL (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080729)

Uh, no.

1) BSD doesn't cause these problems, because it doesn't forbid things asininely. Same goes for the other counterexamples I gave.
2) Unnecessary legal problems have never happened with any of my libraries, or any MIT/BSD/ZLib library I can name, other than the GPL goons insisting on detail oriented license compatability.
3) You're confusing problems with unnecessary problems. The problems other licenses have do not uniformly regard restrictions which serve no purpose. This restriction serves no purpose.

I'd say it was a nice try, but it wasn't. Please give concrete examples instead of vague handwaving if you choose to reply. Making universal statements which aren't actually universal is boring GPL canon.

I'm Hooked on Linux!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080279)

I would never use anything else! Hi Joanne!

OPEN SORES software (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080437)

More problems with this OPEN SORES software. It's just not worth it. Support innovation and hard work; support our economy and jobs: SUPPORT CLOSED SOURCE SOFTWARE!

Linux Action Show says no (3, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080453)

The guys over at the Linux Action show (in their last episode) seem to adamantly think that this lawsuit has nothing to do with Linux. Jeremy Allison is probably a pretty jaded individual at this point (and rightly so), so having the view of someone else more familiar with these legal quagmires may be helpful.

UDF (2, Interesting)

tzot (834456) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080485)

So, is UDF an acceptable replacement for FAT (FAT32) filesystems on CF, SD etc devices?

I think it's not patented (but ICBW) and I believe (but ICBW again) Windows has the ability to read/write UDF filesystems.

Good work Stallman... (3, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080503)

"There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others." Niccolo Machiavelli The escalation is not all Microsoft's. GPLv2 is proof that the FSF was looking forward to this scenario.

Again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080509)

Please folks, stop making a big FUD out of this. Always people tend to blow any lawsuit from Microsoft regarding Linux, FOSS, GPL or GNU. If we'd like to see more users start to use Linux or FOSS products, just ignore these cases.

With this people start to doubt if they even should consider using any of these products because of these cases we all as a community blow out of its proportions. I once nearly convinced a big customer (a bank) to switch to Linux, but they did not pursue because of the pattent infringements Linux would have done, which it didn't.

The point is with us blowing these things up, we are creating far more PR for Microsoft then they ever could have dreamt of.

Which bank is that AC? (1, Insightful)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080631)

All banks are using Linux, so I really look forward to know about the only one that is not doing so.

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