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Microsoft, Amazon Ink Kindle and Linux Patent Deal

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-a-random-headline-generator dept.

Microsoft 161

theodp writes "Microsoft says it has reached a wide-ranging IP agreement with Amazon in which each company has granted the other a license to its patent portfolio. Microsoft says the agreement covers technologies in products such as Amazon's Kindle — including open-source and proprietary technologies used in the e-reader — in addition to the use of Linux-based servers. Microsoft issued a news release celebrating the accord, while Amazon declined to comment. 'We are pleased to have entered into this patent license agreement with Amazon.com,' said Microsoft's deputy general counsel. 'Microsoft's patent portfolio is the largest and strongest in the software industry, and this agreement demonstrates our mutual respect for intellectual property as well as our ability to reach pragmatic solutions to IP issues regardless of whether proprietary or open source software is involved.' A Microsoft representative declined to say which of its products are covered by the deal."

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You Know What Else This Means ... (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243730)

From Microsoft's press release:

The agreement provides each company with access to the other’s patent portfolio and covers a broad range of products and technology ...

Now Microsoft will be able to sell all its products with just one click [slashdot.org] !

But seriously where does this end? Will we see the death of Microsoft's .lit format [microsoft.com] in favor of Kindle's .azw? Will Amazon push out and offer Azure on EC2 [microsoft.com] ?

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243760)

Nah, they'll make it .lizxazw2010

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244010)

But i thought Microsoft said >3 character extensions are for losers?

.docx

Oh... oh, nevermind.

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243990)

How does Amazon give access to open source to Microsoft. Would MS already have access to it? Either MS is bullshitting about the meaning or something is nefarious is in the details that MS will attempt to pull out in a future court case against FOSS....probably a bit of both. Come to think of it, MS has been using Amazon's One Click IP when their software blue screens with but one click of the mouse.

Why bother (2, Insightful)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244242)

Microsoft doesnt have to sue linux companies, they just reach settlements with companies that use linux, the either

a) Encourage companies to use microsoft products through FUD
or
b) Get IP revenue from settlements.

If they tried to directly take on linux companies other than SUSE then they would have to disclose the patents.
Im sure if Microsoft tried to take on Red Hat then they would probably wind up clashing with IBM.

Re:Why bother (3, Interesting)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244680)

...if Microsoft tried to take on Red Hat then they would probably wind up clashing with IBM.

Speaking of IBM, this quote in the summary hit me:

'Microsoft's patent portfolio is the largest and strongest in the software industry,...

I always thought IBM had the biggest software patent portfolio. Or is IBM's entire portfolio the biggest, but some of it's hardware, so the software component is smaller than Microsoft's?

Somebody who knows more about this, please chime in....

Re:Why bother (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244952)

No, I think it's just a Microsoft rep talking about things he knows nothing about.

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (2, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244294)

It's probably the same patent issues claimed in 2004: Linux potentially infringes 283 patents [zdnet.com] .

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244402)

oh, so you mean the ones never substantiated?

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244438)

That's pretty much what I was getting at, yeah.

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244168)

.Lit was already rotting on the vine.

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (4, Insightful)

autophile (640621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244230)

Will we see the death of Microsoft's .lit format [microsoft.com] in favor of Kindle's .azw?

Oh, I hope not. Both formats suck compared to epub, and azw (i.e. mobipocket) is an extremely stripped-down version of html. Lit at least has more html functionality. But I hope both formats die.

My own take is that Microsoft wants to put out an ebook reader which will probably use Amazon's patents, so Microsoft probably told Amazon "Nice patent portfolio you got here. Be a shame if it burned down. You should have insurance!"

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244714)

.Lit met Kindle and soon Microsoft proclaimed: We didn't start the fire.

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (2, Interesting)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244990)

Pirates seem to love the Lit format, I have no idea why. Out of all the ebooks I've seen, most are in either lit, pdf, or html. I personally convert 90% of the stuff I get to epub, but most people seem almost idiotically short-sighted - crying about how epub can be DRM'd (password-protected container, I guess), and ignoring the fact that lit is a proprietary format that very little works with properly. Anyone with a brain knows that ePub is the only proper format. My theory is that there's very few people suitable for it - you need almost a web designer to handle the markup properly, but most web designers are lazy hacks and idiots who still use HTML 4.01 transitional, and ePub calls for XHTML 1.1 Strict.

Re:You Know What Else This Means ... (1)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245086)

Anyone with a brain knows that ePub is the only proper format.

Would you mind explaining why? I personally have no idea how an ebook format would be superior to another. I don't own an ebook reader and usually don't read ebooks at all, but I'm curious.

Please enlighten this humble scarecrow.

Microsoft's anti-Linux patent strategy (5, Informative)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244340)

This suggests Microsoft's anti-Linux patent strategy is alive and well.

For those just getting up to speed:

Microsoft doesn't feel like competing fairly against open source products. So it attempts to use dubious legal trickery instead.

This started with SCO - a failed Unix company that took Microsoft investment in exchange for executing a legal attack on Linux vendors and users (based on copyright and licensing issues). The claim: that Linux infringed on their intellectual property rights. Their conduct in the case was truly awful (making the claim but resisting an explanation about what infringed; trying to shake down any and every Linux owner). Latest status here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCO-Linux_controversies [wikipedia.org]

This was only one aspect of the FUD campaign. Patents were another. Microsoft struck a patent deal with struggling Novel, and it feels very similar to what we see here. The implication: Novel agrees its use of Linux somehow infringed on Microsoft's patents, and that it (and by extension everyone else) must pay Microsoft to use Linux.

The FSF's response explains the problem:

http://www.fsf.org/news/microsoft_response [fsf.org]

The article describes other similar cases.

Now we have Amazon making a deal. They have far fewer reasons on the surface, but I imagine we'll find out why at some point, and it probably has something to do with a much stronger, non-Linux-related, perhaps non-software patent that Microsoft holds and which they violate. In the process of being sued and settling, Microsoft enticed them to accept terms which included a similar "Linux-FUD" clause - allowing an announcement just like this.

Although software patents are utterly and obviously ridiculous, and although most first world nations besides the US don't allow them, and although even the US is moving away from them (see Bilski)... even given that many large companies such as IBM have announced that they will defend Linux with their own patent portfolios... even after Microsoft has weathered an antitrust trial (and should feel themselves on thin ice when it comes to anticompetitive behavior)... they appear to still be pursuing a legal strategy of attacking Linux via barratry.

In the deranged world of software patents, there is not exactly any such thing as sane legal reasoning. But as Microsoft convinces more companies to pay them for their use of Linux, then their patent claim gains a slimy veneer of legitimacy (or so they hope). Otherwise "why would so many people pay them?" This circular reasoning strengthens them in their eventual legal battles to come, as they attempt to hurt (or even end) the use of Linux.

Of course, this is not just about Linux. Were Microsoft or any other company to succeed at this game, they would effectively make open source software impossible.

Re:Microsoft's anti-Linux patent strategy (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245012)

Now we have Amazon making a deal. They have far fewer reasons on the surface, but I imagine we'll find out why at some point, and it probably has something to do with a much stronger, non-Linux-related, perhaps non-software patent that Microsoft holds and which they violate.

Or they wish to jointly own and patent every possible method, and jointly charge license fees to everyone for waking up in the morning (since they've patented that method).

Awesome (2, Funny)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245362)

"...but I imagine... probably has something to do with... they appear to..."

That's just awesome. You got +5 informative explaining how Microsoft mighht be guilty of unknown shenanigans.

Slashdot's just plain broken.

-1 Troll. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31245476)

You must be real fun with police. Or in court. Or in a doctor's office. Or any of the other places they're also smart enough not to talk in certainties, like a 4 year old, until they actually are certain.

Erm (5, Funny)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243742)

A Microsoft representative declined to say which of its products are covered by the deal."

Which is like doing the following:
"Hey dude, I did something really cool!"
"Oh yeah, what's that?"
"Not telling! Tee hee!"

Re:Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244162)

"Tee" means "Tea" in Germany. And indeed it is time for a tea party to get rid off software patents, once and for all. But so far as I can see only the FFII [ffii.org] takes the mission seriously while many other players including the EFF and FSF (RMS excluded) somehow accept software patenting.

What can done?

Anti-trust anyone? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31243780)

If all copyright holders on software patents start to create bilateral agreements, it will eventually become clear that software patents are only an artificial entry barrier.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243856)

...it will eventually become clear that software patents are only an artificial entry barrier.

Like they already aren't?

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244084)

To be fair they really are.
Without patents:

1: I write some nice software and sell it.
2a: I make a little money, not enough to quit my day job.
2b: I don't make money, all I've lost is time.

With patents:
1: I try to research previous patents, they're almost unreadable..... I have no money to hire a patent lawyer(barrier to entry one)... so I can't be certain if my idea has already been patented.
2a: I stop for fear of infringing on someones patent and being sued into the ground.(barrier to entry 2)
2b: I keep going and write my app... it might be infringing but I don't think it is....
3a: I make a little money.
3b: I make no money.
4: Someone sues me.
5a: It is infringing- well they pull out records that yes I did view their patent in the course of my research in step 1 and obviously stole their idea. They get tripple damages I lose my house. (barrier to entry 3)
5b: It is not infringing - so what. I don't have the money for a good lawyer, they win I lose my house.(barrier to entry 4)
5c: It is not infringing - by some miracle I win.... I'm still left with a pile of legal bills and I lose my house.(barrier to entry 5)

In theory the patent system could help me by letting me be just like the guys who sue in the above but I don't have the thousands of dollars it takes to get a patent through nor the time.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244226)

The acronyms that are part of the anwer for you are:

LLC and/or INC.

Look them up, they will help.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244292)

Ooh, another barrier for entry... having to pay to become a LLC or Corporation to have something to dissolve when you lose your patent fight to high priced lawyers.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244462)

It's really not that expensive to become an LLC or Corporation.

In fact considering the litigious society of today, it may be a good idea.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (3, Insightful)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244464)

Eh, it's not that bad. in Wisconsin (or at least my part of it) it costs $150 to register a company as a LLC. That's a fairly low barrier.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (2, Insightful)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244546)

Exactly. If you can't cross that barrier to entry you really shouldn't be starting a business in the first place.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (3, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244790)

You mean if you don't have money and a group of like minded people to organise with?

we've gone from something you can do in an almost offhand manner(create a product) where ther only skill and knowledge required is technical in nature to having to find people to incorperate with,incoperate,hire lawyers or know enough to avoid getting screwed by the poeple you're incorperating with, hire lawyers to defend you in patent cases...etc etc etc do you really not think these are real barriers to entry?

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

design1066 (1081505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245036)

Yes

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245094)

You don't need to organize at all for an LLC or corp. I formed an LLC with a total investment of about $100. A corp can also be formed by a single person but there's a lot more formality required to this.

The real benefit of doing this is just to protect yourself in case you get sued. I know many people that formed an LLC purely for asset protection and since then do whatever they want (create products).

If you do get sued into oblivion operating this way then all you have to lose is the business and its assets. With an LLC you can easily keep these losses quite small. I say again, if you can't afford what is really a very small monetary and time investment to protect yourself then you shouldn't be starting a business.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (2, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245398)

And I say that the mere fact that you have to start a buisness at all just to make something useful is a barrier.
If I make an distribute something I think will be useful to people and I don't try to make any money at all I can still be sued for infringing on someones patent.

Barriers to entry don't have to be insurmountable to be barriers.
They only have to be awkward,incomprehensible,unknown or even just time consuming enough to make people not bother.

Barrier? Please. (2, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245516)

"And I say that the mere fact that you have to start a buisness at all just to make something useful is a barrier... Barriers to entry don't have to be insurmountable to be barriers..."

If you consider that a barrier... well... it's about as much a barrier as is the need for you to put on pants in the morning. Since nothing stops you from completing that task, and it's neither expensive nor time-consuming, I have to conclude that you're talking out your ass on this one.

Re:Barrier? Please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31245674)

Ok, so you wouldn't mind if you had to set up new companies for everything you enjoy doing in your spare time? If I want to write code in my spare time and distribute it for free, why the fuck should I need to set up a business - its not a business, it's a hobby thanks. Maybe I need to set up a corporation to take a shit in the morning too?

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244528)

1: I try to research previous patents, they're almost unreadable..... I have no money to hire a patent lawyer(barrier to entry one)... so I can't be certain if my idea has already been patented.

Then what you need to do is to join [or form] a co-op with other independent developers.

Build an organization that will have the resources to do the necessary research, provide legal assistance and technical support - and - gasp! wheeze! - lobby effectively for your interests.

Which may not always be the same as the more ideologically oriented FSF.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244892)

so lets add: having to form a co-op and organise with other people if I want any kind of a chance(barrier to entry 6)

You really think all this stuff is not far harder than "sit in your basement alone coding until you've got something to sell"

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (3, Informative)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244978)

With patents:

1. I write some nice software and sell it (without researching patents)
2a. I make a little money, not enough to quit my day job, remain below the horizon of any patent-holders, and so nothing arises. The end.
2b. I make a lot of money; a patent-holder notices and orders me to cease distribution, so I do. The end.
2c. I make a lot of money; a patent-holder notices and asks for a licensing fee, so I pay it and continue to make not quite as much money. The end.

No barriers.

You DO NOT have a duty to research whether your work infringes on prior patents. Lawyers will specifically instruct you NOT to do this research. Moreover, the fact that you came up with the idea yourself is good-faith evidence that there is no patent. (Why? Because patents are notionally only granted for non-obvious inventions, and if you invented it independently then it must be obvious, and therefore a patent on it shouldn't have been granted).

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (3, Insightful)

c-reus (852386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245322)

2d. A patent troll discovers you. You get sued. You lose all your money. The end.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245554)

So if I invent something, it automatically becomes unpatentable? No, that's not what you meant. If I invent something that someone else invented, it becomes unpatentable. So then I go through the "pending" patents by looking at the store shelves and writing down all of the "patent pending" numbers, then "invent" those, and claim they are non-obvious because they were independently invented and invalidate the legitimate patent?

That couldn't be what you mean either.

The race to patent the light bulb should be a lesson - the difference between first-to-file and first-to-invent clearly invalidates the idea of independent inventions making the invention non-obvious. In an ideal world where everyone is honest, that might be true. But true protection can only exist where you distrust everyone and everything. Always scrub your input, right?

A patent system should hold up even under malicious attack. Design a system, figure out how to game it, then re-design until you can't discover another attack vector, and hope that no one else is smarter than you.

Simultaneous discoveries happen all the time in science - the current research and literature suggests an area which is unexplored, people focus attention there, and the inevitable result is that the more people looking at something, the more people will come to the same conclusion. Not only is the patent obvious based on literature, it is inevitable.

How can a patent system deal with inevitable patents while still rewarding truly unique discoveries? The only way is to have existing researchers/inventors in the field weigh in on whether the discovery is inevitable, obvious, or novel. And let the infighting begin, and no patent will ever be issued.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245286)

The best advice I've seen, not that it's necessarily correct, is that you never research patents. If you have the patent in your browser history but you didn't understand it and thought it was unrelated, you can go from infringement to intentional infringement, triple damages.

If that is true, and it feels true, the only way you can survive is to attempt to patent everything. When you do research for a patent and mention prior art, you'll realize if your patent already exists. By mentioning those patents, you clearly list which ones you looked at, and it's up to the patent office to catch a patent which you missed.

Basically your only choice is to overflow the patent office and leave your product "patent pending" so that no one uses your technology. Once that patent application is rejected due to a prior patent you missed, you can't go back and re-print all of the packaging, so you win on the surface. You got a good maybe 5 years of near-exclusive use of technology, which might be enough to tilt the market in your favor.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244414)

Government-enabled cartels.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (3, Insightful)

Inconexo (1401585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244448)

I heart that at an RMS conference years ago. Software patents mean nothing to big companies, who have enough patents to do patent-crossing (I think that was name). Little developers, on the other side, can't take advantage of them, since they have no patents to trade.

Re:Anti-trust anyone? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245228)

Of course this also means that if the little guy does get a patent and someone infringes it often the best option is to either sell it to a patent troll or become one.

If you don't actually make anything then the big company wont be able to countersue for infringing thier patents.

More Patents for Microsoft (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243844)

This is pretty obvious that this move was done in order for Microsoft to get ahold of more patents. Sure, they share the patents, but Microsoft can use even more patents now.

I do think that Amazon should use this to their advantage as soon as possible.

Stupid headline (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31243846)

Spot the verb in the headline? I didn't.

Re:Stupid headline (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243914)

Spot the verb in the headline? I didn't.

Then unless you are ESL, hang your head and go back to 4th Grade.

INK (2, Insightful)

killmenow (184444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243916)

It's a verb and a noun. Like this...

VERB: Microsoft and Amazon ink a deal.
NOUN: Microsoft fscks Amazon before the ink is dry.

Re:Stupid headline (1)

Elros (735454) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243934)

Verb

        * S: (v) ink (append one's signature to) "They inked the contract"
        * S: (v) ink (mark, coat, cover, or stain with ink) "he inked his finger"
        * S: (v) ink (fill with ink) "ink a pen"

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=ink [princeton.edu]

Re:Stupid headline (1)

edumacator (910819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244780)

English is more robust than most people think. I always think it is funny when people take archaic terms like, "to ink a deal" and make fun of it for not being proper English. Ink has been used as a transitive verb since the 1500s.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=ink

Re:Stupid headline (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245248)

i'm a world-class grammar nazi/snob/whathaveyou and i have no problem with ink/pen a deal. While i dislike most verbing, this is a tried and true expression. It's value as an expression outweighs the verbing. i don't know why anyone would have a problem with it. Furthermore, in this case ink cleverly refers to Amazon's eInk product.

If i were to "ink a Kindle" where ink would mean "buy", that would be a problem.

Microsoft (0, Offtopic)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243870)

"We're really good at making money off of other people's products! Even free software we get paid for. We're sooooo cool!! [insert crazy monkey dance here]"

Seriously...this company needs to SCO!

Crap, what next (3, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243886)

American automakers team up with Japanese automakers to produce an electric car?
Walmart inks a deal to take over every state's welfare department?
In an effort to keep Microsoft in the US, Canada becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Google?

Wait, those last two sound feasible...

Re:Crap, what next (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244348)

American automakers team up with Japanese automakers to produce an electric car?

Japanese automakers already teamed up with French automakers to produce an electric car in the USA; one you will be able to purchase outright, not just lease. It's called the Nissan LEAF. It's also about to be sold with exchangeable battery packs in a couple other countries, with assistance from their governments in building the battery swap network, and under the Renault marque.

Re:Crap, what next (2, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244486)

Walmart inks a deal to take over every state's welfare department?

Walmart wouldn't take over what it considers a free employee benefit.

Re:Crap, what next (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244902)

Suddenly I have this image of a bright yellow smiley face dodging through a hospital pulling plugs on indigent patients while whistling and singing "We're lowering welfare costs all over the place, so put on a happy face." With long Beeeeeeeeeeeeeps in the background.

Re:Crap, what next (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245154)

Walmart inks a deal to take over every state's welfare department?

Yeah, I think it'll be located between shoes and electronics, right by the bathrooms. :-)

Re:Crap, what next (1)

http (589131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245618)

Nah, Google would never take on such a debt laden company.

Sounds one-sided to me (5, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243890)

Microsoft issued a news release celebrating the accord, while Amazon declined to comment.

Microsoft says the agreement covers technologies in products such as Amazon's Kindle

A Microsoft representative declined to say which of its products are covered by the deal.

It sounds like Amazon got caught violating one or more of Microsoft's patents, and this deal was arranged to avoid a lawsuit.

Re:Sounds one-sided to me (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244026)

What I got from the statement ' A Microsoft representative declined to say which of its products are covered by the deal." was the product covered was Microsofts ass and subsequently all that issues from it.

Re:Sounds one-sided to me (2, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244072)

It sounds like Amazon got caught violating one or more of Microsoft's patents, and this deal was arranged to avoid a lawsuit.

Exactly what patent was that? Why is it a secret?

Is it possible that msft's "patent" was just another one of msft's bogus patents, but it was cheaper for amazon to sign an agreement, rather than spend the next ten years in court?

Re:Sounds one-sided to me (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244358)

it was cheaper for amazon to sign an agreement, rather than spend the next ten years in court?

Therein lies the problem. It's apparently what makes IP holding a profitable venture.

Microsoft protection racket (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244220)

"It sounds like Amazon got caught violating one or more of Microsoft's patents, and this deal was arranged to avoid a lawsuit"

It sounds an awfull lot like a protection racket. Some people we don't know say you violation some patents we don't want to talk about. Best give us a cut of the house takings, just to be safe mind, else something bad might happen.

Re:Sounds one-sided to me (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245444)

Was the Kindle using FAT32? Because we know for the TomTom case that rightly or wrongly MSFT holds the patents [wikipedia.org] for FAT32. I personally think Linux distros are pushing their luck continuing to release Fat32 support knowing MSFT holds the patents.

Embrace, Extend, yada yada (3, Insightful)

FartKnockerz (1750222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243906)

Microsoft's traditional play of "Extend, Embrace, Extinguish"..

This most likely has something to do with a Microsoft play towards Windows 7 Mobile and a slate device as an answer to Apple's iPad . Pundits are spewing about Windows 7 Mobile and the fact that it sucked less in comparison to Windows Mobile 6 (in the vein that Windows 7 sucks less than Vista). Said device would be hooked into Amazon's range of eBooks for the Kindle.

iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31243908)

I hope you guys realize that this is Amazon's and MS way to battle iTunes? I think the iPad was the final push that Amazon needed to fall for going to Microsoft.

I expect som XPad with WindowsMobile7 to be anounced and an integration with the Amazon e-bookstore.

The problem is that just like Android the WindowsMobile7 offers little new and as seen on the Droid, Hero and Legend -- the quality is not there yet in a long shot.

Apple has done some real unintentional good, it transformed the industry completely. Too bad the options aren't really options. I'm hoping for Nokias QT to start working on iPhone, Android and WM7 as well. That way, the apps become less relevant and the consumers can pick the phones that fit them best.

Personally I hate the slowness of Android, everyhting feel so slow on the Legend. But, I guess it will be better with time.

iTunes, Zune tunes :) (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244114)

"I hope you guys realize that this is Amazon's and MS way to battle iTunes? I think the iPad was the final push that Amazon needed to fall for going to Microsoft"

Please describe the correlation between Amazons core business and the iPad and iTunes and why Microsoft's Tablet computer and Microsoft's own online music service, the Zune Marketplace [microsoft.com] music service

-- spinn it all you can .. :)

Re:iTunes, Zune tunes :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244678)

correlation != causation

(sorry, slashdot rules stipulate that whenever the word 'correlation' is posted in any context, a reply must be issued containing the aforementioned phrase, even if it makes no sense whatsoever.)

Lie down with the dog, wake up with the fleas (4, Insightful)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243956)

So long Amazon, it was nice knowing you.

Re:Lie down with the dog, wake up with the fleas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244142)

So long Amazon, it was nice knowing you.

So what. The Kindle is an overpriced piece of shit.

Amazon's service has jumped the shark too.

Re:Lie down with the dog, wake up with the fleas (1)

MrFurious5150 (1189479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244412)

So long Amazon, it was nice knowing you.

You said it. If you get in bed with Microsoft, you don't get out. Just ask Sega.

"Largest and Strongest" overcompensating? (5, Funny)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243958)

Microsoft's patent portfolio is the largest and strongest in the software industry...

..for certain definitions of "the software industry" which exclude the International Business Machines Corporation.

Re:"Largest and Strongest" overcompensating? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244562)

Microsoft's patent portfolio is the largest and strongest in the software industry...

..for certain definitions of "the software industry" which exclude the International Business Machines Corporation.

They'd probably declare IBM as a hardware and services company, and not in the software business. Gotta love marketers...

Re:"Largest and Strongest" overcompensating? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244570)

Well to be fair, how many of Microsoft's patents covers software? And how many of IBM's patents covers software?

IBM gets a crapload of patents every year, but since IBM has a huge hardware division most of those patents are probably hardware related.

Re:"Largest and Strongest" overcompensating? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244672)

..for certain definitions of "the software industry" which exclude the International Business Machines Corporation.

How many patents are cross-licensed between IBM and Microsoft? I am betting the number is greater than zero.

Re:"Largest and Strongest" overcompensating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31245438)

..for certain definitions of "the software industry" which exclude the International Business Machines Corporation.

How many patents are cross-licensed between IBM and Microsoft? I am betting the number is greater than zero.

I bet it is also less than infinity.

Software patents are evil (2, Interesting)

apexwm (1612713) | more than 4 years ago | (#31243972)

This statement is scary: "this agreement demonstrates our mutual respect for intellectual property as well as our ability to reach pragmatic solutions to IP issues regardless of whether proprietary or open source software is involved." The fact that they brought in open source is scary. And the fact that Amazon is paying Microsoft, only adds to the fire that Microsoft started with their software patent rage. Hopefully, software patents will eventually go away, as it is now being revisited in court. Software patents are giving Microsoft uncompetitive advantages in many areas. It's essentially giving Microsoft monopolistic advantages all over again, after the anti-trust cases of the 1990's. http://members.apex-internet.com/sa/windowslinux [apex-internet.com]

Boycott Amazon... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31243986)

They have helped Microsoft spread their FUD on patent issues and Linux.

I'll not be making any more purchases from Amazon.

Re:Boycott Amazon... (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244068)

That's a great idea. Boycotts are such an incredibly effective tool for small groups holding a minority position. Remember when the southern baptists effectively shut down Disney [cnn.com] with their boycott? I think Disney still hasn't recovered. If every single person that is passionate about software patents boycotts Amazon I think we'll see the same level of amazing success in bringing about real change.

Microsoft licenses Linux to Amazon (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31243988)

Is this even legal, MS is making some sort of property claims , else they are engaged in an extortion racket. What does the FSF [fsf.org] have to say on all this ? I think a definitive statement from them would help clear the air. a statement to the effect that such secret deals are bogus and have no standing in law.

Amazon, Microsoft sign patent deal [zdnetasia.com]

Re:Microsoft licenses Linux to Amazon (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244188)

Since msft got away with doing the same thing to TomTom, I suppose these deals are effectively legal.

Msft seems to love extortion rackets. The "Business Software Alliance" is another example.

Re:Microsoft licenses Linux to Amazon (2)

andydread (758754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244890)

This is a horrible development and I am not sure if anyone but Microsoft understands the scope of the damage that they are doing to FOSS here. I call on the FSF, OSDL/Linux Foundation and others to SPEAK UP! on this and do something about it. I wonder if people like Linus even cares about this?

Microsoft patent racketeering (5, Informative)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244004)

This patent stuff has got to be a gold mine for msft. IP extortion seems to be a brilliant business model.

February 22, 2010
Microsoft, Amazon strike patent deal covering Kindle and Linux

As would be expected, the actual patents that were supposedly violated are not disclosed. For many years msft claimed that Linux violates msft patents, but msft absolutely refuses to disclose which patents.

Microsoft says the deal grants Amazon patent-related "coverage" for its use of open-source and proprietary technologies in its Kindle e-reader, and its use of Linux-based computer servers.

At the same time, the deal has the potential to stir new controversy in the tech industry, if it's interpreted as Amazon implicitly endorsing Microsoft's claims that Linux and other open-source technologies violate its patents.

February 19, 2010
Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures Could be Biggest Racketeering Operation in the United States and Beyond

Patent thug Nathan Myhrvold turns out to have over 1,000 patent proxies with which to potentially attack and extort those who do not pay "protection money"; he also spent over $1 million lobbying his government

THE New York Times has published this report about Microsoft's patent troll Nathan Myhrvold, who is backed by his colleague Bill Gates, his former employer Microsoft, and even Apple. He already terrorises the industry using patents that it spent literally billions of dollars acquiring (not actually working to invent anything of substance).

http://boycottnovell.com/2010/02/19/nathan-myhrvold-exposed-again/ [boycottnovell.com]

And here is the NYT article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/technology/18patent.html [nytimes.com]

I suppose using the US legal system for patent extortion is especially cost effective since msft uses offshore labor for the legal work.

February 18, 2010
Microsoft to outsource general legal work to India

Software giant Microsoft will begin outsourcing general legal work to India after signing a deal with legal process outsourcing (LPO) company CPA Global. The news comes as CPA outlined plans to expand its Indian workforce from 600 to 1,000 by the end of 2011, and hinted at opening another outsourcing centre.

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/microsoft-outsource-general-legal-work-india [lawgazette.co.uk]

Re:Microsoft patent racketeering (1)

VulpesFoxnik (1493687) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244158)

Wait... now they are outsourcing their Lawyers? What next? Their CEO?

Outsourcing turn up to 11. (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244240)

Yep, just after they outsource their work ethics and just before they outsource their liability.

Ultimately, only their gold-collecting pockets will remain their own.

Re:Microsoft patent racketeering (1, Troll)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244290)

I can't imagine lawyers in India that are in-depth knowledgeable about the US Legal System and what is required to file and what arguments to make, not to mention admitted to the bar in the USA Taking depositions and actually going to court would be difficult from India! Maybe those guys type the standard form letters MS sends out alleging patent and copyright violations. Actually their web site says they do all the legwork paralegals normally do like case law and other research, etc for IP law cases. So they aren't lawyers but lawyers helpers.

Re:Microsoft patent racketeering (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244318)

I suppose using the US legal system for patent extortion is especially cost effective since msft uses offshore labor for the legal work

More to the point, the US legal system is designed to make exploiting the law for profit easy -- for the elite who have the priveledge and resources to do it.

The more complex and ambiguous the law, the more lucrative and exploitable the law is for those who design the law. Not only does complexifying the law justify insane amounts of power and revenue just to manage it all, but it ensures that there is always a winning move for the legal elite.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, the US legal system is the most complex and ambiguous legal system in the entire world. That's no accident, and it's obviously not "by the people, for the people".

Tell us the patents (5, Interesting)

dandart (1274360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244058)

I think MS should tell infringing parties which of its patents are being infringed, otherwise its patent claim should be invalidated due to insufficient proof.

This speaks volumes (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244066)

Microsoft issued a news release celebrating the accord, while Amazon declined to comment.

Sometimes which dog is barking tells you a lot about what's going on out in the pasture.

Patent Deal (1)

dontgetshocked (1073678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244122)

Resistance is futile.You will be assimilated.

Corporate blackmail (2, Funny)

kaaposc (1515329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244204)

Rephrasing Al Capone's famous quote:

"You can get further with a kind word and a mighty patent portfolio than you can with just a kind word."

it's about precedent (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244224)

If MS can get some well known companies like Amazon to license open source software for them, then when they approach the next set of companies with an "agreement", they'll have a precedent. Open source violates MS patents, so MS must be paid if you use it, and here's a list of other companies which have already agreed.

More Descriptive Terminology (1, Flamebait)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244388)

Microsoft's patent portfolio is the largest and strongest in the software industry

I like to mentally replace 'patent portfolio' with the more accurate term 'bullshit'. It certainly makes this sentence read better. Are companies at point now that lawyers outnumber engineers and software developers?

Re:More Descriptive Terminology (2, Insightful)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245472)

Are companies at point now that lawyers outnumber engineers and software developers?

I think you fail to realize the relative productivity of an engineer and a lawyer. Think about how many man years it takes to develop a non-trivial, market ready software product vs filing a legal brief?

Azure is crap, MS knows it. They need to learn fro (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31244582)

Azure is crap, MS knows it. They need to learn from Amazon.

Sadly, one of our largest clients has signed a deal with MS to deploy Azure over all the competing technologies in the x86 space. The deal was signed at the top, without input from the technical people who know the crap they will have to deal with. VMware isn't perfect, but everyone would agree it is the most mature of the x86.

Previous leadership has inked a few deals with Oracle and Microsoft that turned out to waste over a 2 yrs each in 200+ IT people and millions in IT infrastructure. Both ended up being thrown out in the 3rd year when the projects were know were near completion and WAY over budget. They never learn that golf course deals rarely turn out well.

Does anyone still use Biztalk in a high volume enterprise? No? Failure is the term we use for it. Azure will probably end up similar. Even since MS gives the software away, gives 10 consultants to make it work, they don't pay us for the 200 additional people it takes to make it work from now until future leadership finally pulls the plug. Boo.

info on http://en.swpat.org (5, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244646)

Here's some background info on these deals:

I don't time right now to look into this deal, so if someone could add info to en.swpat.org about it, that would be great. Otherwise I'll do it later.

ClearType (3, Interesting)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244792)

Perhaps this agreement is about ClearType. It's covered by known MS patents, and that's why subpixel font rendering is disabled in many Linux distributions. Amazon might need it, or some related technology, for its Kindle.

Pack it up. FOSS is done for. (-1, Troll)

andydread (758754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244806)

Microsoft has won. Open Source/Free Sofware as we know it will never be the same. They have effectively put a cost on any serious use of Linux in the marketplace. "You open source folks are free to tinker but any serious deployments or projects will have to pay us the Microsoft tax." This will effectively slow the rate of adoption of Linux/GNU in the marketplace. And why do i think they won? Because the FOSS community is just sitting back burying their heads and doing nothing about this. HELLO LINUS!!, ODSL, FSF, SAMBA, Microsoft is making money on your back in the most egregious manner while continuing to spread fear in the marketplace. Are you going to continue to bury your collective heads in the sand or are you going to do something about this extortion racket that Microsoft is running behind your backs? If the community does nothing then Microsoft wins. This is terrible. What a nightmare.

Where's Apple in this Deal? (1)

flahwho (1243110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31244964)

"A Microsoft representative declined to say which of its products are covered by the deal."

It must be Microsoft Linux!

--
stupid robots...

this agreement demonstrates... (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31245174)

this agreement demonstrates... yet another facet of corporate control. Large corporations can cross-license. Small companies and individual entrepreneurs will continue to get squashed by patents.

There, fixed that for him.

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