×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

IO Data Licenses Microsoft's "Linux Patents"

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bigger-than-we-are dept.

Businesses 197

eldavojohn writes "The Japanese computer manuracturer IO Data is the latest in line to license Microsoft's so-called 'Linux patents,' following the likes of Novell, Samsung, and Amazon. Yes, even the press releases use the word 'Linux' to describe these patents. From the press release: 'Specifically, the patent covenants apply to I-O Data's network-attached storage devices and its routers, which run Linux. Although the details of the agreement have not been disclosed, the parties indicated that Microsoft is being compensated by I-O Data.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

197 comments

Rinux (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31360678)

Rinux 4 lolz.

North Korea (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360712)

I bet Kim Jung Il didn't license those "Linux patents" from Microsoft when he rolled out Red Star. Is that grounds for attacking North Korea?

Re:North Korea (4, Funny)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360766)

Maybe it's a job for the Microsoft ninjas.

Re:North Korea (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360966)

Maybe it's a job for the Microsoft ninjas.

Now there's a movie I'd pay to watch. I wonder what Steven Segal is doing this year...

Re:North Korea (3, Informative)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360968)

From looking at their website, you would be led to believe that all they do is sell hard drives to consumers and set top boxes to cable companies. So, if you refuse to buy external hard drives with the model numbers:

HDC-UXW250, HDC-UXW320, HDC-UXW400, HDC-UXW500, HDL-GXW250, HDL-GXW320, HDL-GXW400, HDL-GXW500

That should allow you to reward them appropriately.

Is there anything else they sell? From reading their presidents statement, they seem to go in and out of the business of making X over and over again and partner up with a series of corporate boyfriends because they don't have the talent to make things in house. Not someone whose institution I'd want to fund...

Re:North Korea (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361194)

That should allow you to reward them appropriately.

Uhhh...what great moral failure are we punishing them for? Licensing something we don't think should be licensed?

Re:North Korea (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361450)

Uhhh...what great moral failure are we punishing them for?

Yes. But it's not "punishing" it's letting them know our opinion using our wallets.

Re:North Korea (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361602)

Uhhh...what great moral failure are we punishing them for? Licensing something we don't think should be licensed?

Absolutely. People always talk about "voting with your wallet". While I don't think it's generally effective, this is exactly what that is.

After all, what's the point in "voting with your wallet" if you can't exercise it to promote behavior you agree with, or punish behavior you disagree with?

Ninjas? Plural? (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361078)

You actually recommend using more than one ninja? Do you not understand the Inverse Ninja Law? [wikipedia.org] It's pretty simple. Watch any martial arts film. A single ninja, by himself, will kick the ass of anyone less than Chuck Norris. However, a group of ninjas will always be defeated. There is a conservation of Ninjutsu at work, the more ninjas, the less power each of them have. If you want the job done right, send only one ninja.

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361378)

Man, quiet down. Microsoft might be reading this!

Err, I mean, Microsoft should *definitely* send *thousands* of Ninjas.

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (4, Funny)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361396)

What if I send half a ninja? Will that half be even more powerful than one ninja?

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361546)

Yes, children ninjas always escape unharmed and finishing their goal after a long, yet comic battle with the minions of evil.

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (2, Funny)

Grapes4Buddha (32825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361590)

Exactly. Personally, I think that this makes complete sense. Ninjas have a reputation for being invisible when they attack. It stands to reason that you would be guaranteed success by sending a vanishingly small portion of a ninja. Of course, you couldn't send no ninja. But maybe a homeopathic quantity of ninja-essence?

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361712)

You can't have half a ninja* - the ninja is an indivisible unit, like Planck's constant or something.

* ignoring any twatty films starring a child with the title "Half a Ninja" or other piles of festering bullfuck. They're obviously non-canon.

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361506)

Gee, can't we just send Chuck Norris? Wouldn't that be the definitive solution?

Re:Ninjas? Plural? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361636)

Gee, can't we just send Chuck Norris? Wouldn't that be the definitive solution?

Like nuking a mosquito is a definitive solution.

Soprano style (4, Insightful)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360748)

I might be holding a club behind my back. Should I choose to begin swinging this club, which I may or may not have, I can guarantee that I will not strike you with it, for a small fee.

Re:Soprano style (4, Insightful)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360904)

I think that is called "racketeering".

Re:Soprano style (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31360986)

This is the year 2010. Now its called "licensing".

Re:Soprano style (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360998)

I think that is called "racketeering".

Racketeering is the essence of all software patents.I say this as someone who holds one.... Let me make you an offer you can't refuse....

Re:Soprano style (2, Interesting)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361028)

Sounds cute, but straight to jail for extortion. The threat with a weapon, that you may or may not have wouldn't change that it is still a physical threat, not legal in Canada at least. However, we are just people, not super entities like corporations that now even get their own say legally in the US. It seems they can do the above with no issues.

Re:Soprano style (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361146)

Extortion isn't about physical threats, it's about entitlement to the money for doing or not doing the act.

If you commit a crime, and I say "pay me or I'll call the cops," and you pay me (actually getting the money is necessary here), then I have committed extortion.

I'm not entitled to the money, so I'm extorting you. No physical threat required.

Microsoft, however, owns the patents and is entitled to the money, so when it says "pay me or I'll tell the courts you're using my patents", it's perfectly legal, provided the amount they demand is reasonably fair.

Not very moral or ethical, given that they probably shouldn't own the patents, but money doesn't give a flying fuck about moral or ethical, it makes happen whatever is possible.

Re:Soprano style (3, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361222)

Microsoft may or may not be entitled to the money. If they hold the patents, and are NOT enforcing the patents nor disclosing the infringing products, even though it has all the evidence it needs (source code to all things OSS), then it is "Extorting" because it is NOT entitled to the money.

It would be, if it disclosed what products were in fact infringing, and took remedial action. Because it hasn't it is only making veiled threats.

Re:Soprano style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361622)

If Microsoft holds the patents, then they are entitled to enforce them until a court says otherwise. If, after that, they continue to enforce them, it then becomes illegal. This is the law in the US and Canada at least.

Re:Soprano style (1)

pooh666 (624584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361476)

That is right, we are talking about two crimes in that statement. Again, at least in Canada. I don't know of any law like that in the US re the threat. It is an interesting way to illustrate that people have fewer rights that corporations, esp on an international level.

Re:Soprano style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361732)

IANAL, but I am a para.

In both the US and Canada:
The threat is "assault". The act of hitting someone with the club is "battery". Extortion is the use of threat to take possessions from someone without legal entitlement.

Also in both the US and Canada:
If you have a patent on something, you have been granted the rights to that exclusively for a period of time (which varies depending on the type of patent and the term of issuance). Among these exclusive rights are the rights to license. If someone does something outside of these rights, you can then go after them. It is not extortion because the government has (right or wrong) granted you the patent. If they were to continue to threaten then after a court or patent office had thrown out the patent, it could then become a criminal matter.

The US and Canada have almost exactly the same laws when it comes to this kind of thing.

A more accurate analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361328)

That's a nice car you have there. You know I have evidence that it is stolen. No I won't show you that evidence, but if you pay me I won't go to the police with it.

Microsoft is... (5, Insightful)

alexborges (313924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360816)

A mean bunch of bastards for claiming patents and not disclosing any kind of infringement. But the ones that buy into the scam, man, those are PLAIN IDIOTS.

Re:Microsoft is... (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360870)

But the ones that buy into the scam, man, those are PLAIN IDIOTS.

They probably figured that it would cost more time and money fighting these patent claims by MS than it would licensing bogus patents. If that's true, then it is clear that our patent system ought to be done away with entirely.

Re:Microsoft is... (4, Interesting)

ravenscar (1662985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361066)

I agree. We haven't seen just what compensation was involved. If it was slight, buying off MSFT was surely less expensive than fighting off an army of their attorneys. MSFT's strategy here seems interesting. They realize getting other companies to license their Linux patents is likely to strengthen their claim to the patents. Knowing this they pushed in that direction. They were able to get some of the early licensees to do so by offering what seemed like mutually beneficial terms (like patent sharing). My guess is that as more the terms will be similar for a while - giving MSFT a large group of patent licensees. Getting a license will then become more costly. the first group that MSFT doesn't like that also refuses to license the patents will be taken to court. MSFT will then flaunt all of the other licensees before the jury stating "Amazon, and others all recognized our patent. What makes [variable] so special?"

Re:Microsoft is... (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361070)

If the patents were truly bogus a company like Amazon wouldn't have licensed them. Amazon would have readily filed suit to get them invalidated.

Re:Microsoft is... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361420)

Amazon would have readily filed suit to get them invalidated.

Oh, you are the CEO of Amazon? Or are you just talking out your ass? If the cost of licensing is less than the cost of litigating, then licensing is the best business decision. Why do you think they'd not make the best business decision?

If the patents were truly bogus a company like Amazon wouldn't have licensed them.

How do we know what was really licensed? We know those patents were licensed (unless the press releases were lies, which is a possibility, though unlikely). But there's nothing I've seen that indicated that they were the only ones licensed, and that it took a large fee to license them. For all I know, they licensed a suite of patents that included these, not these exclusively. And it's possible to license patents for $0. Perhaps Microsoft even paid Amazon to license them so that they would be buying legitimacy for claiming they were valid Linux patents. I don't know, and you don't either, but to assert what someone "would have done" based on your uninformed opinion wreaks of illogical egotism.

Re:Microsoft is... (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361110)

Or, they didn't pay anything at all. I wouldn't be surprised if they actually got paid by MS, or at least got favorable patent cross licensing agreements for nominal sums.

Re:Microsoft is... (2, Insightful)

shadowen1977 (903138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361596)

Why don't two or more companies join together in class action to fight Microsoft against this FUD??? Second, of the companies that did sign up with Microsoft before class action and before the suing companies WIN in class action, what happens to these companies that paid Microsoft for these patents? I don't think that patent system should be scrapped, but I do think that patents should be under the administrative control of the government entity, not Microsoft saying you are..... I'm sure if I had patents and I enforced the patents that I could find LOTS of patent infringements in the WILD. What is the standard that tells me this is infringement or not. Microsoft business model.... Litigation = profit !

Re:Microsoft is... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361920)

They probably figured that it would cost more time and money fighting these patent claims by MS than it would licensing bogus patents. If that's true, then it is clear that our patent system ought to be done away with entirely.

That might be true if it was only patents. But with the RIAA going crazy with copyright infringement, and the DMCA allowing anyone to remove anything from the web, it would seems it is, instead, our legal system that must be done-away with...

It sounds much more well thought-out and rational when you say it that way, doesn't it?

Re:Microsoft is... (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361068)

Well, maybe not. First off, they do get press coverage from the deal. Second, does it make Microsoft junkies and fanbois more willing to use their product (Yeah, it runs linux, but it's "Microsoft Licensed Linux"(TM))? Third and finally are they getting anything directly from MS because of it (I know TFS said that IOData was "compensating" MS, but surely MS wants them to license (so it has more power in court later to say "look, these other companies saw what we were doing is right. You were just trying to 'put it to us' by not respecting our patents") and is giving them something either on the side or under the table)...

Re:Microsoft is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361124)

Bastards who do exactly what the business of government wants. The reason why IP law (and the law in general) is absurdly complex, ambiguous, and overblown is because it drives up the cost of government, in terms of both power and revenue. The legal system itself is a multi billion-dollar business created out of thin air, precisely for the benefit of the legal elite.

Imagine if the law was based on common sense and simplicity, understandable by the common man, exploitable by nobody -- what's in that for government? What's in that for the corporation, or any other creation of government? Nothing -- the only people who would benefit from that are those who want to compete on fair grounds.

The bottom line is that government benefits more, in terms of both revenue and power over the people, by implementing these backwards laws.

Better than what Apple would do with them (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31360832)

Apple would claim they invented computers and patent "using a mouse".

Then, they would sue companies like HTC that only seek to innovate and market their creations.

But, but ... (1)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360842)

I thought the first rule of Linux Patents is you do not talk about Linux Patents.

What happened? Did someone not bend over far enough?

Why is the Linux community so quiet? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31360846)

I don't understand why the Linux developers are so quiet about this. Microsoft is building up a huge amount of momentum around the idea that Linux violates some arbitrary patents, and not a single Linux developer or company appears willing to call them out on it. Bizarre.

Re:Why is the Linux community so quiet? (4, Informative)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361026)

Well, the momentum is in anticipation of a ruling from the Supremes (SCOTUS) "In re Bilski" related to software patents. If the ruling goes the way I think it will, business method and software patents will be decimated, the USPTO will have to revisit and probably many many such patents they have so stupidly granted.

Re:Why is the Linux community so quiet? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361200)

Software and business method patents are plain stupid. Does any other country allow them?

Kill software and business mathod patents NOW.

Re:Why is the Linux community so quiet? (2)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361252)

Is there any specific reason you think that the ruling will go that way? I'm not familiar with the supreme court (it seems to me it leans slightly to the right of center, most of the time, but what do I know) and its past rulings, but I haven't seen anything that would make me think it would rule one way or the other.

Re:Why is the Linux community so quiet? (2, Interesting)

alexborges (313924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361786)

Its an appeal for decition already taken in the bilsky case and nobody in the legal "community" (can lawyers actually be construed as members of any community?) has come up with good arguments for it except the ones appealing.... but, it may be just that I get my news from all the wrong places.

Re:Why is the Linux community so quiet? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361086)

I don't understand why the Linux developers are so quiet about this. Microsoft is building up a huge amount of momentum around the idea that Linux violates some arbitrary patents, and not a single Linux developer or company appears willing to call them out on it. Bizarre.

      Bizarre? How so? It's [joe blow Linux developer] VS. Richest company in the World's Law Team (that successfully managed to blunt a clear antitrust case by the US DOJ). You go the wherewithall to go up against them? I sure don't, and certainly not just to defend a principle.

          Brett

Re:Why is the Linux community so quiet? (2)

alexborges (313924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361800)

The lawyers had little to do with Bush pardoning Microsoft, giving them a slap in the wrist, instead of what Clinton's DOJ had done so well.

It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (2, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360852)

I-O Data released one of the industry's first Windows 7 API-based sensors, which automatically detects when a person enters or leaves an office or room.

So basically, they are licensing Windows stuff. Nothing to see here. Also, while Novell did a patent deal wit Microsoft, it did NOT do a deal wrt linux, as there's no Microsoft code in linux (and most of us are smart enough to remove the potentially-encumbered mono-base from opensuse).

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360894)

how did the Novell patent deal not affect Linux? color me confused. If novell creates stuff in linux that is covered under the patent agreement (as it encapsulates everything under the sun), how is that not affected?

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361116)

Only Microsoft claimed that the deal covered Microsoft-patented junk in linux. It was a cross-licensing deal that Microsoft paid Novell almost half a billion dollars - in other words, it was pretty much Microsoft who needed patent coverage of certain Novell technologies.

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361214)

It affects it only if MS has functionality described in their patents that non-Novell distros don't have and Novell adds that functionality to linux. Note that if non-Novell distros already implement the patented functionality, they can already be sued by MS.

So what functionality do you believe Windows has but Linux doesn't?

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361842)

I just wanted to pose a stupid question based on my presumptions so I could get some answers.

I think your problem is the wording. Novell is not linux. Novell is a flavor of linux. Therefore the issue and your question are not the same.

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361278)

There doesn't have to be any Microsoft code in Linux. Patents are on methods, not the specific implementation. So if I patent the Linked List, then anyone who independently re-invents the linked list is "violating" my patent, even if they never heard of it before and wrote all their own code.

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361562)

Yes. Microsoft can patent something that looks like a homework assignment from a Freshman computer science course and then act like a really obnoxious bridge troll.

Re:It's t use Windows 7 API on sensors (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361818)

They are then twice as stupid: who would build a "windows 7 API - based sensor"? Thats just dumb.

Has anyone really figured out what the patents are (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360866)

I don't know that I've ever seen exactly what patents MS might have...

About the only thing I can come up with is either FAT32 or NT filesystems, which *would* make sense in the case of IO Data.

Why would it make sense? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361334)

"FAT32 or NT filesystems, which *would* make sense in the case of IO Data."

Why would that make sense? If IO Data makes Network Attached Storage, wouldn't you use either something like Samba or NFS (in which case, you would probably use Ext2/3/4, or maybe XFS or ZFS), or if you are talking about a lower level device, wouldn't you be using something like iSCSI or Fiber Channel where the device just looks like a hard drive attached to the network, and the Operating System on the other computer which is using it actually has the filesystem drivers? So, if the filesystem drivers are on a different server, how would the NAS device itself infringe?

FFS! What patents !!!! (2, Interesting)

yossarianuk (1402187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360882)

Again they still do not actually say what specific patents !

This should be criminal, the Linux foundations should sue for libel damage.

Fuck it, maybe we all contact companies and ask for money for breaking our imaginary patents.

Also this company is out the USA, do they have crazy software patent laws too.

Thank god for the EU (I never thought i'd say those words)

Re:FFS! What patents !!!! (2, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361000)

I always find the 'imaginary patents' or similar lines hilarious as it assumes that Microsoft walks in and says "In this sealed envelope that you may not open or see, we have a list of patents that you are infringing on... you should license them."

Each and every company who gets involved in such a licensing deal knows full well what they are getting into and exactly what they are licensing... and if not, they probably should fire their entire legal staff who said they should go ahead with the licensing deal without knowing just what they are getting out of the deal.

Re:FFS! What patents !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361346)

there is no assumption that the licensee doesn't know what they're licensing. it points out the obvious fact that by not revealing what is being violated to the greater FOSS developer community, we're not even given a chance to work around the patents in question, and includes a large glob of spit-in-the-face from whoever would engage in such non-disclosure.

Re:FFS! What patents !!!! (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361510)

Have you not realized that by not publically disclosing the list... Microsoft actually saves the FOSS community a lot of heart-ache and pain?

Why?

Willful patent infringement pays 3x damages of what accidental infringement does.

So yes... Microsoft could come out tomorrow and say "here are the patents that are infringed on by Linux"... and suddenly every single Linux distributor (or hardware/service company that ships an infringing device) becomes liable for 3x damages (rather than just 1x) for any ongoing infringement... which includes further distribution after the date of the announcement.

Working around the patents very well could be possible, but would not the previous infringement... and by not widely disclosing a full list, you end up in a cold war situation where things could explode at any time... but it's far more ideal to both sides than an outright (even if limited) shooting war.

Re:FFS! What patents !!!! (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361436)

I would love for, say Red Hat to go in and fake negotiations with Microsoft, just to get access to their list.

Unfortunately, I bet that list is covered by some NDA signed at the beginning of negotiations, which Red Hat would then honor. But all it takes is one person to leak the list...

Re:FFS! What patents !!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361208)

The company may be outside the US, but if they want to sell their product in the US (directly or through an importer) they need proper licensing of other's technologies. Now, wether this patents are actually meaningful is an entirely separate issue...

Re:FFS! What patents !!!! (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361834)

"Thank god for the EU (I never thought i'd say those words)"

Why not? They invented freedom fries and all!

Any word on what patents? (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360906)

I love how none of these articles include any info on which patents were licensed. If Microsoft has patents which cover algorithms in Linux, then there should be a list of patents numbers they can point to to say which patents are being covered in these License Agreements.

You know, back when Microsoft sued Tom-Tom, it came out that the patents in question covered certain features of the VFAT filesystem. I don't think that patent would affect Network Attached Storage. After all, if you're using Samba NFS, FTP or HTTP to access the files, it doesn't matter what filesystem is used on the NAS device. One would presume such a device would be using Ext3, Ext4, or maybe XFS or something.

Which makes me wonder, is Microsoft asserting patents which cover Samba, perhaps? The Linux kernel itself, even if you don't compile VFAT support into the kernel (or use the patched version which supposedly avoids the MS VFAT patents by removing some functionality)?

Sure seems that this is all a marketing driven FUD campaign, since no one is talking about what patents are in play here. If they have patents, they should come out and tell the Linux developers and the world which patents supposedly are infringing. If they won't tell anyone, then the courts should just put a stop to this crap - it's my understanding that there is a principle of law in many countries, including the U.S., where if you know someone is infringing your patent or copyright, and you don't take action to prevent further damages, you can't get the court to award you those damages. That is, you aren't allowed to 'run up the bill' by continuing to allow infringement to happen, just so you can sue for more money later?

Re:Any word on what patents? (2, Insightful)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361038)

This is why Microsoft is smarter than Apple. You see, Microsoft is getting easy paydays from all these companies. Sure it's not as much as they'd try to get if they sued, but they're still raking in the cash for running what is essentially a protection racket. Apple on the other hand, sues HTC for patents covering BS like moving an icon across the screen at variable speed. Apple might be going for a bigger payday, but is very much at risk of losing the lawsuit and losing the patents.

Of Course Not! (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361130)

I love how none of these articles include any info on which patents were licensed. If Microsoft has patents which cover algorithms in Linux, then there should be a list of patents numbers they can point to to say which patents are being covered in these License Agreements.

Don't hold your breath. Not releasing what is being licensed is probably part of the licensing contract. They might even have a patent pending on that business method. We tried asking them which patents Linux infringed on but they're too busy to list them all [slashdot.org] . They'll throw out numbers though like "235 patents free software violates [slashdot.org] that are ours!"

Re:Of Course Not! (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361362)

I suspect that the negotiations themselves were covered by some NDA to prevent their list of patents from being released.

Whether or not Linux actually infringes any patents is a moot point as long as the list is kept secret: as long as nobody knows what the list is, FUD works well; once it's released, the list will be shredded to pieces right here on slashdot.

Re:Any word on what patents? (1)

ubercam (1025540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361384)

I'm no lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I think the principle of law you're thinking of refers to trademark issues, not copyright. I believe you can nail someone any time for copyright infringement, even way after the fact (there might be a statute of limitations though), but if you let a trademark violation slide, you're unable to defend it later on, i.e. you have to act as soon as you're aware of it or you could potentially lose it.

Re:Any word on what patents? (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361814)

It's basically the same move SCO pulled. Make huge infringement claims, but refuse to be specific. SCO never was able to show anything in the code, since they had pursued a copyright angle. Not to mention the way they kept dancing around it and saying different things in different courts. MS is smarter than that, playing a patent angle. But eventually they too are going to have to be specific about what infringes, and show why it infringes.

Prior Art (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360908)

If there Exist documentation that some invention was used before the patent was issued the patent is invalid.

The problem is that the open source community doe not have the central power structure and money for defence,
EFF?
any one?

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31361162)

If there Exist documentation that some invention was used before the patent was issued the patent is invalid.

Prior art is slightly different. From the date the inventor publicly announces the invention in some way, they still have one year to apply for the patent, and the patent office may take another few years before actually issuing the patent. I believe the cutoff date for prior art is that initial announcement.

More likely creative marketing, and FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31360912)

There is not much of a reason to write a press release about these licensing agreements and patent covenants, other than to spread FUD in the Linux marketplace. Since the alleged intellectual property in question hasn't been put into the open, and IO is a storage company, one can assume the agreement surrounds the FAT filesystem IP: MICROSOFT EFI FAT32 FILE SYSTEM SPECIFICATION LICENSE AGREEMENT [microsoft.com]

My hunch is this is then an covenant regarding "Microsoft technology patents that can be used in a product built on a Linux foundation" .. or I guess "Linux Patents" for short then. Creative marketing, to make it sound like this glorious Linux stuff is really Microsoft's work. It you can't beat 'em, FUD 'em.

When the Supreme Court invalidates software patent (2, Interesting)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361016)

When the Supreme Court invalidates software patents all these companies can go back to Microsoft and demand their money back. That should be fun to watch!

Distributions? (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361030)

How long before they start hitting up specific distributions with their claims? Does any of this "established precendent" matter? Will it just be enough to scare off PHB's who don't know any better from Linux? Can they be sued or otherwise complelled to provide the exact patents in their claims? If any of those patents are found to be valid and distributions write them out of their repositories how liable are they for the past infringment? Software patents hurt innovation.

Re:Distributions? No Money (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361202)

Look at it like a business process.

No distro is well capitalized.
Litigating a distro would *clearly* set off a hue and cry about monopoly practices thereby waking a sleeping giant.

Microsoft uses some millions annually to fund their protection racket process. They target companies marketing products in the U.S. that have valuations such that they can extract meaningful sums of money. Same forms and process for each litigation target. It's the equivalent of a sweatshop operation.

Re:Distributions? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361390)

How long before they start hitting up specific distributions with their claims?

Does the company developing Suse not count?

I hope this wasn't because of the VFAT issue (2, Interesting)

apexwm (1612713) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361108)

As Linux has been fixed to not offend Microsoft's FAT32/VFAT patent. If these companies think that they are voilating this patent, they should do their own research or fix it so that they don't have to pay royalties to Microsoft.

Well... (1)

ldconfig (1339877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361148)

You can't really blame mickeymousesoft for doing what our overlords the content cartels them. Seeing all those RIAA lawyers in the 'just-us' dept and the VP telling the MPAA "we are your best friends" ALL of us should see whats coming. Very soon you will see the elected wind up drones start saying 'Linux = stealing'. And with the courts stacked with pro rich people right wing activist judges. Banks and insurance co's are small change the real power is the content cartels. When you control everything the people see and hear you rule. Name one other business that can sell the same thing twice without going to jail? ... the answer is none. Yet we are charged for TV thats already PAID for with commercials. They keep us divided with left/right el toro poo poo and FORCE us to pay for it with The Hippy News Network (MSNBC) The Clinton News Network (CNN) and White Trash News (Fox). To watch one you gotta pay for all 3. This dog and pony show is designed to keep the public distracted from how bad we are getting screwed by rich people. If the media took 10 min's to teach everyone the history of bucket shops in 1907 and apply that to wall street today (credit default swap) things would change in a hurry and it wouldn't be pretty.

Slander of Title? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361446)

It seems to me (IANAL) that Microsoft is potentially engaging in slander of title [wikipedia.org] against Linux. Couldn't IBM, or any company that's contributed to the Linux kernel, sue Microsoft for this, and force MS to enumerate the alleged violations during the trial if not during discovery?

IO Data has gotten into trouble before (4, Informative)

Kagato (116051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31361536)

IO Data is a big name in Japan. They sell a lot of Computer and AV devices. In the US they aren't that big anymore. IO data was a pioneer in the Network Equipped Up-Converting DVD player. Not only could it play UPnP file sources, it could output them up to 1080i.

That's when they ran into trouble. Their HD player had nice Analog Component outputs to upconvert DVDs. That got them in trouble with license holders for DVD. Which wouldn't have happened except they started expanding in US, and then the guys at the MPAA started taking interest. I think they are a bit gun shy after that. So I can understand folding to Microsoft.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...