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Microsoft Applies For .NET Patent

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the my-patent dept.

Microsoft 628

Wojina writes "Microsoft has applied for a comprehensive patent on what appears to be the entire implementation of the .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime) and the framework APIs. Microsoft's CLR is an implementation of the CLI (submitted to ECMA for standardization). Does this bode ill for the Mono project? See the CNET News story." And a chaser: Nept points to this interesting Microsoft-funded .NET obfuscation project.

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628 comments

patent (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276464)

In Soviet Russia, .NET patents YOU!!!

Re:patent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276584)

hahahahahahah1!!Gglglah

Poop!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276465)

POOP!!

No place to poop in "M$ House". (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276492)

Where do you want to go today?

Linux? (1, Insightful)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276467)

What is so specail about .NET.

Linux has had platform independent coding since the days of Java, which were in 1993, two years after Linus' frist post about Linux.

Re:Linux? (5, Insightful)

Sarcazmo (555312) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276554)

Linux has had platform independent coding since the days of Java,

Back up, most unix-ish C code can be compiled on any vaguely unix-like system with very little modification. I'd call that platform independence, wouldn't you?

Imagine that, and without the overhead of a bloated VM to slow things way down.

java's "bloated" vm (3, Insightful)

SHEENmaster (581283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276617)

Saves it from string overflow exploits. It's nice not needing to think about such things while coding.

Re:java's "bloated" vm (2, Insightful)

Neural Assassin (611335) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276642)

Yeah, until you suddenly have to go back to real coding and start thinking again. Actually, you bring up a good point. Even before VM's, most programmers didn't think about 'such things'...that's why VM's were invented in the first place.

Re:Linux? (-1, Flamebait)

Neural Assassin (611335) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276621)

Thank you for sharing your ignorance with us. Yet another Linux bandwaggoner that thinks computing was born with the creation of Linux.

Re:Linux? - TROLL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276650)

Moderators - please read Amsterdam's posting history before modding him up. He used to be known as ekrout. Ring a bell?

Re:Linux? (2, Insightful)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276718)

Er, Java wasn't Java until 1995, and Linux didn't have anything remotely resembling a Java (or Oak) virtual machine in 1993.

Besides, how can you really say 'Linux has had platform independant coding'? If it's actually platform independant, everyone has it.

--Dan

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276729)

Congratulations, you've proven that there are stupid people on Slashdot. The rest of us knew that without having to post meaningless drivel in every story. Why don't you prove gravity by throwing yourself down some stairs?

I'm a Republican! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276468)

Oh, I'm a Republican
I got a small schling
I like to bomb niggahs
and make a lot o' bling

I got a bunch o' friends
in high up places
They helps me get dem
government graces.

You think I'm smart
I just know who's who
I couldn't run a fruit stand
without the red white & blue

I'll drop some crap
about Jesus the Christ
You'll buy it all
and vote for me twice

'Fact, Jesus is comin'!
Real soon, now!
So we gotta prop up Israel
That ol' sacred cow

Don't need no history
Don't need no schoolin'
I got my ideology
To keep me a shootin'

Liberals! Faggots!
Commies and queers!
Socialist hippies
Full o' pussy tears

Propaganda's m'friend
But I calls it "fact"
Even though I don't read
'Cept for Chick tracts

Facts? No! Don't need em here!
We're conservatives! We work on FEAR!
Don't like what we say?
Well FUCK YOU, bud!
We'll shove it down yer throat
and tell ya it's good!

And now... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276472)

A successful patent has them control the market for how long? And legally now? This could cause some serious problems for people.

CNET Article Text (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276476)

If approved as is, the patent would cover application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow actions related to accessing the network, handling Extensible Markup Language (XML), and managing data from multiple sources. APIs are the hooks in software that allow applications to work with another system.

Microsoft declined to elaborate on its plans for the patent, but intellectual property attorneys said that if it's granted, the company could dictate how, or whether, developers of software and devices can link to the .Net initiative.

"It looks pretty broad," said Jeff E. Schwartz, a partner with McKenna Long & Aldridge. "It could be fairly significant."

The patent is one of several that Microsoft is applying for related to .Net, the company's Web services initiative. By submitting the application, which was filed last year and made public last week, Microsoft is following the lead of other major tech companies that have aggressively pursued patents over the years.

IBM is the most prolific patent generator, topping the list of corporate patent awards for the last 10 years. Big Blue landed 3,288 patents in 2002, bringing its total over the past 10 years to more than 22,000. Lately, the company has been focusing on patenting technology related to its computing-on-demand initiative.

Patents have become an increasingly common way for software makers to exert control over their intellectual property. One of the concerns about the proliferation of technology patents is the impact it could have on standards development. Some developers fear the trend will let a few patent holders dictate the direction of standards.

It's unclear what effect the Microsoft .Net patents would have on the standards process. Microsoft already has submitted many of the fundamentals of .Net to a standards body known as ECMA, formerly called the European Computer Manufacturers Association.

One person affiliated with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), another major standards body, said it's difficult to comment on the .Net patents without knowing Microsoft's specific plans. The W3C is in the process of developing a policy that would let the organization include patented technology in its standards as long as companies agree to provide the technology royalty-free. The person, who asked not to be identified, said Microsoft has agreed to such terms in the past.

IBM said last year that it would not charge royalties on patented technology that is part of an e-commerce Web standard.

More and more, the patent debate is pitting companies like IBM and Microsoft--which are looking to patents to protect and recoup the millions of dollars they spend developing products--against members of the open-source and free software movements, which say the patent process stifles innovation by covering processes that are common on the Web.

People like Free Software Foundation guru Richard Stallman have urged boycotts of companies that aggressively enforce patents.

Meanwhile, Bruce Perens, a consultant and leader of the open-source movement, worries that Microsoft's patents could shut out alternative software development. "Microsoft is being careful to patent every aspect of APIs related to .Net," he said. "It's preventing the open-source community from being involved in this area."

Open-source developers are already hard at work trying to build open-source implementations of .Net. One of them, the Mono Project, provides many of the same APIs as .Net. When the Mono Project is completed next year, developers will be able to build .Net applications that run on Linux and Unix.

Re:CNET Article Text (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276598)

Patents have become an increasingly common way for software makers to exert control over their intellectual property.

They may also be doing it to prevent or reduce somebody else from filing a similar patent against them. IOW, protecting their own ass from stupid lawsuits. Thus, it is kind of hard to assertain the real motivation behind such.

Re:CNET Article Text (2, Funny)

tuba_dude (584287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276660)

I don't know if the spelling mistake was intentional or not, but the irony of it makes it impossible not to comment... assertain... beautiful.

Re:CNET Article Text (3, Insightful)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276675)

They may also be doing it to prevent or reduce somebody else from filing a similar patent against them. IOW, protecting their own ass from stupid lawsuits. Thus, it is kind of hard to assertain the real motivation behind such.

But we can infer based upon prior actions. Microsoft has a long history of taking predatory, underhanded actions against anything they percieve as a threat to their domination of any industry that interests them.

Re:CNET Article Text (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276640)

Dude, you really should not post the entire text of articles. It shows a total disrespect of copyright laws and is liable to get you fired someday, Anonymous Coward or no.

Re:CNET Article Text (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276668)

It's really useful though. Fuck you, I'm going to keep posting them.

Re:CNET Article Text (5, Funny)

enos (627034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276684)

Do you honestly believe that we're going to slashdot CNet?

Al Gore will have something to say about *that*! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276479)

Oh wait, you said dotNet, not interNet!

Sorry, nevermind...

What a joke (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276484)

Looks like they are patenting. The concept of client server computing.

Well it looks like we all owe them everything.

Where should we send the check?

Re:What a joke (4, Funny)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276688)

Where should we send the check?

You can PayPal it to bill.gates@microsoft.com

Or you can go to CompUSA and plunk $579 on Office XP Professional. It all ends up in the same place.

Lots of reasons why I want .NET to fail (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276485)

This note was originally published at John Munsch weblog on January the 14th.

Lots of reasons why I want .NET to fail and fail badly

It's benefits a criminal organization. Not one that's been found guilty of crimes once or maybe twice, but lots and lots of times. Those crimes are many and varied, but here's just a few of them: Stac Electronics v. Microsoft, DOJ v. Microsoft, Sun v. Microsoft.
P.S. If you want to split hairs, Stac v. Microsoft isn't a criminal action, it's doesn't stem from a criminal abuse of their monopoly like the other two cases. Instead it was just a case of a small company being driven out of business by willful patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, etc.

Microsoft isn't just one thing anymore. It's too damn big for that. I'm sure even Bill himself knows better than to think that he truly controls the whole ship because it's become big enough that he can't possibly know all the projects, people, etc. anymore. But even a really large company still has a kind of collective personality that it exudes and a large part of the personality both internal and external to Microsoft for many years now is that of a total control freak.
If they don't own it, if they don't control it, if they didn't create it, if it doesn't have a broad stamp from Microsoft on it, then they don't want it. Sometimes it's sufficient for the thing to merely exist and they'll refuse to acknowledge it, other times they need to actively stamp it out because they can't control it.

When was the last time you can remember Microsoft saying they supported a standard? That is, not something they invented and submitted a RFC for, an actual, take it off the shelf and re-implement it without renaming it or "improving" it so it doesn't work with anybody else standard. C++? Basic? HTML? A video or audio codec? Java? Anything?

I'm sure there's something, somebody will point out their excellent support for TCP/IP or something and I'm sure that's true. But if you were to look at Microsoft as a person in your life, you'd wonder what was wrong with him or her such that so much had to be controlled by that person.

When your business is selling the operating systems that 90+% of everybody uses, software development tools should not be a profit center.
Why should I have to plunk down a couple of thousand dollars for a "universal subscription" in order to have access to compilers and basic development information? Sun doesn't have to do that? On this point I'll quote from the .NET "rebuttal" that I linked to above, "For non-profit use VS.NET can be had pretty cheaply, especially if you know anyone that is in college somewhere." Pretty cheaply? For a non-profit (that means charities, churches, universities, the hobbiest who is going to give away his work for FREE)... pretty cheaply? Wow. That is well and truly pathetic. To try and justify it, and say, oh well, you can try to scam an educational discount so it won't be so dear, is even more pathetic.

Marketing. Have you been "lucky" enough to catch one of the .NET commercials with William H. Gacy telling you how great it is without really ever telling you anything about it? Microsoft doesn't trust .NET to stand on its own technical merits and it knows it may go like cod-liver oil down the gullets of a lot of people who have seen how the company works behind closed doors even if it were the tech shiznit.
So they are going to pull a page out of Intel's bum-bum-buh-bum "Intel Inside" playbook and try to sell the brand like it's sneakers and cola. Trust us, you'll look cool if you use it, and we'll keep hammering the brand on TV so somebody who doesn't have much tech savvy in your organization will ask you if you are using it, or have plans to port to it, or whatever, even if he hasn't got a clue what "it" is in this case.

They don't trust you. They don't like what they can't control and they can't control you. They can try and they always will keep trying but ultimately you are going to see them keep trying to do things and always keep a step towards the door just so they can bolt if they have to. Want to see what I mean? Go visit GotDotNet sometime if you haven't already been there. It's the grassroots community website that Microsoft put up to support .NET just in case there wasn't any grassroots community who actually wanted to do it. Or maybe just in case there was and they couldn't control it.
Ever been to SourceForge? Of course you have, everybody has because that's one of the hubs of all open source projects. You can go there and get the source of thousands of cool open source projects and it really serves the community well. There's even hundreds of projects now that list C# among their programming languages. So why did Microsoft feel compelled to create their own GotDotNet Workspaces that is clearly just a ripoff of SourceForge?

A few reasons are fairly clear: First, at many of their workspaces you don't get in unless they know who you are. Ever been stopped at SourceForge and asked for a name and password to look at a project? What about download binaries or source? No? At GotDotNet you will, lots of projects are marked with a lock. Second, forget about all those messy licenses that Microsoft might not approve of, you don't need to worry your little head about BSD vs. GPL vs. LGPL. You've got the one true workspace license that you have to agree to, or else you won't be putting your project there. Lastly, well it's kind of obvious, but it's really all about control isn't it. After all, if you aren't under their thumb, that has to be a bad thing. So a SourceForge that they control is pretty much a requirement, isn't it?

It's a really sad way for a lot of people to waste a whole lot of time rebuilding that which already exists. Wouldn't the whole computing world be a lot better if there wasn't a team of people, maybe a couple of teams of people building complete copies of .NET for other platforms? If those same people were working on giving us new libraries and new tools for an already existing language instead of pouring in the thousands of man hours it's going to take to build a copy of the C# compiler or a .NET version of Ant and JUnit?

In the end, we'll all just be left with another way to do the exact same thing only in a different language. Lord knows the world benefits now from being unable to share media between France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the US, and Japan because we can't all speak the same language. I benefit every day from the fact that I can't read a Japanese manga I might enjoy or understand a TV show from Europe. Once you are done building this tower, go build a few more right beside it using Perl, Python, and Ruby too. They're all trailing behind in certain areas, we need to make sure the same set of stuff is reinvented and rewritten for all of them too.

Re:Lots of reasons why I want .NET to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276585)

"Instead it was just a case of a small company being driven out of business by willful patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, etc."

seems like M$ are not above ignoring inconvinient patents when it suits

Re:Lots of reasons why I want .NET to fail (0, Offtopic)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276627)

Maybe if you post this a few more times you might finally get +5

implementation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276491)

Its a patent on implementation and thus the source code. Since mono is a different implementation how would this affect the project?

Re:implementation? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276532)

"Implementation" doesn't have the granularity you think it does.

If it did then GIF editors not written by Unisys wouldn't have to pay fees.

It's a patent on techniques for implementing .NET, techniques that must be applied to be .NET compatible.

I'm waiting to see Mono's reaction.

Linux? (2, Insightful)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276508)

Em, the key word hear is ``applies''.

Microsoft have applied for a patent, but who knows ---- in 10 years it may still not be either granted or rejected, so let's continue with Linux + MONO right now and get things moving.

Dont let this legaleeze scare us; we have bigger && better things to be doing than worring about what MS does to people.

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276555)

Yeah, fuck the police!

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276628)

Jesus Christ Amsterdam, you really do have your head fully up your ass, don't you ?

"Let's just continue stumbling along in this tunnel following these shiny metal rails - we might get lucky and make it out the other end". Yeah, or we might get our asses flattened by a goddam train from Redmond and find out that all the time spent on Mono was a comlete waste because all the parts that would make it actually useful have been legally walled off from open-source implementation.

I don't know which is worse, that you're so stupid, or that you've display it so often.

Re:Linux? (5, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276658)

Microsoft have applied for a patent,

Yes, and with the current state of the Patent and Trademark Office (as for the last few years), just about any patent applied for gets granted, especially if the applicant has deep pockets.

The PTO gets paid more for issuing a patent than for declining one, and the PTO is "self-funding". Furthermore, there's no penalty to the PTO if they're found to have issued a patent they shouldn't have (ie for prior art, obviousness, whatever) -- the penalty is all to those buying, er, obtaining the patent, and to the public for suffering bogus patents.

Re:Linux? (4, Informative)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276681)

Microsoft have applied for a patent, but who knows ---- in 10 years it may still not be either granted or rejected, so let's continue with Linux + MONO right now and get things moving.

It is most likely that Microsoft are applying for the patent for purely defensive reasons. I have had many patent shits apply for patents on the work I have done, often many years after it became public knowledge. Getting the patent in first is always a good idea.

Microsoft might possibly go after Linux, but it is much more likely to go after Sun and Java. Their real beef is that Sun has been playing silly buggers with lawyers. That may not be such a hot move when Microsoft have the engineering power to out patent Sun.

While the broader claims of the patent are likely going to be rejected it is almost certain that some claims will be allowed. If so expect Microsoft to make the terms for Sun every bit as unreasonable as Sun's terms for Microsoft.

There is no reason to beat up Linux though, Microsoft does not want to get 100% of the market, they want more like 85% so they don't keep getting slammed for anti-trust issues.

That is why Microsoft has created Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276714)

"There is no reason to beat up Linux though, Microsoft does not want to get 100% of the market, they want more like 85% so they don't keep getting slammed for anti-trust issues."

They can still wipe out Linux as long as Microsoft has Apple. Apple's business model is smoke and mirrors (what do you expect when machine color instead of speed is a major marketing point), and the company has been kept afloat with infusions from Microsoft in order to act as a "beard" to deflect antitrust claims.

If there was no Linux, and Apple blundered so bad that even Microsoft could not help it, chances are Microsoft would reinvigorate Amiga to be their sock-puppet.

Publicize prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276516)

Make damn sure the Patent Office can't miss it!

Name Changing (2, Interesting)

creative_name (459764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276522)

Someone mentioned to me that they had read/heard somewhere that Microsoft was going to change the name of .NET to something else. He continued on to mumble something about this being less confusing or something like that.

Anyone else know anything about this?

Re:Name Changing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276623)

That's Windows 2003 server (formerly known as Windows .Net server). Totally unrelated to this.

hmmm (4, Insightful)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276525)

A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

Hell, i think Apache can claim prior art...

Re:hmmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276537)

Hell, IIS opens *all* your computing resources to the distributed computing system

Re:hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276560)

Hell, IIS opens *all* your computing resources to the "distributed computing system"

He he he. I suppose they will try to patent the virus also.

Re:hmmm (4, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276566)

A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

When you file a patent you enter a negotiation with the patent office. You start by claiming the sun, moon and stars (i.e. claim 1 which you quoted). Usually you end up with considerably more narrow coverage. Sometimes you end up with nothing (no patent).

Re:hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276578)

Or sometimes the patent office is incompetant and grants a far-reaching patent to a firm like PanIP.

And a collective exclamation of.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276528)

"I TOLD YOU SO" goes out to the Mono project guys. You can't trust Microsoft. Unless they had signed a solid, binding legal document that says "this is the .NET spec, and MS irrevocably grants free patent licenses to anyone implementing it", you should not touch it. Java has no patent problems. The open source community should stick to Java instead of dealing with MS.

Re:And a collective exclamation of.... (4, Insightful)

gabbarsingh (207183) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276659)

Why is this modded down to 0? I had similar concerns about Mono. M$ went w/ gnome dudes possibly for covering fire against DoJ. An Open Source implementation of .Net gives so much validity to M$ .Net. But we all new that M$ could yank the chain and throttle Mono. It could and it will.

And a scolding is in order for Icaza and gang. Has history of M$ taught nothing to you? Do we (Linux/Apache/GNU) are server people, we need to learn from a desktop company how to put an XML wrapper around http requests!

Patents & Antitrust (5, Informative)

joelparker (586428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276536)

How will the patents fit with the antitrust? Check this "The Legality of a Unilateral Refusal to License Under the Antitrust laws" here [ffhsj.com]

... When a patented or copyrighted product is one of many products competing in a market, antitrust issues typically do not arise from unilateral conduct. However, when a patented or copyrighted product is so successful that it evolves into its own economic market, succeeds in garnering a large market share, or is essential to compete in a market, the antitrust laws and the intellectual property laws collide. The antitrust laws' primary purpose of preserving competition is frustrated when the holder of a patent or copyright exercises the exclusionary market power that comes with those rights.

The United States Supreme Court has yet to deal with these knotty issues, although the Court apparently is seriously considering doing so....

Cheers, Joel

shooting themselves in the foot (4, Insightful)

f00zbll (526151) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276546)

I don't know about others, but all of Microsoft's talk about using standards and supporting them has been completely invalidated. That just isn't going to fly in the financial world or any large enterprises that see standard protocols and processes a way to insure their investments.

Chalk another one up for greed and mis-guided beliefs. IBM backs up their talk about not charging for their patents by donating software to open source. Until microsoft puts their money where their mouth is, they just lost a huge chunk of credibility.

It's just the web services part (2, Informative)

arkanes (521690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276548)

10 second scan of the claims notices alot of refrences to "distributed" and "web client". It looks like this just refrences the web services part of .NET, not the CLR itself. It doesn't neccesarily seem to apply to normal ASP.NET, either, and there's vast prior art there anyway. It's just XML based web services applications.

Re:It's just the web services part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276678)

But this would kill the W3C SOAP Web Services effort completely, driving everyone into the opposing REST (REpresentational State Transfer) camp on those groups!

I find this viewpoint extremely difficult to accept, because even Microsoft would not shoot themselves in the foot with a stick of dynamite.

Okay (5, Informative)

Pros_n_Cons (535669) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276549)

From Mono's FAQ

Question 122: Could patents be used to completely disable Mono (either submarine patents filed now, or changes made by Microsoft specifically to create patent problems)?

No. First, its basic functional capabilities have pre-existed too long to be held up by patents. The basic components of Mono are technologically equivalent to Sun's Java technology, which has been around for years.

Mono will also implement multi-language and multi-architecture support, but there are previous technologies such as UCSD p-code and ANDF that also support multiple languages using a common intermediate language. The libraries are similar to other language's libraries, so again, they're too similar to be patentable in large measure.

However, if Microsoft does patent some technology, then our plan is to either (1) work around it, (2) chop out patented pieces, (3) find prior art that would render the patent useless. Not providing a patented capability would weaken the interoperability, but it would still provide the free software / open source software community with good development tools, which is the primary reason for developing Mono.

Re:Okay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276601)

thats what you think miguel (you poor misguided fool)

now prepare your anus for gates' cock

Re:Okay (4, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276725)

No. First, its basic functional capabilities have pre-existed too long to be held up by patents.

Somebody has far too much faith that the Patent Office will not issue a patent for that which has prior art. Sorry, but it doesn't look that way from here. The PTO may well grant a patent, even though it really shouldn't. Then what?

if Microsoft does patent some technology, then our plan is to [...] find prior art that would render the patent useless.

Which means a lawsuit. More specifically, it means defending against an infringment lawsuit brought by Microsoft. This is the sort of thing that the side with the deeper pockets usually wins, just because he can keep stretching things out and delaying final judgement. How deep did you say your pockets were? (We know how deep Microsoft's are.)

I've always been of the opinion that Mono was a misguided waste of development time and talent -- precisely because Microsoft could (and would) torpedo it before it became a real threat (and after it had soaked up a ton of open source developer time and "validated" .NET in a lot of people's minds.) Looks like the torpedo bay doors are coming open.

Other Details... (5, Funny)

Fringe (6096) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276550)

The wide-ranging patent surely includes...
  • The Blue Screen Of Death
  • The 200-page EULA in a 5-line scroll-pane
  • Solitaire as a Productivity Application
  • FUD as a revenue-centre
Didn't they invent Al Gore also?

surprising? (1)

tongue (30814) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276558)

is anyone even the slightest bit surprised by this move? I know I am certainly not.

Re:surprising? (2, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276656)

I am. I thought they'd at least wait until they had some market share before pissing everyone off.

Dave

This is surprises me (5, Interesting)

tundog (445786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276561)


One of the biggest obstacles for .Net has been acceptance. Despite all the marketing hype, .Net hasn't seen the wildly successful adoption of the .Net framework in the marketplace. I do R&D for a huge software company, and we are betting heavily on Java services. This is only one more reason to be wary of the .Net initiaitive. As such, M$ marketing is probably (or soon will be) tearing their hair out over this.

Mono is evil (4, Interesting)

plierhead (570797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276673)

One of the biggest obstacles for .Net has been acceptance. Despite all the marketing hype, .Net hasn't seen the wildly successful adoption of the .Net framework in the marketplace.

Thats why Ximian is misguided. They actually help MS in their .Net marketing initiatives. Because of them, MS can point to an open source alternative and claim that .Net is kind of open. On the other hand, Ximian only release their code under GPL and GPL-like licenses, not under more permissive BSD license. My belief is that Ximian's business plan involves keeping this right to themselves, probably for sale later on - perhaps in a couple of years - when (if) .Net ever achieves dominance. If that happens, IT mega-companies (IBM and the like) would pay large sums for unrestricted access to a .Net lookalike, and only Ximian will have it. Ximian could dispel this by releasing their code under a BSD license. After all, the normal argument that applies to BSD does not matter here - MS already have their own .Net platform and have nothing to gain from Ximian's code.

Don't support .Net. And don't support Mono. They are Microsoft's whores.

Letters of Objection to the PO (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276562)

Isn't there a period of time which the PO accepts letters outlining why a particular patent should / should not be granted? I thought that there was or were planning on having a certain time period in which to raise objections before the patent was granted. If so, does anyone know how to go about sending in valid prior art, etc?

If you are surprised... (1)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276563)

...you are either still new to the world of programming or an idiot. This is exactly on cue for MS. Do yourself a favor: http://www.java.sun.com

Mono Prior Art? (2, Interesting)

seanmcelroy (207852) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276564)


Wouldn't the Mono project constitute as prior art? Can patents prevent derivatives after they've already been in existance?

Obfuscation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276565)

Obfuscation is of interest to many software vendors, who wish to prevent people from stealing their ideas.
Like Clippy?

Re:Obfuscation (1)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276720)

Like Clippy?

Him too, although I was thinking more along the lines of "Microsoft Bob"

Anyone know if "Microsoft Bob" will be .NET compatible?

Hmmm, should I be upset about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276574)

Well, congratulations to Microsoft.. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure what the implications of this will be.. but it'll probably be interesting.

Its just more nukular warfare (1)

plierhead (570797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276576)

This sounds like just the same old corporate craziness regarding patents. Of course in this case its MS at the wheel, and as well-balanced and thoughtful /.ers we all know that Microsoft really is the devil incarnate.

But many corporates are forced into the same position, and pretty much have to patent things just to prevent someone else from doing it to them. Patent warfare is reminiscent of the cold war and mutually assured destruction. Thats bad for the world and particularly for those of us who only have access to bows and arrows.

Patent is ludicrous (4, Funny)

$$$$$exyGal (638164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276579)

21. A system as recited in claim 19, wherein male person inserts a penis into the female person. The female person's insertion point (herein referred as "vagina") shall accumulate the male person's semen until such time as the male person has entered the completion phase. This completion phase is what enables the spawning of child persons.

The above is just as rediculous as the real thing.

--sex [slashdot.org]

Re:Patent is ludicrous (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276682)

Shut up, bitch.

Bah! (2, Interesting)

Lukano (50323) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276594)

So after trying to patent anything with the word "Windows" in it and getting shot down, and trying to patent everything from the GUI on through to how to click a mouse (read:sarcasm), they're going to try to patent a philosophy and theory that has been in place in Unix structures from time eternal.... 10:1 odds they get shot down.

Ah! (1)

labratuk (204918) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276596)

People at Oxford University actually working on .NET code? Maybe they know what .NET actually is!

I'll go and ask them.

Conclusion: w3 o\/\/nZ u! (1)

Radical Rad (138892) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276603)

Get a load of the conclusion, "it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention." That's sounds like lawyerspeak for "this patent covers everything that could possibly be imagined as similar in any way, even things which are not described, but happened to be invented by someone who doesn't have enough money to fight us in the kangaroo patent court that Bush Sr. set up."

What a shock!? (2, Insightful)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276607)

.Net patent could stifle standards effort

Since when has MS ever cared about standards. One nice thing about being a monopoly is that you don't! I honestly hope they aren't doing this just to stop the mono project. Perhaps because one day mono will be able to run .Net applications (which MS so obviously wants everyone to run). The popularity of linux would be sure to grow because people will be able to use the same software as they do in windows
From a business stand point this is a smart thing to do.

A bogus patent ... (3, Insightful)

Bob Loblaw (545027) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276609)

that the USPO will be happy to give since they get money whether it is valid or not. Ximian will have a hard time outspending MS in the court room to prove that it is bogus though (the US government couldn't do it). Conveniently, it will likely prevent any legal running of MS .NET services on a Mono platform in the meanwhile.

Raise your hand (5, Funny)

Teckla (630646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276614)

Please raise your hand if you thought Microsoft was going to allow .NET to be a reasonable and viable platform on non-Windows operating systems!

All of those raising your hands, please contact me. I have an exciting opportunity for you. I'm trying to get some money out of Nigeria.

-Teckla

claims are insane (5, Informative)

stevenj (9583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276618)

Take claim 1, which is the broadest independent claim:
A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

How are, for example, a web server (handles requests submitted by remote devices) and web browser (interface to present functions used to access resources) not covered by this claim? The next independent claim is:

A distributed computer software architecture, comprising: one or more applications configured to be executed on one or more computing devices, the applications handling requests submitted from remote computing devices; a networking platform to support the one or more applications; and an application programming interface to interface the one or more applications with the networking platform.

Like, e.g. SETI@Home over TCP/IP? Or PVM [ornl.gov] ?

Or claim 19:

A system comprising: means for exposing a first set of functions that enable browser/server communication; means for exposing a second set of functions that enable drawing and construction of client applications; means for exposing a third set of functions that enable connectivity to data sources and XML functionality; and means for exposing a fourth set of functions that enable system and runtime functionality.

...like, say, Mozilla.

Of course, there are dependent claims that try to make this more specific (ooh, using XML documents over a network, that's original). And, of course, the whole thing could be rejected by the patent office.

Still, it's like they didn't even make an effort to try and avoid the most obvious prior-art objections. Almost like they have complete contempt for the patent office, and confidence that no one will dare to challenge their multi-billion-dollar legal war chest if they ever do assert patent rights over someone. But no, that's crazy.

Can you patent the inventions of others? (3, Insightful)

puppetluva (46903) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276620)

Microsoft can patent J2EE?

Seriously: Microsoft explicitly names the .NET base class hierarchy in the patent. That should worry the Mono guys. If the patent is even extremely narrowly enforced, the Mono guys seem to be in breach.

Re:Can you patent the inventions of others? (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276723)

you imply that this patent will exist. It will only exist in a corrupt system, and survive in the same.
oh yeah...shit.

Wow, they are patenting RPC and Web Browsers (4, Insightful)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276631)

1. A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

There is so much prior art for this claim it's not even funny.

But wait, it gets even funnier in claim #4....

4. A software architecture as recited in claim 1, wherein the application program interface comprises: a first group of services related to creating Web applications; a second group of services related to constructing client applications; a third group of services related to data and handling XML documents; and a fourth group of services related to base class libraries.

What?!! A network web service that can handle XML data using (said with pinky put to side of mouth) "CLASS LIBRARIES."

Hmmmmmm... Now where have I seen this before? Maybe Microsoft will try to patent a network service for sending and receiving text messages for the express purpose of communicating.

This is just another example of why software patents need to DIE! DIE! DIE! The sad thing is that about 50 guys had to waste their time writing this patent. Does anyone else see the irony of the first name listed on the patent, "Adam Smith"?

Adam Smith wrote in his famous book, The Wealth of Nations, "Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man or order of men."

Do you see the irony now? Today he would be be called an "ANARCHIST!" and he would definately be at home (somewhat) on slashdot. :)

Prior Art up the Wazoo (1)

MrByte420 (554317) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276632)

Geez. Usually these frivolous patents have some iota of truth to them but what about .NET isn't just the "obvious next step" to the last 30 years of contributions to computer science? Java's bytecode is a slower version of their own "portable code" and CLR.

I think they're just hoping the patent office is about as confused as the rest of us of exactly what .NET is supposed to be and hence issues a patent to avoid looking stupid.

wait a minute (5, Interesting)

ashpool7 (18172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276637)

Will it even stand up with Mono around? Even if it is Microsoft's idea to begin with, they didn't apply for the patent until after Mono showed up.

I'm not sure it will fly. US Code title 35 Sec. 102 says something like

"A person shall be entitled to a patent unless the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States"

Mono has been around since July 2001, but since it's half-done, does that count?

No MONO? Great! (3, Insightful)

Spicerun (551375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276647)

Maybe now an OSS equivalent (but doesn't have to be the same as) of .NET will be developed instead of riding on MS' twisted coattails. As much as I dislike patents, perhaps this would be a good thing by getting an original and open standards version of something like .net without having to be or have the harmful effects of .net.

Maybe EU will kill this one... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276651)

If their antitrust judgement forces them to let other people's code interact with their OS's, then even if this patent is granted, they might have to let everyone use it anyway as an EU patent.


Or not. We'll see if the EU has any backbone still, or if they're too excited to merge their patent systems with the U.S.'s.

patenting crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276654)

Has anyone tried to use the XML related stuff in .NET? I've been using it and it is most definitely not conformant to schema spec. In fact there are several serious non-conformant issues with .NET's schema implementation where a complexType contains a selection of complexTypes, but one of the types includes the same complextype as the selection. In other words, one of the selections is a combination of the other types. So is microsoft's goal to patent bad software? Oh wait, they already. to hell with .NET.

Java Obfuscation (2, Insightful)

srichman (231122) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276657)

And a chaser: Nept points to this interesting Microsoft-funded .NET obfuscation project.
Why is this "interesting"? Java bytecode obfuscators have existed for years (23,000 matches [google.com] on google). It's pretty much par for the course; Sun has been distributing a bytecode disassembler with the JDK since its early releases, after all. I wouldn't expect things to be any different with .NET.

We've never seen this behavior from MS before..... (1)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276683)

"this project is funded by a gift from Microsoft Corporation to develop a transformation toolkit for the intermediate language of their new .NET intermediate language...Obfuscation is of interest to many software vendors, who wish to prevent people from stealing their ideas....we hope to develop new methods that are provably hard to undo. ...."

They can't really mean the deliberate construction of a language where they could "turn the key" and all intermediate code would stop working.....that would be a great act of hubris....and not at all in the usual keeping of Microsoft....

M$ the Evil Emprives show it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5276685)

M$ is evil empire this shows it. They want total dominance they donot want healthy compitition. They know that they have no chance against Java and Linux if they give comsumer a fair chance to choose.

M$ the evil empire will always down play Java & Linux to make .Not and windoze look better .

Typical Microsoft Strategy (tm) (3, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276687)

I have an idea... Don't use this stupid .NET thing. I simply don't understand why it's such a big deal. Seriously... What is there in this .NET that is so important that the whole world needs to jump on it like flies on shit? Microsoft does these things on purpose to screw everyone over, and every time they do, everyone falls for it again. Well I'm not going to fall for it. This .NET thing can take a long walk on a short pier. I'm gonna continue performing my work on FreeBSD, without all this fancy shmancy junk, and guess what? It'll cost less too.

Walling off .NET (3, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | more than 11 years ago | (#5276700)

I had trouble following the patent text; it's pretty dry. It's not clear to me whether the patent covers just the .NET API, or if it would cover any similar system.

If it covers any similar system, and the patent is granted as-is, that would be bad for the Mono project. But if it just covers the .NET API, the Mono guys won't care much.

It would be nice if Mono projects could talk to .NET servers and vice versa. But it isn't strictly necessary. Mono is potentially a useful system, all by itself, without it ever talking to a Microsoft server.

This action by Microsoft really reminds me of IBM's Microchannel. Before Microchannel, anyone could make hardware cards compatible with IBM computers (ISA bus). The Microchannel PCs (the PS/2 series) were different: you had to license patents from IBM to make cards for Microchannel. IBM probably thought they would be able to lock customers in, but what actually happened was that people voted with their wallets for non-Microchannel solutions. Microchannel drove customers away from IBM and towards IBM's competition.

Does anyone really need .NET? How many even really understand what it is? Now, Microsoft not only needs to explain why you should abandon your current system to use .NET, they need to explain why .NET is worth locking yourself in.

steveha
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