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So What If Linux Infringes On Microsoft IP?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the yeah-that's-right-wait-what dept.

Microsoft 394

Mr Men writes to mention a ZDNet blog entry by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wondering aloud if maybe, just maybe, Microsoft isn't lying about having patents that are part of Linux. "Come on, no matter how much of a Linux fan you are, you have to admit that there's at least a chance that Linux does indeed infringe on Microsoft's patents. After all, Microsoft does hold a lot of patents and while Linux is open source and we can all take a look at the source code, only Microsoft has access to most of its source code so it isn't all that difficult for it to prove — to itself at any rate — that there are IP infringements contained in Linux. After all, before IBM handed over some 500 patents to the open source community, it's pretty clear that Linux was infringing some of them. Given that, why is it so hard to believe that the same isn't going on with Microsoft?" Even then, he goes on to say, so what if they do? It's not like they're going to go after us with a 'Linux tax.' Kingsley-Hughes imagines that, for the most part, Microsoft is just going to sit on this info and use it to form more and more profitable deals. Better than the alternative, I guess.

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I live in EU (5, Insightful)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983040)

so I don't care.

For now, at least.

Re:I live in EU (2, Insightful)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983080)

You maybe do not care, but also have to bear the consequences, i.e. if some important functionality is removed from the code due to US patent infringement, it will then most probably not exist in an separate european version because of the amount of work for the developers which would be needed to maintain two versions.

Re:I live in EU (5, Insightful)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983128)

A lot of Linux distros are not US-based. Why would they remove code?

Re:I live in EU (4, Interesting)

Troed (102527) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983130)

The USA is not that big a market, compared to the EU, Asia etc. Lots of companies have no problems at all concentrating fully on products even if they cannot be sold in the US.

Everyone infringes a patent (4, Insightful)

Casualposter (572489) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983570)

Considering that the wheel was recently patented in Australia, and that playing with string and parting your hair in a particular way have all been patented, I doubt there is anyone on the face of the planet that doesn't infringe some patent somewhere simply by living. Patents are broken and probably hopelessly so.

Re:I live in EU (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983206)

it will then most probably not exist in an separate european version

It's not necessary. Since source code is just a description of the patent you can walk a fine line: You can add the patented feature and have a switch in the build script that can disable it. It would only be illegal to distribute binaries since only computers with a binary become an "apparatus" doing what the patent describes. That's how the Xvid guys sort of weasel around the problem for example.

Of course, for binary distros your argument still holds and it is a problem.

Re:I live in EU (4, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983488)

What if it's GCC that is affected ?

Re:I live in EU (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983282)

Given the choice between maintaining the current code (plus cool new features X,Y,Z) and maintaining some crippled US only version what makes you think they would maintain the crippled version?

Re:I live in EU (5, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983412)

t will then most probably not exist in an separate european version because of the amount of work for the developers which would be needed to maintain two versions.

I believe we have one or two programmers of our own here in the EU...

Re:I live in EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983470)

Why would we need two versions, then? The non-US version is enough, isn't it? When it is illegal to sell in the US, those that want to sell it there need to fix it, not the maintainers.

Re:I live in EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983240)

I live in EU too, but I do care. Because unfortunately US companies are powerful enough to maintain in some EU ruling parties an impression that US way is better.

And given the quality of US patent system I would not be surprised if M$ managed to patent something that is also available in GNU/Linux (created independently, or even stolen by M$, as soon as they realised it could be useful)

Re:I live in EU (4, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983256)

First, I think we can reasonably say that the risk is about patent infrigment here, and not source code copying.
I think all Linux and OSS developers know they are living with a Damocles sword above their head : the FOSS community does not apply patents, implement a lot of trivial-but-patented ideas and, for one, I have been wondering why MS didn't attack Linux yet.

I now have an idealistic answer to this question. I think that most big patent holders also live with another Damocles sword. The value of their companies is (partly) related to the number of patent they own. The current system do not care about the individual value of patent, just about their numbers. I think that this system is deeply flawed but that it just keep on working because most shareholders believe in it. Now imagine the Redmond Behemoth clashing with the FOSS insurgency. Both sides are well known, if not of the mainstream public, at least in the IT field, including IT decision makers. Such a debate would very quickly point the flaws of the system and may even be able to disrupt it. Plus, the FOSS is more able to gain public support, considering that even if you can portray them as "IP thiefs", as we use these IP to create products for everybody, we can easily be seen as Robin Hoodesque thiefs.

Would I be in the skin of a Redmon lawyer or decision maker, I would be VERY careful about this issue.

Re:I live in EU (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983370)

The patents can only be used against Linux once per patent because whagtever is in the way will be coded around.

So every attempt to sue will result in a smaller useful portfolio.

And there will be no overall winning.

Re:I live in EU (4, Interesting)

Breetai (14095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983466)

A recent study confirmed my opinion about patents.

They couldn't find any relationship between innovation and the number of patents a corporation has. It's nice to have some patents to use in a defensive manner. But they don't give you much leverage over the competetion.
If you effectively want to use patents you have to several things. Develop the patent. apply for it and actively defend against any infringement. If you do the later 2, you have less time for development. Which results in loss of your customers, who go over to the competition.

Companies like Google have to invent new stuff in order to stay ahead of the competititon. They don't have the time to wonder about patent infringement.

Most patents nowadays concern many small improvements that are obvious. Patents that the competition has to avoid in order to compete. At the moment patents allow a monopoly for the big guys. The innovative small guys remain screwed and face unfair competition.

No wonder that big American corporations are pushing for software patents in the EU. It sure would help them against the local competition.

Re:I live in EU (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983318)

Bon jour, you cheese-eating surrender monkey!

My condolances to you and yours (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983442)

My condolences to you and yours. Russia gave you freedom but you lazy slobs can't do anything without being on a russian dole so here you go stealing to make your way.

Re:I live in EU (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983584)

Or forever.

The thing is, if the EU does ever legalise software patents, any patents that may have been falsely granted (which is all pure-maths patents, which every EU member states' laws explicitly disallow) won't come into force automagically. Every EU nation implements the UN Declaration of Human Rights, one paragraph of which states that a newly-introduced law cannot be used retrospectively against any action which took place before the law was introduced. Making falsely-granted patents enforcible would require a constitutional change in every EU member state! The patent holders will have to re-apply for them. Meanwhile, anything that might have "infringed" them -- if not for the simple fact that they were bollocks in the first place -- is now prior art that can be used to block the original holders' reapplications.

It is, however, conceivable that Britain could be expelled from the EU at some time in the future -- which might affect the patentability of software in the UK. Our membership is predicated on the slim probability that Britain might join the Euro at some stage in future (read: if this would directly benefit London); and then it would definitely make sense for at least some countries to start pricing their oil in Euros rather than US dollars. This would get the European banks a share of the money that currently gets skimmed off by the US treasury (or, sometimes, by British businesses with large quantities of US$ bills) whenever any nation changes their money for dollars to buy oil. If some European country discovers some new, cheap energy source that would make the Continent less reliant on oil, then the benefit of Britain joining the Euro would be lessened. We'd be out on our sorry arses; and the Japanese would buy up this country lock, stock and barrel while the News of the World readers were still partying.

OMG (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983046)

Fr1st p0st

Re:OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983208)

After all, before IBM handed over some 500 patents to the open source community, it's pretty clear that Linux was infringing some of them.

They were contributed by IBM. A company contributing to a FOSS-project and afterwards complaining about these very contributions in this very same project infringing their patents is a bit of a motherfucker, if you catch my drift.

I Must Be Confused (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983056)

I guess I'm not on the same page as this guy. When I read about the Microsoft allegations, they're not against just Linux. They're also against Open Source projects. Either way they a lot of OSS projects rely on Linux as a platform and development environment. One of the potential issues I see if Linux goes down as "Microsoft Intellectual Property" is that these projects will dry up as no one likes to face litigation from Microsoft. Like when the SAMBA team cried out against Novell and I'm sure the Open Office folks wouldn't be too happy about this.

So you might be able to argue that Linux will still remain free to us somehow but I think it would be severely detrimental if not fatal to the applications that run on top of it.

I'm not a lawyer but I think that if the Linux kernel fell then a lot of the applications that make Linux great would be in immediate danger. I mean, this guy kind of scoffs at Microsoft claiming patent infringement but has he thought what would happen to projects like KDE & Gnome? I wouldn't be afraid of losing Linux but I would be afraid of losing the great applications that either stress interoperability with Windows or mimic functionality of a Windows environment.

Microsoft's FUD must be working (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983108)

Because people seem worried, maybe some hyperventilating, and even some panicking.

Relax everyone, Linux is backed by pretty big companies, like IBM, that in the case Microsoft ever actually tries something, they'll get their ass handed to them and the Windows OS will be seen in the same infringing light.

Microsoft won't actually do anything until Linux starts eating up Desktop Sales, and even then, I don't see it happening unless MS is really going the drain, ala SCO - which won't be for many many years.

Afterall, if Microsoft really wanted the cash that badly, they would have already sued because Linux absolutely dominates in the server space, which is a market that MS wants.

This is all just a ploy to keep CIOs pondering Linux in line with the Microsoft way.

Re:Microsoft's FUD must be working (0, Flamebait)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983324)

Ummmm....Windows Server has a much higher market share in the total server market than Linux (paid Linux at least), just to let you know. Geeks downloading and running their servers on Debian or Slackware aren't exactly Microsoft's target market. In-fact, Microsoft recently outpaced Unix to become the top selling server OS, while Linux sits in spot 3. Last I heard, third place isn't exactly "domination".

Re:Microsoft's FUD must be working (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983602)

It's because you need 5 windows servers to do the job of 1 Linux server. ;-)

Seriously: pretty much nobody really looks at what the servers are actually doing.

Re:Microsoft's FUD must be working (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983636)

And last time I checked, sales and use are two completely different things, especially when talking about something that can be used and distributed freely.

Re:I Must Be Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983114)

Score 0, Offtopic?

Why do I even waste my time on this bullshit site?

TFA uses Open Source and Linux pretty much interchangebly. Real cute that my post is offtopic. What next, will it be moderated flamebait? I swear mods don't even read posts anymore, they just blindly throw points depending on how the title suits them or what they had for breakfast.

Re:I Must Be Confused (4, Insightful)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983148)

"I'm not a lawyer but I think that if the Linux kernel fell then a lot of the applications that make Linux great would be in immediate danger. I mean, this guy kind of scoffs at Microsoft claiming patent infringement but has he thought what would happen to projects like KDE & Gnome?"
Wow. You linux guys don't get out much do you?

KDE and Gnome, and just about every other "linux app" you can think of run just fine on other operating systems. Ever hear of the *BSDs? Solaris?

Not that it's going to happen, but Linux could disappear tomorrow, and the world would still have several free unix-type OSs to run KDE or Gnome on.

Re:I Must Be Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983176)

Wow, you alternix people don't read much, do you :).

I think his point was that Microsoft could sue KDE and Gnome out of existence as an encore, thus making the BSDs and Solaris suffer. I'm not sure if he's right about that, but I think that's his point.

Re:I Must Be Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983180)

My point was that they would cease to exist in the Linux distros which (in my opinion) would kill Linux. I mean, who would use Linux without a graphical environment? Maybe some hardcore people but not me. And I wasn't talking only about Gnome & KDE but I used them as examples ... there are probably better ones out there that would have illustrated this better.

Re:I Must Be Confused (2, Insightful)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983244)

"I mean, who would use Linux without a graphical environment? "

LOTS of people use Linux without a graphical environment right now - in fact I would guesstimate that the vast majority of linux installations in the world do not depend on graphical environments, as they are servers.

I just don't see Microsoft being very successful in suing open source apps out of existence. Their is a ton of money behind linux and if you actualyl take a minute to look at some of the patents Microsoft has, you'll see that most of them are silly and unenforceable.

And there is always the fact that most of world doesn't even recognize software patents.

Linux and all the neato apps that run on top of it are not going away.

Re:I Must Be Confused (4, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983454)

For every project you could name there is one almost the same just a few clicks away.

If QT & Qtopia broke any patents they would have been sued long ago but then we would switch to wx perhaps for some other widget set. There's plenty to choose from.

My Unix desktop is a straight port of plan9's rio. No patent trouble there and if there was AT&T/Lucent would have been in trouble long long ago when they had any money.

When you have a long memory in this industry, you've heard many of the battles already played out and can pick a path of least risk.

BSD went through this phase already. That litigation was one of the reasons Linux was adopted in many places.

Re:I Must Be Confused (1)

pakar (813627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983186)

There are ALOT of people outside USA that will not agree to those terms.

Just because 300M people live in the states that are forced to comply with these stupid software-patents dont make us here in europe or the rest of the world do the same.

I would suspect that if the kernel would become more and more stripped because of these patents there would either be a fork of the kernel, or the kernel would be even more modularized so stuff that infringes on those stupid patents can be removed for the 'american' version.

Patents should be for complete innovations, not for a generic idea that makes up a minimal part of the complete system, Software-patents are just plain stupid, and if they should be applied it should only be for advanced algorithms for speech-recognition or image-recognition and similar. And they should then need to specify that complete algo in the patent-application.

Re:I Must Be Confused (2, Interesting)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983192)

It seems that they're mostly against GPLed projects which they cannot turn into a closed source product. This in itself is not much of a surprise, but it's also why the software will not dry up even if Linux somehow went down as being MS IP. GPLed software has been around longer than Linux, and Linux is not intended to be the end all, be all of the GNU system. It is a convenient platform however.

Also note that this claim involves patents, and not copyright. Just for the sake of argument, if Linux were to somehow violate some MS patent, then presumably so do the BSDs, Solaris, AIX and any other UNIX-like system with the possible inclusion of MacOS X. UNIX has been around long enough to invalidate just about any patent that MS might have in this case. If the patent is on some form of supporting software (Mono perhaps? FAT/FAT32 support?) we either don't use it, invalidate it with prior art, or come up with a different implementation which does not infringe on the specific claims in the patent.

Microsoft hasn't exactly been forthcoming with which patents they're talking about. In light of this fact, it's likely that this is a marketing effort to get people to move toward Vista rather than Linux. Alternately, there may be either sufficient prior art to invalidate the patent which they'd rather not have tested until they have sufficient capital behind it to convince the courts that they're being harmed. They might even be waiting for their patented techniques to become used in more Free/OSS code so they can sue at a later date - as may be the case with Mono.

Once the details are available and assuming they're not FUD, Free/OSS software will route around their patents in the same way web developers routed around the Unisys patent on GIFs. Life will go on, and MS will have to find another way to discourage people who use or are considering open systems.

Patent Holders Onus (2, Interesting)

Finn61 (893421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983464)

I have no idea if patents are treated similar to copyright law but in my limited understanding, intellectual property owners have a responsibility to defend their rights when they know of infringing activity. If they neglect to defend their rights then they may end up forfeiting those rights.

For example this would prevent the scenario of someone deliberately holding off action so that the infringing activity increased before going to town with law suits.

In other words, you use them or lose them. And MS seems to be saying, we know patent infringment is occuring but they are not doing anything about it.

Somebody set me straight if I'm way off here.

Shooting themselves in the foot (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983226)

I think you may be underestimating the public relations nightmare Microsoft would endure if they were to kill Linux as a viable enterprise platform or even (god forbid) seriously damage OSS. Not to mention that the Feds may just revisit Antitrust cases against the evil empire.

I get the feeling that the world may just be ripe for a new commercial desktop platform that will run on PCs and be an actual serious competitor to Windows without requiring special hardware to run (ala OSX). I mean, how long has it been since OS/2 went down? I think it's about time. If I could go to Comp-u-City and buy a different commercial (I stress commercial, not open source but new from the ground up) operating system off the shelf for $150, I'd do it today instead of golfing.

Re:Shooting themselves in the foot (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983342)

"If I could go to Comp-u-City and buy a different commercial (I stress commercial, not open source but new from the ground up) operating system off the shelf for $150, I'd do it today instead of golfing."

You know someone takes their anti-Microsoft tirade a bit too far when they're willing to buy a competing product without even checking whether or not it suits their needs :-P

Re:Shooting themselves in the foot (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983484)

You know someone takes their anti-Microsoft tirade a bit too far when they're willing to buy a competing product without even checking whether or not it suits their needs :-P

Maybe it's for research. Maybe that's why he has to do it instead of golfing. It's because he's going to see how the two notepad applications square up. And let's not forget the paint applications. :-)

KDE and Gnome are OS independant (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983578)

KDE, Gnome, and many of the other "Linus applications" will work just fine under other OSSs, including BSD and Solaris.

no solution (4, Insightful)

d_strand (674412) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983076)

Software patents are a cancer on modern society and economics and need to die a horrible death. I personaly find software patents immoral and thus I ignore them. I understand it's not as easy for companies like RedHat et al, but I can not see any solution since big companies has more bribe money. Sad.

Re:no solution (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983144)

Companies back patents because it allows them to kill various small start-up. They are immune from each other for the most part because of patent portfolios they exchange (Mutual Assured Destruction) though there are exceptions (Amazon/IBM). Small companies can benefit from genuine patents, but not against the big guys who can outspend them at the litigation game.

The only thing that the large corps haven't figured out in this game rigged in their advantage are the patent trolls designed only to extract money as they don't actually do anything else. Atari is a prominent example.

Patents used to be good, but 17 years is too long a generic period - different industries need different periods - ala the drug industry should have a reasonable period while the software industry is so fluid and rapid flowing patents don't even begin to make sense.

Re:no solution (0)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983202)

ala the drug industry should have a reasonable period while the software industry is so fluid and rapid flowing patents don't even begin to make sense.

You're on the right track but: firstly software patents don't make sense at all, it has nothing to do with the time limit. Secondly, drugs companies do not need a longer period than anyone else. They certainly want one but since most of their expenditure is on advertising rather than research it is hard to see the justification for that, especially in a field where sociey's needs are literally life or death. A shorter period for drugs would seem a good idea to me.

TWW

Exactly (4, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983290)

You got it. I've been saying this over and over and I'm absolutely stunned that there are some people who still don't get it.

You don't even have any choice as to whether or not to ignore software patents. There are hundreds of thousands of them. Then there are several thousand new applications a day. I'll give you a hint. It's impossible.

That's why Microsoft ignores software patents. Even they, the richest company on the planet, have no alternative. And that's also why they're getting hit with a few 9-figure verdicts already. But they still play the game and pretend they're legitimate, because they somehow think they'll benefit, in the end, using them to crush current and potential competition with multi-million legal actions and the threat thereof.

It is mpossible to tell if any piece of code infringes. By the way, have you read many of these things? Almost every line of code does infringe.

Every line written is a ticking patent timebomb. Every player has to ante up and make their own "patent portfolio" which they can then apply against whoever sues them. If that sounds like it excludes everyone but a few rich, dominant corporations... now you're getting the idea. Only minor fly in the ointment: those patent shell companies that actually don't do any work except suing people, therefore can't be hit with a retaliatory claim. Ooops. And yet even after getting whacked by a few, MS is still winking and continuing to play the game. Shows you how much they hate honest competition.

Software Patents are currently ignored by almost everyone. But to the extent they are enforced, they will categorically end the American software industry, and software will continue to be a business in Europe, Asia, and... well basically every other civilized nation, who have soundly rejected this silly game and are by the way laughing their asses off at us.

I Found Code That Doesn't Infringe On Any Patents! (2, Funny)

noamsml (868075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983640)

#include int main() { std::cout

Re:Exactly (3, Insightful)

hritcu (871613) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983648)

Software Patents are currently ignored by almost everyone. But to the extent they are enforced, they will categorically end the American software industry, and software will continue to be a business in Europe, Asia, and... well basically every other civilized nation, who have soundly rejected this silly game and are by the way laughing their asses off at us.
While I do agree with the parent, I have to mention that Europe is not yet safe from software patents. Sure, we won some fights against them, but the influence US companies can have on the bureaucratic decision structures of the European Union is not to be underestimated. And there might come a day when corrupt politicians and bureaucrats will make the terrible mistake US companies are lobbying them into. The opinion of Europeans might just not matter in the corruptible decision process of the EU, and this happens too often here.

Re:no solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983580)

I personaly [sic] find software patents immoral and thus I ignore them.

I personally find laws against kicking your wimpy little white-bread ass immoral and thus I ignore them. Prepare for your beating.

'atleast a chance' ? (4, Interesting)

arun_s (877518) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983098)

I thought it was pretty much obvious there'd be infringing patents. From Bruce Peren's open letter to Novell [techp.org] (also covered here at /.):
Let's be truthful about software patents: there can be no non-trivial computer program, either proprietary or Free, that does not use methods that are claimed in software patents currently in force and unlicensed for use in that program. There are simply enough patents, on enough fundamental principles, to make this so. If all software patents were enforced fully, the software industry would grind to a halt.

Re:'atleast a chance' ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983122)

What would happen if i patnet the use of X dimensional array, where X is a natural number from 2 to inf?

"A method of saving data that would otherwise have to be held in dozens of different pointes in one mathemathical representation...."(you get the idea)

Re:'atleast a chance' ? (0)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983366)

Please download Firefox 2.0. It includes a built-in spell checker, which I hope you'll make good use of in the future. Thanks.

confusing article (4, Insightful)

rsmith (90057) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983124)

The author points to MS's secret codebase. This has nothing to do with patents.

Besides, if MS tries to sue or extort money from someone for use of it's patents, they'd have to specifiy the patents in question, and be sure that these patents would survive being challenged.

I'd say it is cheaper to FUD than to sue.

Re:confusing article (1)

crashelite (882844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983572)

and not to mention discovery... come on how much of the MS code would have to be revealed to prove that this is infringing on MS... or the real question who created the code 1st linux or some guy in MS HQ... or even better did some MS lackie have to make it and stole it from a linux...

They do want a Linux tax (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983132)

It's not like they're going to go after us with a 'Linux tax'.
WTF? That's exactly what they're trying to do. The only question they have is can they get away with it without getting hammered by a shitload of patents which other people hold.

It's exactly the same game theory which makes mutually assured destruction work. My advice with the current US patent system? Patent everything.

 

Re:They do want a Linux tax (1)

AWhistler (597388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983400)

But, but, but...there ALREADY is a Windows Tax.

Just try to buy a PC without Windows installed on it. If you are even able to do it, you won't pay any less for the PC than if Windows were installed on it. That's the Windows Tax. Calling it the Linux tax is just being redundant.

Re:They do want a Linux tax (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983610)

Just try to buy a PC without Windows installed on it. If you are even able to do it, you won't pay any less for the PC than if Windows were installed on it. That's the Windows Tax. Calling it the Linux tax is just being redundant.

It's easy to get a PC without Windows installed on it, and is it also possible to pay less.

Instead of buying from Dell (or HP or whoever), buy from your local PC shop. They usually will let you choose your components, and will support your hardware. Think locally, not globally.

When I did this, I told them they didn't need to bother with an OS install, I would handle it.

As a result, I got my box quickly, and they gave me a better monitor for the same price as their low-end monitor.

You know, you don't always have to support the corporate bullshit that is going on. There are plenty of small businesses that know the value of their customers, and you can leverage that to your advantage.

Of course it is not always possible (ie., laptops), but sometimes supporting your local economy is a good way of "sticking it to the man".

Everyone hates the tax man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983414)

Who wants the hassle of a linux tax? It's a pain in the ass, it'll likely be lost in legal fees spent defending the the next anti-trust action which will reference it. No no. Simply go after the companies using linux in a way that infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property, and force them to license that property (very affordably) as part of an agreement which keeps everyone from having to suffer the courts. Then spend that money in a PR campaign touting the inescabable all-pervasive awesomeness of Microsoft's technology, and manganimous corporate values for not evicerationg the offending party. Naturally, the compliance terms will be obnoxious from an implimentation perpsective. While the implied threat to other companies who make linux an important part is crystal clear, if you're not legally protected by someone who can take on Microsoft, or are capable of taking on Microsoft and winning, or at the very least destroying them too, you're the low orc on the totem pole in Mordor.

Is it really another tenuious, not particularly lucrative revenue stream that generates much ill will that Microsoft desires, or is it to preserve what they have, and keep linux et al, as playthings for hobbiests?

If that more quickly leads to a full scale confrontation between patent superpowers, it's probably best it was done and done quickly, so that we may put it behind us.

Re:They do want a Linux tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983548)

Way to cut out the middle man!

1. Patent everything
2. Profit!!!

Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (5, Funny)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983140)

  1. American directors have a legal responsibility to defend shareholders' interests.
  2. Ballmer says that Linux is infringing and therefore damaging shareholders' interests.
  3. Linux/OS programmers have access to their code only.
  4. Linux/OS programmers have said they will remove infringing code.
  5. Ballmer can see both the Linux/OS programmers' code and Microsoft's.
  6. Ballmer is therefore the only party able to give the infringers what they need to know to stop damaging shareholders' interests.
  7. Ballmer will not/has not said which code is infringing.
  8. Ballmer is the party damaging (note: imperfect tense) Microsoft shareholders' interests.
  9. Ballmer is therefore, by his own admission, in breach of American corporate law.
  10. Someone call the police.

Re:Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (1)

thue (121682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983278)

5. Ballmer can see both the Linux/OS programmers' code and Microsoft's.
6. Ballmer is therefore the only party able to give the infringers what they need to know to stop damaging shareholders' interests.

This is patents we are talking about, not copyrights. Part of the patent application process is that the patents are made public. The patent applications which details what the patents are covering are public domain, and therefore perfectly available to open source programmers.

Re:Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (1)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983374)

The patent applications which details what the patents are covering are public domain, and therefore perfectly available to open source programmers.

Yes and no.

Patents that were filed by Microsoft itself should be able to be found on the USPTO Web site by searching for their name. You might even find some patents by searching for the names of well-known Microsoft employees (e.g., Bill Gates), if they were filed under their names and not Microsoft. However, patents that were assigned to Microsoft -- by employees under Microsoft's direction, by purchasing patents, or by acquisitions of firms holding patents -- will be much more difficult to unearth. Microsoft's done quite a few deals and has had tens of thousands of employees in its history. A dedicated research team might be able to put together a close-to-definitive database of Microsoft patents, but might never get them all.

Then, there is the issue of "open source programmers" reading those patents, as that introduces treble damages if they were to then lose a lawsuit where they accused of violating those patents (treble damages is US law; not sure about other nations).

Ideally, either OIN or SDLC or some similar organization would put together a team to both build the database and analyze the code of major open source projects (Linux, Apache, etc.) to identify possible areas of patent problems. However, this won't exactly be cheap, even if they get some volunteer assistance.

Re:Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (2, Insightful)

daffmeister (602502) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983308)

Not quite:

1. American directors have a legal responsibility to defend their shareholders' interests.
2. Ballmer says that Linux is infringing and therefore damaging other shareholders' interests.

Ballmer has no obligation to defend the interests of any shareholders other than Microsoft's.

Re:Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983430)

Ballmer claims that Linux users are not paying their licence fees to MS; that's damage to his shareholders.

TWW

Re:Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983420)


1. American directors have a legal responsibility to defend shareholders' interests.
. . .
10. Someone call the police.


11. Figure out the difference between civil law and criminal law.
12. Figure out the relationship between police and civil law enforcement
13. ooooops

Re:Balmer's suicide note: a 10 point guide (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983458)

Your forgot 1a and 1b.

1a. Ballmer gets M$ developer to borrow some new feature out of FOSS

1b. Ballmer gets a patent

I imagine ... (1)

quiberon2 (986274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983142)

They'll quote a patent number, and start trying to sell licences to businesses who develop, use, or distribute non-Microsoft software

They will then come across some big businesses, like ATT, who use Linux in their telephone exchnages. ATT will tell Microsoft that telephone exchanges are lights-out, that there is nothing useful they can learn from Windows.

Windows-running Personal Computers will cathc worms, viruses, and spyware, same as they do today. Someone will mount a defence saying that Microsoft have not reduced their invention to practice; that nowhere in the patent did it mention the way a Windows system on public Internet behaves.

And that will be the end of the matter.

Re:I imagine ... (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983392)

Congratulations. You've posted the absolute dumbest comment today on Slashdot :-)

so what if they do? (1)

portwojc (201398) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983160)

so what if they do? It's not like they're going to go after us with a 'Linux tax'.

They could. It's all in the patent laws and regulations.

flamebait (1)

UnixSphere (820423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983166)

It doesn't, next issue on the agenda please.

Come on! (2, Insightful)

kan0r (805166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983196)

Since when is slashdot involved in the distribution of microsoft's latest FUD? This story *here* is exactly the kind of thing they want to see happen. Where there no real news to post today?

Re:Come on! (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983628)

Since when is slashdot involved in the distribution of microsoft's latest FUD? This story *here* is exactly the kind of thing they want to see happen. Where there no real news to post today?
Since when is slashdot involved in the distribution of microsoft's latest FUD? This story *here* is exactly the kind of thing they want to see happen. Where there no real news to post today?
They posted it here so we may bark at it, bark at microsoft, harrass microsoft interests wherever we come upon, diminish microsoft's presence in our modern world and so on.

and thats exactly what we are going to do.

define "infringe" (4, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983200)

Of course, Linux (both the kernel and the user space) "infringes" on many Microsoft's patents, as does just about every piece of software in existence, commercial or open source. How could it not? Microsoft has, after all, obtained patents on things that were published in open source software before Microsoft even filed the patent.

The real questions are whether Linux infringes on any valid Microsoft patents, and whether Microsoft's threats have any legal significance. That seems pretty unlikely: unlike Microsoft, open source developers tend to be scrupulous about avoiding patent infringement. That means that there is going to be no willful infringement and no patent infringement for any key patents. Or, in different words, Microsoft would have a hard time getting anything more than an apology and a quick code change. How they're going to get any business deals out of that, I fail to see.

So, Microsoft, please let us get this over with and start suing.

turn this question around and ask (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983214)

how much is microsoft infringing against open source intellectual property and patents?

microsoft just did an offensive move to be in the position to say "but we said it first, its ours" while the truth is, that they infringe against most others property without really having own

just getting a patent doesnt yet mean that you were really the inventor ....

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983234)

..the it will depend in what jurisdiction you live.

You have the choice:

Communist China or Land of the free.

Can we please (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983236)

Stop posting mature consideration of the whole MS Patent issue and get back to hysterical screaming about how MS plans to kill Linux with patents.

off topic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983260)

every language makes you look at the world in a certain way.
certain languages emphasize certain aspects of reality.
people who speak more then one language tend to have a more
"understanding" way for things that happen around them.

a x86 architecture world with just one operating system would
be bad in the long run, because there wouldn't be any other
perspectives.

this i say because it "feels" like many patents are claimed
as to be able to force competition offf the market.
when the internet started to be commercialized there was a
wave of cyber-squatters registering domain names, even if they
would not use it.

is it possible to draw a comparison between the right of coka-cola
to the name "coka-cola.com" just like maybe the right of owning a
computer to do calculations, any calculations?

starting the chain at the first rain drop stored in a hover dam to the first
piece of coal set on fire in a coal plant to the generators that provide the
power to run all our (so far drms-less) devices and gadgets ... where to draw
the line?

maybe if i can mine my own coal, make my own dam, make my own electricity my
own computer etc. would this still allow a patent to take effect on me?

overkill: what if aliens use the same patented algorithem of a famous earthian
mathematician to make patterns that never repeat? can we sue them? go to war?

Yes, but they can't sue us for triple damages (1)

Programmer_Errant (1004370) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983266)

so we're safe. Hey, these peril sensitive sunglasses really do work.

You are wrong... (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983292)

Not only MS has access to Windows code. A lot of companies (mine for example) has access to MOST of the Windows kernel and UI under a NDA. And I think that a lot of revisors have also taken a look to the code of very large parts of the code after many of the trials that MS has been envolved in). Not being Open Source is not the same than Closed Source.

More white knights needed (2, Interesting)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983306)

IBM has done an excellent job destroying The SCO Groups land grab attempt but we can't expect them to be the open source white knight every time.

If Microsoft does take the nuclear option and attack major users of Linux over patents, who will take up arms against a company with sufficient money in the bank to buy every lawyer in the western world?

Re:More white knights needed (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983486)

If Microsoft does take the nuclear option and attack major users of Linux over patents, who will take up arms against a company with sufficient money in the bank to buy every lawyer in the western world?

It would move offshore and underground. Just like crypto development did.

Re:More white knights needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983522)

I read a comment in another thread regarding this topic. What we have here is MAD (mutually assured destruction). IBM is in the Linux camp right now, and as I see it, the foreseeable future. Microsoft doesn't want to get into a patent war with IBM. Having worked there, I had seen some of the outrageous patents that they hold in wich every piece of software infringes upon. Let's not forget that Novell holds/held the patents to UNIX from the USL purchase (I think that even MS XENIX was involved in that).

I believe that for the most part, this deal is what it is, although it is wise to keep an eye on Microsoft due to there past history. For years, Linux advocates have been banging the desk and wanting inroads to corporate America. That time has come but with a price. The stuffed suits want assurance that interoperability between vendors will be there. Hell, as an engineer I want that. They want support from companies that are going to be there. Microsoft has finally acknowledged that Linux is not going anywhere and that the demand is there, so they had better play with it. With this, Microsoft gets access to Xen and happy customers. On the Linux side, we may see better interoperability with OO & mono.

Yes, software patents suck and need to be at a minimum reworked so that they are sane. I appreciate all of the hard work that the OSS developers have given to the community. The time for Linux is here and there is a decision to make. Keep on developing and accept some of the corporate BS that is going to go along with it or stick to philosphy and be relegated to looking in from the outside. Corporate America, shareholders and Wall Street want to make money and if it is too cumbersome for them to accomplish, they will look elsewhere.

Don't use the term IP (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983310)

First and foremost, copyrights and patents are not property, so don't refer to them as such. But it also leads to confusion like this article.

Come on, no matter how much of a Linux fan you are, you have to admit that there's at least a chance that Linux does indeed infringe on Microsoft's patents.

Okay, it's patents we're talking about, right? Patents are published - that's the whole point of them. They aren't secret.

only Microsoft has access to most of its source code

So what? Their source code is of no use when determining patent infringement, only copyright infringement. So is it copyright infringement we are talking about then?

After all, before IBM handed over some 500 patents to the open source community, it's pretty clear that Linux was infringing some of them. Given that, why is it so hard to believe that the same isn't going on with Microsoft?"

Patent and copyright violation are two totally different things. Copyright violation would involve somebody with access to Microsoft's source code copying it into Linux - a highly unethical and stupid thing to do. I don't think Linux kernel contributors are likely to be highly unethical and stupid. Patent infringement, on the other hand, can be unintentional - but in this case, his remarks about it being impossible to verify don't apply.

This is a case where the term "IP" as a blanket reference to very different rights is confusing the issue. His arguments don't apply to either because he thinks they are the same thing.

I think it's also worth pointing out Stallman's criticism of the term "Intellectual Property" [gnu.org] .

Re:Don't use the term IP (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983482)

Criticism of the term itself is pointless and misdirected. There's nothing wrong with the corpus of Intellectual Property, conceptually speaking. The problem is that most people don't know what it is, and can't navigate the overlapping and downright byzantine nature of the issues and components of IP law. Keep in mind that technology in general has thrown a curve ball the past 20-25 years. The law isn't designed for rapid change--and it can't keep up with modern technology, step for step. The term isn't the problem here, it's the ignorance of journalists about law AND technology, the ignorance of lawmakers re: technology, and the ignorance of techies about the law.

People bumming around the Internet have just enough knowledge of the law and just enough Wikipedia time to be a serious menace, and likewise, lawmakers have at the very best a tenuous grasp on the nature of technology (and a lot of lobbying money "educating" them as they go). If you want to fix it, technophiles will have to learn to lobby, not peck at crumbs with lawsuits.

Back to the original reason for this post, though: criticising the term 'IP' is like rallying against the word 'mammal.' It's an umbrella term which contains a number of very similar (and sometimes not so similar) constituent parts.

Ok, suppose MS has patents on Linux code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983314)

What are Linux developers supposed to do? The problem with patents is that you can never be sure that you're not doing something that someone somewhere has thought of before you and patented. It doesn't matter if you're an Open Source developer or a developer of proprietary code. There's just no sane way to verify that one of your coauthors didn't add some code that violates a patent, or indeed to verify that your own code doesn't violate a patent. There is only one option: Wait and see. If you're using software in a country which allows patents on software, that is an unevitable risk. (There is another option actually: You could amass patents yourself in preparation for a patent exchange, but that is like fucking for virginity.)

Don't be fooled by the same old trick (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16983320)

Telling loudly a lie so many times that most people will start to believe it: a standard practice for politicians, salesmen and preachers. It worked for Iraq WMDs and on a bigger scale for God, why shouldn't it work for Linux?

Yes, it's possible that the Linux kernel or some big Linux app contains a bit of code very similar to some Microsoft code but that's due to the plain fact that the same obfuscation and secrecy used to protect closed source allows for similar code to be written without any chance of being checked for similarities.

That FUD is obviously a move to discourage businesses interested in investing on Linux after they failed the attacks based on performance and costs.

US Only (4, Insightful)

bobintetley (643462) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983326)

Aren't these ridiculous software patents only valid in the US? How much OSS development is actually done in the US and would that not mean (were this not complete rubbish) that MS could only go after OSS developers in the US only?

Given that most large OSS projects have copyrights held by developers all over the world, how exactly would it be feasable to stop a project if you couldn't go after all of its developers and codebase?

Wouldn't it just be easier for MS to bluster and threaten, all the while knowing they can't realistically do a damn thing?

Flip side (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983344)

How much Open Source Intellectual Property is Microsoft Infringing upon? How much are they using that they are not infringing upon due to a given license such as BSD?

There is a method in the computer industry between companies as to how they calculate teh amount of protection money they pass between themselves,

Take the granted patent paper work and stack it up, measure it and compare it to other stacks. The largest stack wins but the other have to pay protection money to the larger stacks. I don't know the specific formula as to how they calculate it, but it does happen.

So, the FSF can stack its owned stuff up but there is alot more that teh FSF does not own.
Perhaps there should be some sort of "count my work in the FOSS stack" method so that we might just see how large our (FOSS) IP stack is (and this would of cource count anti-patent IP prior art).

There are two efforts regarding software patents. "Open source as Prior Art" and a Peer Review project, but both of these are focused and supportive of software patents.

And that is the main problem, as software, by its very nature is provably not patentable. Problem is, neither side of the software rights battle wants to develop the proof of this. Human History has plenty of evidence of the usefulness of denial, but eventually this fact will come out, as facts of the earth revolving around the sun, the hindu arabic decimal system being more powerful then the roman numeral system of mathmatics, etc.

There is a quality and characteristic of being human, a human right. A natural right to apply abstraction physics. http://threeseas.net/abstraction_physics.html [threeseas.net]

Its really rather obvious once you get past whatever idea is keeping you from seeing teh simplicity of it.
The arguement that only a fool would think nothing can have value (re: the zero place holder in teh decimal system)
Nobody can break the four minute mile, untill somone did, and then other followed quickly as their mental block was gone.

But even if you don't see it, consider what it wou;d mean across the software industry, should such simplicity of programming happen.

So what? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983360)

How about 'so sue'?

If ( when ) they think they can get away with it, they will start sending letters to every project on the globe ( where they have jurisdiction that is ) and shut the project down. Including anyone who houses it ( like sourceforge ) or just distributes ( countless number of mirrors ), and perhaps even end users.

Its not about a 'tax', its about destroying competition.

The fact it may be true doesn't mean it's not FUD (2, Interesting)

tjcrowder (899845) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983378)

People seem to be thinking that this is either FUD [wikipedia.org] or the claims are true. It's probably both.

First off, it's blatant and obvious FUD. They're being deliberately vague about what IP is infringed, and by which open source project and/or component of Linux, and talking about being "willing" to cut deals with other Linux distros than SUSE. No question that "willing" means "if we can find a reasonable business to target, you'll be hearing from our lawyers" and that that is meant to feed into people's decisions when looking at basing a product or service on Linux and hopefully drive them to make a different choice. They're not required to say what's being infringed or why until/unless they slap someone with a cease and desist, and so they're not. FUD, and no mistake.

But that doesn't mean it isn't also true. As an early commenter pointed out, there are lots and lots of software patents out there and Microsoft has a bunch of 'em. It's easy to infringe software patents without knowing you're doing so, and even open review won't catch all of this stuff. Under the current law, Microsoft has an absolute right to pursue a license fee from anyone using techniques they had the lawyers and money to patent, and in the absense of that fee being paid to file a court action.

So for Microsoft, this could well be a big win: FUD, plus the bonus of possible license fees or at least making the open source people waste a lot of time trying to figure out the whats, wheres, and hows of the infringement. They get a two-fer on this one.

So what's next? Ideally, a good faith letter to Microsoft from (say) RedHat or some other well-funded distro asking for the details of the alleged infringement, saying that they're eager not to infringe other peoples' software patents and also stating clearly that all information provided will be released to the community so the community can correct the infringement where possible. I suspect Microsoft won't provide the information unless given a confidentiality guarantee by the distro people, which if they're smart they will not be willing to provide. Consequently, if Microsoft later files a court case, they'll be required to list all infringements in the public record of the case -- and the judge in the case will see that the distro made a good faith attempt to avoid infringement prior to litigation, which will argue in favor of giving them a generous amount of time to cease and desist.

Author is confused (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983450)

Access to the source is irrelevant, these are patents we're talking about, not copyright. If functional aspect $foo is patented and an application implements it without a licence from the patent holder, it's in violation of the patent, it's that simple. You don't need to see the source to see that - either the widget/process/UI element/whatever is there, or it isn't.

Article author is clue-free (3, Insightful)

Pembers (250842) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983456)

The article author is conflating patents and copyright. Is it too much to ask that someone who (presumably) gets paid to write this stuff would know the difference? From the summary:

After all, Microsoft does hold a lot of patents and while Linux is open source and we can all take a look at the source code, only Microsoft has access to most of its source code so it isn't all that difficult for it to prove - to itself at any rate - that there are IP infringements contained in Linux.

Having access to Microsoft's source code would neither help nor hinder anyone in deciding whether Linux infringes any Microsoft patents. The whole point of patents is that they're visible to the public. The US government even maintains a database of them that anyone with a web browser can look at! A patent holder doesn't have to implement the invention that their patent describes before they can sue someone else for infringing it. If they did, patent trolls couldn't exist.

Anyone could drive a stake through the heart of Microsoft's FUD campaign by getting a list of all patents held by Microsoft and proving, for each patent, either (a) Linux does not infringe the patent or (b) the patent is invalid. I suspect this will not happen, for any or all of the following reasons:

  • Nobody who understands both patent law and the internals of Linux will come forward.
  • Nobody will want to spend the time or money to do it.
  • The open-source community as a whole believes the risk of Microsoft actually suing anybody is negligible. As others have pointed out, FUD is much cheaper than lawsuits, and probably much more effective at detering businesses from moving to Linux.
  • The deliberately vague and obfuscated language in which patents are written means that the question of whether something infringes a patent is not black-and-white. Sometimes, the only way to be sure is to put the matter in front of a judge and jury. (I'd really like to see a judge rule a patent to be invalid because a person with ordinary skill in the art wouldn't understand what it describes.)
  • The same makes it hard to determine whether a patent is even valid.
  • The rule about wilful infringement meaning triple damages would make it difficult to publish the results of such a study.

Microsoft, of course, could settle the question much more quickly, by just telling us which of their patents (they believe) Linux infringes. That's assuming they have any patents that would survive a court case. They must have, mustn't they? They wouldn't have said it if it wasn't true...

Business & governments (1)

xarak (458209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983462)


M$ are going to tell my company (70,000 emplyees, Linux 3rd server platform): we can sue you now unless you switch over.

So what?! (1)

faragon (789704) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983476)

Happens that, IMO, it is unacceptable to do not look to the SW patent extortion^Wportfolios or ignore it, just because "Oh! the free software is so great that the White Knight^W^WIBM will come to protect us and defeat the bastard^W^WMicrosoft". The main problem to the software patents is that corrupts its main objective: to protect innovation, i.e., nowdays the SW patents are used just to erase any little/medium-sized company that "becomes visible" in the market, thus a potential threat.

I think that the community uses the major part of the time looking for escaping to the SW patent problems, but hot to solve it. Without being a professional politician nor a brilliant stratego, I see clear that the problem will only get worse while we're still, while the deep pocket SW monopolists work in the dark to consolidate its future forever.

Comes to my mind few ways of planning such attacks, yes, attacks:

1) Community joint effort, aka, fight with their weapons: create an universal patent portfolio to destroy the big corporation abuse. It is not just use the IBM as your dad, it is about independence. The target it is not to extort per se the industry, but to use the same tools that the big companies use to "protect" themselves (personally, I think that this is a repulsive way, but you can not deserve ethic to soulesss monsters^Wcompanies).

2) Community individual effort, aka, forbid the use of technology to non open sourced projects: forcing to see to big companies *how expensive* is to make a compiler, graphics library, etc. Much like the previous point, with weaker impact, but generalized (generaliced low intensity degradation).

Richard Stallman, which deservers my admiration, respect, and affection, may be it is too much ethical. We should look also for some psichopatic gurus, still with ethics and common sense, but without mercy to actively defeat^Wconvince big corporations to not considere SW nor ideas as patentable.

What if that plantation master really holds title! (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983478)

So, what if it is true. What if that plantation master really does hold the title over that man of color who lives in the north?

Come on, no matter how much of a anti-Slavery fan you are, you have to admit that there's at least a chance that Slave is indeed the plantation masters property. After all, the plantation master holds a lot of slaves and while this one is free, you can still take a look at his papers, only the master has access to most of the town records so it isn't all that difficult for it to prove - to himself at any rate - that that free slave is a violation of his property rights while living in the north. After all, before a previous plantation master freed some 500 slaves to the north, it's pretty clear that they were his property. Given that, why is it so hard to believe that the same isn't going on with this plantation master?"

....editorial insert: well, the appropiate responce to these kind of comments would not be a philosophical debate but is a tad of violence with a big fat "fuck you burn in hell!"

Don't forget the giant Twins, IBM & Sun (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983494)

I suppose both of them would be glad to step in as soon as MS starts playing hardball in the patent game.

No disclosure (3, Insightful)

Mixel (723232) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983510)

Microsoft has access to most of its source code so it isn't all that difficult for it to prove - to itself at any rate - that there are IP infringements contained in Linux.

Translation: Microsoft has a weak hand in this game. It is easy to prove, yet they haven't tried to. If they had a full hand, they could point out at least one infringement to strengthen their case that there are cases to answer.

This also shows clear ill intent. If the problem was the infringement, the normal thing to do is to tell the infringer first, so that the infringement stops. Microsoft chose not to disclose their concerns. This means that in Microsoft's eyes, infringement won't stop. It follows, that Microsoft wants, what they believe to be infringement, to continue. Therefore, the infringement is not the problem, their grudge against GNU/Linux is. QED.

Or... (1)

bombshelter13 (786671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983514)

Or, alternatively, they could just go after us with a Linux tax.

It is Microsoft.

Suicide Ballmer (1)

v3xt0r (799856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983530)

terrorizing the civilized open source community... you should be ashamed, Steven.

just more speculation (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983536)

Must be a really slow news day.

IBM vs. Microsoft? (1)

Fuzzzy (967665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983546)

Let's face it. EVERY software violates hundreds of active US patents. This is an inherent problem of the USPTO, which was already discussed too many times. Linux is no different, and as far as I see it, there are three possibilities.
  1. Nothing will happen. Microsoft is afraid of a total patent war, which will harm everybody.
  2. There will be a special "US Linux" version, inferior to the "INT Linux" version. Thinking about it, there is already a superior international Linux version. (MPlayer anybody?)
  3. Microsoft will try to slower down Linux distribution using their patents. Most likely move is selling licenses to whoever would like to use Linux without the fear of a patent lawsuit.
The last possibility will probably lead to a patent war between Microsoft and IBM. Big portion of IBM Servers market is Linux-powered. Therefore, if Microsoft threatens IBM Linux market, they will eventually pull up their 40,000+ patents, most of them "software patents", and start threatening Microsoft back. The result will be a total patent war, which both companies are very much afraid of. Therefore I believe Microsoft will be extremely careful not to wake up (blue) giants from their sleep. Still, it will be fun to watch from a safe distance (Hey, I do not live in the US ;-)

ok (1)

tommyj1986 (1004101) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983554)

Good.

Wait for the legal system to decide (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983560)

The patent system in the US is a complete mess. When a monopoly can be recognized by the legal system, and still allowed to fill it's war chest unquestioned, something needs an overhaul. I too challenge microsoft, just as sco was challenged, to come forward with their disagreement. This is pointless because in all probability, microsofts intent is not based on resolving a patent issue. Their intent is to kill the competition. They will drag this FUD out for as long as possible. Novell is just a pawn (or paw0n3d rather) in the whole thing. In the meantime, you can

let Novell know how you feel here: http://techp.org/ [techp.org]

Not necessarily (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983566)

After all, before IBM handed over some 500 patents to the open source community, it's pretty clear that Linux was infringing some of them.

Says who? If there's one thing that the SCO case has been good for it's been to demonstrate that Linux is pretty solid from an IP perspective. IBM didn't necessarily hand over the patents because they thought Linux was infringing on them. You're making that statement without investigating the reasons behind why IBM gave the Linux community a patent shield.

If anyone has proof Linux is infringing on their patents, then step up to the plate or STFU.

Microsoft's IP Record (1)

LightSail (682738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16983646)

I do not believe that Microsoft will ever sue Open Source over patents.

A patent lawsuit would force MS to allow inspection of MS source code as part of discovery. MS has used BSD, quite legally, in the past. With the copious amount of open source code written, the chance that a FOSS coder wrote an algorithm that MS has similar code inside Windows is very great. The second issue is that borrowed proprietary code may also exist inside Windows.

MS has already lost patent lawsuits, the dirty hands defense could make case that MS cannot sue because of the past misdeeds.

FUD will continue, but I don't expect any lawsuits.
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