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Mr. Ballmer, Show Us the Code

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the open-letter dept.

Microsoft 462

DigDuality writes "A new campaign, Showusthecode.com, requests every leader in the Linux world, and companies invested in Linux, to stand up and demand that Steve Ballmer show the world where Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property. He has been making these claims since the Novell-Microsoft deal. If Microsoft answers this challenge — by May 1st — then Linux developers will be able to modify the code so that it remains 'free' software. If such infringing code doesn't exist, we will have called Microsoft's bluff. And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for the admission that it is."

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I like those odds..... (5, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138338)

Billions and billions of dollars and an army of lawyers in one corner:

A group with an idea and a web site in the other:

I like their spirit, but my best advice would be......RUN Bitches!

Re:I like those odds..... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138388)

Why can't Microsoft just fake the stolen code? They have millions of lines of source code in Windows; they probably would just show the lines they stole from Linux. Who can keep track of when these changes were made?

Re:I like those odds..... (3, Insightful)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138462)

Real, fake or nonexistant, Microsoft still has the edge here.

Any public accusations made against them will be met with suits, and discovery requests that would choke a maggot.

Reality suggests there wont be a lot of public support for this effort or its logical expressed outcome, but I wish them luck.

Re:I like those odds..... (2, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138828)

Real, fake or nonexistant, Microsoft still has the edge here.

Indeed. The fact that Microsoft has an unlimited publicity budget puts them a big step ahead of SCO, who used the same tactics to pump their share price. The only option the Linux comunity has is to force MS to put up or shut up.

Re:I like those odds..... (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138514)

Who can keep track of when these changes were made?

The burden would be on MS to show that they came up with the code first. Unless they have some clear evidence, it is going to be their word vs. Linus', and it is not going to go anywhere. Nah, the only viable attack vector is the patent law.

Re:I like those odds..... (5, Insightful)

MindKata (957167) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138574)

I don't think Microsoft would do this, but as linux is open source, it would also be possible (in theory) to do the reverse of what you suggest and plant small routines from Microsoft code into sections of Linux. Of course that assumes someone working for Microsoft could get the code sections past other programmers reviewing the new Linux code, but it could be done.

I don't think Microsoft would try this to win any kind of legal action against Linux, (especially as a lot of people are watching the code), but I wouldn't put it past someone trying this kind of stunt from other companies with some open source software. Sadly it seems with corrupt human thinking, anything is possible in the pursuit of their goals, especially where that goal is money and/or power.

Its like the old saying ... "All's fair in love and war" .. that should be "All's fair in love, war and business" ... although the use of the word fair in that saying seems almost like positive PR to say, do anything unfair you can to get ahead. So its not really fair at all.

The interesting thing is most humans are not like this (most people have empathy and ethics) but there are enough bad ones who are like this, to make everyone suspicious of the actions of others.

Re:I like those odds..... (1)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138758)

But thanks to the GPL, if MS *was* to plant something in there to trip up Linux, it'd just become GPL'd itself. And then that code which is *also* in MS's stuff would be GPL too and they would be stuck with their own code would have to be GPL as well. Well, unless dual-licensing comes in.

Re:I like those odds..... (1)

Tolookah (837210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138830)

I'm not very knowing of the gpl, but I would assume by adding any MS code to the linux base, it would be GPL'd, BUT they could easilly license it to themselves under whatever license they chose. The problems come in here if they wanted to integrate any changes that someone else contributed to the code they released back into MS. In that case, they would have big issues. (so I would think)

Re:I like those odds..... (0, Offtopic)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138552)

.....and if you CANT run, rewrite your page and please take advantage of the MS Word grammar che..... oops!

Re:I like those odds..... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138708)

Just goes to show that the legal system in the United States at least is based on money. Pure and simple. If you can afford the lawyers, you can win the battle reguardless of whether your right or wrong. I think the legal system needs an ovehaul.

Good Odds. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138716)

my best advice would be......RUN Bitches!

It's nice to know what corner you are in but your reasons for being there are flawed, as is your entire analogy. You can't expect to be protected by a bully, no matter how strong they might appear. Sooner or later, they will make you pay for your mistaken and mean spirited loyalty.

The problem with all of the FUD is that it's becoming increasingly evident that M$ is threatening everyone. A business that threatens it's customers is generally on the way out.

The great irony in all of this is that M$ themselves has little respect for the IP of others and regularly violates patents, trademarks and copyrights, while simultaneously calling for fanatical protection and enforcement. Their recent loss to Actel/Lucent, and the $1,500,000,000.00 judgment highlights this. M$ themselves are more venerable to the litigation monster they helped create than free software makers who are much more careful. Ballmer has no more to offer than SCO did and I mean that in every way.

Excuse me, while I go listen to some nice oggfiles I downloaded from archive.org. I'll keep right on partying while M$ flunks the bluff, and keeps getting dumped by customers [slashdot.org] , partners [slashdot.org] and investors [google.com] alike. It's about time.

Re:I like those odds..... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138736)

Billions and billions of dollars and an army of lawyers in one corner: A group with an idea and a web site in the other:

At least the guys in at the little web site are not loaded with bull shit.

I would bet Ballmer there is more open source in Windows (any version) than Linux. That is why for EVERY protocol we have today on the internet, all can from guess what? NOT Microsoft. Open source, academics and far bigger thinkers than exist in Redmond.

If someone doesn't believe this, go back to NETBIOS or LANMAN. Ever try to port a Windows app to any other platform? It is hell. Easier to go Linux to Windblows.

Opening flawed source code is Microsoft's arc-killies (SP) heel.

Of course he's not going to show you the code (4, Insightful)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138340)

He's going to make unsubstantiated allegations, veiled threats of law-suits, and all sorts of FUD. For the business user (and that's where you're going to see Linux go from 2% to 10% of the desktop market), even the slim chance of getting sued is taken very seriously. I won't eat my hat, but I would be very surprised if Microsoft ever files 1 scrap of paper in court, suing a linux distributor for patent violations, or an end user for some kind of piracy(?) charge.

Re:Of course he's not going to show you the code (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138628)

If Microsoft is already aware of infringing code, and named leading representatives of the Linux community offer to desist with any infringement provided that Microsoft complies with reasonable request and identifies the infringing parts to them, and Microsoft refuses to do so, then isn't Microsoft effectively abandoning enforcement of their rights? Unfortunately IANAL, but I would love to know what the law actually said in this matter.

If you state publicly that you aware of an infringement and make no effort to pursue the matter within a certain time frame, do you lose any rights to pursue it later? At the very least, it seems strange given that you have taken the time to make an intellectual property claim to protect yourself against competition and/or claim licensing fees, and then fail to do so. This seems to make a statement that you either don't care that your competition is using your IP or that your IP has no value.

Re:Of course he's not going to show you the code (2, Insightful)

oztiks (921504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138784)

I think you cant simply threaten and threaten until you go blue in the face. I think its misuse of the law and eventually they will have to lay down their cards.

This website can stand for a means to do this. But lets take a look at this issue more specifically, there can not be a single line of Linux code stolen from Microsoft, a) MS is closed source b) Linux has its own development methods and processes applied, so all sudden the most smartest bunch of hackers in world scheme is magical assault to circumvent Microsoft's security (be that having a spy in the organization) then steal secret high profile code to adapt to the kernel because its much easier then figuring it out for themselves? Come on, they'd have to prove this in order to prove that anything was flogged and if they did that what would that do for their reputation (yet again). Also if the code was stolen don't you think Linux would know what the code is already?

If any part of Linux is to infringe on a MS patient its the software that runs on Linux in which the persons responsible for developing that application is in the firing line, not Linux itself. Heck wouldn't we love to sue the operating system because of applications of which it runs :)

In either case Microsoft is backed into a corner one they cant continue to perpetuate forever and it will result with egg on their face.

Re:Of course he's not going to show you the code (5, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138808)

It is not about stealing code, but infringing patents. The real question ought to be "Show us the patents", which is more informative than "Show us the code", because even if Microsoft did show you some code, how are you supposed to know which patents were infringed by it?

Based on what evidence? (2, Insightful)

kaiwai (765866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138824)

When he refers to Linux, he is referring to the whole distribution - he isn't going after Fedora, Ubuntu community or 'free' distributions but after the Novells and Red Hats who are reselling the software which contains patented algorithms.

I wouldn't be surprised that Samba includes panteted algorithm to provide compatibility with Microsofts own SMB implementation - not a malicious programme, but a reality that maybe the better thing would be to rather than attack Microsoft, to attack the idea of software patents.

As for why Microsoft patents things; if they don't, someone else will; like the whole stupid thing that occured between Microsoft and that scum-sucking, patent sqauatting organisations like Eolas who produce absolutely NOTHING and then come up with some broadranged patent which could cover any dam thing that is made up of atoms or created by man.

SCO all over again (3, Insightful)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138346)

However, the interesting part about SCO is how they try to play "methods and concepts" without actually having any patents in the case. For that matter, if it isn't in the code then it just doesn't exist, regardless of the actual ownership (IANAL).

Re:SCO all over again (1)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138464)

I think this might be different from SCO in that it's talking about patent infringements versus ownership of code. While the idea behind showusthecode seems like a good idea, it also seems to me likely that linux does infringe on other patents. However, only because software patent law allows anyone to patent anything. If M$ patented the for-loop, and the case came in front of a technophobe of a judge, perhaps they could be found guilty. M$, has many many patents, like most other big companies.

Of course, couldn't some knowledgeable in patent laws go through M$'s patents to find anything likely? I supose it would take a good amount of knowledge in both law and code, but it might be a worthwhile task to sponsor for these companies. While it *is* M$ making the claims, and perhaps it should be up to them, IANAL, but it would protect against any fears of getting sued.

Redhat is also providing protection against lawsuits too, if I remember correctly.

And may I be the first to say... (2, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138348)

Open source Windows! Open source Windows!

(okay, probably not the first ...)

And may I be the first to say... (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138658)

ReactOS! ReactOS!

Re:And may I be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138900)

They will, just as soon as Apple sells a standalone OS X.

It's pointless for Microsoft to reply (5, Insightful)

sup2100 (996095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138356)

As long as the truth is not known, microsoft can keep on threatening. If microsoft does prove some sort of infingement then they have to sue or else they will loose their threat as linux is changed. As such microsoft would never reply to it.

General Public... (5, Funny)

BlueCollarCamel (884092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138370)

And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.
And the general public still won't give a damn.

Re:General Public... (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138402)

And the general public still won't give a damn.

No, but if enough companies sue M$ and Ballmer personally, it will make headlines. Enough of the bullshit and blackmail. Put up or sit down.

(obviously NAL)

Re:General Public... (0, Redundant)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138648)

What's this "M$" you speak of?

Re:General Public... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138876)

M$ is a widely-known internet slang term for microsoft corporation. It is a play on "MS", a common abbreviation of "Microsoft", also incorporating the symbol for the dollar ($), a currency unit used in the USA. IT expresses that Microsoft is really all about the money, and allied with the general USA/Corporatist Evil Empire.

It is good practice to use the terms M$ and Micro$oft as much as possible for white propaganda purposes. Doing so reinforces camaraderie among freedom fighters globally who oppose Micro$oft, and reminds everyone reading that Micro$oft are USA/Corporatist scum.

Sorry guys... (5, Insightful)

Saedrael (880381) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138372)

But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter to Ballmer. Grammatical mistakes abound, as does use of slang. I'm all for the idea, but it has to be pursued in a manner such that there is some chance of Microsoft responding.

Re:Sorry guys... (2, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138440)

I second. Good idea, bad implementation.

Re:Sorry guys... (4, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138482)

But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter ...

I stopped at the

It's come to many in the Linux community's attention ...


which, unfortunately, was the very first sentence.

If I was Balmer, I'd be thinking, "WTF? I run a billion dollar corporation and I'm supposed to read and respond to this? This is even worth picking up a small stool."

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138688)

If I was Balmer, I'd be thinking, "WTF? I run a billion dollar corporation and I'm supposed to read and respond to this? This is even worth picking up a small stool."


I think you meant "This isn't even worth picking up a small stool."

Pot? Kettle. But then you aren't trying to take on Microsoft with your comment, so it doesn't much matter :)

Re:Sorry guys... (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138488)

And that is worse than a pit stained fat guy dancing all over a stage screaming "Give it up for me!" like a doped up schoolgirl?

Yeah, Microsoft's CEO looks real Professional.

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138500)

Agreed. Was this written by a 13-year old?

The pointless linking to the YouTube videos don't really help the cause either.

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138508)

My thoughts exactly. The "Fun With Ballmer" section and Ballmer quotes also help to disqualify the campaign. Open letters are one thing, but this is ... lamebait ;)

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138572)

Maybe they forgot what happens when you poke an angry animal with a stick [google.com]

Re:Sorry guys... (2, Funny)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138674)

wooha.. one of the more nasty outcomes of stuck windows...

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138522)

Not to mention that the side-bar is full of links to negative press about Vista or Microsoft in general. I doubt Microsoft will respond to a site that is obviously a lot of flame-bait towards MS.

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

RealSurreal (620564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138592)

You read the text? I ran away screaming at the horrible compression fragments on the JPEGed logo. Do we still hate GIFs that much? What did PNG do to hurt you?

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138810)

Well as regards PNG it's still broken in the majority browser case [ntlworld.com] thanks to Microsoft's fine support of open standards. With you on the rest though ;)

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138872)

IE7 fully supports the alpha channel in PNG, so the problem is solved. Screw the older versions; they're easily fixed with a JavaScript hack provided by /IE7/ [edwards.name] .

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138636)

This type of rhetoric is why half the world isn't taking open source seriously.

The first sentence alone is enough for anyone with legal binding power to dismiss this as a rant, "It's come to many in the Linux community's attention you have claimed again and again, that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property."

And the header, "Show us the code :\>" Is that a poor imitation of "letter-drive:>" or a confused happy face wearing an upside down party hat? Come on, now.

Re:Sorry guys... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138776)

Egad! Is he speaking on our behalf? Did we ask him to? For those are do support the idea, how about helping him with a complete re-write?

Did it ever occur to you... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138816)

...That this could be an inverse-astroturf? You know, a geek False Flag deal? Microsoft sets up a ridiculously amateurish website just to convince professionals that any who question Microsoft's claims are nutjobs?

Okay, you're right...it's genuine. :-\

Re:Sorry guys... (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138880)

I'm all for the idea, but it has to be pursued in a manner such that there is some chance of Microsoft responding.

Yes.

If this were approached by buying full-page ads in a significant number of major newspapers around the world, or, even better, by a TV and radio ad campaign, all very well-written and professionally executed, then it would garner enough media attention that Microsoft might have to respond. It could be done, but would cost a pretty penny.

Alternatively, getting someone with a big name to publicly challenge MS to put up or shut up could do it. A joint press release from IBM, Novell, Red Hat, etc., etc., couched in sufficiently antagonistic language to excite the sensationalist journalists might do it as well. To make it really effective, also get Tom Cruise on national TV and have him jump on a couch while shouting "So where is it, Steve?!?!?".

But a random web site isn't going to cut it. If that would work, Ballmer would have been explaining himself to PJ of Groklaw long ago.

Brave! (3, Insightful)

mistersooreams (811324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138390)

Well, this is a brave move and, if any of the people namedropped on the site (Torvalds, RMS et al) get behind it then it becomes even braver. Of course Microsoft are unlikely to raise to the bait - they are (or consider themselves to be) far too powerful for that. That said, just imagine they did actually identify particular patents that Linux infringes - and let's be honest, with the current state of the patent system, is that so unlikely? I don't imagine for a moment that any infringement is deliberate, or even known about now, but I'd say there's a non-trivial chance that it could happen. So, what then?

"Rewriting the code" is nowhere near so easy as the site makes it sound. Software patents are often granted for particular concepts - not just ways of doing them. What if some core kernel routine were found to be infringing? That can't just be ripped out and replaced, many years of development and testing have gone into it!

So, seriously, this is a brave move, and I'm pleased to see it. We should totally get behind it. But calling the bluff is a dangerous move if it turns out Microsoft really is holding the cards.

Re:Brave! (1)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138438)

Have they decided not to charge for FAT? Could they raise that old chestnut?

Lame Excuses. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138792)

just imagine they did actually identify particular patents that Linux infringes - and let's be honest, with the current state of the patent system, is that so unlikely

Let's FUD the FUDster!

I'm sure they think Lame is in trouble, after they themselves have been bitch slapped with a $1.5 billion judgment. Too bad they can't hurt distributions like Debian that never carried it. Too bad free software has developed unassailable alternatives like ogg. What's Ballmer to do? Support crazy patents and put his money where his mouth is? Ha ha.

Oh wait, a court judgment is no longer FUD ... it's fact. Nice try Steve-o but you had better get your own house in order.

Re:Lame Excuses. (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138826)

after they themselves have been bitch slapped with a $1.5 billion judgment.

Fascinating. So twitter, do you support software patents now? Or do you support them only when they are used to attack Microsoft?

Re:Lame Excuses. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138862)

The Bungi troll taunts:

Fascinating. So twitter, do you support software patents now? Or do you support them only when they are used to attack Microsoft?

I think software patents are a disaster that will destroy the bully that made them [slashdot.org] , sooner than it will those who have been circumspect.

Don't you have a school to sue or something?

Re:Lame Excuses. (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138898)

Too bad free software has developed unassailable alternatives like ogg.


I'd be interested in seeing the study published by the team of audio codec professionals, IP lawyers, and software engineers that supports your claim. Making a new container and clean rooming the psycho-acoustical models isn't going to help them much if they ever get to the point of annoying someone who owns one of the relevant patents.

Cease And Desist (4, Insightful)

dduardo (592868) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138392)

Does showusthecode.com have permission to use Microsoft's wallpaper on their site?

Re:Cease And Desist (1)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138752)

What MS wallpaper? Those solid blue areas?

Re:Cease And Desist (1)

dduardo (592868) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138794)

They just changed it.

It's amazing... (1)

okinawa_hdr (1062664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138400)

...the things that can be done when people stand up for themselves.

OK, here's an example (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138406)

Patent #5845280 [uspto.gov] , "Method and apparatus for transmitting a file in a network using a single transmit request from a user-mode process to a kernel-mode process". Compare this with the Linux (and BSD) SendFile() [die.net] API.

Yep, that's a patent violation.

Good idea, bad implentation (?) (2, Interesting)

thegux (892222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138412)

Hmmmm, I like the idea behind the site, but I'm not sure about the site itself. I mean, I had a look at it and I just got the impression that it was trying too hard to be anti-Microsoft. The "Get the facts" thing just links to a bunch of articles criticising Microsoft and/or Microsoft products. Now, I'm sure these criticisms are perfectly valid, but I think if this site wants Microsoft's co-operation, then putting a list of links criticising their products on the main page, and calling it "Get the facts" is not the right way of going about doing that.

Even if (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138414)

What is this going to accomplish? Even if they do have patents against Linux, then they aren't going to reveal them until it is most advantageous. This is like playing poker and saying to your opponent, "I dare you to show me your cards. If they are so good, then what are you afraid of?"

Of course, that's assuming Linux DOES violate Microsoft patents, and there is reason to believe that it does. [slashdot.org] Microsoft is planning a slow roast; the longer they can draw out the FUD the better, for them.

Re:Even if (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138722)

I always dismiss research and statistics that come from people who have a direct stake in the outcome being a certain way. Your link there is about as reliable as Microsoft's "Get The Facts" web page.

Re:Even if (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138850)

It could have some PR value if done right, and if a 2009 judge or jury heard about the 2007 put-up-or-shut-up challenge it nmight influence them.

Why do they even need the code? (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138416)

A cross comparison of the MS' patents (which are in the public record) with Linux code should be sufficient to find potential infringements. One of the advantages of the current patent system is that it forces the patent holder to publicly disclose the invention with sufficient detail so that a person versed in the art can copy the invention. That disclosure also lets anyone innovate around the patent if they want. If the Linux community is worried, then they can proactively start changing Linux to avoid MS IP. Why not use the open source ethos of freedon-to-modify to create a Linux that goes beyond anything MS can dream up as defined by those public documents.

Re:Why do they even need the code? (5, Informative)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138536)

I would be stunned if Linux doesn't "infringe" on some patent that Microsoft holds. There have been so many patents issued for so many crap ideas that it may be impossible to build anything without infringing on someone's patent. (And in some cases two people hold different patents covering the same thing). The patent in question could be as *stupid* and possibly *indefensible* as "method of communicating with a computer using a keyboard." But they won't fire a shot. Get used to phrases such as "Our attourneys are examining the matter and we don't want to comment on possible litigation." Also get used to Microsoft trying to decide how to pursue the matter, and there are so many ways. It will scare off business users, who might be considering 10,000 desktop roll-outs, to pass on Linux to avoid lawsuits. If they actually go to court they could loose (and it would cost s lot of money). IANAL, but I would imagine they would start building a case by threatening vendors into a Novel style deal, if they actually do anything at all.

Re:Why do they even need the code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138756)

One of the advantages of the current patent system is that it forces the patent holder to publicly disclose the invention with sufficient detail so that a person versed in the art can copy the invention

It's almost certain that linux infringes on many untested-in-court M$ patents (and that M$ infringes on even more IBM patents). Have you read a patent lately? The much-vaunted disclosure patents are supposed to constitute is by now near-valueless, usually of something blitheringly obvious, yet shrouded in pages and pages of legalese obfuscation.

Actually, patents are of negative value to engineers: in the USA specifically (though not elsewhere), if you LOOK at a patent, you're liable for triple damages for "knowing infringement". So, your advice is spectacularly bad - the one thing no engineer or programmer should risk doing is looking at a patent.

The problem is that the corrupt corporatist USA/USPTO has allowed Microsoft, and many other firms, countless never-should-have-been-granted patents, there'll be something that's impossible to avoid, like a patent on "computed goto", or "a doubly-linked list" (though it's not microsoft that has that one...). The USPTO just takes a "let them eat cake" attitude and says "oh, the courts can sort it out", while leaving microsoft to harrass people who can't afford a lengthy US-style court case. You can't work around an overly-broad patent.

Patents have ALWAYS been about granting monopolies to favoured supporters of the establishment. The "disclosure" thing is a false justification for the patent system that engineers shouldn't be fooled by - patents exist to take societal power from techies (who are good at inventing AND reverse-engineering, and, generally, would be happier reverse-engineering and innovating free of legal hassles caused by a patent system) and transfer it to the bureaucrats, who are good at waving paper and having lengthy, costly and ultimately utterly pointless arguments over legal minutiae.

Re:Why do they even need the code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138832)

Since 95% of software patents are invalid (because they are overboard or due to prior art), you only need to "innovate around" the 5% of patents that are valid. The sad thing is that this entails reading 20x as many patents as you should, and basically doing the rejection work that the patent office didn't do. In the end it might be easier to argue that the patent system is broken.

Re:Why do they even need the code? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138890)

Unless something like this happens:

1. Linux developer notices that some large software vendor has patent 666,666, "use of arrays of pointers to functions".
2. Linux developer coordinates, via LKML, replacement of all arrays of function pointers by something else.
3. Large software company alleges that the "something else" still infringes their patent.
4. Large software company sues and brings the LKML messages into court as proof of "wilful" infringement and demands triple damages.

Very professional (4, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138418)

Complete with the links to the "developers" video and the Slashdot-type FUD ("VISTA UAC HAS HOLES OMFG!!!") articles. Just like that "BadVista" thing from the FSF, any person who is responsible for IT/Software strategy at a company would dismiss this as another wack job from the people who call Microsoft "M$" and like to claim that XP crashes every 10 minutes.

I assume that these "campaigns" are targeted at people who might be exposed to Ballmer's FUD. Otherwise what's the point?

Fighting FUD with more FUD really does not work. Like a bar brawl where the winner is usually the first person who lands a punch, FUD only works when you use it preemptively. The "let me tell you all this made up bullshit about Microsoft, and here's a video all my friends think is funnay!" is invariable useless. People like Ballmer understand this.

Show people the facts and they'll react. Resort to character assasination and lame humour and they'll conclude you are a desperate wanker with an agenda.

Re:Very professional (1)

thegux (892222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138454)

I agree, and a site like this is never going to get the co-operation of Microsoft it's asking for.

Ballmer is the Cheney of the biz world (0, Troll)

bstadil (7110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138426)

Ballmer is the delusional second fiddle of MS as is Cheney the delusional 2'nd fiddle of the US government. Real problem is first fiddle in the latter

Re:Ballmer is the Cheney of the biz world (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138474)

Interesting analogy.

I've always thought of the USA as "the Microsoft of world politics", and Microsoft as "the USA of the software industry". Either way, it's not very complimentary to either.

Re:Ballmer is the Cheney of the biz world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138528)

Ballmer isn't "second fiddle" to anyone, he's CEO now. Bill Gates has left the reigns to him.

Give us all a break (4, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138430)

As a consumer, a computer user, I don't think a lack of an answer is an answer, but a continuation of a mystery.

As a consumer I want the honest truth and I think it is wrong that any company is allowed to pursue the use of consumer deception.

Any such company using consumer deception should be exposed and punished.

Microsoft has been busted enough with antitrust that it should be required to show such evidence it claims, or fined to the benefit of the consumers and the developers it's claim is against.

Dishonesty should cost the party commiting it, not benefit them.

Re:Give us all a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138654)

who cares about honesty when you have marketing!

wasn't microsoft voted the company with the most integrity - or some nonsense like that?

that's *all* that matters to 95% of the people.

Ummm, yeah. (2, Insightful)

debest (471937) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138436)

if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.

There's your problem right there: it won't garner nearly enough attention.

MS knows that playing the patent-lawsuit game for real is long, expensive, and pretty darn risky. On the other hand, Ballmer can just fling FUD all over the place. The only "repercussion" MS faces is the shouts of protest from a community that is already regarded as a lunatic fringe by the majority of the people that MS wants to influence.

If you were Microsoft, which tactic would you choose?

If Microsoft is smart ... (4, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138456)

... they'll reveal one patent violation (assuming there is at least 1) and then say "there's plenty more where that came from". That would validate their claims *and* allow them to continue the FUD compaign, perhaps with even more credibility. That outcome would clearly constitute a tactical error on the part of the Linux crowd. Of course if MS remains mum this could be considered a master stroke. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

MSFT compelled to complain (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138472)

Not only is it SOP for their FUD modus-operandi, but in this case they have to distance themselves (MSFT) from themselves (Novell). Their new acquisition distributes Linux, and they might face "equitable estoppel" on patent claims. To most safely preserve any patent claims, they really should stop Novell from distributing Linux. Yet this might bring them afoul of anti-trust laws.

They will neither (4, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138530)

show the code, nor be silent.

They will respond, saying that to reveal the precise code they are talking about would jeopardize their legal strategy. Of course, that makes them sound even more serious about their claims.

Why should they provide free legal advice to the Linux community, when they they are free to continue their campaign of FUD?

Re:They will neither (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138632)

And despite judgement after judgement where MS get taken to the cleaners over patents without actually suing anyone (OSS) over patents Slashdot will continue to insist this is MS strategy. This is IBM mana.

They're REQUIRED to... (2, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138750)

They have to reveal WHAT is infringed upon in order to file suit. Making public proclaimations
about infringement without proof is a Lanham Act violation, as SCOX is about to find out.

Chairs were just the beginning (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138542)

Oh yeah, someone's deffinately getting beaten to death with a table leg over this one.

Good idea bad implementation... (5, Interesting)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138578)

But that's what Open Source is about. Taking a good idea and improving the implementation! Rather than bitch about how unprofessional the website is lets take the idea and polish the implementation.

Ideas people?

Please, mod parent up! (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138766)

I concur. I have yet to see a 'grass roots' campaign (I think I'm using that in the correct context...) that didn't start rag-tag, loose, and ugly. If we are a community, could we please start to act like one? There is nothing more terrifying to a large company than a group that's focused, fast, agile, and close-knit.

The corporate world's motto is "when all is said and done, more is said than done". What have we done lately? Not you alone, telling the world how great FOSS is, but the community. Sure we've written some pretty darn tight code, but you know that the world doesn't know or care that you've implemented a logrithmic self-modifying loop.

Even if it comes to nothing (as is a very likely outcome) at the very least, let's get ourselves together and show how focused, smart, communities can engage and become a force to be reckoned with, even against a company with more money than brains or guts. I'm sure that in the future projects like this will make a "call to arms" all that much more effecient and deadly. How great would it be to be mobilized to the point that when MS breaks an open standard like they said they wouldn't (java, anyone?), to be acting swiftly against them before they start shipping units?

Perhaps it's time to put up or shutup.

Re:Good idea bad implementation... (1)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138860)

Even if your statements about Open Source are true, this isn't a good idea. It's a pointless, immature rant which will serve no purpose whatsoever. In fact, any people reading it probably come away with the sense that Open Source advocates are whiny, fairly illiterate children.

Are there really patent infringements? Probably, if the patents were awarded for methods. Open Source rewrites other people's ideas fairly often, assuming that if it's all new code it's perfectly fine. Software is a tricky thing since there are so many ways to accomplish the same task.

good idea and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138580)

...it needs to be officially brought to the attention of the USPTO and the other feds involved in the previous anti trust case at the DOJ, *plus* the SEC, because he is in a position where what he says *influences the stock market*. It is quite clear what he alleges, it will cause ripples in the market, so he has to be forced to put it up somehow. Even a group of generic shareholders of MS would be in a position to sue for the company to reveal it, it is in their long term best interest to have all of this clear cut and unambiguous.

Of course, it might be elaborate bait to see if an entity comes forward and claims to own linux. As it is now,no one owns linux and there isn't anything other than Linus' tree that can be called that legally, there is the main kernel,with copyrights owned all over the place, then all sorts of other stuff in various operating system distros-there isn't any "company" per se that MS could sue, or even single individual, unless they sued all the users out there as a john and jane doe group of "infringers", because then he could get nailed on not following through with due diligence for the stockholders.

I think he's screwed from mass delusional microsoft megalomania. All that rah rah rah cheerleading for years has caught up with them, they are around the bend into loony land now and are desperate to hold on to their sinking ship. Oh ya, that software titanic is still quite afloat, but it has sprung a lot of leaks and will eventually go down. Inevitable now. Might take another decade or so, but it's coming. The 7/8ths of the planet that aren't the wealthy top few percent in the top wealthiest nations A)don't give a crap about MS "intellectual property", B) couldn't afford it legally if they wanted to and C) are all undergoing changes to eventually be all open source, because their national security and internal economies will both demand it, and it will be found to be better in the long term.

That's one thing (about the only thing really) you can thank the neocons in charge right now for, the rest of the planet knows that big US companies are not too be trusted, for any reason, because they are no different from "government" now, ie, the US is a fascist state and has no qualms about lying cheating killing robbing, etc, anyone or anyplace else, and this mindset is "sticking" to US products in general. It's crap, infested with bugs-spies, they want a ton of money for the "limited privelege" of using it, and there is rapidly evolving the global computer reality that there is about nothing really required to own and operate computers that positively demands windows. Sure, a lot of holdouts,it is still giant, etc, etc, but they are dropping and will continue to drop. Once the big one of "office" is really abandoned in droves(which it will be), the bulk of the rest will follow in short order. I don't expect all proprietary windows applicationss to be abandoned or negated in importance, but most of them eventually unless they work very hard to develop for alternative platforms for the global market and adopt rapidly evolving business plans to rely primarily on using software to make money rather than developing software to make money, and there *is* a critical difference there.

Silence != admission (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138608)

And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.

Um... except that the law doesn't work that way. Silence != admission of anything. Good luck in court, fellas.

Silence == Approval, and possibly Fear (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138696)

Um, yes, if you don't protect your rights, and have become injured, and you know you're injured, then several theories of law say you're tacitly approving of the injury, and your losses become assuaged by this approval. Your knowledge of tort law needs some brushing up. The law actually does work that way.

This is so dumb. It's a patent issue. (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138650)

"Show us the code" is the wrong question here. "Show us the patent numbers" is the right question. The guy behind this has no clue.

The Loophole is Tux's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138652)

There is a often forgotten law concerning copyrights, patents and trademarks. If you don't defend them, you lose them. So the point is simple, if the linux community says show the code, M$ only has one chance, to show the code, or give up their rights to any such code. Why is this concept so hard for ppl to grok???

It's not code, it's methods... (2, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138670)

From what I understand, it's not a threat of Linux stealing code from Microsoft OSs. It's Linux using ideas that are directly patented by Microsoft. Even if it's a cleanroom implementation, it can still violate patent law.

The problem is U.S. patent law and the fact that sometimes there really is only one way to design a solution, and the one to patent the design (not implementation details) wins.

Excellent (1)

towermac (752159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138690)

Better to get this out of the way sooner rather than later. Even if MS showed the world lots of infringing code, it would all get coded around in a matter of weeks. That is the great strength of Linux. That and the fact that it can't be "killed".

Convicted monopoly says what? (3, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138712)

As a convicted monopoly, Microsoft's unsubstantiated claims intended to hinder the adoption of a competitor's product should be grounds for dragging Ballmer away in handcuffs. While nothing will be done in the U.S., other countries are free to deal with Microsoft. I'm curious to see what if anything results from this legally. A $1.5B fine here, a $1.5B fine there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

Sorry for this stupid question... (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138718)

.. but I haven't been following the entire ordeal.

What are the patents that Microsoft are claiming to be infringed by Linux (I think this is different than "Show us the code")?

Re:Sorry for this stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138834)

That is exactly what this campaign wants to find out.

Re:Sorry for this stupid question... (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138888)

Okay, but if I read TFA:

A key element of the agreement now appears to be Novell's US$40 million payment to Microsoft in exchange for the latter company's pledge not to sue SUSE Linux users over possible patent violations.

So Novell either doesn't know or won't disclose what it paid 40 million dollars for?

Has ShowUsTheCode.com followed any legal process? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138780)

Have the people behind ShowUsTheCode.com actually sent a request to Microsoft's legal time by registered mail for response, or did they just put up a website?

Wouldn't it be better to file suit against Microsoft and force them to either make their IP claims, or else STFU?

Naive (2, Informative)

Quarters (18322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138782)

"if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is."

No, they can't. Silence does not equal tacit admission or approval. The patent holder can keep their mouth shut about everything until the patent has all but expired and then go crazy sue-happy to their heart's content. Unlike trademarks patents don't have to be defended to remain valid.

Instead of a stupid mainfesto-rant web page the "community" (and boy do I hate that term being used in place of "users" or "developers" all to often) should instead be reading through Microsoft's patent portfolio and using that to determine if Linux is infringing. That's the point of patents....the patent holder is given an exclusive lock on the technology, but only if they share their idea with the world.

SCO Jr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138804)

Translation:

"Dear Microsoft: 'Hide the patent' didn't work when you tried to sic SCO on us, and it ain't gonna work now."

Doesnt IBM hold patents over Microsoft... (2, Interesting)

MCROnline (1027312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138806)

and wont this result in a bloody battle where no clear winner emerges victorious? What could hurt Microsoft the most, more than any GNU/Linux distribution is consumer apathy. People sticking to XP, even if it goes on to be unsupported is a real danger. Microsoft's biggest challenge is itself. Also, we don't need brave distributions or Linux companies forcing the issue, we need a brave company, that has lots of PC's, switching to Linux and forcing the issue. That's when we'll see Microsoft make it's move.

No, really show us your code (1)

GrEp (89884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138820)

And microsoft doesn't have one line of GPL infringing code? Har har. Mr. Balmer, please do show us YOUR code. :)

Since they are protected by copyright I see no reason why a court wouldn't make them show the code like Microsoft err... SCO has done to IBM.

here's the code (1)

chunky shit salsa (956359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138846)

#include <stdio.h>

Sue the planet... (1)

Grinin (1050028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138854)

Its the American dream! ...and if you don't have any proof... sue them anyway! It's a 50-50 chance you can convince the idiots in the judicial system to go your way right?

Is not about code, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18138868)

The so-called "IP" that MS is talking about is not pilfered source code, but ideas, concepts and technologies that it claims to own, right?
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