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Microsoft/Samsung Ink Patent Deal

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the so-happy-together dept.

Patents 131

An anonymous reader wrote with an article at ZDNet, discussing further implications of their patent cross-licensing initiative. With options already in place with Fuji Xerox, the company is now signed up with Samsung as well. From Samsung's perspective, it is simple: these deals ensure it can sell products using Linux without facing a suit from the Redmond-based corporation. "The notion that customers and businesses need Microsoft's legal go-ahead to run Linux has been controversial for some time, with the issue rising to the surface last November after Microsoft reached an accord with Linux vendor Novell. Novell has since taken issue with Microsoft's assertion that the deal represents an acknowledgment that Linux infringes on Microsoft patents."

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I'm going to start a business (5, Funny)

Trigun (685027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812677)

Where I tell people that if they give me money, I won't sue them. What a concept!

Re:I'm going to start a business (5, Interesting)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812901)

I don't understand what the companies signing these deals are thinking. It seems like suicide to me. You sign the deal, and MS agrees not to sue you for awhile. But eventually you have to re-sign the deal, and MS can dictate whatever terms they want... because if you don't sign the deal, you won't be able to distribute Linux anymore?

After all, MS can argue in court that your acceptance of the prior deal was basically an admission that you wouldn't have been allowed to distribute Linux without their blessing. So as soon as you sign the deal, you are forever controlled by MS (at least with regard to Linux distribution). Why would a company purposefully agree to have one of their business plans depend upon the whims of another company?

I typically don't like conspiracy theories, but it is almost as if Microsoft is creating these deals (using shady behind-the-scenes payoffs?) in order to create a climate where they can, eventually, either crush Linux through patents, or at least make money off of every Linux sale.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812983)

Um, because otherwise there is a very good risk of being sued by Microsoft? If it costs them next to nothing, then why not? At the end, they will be in the same position as they started out with.

Re:I'm going to start a business (2, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813067)

If it costs them next to nothing, then why not?
I guess my point was that it may not cost much right now, but you're basically locking yourself into paying these fees, and have no control over how big those fees might be in the future (it's not like you can buy this "patent protection" from a competitor at a lower price). Being at the mercy of another company seems unsafe.

As to the "very good risk of being sued", I guess that's the very core of the debate. It's really unclear whether Microsoft could win an anti-Linux patent case in court. (Others have tried without success.) I guess some companies want this protection not to avoid losing a court case per se, but to avoid the cost of going to court at all. But like I said, by accepting the patent deal you make it impossible to ever credibly defend yourself against Microsoft's claims that you owe them money.

Re:I'm going to start a business (2, Informative)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813663)

Um, because otherwise there is a very good risk of being sued by Microsoft?
That's very debatable. I can't think of a single occasion where Microsoft has sued anyone for violating software patents, and in the case of Linux they haven't even identified any patents they allege it violates. All they've said is basically "something that good must violate our patents, and if we ever work out how we might possibly sue someone".

The time to start getting worried is when Microsoft actually points to a specific patent and says "ahem, you're violating this and we want money or we'll sue". And there's no reason to think that's going to happen any time soon.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

GMC-jimmy (243376) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815919)

And there's no reason to think that's going to happen any time soon.


If prior art is no longer a reasonable defense for Linux distributors/users to fend off anti-competitive patent claims... well then that's all probably going to change a lot sooner than some competitors would like to admit. [slashdot.org]

Give you 3 guesses who.

Re:I'm going to start a business (2, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18817003)

First-to-file (in the article you cited) is not about prior art. It just means you can't pre-date your date-of-invention by 364 days. The US patent law currently lets you do that.

Re:I'm going to start a business (3, Insightful)

lumber_13 (937323) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814291)

Dont you know how Mafia works ??


BOSS : Pay me the money, I will give you protection (from myself)

Shop owner : Here 100 $ per month


Next month ....

BOSS : Pay me the money ......

You're not going to start a business that way (2, Informative)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813573)

After all, MS can argue in court that your acceptance of the prior deal was basically an admission that you wouldn't have been allowed to distribute Linux without their blessing. So as soon as you sign the deal, you are forever controlled by MS...
Sounds reasonable at first, but no court will even consider that argument. The problem ( from the court's point of view ) is that if company A makes a deal with MS and the court rules that company A's actions constitute an interpretation of the law, then that sets a precedent for company B. ( and C, D, etc )
In other words, if such things were admitted, MS could hire a shill company to do something stupid, and the stupidity becomes precedent which is binding on everybody who does business with MS. This effectively lets MS ( or any other rich plantiff ) write the law. No judge will allow that, so they stop it cold at the very beginning by refusing to even listen to such arguments.

Re:You're not going to start a business that way (2, Insightful)

dosquatch (924618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816639)

In other words, if such things were admitted, MS could hire a shill company to do something stupid, and the stupidity becomes precedent which is binding on everybody who does business with MS.

*Ahem*SCO*cough*Novell

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

Door in Cart (940474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813679)

It's the same reasons why countless Roman Catholics purchased indulgences: fear, a misguided belief system, and blind trust in a powerful group behaving as an authority.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813681)

After all, MS can argue in court that your acceptance of the prior deal was basically an admission that you wouldn't have been allowed to distribute Linux without their blessing.
It'd be interesting to see Microsoft try and sue anyone without actually citing an infringing patent, on the basis of "you must have thought you were infringing or you wouldn't have signed that contract". I suspect that the courts require more specific evidence than that.

If Microsoft isn't actually suing anyone over Linux, it's probably because suing is not a good move for MS, possibly because (taking some ideas from posts various people have made about related stories):

a) MS has no applicable patents, and would lose
b) MS has patents affecting Linux, but only because major software companies have been allowed to patent many obvious things, and if everyone sued MS wouldn't come out on top
c) MS has patents affecting Linux, but if it sued the affected code would quickly be cleaned out of the Linux codebase, leaving Linux unassailable again

Probably the reason for these deals and comments about Linux is the one suggested in the article: not because it will help in any future lawsuit, but as a FUD tactic to create the impression that Linux may have patent problems without having to supply hard evidence, and so dissuade other companies from using it.

MS will have their Windows Embedded all primed (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814739)

...and ready for Samsung's most lucrative products by the time the deal expires. Ta-da, embedded Linux has shrinking market-share.

Don't worry, MS will make sure that Samsung has software for use in their products.

Re:I'm going to start a business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815345)

You wrote: "I don't understand what the companies signing these deals are thinking. It seems like suicide to me."

It's worse then you think. So far in the US software patents have never been upheld by the supreme court (directly). Part of MS wants software patents to go away (because MS has paid something like $4 bil in patent disputes over the past few years), and the other part of MS wants software patents to defend their monopoly against free open software. With all of these contracts, it looks like the part of MS that wants patents is much more dominant within the company. When a case involving software patents eventually gets to the supreme court, MS can then bring out all of these contracts showing that cross licensing patents is necessary. This isn't a legal argument, but it will probably be used to bolster the legal argument that patents on software is constitutional.

Re:I'm going to start a business (2, Interesting)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815543)

I don't understand what the companies signing these deals are thinking. It seems like suicide to me. You sign the deal, and MS agrees not to sue you for awhile. But eventually you have to re-sign the deal, and MS can dictate whatever terms they want... because if you don't sign the deal, you won't be able to distribute Linux anymore?

If that is suicidal, then Microsoft is suicidal as well. Remember, the Microsoft-Novell deal is symmetrical (I am less sure about the Microsoft-Samsung deal) - the covenant is for patents on both sides. In 5 years (or whatever), the covenant expires. According to what you said above, Microsoft can dictate terms to Novell, or else they can't distribute Linux. But then the same goes in reverse; Novell can dictate terms or else Microsoft can't distribute Windows (Novell, remember has plenty of patents, and juicy ones). In fact Microsoft have more to lose, since they have more income.

This isn't Microsoft planning to eradicate Novell in 5 years, or anyone else. The plan is much simpler - Microsoft want to get money for Linux. If Linux is going to be a long-term, powerful force in computing, Microsoft want 'in'. They can make their own distro, and perhaps one day they will; meanwhile, they prefer to fight against Linux officially, but make money from it at the same time. In addition, by making Linux cost money (for patent licenses), Microsoft hope to remove some of its low-cost advantage over Windows.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816151)

This is all part of Microsoft's plan IMO. Here's how it plays out:

Customers are asking OEMs for Linux systems but the OEMs are REALLY getting nervous about selling Linux based systems because of what Microsoft would do to their existing/future contracts and marketing $$$ related to Microsoft Windows. We all know that Microsoft has told its sales force to tell OEMs they can support Linux but must not "lead with Linux". This means OEM's can't promote Linux and therefore they can't compete with others by marketing their advantages in this expanding market.

So Microsoft is quite aware there is this 'pressure wave' they are running up against in demand for Linux, and when its broken through, there will be a massive loss of control for Microsoft the market. Just to make sure they are still in control if/when Linux breaks out, they make a deal with the one Linux company which not only is embedding Microsoft technology in their distro( Gnome/Mono ) but they are the authors of this software. It helps that they are suckered into thinking Microsoft wants to play fair.

Novell, the ignorant company they are, makes a deal with Microsoft which they THINK is about interoperability between Windows and Linux. Microsoft knows better and plays Novell to think it's about interoperability and DOJ/EU sanctions etc but at the last minute, adds a little thing about patent protection since this interoperability is with Microsoft 'IP'. Brilliant bait and switch tactic.

So now Microsoft has this PASS ticket they just purchased for their OEM's who are screaming for Microsoft to let them sell Linux. Microsoft is even allowing the OEM's to publicly tell the world about their Novell/Suse Linx systems and they think all is good and well in the world. The massive supply chain built around Windows will start spreading Novell/Suse Linux around the world to every large, medium, and small business who wants to take advantage of all that GNU/Linux/OSS brings them. All this is at the expense of the other Linux distros with lost marketshare. But the worst part is that the business world is associating Linux with Novell/Suse Linux.

Now the kicker. Microsofts 'patent protection' contract expires in something like 5 years. Now what is Microsoft to do with Novell/Suse Linux in every major business out there? Could they just extend the license to Novell and let Linux keep growing or could they do something else? But what else could they do? Maybe quadruple the 'license/patent' fees like they did to the Win32-on-Unix vendors? Maybe they'll go and whack the whole industry with a SCO-like scenario except actually show that Mono or Novell OpenOffice or Novell Directory Services, or other Novell software has patented Microsoft software in it. Even a simple patented login setup would be enough to prove Microsoft licenses are required to use Novell/Suse and those licenses are probably not going to be cheap. Again, remember the Bristol example.

So all of a sudden, everyone using Novell/Suse is pissed at how expensive "Linux" is for them and how they got burned by using "Linux". Remember what happened when SCO pulled its threats out of its em, pocket? There was fear, uncertainty, and doubt all over the place. And THAT was when Linux was just getting going. Think about what would happen when every other business is relying on Novell Suse Linux because it came with Microsoft's 'blessing'. Think about what happens when the contract ends and Microsoft decides to play the SCO cards on Mono and anything else Novell does 'thinking' they were blessed to do it? Novell was already fooled into thinking this deal was about interoperability and it wasn't. Mono is getting embedded more and more into Gnome and well, we all know Miguel de Icaza is some kind Microsoft admirer. Novell has already sided with Microsoft and said that they'd build Microsofts MS Office OpenXML into Open Office. I don't think they can be trusted to keep Suse Linux 'clean' and Mono already infects it IMO.

Remember, RedHat can dump Gnome and Mono in a heartbeat when Microsoft plays that card. Same goes for Linspire, Ubuntu, Debian, Mepis, etc. But, by getting the market to eat the poision pill that is Novell/Suse, Microsoft can throw the whole industry in a tizzy by pulling a SCO'ism on the market. Such a poison pill would probably put a bad taste for "Linux" on the market for about 10 years.

I can not think of any other reason why Microsoft, that brilliant marketing company in Redmond WA, would be pulling what they did with Novell. They let Novell lawyers and executives think it was about interoperability and days later talk publicly about how it was about patents and protection from Microsoft patents. Why Microsoft would be publicly allow PR on the signing of Linux patent deals with Windows OEM's? There is a plan here and a Microsoft plan is NEVER good for anybody but Microsoft. IMO.

LoB

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812911)

Where I tell people that if they give me money, I won't sue them. What a concept!

Sorry, I already have a patent on that... but if you still want to proceed, I will gladly collect royalties

tm

Dear Microsoft: +1, Entrepreneurial (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813093)


Your F.U.D. is in the same class as this felon [whitehouse.org] .

Have a Bush_Cheney_Gates_Gonzales_Rice-free day.

Patriotically as always,
K. Trout, C.E.O.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813145)

It's called extortion.

and it seems that only rich companies can legally get away with extortion.

Gotta love it when the US govt stands back and allows organized crime behavior from corperations.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

Rukie (930506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813579)

It is extortion, but the US govt is too dumb. Look at our FAA and FCC. All of our political leaders need some regular people to inform them of their pettiness.

USA has been zealously hitting Samsung (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815093)

...with trade lawsuits lately. They came after that spat where S. Korea took MS to court over monopoly abuses. Even the US State Dept. got involved as I recall, interfering in a Korean court case.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813161)

I'm gonna apply for a patent to do this. Trying to think of what I could best do. I know, I'll setup a '1-Click' interface for people to apply funds into the anti-sue fund, and they can sign up for companies they most feel being sued by.

Re:I'm going to start a business (1)

audi100quattro (869429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814799)

The word you're looking for is extortion. Microsoft is an old company, it needs new revenue streams people.

Patent Reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812685)

Software patents are the worst thing to ever come out of the patents office. Badly reviewed applications are the second worst.

Re:Patent Reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812865)

"Badly reviewed applications" go INTO the patent office; "Badly reviewed patents" come out of the patents office. :-P

Re:Patent Reform (4, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813021)

Software patents are the worst thing to ever come out of the patents office.
Actually, you have the courts [wikipedia.org] to thank for allowing software patents (at least in the U.S.).

Deja vu batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812693)

It's like SCO all over again. Hopefully it ends as badly for M$ as it is for SCO.

Sweet. (-1, Troll)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812703)

I love you, Microsoft. Time to take on those Aging Hippie Liberal Douches.

Thank you MS (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812839)

...for clinching the decision on whether I need to boycott Samsung. I've had one of their DVD players for a couple years now and it's a bunch of ass.

Re:Thank you MS (1)

Air-conditioned cowh (552882) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813361)

Darn. I just bought a Q35 laptop and now I read this!

(It works quite well with Linux too).

If I knew they were subscribing to this protection racket it may have influenced my decision.

Re:Thank you MS (1)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813499)

I'm going to buy the best hardware I can afford, & if that means Samsung then so be it. I have 2 Samsung hard drives (no problems), a Samsung DVD burner (no problems) & a Samsung laser printer (no problems, & it even came with Linux drivers). Maybe I won't buy anymore Samsung products from now on, but I'm not going to stop just because of one cross-license deal. I'm sure just about every major technology company has a cross-license deal with Microsoft, are you going to boycott all of them too?

Got Permission? (4, Insightful)

netrarc (1083207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812715)

these deals ensure it can sell products using Linux
So nice of Microsoft to give organizations permission to use Linux. Do I need to check with them before I use my electric toothbrush, as well?

Re:Got Permission? (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812891)

Do I need to check with them before I use my electric toothbrush, as well?

That depends.
Does it run Linux?

Re:Got Permission? (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813071)

Do I need to check with them before I use my electric toothbrush, as well?
That depends. Does it run Linux?
No, but my toaster uses the BSD TCP/IP stack.

Re:Got Permission? (3, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813247)

No, but my toaster uses the BSD TCP/IP stack.

Oh well that's OK because so does Microsoft!

2020: MS' business plan (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812733)

-Patent the obvious.
-Push for MS-Favorable patent laws
-Cross-license patents as ONE revenu stream
-Sue into oblivion companies that create real products, as the other revenu stream.

FYI: MS bought out NTP to avoid a patent suit in 2010 and fired all their programers and support people in 2016.

Re:2020: MS' business plan (1)

qualidafial (967876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813297)

-Patent the obvious.
-Push for MS-Favorable patent laws
-Cross-license patents as ONE revenu[e] stream
-Sue into oblivion companies that create real products, as the other revenu[e] stream.
You forgot two: -??? -Profit! Fixed that for ya.

Re:2020: MS' business plan (1)

jbo5112 (154963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816283)

Google Summer of Code 2009:
1) Find the most ridiculous and common aspects of computer programming to sneak past the US patent office.
2) Sue Microsoft into oblivion.

Microsoft/Samsung Ink Patent Deal (4, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812745)

Microsoft/Samsung Ink Patent Deal
They're conniving to make us pay licensing fees for "a solution or suspension of some or other pigment that [800 pages snipped for brevity] dries leaving a visible mark on paper or some similar or different substance"?

I call shenanigans, it was invented years ago. There is, quite literally, prior art!

Re:Microsoft/Samsung Ink Patent Deal (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812861)

This ink isn't worth the patent that claimed it!

Don't worry, they have a plan for this, too (1)

Tipa (881911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813147)

After the new patent changes no longer requiring the patent application to disclose prior art, but just focus on who filed the patent for it first, Microsoft will be right there patenting both paper and ink.

Novel, pioneering the fututre (5, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812763)

Thank you Novel for pioneering the future where MS doesn't even have to use or code for Linux to profit off of it. Thank you for the future where we essentially need MS's permission to run software.

Re:Novel, pioneering the fututre (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812919)

Well, do the right thing and don't buy any Novell or Samsung products and this will all blow over and go away eventually. Not buying Novell products will be easy :) but Samsung is harder as a lot of their memory and many of their hard drives go into various OEM computers. Of course, you have to avoid Microsoft products too, but if you care about this, you are already doing that.

Re:Novel, pioneering the fututre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18814963)

Novell has since taken issue with Microsoft's assertion that the deal represents an acknowledgment that Linux infringes on Microsoft patents.
What did Novell think the agreement was about? To indemnify their customers, right?
They agreed to this and were surprised and/or unaware of the implications!
I won't say "wake up Novell".
But "Wake up corporate America!"

jy

It's (0, Offtopic)

aiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiai (1076309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812773)


Almost like pie, but not quite.

Re:It's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813045)

Almost like pie, but not quite.


Cow pie? [wikipedia.org] Another great contract for Microsoft marketing efforts deposited on the field of competition. Is this yet another hint from them to be careful where we step?

Patent Monopoly/Cartels (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812817)

This "patent indemnity" system is turning patent monopolies into patent cartels as protection rackets. They are all so clearly anticompetitive that they should not be allowed whatsoever.

I've been part of some negotiations to sell some new applications that include GPL software to some established service providers to be deployed in their networks. They're all freaked out about "patent indemnity": how will a little company offer patent indemnity along with the apps they deliver? When the little company tells them "we abide by the GPL, so we're safe from license problems, and we wrote the new code ourselves", that's not good enough. The big companies now love to say "what if something happens to you like how Verizon is shutting down Vonage on patents, how will we cope with losing your services?" Even though Vonage has deep pockets, and there's nothing GPL about their conflict with Verizon.

Not only are the patents monopolizing innovations, and way too broadly. The entire racket has big, risk-averse companies avoiding business with the source of most innovation and economic growth: little companies. We are heading for a total freezeup of real innovation and growth. And these bogus patents, used like a weapon, are killing it.

Re:Patent Monopoly/Cartels (1)

dmeranda (120061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813571)

And these bogus patents, used like a weapon, ...

How else would they be used? There's no such thing as a defensive-only patent. Just holding a patent is enough to cause damage to others, you don't even have to actively go around suing to be using it as a weapon. This sort of cross-licensing economy should not be making that more obvious. The only true defense against patents that the law provides is publication, and unfortunately its not balanced, sort of like leather armor in the days of gunpowder. And since patents are inherently anti-competitive devices, it should be little surprise that the patent system naturally leads to monopolistic or cartel type abuse and a suppression of innovation and thought.

Re:Patent Monopoly/Cartels (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813687)

It's not surprising. It's still unacceptable.

Re:Patent Monopoly/Cartels (1)

Taagehornet (984739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814197)

When the little company tells them "we abide by the GPL, so we're safe from license problems, and we wrote the new code ourselves", that's not good enough.

No, and it never has been. The patent indemnity agreements formed recently have not changed anything - except perhaps to raise the general awareness of this problem.

Patents are patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812845)

The notion that customers and businesses need Microsoft's legal go-ahead to run Linux has been controversial for some time, with the issue rising to the surface last November after Microsoft reached an accord with Linux vendor Novell.

Regarding of whether the patent system is messed up, needs reform, etc, etc, there are still patents. Microsoft should be afforded the same right to protect their patents just like any other company. Now what exact patents that Linux might be infringing on remains to be seen. Nonetheless, these companies that ink deals with Microsoft are screwing themselves in the long run. Has Microsoft actually sued a company for patent infringment within Linux software? I think most of it has been thinly veiled threats that a few companies (and probably a more to come) are unfortunately falling for.

NO, patents are monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813083)

OR...

Nobody should be able to appeal to government force to secure a monopoly. [stephankinsella.com]

Re:Patents are patents (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814443)

Now what exact patents that Linux might be infringing on remains to be seen.


No, it doesn't "remain to be seen". Microsoft and any other proprietary software house has had since 1992 to view the Linux source and determine if any of their "IP" was incorporated.

Microsoft claimed as long as TWO YEARS ago that Linux IS violating one or more of its "IP". IF that is true then they have a responsibility to INFORM the Linux kernel crew of the EXACT violations in order to mitigate the damages. They are not allowed to 'sit' on the violation and let "damages" build up. The fact that they haven't sued after making noisy claims for TWO YEARS proves they haven't seen anything in the code that they can sue over. IF THERE WAS some MS IP in the Linux kernel they would have sued the INSTANT they found it. No better way to shut down Linux exists than to destroy its kernel.

Say MS did that. What would FOSS do? Probably fork the BSD kernel and modify a ton of GPL FOSS to bring it up to speed in short order. Microsoft would still have the same problem. Considering the mess they got themselves into releasing VISTA, the FOSS community could recover from a kernel lawsuit faster than Microsoft can create a secure OS.

I am hoping to get an insightful modding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18812869)

when I say, companies that are falling over themselves to sign these convenents are F***ing pussies!

You're going to have to do better than that. (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814117)

When these companies sign such covenants, they believe that it's the ticket to the ground floor of the Next Big Thing. It's likely that Samsung sees that as a movement towards multi-function ultra-portable devices with embedded Linux. (currently their products are primarily WinCE... I still love the ironic resemblance of that name!)

Samsung isn't so much indemnifying themselves with MSFT, but rather making a compromise with an important business partner. They would rather sign a minor deal to avoid future problems than risk losing a revenue channel.

It's easy for us to interpret their actions as “bowing to MSFT” because we're all on the side of Linux being free. The truth of the matter hasn't changed; Linux is still free, and nothing MSFT can do will change that.

Also, let's try to see things from a pragmatic standpoint. MSFT isn't out to kill Linux, at least, not anymore. (buh-bye SCO, nice try)

The deal with Novell was simply MSFT going to the source of the “problem”. They struck the deal as a way to tie profitability into Linux; something that the GPL was designed to dis-allow. As we all know, that is what MSFT cares about the most.

From this standpoint, MSFT appears to be furthering their agenda with these latest deals. I suspect that this is not a genuine trend, but is only the start of how this drama will ultimately play-out.

In the end, it will be Consumers vs. The Microsoft Way. I like to think that we'll win in the end, but that depends on how much we—as consumers—are willing to learn along the way.

Re:You're going to have to do better than that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18814595)

What all you said is true. But I find it strange that all these over paid execs, whose job *hopefully* includes not doing stupid stuff, can pony up to MS when they haven't even tried to disclose which technologies exactly does Linux violate patentwise.

In another 5 or so years, will MS start sending its lawyers after individual users who run Linux on comodity boxes too, RIAA style?

Dance with the Devil (1, Troll)

remasterus (1091021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812875)

To quote Jack Nicholson as the joker in the first Batman: 'You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?'. This is what you get when you sell your soul for a few bucks. Evil only triumphs when good men do nothing, and I intend to never pay for another piece of MS garbage ever again. LONG LIVE OPEN SOURCE! LONG LIVE INNOVATION!

Re:Dance with the Devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815021)

You quoted a Batman movie. You're going to die alone.

Cross-licensing good enough for now. (2, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812931)

Any cross-licensing is a good thing for now. It enables business' to sell and support Linux with reduced risk. They are not going to get sued. For sure. If or when the issues of unlicensed patents comes to a head then go to court but, in the meantime Linux gains more of a foothold. All Linux has to do is reach a critical-mass. Once theres enough people using Linux then more support will exist. More support leads to more users and the cycle feedbacks onto itself.

I'm waiting for the day when in a last-ditch effort Microsoft Open Sources Windows to remain relevant :^)

Re:Cross-licensing good enough for now. (1)

Door in Cart (940474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813241)

Don't forget Microsoft's mantra: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish [catb.org] . Let's try not to underestimate their ability to succeed. They've got a pretty impressive track record, after all.

Re:Cross-licensing good enough for now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18813889)

I think you are right, this will eventually backfire on them. What I would like to see is some Linux vendors play the same game. Why not make the same claim MS is making and say that parts of windows infringes on Linux?? After all we can't see the code so how do we know what's in there...

fight fire with fire (3, Insightful)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18812989)

With open source there's always the question of who to sue for patent infringement. M$, and others, have decided to threaten the customers. Nothing new here. It's always fun to threaten someones customers - it really saps their business.

That is where I think most open source licenses suffer. If the license gave everyone standing to sue on the open software's behalf, then it would pay to sue M$ and others for infringing on open source. Then M$ can try to shake someone down for protection money and the person can respond by shaking down M$ for protection money. Currently, M$ holds all the guns.

Re:fight fire with fire (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813693)

If the license gave everyone standing to sue on the open software's behalf
The annoying this is that the situation is not symmetric. With copyright, the FLOSS camp use the GPL to protect their interests. This allows them to put pressure on (or sue) people who break the GPL.

But with patents, there is no reciprocity of control between proprietary and open-source groups. The proprietary guys patent everything they can think of, and then they agree not to sue each other. But no one in the open-source software world is patenting their ideas. This is because it would cost too much, and would be totally against their principles (which is that software patents are invalid to begin with). So the FLOSS camp has no "patent ammunition" to fight back with. Their only weapon is appeals to prior art and the fundamental intention of patents (that implementations, not ideas, are meant to be patented). But in practise this means a costly legal battle.

So, really, there is nothing the FLOSS camp can sue MS for doing... there are no "open source patents." (There are indeed initiatives to address this [osdl.net] ... we'll see how they work out.)

Hmmmmm. OK (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813089)

So does anyone have any idea exactly what this intellectual property is that Samsung are paying for, and what Linux based systems actually infringe on? If Samsung haven't asked for specifics then they're yet another weak minded company who's been badgered by Microsoft into doing something stupid.

outsmart Microsoft lawyers? Novell added to list (4, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813119)

There is over 20 years of Microsoft's lawyers striking up 'deals' with 'partners' only to find out that what the 'partner' thought the contract/license/deal/scam ment was something entirely different from what Microsoft planned all along. In 1996 I was shocked that Sun Microsystems could even THINK that Microsoft would work with Java and play the good Java citizen but their lawyers thought they trust Microsoft even then and once again, we know what the result was. And that was 1996. Here we are over 10 years later and Novell lawyers and executives are surprised that what they thought they signed is different from what Microsoft knows it signed? Somebody is REALLY flunking law school or maybe their just too 'full' of themselves to realized Microsoft is not a trustworthy partner. Either way, these people have not learned a single thing from over two decades of Microsoft double-speak. IMO.

LoB

Re:outsmart Microsoft lawyers? Novell added to lis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18814297)

Or the CEOs see this is a really quick way to make them look good and/or get them money, and in 3-4 years if something bad happens, they aren't there anymore.

RMS (1)

xBOISEx (1089557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813159)

Maybe RMS should teach them a lesson with his new [xkcd.com] katana [xkcd.com]

Fuck I never felt the MS NOVELL Deal was bad (0, Troll)

roshanpv (1090393) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813213)

But i am really feeling it in my butt damn those redmond people hang those redmond people kill the Bill Gates he worse than Osama bin laden he is worse than Saddam hussein Bill gates the new Terrorist

summary from Groklaw (3, Informative)

jamienk (62492) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813225)

MS's Patent Deal Covers "Certain Linux-Based Products" [informationweek.com]

Microsoft and Samsung Electronics have agreed to a broad, cross-licensing patent agreement that apparently includes a controversial clause that protects against any legal claims Microsoft may have on technology used in Linux....

Within the joint press release announcing the deal, however, the companies said, "Samsung and its distributors and customers may utilize Microsoft's patents in Samsung's products with proprietary software, and Samsung will also obtain coverage from Microsoft for its customers' use of certain Linux-based products ."[PJ:Emphasis added. So it isn't Linux itself, I gather, rather stuff that runs on it, perchance things like Mono, OpenOffice.org, etc.]

Re:summary from Groklaw (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18817013)

I think PJ's interpretation is incorrect. Mono, OpenOffice.org, etc are not "Linux-based products", they're open source products that happen to run on Linux -- and on (for OOo anyway, not sure about Mono) BSD and Windows.

To me a "Linux-based product" sounds more like some gizmo with Linux embedded. Given that Samsung is in the business of making gizmos rather than distributing software, this seems the more likely interpretation.

Oh no, Watch out, Samsung! (0, Flamebait)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813239)

Do you guys actually believe that Samsung's no-doubt massive legal team didn't comb over this agreement and consider it necessary and relevant?

Why does everyone assume that companies just *do* things that will ruin everyone, everything, and allow another company victory?

If it seems like Samsung is forfeiting profit, you're simply looking at it wrong. The kind of oversight people are making on this thread about the purpose of this deal would result in the company literally getting sued by their shareholders.

In short, Samsung did this because it was cheaper or convenient for them, and would not cost them any sales or necessary flexibility.

Stop acting like open source is so inflexible and fragile! This is Novell and Samsung's business, not the entire OSS community's.

Re:Oh no, Watch out, Samsung! (2, Insightful)

Synchis (191050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813541)

Here's the catch, because you obviously don't know much about law, particularly when it comes to patent, trademark and copyright law.

Much of the law is based on precedent, which means that prior decisions in similar court cases influence or completely decide the outcome of current cases. The biggest problem with this kind of corporate behavior is that it sets a precedent. Microsoft can now demonstrate based on these two *HUGE* deals, that these companies acknowledge that Linux infringes on Microsoft's patents. Whether it *actually* does or not is not the issue. The precedent is now set. Novell and Samsung, with their assumed vast and knowledgeable legal team has gone over these agreements, and SIGNED them, affirming that without these agreements, they would be subject to expensive and lengthy legal battles.

From the corporate perspective, I can see why they've done it. Nobody wants another IBM vs. SCO battle, which is what this would be if they were to refuse these agreements. Except that this kind of case you wouldn't be dealing with a relatively small corporation like SCO, you would be facing off against a MULTI-BILLION dollar corporation with one of the best legal teams in the world that money can buy. From that perspective, the obvious answer is "Sign the agreement and be done with it".

I don't condone this behavior, I'm a firm believer that if your producing an honest product, you should be safe from big corporations threatening legal action against you. I think Microsoft should have some kind of basis for making the claims that they make. If Linux infringes their patents, come now, out with it. Show us your evidence, patent numbers, specific code. These corporations have obviously been given a quiet ultimatum... sign... or fight us.

Thats my 2 cents worth anyways.

Re:Oh no, Watch out, Samsung! (1)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814549)

Here's the catch, because you obviously don't know much about law, particularly when it comes to patent, trademark and copyright law.

Much of the law is based on precedent, which means that prior decisions in similar court cases influence or completely decide the outcome of current cases. The biggest problem with this kind of corporate behavior is that it sets a precedent. Microsoft can now demonstrate based on these two *HUGE* deals, that these companies acknowledge that Linux infringes on Microsoft's patents. Whether it *actually* does or not is not the issue. The precedent is now set. Novell and Samsung, with their assumed vast and knowledgeable legal team has gone over these agreements, and SIGNED them, affirming that without these agreements, they would be subject to expensive and lengthy legal battles.

From the corporate perspective, I can see why they've done it. Nobody wants another IBM vs. SCO battle, which is what this would be if they were to refuse these agreements. Except that this kind of case you wouldn't be dealing with a relatively small corporation like SCO, you would be facing off against a MULTI-BILLION dollar corporation with one of the best legal teams in the world that money can buy. From that perspective, the obvious answer is "Sign the agreement and be done with it".

I don't condone this behavior, I'm a firm believer that if your producing an honest product, you should be safe from big corporations threatening legal action against you. I think Microsoft should have some kind of basis for making the claims that they make. If Linux infringes their patents, come now, out with it. Show us your evidence, patent numbers, specific code. These corporations have obviously been given a quiet ultimatum... sign... or fight us.

Thats my 2 cents worth anyways.
And how does this hurt Samsung? It seems to be a careful move on their part.

It sure is a mystery why they don't ask Slashdot before making legal decisions.

Prisoner's Dilemma (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814859)

They didn't get this "protection" for free. Even if the balance of payments is neutral, Samsung has given MS access to at least part of its own patent portfolio.

That is the middle option.

Their best option is to ignore MS and, should MS choose to sue over something, win. The costs of doing this could be more than the middle option, but it would leave them in a good position for the future.

Their worst option is to ignore MS and, should MS choose to sue over something, lose. The costs of doing this are the same as winning, with the added cost of whatever penalties are incurred, as well as their loss of part of their business. This scenario is truly bad for Samsung indeed.

Only Samsung can know the strength of their holdings and the costs of upholding them, so only they are capable of deciding what the most cost-effective strategy is. It's also possible for them to be wrong, but we don't really have enough information do do more than speculate at this point. Certainly the middle option is the most stable option: the price is easy to determine, and they maintain their business plan without risk of being sued.

Re:Oh no, Watch out, Samsung! (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814177)

You've described how things would work in an idea world. I'm assuming that you've never sat in a meeting with executives and asked yourself how on earth they could think this will work? obviously most decisions must be good or at least harmless in order for the company to stay in business. Some bad decisions will creep through though - even when you have a massive legal team. Hoover's Free Flights Promotion being a classic example. That cost Hoover around £40-50 million.

Shareholders might sue if they see a decision that affects the value their investment. You have to then look at who the shareholders are. Individuals are the ones likely to crowd-in to the street or turn up at the AGM dressed as batman, but the larger institutions are playing the long-game here. They'll have to decide whether it's better to avoid high-profile legal action that risks depressing their investment even further.

The problem here is the message that is sent out everytime a company signs up. Companies considering Linux see that a large corporation has paid Microsoft so they wonder themselves whether Linux is going to be risky unless they also pay Microsoft. It's a bloody sneaky tactic, akin to the local butcher spreading false rumours that his rival up the road has sex with the meat before he sells it. Despite no evidence, some people are going to avoid the alleged 'spermy-sausages' just to be on the safe side.

Ridiculous (1, Redundant)

ihavnoid (749312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813291)

How in world did Zonk 'imagine' that Samsung signed patent cross-licensing because of Linux? Remember that Samsung is a fairly large company, and I remember that most of the software code Samsung uses isn't based on open-source anyway.

Come on. They are simiply trying to minimize business risk, not trying to bash/crush/destroy Linux. Nothing else.

Yes, this is Slashdot, so anybody who does anything with Microsoft will be evil. Oh. I see. Never mind.

(btw, I believe that both parties would be interested in patents related to video/audio stuff, not something like operating systems.)

Re:Ridiculous (1)

hachete (473378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814701)

Duh, it's in the article. You havn't read the article? Ah, you *can't be new here.

Don't panic - Linux etc. not dead yet. (2, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813293)

Novell is a weak company - they inked a deal with M$ because it suited both parties who feel threatened in this space.

But following links in TFA, and back beyond them:

1. The M$ Balmer FUD bullshit:

"...and because open-source Linux does not come from a company -- Linux comes from the community -- the fact that that product uses our patented intellectual property is a problem for our shareholders..."

i.e. we can't threaten to sue *everyone*, so we picked-off the weakest member of the flock...

"But to the degree that people are going to deploy Linux, we want Suse Linux to have the highest percent share of that, because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft."

i.e. we'll claim to push technical interoperability with Novell/Suse, (which will probably be more bullshit), since they will be more pliant to our desires...we'll also threaten to sue anyone who develops, distributes or uses other products.

2. Novell rebuttal

"We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents," Hovsepian [boss of Novell] said.

A Microsoft representative on Monday issued a response to the Novell letter, saying the two companies disagree on this point.

i.e. Who cares about public posturing - we both know that this is all about the two getting together to screw everyone else, including users.

3. The reaction from IBM & Red Hat

Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of Linux and open source, said that the patent protections included in the Novell-Microsoft deal are unnecessary. "We aren't sure what Microsoft's intentions here are, but IBM has long asserted that we don't see the need for this coverage," Handy said. "To our knowledge, there has never been a patent suit against Linux, and it is our view that legal claims, if they exist, should be settled without involving end-user customers...Microsoft is trying to create "fear, uncertainty and doubt" around Linux because it poses a competitive threat."

This from the company that INVENTED FUD - they should know... And RH?

"The day after the announcement of the Novell deal, Red Hat responded with a statement saying that it will not pay an "innovation tax."

So, a big 'fuck you' from the major players. Why? They know that if M$ could attrack them directly, they already would have.

Especially after the SCO debacle, M$ knows that if they take on IBM, in particular, the only winners will be the lawyers. Nobody has more patents than the boys in blue. But that won't stop them trying to chip away at the edges...

By the way, the original article was far more interesting:

http://news.com.com/Microsoft%2C+Novell+spar+over+ Linux+agreement/2100-7344_3-6137444.html [com.com]

Fill overwhly broad stupid patents (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813311)

We have to start filling out overwhly broad stupid patents just so we can finally make that matter public.

How about something along the lines of "using 1's and 0's in order to do automated tasks and/or store data via branching and/or decoding processes." Of course that's ANY digital device (CPU, GPU, software, hardware, etc). But inflate that simple sentence into the usual 500-pages patent application, keeping it as broad and inclusive as possible, then send the news everywhere that you've just been able to patent everything that makes up modern technology. Either you'll become the richest man in history or you'll finally be able to start the patent reform process along with the abolition of software patents.

Re:Fill overwhly broad stupid patents (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813703)

Good idea - forget it. Unless you're rich, and can face down M$, IBM and their hordes of lawyers. Maybe we should start a fund? I use OS software, but don't have the time, (and probably no longer the skills - stopped doing 'real' programming a long time ago, (on an IBM System 3 with a card reader - like I said, a LONG time ago...), to contribute technically. But if everytime I downloaded something for my use, or to give to a friend, client etc. I'd be happy to click on a 'donate $10 to our legal fund' button... Anyone else out there?

GPL? (2, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813335)

From the GPL (v2):
 

You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program
except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt
otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is
void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.


So, isn't what MicroSCOft doing in essence sublicensing the Program? And it appears to me (not being a Lawyer or subspecies thereof) that they have just lost there rights under this license.

This sounds really familiar... where have I heard (1)

Hohlraum (135212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813451)

of something like this before? Wasn't there some company threatening to sue companies who use linux if they didn't license their IP? And weren't there people who came forward to say that it was Microsoft's idea and money financing the whole thing? I must be mistaken.

See what they're doing? (1)

Ryzzen (1078135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813591)

If they can't sell them Microsoft products, they'll sell them "Legal Action Insurance" instead. Either way, Microtheft gets their money. This is ridiculous. I'm disappointed in all of the companies that are that's buying into their lies.

The Linux "patent pool" (2, Interesting)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813603)

It is clear that what Microsoft is now trying to establish, is a Linux "patent pool" similar to the one in place for MPEG. If you're in the pool, you're fine; if not, you have to pay a per-unit royalty to the pool members in order to use it.

This, of course, is so infuriating that it makes most of us want to commit actual acts of homicide against the people pushing it.

MS has set up a Toll Bridge on Linux itself (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815431)

...and it will dry up the Linux 'eco-system' because no small-medium shops will be able to indemnify their customers.

Then when Samsung's contract runs out, MS will have a Windows Embedded fitted especially for Samsung's most lucrative products... and suddenly Linux marketshare starts plummeting even among large vendors.

So how much did Microsoft pay Samsung? (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18813819)

If the Novell-Microsoft pact has taught us anything, it's that these agreements aren't a "company pays Microsoft millions of dollars to run Linux" sort of trade. The Novell agreement was more of a "Microsoft pays company hundreds of millions of dollars to cast legal FUD on Linux" deal. Until I hear some dollar figures (including the direction of the payments), I think it's ridiculous to guess what "Samsung's perspective" really is.

Laughable situation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18814187)

Its quite funny to see all these people crying like this. If it was the other way around, Novell threatening to sue Microsoft, you guys would be peeing your pants and throwing parties in your parents basement.

To bad... (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814207)

...I'd really started to like Samsung stuff. Well, there's plenty of other parts available.

gimmicks (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814389)

These "oh, and you can run Linux, too" are Microsoft marketing gimmicks that are thrown into the deal. It's easy to tack these onto "oh, we give you $300M and we give you our patents, too" or "let's cross-license, and, oh, that means you can use Linux, too".

Microsoft is trying to create the false impression that there is a significant patent risk when there actually isn't: first of all, any patent infringement that Microsoft were to sue over would be removed immediately, and secondly, the damage from such a lawsuit for Microsoft would be enormous.

In any case, GPLv3 will hopefully stop this nonsense.

A win for MS, bad for Samsung Novell Fuji et al (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814513)

From Samsung's perspective, it is simple: these deals ensure it can sell products using Linux without facing a suit from the Redmond-based corporation.

Yeah, but what's the upside? First, there's no evidence that MS has any property in Linux, so this changes nothing for Samsung, they could have easily sold products using Linux before (so did others, such as the Cowon A2, or the Tivo DVR, and MS never complained... I bet they'd love to have a few bucks any time someone used a Tivo, especially since it competes with MCE). All this does is ensure that MS can sell stuff using patents from Samsung, Novell, and Fuji Xerox, and that the others will not have access to as many patents as MS does. All this does is increase MS's immunization from further patent litigation, while ensuring that Samsung, Novell, and Fuji all make products that cannot be integrated as easily with OSS. A win for MS.

united front (1)

stites (993570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814649)

There are now three Open Source companies with Microsoft software patent deals, Fuji, Novell, and Samsung. Appearantly these companies choose to give in to Microsoft's threats rather than go to the expense of fighting a software patent war with Microsoft. Having money makes the commercial Open Source members vunerable to Microsoft's threats. In Novell's case you could also argue that Novell was bribed by Microsoft to join in the attack on Open Source.

Rather than allowing Microsoft to pick off Open Source companies one by one the companies should negotiate in a united front. I think that the Linux Foundation and the OIN should negotiate a universal software patent agreement between Open Source and Microsoft.

The united effort led by IBM to create a defensive patent portfolio in the OIN and the Linux Foundation to use in a possible software patent war appears to have worked. Microsoft has shied away from a court fight and is now trying a more indirect path to attack Open Source with software patents. By negotiating with Microsoft in a united front the commercial Open Source companies could achieve much more favorable terms than by negotiating individually. I think that the terms of this universal agreement should include three main points:

1. Microsoft will not sue any Open Source developer, distributor, or user over software patents.

2.Open Source will not sue Microsoft or any Microsoft customer over software patents.

3. No money will change hands in either direction.

GPL3 is another effort to solve the Microsoft software patent threat. In the latest draft of GPL3 there is some language about certain agreements being grandfathered. Obviously the Microsoft-Novell agreement is not grandfathered but I don't know whether the Fuji and Samsung deals would be grandfathered. I think that some thought should be put into GPL3 whereby the agreements between Fuji and Samsung with Microsoft are broken and that these agreements are not protected by the grandfather clause. I also think that some thought should be put into GPL3 to not break a potential universal Microsoft software patent agreement negotiated by the Linux Foundation.

Microsoft would not willingly enter into a universal software patent agreement with Open Source, at least not with the terms that I described. The software patent game among commercial companies is a power struggle. If all of the Open Source companies united against Microsoft in the software patent negotiations then the unified body would be powerful enough to force Microsoft into terms which they would not otherwise accept.

We can use GPL3 to break the software patent deals already signed with Microsoft and to block future deals. But that does not eliminate the power struggle. The Open Source companies involved in the Microsoft software patent agreements will still face the problem of Microsoft software patent aggression. I think that their best strategy is to unite and force Microsoft into abandoning its software patent attack on Open Source.

--------------------
Steve Stites

Re:united front (1)

stebbo (757730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816099)

I have to disagree, though reluctantly, cause I'm sure that what you want is the same as what many open source advocates want.

I don't think that software should be patentable. So any software patent agreement with any company (including Microsoft) is a step on to the slippery slope.

I think the most desirable solution is that companies just ignore this kind of threat, for that's what it is. As others have said, if there were an ounce of truth in any claims that Linux violated any patents then Microsoft (in this case) surely have a duty to stock-holders to protect their precious IP and pursue the matter.

Re:united front (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816927)

1. Microsoft will not sue any Open Source developer, distributor, or user over software patents.
2.Open Source will not sue Microsoft or any Microsoft customer over software patents.
3. No money will change hands in either direction.

a sort of 3 laws rewrite of this could be
1 Open Source Software (and related hardware devices) shall be considered a patent DMZ (patents do not exist inside the FLOSS community)
2 No Patent lawsuit shall be allowed that singles out any member of the "Software Community" (if you get sued you can use any patent in the pool)
3 GPL (or compatible) licenses will be considered as Standard Agreements ( if you want to use "The Pool" you need to be GPLish)

so you could sue over a Non open source patent (ie a closed source windows program) but you can't sue over a Linux/Open Source Patent since that means IBM Novell ect will then go hunting for the 300 patents you are infringing on.

Patent enforcement through the BSA (1)

Speak Forcefully (818082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18814919)

Knowing one organization that suffered through a software audit, we moved our company almost entirely to Linux several months ago (one exception - my dual boot laptop I'm using now, but it doesn't belong to the company).

Part of our motivation was the BSA. If for some reason they ever showed up at OUR door with their Government enforcers we'd easily waive our Linux systems in their face and be done with it.

Perhaps... not anymore.

The problem now is that the BSA could still, in theory, come to our business and say "Ah! You're using Linux. Well, we don't have anything on record about your having a Microsoft license to use all of our innovative patents lodged within Linux (never mind these idiots think Linux is an OS rather than a kernel).... pay up to license our Linux technology or suffer accordingly!"

We could also go to court and fight such a lawsuit (if it ever happened) - but we all know how well that process works out in the US (not fun and definitely not-fast).

Re:Patent enforcement through the BSA (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816611)

You still have two huge advantages against the BSA:
First, you have no legal relationship with any of their clients. That means they have no good excuse to knock on your door at all.
Second, you have a Linux distributor who will have to help defend you - if you can be targeted by patent crap, then any of their users can be targeted, and that's not good for their business. This doesn't apply if you're using an unknown/completely non-commercial distro - but even for Ubuntu there's Canonical to help you.

Re:Patent enforcement through the BSA (1)

Speak Forcefully (818082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18817345)

Our servers are Centos and our desktops are Ubuntu (and our phone system is Centos/Asterisk). Oddly enough, Microsoft's actions have made me wonder if we shouldn't reconsider going with RHEL itself. I'd rather give money to Red Hat any day over Microsoft.

A Modest Proposal (1)

ewhac (5844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816173)

Dear Free Software Foundation,

As you are aware, Microsoft is selling a dubious protection racket to certain organizations -- notably, Novell and Samsung. Without actually claiming any infringement or offering even the barest shred of evidence of wrongdoing, Microsoft is selling patent indemnity to these companies. Microsoft "promises" not to sue them should patent violations in GPL software come to light.

This "service" is highly dubious, as there is little if any case law suggesting that, if unlicensed patented technology is discovered in a product, end-users of those products must either surrender them or pay licensing fees.

As the de facto arbiters of the GPL, you stand in control of of a large body of software controlled by copyright and a clear license. I suggest you turn this tactic on its head. I suggest you start approaching PC OEMs, ISVs, and anyone else using Windows and start selling GPL Indemnity.

The premise is exactly the same as Microsoft's patent indemnity: Without actually claiming any violation or offering any supporting evidence of such, make it clear that GPL software is of such ubiquity that GPL code may well have found its way into Microsoft's products without a corresponding source code release. As you know, distribution without source immediately terminates GPL licensing, meaning that all copies of Windows so distributed are prima facie unlicensed copies. The indemnity you would offer would be a promise not to sue for contributory infringement.

This threat is more credible than Microsoft's. The case law on redistribution of copyrighted material without a license is well-established: it's a slam-dunk infringement, and many of the remedies are statutory. I daresay you would be able to score a handful of high-profile licensees, earn some well-needed revenue, and clearly illustrate the folly of Microsoft's protection racket.

Respectfully submitted,
Schwab

Prior art (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18817525)

I've been using it for decades, and my grandfather used it for decades before that. So I don't see how they can possibly get a valid ink patent.

I've been using and recommending Samsung (1)

alizard (107678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18817539)

consumer electronics lately. Looks like I'm going to have to rethink this.
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