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Microsoft Details FOSS Patent Breaches

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the just-a-little-bit-dangerous dept.

Microsoft 576

CptRevelation writes "Microsoft has released more detailed information on the patents supposedly in breach by the open-source community. Despite their accusations of infringement, they state they would rather do licensing deals instead of any legal action. 'Open-source programs step on 235 Microsoft patents, the company said. Free Linux software violates 42 patents. Graphical user interfaces, the way menus and windows look on the screen, breach 65. E-mail programs step on 15, and other programs touch 68 other patents, the company said. The patent figures were first reported by Fortune magazine. Microsoft also said Open Office, an open-source program supported in part by Sun Microsystems Inc., infringes on 45 patents. Sun declined to comment on the allegation.'"

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Nothing new here (-1, Redundant)

JeffElkins (977243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130085)

Move along...

Please... (0, Offtopic)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130133)

... someone add the FUD tag!

The Camerons are spot on: (3, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130143)

Chlanna nan con thigibh a so's gheibh sibh feoil
(Sons of the hounds, come here and get flesh)
http://www.theflyingscotsman.ca/claninfo.htm [theflyingscotsman.ca]
Did not the United States declared independence specifically to end this sort of long-distance pick-pocketing?
What we have is a great opportunity for a Lessig or a Moglen to lead a peaceful overthrow of a sorry state of affairs.
The software patent issue needs to be driven to the front of 2008 election politics.

Re:The Camerons are spot on: (5, Insightful)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130269)

The software patent issue needs to be driven to the front of 2008 election politics.
Good luck with that. The average voter thinks that the Internet is the little blue 'e' icon on their desktop, and that Windows is a type of computer (the other type of computer is a Mac). They don't even know about FOSS or could scarcely give a hoot how it's affected by Microsoft, or how software patents affect innovation in general.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I think this is a great evil and I want it to get lots of attention, but even I think there are more pressing issues in the world right now.

Re:The Camerons are spot on: (4, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130379)

I think there are more pressing issues in the world right now.
Possibly in a tactical sense.
Strategically, though, the US is comitting seppuku if it allows a few fat cats to patent obvious things, stifle innovation, destroy productivity, and otherwise distract from useful work.
Ellsworth Toohey [wikipedia.org] would be proud of those cretins.

Re:The Camerons are spot on: (5, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130553)

Good luck with that. The average voter thinks that the Internet is the little blue 'e' icon on their desktop, and that Windows is a type of computer (the other type of computer is a Mac). They don't even know about FOSS or could scarcely give a hoot how it's affected by Microsoft, or how software patents affect innovation in general.
There is a reason I hate cynical, trying to be realistic assessments. The problem with it is that by taking a view like that, no progress is possible. I deliberately overshoot what I think is the current average state of affairs both in politics and in computing. I _expect_ a voter or citizen to know the basics of what is a democracy, I _expect_ that an average person knows the basics of how a computer works. The reason is simple trends. It will continue to be important knowing about the basic operating principles of a democratic society and will increase in importance. It's going to grow much more important in the future to know about computers since computing is really only getting more widespead and slowly embedded in most everyday aspects of life.

I encourage people to do so. Shooting for the average never helps, it lowers the average in the wrong direction.

(Also, I think your view that tries to be realistic is exaggerated)

Re:The Camerons are spot on: (2, Insightful)

tygt (792974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130415)

needs to be driven to the front of 2008 election
Are you seriously saying that this is the most important issue for you in the 2008 election?

If so, then this country's in more trouble than I'd realized before, and I thought it was in a sorry shape *then*.

Re:The Camerons are spot on: (2, Interesting)

urbanradar (1001140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130423)

Did not the United States declared independence specifically to end this sort of long-distance pick-pocketing?
What we have is a great opportunity for a Lessig or a Moglen to lead a peaceful overthrow of a sorry state of affairs.
The software patent issue needs to be driven to the front of 2008 election politics.
Disclaimer: I am not an American, so this doesn't affect me directly, but here's my two Euro-cents anyway...

I consider the software patent issue an important one -- like the majority of people here on Slashdot, I imagine. But even so, I am certain there must be dozens and dozens of more pressing and more important issues facing the US -- civil rights, the social system, education, the environment, the war in Iraq... Do you think that the average citizen will ever let himself be convinced that software patents are a major issue? To most people, it's a mere legal technicality that is rarely even heard of -- much less cared about -- outside of IT or business environments.

I can't see anyone building a successful political platform on top of software patents. As much as I am against them, it just seems too trivial compared to the issues on most people's minds.

Re:Nothing new here (1)

FlatLine84 (1084689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130235)

So far I'm thinking this *could* start an interesting battle... It looks like an attempt at a squeaky wheel to get some grease. I'm liking the idea of the OIN holding the patent bubble over MS's head as well. I'm also wondering what is the real point of MS doing this, is it for increased publicity? It seems they're grasping at straws, and I don't see them being that foolish or arrogant. correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Nothing new here (2, Informative)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130497)

Yeah. Microsoft, Look and Feel is not actionable - otherwise Apple would have had your ass years ago. Drop those claims first.

Moving along: detail the rest of 'em, and we'll give a shit. No seriously. You can't just say, "You infringe on 25 of my patents. Can I have my licensing fee now?"

It doesn't work like that.

Of course, the reason MS won't name names is that they want their license fees. They don't want Linux and its related projects going, "Ok, we'll code around that, thanks."

Oh microsoft (5, Funny)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130089)

Graphical user interfaces, the way menus and windows look on the screen, breach 65
You really DONT want to open that can of worms. Trust me you really dont.

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130141)

Yeah, really. Prior art anyone?

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130297)

Two words: Apple, Acorn

'Nuff said.

MS can't seriously believe they invented any part of the WIMP (GUI) system?

OK, Evolution does look a lot like Outlook, but hey Novell already signed up with the devil.

Re:Oh microsoft (4, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130387)

MS can't seriously believe they invented any part of the WIMP (GUI) system?
It doesn't matter if they invented it, only if they patented it. Which is what's wrong with the whole system.

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130451)

bad patents aren't enforceable. That's what makes the system liveable.

Re:Oh microsoft (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130583)

Yeah. All I have to do is take on Microsoft's legal department and the USPTO to prove that it's a bad patent.

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

19061969 (939279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130395)

Better beginning with Xerox. Though of course you could always go back to Englebart. I'm sure he did lots of stuff first.

Re:Oh microsoft (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130197)

Somewhere in the legal departments of Apple, Xerox, HP, AT&T, and IBM, IP lawyers are getting ready for a counter strike. Complete with pirate uniforms. This cold war will escalate into a very hot war if MS goes through with it. :)

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

palewook (1101845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130239)

lol@ms. as if ms didnt lift or steal the look of most of their gui.

mmm... worms (2, Informative)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130321)

Sorry to keep plugging myself, but I really want this to take off and pling-style sites need users to go
twoclick looks at patents in the GUI category:

http://twoclick.org/unnamed/index.php?category=GUI [twoclick.org]

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

mogorman (618512) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130365)

actually microsoft settled all disputes with apple about this years ago, and they would probably be the most likely to stop this, as for the other earlier arrivals I believe microsoft has an understanding with them as well.

Re:Oh microsoft (2, Interesting)

koh (124962) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130397)

I'm confused. How many Xerox patents does MS infringe, then? All of them? Or maybe Xerox couldn't file any patents because software patents did not exist at that time? And what about Apple's UI patents?

Re:Oh microsoft (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130587)

I don't believe Xerox bothered to file patents. The apocryphal story about the mouse is, when the upper eschelon was shown the mouse, they went "We're a document company," and scrubbed it.

Re:Oh microsoft (4, Interesting)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130429)

Anybody else see parallels between this & Disney whining about infringment after they made movies based on long standing folklore?

Re:Oh microsoft (2, Funny)

MadJo (674225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130507)

How can you even have 65 patents on menu's and windows?
Did they patent the location of every button and menu option?

Quick !! Lets examine and change them all !! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130091)

So the thing will explode in ms's face.

They already thought of that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130265)

That's why they aren't going to tell us exactly which patents are being violated. Unfortunately for them, that may make it impossible to sue anyone for violating those patents. The law says that when you notice that a patent is being violated, you have to sue then. You can't wait until later in order to jack up the damages.

Re:Quick !! Lets examine and change them all !! (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130295)

I for one don't feel like working around patents. I decided to ignore them completely. Yeah, I'm from Europe. If they ever institute software patents here I will continue to ignore them as a form of civil disobedience.

i resonate and agree with you (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130501)

about software patents.

The devil is in the details (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130097)

I guess this is more detail than just saying 235 violations - but it is still not enough detail to be really useful. So I think I'll just keep sitting tight until something meaningful comes up. And when that happens, I'd like to see the community respond with an unprecedented level of development and patches being submitted to make the whole thing moot. That would be nice.

Re:The devil is in the details (2, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130201)

I really doubt that they'll go into any more detail. They're using this as a scare tactic, and if they give *actual* details, that means that FOSS companies can develop strategies for dealing with it instead of paying fees to Microsoft. Basically, it would throw a monkey wrench into their whole plan, as you pointed out.

Its really sad to see this happen. A lot of people predicted something like this, but I was really hoping (naively) it wouldn't happen. I could see projects like Mono being hit really hard, which is a shame because I actually like Mono.

Re:The devil is in the details (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130355)

as I understand it - the mono framework itself is an implementation of an open standard. so are potential problems out there dealing with tools to use mono? or is it the fact that using mono would lend itself to developing applications that would naturally tend to use patented features? if so - isn't putting the framework out there some type of implied license to use those methods?
 
I'm just kind of thinking out loud here, but I would love to here some possible answers to these questions.

Re:The devil is in the details (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130477)

Windows Forms, ADO.Net, and ASP.Net all have patents involved, according to the Mono team. ADO.Net is basically the standard framework in .Net for communicating with SQL servers, and ASP.Net is their web-frontend framework, so basically they have patents covering key strategic areas in .Net. Thus, the Mono project is vulnerable. They'd have to purge those parts of .Net from their re-implementation and find workarounds (although they already have GTK to step in for Windows Forms).

Of course, there's the Novell-Microsoft patent deal.

Zoom in... (5, Funny)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130099)

One more level of zoom required, Microsoft. Still can't tell what you're actually saying.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Zoom in... (5, Funny)

RealEstateGuy (1088269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130487)

Google probably has a patent on zooming so you're probably out of luck

E-MAIL????? (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130115)

I'm wondering what patents Microsoft could be holding regarding email, which is several decades older than Microsoft itself. Man, I should have went to law school.

Re:E-MAIL????? (2, Funny)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130199)

...should have went to law school


Or one teaching proper English perhaps!

Re:E-MAIL????? (2, Informative)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130207)

They said 'EMail programs', not email itself.

Re:E-MAIL????? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130243)

I dunno, executing JavaScript in emails was a pretty novel idea. Mostly because nobody else was stupid enough to think of it.

Mods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130455)

I dunno, executing JavaScript in emails was a pretty novel idea. Mostly because nobody else was stupid enough to think of it.

Ba-fuckin'-dump! Thanks for my morning laugh.

Re:E-MAIL????? (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130389)

I'd be willing to bet a sizable amount of cash that "email" involves features in Outlook. Outlook is a source of considerable lock-in for a lot of companies.

Re:E-MAIL????? (2, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130393)

Re:E-MAIL????? (2, Funny)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130521)

I'm wondering what patents Microsoft could be holding regarding email, which is several decades older than Microsoft itself.

Maybe they patented automatic execution of trojan programs, when email is displayed in a preview pane.

I'm pretty sure they came up with that first.

The OSS Community should let this go to court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130119)

The OSS Community should call their bluff and let this go to court. The non-obviousness requirement of patents most likely will invalidate most of their claims.

OK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130121)

So, where are the details? This is just as thin as the other articles...

detailed FUD, show code!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130123)

More detailed as in 'more detailed FUD'.

Show which code!!

It's about time! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130129)

Free ride's over kiddies!

So nice of them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130135)

"Despite their accusations of infringement, they state they would rather do licensing deals instead of any legal action."

Well, of course they would. Please sell me protection M$ so your goons don't have to break my legs.

Why not do it the other way (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130137)

Have some people at IBM tally up publicly how many patents Windows and Microsoft Office violate. Then have them say, "what's the point, are you going to actually sue someone over this?"

Re:Why not do it the other way (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130251)

Have some people at IBM tally up publicly how many patents Windows and Microsoft Office violate.

If history is any indication, I'm sure they have. And negotiated. And both are actively using that combined portfolio to squeeze smaller players out of the market. This might include some of the patents that are currently being claimed above too.

The nice side of Microsoft! (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130149)

> they state they would rather do licensing deals instead of any legal action.
How magnanimous. Thanks M$.

Re:The nice side of Microsoft! (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130253)

I'm publicly claiming that I own all the air in our atmosphere. Lucky for you, I'm more interested in renting some of it to you than getting you to stop breathing.

I, for one, trust Microsoft on this (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130151)

after all, who knows more about breaches than Microsoft

Microsoft's customers too...they get used to having their breaches around their ankles on a daily basis

Xerox vs. Apple (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130155)

Didn't the courts settle on this very issue [comnetslash.com] years ago?

And if MS settles or wins, does that mean that Apple and Xerox can jump on the bandwagon and take out MS?

Re:Xerox vs. Apple (1)

Hettch (692387) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130317)

Didn't the courts settle on this very issue years ago?

Is that why your link goes to an article from a month ago?

Can't beat em, claim they stole from you. (2, Interesting)

wobedraggled (549225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130169)

Maybe if Microsoft were a little more "open" we would find just as many if not more "borrowed" ideas. This is gonna get messy...

WTF? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130171)

Microsoft also said Open Office, an open-source program supported in part by Sun Microsystems Inc., infringes on 45 patents. Sun declined to comment on the allegation.

Excuse me? As I recall, part of the Java settlement was that Sun got access to Microsoft patents and technology to improve OpenOffice. So "detailing" 45 patents in OpenOffice seems a bit specious to me. Does anyone else remember this settlement?

Re:WTF? (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130353)

So if you buy OpenOffice from Sun then you don't have a problem. Software Patents are a real bastard in the commercial software world. The FOSS community has had it pretty easy. Maybe this will bring about more reform to the patent system by creating such a wave.

Re:WTF? (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130435)

There was a cross patent license agreement and an arrangement not to sue each other over past infringements. I wonder though if MS see this as a potential loophole with OpenOffice generally no longer regarded as a SUN product per se.

This isn't details. (1)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130193)

This is hardly anything I'd consider "details". As TFA clearly states, Microsoft still hasn't offered any specifics, or evidence, and they probably never will.

That is NOT specificity.. (4, Insightful)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130203)

until we get patent numbers and exactly what it is that is infringing on it. Put up or shut up.

Need more details (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130205)

They're still being vague about it. They need to start listing actual patent numbers if anybody is going to take them seriously. Then those patents can be ruled as obvious, or having prior art, and this can go away.

If they don't start being specific very soon, they're just going to look like SCO. Considering they backed SCO, this is not too much of a surprise.

You're Giving Them What They Want (5, Insightful)

repetty (260322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130213)

By getting ourselves worked up about this we are only playing into their strategy. This threat worries only the people who don't know better. (Not coincidentally, these are frequently the people making technology investment and purchasing decisions. This is an old, faithful Microsoft business technique.)

We all know that this is a ruse. We know it.

We can do our part by ignoring this non-event.

--Richard

Re:You're Giving Them What They Want (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130513)

Dearest Richard, I have a medical requirement to get worked up about something everyday at work. If I do not, my narcolepsy will kick in and I'll go head first into my keyboard. So really, I think Microsoft's patent trolling is really doing me the service of getting my blood pressure up when the day to day work of science really has me dozing off. Thanks, Andy

My patents (4, Funny)

Ziest (143204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130223)

"You are violating a bunch of my double secret patents. You have to guess which ones. I don't have to tell you. Give me money."

Now, where have I heard this before?

wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130227)

They forgot "scroll bar" and "window" or did they....Noooooo

:

Again, no details (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130233)

Still only some numbers and vague weaselspeak. There is really no reason to strike a deal with 'em, they will never speak out on details, so they'll never sue. Let's move on.

Standard FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130245)

When SCO failed to damage Linux even with MS-funding, MS had to do something themselves.

Not one of those 'patent violations' is named and they won't, you can bet your a** on that.

Standard MS-FUD with zero content.

They are afraid. (5, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130259)

Microsoft is afraid, plain and simple. This an edorsement by the market leader that Linux is ready for the desktop. They were afraid to see Novell pushing it but when Dell went onboard and picked the most user friendly of distros to do it with; Microsoft became terrified.

Do you know why you never saw something like this from Microsoft before? They didn't think it was worth their time.

In any case, it is FUD; there might be a vulnerable project or two but there is basically a stalemate on this one. That is why they are pushing for licensing instead of filing a lawsuit.

This is a good thing. Most MBA's will see right through both the motivation and the push for licensing.

Re:They are afraid. (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130577)

There will always be PHBs, though. Remember that some companies paid SCO's extortion money for Linux "licenses".

Open Invention Network (1)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130267)

How does this relate to the Open Invention Network? They are supposed to hold a large number of very high profile patents, and go after any company that tries to use patents to go after users of various high profile open source components, including the Linux kernel. (See http://lwn.net/Articles/178673/ [lwn.net] for more information)

Couldn't give a shit (0)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130279)

Microsoft will have to send over the cops to take my software away from me.

"The way windows are organized in the screen" (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130285)

Here, just right now, looking through the window, there is a 20 year old apartment block that has its flats, windows and balconies organized in similar fashion to windows organizes "windows" - on top of each other.

what is it going to be now ? sue the apartment builders who built this building 20 years ago, or sue right holders to apartment who bought the flats 20 years ago because some idiot in patent office awarded something OVERly common in real life for the last 2000 years (since rome) to a smartpants applying from microsoft ?

it is evident that current patent/intellectual property system is wrong.

Correction is needed (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130313)

Linux used to infringe on 235 patents...

I suppose that by the time you read this, it will be 230 patents...

225...

219...

Microsoft knows that as soon as they are forced to reveal exactly which patents Linux infringes, Linux won't infringe on them any more.

I used to think Linux would perpetually remain on the fringes of larger society, but these recent events suggest that Microsoft sees it as a very real threat to their operating system monopoly. I'm thinking that Microsoft is going to have to reinvent itself to remain competitive.

Very Telling (1, Interesting)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130319)

I don't really like to jump in the "OMG M$ SUX" bandwagon, but this is pretty telling.

Free Linux software violates 42 patents.

Competes with Windows

Graphical user interfaces, the way menus and windows look on the screen, breach 65.

Similar interfaces make it easier to switch to FOSS products.

E-mail programs step on 15

Outlook

and other programs touch 68 other patents the company said.

This probably covers stuff like IIS and .Net

Microsoft also said Open Office, an open-source program supported in part by Sun Microsystems Inc., infringes on 45 patents.

Microsoft Office

I think that covers all of Microsoft's cash-cows doesn't it? Very telling.

And who are they going to sue? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130327)

Dear Microsoft,

In case you haven't realized, "Linux" is not a single entity. When you say Linux breaches patents on email or graphical user interfaces, are you aware that:
  • there are multiple email programs and window managers produced in many countries around the world, a lot of which do not have software patenting laws
  • Linus & co. working on the kernel have absolutely nothing (or at the most, extremely little) to do with email applications and GUI prettiness
  • Unix predates Windows and there is a LOT of prior art (and I imagine patents as well) on most of the aspects of the Windows operating system and Office suite
  • Going up against big companies who rely on Linux (Sun, IBM, etc) could unleash a patent war in the reverse direction (and a lot of unfriendliness)

Best Regards from Sweden,

Someone who doesn't care about your patent claims.

Re:And who are they going to sue? (1)

sub7 (187049) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130417)

Amen. I love reading that Microsoft is suing "Linux". Who the $%^& is Linux anyway?

Microsoft will win everytime (4, Funny)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130345)

Method and apparatus for clicking

Abstract

A click is made when someone's finger presses down on a mouse

Inventors: Microsoft
Assignee: Microsoft
Filed: March 14, 1929

See!

Royalties and Licenses, eh? (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130347)

If I were in charge of a larger company approached and asked to pay I would insist upon knowing exactly what infringed patents I was expected to pay for. And if MS can't tell me, and do so without keeping it under secrecy, let them sue me, because if they do sue the patents have to become public knowledge. You can't claim infringement of patents or copyrights and then keep the proof secret, not if you are expecting to base any actions, especially with legal consequences, on them.

Of course! (4, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130349)

"...but the company says it still prefers licensing deals with open-source developers, software distributors and users instead of legal action against them."

Me too! I prefer people to just give me money rather than have to go through all the hassle of producing something of value.

Hey, Microsoft! I've got a bunch of patents that you're infringing and I would prefer that you go ahead and license them from me rather than starting an ugly legal battle. I'll even give you a deal (just this once, because you like a nice kid): $100 Million for the lot. This offer won't be repeated, so take advantage while you still can!

Pull a Microsoft on Microsoft (3, Interesting)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130381)

The owners of these projects should make a deal with Microsoft to give them 30% of the revenue from the open source code in return for licensing the patents. 30% of 0 is still 0.

There's a simple solution! (0, Flamebait)

tvjunky (838064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130401)

Come to the place there are no software patents, where open source software is being used and encouraged by governments, where you still have the freedom not to be spied upon constantly because of the "war on [whatever scares people currently]", where convicted monopolists do indeed get punished, where capital punishment is history, where copyright infringement isn't a more serious crime than rape or child abuse, where wages are high and paid vacations are long.
Come on you open source fellas, leave the USA and let it choke on it's frivolous patent system and corporate ass-kissing.
Come to the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Come to (continental) Europe!

I've got a new one! (1)

UnHolier than ever (803328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130411)

"A patent for a method to distinguish between obvious, non-obvious and not non-obvious patents and/or patent applications that consists in asking oneself if someone properly trained in the field in which said patent is filed into would have come up with the same idea if only presented with the problem in question, and also a method of research that consists in finding prior art for said patent."

Ah-ah! Now you can't say my patents are invalid without violating this other patent! Catch-22, you're screwed!

No new details (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130419)

There are no details provided. This is the same information we got earlier. A brief skimming of patent infringement allegations without specifying which ones are in violations in particular.

I suspect that they are weak or otherwise defeatable patent claims.

Get to work guys (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130427)

You FOSS (Freeloading Operating System Shysters) need to correct your code or pay up for riding on the coat tails of Microsoft, the true innovators in the software world. I am firmly convinced MS was acting purely out of kindness and compassion by not litigating you loons into nothingness. You have done nothing to correct your imfringement so now the gloves come off and it's time for teh bukakke to fly.

In other news... (4, Funny)

Baavgai (598847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130431)

SCO called and wants it's business plan back.

Giving counts is pretty useless. Calling it more detailed it like saying you'll release the personal information of the vicitms and just giving a list of nationalities; you really don't know more than you did before, but the feed got you to stay tuned.

Infringements in optional modules (2, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130439)

I expect most of the kernel infringements are in optional kernel modules. I've heard rumblings about vfat having patents in the past, and I expect there are some in the SMB client code. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to re-implement those to avoid the patent issues, because the patents may cover core aspects that are required for interoperability.

If we ever get a full detailed list of patent issues, I can foresee the day that one of the first questions in the kernel configuration is whether to include portions that may violate patent rights, and the help text on various options would cite specific patent numbers that have been claimed. Or, perhaps more generally, it could ask what legal jurisdiction you're in, so that it can block the modules that are protected in that country.

Implicit Permission? (1)

booleanoperator (1067746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130441)

I am not 100% sure on US law, but in the article it says MS has been aware of this for over 3 years. Do they not lose their right to prosecute after being aware of an infringement for a "reasonable" time and not acting on it? Thus giving implicit permission for the further use of this "patented" ip/code...

ha (1)

jswigart (1004637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130463)

235 examples of the new 'obvious' changes to patent acceptance. I hope every one of them gets flushed down the toilet. Most companies probably have thousands of 'obvious' patents.

As predicted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130465)

This was predicted months ago [newluna.com] . Microsoft will bring the lawsuits in 2009.

I didn't know US patent law (4, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130473)

Applied in the Isle of Man (Ubuntu) and Germany (the home of StarOffice). Let alone the rest of the EU.

The implications for all this are interesting. Does Microsoft really want European software slowly to drift away from its link to the US? Because they are exposing more and more to European legislators that, in effect, they want to enforce a charge on European businesses based on US law that is not applicable in the EU. They already have done themselves no favours with the Competition Commission. Given that the Open Document format is now an international standard, the EU is quite free to use free software to implement it while the US might end up having to pay a Microsoft tax. That is an interesting possibility.

Many years ago at a seminar on patent and trademark law, I asked the lawyer who was acting as convenor what, in his view, the position would be if a manufacturer attempted to claim that only their patented technology was able to create an instance of something complying with an international standard which was embodied in European harmonisation. To which his reply was "You're just being a smartass." It looks like there could yet be a test case.

Nothing to see here, move along... (4, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130499)


Until they tell us specifically which patents are being violated by what software, we cannot take any remedial action.

There are two possible cases: 1) no free software violates any MS patents; and 2) some free software violates some MS patents, but we don't know what software violates what patents because MS refuses to tell us.

Ergo, it is reasonable to assume that since MS has made it impossible for potential infringers to take any action to avoid infringement, that they have an interest in any infringement that occurs. That is, MS is promoting infringement of their own patents.

Indeed, the article says, "But Augustin also acknowledged that it's not in Microsoft's interest to do so: Open-source programmers could rewrite their code to avoid infringing on specific patents, or the courts could find that Microsoft's patent isn't valid."

I am not a lawyer, but when a party promotes the infringement of their own patents it might be reasonable to assume that they may be estopped from ever enforcing those patents in the future.

MS needs to tell us specifically which free software is violating what patents. If they do not tell us that we are justified in assuming that either no free software violates any patents, or that MS is entirely ok with all the free software that violates any of their patents. If they were not ok with it, they would tell us exactly which free software violated exactly what patents.

How is this detailed? (2, Informative)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130509)

I didn't see any detail in this article that wasn't in the previous one.

Notice (1)

Stalyn (662) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130511)

IANAL but I always assumed that the defendant in a patent infringement case must be notified beforehand that they are potentially infringing. In which the specifics are mentioned such as the actual patent and the actual instance of infringement. Then if the defendant refuses to comply then a case may move forward.

Now if Microsoft did notify the relevant parties wouldn't they then have the ability to remove all potential infringing material before Microsoft could actually sue them? Or can you just bring a case to court without the defendants even knowing they were potentially infringing?

Hey Microsoft.. (1)

NullProg (70833) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130541)

Graphical user interfaces, the way menus and windows look on the screen, breach 65.

Apple called, they want thier lawsuit back.

Apple Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 35 F.3d 1435 (9th Cir. 1994) was a copyright infringement lawsuit in which Apple Computer sought to prevent Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard from using visual graphical user interface (GUI) elements that were similar to those in Apple's Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. Some critics claimed that Apple was really attempting to gain all intellectual property rights over the desktop metaphor for computer interfaces, and perhaps all GUIs, on personal computers. Apple lost all claims in the lawsuit, ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_v._Microsoft [wikipedia.org]

Enjoy,

This contains no more info than previous article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19130559)

The previous article had the same information, this is not a new release by Microsoft, just a different headline for the same story.

See for yourself, but nobody RTFAs anyway, do they? If people actually did then sensationalistic dupes wouldn't constantly get reposted...

http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/05/14/0018242.shtml [slashdot.org]

good in the end (1)

garbletext (669861) | more than 7 years ago | (#19130563)

This action seems like it will be beneficial to free software in the end, as it will hopefully cause a re-examination of the miserable state of our patent system. I, for one, hope that MS does take this to court so we can start to see some change. However, it seems that its main goal here is to spread FUD and scare the industry into letting MS profit off of the hard work of OSS developers.
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