×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Linus Responds To Microsoft Patent Claims

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-FUD dept.

Patents 496

An anonymous reader writes "Linus Torvalds has a sharp retort to Microsoft executives' statements in a Fortune article that Linux violates 235 Microsoft patents. In an emailed response to InformationWeek's Charlie Babcock, Torvalds writes: 'It's certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does.' He added: 'Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousand of really "fundamental" patents... The fundamental stuff... has long, long since lost any patent protection.'" Torvalds also commented on Microsoft's stated intention not to sue Linux users: "They'd have to name the patents then, and they're probably happier with the FUD than with any lawsuit."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

496 comments

Sad or Telling? (3, Interesting)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136027)

Is it kind of sad that such retorts are necessary? Or is it telling, that M$ is continues to resort to such SCO-like tactics?

Re:Sad or Telling? (1, Funny)

andy666 (666062) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136045)

Well wasn't there an article the other day about how Linux was dead and Linus had to take a day job ? So he needs the work.

Re:Sad or Telling? (2, Informative)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136567)

No, the author of the article you refer to wrote that Linux is dead and has "sold out" because Linus has a day job.

Re:Sad or Telling? (4, Insightful)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136109)

That was a funny article. Linus is probably right... Microsoft probably violates more software patents than Linux. Shall we start a web page listing patents that /.-ers believe M$ violates? It might be useful one day, if M$ goes all legal on us.

Re:Sad or Telling? (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136417)

I think we all know that the kernel is probably safe; except for some of the drivers. I'll wager that Microsoft is eying FAT and NTFS. Still, it's awfully easy to fix that. Just distribute a kernel without those drivers in the source, and just let someone outside the US distribute the patches, compiled modules, as well as compiled kernels. Is Microsoft seriously going to demand that everyone turn over their kernels to check whether the FAT file system support is compiled into it?

The problem here is not that MS would ever dream of going to court, it's that the FUD could be very effective at slowing adoption. I suspect that if anything, it's OpenOffice that would feel the wrath of being dragged into court. Going after the kernel is ludicrous, and would likely turn up absolutely nothing.

Re:Sad or Telling? (4, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136143)

I hope that it's telling, after all Microsoft is essentially following tactics from IBM a company that is not, primarily in the software industry. They have essentially hired IBM's patent lawyer, Marshall Phelps [slashdot.org]

Re:Sad or Telling? (5, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136383)

I personally think that they are trying to do damage control from Dell agreeing to preinstall Ubuntu. Dell's move is huge for Linux as a jumping-off point, and MS (imho) is trying to keep it from looking like Linux is a real competitor.

Re:Sad or Telling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136271)

It doesnt cost MS a dime to make crazy claims, so if they license just one technology they claim to have to patent on to just one company, it will have paid off.

Re:Sad or Telling? (1)

dch24 (904899) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136327)

So ... where is the original email? I'm not subscribed to the LKML [marc.info], but the EE Times [eetimes.com] is reporting the same email, and neither seems to cite a source, so does that mean Linus sent an email to the LKML? Anyone want to paste a copy in here?

Re:Sad or Telling? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136469)

I think the reality is a little different... I think in the past SCO resorted to Microsoft-like tactics. Microsoft did it first and Microsoft put them up to it. Before their ridiculous Scientology-like, baseless lawsuit, SCO was just another *NIX provider and was respected for it... generally.

Re:Sad or Telling? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136547)

Is it kind of sad that such retorts are necessary?

Unfortunately, the damage is done. I work for a large financial organization that was *just* venturing outside of Microsoft operating systems and the lawyers sent out a notice today that we are to remove all traces of "open source" software, effective immediately.

I suspect that lots of organizations were in such a boat and Microsoft played their cards accordingly.

1st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136039)

1st post yea

IMPORTANT NOTICE (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136059)

Please note that this article violates 207 Microsoft patents. Anyone commenting on it will be violating a further 703 patents. Except me.

Re:IMPORTANT NOTICE (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136219)

Yeah, because YOU do not exist, which in itself is covered by at least 666 patents. The owner will be coming to see the non-existing you shortly.

Re:IMPORTANT NOTICE (4, Funny)

interiot (50685) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136397)

You are coming to a sad realization that in Soviet Russia, new Microsoft patent meme infringes you 123 times. Cancel or Allow?

Re:IMPORTANT NOTICE (2, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136511)

Please note that this article violates 207 Microsoft patents. Anyone commenting on it will be violating a further 703 patents. Except me.
I think that 42 [informationweek.com] will just do. Isn't that the answer for everything [wikipedia.org]? I bet this number isn't a coincidence.

constitutional lawyers? (5, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136061)

Can someone please explain to me how software patents "promote science and the useful arts?"

Wouldn't a patent law which does NOT promote science and arts be unconstitutional? Or am I misreading the constitution?

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136111)

Which article of the constitution, or, rather, any constitution, gives patents authority?

Re:constitutional lawyers? (4, Informative)

bigpat (158134) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136217)

Which article of the constitution, or, rather, any constitution, gives patents authority?
Article I section 8 of the US Constitution "The Congress shall have power" ... "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;" - US Constitution [cornell.edu]

Re:constitutional lawyers? (0, Redundant)

F1re (249002) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136301)

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8:

The Congress shall have Power *** To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136309)

Read this. [bitlaw.com]

Basically, the constitution contains an abstract concept of protection of "writings or discoveries" (now called "intellectual property") and states that Congress has the authority to establish laws that protect these to "promote the progress of science and useful arts."

Some things I notice here are...
- Science must be making progress in order to be promoted. DRM is regression of rights, thus it cannot be protected.
- Arts must be useful to be protected. I doubt entertainment can be considered "useful" in the way that was meant when the Constitution was written.
- Newer forms of media are not "writings" nor are they "discoveries". They cannot be protected.
- Algorithms are discovered, and thus, they can be protected.
- Trademarks are not even considered to be part of this framework.

In other words, everything you knew about patent, trademarks, and copyrights is probably wrong. Unfortunately, getting someone to apply this correctly now is going to be facing an uphill battle.

Re:constitutional lawyers? (3, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136455)

... states that Congress has the authority to establish laws that protect these to "promote the progress of science and useful arts."
Not quite exactly right. The constitution gives Congress the authority to promote the progress of science and useful arts by establishing these protections. It is a subtle but important distinction, and places the emphasis very firmly upon the promotion of progress of science and useful arts.

Re:constitutional lawyers? (4, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136477)

- Science must be making progress in order to be promoted. DRM is regression of rights, thus it cannot be protected.
- Arts must be useful to be protected. I doubt entertainment can be considered "useful" in the way that was meant when the Constitution was written.
You are applying logic to laws. Never works. In this case, I think you will find that the sole judge of how the laws meet the goal is Congress. I think this came out in the challenge to the Sonny Bono/Mickey Mouse copyright extention. The SCOTUS decided that it was up to Congress to decide how best to promote the "useful arts", and if Congress felt that it was best achieved by locking up our cultural heritage, then so be it. One would also expect that SCOTUS would hold that it was up to Congress to decide what constitutes a "Useful Art", since that it a preamble to the actual phrase that authorizes Congress to create copyright laws.

Essentially what I am saying is that the part "To promote the progress of science and useful arts" is meaningless and the only important part of that section is: "by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136517)

Arts must be useful to be protected. I doubt entertainment can be considered "useful" in the way that was meant when the Constitution was written.
"Entertainment" usually includes music and theater. So are only the visual arts protected in your constitution? Would Cage's 4'33" be considered entertainment or "useful" art? Which art is more useful: a libretto for "Phantom of the Opera" or a recorded performance?

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136591)

Well, am not a lawyer, but the way I understand it is that the Constitution must be interpreted according to case law, not according to what any given individual thinks it should mean. You can't just pick and choose how you interpret the words that make up the language of the Constitution and expect that it to be legitimate.

People have done exactly what you have done, reinterpreting the Constitution to mean what they would like it to mean, only in regards to tax laws. They have pretty much all ended up in jail because of it.

You could debate all day what you think our Founding Fathers might have meant. It amounts to a fart in a hurricane. Judges have already decided what they meant.

Algorithm patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136597)

I once demonstrated to someone how you can raise a numerically-encoded message to some power modulo p (where p is a product of two primes), so that without knowing those two primes, it's very hard to decrypt. Since I was acting as a (paid) tutor, I was doing this for commercial gain.
Does this make me a thought criminal?

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

dparnass (1004755) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136223)

Pantent my foot. Coppyrights I can see but not patents. You copyright Software because it is written. Patents are for inventions. Remeber when the US Constituyion was written the term limited actually refered to the life of the individual not the lifetime of the Universe. Orginally Patents were given a time based on how much money was spent on it (one apporved), copyrights were orginaly 7 years, then extended to 14 years, then extended to whenever Disney was going to lose it copright on Steam Boat willy/

Re:constitutional lawyers? (4, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136259)

Software patents that were reviewed by qualified examiners and only granted if they were truly novel and non-obvious would promote science and the useful arts. I think far fewer people would have trouble with the concept if that were the reality -- in that case the intended bargain (the patent makes public the details of an idea that nobody else would have thought of on their own) would apply.

But the "grant first, ask questions later" approach of today's patent office, where one can patent an implementation that any programmer of above-average skill might come up with when presented with the same problem, means that we'd be better off with no software patents at all.

I'd be happy with either fixing the examination process or dumping software patents.

An example of a software patent that would reasonably be granted under a good examination regime, even though it did irk a bunch of people back before it expired, would be the RSA patent. That was not obvious to 99% of the skilled practitioners of the art until it was published. (And even now I expect most programmers have at most a high-level understanding of why it works, me included.)

Re:constitutional lawyers? (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136487)

The problem is that, unlike actual inventions, a patent troll can quickly submit hundreds of software patents. Nowadays, you've got everybody and their dog, from Microsoft to Sun to Amazon applying for patents. The system, which has long had problems handling the load of more traditional patents, simply breaks down. The amount of money that it would require to have each software patent reviewed would be staggering. Do you think having "patent pending" is any better security than "patent # 232437442"?

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136291)

From the US Constitution:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
Assuming computer programming is a science (which it is, f**k all you elitist people who say programming isn't CS), then providing protection would advance it through allowing someone who does something really ground-breaking an exclusive right, just like it would someone who invents a new refrigerator.

Also, for those who say that computer programming is an algorithm and therefore unable to be patented, a program could easily be considered writings.

While I personally think the patent system is deeply, deeply broken, I do think that really innovative things should be protected. Just my two cents.

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

Elvis Parsley (939954) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136573)

Assuming computer programming is a science (which it is, f**k all you elitist people who say programming isn't CS)

And even if one were to grant for the sake of argument that programming isn't science, it would be difficult to argue convincingly that it doesn't qualify under "useful arts."

Re:constitutional lawyers? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136293)

No.

Software is obsolete in 5-10 years.
A patent last for 20 years.
Copyright lasts for 95 years.

When the incentive monopoly lasts well beyond the life of the invention, the effect is obviously not promoting innovation. The effect is innovation suppression and wheel reinvention.

Re:constitutional lawyers? (2, Insightful)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136295)

Patents promote inventors releasing their inventions to the public.

eg. Someone researches a successful a cure for AIDS in their basement. w/o the protection provided by patent law the inventor of the cure has people come into his home, be charged a fee, take the cure and leave. He would make damn sure that the cure was not smuggled out of his home, in case of reverse engineering.... WITH protection provided by patent law, the inventor submits his patent and sells hundreds of cures to Pharmacies all over the world, he is no longer worried that someone will take his cure formula and use it for their own ends.

Re:constitutional lawyers? (5, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136475)

We are talking about software, not a cure for AIDS.

I work in a software company, and I can assure you that we would be writing just as much software if there were no software patents.

Also, we have NEVER wondered how to write a particular algorithm, then found the solution in some patent disclosure document. Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

Re:constitutional lawyers? (1)

Schlaegel (28073) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136619)

I don't want this person researching an AIDS cure, and he or she better not be getting my public dollars to support his or her research.

He or she is obviously more interested in personal wealth than the invention and than those in need of the invention. In the first scenario, if the invention did eventually get out, everyone could benefit from it, regardless of their wealth. The world would be a better place. In the second scenario, the inventor makes a killing, and the cure is held hostage, and only those willing to pay up will get the cure. The world is a better place for the inventor and the rich.

I sure hope coren2000 was being sarcastic.

Re:constitutional lawyers? 2ND AMENDMENT (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136471)

Wouldn't a patent law which does NOT promote science and arts be unconstitutional?

Sorry, nice try. But that would be saying like guns only belong in militias, because militias are mentioned in the context of the Second Amendment. And while some people try to make that idea fly, it's still a brick, no matter how pretty you wrap it. Like militias in the Second Amendment, promoting science and the arts is the reason we need a patent system, but not the only things that can be patented with it.

Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (4, Interesting)

symbolic (11752) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136065)

I'm not clear how IBM could own thousands of patents back in the 1960s- at that time it was clearly understood that software is a non-patentable "invention". Oh how I wish this common sense would be restored.

Re:Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136159)

in HOW different pieces of hardware could communicate with one another, not to mention how a user could directly interface with any of the hardware in a semi-customizable manner...
I'm pretty sure he didn't say 'software patents'...

Re:Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (1)

rbegga (662104) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136173)

If you re-read the article, I don't think he literally meant they got patents on the work, just that they owned them in the sense that they developed them first.

Re:Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (1)

rbegga (662104) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136221)

Actually, I just re-re-read it and now cannot convince myself of my own comment. Perhaps he is just mistaken? :-)

Re:Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136603)

I imagine he meant to say "prior art" rather than "patents". He's pretty much right. Most of the research and development in kernels was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. That's closing in on forty years ago at the very least. Besides, much of the theoretical work, various multiprocessor techniques and the like, were often published anyways. In the good ol' days, you could get some of the basic theory behind parallel processing and the like from Scientific American. These researchers weren't into keeping secrets, and folks like Linus Torvalds and David Cutler are part of a group that have implemented those techniques, and not the inventors.

Re:Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136269)

Even if not patents, plenty of prior art exists in systems from the fiftieth and on I am sure.

Re:Linus, Linux, IBM, and patents (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136335)

Oh how I wish this common sense would be restored. - your wish cannot be granted, common sense has been patented away and I think there is a federal law against it too.

Software was not; but math properties were (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136403)

Algorithms were VERY patentable. After all it is just math. But simple software was not. IBM has many patents that are relevant. In fact, I would almost like to see MS go after a IBM customer who is running Linux. I suspect that this would be the same game that has been played with SCO, except that IBM WOULD go after MS for 10's of billions of dollars.

Gotta love Linus (5, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136069)

"Don't you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they'd just tell us and go, 'nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'"

Microsoft is Silly (1)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136093)

"Naming them would make it either clear that Linux isn't infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim."
FUD, its freaking everywhere.

Schwartz (Sun) responds (5, Informative)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136115)

"So what's my view on this interview in Fortune - in which one of Sun's business partners claims the open source community is trampling their patent portfolio?

You would be wise to listen to the customers you're threatening to sue - they can leave you, especially if you give them motivation. Remember, they wouldn't be motivated unless your products were somehow missing the mark.

All of which is to say - no amount of fear can stop the rise of free media, or free software (they are the same, after all). The community is vastly more innovative and powerful than a single company. And you will never turn back the clock on elementary school students and developing economies and aid agencies and fledgling universities - or the Fortune 500 - that have found value in the wisdom of the open source community. Open standards and open source software are literally changing the face of the planet - creating opportunity wherever the network can reach.

That's not a genie any litigator I know can put back in a bottle."

Source: http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/what_we_did [sun.com]

Re:Schwartz (Sun) responds (2, Interesting)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136333)

Great insight, but a tad bit Utopian I think. If linux were not commercially usable, which it most certainly is, there would be no money trail to follow, nor a suit for a suit (so to speak).

Re:Schwartz (Sun) responds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136499)

Open standards and open source software are literally changing the face of the planet

Wow! Literally changing the face of the planet. I look forward to the photos appearing on Google Earth.

Oh, you mean that you didn't mean "literally"? Then why write it?

Re:Schwartz (Sun) responds (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136575)

All of which is to say - no amount of fear can stop the rise of free media, or free software (they are the same, after all). The community is vastly more innovative and powerful than a single company.

There's not a single company doing OS though. You give the OSS a shinier role than it is in reality.

What does OSS do? In the vast majority of cases, it takes existing solutions that work, and creates a new solution learning from this experience, but usually taking a simpler and more practical approach.

When a certain feature, art or technology are present in everybody's commercial offerings, OSS will take that and turn it into an open source solution.

As such, the kind of software the commercial companies produce, and the software OSS produces is always a moving target. We're approaching a time where commercial vendors can't offer substantial improvements in their OS over what a simpler base solution is (Linux/BSD), and thus there's only two roads: either commercial vendors find a new unique way to improve their solution, or they die and get eaten by the OSS solution.

But commercial companies will in most cases be faster, smarter, and first on the market. They have a lot more reasons to, compared the OSS community to get in quickly and profit. OSS doesn't even want to profit (companies providing support etc. do not pertain to the OSS community).

Re:Schwartz (Sun) responds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136625)

The real influence of Free software isn't that it'll change the world into a perfect place, but that it'll prevent the future of technology (as far as it's dependent upon software) being controlled by interested parties who would change it for the worst. It's power is entirely negative in that sense (negative not in the sentimental usage, but in the abstract). Freedom prevents exploitation. Whether or not such a freedom leads to utopia is a matter of opinion. At least with freedom, you are guaranteed that everyone will be entitled to an opinion.

The Community is doing MS's work for them (5, Insightful)

umStefa (583709) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136117)

The more we post articles about how Microsoft is claiming patent violations, the better it is for Microsoft. This is simply a case of the more your story is in the news, the better the results for you. MS will NEVER sue anybody using Linux because the consequences of MS losing that case would be disastrous. Instead they will simply try and make managers (who in most organizations outside the tech sphere are technologically illiterate) make the following connection:

Linux = Patent Violation = Unreliable

Instead the Linux community should turn the tables on Microsoft and find a patent that MS has broken and feed the media the story that Windows users are going to get sued, hence making getting sued for using any OS a null point.

Re:The Community is doing MS's work for them (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136481)

The more we post articles about how Microsoft is claiming patent violations, the better it is for Microsoft. This is simply a case of the more your story is in the news, the better the results for you.

Disagree. I think we should inextricably link Microsoft with the word patent. As long as we include the words 'Bullshit' or 'Troll' in the same sentence every time.

The argument that one should not directly address the FUD one's foe is spreading has some weight, I'll grant you. But it's often safer to counter the point directly and consistently, rather than to give them any ground whatsoever. In years past, Democratic party candidates didn't want to take the war in Iraq head on, for more or less the same reason you offer above. They got no traction at all with the electorate until some of the braver souls stood up and said, essentially, 'How dare you attack our patriotism? This war is bullshit and you know it.'

I think that in this case, the FUD campaign is too well financed and coordinated to give it any room to grow. Microsoft's claims need to be scoffed at and belittled, but most importantly, they need to be challenged directly with a simple response: Put up or shut up. This is exactly what Linus has done, and I applaud him for it.

Re:The Community is doing MS's work for them (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136631)


The more we post articles about how Microsoft is claiming patent violations, the better it is for Microsoft.

Right, because slashdot is the only media outlet that posts tech news, and even if any other media outlets WERE to post such a story, they'll surely do a good story of explaining why it's a lot of hot air.

Wake up. This is a large story that was posted in a major magazine read by wannabe rich-guys. Slashdot is easily one of the best places to get a more objective picture of what Balmer is REALLY up to. The wannabe rich-guys aren't going to read slashdot, but they might talk to someone who does, or talk to someone who talks to someone. Here is where you get a straight story on what it all means, or at least a lot straighter story than you'll ever read in frickin Fortune magazine.

Heavens, the breaking news! (2, Interesting)

FatherBusa (139333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136127)

Linus's comments strike me as indistinguishable from the hundreds of comments we've had on Slashdot on this issue in the last 48 hours.

How about we wait until there's some actual news on this story?

Re:Heavens, the breaking news! (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136263)

You're right, let's just hope he's preaching to someone other than the choir (ie. the pointy hairs).

Re:Heavens, the breaking news! (2, Insightful)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136273)

You are right. Linus couldn't possibly be a little bit more informed than the rest of us about the fundamentals of Linux. I'm sure Bill Gate's comments about the internals of windows would be meaningless patter as well.

Re:Heavens, the breaking news! (1)

FatherBusa (139333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136409)

You are right. Linus couldn't possibly be a little bit more informed than the rest of us about the fundamentals of Linux.

Surely. Unfortunately, none of that insight is brought to bear on the issue at hand. Read the article. He says what everyone else has been saying for the last two days.

Re:Heavens, the breaking news! (1)

GReaToaK_2000 (217386) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136353)

Personally, if there is anyone that has the right to bitch and gripe about Micro$ofts claims it would be him (Linus Torvalds).

~GO

Re:Heavens, the breaking news! (5, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136587)

Linus's comments strike me as indistinguishable from the hundreds of comments we've had on Slashdot on this issue in the last 48 hours.

What distinguishes his comment from all of the ones here on /. is that Microsoft will listen to his comments. Being who he is and what he's done, his comments hold weight in the discussion, whereas /. postings are just background noise (this one included).

patents are not that ancient (5, Informative)

stites (993570) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136135)

"Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really 'fundamental' patents," Torvalds said in a response to questions submitted by InformationWeek. But he doesn't like any form of patent saber rattling. "The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection," he wrote.

I worked for IBM developing operating systems during the 1960s. Software patents did not exist at the time and IBM patented no software. However there is a huge amount of unpatented prior art from about 1963 onward that can be used to invalidate any operating system fundamentals patents claimed by Microsoft.

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

Re:patents are not that ancient (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136347)

>fundamentals patents claimed by Microsoft.

The study Ballmer quoted isnt from MS, its from Open source risk management group [64.233.167.104] who are asking a valid question: if linux does potentially violate 283 patents than what should we do about it?

This also means that WIndows and the rest violate as many, if not more, themselves.

Novell has replied to Microsoft's claim as well (5, Informative)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136177)

From the Novell press release [novell.com], issued yesterday:

"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."

The commentary on Groklaw [groklaw.net] is interesting as well

The assimilation of Linux.. (4, Funny)

abes (82351) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136183)

Just for clarity's sake, it is probably about the time to start using the GNU/Linux nomenclature, not to mention actually differentiating between Linux as an operating system, and X Window running on top of it, with its various window managers.

I doubt M$ can claim that GNU is breaking any patents. As Linus as stated, its hard to imagine what internals of Linux that could intruding on a M$ technology, except maybe the Fat32 and NTFS compatability layers.

I remember reading one of the previous reports on this issue, and one of the claims was that user interface designs for things like the web browser and email clients were guilty. I was under the impression, when M$ stole from Apple (or when Apple stole from Xerox) all of this got settled.. It certainly strikes me funny M$ suing another company for stealing the UI. Besides the fact that the original IE looks a lot like Netscape's browser, and I'm pretty sure there were email clients before Outlook. Or the fact that Word looks pretty simlar to that of Wordperfect.

M$ might be right about the infringement .. they might actually have those patents. Whether they are enforcable may be a different matter. Especially considering the plethora of prior art. Except for Clippy and Bob, I'm not sure what they've done that is original.

Re:The assimilation of Linux.. (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136319)

Just for clarity's sake, it is probably about the time to start using the GNU/Linux nomenclature

Microsoft's FUD is not an invitation to push your hypocritical agenda.

not to mention actually differentiating between Linux as an operating system, and X Window running on top of it, with its various window managers.

The user doesn't care. Technical people already understand the difference. Your horse is already dead, so you might as well stop beating on the poor thing.

Why not start debunking FUD now? (5, Interesting)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136185)

This is an innocent question. If the OSS community is ready to debunk these patents, do we really need Microsoft to reveal which of the 235 patents/infringements they're talking about? Couldn't we start a site/database that organizes all of Microsoft's patents and start documenting prior art and such for each. The patents themselves aren't hidden :

Microsoft's patents [uspto.gov] (6723 patents)
Microsoft's UI patent [uspto.gov] (155 patents)
(for example)

Why not start debunking the FUD to prove how spurious their claims are? Is it because this would be too much work? (Admittedly, 6723 >> 235)

Why do their work for them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136303)

The number is probably pulled from their ass. If we look through all MS patents, then any we haven't filled in when MS want to actually take us to court will be the ones they claim on.

We'll have done their homework for them.

PS as those patents aren't worded very well (they either cover so much they are invalidated by prior art or they are so narrow they cover nothing) we need to know what MS *meant* to patent when they patented it.

Re:Why not start debunking FUD now? (2, Insightful)

Chysn (898420) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136337)

> Why not start debunking the FUD to prove how spurious their claims are? Is it because this would be too much work?

        Um... yeah. The burden of proof isn't on the Linux community here. Addressing even one patent before knowing the claims is a waste of resources.

Re:Why not start debunking FUD now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136341)

And after that we can go snipe hunting.

Re:Why not start debunking FUD now? (1)

Stamen (745223) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136387)

You take the first 10, let me know when you're done, then we'll assign the next 10.

Re:Why not start debunking FUD now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136399)

That's actually a pretty good idea!

To Linus Torvalds (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136197)

Go earn yourself a Darwin Award by running a hot bat, finding a razor, and slitting your fucking wrists fucktard.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY
OR WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED MOD
POINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE

Re:To Linus Torvalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136261)

Calm down Steve, go take it out on a chair or something!

HOW CAN I BE CALM?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136583)

That Peanuts guy just told us to FUD-OFF!!!

SOMEONE GIMME A CHAIR!!! COME ON - JUST ONE!!! I promise I'll quit after that.

MS Blunder (0, Redundant)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136201)

As much press as this non-story has gotten, it might have one lasting side effect, bringing all the OSS camps together. There's nothing like an external threat to rally a community. I expect RMS will be chiming in soon, so now we'll know that they can agree on some things.

Sometimes I wonder about Linus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136213)

So lucid and direct here yet in other cases (DRM) he seems to not see the threat looming. Anyway, he told it like it is and his uncompromising language demonstrates an agitation that speaks volumes about the legitimacy of Microsoft's claims.

If it could it would (3, Interesting)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136215)

But Microsoft can't actually bring the heat on any of the claims. For example: Gutierrez also said Microsoft is not likely to publicly list which specific patents it believes are infringed upon by open source software. "We're not going to have a discussion publicly with that level of detail," he said.

It seems to me that it is just more noise from a blowhard company that is losing steam in the arena of operating systems. Sound and fury signifying nothing. Too bad the general public won't recognize it for what it is.

Show the proof! (5, Informative)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136243)

or loose the rights for your 1 billion dollar suit!

also people have repeatable and publicly been requesting that microsoft identify what patents they think are being infringed. M$ should tell them or loose the right to get remedies.

35USC287:
TITLE 35--PATENTS
PART III--PATENTS AND PROTECTION OF PATENT RIGHTS
CHAPTER 29--REMEDIES FOR INFRINGEMENT OF PATENT, AND OTHER ACTIONS
Sec. 287. Limitation on damages and other remedies; marking and notice.

says "(3)(A) In making a determination with respect to the remedy in an
action brought for infringement under section 271(g), the court shall
consider-- (i) the good faith demonstrated by the defendant with respect to
        a request for disclosure, ...
(B) For purposes of subparagraph (A), the following are evidence of
good faith:
                (i) a request for disclosure made by the defendant;
                (ii) a response within a reasonable time by the person receiving
        the request for disclosure; and
                (iii) the submission of the response by the defendant to the
        manufacturer, or if the manufacturer is not known, to the supplier,
        of the product to be purchased by the defendant, together with a
        request for a written statement that the process claimed in any
        patent disclosed in the response is not used to produce such
        product.

The failure to perform any acts described in the preceding sentence is
evidence of absence of good faith unless there are mitigating
circumstances. Mitigating circumstances include the case in which, due
to the nature of the product, the number of sources for the product, or
like commercial circumstances, a request for disclosure is not necessary
or practicable to avoid infringement.
        (4)(A) For purposes of this subsection, a ``request for disclosure''
means a written request made to a person then engaged in the manufacture
of a product to identify all process patents owned by or licensed to
that person, as of the time of the request, that the person then
reasonably believes could be asserted to be infringed under section
271(g) if that product were imported into, or sold, offered for sale, or
used in, the United States by an unauthorized person. A request for
disclosure is further limited to a request--
                (i) which is made by a person regularly engaged in the United
        States in the sale of the same type of products as those
        manufactured by the person to whom the request is directed, or which
        includes facts showing that the person making the request plans to
        engage in the sale of such products in the United States;
                (ii) which is made by such person before the person's first
        importation, use, offer for sale, or sale of units of the product
        produced by an infringing process and before the person had notice
        of infringement with respect to the product; and
                (iii) which includes a representation by the person making the
        request that such person will promptly submit the patents identified
        pursuant to the request to the manufacturer, or if the manufacturer
        is not known, to the supplier, of the product to be purchased by the
        person making the request, and will request from that manufacturer
        or supplier a written statement that none of the processes claimed
        in those patents is used in the manufacture of the product.

        (B) In the case of a request for disclosure received by a person to
whom a patent is licensed, that person shall either identify the patent
or promptly notify the licensor of the request for disclosure. "


Linus nails it. Again. (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136245)

If they had patents that could kill linux, what would Microsoft do? Would they hem and haw and bluster about unspecified patents, or would they drop everything and file suit so they could get restraining orders against all the distributors of this "cancer"?

Microsoft's duty to their shareholders is to maximize value and exploit their IP. Of course they must choose the latter.

Therefore, they ain't got diddly or the blabbing would be done and the lawsuits begun.

First, they don't, and secondly they can't sue (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136375)

Microsoft will shortly have to expose the patents they believe are violated. That will be their undoing.

If they sue, it will be against major distro makers that aren't otherwise indemnified (like Novell, it's believed). If they sue end users, they will rue the day, and it will become like the RIAA except that there'll be alternatives to software, where there is a monopoly on music distribution.

Who will suffer? Microsoft. They're already in trouble with sliding OS sales because they can't make a quality product because of decisions made more than a decade ago that are architectural in nature. Would a Linux user be sued? Hardly. A distro maker? Sure. And how much money are they going to get? Not very damn much-- that's the interesting part. It'll be like SCOx vs IBM all over again. Watch the smoke, watch the mirrors.

History shows Linus is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136285)

Microsoft is indeed likely to be in violation of a number of patents. After all, they have a long history of having lost a number of court cases for patent violations.

Linux, on the other hand has absolutely none.

Past infringement? (3, Interesting)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136331)

Assuming MS really does have valid patents, how could just rewriting the code prevent Microsoft from seeking royalties for past infringement? Why does Linus think that Microsoft can't have patented anything that might be in the Linux kernel now just because basic operating system theory was done in the 1960s? Surely Linux 2.6.x is more modern than 1960s technology, right?

Re:Past infringement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136479)

> how could just rewriting the code prevent Microsoft from
> seeking royalties for past infringement

They'd have to sue users and even Microsoft aren't that stupid.

> Why does Linus think that Microsoft can't have patented
> anything that might be in the Linux kernel now

How the fuck are we supposed to know unless they tell us? Software developers do not read patents.

Cause of monopoly: Government granted monopoly (5, Insightful)

openright (968536) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136485)

If the government ever really wants to address Microsoft as a monopoly, they should realize that the underlying monopolies are granted by the government. The 95 year software publishing monopoly is granted by the government. The 20 year software design/algorithm monopoly is granted by the government. If these monopolies were reduced to reasonable terms, the tight control given to these large companies by these monopolies would be lessened.

The beauty of it is... (1, Interesting)

zuki (845560) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136501)

...that Micro$oft doesn't have to do anything. The FUD is already spreading, so sit back and watch the corporate CTO's and CIO's squirm
under the pressure of having to (possibly) justify to their boards why they changed to a Linux environment and risk exposure or worse, rather
than pay the usual license fees, and be safe by staying with an all-Windows environment.

Another telltale sign of this is that all of these threads on here and elsewhere are getting zero answers or rebukes from anyone even remotely
associated with Redmond, as they probably all are under strict orders not to do so....

It is plain as day that M$ would probably not dare actual lawsuits, but yet these tactics indicate increasingly desperate attempts at solving
what many at the helm there have identified as a deeper and more pressing crisis:
As we read every day, Linux is gaining a hefty amount of traction worldwide, and this may yet be the safest course for slowling down
what they perceive as the ineluctable spread of a killer virus, and which in the OSS camp others view as nothing less than the long-awaited
liberation from the dark embrace of proprietary software's biggest monopolist.

Make no mistakes!... The M$ ship is finally flying its true colors.
It will be easy to dismiss these tactics, yet Redmond is full of very cunning and determined people who will 'fight to the death' to retain their
cushy jobs, $tock options and have grown accustomed to a way of life where they decide everything.

This was only the first salvo. Brace for more of the same tactics, only uglier.

Z.

Re:The beauty of it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136615)

Microsoft shot the pooch. [slashdot.org] Combined with the fallout from the MSFT Vs AT&T case, this is a last ditch attempt at leveraging their useless patent portfolio. The open source community is going to blow this one out of all proportion, the consequences for Microsoft and this on-going FUD strategy are going to be interesting.

Sue for FUD? (2, Interesting)

eille-la (600064) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136505)

Is it possible for an organization like IBM (who pay to keep the Linux kernel in development) to sue Microsoft because they spread misinformation on purpose about GNU/Linux which is bad for it's reputation?

I think it is possible to sue someone (at least in Canada) who act to make your reputation go dirty.

Is there a law for that?

Fsck Microsoft's mafia tactics (0, Redundant)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 6 years ago | (#19136531)

Waaaa, Waaaa. Look at me, I'm Microsoft, our newest OS isn't selling as well as we expected, even after a multi million dollar marketing blitz. Oh no, what are we going to do now? It's not our fault, lets blame someone else and start sueing. Waaaah.

Cry me a fucking river M$. All you ever do is create "me too" products, or buy out competitors when you can't compete.

Your own lack of innovation is what's killing you, not open-source. Take a hike. I hope your law suits blow up in your face.

People are starting to wake up and realize they don't have to be your bitch anymore.

I used to be not so anti-microsoft, just a die hard Linux user. Now I'm boycotting Microsoft products. I will never buy another M$ software or hardware product again.

Aaah, my rant is over. I feel better. There's my $0.02.

THERE CANNOT BE PATENT INFRINGEMENTS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136549)

I think they're just pissed because the BSOD is well, dead - at least among linux users. Since i was enlightened 5-6 years ago and gave my XP disc the coaster treatment (no more beer rings on this desk!) - i've almost forgot what color it was.

on another note - maybe theyre jealous that linux runs better than Vista.
not to mention i can have a system composed of the newest software updated daily.

My laptop (Gentoo 64bit) was able to connect to my university's VPN before the Vista laptop they were testing got connected (To be honest i need to point out that the Vista one never got connected. they had to wait for cisco to release new point and click software.) I've heard countless complaints that i would laugh at because my friends thought Vista was a good idea.

So my conclusion is:
Microsoft is angry with linux because it works.

Any normal person (ms exe's excused.) should be able to add 1 + 1.

no one would steal patents if they didnt work. its like stealing a smashed tv.
If Linux works and Windows doesn't - explain why the patented software works for us but not the windows users.

Explanation: ITS NOT IN LINUX!

comments patent (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19136637)

I hold the patent on article comments and am going to sue slashdot users unless they all give me their lunch money!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...