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Through the Patent Looking Glass with Microsoft

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the innovate-don't-litigate dept.

Software 187

Andy Updegrove writes "By now you've probably read more than you want to about Microsoft's announcement that it owns 235 patents underlying leading open source software, including many opinions about whether Microsoft's new assertions do, or don't, represent a real threat to Linux, OpenOffice, and other OSS. To get to the bottom of the issue, though, you have to take a deep dive into how patent cross licensing works these days. When you do, you realize that patents don't mean what they used to, and have far more defensive than offensive value in the marketplace today. It also becomes apparent that it really doesn't matter whether Microsoft has valid patents or not, because so many other companies do as well. Today, what companies worry about isn't asserting their patents against other companies, but maintaining their freedom of activity. In this case, the open source community can simply ride the coattails of the major vendors, because Microsoft doesn't hold enough cards to win the hand, much less the game." Relatedly The Register is reporting that the author of the main report being used by Microsoft to support their patent claims has come out against Microsoft's interpretation of his work and Jonathan Schwartz gives some free advice to the overly litigious.

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187 comments

Is this just repeating Ravicher's 2004 rebuttal? (4, Informative)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#19147985)

Back in November 2004, Dan Ravicher complained to Steven Vaughan-Nichols [eweek.com] that Ballmer had misread his patent study, so I'm not sure that this is 'new' news.

That Register link is dead (although even Google News indexed the article. wtf?) But many articles are repeating Ravicher's old remarks: Ravicher says his report proves the opposite of Microsoft's claims [itbusinessedge.com], The author of that report disowned Ballmer's remarks [out-law.com], etc.

Goatse! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148053)

Goatse! [goatse.ch]

Troll or merely offtopic, you decide!

Re:Is this just repeating Ravicher's 2004 rebuttal (1)

opieum (979858) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148235)

Spread the news. The more mainstream non techie people know about this, the better. This FUD needs to work against MS. There are a good number of larger sites addressing this, such as eweek. But making sure it is addressed as FUD will work against them. People will see that this is an act of desperation from MS. They are not used to being in competition since they normally buy or sue their potential competition out of existence anyway. The problem is like any organization, putting your hands in too many pies (virtualization, Office suites, browser, online advertising, and on and on) They have spread themselves thin. At the moment it seems they have a very broken development process as well. MS needs to focus on 2 or 3 major products and stick to that. They are too focused on competing with everyone and everything in the software and even the hardware world at times. They have no focus as a company other than marketing. That is the only working part of the company. But seeing as this comment is likely not to be read by anyone at MS of importance, it will go ignored and they will dig themselves into a hole they will have a difficult time getting themselves from.

Re:Is this just repeating Ravicher's 2004 rebuttal (4, Insightful)

MindKata (957167) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148413)

From the main article, "have far more defensive than offensive value in the marketplace today" and from the parent post "MS. They are not used to being in competition"

Microsoft could well be using this "patent news" in a very underhanded, but very tactical way to scare corporations away from adopting open source tools and/or OS, in an attempt to tip the balance so corporations buy Vista. Non-technical Corporation bosses would be afraid of this kind of underhanded sabre rattling tactic of Microsoft, as they would fear wasting time and effort on Linux and so go the "safe" route of using Microsoft tools & OS. ("Safe"=What M$ tell them is safe).

Its blatant scare tactics hidden behind a supposed news story, which Microsoft's own PR departments created the news story.

Re:Is this just repeating Ravicher's 2004 rebuttal (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149437)

You hit the nail on the head. Bravo!

The entire sham is corporate-speak for 'look out, buddy, don't go messing with that stuff or you'll get hurt'.

In a way, I wish the RICO Act covered this kind of behavior. Conspiracy to Bluff or something.

RICO (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150435)

In a way, I wish the RICO Act covered this kind of behavior. Conspiracy to Bluff or something.

Hey, now there's an idea, slap MS with a RICO Act [ricoact.com]. While they've already been found guilty of being an illegal monopoly, this doesn't fit as a violation [wikipedia.org] unfortunately. Well maybe it can be seen as extortion, fraud, or racketeering.

Falcon

What the Register Article Said. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148319)

Back in November 2004, Dan Ravicher complained to Steven Vaughan-Nichols that Ballmer had misread his patent study, so I'm not sure that this is 'new' news.

This looks recent to me. I journaled [slashdot.org] the interesting parts of the Register article. The statements were presented as recent and are identical to those running in the stories you point to:

Dan Ravicher, says that is not what the report said, and that it did not claim that open source software faces legal problems. "Open source faces no more, if not less, legal risk than proprietary software," Ravicher told technology news site eWeek. "The market needs to understand that the study Microsoft is citing actually proves the opposite of what they claim it does.

The Register article also quoted Ballmer citing a paper published "last summer" by a nameless "Open Software" group so this is not a rehash of the 2004 events, other than committing the same offense. Microsoft is like that. When a lie does not stick, they tell it again.

Not 2004 Rehash [correct formatting] (2, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148375)

Back in November 2004, Dan Ravicher complained to Steven Vaughan-Nichols that Ballmer had misread his patent study, so I'm not sure that this is 'new' news.

This looks recent to me. I journaled [slashdot.org] the interesting parts of the Register article. The statements were presented as recent and are identical to those running in the stories you point to:

Dan Ravicher, says that is not what the report said, and that it did not claim that open source software faces legal problems. "Open source faces no more, if not less, legal risk than proprietary software," Ravicher told technology news site eWeek. "The market needs to understand that the study Microsoft is citing actually proves the opposite of what they claim it does.

The Register article also quoted Ballmer citing a paper published "last summer" by a nameless "Open Software" group so this is not a rehash of the 2004 events, other than committing the same offense. Microsoft is like that. When a lie does not stick, they tell it again.

M$ : FUD or fact (3, Interesting)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149053)

Looking at the timing, a couple of countries recently announced a push for open standards and open software for government use. Then there is the wide adoption of OSS in some coutries like India, China, ... Huge huge threat to M$ short term strategy. I think their long term plan is to embrace and extend OSS though. Now, defensive patenting is a valid strategy for companies but doesn't work against trolls. You can't tell a troll that they are infringing your patent (except in rare cases). Having your own patents is kinda like having a gun in your pocket. Everyone with guns tries to be polite to other people with guns. There is occasional shooting. The unarmed regularly get robbed, raped, and beaten. Regardless, M$ isn't really trolling. I do think they are throwing FUD backed by the threat of an RIAA style witch hunt. Easy enough: 1. Hang dongles on some web sites to catch unwary linux users. 2. Trace the ip_addr 3. ??!!! 4. Profit!!! The problem they'll face is that some of us evil lawyers will happily attack their patents. Look what happened to SCO. The community really got engaged and gave lots of valuable information and insight. That gives the OSS side a huge advantage. The discovery phase of a case is often where the biggest bills are generated. In an OSS patent infringement action, the defendant simply hands over the code. The plaintiff, however, has thousands of pissed of people dredging up prior art and other ways to invalidate the asserted patents. A few hours effort from thousands of people translates into millions of legal fee dollars that the OSS defendant gets for free. Then a bunch of that gets handed to the plaintiff who spends millions trying to understand/rebut it. On the other hand, the community has done a horrible job finding a way to get rid of the one click patent. So, can M$ profitably sue? Yes, they can. They'll sue someone random and make lots of noise about it. Regardless of what the OSS community does, the bulk of the market will be frightened away from "risky" software. A few million is less than a percent of what M$ takes in. Cool, the lawyers get rich.

Re:Is this just repeating Ravicher's 2004 rebuttal (2, Informative)

DECS (891519) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150157)

Microsoft's Unwinnable War on Linux and Open Source [roughlydrafted.com]
Microsoft, threatened by the encroachment of competition from open source, has long waged a detached propaganda war against free software and in particular Linux, but has recently escalated its conflict into a full blown attack. Here's what's happening, and why it will greatly accelerate the company's undoing.

Bad link? (1, Redundant)

sfogarty (758783) | more than 5 years ago | (#19147995)

The first link doesn't seem to be valid. Shame, cause I was interested.

Re:Bad link? (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148629)

First link worked for me

[Microsoft licensing chief Horacio] Gutierrez refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed, lest FOSS advocates start filing challenges to them.
Translation: They know the patents wont stand up to scrutiny in court so they're going to keep them secret so they can try and extort money from everyone.

Nothing to see here, move along people... Call me when there is an actual lawsuit and we can see what exactly is behind the curtain that Microsoft is trying to hide all their patents behind.

Re:Bad link? (1)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149521)

The sad thing is that they're not trying to extort money from anyone, all they tried to do is scare away potential customers (think CEOs, CIOs, CTOs) from adopting linux/FOSS. Anything that they associate with 'risk' they run away from as if it was the plague.

And they succeeded. It may help a little to debunk the claims as vocally as possible, but the damage is already done :(

No matter what MS says (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148081)

The resounding reply from all corners has been either 'so?' or 'They have nothing, and won't have or they would have already shown it'. What's more, Linus more or less dismissed the claims as nothing more than FUD. There are claims that this FUD is being used to help bolster MS's Q2 sales of Vista.

Nothing but conjecture abounds as MS is doing a SCO and not saying what they have, nor why they want to even mention it. Yet others claim that the Linux vouchers MS is touting actually makes them a Linux distributor and thus subject to the GPL.

The whole thing should pan out to be a very interesting chapter in tech history.

Someone let me know when there is real news on this topic

Re:No matter what MS says (4, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148261)

"What's more, Linus more or less dismissed the claims as nothing more than FUD."

But I thought Linus made a point of not investigating possible patent problems with Linux so that he couldn't be accused of deliberately violating them. If he hasn't looked into the patents, how could he possibly know that MS's claims are FUD?

Of course, no matter what he might actually believe, Linus is obviously going to call it FUD just as Gates will obviously say it isn't. You're not going to get an unbiased response from people who have so much to gain or lose, so why bother to ask? It's like asking a politician "Do you think you can win?". You already know what the answer will be.

No research required (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148363)

You don't have to know MS's patent portfolio to know that -- yes -- F/OSS violates some of them. No program longer than about 1000 lines is likely to be "clean" in this sense.

The reason it's called FUD is not necessarily 'cause it's false: it's because Microsoft is *unlikely to actually do any of the things they are threatening.

Re:No matter what MS says (5, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148513)

But I thought Linus made a point of not investigating possible patent problems with Linux so that he couldn't be accused of deliberately violating them. If he hasn't looked into the patents, how could he possibly know that MS's claims are FUD?

That's an easy one. If they weren't just FUD, Microsoft would detail the patents and the infringement. This is directly analogous to the SCO case, where rather than showing which code was copied they just claimed that a bunch was.

If you're truly being harmed by someone's infringement, you have a legal duty to let them know as soon as possible so that they have the opportunity to quit infringing. If, on the other hand, you're using FUD to muddy the waters...

Re:No matter what MS says (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149399)

...which should be, if it isn't, illegal in itself. To disparage someone's reputation by saying they are willfully infringing, then refusing to file court documents to stop the infringement (not even a cease and desist letter to Linus from what I've read in the press) sure smells like defamation and slander.

It may not be, but that's what it smells like, and I think that smell test is closer to the mark than Ballmer's assessment of how much this whole parade of SCOmanship will help Microsoft's bottom line.

Re:No matter what MS says (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149989)

The point is what special insight does Linus have based on his leadership of Linux? If he hasn't investigated the patents, the answer is none. So he has the same opinion as all the "right-thinkers" have at Slashdot and others who are pro-FOSS, so why ask him?

Re:No matter what MS says (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150147)

The point is what special insight does Linus have based on his leadership of Linux? If he hasn't investigated the patents, the answer is none. So he has the same opinion as all the "right-thinkers" have at Slashdot and others who are pro-FOSS, so why ask him?

Because he's Linus Torvalds, the guy that Linux is named after?

Re:No matter what MS says (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150425)

As I've said he has no special insight since he hasn't studyed the patents and his answer is entirely predictable.

Re:No matter what MS says (2, Interesting)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150479)

It's not really about asking Linus or wanting his opinion. What is important is that the lead developer of the supposedly infringing product has come out and stated "prove it". At this point, until MS puts up or shuts up, it's his word against theirs. If MS can create uncertainty with their claims in the business community then it's nice to see Linus counter that with some uncertainty about MS's claims.

Re:No matter what MS says (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150555)

No, it's absolutely not "his word against theirs" unless he's examined MS patents. The problem with patents is that you can violate them quite easily without trying to. You can't "give your word" concerning facts you haven't investigated.

Re:No matter what MS says (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148561)

But I thought Linus made a point of not investigating possible patent problems with Linux so that he couldn't be accused of deliberately violating them. If he hasn't looked into the patents, how could he possibly know that MS's claims are FUD?
If you had read any of the articles, you'd know that the justification Linus provided for his opinion was not dependent on knowing which patents Microsoft held. He said he thought it was FUD because if they had a legitimate patent that FOSS couldn't work around there'd be no reason to play games where they don't disclose the actual patents.

Of course, no matter what he might actually believe, Linus is obviously going to call it FUD just as Gates will obviously say it isn't. You're not going to get an unbiased response from people who have so much to gain or lose, so why bother to ask?
That is insulting to Linus and a good fraction of the human race. Your implicit assumption that a person cannot strive for an unbiased and honest statement about something of interest to that person says more about you than whomever you're talking about.

It's like asking a politician "Do you think you can win?". You already know what the answer will be. "Win"? As in win an election? Presumably he wouldn't be running in the election if he didn't think he could win. What does that "analogy" have to do with anything.

Re:No matter what MS says (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150117)

"That is insulting to Linus and a good fraction of the human race."

People we don't know get insulted daily on Slashdot and at least half of us have been guilty of it here. I'm glad that the thought of someone as clearly innocent, gentle, and honest as Linus being unfairly accused of having any bias in favor of the OS that made him famous has motivated you to pledge to never insult or question the honesty of anyone without absolute proof even if they work in Redmond.

Re:No matter what MS says (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148591)

Easy. Microsoft is claiming 240+ plus patents are infringing on Windows.
Later they claim less than 50 are in the Linux kernel with the other in the GUI and OpenOffice.
That right there is FUD since OpenOffice isn't part of Linux and frankly more people use OpenOffice on Windows than on Linux.
Also Linux doesn't have a GUI. Gnome and KDE are not part of Linux and run on other OSs as well as Linux.

Finally they refuse to what patents are infringing but say the will show them to known Linux users and some distro makers.

Well I am a Linux users which is no known. Show them to me.
Microsoft will not show them because they want to use them to bet money from companies that use Linux or sell Linux. If they show them then they would bet challenged or written around.

That is FUD.

Re:No matter what MS says (2, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148677)

I know for sure, one of the patents (more or less) is how FAT stored long file names. For those not too clear on what that actually is, FAT long filenames are stored in regular "folder entry" structs with volume ID, read-only, system, and hidden attribute bits set, preceeding the initial entry for up to 20 entries (260 byte file name). Example:

LFNStruct|LFNStruct|LFNStruct|LFNStruct|LFNStruct| LFNStruct|Normal File Entry

Now Microsoft can, to a certain degree, claim this is "innovative" for the simple fact, I have NEVER seen another implementation of long file names in FAT. But the issue quickly comes to light, "How can I possibly implement a correct, COMPATIBLE FAT file system driver without using MS's long file name method?". Well, you can't. And FAT being what it is, there is no entity in the world that will give MS exclusive rights to implement long file names on FAT... even if they DID come up with it.

What Linus and M$ have to lose. (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148817)

Linus is obviously going to call it FUD just as Gates will obviously say it isn't. You're not going to get an unbiased response from people who have so much to gain or lose,

Linux is GPL, so it does not have owners. Ten cents and the sum total of what Linux has in Linux licensing revenue will get you a chicklet. The only thing he and the rest of us have to lose is software freedom. The rest of the world is not going to let M$ walk away with that one, no matter how many empty threats M$ can cook up.

This is the last FUD M$ has, it's all downhill for them now. The truth is out so they have already lost.

Re:What Linus and M$ have to lose. (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150207)

I've never claimed that Linux has owners, but that doesn't mean that Linus has nothing to lose if it fails. Look how much time we waste around here just trying to prove we are right. Where's the profit in that?

Re:What Linus and M$ have to lose. (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150227)

Public domain stuff has no owner. The GPL is something else. This is a very important legal distinction.

$699 (3, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148093)

The queue starts here folks, please have your $699 ready and don't shove.

Re:$699 (1)

lamarguy91 (1101967) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148211)

$699? Hell, the PS3 has a linux based OS in it. At least for my $699 I'd be able to get a game console.

Does this mean that MS will get to sue Sony now? This is quite ironic, especially given Sony's reputation for using proprietary coding and software.

http://www.osnews.com/story.php/14043/PS3-Holy-Gra il-for-Alternative-Operating-Systems/ [osnews.com]
(link for PS3 Linux reference)

Re:$699 (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148255)

Hell, the PS3 has a linux based OS in it
i'm pretty sure it doesnt. it just allows you to install linux.

Re:$699 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148461)

pzzrrp!! Try again! Also methinks that you should look a little deeper at the ps2's emotion engine and get back to us, K? ttfn. hugs and kisses

Is Schwartz alluding to SCO and Microsoft.? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148109)

With business down and customers leaving, we had more than a few choices at our disposal. We were invited by one company to sue the beneficiaries of open source. We declined. We could join another and sue our customers. That seemed suicidal. We were offered the choice to scuttle Solaris, and resell someone else's operating system. We declined.


It seems like Jonathan Schwartz is alluding to Microsoft and SCO here, but he seems to be referencing a third company as well. Any ideas?

Re:Is Schwartz alluding to SCO and Microsoft.? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148219)

It seems like Jonathan Schwartz is alluding to Microsoft and SCO here, but he seems to be referencing a third company as well. Any ideas?

The wording of the third statement allows for it to be a company mentioned in the two previous statements.

Re:Is Schwartz alluding to SCO and Microsoft.? (1)

jon_anderson_ca (705052) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148285)

We were offered the choice to scuttle Solaris, and resell someone else's operating system. We declined.

IBM? Red Hat? Somebody pushing another *nix, anyway.

Step back and look at the forrest. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148607)

Schwartz is talking about not being able to sue free software out of existence. Sure, he might be alluding to M$ encouraging Sun to sue their own customers, that's a small part of the picture. After extolling the value of free software for Sun, he concludes:

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.

M$'s current party line was made to directly counter this opinion. As delivered by Fortune, M$ has made agreements with the Fortune 500 to sell free software M$ style - with M$ as the owner. The core of Schwartz's message is that strategy won't work. Even the Fortune article caught that much, despite missing so many other problems like checking Ballmer's source for numbers. Fortune also caught the GPL3 changes that will further sink M$'s ill advised power grab.

M$'s approach is not only wrong headed, it has no foundation. It's pure FUD and even M$ has to know it. The only reasonable explanation is that Vista is a flop and they will try anything to generate further sales.

Re:Step back and look at the forrest. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148829)

How do you know when an M$ Rep is lying? (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148983)

Their lips move

Yeah, but weren't they just patting themselves on the back about Vista being the fastest-selling OS ever? ;)

and it's been debunked because of time scale games - they have been selling "vouchers" for more than a year - and statistical problems, like the market has doubled in size since the introduction of XP. They need to have twice the sales they don't actually have to beat XP which was a really slow starter. Does it get worse than that?

Finally, if they are not just squeezing their suppliers to get whatever results they claim, the suppliers will also be doing well but they are not. Gateway is actually losing money and Dell has ended it's Vista only policy because of it's impact on sales. I'm not sure how HP is doing but I am sure that Vista is harmful to all.

Re:Is Schwartz alluding to SCO and Microsoft.? (1)

dfoulger (1044592) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148987)

I thought that Schwartz remarks were really illuminating. How good it was, I thought, that he talked about these unidentified others that tried to tempt Sun to the dark side. Then I realized that Schwartz has set himself up to be subpoenaed. How sad if that happens.

The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (5, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148123)

"Today, what companies worry about isn't asserting their patents against other companies, but maintaining their freedom of activity."

Last year IBM sued Amazon over IBM patents and it had nothing to do with "maintaining freedom". The whole theory of defensive patents is just an excuse for patent-mongers like IBM to continue to restrict competition.

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148279)

I think you're right that the article somewhat overstates its case. It claims that patents exist now purely to allow companies to keep doing business, rather than as means to stop others from stealing your novel ideas. The article says:

In this sense, then, the chief value of patents is to preserve your flexibility. Sophisticated companies now largely take this view. They have patents so that other companies can't stop them from doing what they want to do, not so that they can stop other companies from doing what they don't want them to do.
I'm not sure this is 100% true. First off, the article focuses on the domain of software, where I believe this is largely true, but other domains are perhaps not organized in the same way. And, we have seen lawsuits where companies have tried to prevent others from exploiting their "novel software patent" (whether the lawsuit was valid or not is a separate issue altogether).

Having said that, I do think there's alot of truth to what the article points out. Sure, not all patents are part of a "defensive war chest"--but alot of them are. Maybe even the majority of patents are now taken out as a defensive "what if?" and "we need ammunition against our competitors" rather than a genuine "we have invented something new and need protection if we are going to take this to market" (which is what patents are supposed to be about).

So, in that context, there is almost no difference between this "everyone has defensive patents" world, and the "no one has any patents at all" world. In both cases, companies are free to operate as they see fit (in the latter case, they do so more efficiently because they don't incur the additional costs of dealing with patent bureaucracy).

I guess this has been stated to death on Slashdot, but the answer is simple: far fewer patents should be granted. A patent should be judged not merely on "is this new?" (though certainly that should be required moreso than it is now) but also "is this necessary?" If a patent won't actually encourage development of a technology in a marketplace (e.g. it is purely defensive), then the patent office should just deny it (for all competitors in the marketplace, of course).

Major correction for you (5, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148451)

"there is almost no difference between this "everyone has defensive patents" world, and the "no one has any patents at all" world. In both cases, companies that hold a bunch of patents are free to operate as they see fit"

See the important difference. It's the *thousands of companies who don't hold a bunch of patents. They are not free to operate as they see fit in the former case, and in fact live in a Damoclean situation where their continued survival is dependent on being below the radar of the patent oligarchy. In the latter case, they are free to operate as they see fit.

Or did you have some plan for providing these defensive patents to "everyone"?

Re:Major correction for you (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148953)

Or did you have some plan for providing these defensive patents to "everyone"?
No. Indeed I agree with you, and that's why in my last few sentences of my post, I supported the case for removing defensive patents entirely. This would improve efficiency for companies that currently waste resources on defensive patents, and level the playing field for smaller companies who currently, as you point out, exist only when they don't anger the "big boys."

All patents are offensive, always (4, Insightful)

dmeranda (120061) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148655)

There is no such thing as a defensive patent; that just does not make any sense at all. The whole point of a patent is offensive; it is a restriction placed upon the rest of humanity that they may not do something. It does not matter whether anybody gets sued, the mere existence of the patent has already done the most harm. Suing someone is just looting the body after you've already killed them.

And it is not just a software-only issue, patents are just as dangerous in many other fields. For a much deeper understanding of how patents are harmful, please read Against Intellectual Monopoly by by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/again stnew.htm [dklevine.com]

This is quite a long read, but it is very important.

Re:All patents are offensive, always (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149025)

There is no such thing as a defensive patent; that just does not make any sense at all.

It does make some degree of sense. If I suspect that Company A might assert a patent against me, I might make sure that I'm holding some patents that I'm pretty sure I can assert against Company A. In the event that Company A decides to take the route of the courts, I can then make it clear that I won't go down without a fight -- I will defend myself -- including making sure that, even if their patent suit is successful, it probably won't have the full outcome that Company A was expecting, because I will probably have a valid counter-suit.

It's kind of like you saying there's no such thing as a defensive nuclear missile. You can't use nukes to shoot the enemy's nukes out of the sky, true ... but your nukes can prevent them from nuking you in the first place.

Re:All patents are offensive, always (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150557)

There is no such thing as a defensive patent; that just does not make any sense at all.

No, it does make sense. Even though by nature a patent is designed as an offensive weapon, it is perfectly possible to use them strategically as a form of defense and nothing more, and for some companies this is the most desireable way of using them.

Say, just to pick a random example from nowhere, that you make microprocessors. You come up with a bunch of clever ideas designing such a microprocessor, but those ideas are simply means to an end. The individual widgets inside the chip aren't that important, from an IP point of view. First, most of the original ideas for these widgets come from academia in the first place. Second, a whole new slew of ideas will have to be made for the next chip, and the widgets in the current chip may not be appropriate. Third, but similarly, it isn't easy for a competitor to see a widget in your chip and copy it because it may not even work in their design which is in addition to the years it takes to design a new chip. Fourth, using a patent to prevent others from making that widget doesn't provide any significant barrier to entry for competitors since it is trivial to not use the patented widgets and instead come up with others. There are already sufficient barriers to entry in microprocessors such that only a few companies left still doing it.

So the patents don't particularly help in the traditional sense of locking up an invention so competitors can't use it. However, they still try to get as many as possible, and that's for the primary reason of not being the victim of someone else's patents. Because so many things are patented it is essentially a given that some part of the chip will be violating someone else's patent. No, they don't know which one, and deliberately refrain from finding out since knowingly infringing a patent is treble damages. Yet when the day comes and a patent infringement claim is brought, they want to be able to turn around, look through their own massive patent portfolio and the plaintif's products and claim that they too are infringing. Then the negotiation begins, and the company with the biggest and most impressive pile of patents gets the most favorable terms in the resulting cross-licensing agreement.

Not that it usually even goes that far. Usually the two companies realise that they are probably violating each other's patents, and decide to work out cross-licensing before it really becomes an issue. When you are using patents defensively, you don't want to go on the offensive, as the whole thing is a sort of MAD.

None of which means that patents aren't crippling innovation. Patents have turned technology development into a war zone with minefields strewn randomly and brigand armies roaming the countryside and scorched barren no-mans-lands. It's just that in this war zone there are groups whose fortifications are purely defensive in nature, whose guns are only to be fired at those who fire upon them. The fact that they feel the need to build those fortifications for no other reason than self-defense is actually an indicator of the big mess this has become.

And furthermore... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148361)

...people and businesses should not need to hold a bunch of patents in order to maintain their freedom of activity. The fact that we are even using the word "patent" in this context shows that patents are actually working against their primary purpose: to encourage innovation.

If the rules do not accomplish their stated goal, then they must be changed.

For the cynics: if the actual goals of the rules is to harm the many to the advantage of the few, then again, they must be changed.

Re:And furthermore... (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148691)

...people and businesses should not need to hold a bunch of patents in order to maintain their freedom of activity. The fact that we are even using the word "patent" in this context shows that patents are actually working against their primary purpose: to encourage innovation.

If the rules do not accomplish their stated goal, then they must be changed.

For the cynics: if the actual goals of the rules is to harm the many to the advantage of the few, then again, they must be changed.


The business world has been openly operating under these conditions for years, and many of them are PROUD they're doing it.

They actually think that the paragon of Capitalism is to screw everyone over as much as possible in the pursuit of a buck.

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148481)

Last year IBM sued Amazon over IBM patents and it had nothing to do with "maintaining freedom". The whole theory of defensive patents is just an excuse for patent-mongers like IBM to continue to restrict competition.

Amazon is the holder of the hopefully soon-to-be-invalidated so-called "one-click patent", and they have sued multiple companies for no good reason (including under that particular patent) so I can't feel bad about people suing Amazon for patent violation.

Who has IBM gone after without provocation?

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149301)

Who has IBM gone after without provocation?
Everybody?

IBM makes more than $2B of revenue per year from patent licensing.
It's such a burden on the industry that it is commonly referred to as "The IBM Tax." [google.com]

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149871)

"Who has IBM gone after without provocation?"

Amazon, as I've said. Amazon has never threatened IBM over the "one-click patent" and IBM has little reason to care about it since selling to consumers isn't really their business.

Your belief is based on an even more unlikely theory than defensive patents: that IBM is going to be the defender of the world by suing MS if it tries to enforce any software patent. IBM may be a boring company but the one thing they do very well is not allowing emotions to cloud their judgement. That's why they're still doing well while Sun languishes.

As Indigo Montoya says: "There's not a lot of money in revenge"

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150135)

Amazon, as I've said. Amazon has never threatened IBM over the "one-click patent" and IBM has little reason to care about it since selling to consumers isn't really their business.

Surely some of IBM Global Services' customers have been threatened over it. I would be very surprised if they hadn't responded. Of course they didn't threaten IBM, IBM could eat Amazon for breakfast and follow them up with B&N for lunch.

Your belief is based on an even more unlikely theory than defensive patents: that IBM is going to be the defender of the world by suing MS if it tries to enforce any software patent.

IBM is distributing Linux. IBM would like to continue to do so, because they are making a lot of money doing it. They're actually putting more Linux out there than AIX these days (for obvious reasons, ha ha.) If Microsoft comes after Linux for patent violations, IBM has a financial reason to interfere.

It has nothing to do with revenge. Sun is languishing because before they managed to finally bring out Niagara, they spent years with an antiquated architecture (in terms of performance) and actually ended up scrapping a sparc architecture project because it would have been outdated by the time it was released, which in turn was because they simply fell on their ass and failed to execute. Sun is a victim of its own incompetence.

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150391)

"Surely some of IBM Global Services' customers have been threatened over it."

The problem with that theory is that IBM's suit against Amazon won't have any effect on the "one-click patent". If you're going to threaten somebody, you have to tell them what you want.

"It has nothing to do with revenge. Sun is languishing because before they managed to finally bring out Niagara, they spent years with an antiquated architecture (in terms of performance) and actually ended up scrapping a sparc architecture project because it would have been outdated by the time it was released, which in turn was because they simply fell on their ass and failed to execute. Sun is a victim of its own incompetence."

But the point is that Sun was focusing on MS instead of minding the store. They would have been much more likely to produce a competive architecture if they had actually made it a priority. Beating MS was more important than beating thier real competitors.

Re:The "defensive patent" theory is flawed (1)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150079)



So many companies that its impossible to count. One of them being Sun - there is a very interesting article describing how its done.

They basically do it like a a mafia outfit offering 'protection' .

Related news (1)

slashthedot (991354) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148175)

And in a related news, US companies were recently granted patents for some ancient Yoga postures from India.
Shows how inefficient the patent granting process is. MS patents could be similar prior art.

M$ Balllmer and his FUDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148209)

Ballmer and M$ executives always call FOSS communism, say things about intelectual proprieties, patents etc.

But like I said before, this is the only weapon they have... FUD... Big Heavy FUD!

Ballmer is like Adolf Hitler, he may have a magnetic speech filled with emotion... But his speech is not clear and is full of shit... He probably have a lot of shit in his head, because he is shurely shitting from his mouth O.o

Like Hitler's speech, ballmer's speech is just like a good and beautifoul music but with crappy lyrics...

"DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS, DEVELOPERS" (how many times did he operate his throat?)

And M$ is the drug dealer, giving free samples of it's own drug (Windoze - In this case starter edition)... The big problem here is that is not only the user on drugs.. But the Market is a big junkie using these heavy drugs called Windows, .NET, M$ Office etc.

We need to change the market

And we need to stop giving so much attention to Ballmer's FUDs!

If Linux infringes M$'s patents, why dont M$ show us where is the violation????? What about the Showusthecode campaign? Ballmer didnt say a word about it... Just like I said! FUD FUD FUD FUD!

Re:M$ Balllmer and his FUDs (2, Funny)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148875)

Like Hitler's speech, ballmer's speech is just like a good and beautifoul music but with crappy lyrics...

"ENTWICKLERS, ENTWICKLERS, ENTWICKLERS, ENTWICKLERS"

Re:M$ Balllmer and his FUDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19149831)

That would be:
"ENTWICKLER, ENTWICKLER, ENTWICKLER, ENTWICKLER"
unless you were talking about something belonging to said Entwickler.

22 of my patents are being misused by Microsoft (1)

Rsriram (51832) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148267)

22 of my patents are being misused by Microsoft. 18 of them are being misused by Apple and 12 of them by Linux. I will not tell you what those patents are since it would make me a millionaire and put all users through lot of pain.

if what they're basing their claims on... (1)

non (130182) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148289)

is the report by Ravicher titled 'Open Source Risk Management', thats mentioned here [theinq.net], then this is slander.

Microsoft reminds me..... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148393)

.... Of a poker player who is the short stack at the table taking what chips s/he has left and going "all in" with any two cards and hoping for the best. I suspect that barring a minor miracle, the outcome is going to be that they're going to loose all their chips (not to mention any credibility they have left).

Re:Microsoft reminds me..... (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148693)

Even short stacked, unless they're going heads up or get stuck being the blind, a good poker player will generally wait until they have two decent cards.

Re:Microsoft reminds me..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148763)

No, this is Microsoft sitting at a penny-ante poker game and saying "Oh yeah? Well, I've got $235 in my pocket that I could put on the table. That's 23500 pennies! I could easily call and raise all the people at this table in a second, with pennies left over. I might start playing hard any minute now, so watch out!"

While perhaps true, it kind of misses the point of playing the game in the first place.

Bad poker analogies (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149011)

Of a poker player who is the short stack at the table taking what chips s/he has left and going "all in" with any two cards and hoping for the best. I suspect that barring a minor miracle, the outcome is going to be that they're going to loose all their chips (not to mention any credibility they have left).
Um, you can hate on M$ all you want, but if we're using poker as an analogy, M$ is still sitting behind a motherfucking huge stack of chips (with a big checkbook ready to buy more). A better analogy might be that M$ is annoyed at the recent success of some of the smaller players in the game, and rather than try and beat them by playing poker, has decided that maybe they can hire some goons to break the other guys' kneecaps and put them out of the game.

Delaying tactic. Nothing more. (4, Insightful)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148471)

After digesting this issue for a couple days I have come up with this...

Intentionally or not, Microsoft has trained corporate America to wait until the first service pack or two before adopting their new operating systems. The new hardware specs for Vista will provide a further incentive for companies to delay the 'upgrade.'

Microsoft has come up with a short-term pump-up for Vista that was briefly referenced in another thread here and was supported by a friend of mine who is in CS @ a local university... students recieving free installs are being run through an e-commerce application with the price fields zeroed... which means they are being counted as sales. I wonder how many other individuals are recieving free licenses through this method for corporate evaluation etc...

Microsoft then releases public attacks to slow corporate adoption of competing products. In 9-12 months the market will naturally have reduced the overhead for upgrading to Vista and Microsoft will have time to release some major patches.

Profit!!!

Vista is not the only product they are using delaying tactics with. In 4th Qtr '06 MS dropped Virtual Machine licenses from $499 for corporate to $99 after announcing the delay of Viridian, their new upgrade.

Sad thing is... these tactics will probably work. Good thing is Microsoft does not appear to have a winning legal strategy. Not that they need one, but we probably won't be seeing C&D notices out of this.

I hope this is all that's behind this.

Regards.

Re:Delaying tactic. Nothing more. (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149401)

These tactics will work to some extent, at least in the short term, but the market is, I think, wising up to how this game is played. Even the media has started asking questions rather than just regurgitating Microsoft's press releases.

No one every got sued for buying Microsoft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148547)

Has kind of a familiar ring to it doesn't it?

M$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19148549)

ffff black people

Where's Novell fit in? (1, Insightful)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148553)

Have we ruled out the possibility that Novell could be working with Microsoft on this as a marketing campaign? Consider that "oh it's scary that we use Linux, but if we really need it let's use Novell because that's safe for us" could be precisely what M$ and Novell want you to think. I'll be the first to admit I know nothing of Novell's business practices, but business is business, and sometimes that means people play extraordinarily dirty. Honestly, I would absolutely love to be proven that this is wrong, but I suspect it will still remain a possibility.

RIAA vs Downloaders, MSFT vs Opensourcers... (0)

d0n quix0te (304783) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148557)

As Sherlock Holmes once said...., "The parallel is exact!"

To understand that larger implications of taking your customers to court, MSFT need not look further than the RIAA. Hopefully Uncle Balmer will get the point before he goes down this path. I quite wrote what Jonathan Schwartz wrote about the implications... MSFT should focus on delivering a better product not taking people to court. This is going to end up being a distraction for a company already trying to chase the fading tail-lights of Google, Apple and Nintendo.

Or then MSFT may chose the RIAA route, we know how that story ended.... dominated by Apple.

-S

One MAJOR difference: (1)

leoc (4746) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150113)

Music pirates are actively and knowingly breaking copyright law, Linux users are not breaking any laws. Yes, Microsoft claims they are violating their "intellectual property", but patents are not like copyrights, you have to first prove your patent is valid. So far Microsoft hasn't even said what patents they are claiming are being violated.

Re:RIAA vs Downloaders, MSFT vs Opensourcers... (0)

clem (5683) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150131)

The real question is will they be squirting the subpoenas to their customers?

Patents are supposed to drive innovation (1)

a1mint (1021941) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148603)

Looks like patents are doing the opposite.

Someone needs to seriously bring down the whole patent system, it's just ludicrous.

Here's some good reading about freedom of speech in software development:

http://www.philsalin.com/patents.html [philsalin.com]

Too bad he isn't alive anymore. We really need someone like him to for once and for all address this stupid idiotic system.

Groupthink? (2, Insightful)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148631)

Ever since MS made that announcement about the 250 some patents that Linux supposedly infringes on, there have been a number of articles on Slashdot pointing out the flaws in MS's argument. In addition, almost every single comment I've read essentially parrots TFA or previous articles. While I'm not pro-MS by any means, it would be nice if someone could find an article that argues from the other point of view. Essentially, I think we should really try to have a debate on the issue, rather than just continuing the groupthink.

Keep in mind that I don't personally agree with MS's argument. I just think we'd all benefit from being open minded and having an actual debate on the topic. This applies to all topics we cover, but this one struck me as particularly obvious.

Re:Groupthink? (2, Informative)

unapersson (38207) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148991)

It's not really possible as there is not enough information for the other side. MS is holding all the cards to their chest. Such an article would need to list all those patents and that simply isn't going to happen. It's also very hard to defend the old, "you're infringing our IP but we won't tell you what" approach they're taking. The pro-MS comments I have seen have been inflammatory nonsense and I doubt if you'll get much else until Microsoft shift from its protection racket stance.

Groupthink? Nope. (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149159)

You can not debate a subject when the asserting side refuses to provide the details.

Imagine if I accused you of doing something bad, possibly illegal. You can't defend yourself because you don't know exactly what it is you are to have done.

Imagine going to court and being told the prosecutor is requesting you be tossed in jail for 4 years. Why? Well he doesn't want to disclose that part. Not even the details of the alleged crime, you aren't even told what crime it was.

Would that be openminded?

Microsoft has made a broad claim and is refusing to provide the details. The assertion that if they had something they would produce them is a tenable one.

Personally I think MS' refusal to state them is multifacted but one of them being they want us to start looking so we can be held accountable. It'd be an admission of guilt.

A debate requires two sides, and information to debate. MS has made an assertion, OSS advocates have made a counter-assertion. Microsoft clams up.

Now, where are the open minds in this situation?

Have to see the patents before anybody can say (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149759)

There's nothing to say in favor of Microsoft other than "Well, sure, if they have valid patents which Linux developers cannot implement around, then Microsoft need only get an injunction from a court against distribution of Linux." Microsoft hasn't done that, so everybody is saying "This is FUD until we see the patent numbers and you point us to the infringing code."

Re:Groupthink? (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150333)

What is the other point of view? That Linux infringes on some patents? It almost certainly does, as does any program bigger than "hello world" (heck, the C prelude probably infringes on patents too, so I'm not too sure about that). Or is it in defense of Microsoft making vague legal claims while deliberately withholding the substance of the accusation?

The world is round. And despite the twisted dialectic that modern journalism would lead you to subscribe to, there is no other side to that story.

Never sue someone with no money (4, Interesting)

rimcrazy (146022) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148633)

This is simply good marketing coupled with an opportunity when OSS is finally in a position where real money is finally being made. I've worked in semiconductors for over 30 years. In that business if you start a new company, if you are not a direct threat to the big guys....they all just simply sit back and wait until you are finally making some money. Once that happens the lawyers from Intel, TI, IBM, etc., etc. etc. all line up at your door. They come in and say "Gee, we think you are violating our patents. Tell you what, we've decided the stack you violate is 8' high. Now, we can litigate each one...............or for today only, we will offer you this screaming deal of 30K/inch plus a royalty of 0.05% on every product you make........hell, we will even throw in a set of Ginsu Knives with the deal cause we are such nice guys!"

The have enough clout in the marketplace to make you look bad with their FUD. They can shut you down. This is simply legal extortion plain and simple. Tony Soprano would be proud.

Does the end user pay? (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148735)

The point of the MS announcement was to promulgate the theory that end users would either be required to pay compensatory damages to MS, or the products would no longer be allowed to exist, thus disrupting business.

I believe that this historical attack on customers has been uniquely confined to the software industry, that is until the RIAA got a hold of the business model. For example, If I buy, in good faith, an unlicensed book, The author or his or her agent does not come after me and demand triple compensation. OTOH, if I, as a business, in goo faith properly license all my software, and conduct full due diligence to insure that no unlicensed software is installed, I can still be held in great financial liability. At one time such laws were used to stem the frankly rampant use of unlicensed software, but over the past 10 years the main objective was to allow vendors to spy on customers and make sure that competitors software is not being used.

So this MS tactic is just an extension of previously United States certified monopolistic behavior. At first it was OSS was more expensive to integrate with MS software. Then it was OSS was unreliable when used with MS software. Now it is 'you have to pay MS either way, so why bother.' The funny thing is that no one is saying Zune and MS music are a dead end because of the patent disputes. No one is saying that MS users are going to have to relicense Windows due to the patent disputes. Is MS Windows and Vista going to pulled from the shelves and will every MS user have to upgrade their PC to remove the offending technology? Somehow I think that MS Will survive these patent disputes, and so will OSS.

Re:Does the end user pay? (2, Insightful)

masdog (794316) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150219)

The funny thing is that no one is saying Zune and MS music are a dead end because of the patent disputes. No one is saying that MS users are going to have to relicense Windows due to the patent disputes. Is MS Windows and Vista going to pulled from the shelves and will every MS user have to upgrade their PC to remove the offending technology? Somehow I think that MS Will survive these patent disputes, and so will OSS.

That's because no major player has threatened Microsoft with their patent portfolio yet, and I doubt that will happen until Microsoft makes its next move. I think the major supporters of Open Source, IBM, Red Hat, Google, OIN, etc, are all waiting to see what happens next. Will MS go after a distro? Will they go after a company that uses Linux? Or will MS just continue to bluff?

The "patent war" is a cold one right now, and I don't think anyone wants it to go hot. It would be devastating to a lot of people and companies - Microsoft included. They know they have more to loose from this than the Free Software movement because they have a bottomline to watch and shareholders to appease.

The thing about defensive patents (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#19148857)

A lot of colleges/universities also file defensive patents. The reason you file these kind of patents is incase of a situation like with the telephone. Someone else has the same/similar idea and beats you to the patent office...suddenly your on the other end of a cease and desist or worse. By not filing for patents you are risking lots of problems down the road. I understand this.

The flip side though is once someone realizes that, "HEY XYZ is using my patent! I could make money from licensing!" those patents often becoming offensive. Most often, especially in a case of small guy owning the patent, the infrining group will settle for some amount of money, out of court, and everyone walks away happy. When the big guys have them and the small guy does something wrong, then your screwed. It's the ole, "We have more money for lawyers than you do, so go out of business."

The main MS patent, summarised (2, Funny)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149133)

We claim:
  • 1. A tubular structure made of various proteins
  • 2. A sponge-like structure between the inner and outer walls of the tube
  • 3. Means to introduce liquid under pressure into the sponge-like structure, and other means for removing the liquid
  • 4. A means to attach the said tubular structure to the lower abdomen of a male human being
  • 5. A means to connect the plumbing system described in Claim 3 to the interior plumbing of the human being
  • 6. Means to cause the tubular structure to oscillate and expand on demand.
It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that this invention will be of inestimable use to chief executive officers wishing to lay claim to exclusive access of their products to various markets.

Everything (3, Insightful)

TheUnseenthings (1083421) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149287)

Everything that can be invented has been invented.
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899

Edit: Everything that can be invented infringes on a existing patient, 2007

Solution (2, Funny)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149453)

Clearly the solution to this whole situation is to have Microsoft play tic-tac-toe over and over again....

Create a wiki to destroy the patent system? (4, Interesting)

sectionboy (930605) | more than 5 years ago | (#19149813)

We all know how broken the current patent system is, especially the 'software patent' evil. Can we use wiki-like system to undermine it? Create a wiki for everybody to record something new, no matter how small/useless it might look like, and dedicate it to public domain. With properly managed time stamps, it can be a collection of all 'prior art'. (It's just like doing something oppsite to wikipedia, which stresses so much on unoriginality.)

Re:Create a wiki to destroy the patent system? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#19150373)

Its not a bad idea, but I don't think it will help. Not unless you can force patent examiners to consult the Wiki prior to granting a patent. Or adopt the system used in some other countries, where patent applications are published and a system of public comment is used whereby experts in the field might identify problems with the application.

One of the major problems with the US patent system is that Congress has throttled funding for examiners while at the same time twisting the arm of the USPTO to grant quickly of no reason not to can be found. This has been done at the behest of the corporations who desire to accumulate portfolios of patents as quickly and cheaply as possible with little regard to the interest of the public.

This system no longer serves the small inventor, since a single patent has little value in negotiations with a cometitor in possesion of a large portfolio. Often, when weighing the option to litigate vs to sell your patent to a pool, who has a large enough position to defend themselves, the decision is pretty simple. Take a little money and run.

YOU fAIBL IT.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#19150325)

also dead, its big picture. What Be 'very poorly disturbing. If you Keep unn?ecessary Fucking numbers, Romeo and Juliet we aal know, Another folder. 20 that he documents
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