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Microsoft Will Not Sue Over Linux Patents

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the what's-with-the-saber-rattling-then dept.

Microsoft 291

San Muel writes "In an official statement, Microsoft has said it has no immediate plans to sue after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors for the time being. The company goes on to say that, essentially, it could have done that any time in the last three years if it wanted to. So what's the purpose of these bold announcements? '[John McCreesh, OpenOffice.org marketing project lead] added that while Microsoft may not have plans to sue, it could be using the threat of litigation to try to encourage corporate customers to move to those open-source product vendors with whom it had signed licensing agreements, such as Novell. "Microsoft has spent time and money accumulating patents. Maybe it has started using that armory to move corporate customers to open-source software that Microsoft approves of."'"

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itsatrap! (0, Offtopic)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219885)

I would say its a trap, but it appears as though our tags are being censored/hidden.
It was amusing seeing the tags, seems bare now.

In Soviet Russia, MS gets Putin to SUE YOU !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220959)



In Soviet Russia, MS gets Putin to SUE YOU !!

All hail Comrade Kommie Putin

Somebody call down below (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19219931)

Because Hell just froze.

Open Letter to Brad Smith (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219939)

Dear Brad Smith,

Sue us! C'mon, Brad. That's right. Put it all out there! You tried and failed with your feeble little pawn, SCO. Then the big bad judge ordered them to show the code! Oh my, got called on your bluff, eh?

Now you're too afraid to sue because you think the same thing will happen to you. C'mon, Brad, go ahead? What are you -- chicken?

Because then you'll have to show us the code, and your bluff will called and it will be all over. That's why you're not going to sue, you spineless twit.

Thanks,

Rob Shinn
An Open Source developer.

Re:Open Letter to Brad Smith (5, Insightful)

aegisalpha (58712) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220337)

The real shame is that the ones these statements are designed to influence probably don't know that much about OSS, SCO, or anything else that would clue them in to the FUD. That's the problem with open letters, unless published in the right place you won't reach your intended audience.

So who wants to buy a full page ad in a trade magazine or national newspaper?

Re:Open Letter to Brad Smith (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220837)

Nope, not me... that costs real money, and FOSS isn't about real money. My boss will inherit my laptop today, and most likely wipe Ubuntu off it, to install an old Windows XP license we have. Why? Because Windows is more familiar, not that he's dumb (he's actually darned smart). Big companies like Microsoft sue when they see that their profits are actually being damaged. FOSS isn't really doing that. I think we'll simply see several more years of saber rattling, and continued Microsoft FUD. I can't even call Microsoft evil for doing it... all they're doing is standard marketing (the true root of all evil).

Re:Open Letter to Brad Smith (5, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220393)

Also, another logic that probably scares them - MS's legal department probably is well aware that OSS groups are much more likely to play the prior-art/patent-invalidation card than other groups.

Re:Open Letter to Brad Smith (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220795)

Exactly. Within the industry, most of the big players have cross-licensing deals. They each try to put a similar number of patents in the pile, and so no one ends up owing anyone else any money. If Microsoft got a load of their patents invalidated, then their pile would become smaller than everyone else's and they would have to start paying.

Strategy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19219943)

In an official statement, Microsoft has said it has no immediate plans to sue after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors for the time being. The company goes on to say that, essentially, it could have done that any time in the last three years if it wanted to.
Ah, I see you've chosen the 2nd grade playground method for conflict resolution. Well played.

I have this strange new feeling of amusement coupled with annoyance ... I can't quite describe it so I'll just come up with a new adjective:

Adjective

microsofty

1. Causing irritation or annoyance; troublesome; making amusing claims; vexatious towards everyone else.

Example: Richard Simmons sure is microsofty.

Re:Strategy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220029)

Melinda pointed and laughed at Bill's microsofty on their wedding night. Then he got Ballmer to plow her good.

Boring (3, Insightful)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219945)

*yawn* This is getting boring. The minute uncle Bill comes up with some stupid supposed violation, we'll code around it. In the meantime, let's not pay attention to this craphola.

Re:Boring (1)

monk.e.boy (1077985) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219985)

Was it all just link bait?

Bad publicity is better than no publicity?

Next time lets just ignore them

monk.e.boy

Re:Boring (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219989)

You realize that as much as you like to embody all which is evil as Bill Gates he's not the operational guy running the show over there causing this... right?

Re:Boring (1)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220065)

To quote a sig I saw floating around here somewhere...

Look! It's Ballmer! Get him!

Re:Boring (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220091)

Nah of course not, just making a light-hearted reference to his company. Actually, I think the man himself doing pretty well nowadays with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Re:Boring (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220179)

He's hoping to pull a Carnegie.

Be a huge monopolistic overlord and financial robber-baron for his career, then dive into philanthropy in his later years so that history records him as a great humanitarian.

More power to him, as it gets good works done with those mountains of money he has.

Re:Boring (4, Insightful)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220039)

Err, Microsoft got a big pile of FUD around these supposed patent breaches. Maybe some CEOs and IT procurement people believed them and maybe it affected their buying decisions. That's bad.

Now when we've got them to make a humiliating climbdown, you want us to shut up?

I say we scream this headline all the way to Bangalore and back, just so everyone gets the message that the patent threat was a pile of worthless hot air all along...

Re:Boring (1)

palewook (1101845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220463)

yup. this is nothing but a smoke and mirrors campaign to try and scare companies into vista and away from open source. ms knows the case wont fly. and it wont succeed

Tagging suggestion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19219947)

"Duh".

M$ doesn't *need* to sue... (0, Redundant)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219949)

...just the threat of a lawsuit, especially from a company with the pocket depth of Microsoft, is enough.

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... or even be able to (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220107)

It is highly probable that most (if not all) of the patents are invalid because of prior art, or are obvious. Any valid ones could be worked around in a short time. If Microsoft DID sue they would probably end up with a useless patent portfolio. This way they can use the threat of suing to steer customers away from open source without having to reveal what its patents are, and hence have them challenged or avoided.

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... help the FUD (1)

Down_in_the_Park (721993) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220145)

See, that's why it is called FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) , if someone ( You ) is peeing his pants because of M$ "pocket money" which helped so much in the SCO against IBM or SCO against Novell litigation...

That isn't informative and whoever modded you insightful, is either paid by pocket money, our hasn't finish school yet...

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... (2, Insightful)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220155)

So it's the schoolyard bully trying to bolster his public image with, "I *could* beat you up but hey, I'm such a nice guy I'll let you go - this time. But you *better* have you lunch money tomorrow, punk!".

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220243)

The threat of a law suit from a convicted monopoly is enough for a new round of anti-trust investigation.
Let's see.
Microsoft says.
1. Open Source projects are violating our patents.
2. We will not sue over these patents.
3. We will not tell you what patents they are violating.
4. You should give us money so we will continue to not sue you.

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220687)

Threats don't work when they also say they won't follow through. See, for a threat to actually make an impact there must be a belief that it will have consequences. Not only are open source developers showing no fear, Microsoft is publicly saying they won't follow through (which will result in very bad press if they do sue any time soon).

So no, just the threat isn't enough.

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220887)

Microsoft isn't trying to scare open source developers. They're trying to scare potential customers.

Re:M$ doesn't *need* to sue... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220771)

Old Maffia --- You have a nice store, You need our protection because it would be a shame to see something bad happen to it.

BSA, RIAA, MPAA, --- You have a nice store, You need our protection, or you might get sued.

sound famaliar?

Sorry i don't buy into either. the law is still on my side.

It's plans? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219951)

Pay the microsoft tax or else!

Corporate Intimidation Tactic (3, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219965)

M$ shakes its fist at Linux and cries infringement but says it's not going to sue. So why did it make the announcement in the first place? It's a corporate intimidation play. M$ wants to convince enterprise that Linux is somehow evil and illegitimate because it knows it doesn't have the goods to shut Linux down, nor can it buy Linux out. The only alternative for a sleazy corporation like M$, which is propped up almost exclusively by inertia, is to defame the competition. I hope most will be savvy enough to see through this transparently evil act.

Huh ? (2, Insightful)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219969)

So they're not going to sue you but they'll force corporate customers to license under threat of litigation, even though they won't sue??

Legality (5, Interesting)

Falesh (1000255) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219979)

At what point does this become illegal? Are you allowed to threaten whoever you like to strong arm customers into buying your product?

There should be a way to make MS go to court or lose the right to sue.

Re:Legality (3, Informative)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220167)

Unless they actually do something libellous in their campaign there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

However their threats are empty, and only likely to sway companies still entrenched in the 'threaten to use open source to secure discounts' camp.

The big problem for Microsoft is that they are no longer the big player they once were. They know this, and this is an ill judged attempt to say they are still in charge. It's only to be expected.

Unfortunately words don't mean much when money is at stake, even their most devout customers will start to become edgy if they see competition moving to open source solutions and saving money. There is no loyalty where money is concerned.

Re:Legality (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220743)

Unless they actually do something libellous in their campaign there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

How is accusing your competitors of breaking the law not libellous?

Re:Legality (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220205)

I do not know what the requirements are; it is possible to sue somebody so to stop them from threatening to sue.

Re:Legality (1)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220217)

I can't remember now, but I think there was a law or something, I just can't remember if it was regarding copyright or patents or trademarks, which basically said that if you have knowledge of infringement, you HAVE to sue, or risk losing the right to the infringed material/tm/whatever..

Can any lawyer in the crowd correct this and explain if it may apply?

Re:Legality (1)

castle (6163) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220597)

Copyright requires this kind of enforcement maintenance, not patents. I believe their issuance grants exclusive use, and the right to reassign rights and engage in licensing and cross licensing, but it is not required for them to sue against percieved infringement to maintain the patent.

Re:Legality (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220289)

I've never really been behind the anti-Microsoft movement that has in the past insisted that they're abusing their monopoly. The whole thing with IE being bundled in the OS? Seriously, it's a damn browser which is probably appropriately a part of an OS in this day and age.

But these tactics against Linux now strike me as little more than a protection racket, and I wouldn't mind seeing MS bitchslapped for using it.

"That's a nice little company you've got there. I'd hate to see anything happen to it if you, say for instance, used Linux. Pay us and we'll make sure that doesn't happen."

Hit them with RICO charges for that one for all I care.

Re:Legality (3, Interesting)

Bill Barth (49178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220363)

Is there perhaps a case (say brought by RedHat or another non-Novell Linux distributor) for tortious interference? I.e. if RedHat can show that one big deal fell through because of MS's psuedo-threat, haven't they had their business relationships interfered with in an illegitimate way?

Re:Legality (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220891)

I don't think it would be interpreted as interference for Microsoft to anounce their intent to protect their patent rights. They probably do have some applicable patents, which may or may not stand up to scrutiny, but they are valid right now. If they really had nothing, and they were making up these claims it could be interference, but their patent portfolio is probably extensive enough that nobody could really say their patent claims are blatantly false. So far they have not actually tried directly threatened specific companies. It is all just FUD.

You see I have this big bat? (5, Insightful)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 6 years ago | (#19219993)

I could have used it upside your head but I choose not to at this moment. But I could.

This is worse than FUD, it's an outright threat. By simply announcing you could sue, challenges large business into accepting risk. To the person in the trenches, they know Microsoft's got nothing. However to the CEO and the CIO, the same people who move a company forward, this is a challenge to their capital expense planning. They see the threat of lawsuit and immedietely classifiy that as risk.

How to mitigate it? Unfortunately you don't. Because it is the idea of lawsuit you cannot work around this risk unless you avoid it altogether. And this is what Microsoft is banking on. And by avoiding Linux for this year and next in capital planning, you avoid implementation of Linux in a corporate environment for at least three years. And by that time, Microsoft is betting that you will have spent so much T&E in their shop that it would be very expensive and time consuming to leave.

Re:You see I have this big bat? (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220093)

To the person in the trenches, they know Microsoft's got nothing.


The truly awful thing about this sort of blatant intimidation is that Microsoft doesn't need to have anything...if you call them on their bluff and say "go ahead...sue me!", they'll happily do just that. Actually winning or losing the lawsuit becomes rather academic after all the years and dollars M$ can make you waste fighting a pointless battle.

Re:You see I have this big bat? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220581)

Microsoft is betting that you will have spent so much T&E in their shop
I'm not sure that's the accounting term you're looking for -- T&E is Travel & Entertainment.

Did you perhaps mean time and effort?

so what M$ is saying is... (1)

darth_linux (778182) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220017)

"We own software. We own its ideas and every implementation that software provides. We are computing." How arrogant. Hey, M$!! Bring it! but make peace with God before you do...

Re:so what M$ is saying is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220067)

"We own software. We own its ideas and every implementation that software provides. We are computing."

      It's statements like these that make me happy I'm pirating a $3000+ Microsoft program this week...

The intent was NEVER to sue... (2, Insightful)

Churla (936633) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220021)

The intent, as mentioned, was to get people to move to partners MS had licensing agreements with.

The goal is to make money. MS is not after glory , it's after the Benjamin's.

Lawsuits are like nuclear weapons, it's the option of last resort and pretty much assures either destruction of MASSIVE damage to all sides involved. When lawsuits fly the only winners will be the lawyers.

Re:The intent was NEVER to sue... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220231)

Lawsuits are like nuclear weapons, it's the option of last resort and pretty much assures either destruction of MASSIVE damage to all sides involved.



Not for the side that has their own legal department.

Re:The intent was NEVER to sue... (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220283)

Lawsuits are like nuclear weapons, it's the option of last resort and pretty much assures either destruction of MASSIVE damage to all sides involved.
Both sides? Not if the other side don't have any. Unless you're standing really close to them.

To be expected (1)

lilfields (961485) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220025)

I expected no different, Microsoft actually going through with a lawsuit may have created some bad PR. Now maybe some will view Microsoft as having "mercy" or what have you about open source and by doing so move some customers to its new found partner Novell as the article states. All in all from a corporate standpoint, Microsoft is doing the right thing to improve its bottom line. Though I wonder if Microsoft used this patent dispute to strong arm Novell months ago, and to what extent Microsoft has tied itself to Novell?

Can't be many possible explanations for this (2, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220041)

Possible explanations I can think of:

1. Microsoft was planning to sue everyone and his dog until someone pointed out the various Open Patent movements, and it might be a bad idea to wake up such a sleeping giant.
      I doubt it. I don't think it's a sleeping giant as much as a sleeping leprechaun, and Microsoft is pretty careful about what they publicly announce these days.

2. The whole "we've got patents" thing was intended to stir up some nice headlines in magazines like Forbes, with a view to getting some nice op-ed FUD. Basically, a means of encouraging Microsoft-friendly top level CTOs to kill any Linux projects they hear about. It's not like there's going to be anywhere near so many editorials printed next week saying "Further to Microsoft announcing their patents, they've now announced they don't intend to sue" as there were editorials announcing the patents in the first place.

Much more likely. Unlike Microsoft to admit to spreading FUD quite so flagrantly, though.

Actually.. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220047)

isn't it legally questionable to "not sue yet" if you have a patent on the technology and you know that the patented technology is widely used in the market? You're actively letting people use and enjoy your patented technologies so that there would be more users when you finally sue. Sounds a lot like "entrapment". I think they should at least forbid people from using them, preferably by telling what exactly they are using. Companies usually sit quietly on their technologies and come out with a bang when they suddenly surface their submarine patents. You don't see many of them brewing FUD on the news.

Re:Actually.. (4, Informative)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220317)

Laches

Re:Actually.. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220921)

As far as I know, they risk losing the relevant patents this way. I don't have a link, but I think Bruce Perens explained this on his blog/website once? My memory is a bit hazy on that, sorry if I'm incorrect.

That, sir, we will fight against (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220051)

With the creepy and sneaky moves and double speak and apparent selfish manipulative moves they have been making lately, Microsoft have made enemies of developer circles who were not enemies of Microsoft before.

We will prevent any such intent of microsoft forcing people/corporations to the open source solutions "they approve of".

Any open source movement that falls in to the err of allying themselves with microsoft's such selfish moves should take notice and straighten up themselves in line with the open source philosophy accordingly.

Re:That, sir, we will fight against (2, Interesting)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220183)

Any open source movement that falls in to the err of allying themselves with microsoft's such selfish moves should take notice and straighten up themselves in line with the open source philosophy accordingly.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Linux and would never go back to that POS Windows even if Bill Gates were personally paying me.
But sometimes GNU/Free Software Enthusiasts scare me.
Does the above quote sound like a cult to anyone else? I mean, RMS has some great ideas, but he isn't a god or anything.

Yes, I know. The Penguin Ninjas will be visiting me shortly.

Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220055)

If you find that your patent has been violated, you have to sue in a timely manner. You can't wait or the court will pitch out your case because of the doctrine of laches. I suppose someone should ask them how they intend to get around that problem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity) [wikipedia.org]

"Laches is an equitable defense, or doctrine, in an action at law. The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights", and that, as a result of this delay, that other party is no longer entitled to its original claim. Put another way, failure to assert one's rights in a timely manner can result in claims being barred by laches. Laches is a form of estoppel for delay. In Latin,

        Vigilantibus non dormientibus æquitas subvenit.
        Equity aids the vigilant, not the negligent (that is, those who sleep on their rights). "

Re:Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220351)

Easy:

"Your Honour, we were trying to create licensing agreements but the defendant chose not to accept."

Come on...

Re:Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220413)

But it is only estoppel in the sense of the people they delayed defense of their rights on. Future infringers may not get a free ride on that one.

Now, having said this, it's verging on trade libel- potentially false statements made to deliberately damage a competitor in business.

SCOX is facing multiple Lanham Act suits over this garbage.

Microsoft really, really needs to put up or shut up. You can't allege an infringement like this without detailing it- at least if you expect
to collect royalties or stop the infringements. And if they don't have 'em, they don't need to be saying what they're saying. Steve, Bill,
you need to own up or shut up.

Re:Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220439)

Actually, I think the more direct translation would be:

"Vigilance not dormance is helped by equity."

Re:Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220551)

In their own words:

"If we wanted to go down that road we could have done that three years ago"
IE. they have known about these (alleged) violations for at least three years and have consciously elected not to defend their patents in a court of law. So even if the violations actually exist, they no longer have a position whereby anyone can be (successfully) sued.

Re:Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220919)

Laches is an equitable defense, or doctrine, in an action at law. The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights",

Does the patent holder have to sue to assert their rights? Or can they claim patent infringement and then delay legal action to an unnamed later date?

Re:Microsoft will lose the right to sue ... ever (4, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220927)

First, I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice, and should not be considered as the basis for any legal proceeding. This is abstract speculation on a point of law, and is offered only in the hope that it will inspire any persons who may face related litigation to study the relevant issues and seek professional legal advice as needed.

1. The Wiki you linked to does mention in how some cases, such as contesting an election, a very short period of time, mere days, is enough to invoke the doctrine, so I see where you get the idea timely means something less than a year, or even a quarter. The normal period is more like six years as doctrine. The big court cases specifically involving patents show up better if you search for 'submarine patents' instead of 'laches', and you may want to look at the time frames of the most significant cases there, as they are typically a lot more than the six year period, and many of them are more than the whole current 20 year life of a patent. Microsoft could probably wait 2 or 3 years and still be within the normal period that is considered timely. The could even justify this by claiming the allowed some time for lesser remedies such as negotiation to work if they could.

2. One principle behind laches is that the delay may be used to increase damages and make the resulting lawsuit more profitable, (usually because the defendant has presumably made more profit in the meantime). So what happens if a company waits a while to sue, but in its complaint sues only for an amount it claims reflects damages incurred before the date it first contacted the defendant, and waives additional damages subsequent to that date? You'll note my sig - I don't have a good answer to that question, but I think it may be a potential way to defuse a defense claim. Laches is an affirmative defense, requiring both assertion and proof by the defendant. A single affirmative defense doesn't usually lead to a whole case being thrown out with prejudice or anything on that order - more often it just limits the case's scope. (OTOH, if Microsoft doesn't have much of a complaint, it shouldn't take much to get the whole thing dismissed.)

Play the game our way... (4, Insightful)

AVee (557523) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220057)

They are trying to move OS companies into a direction where they have to play the whole IP game. They won't kill open-source, but they can try to make money out of it. And that just what they are doing right now.
What they are saying is that they really honestly don't mind when we are using Linux. And it's true, it even is smart.

Just look at it, Dell customers get to use Linux but still pay their share of MS tax, but now for an OS Microsoft doesn't need to develop or support.
You thought having 99.9% marketshare is the ultimate way to make money? Think again.

Incriminate thyselves (2, Insightful)

Laxator2 (973549) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220073)

If the infringement is real, how comes they did not already "fu***'n kill Google" ? But if M$ manages to use the patent threat to fool people into signing licence agreements then those people will put the rope around their own neck. They will pay M$ for software M$ dos not own and did not even bohter to sell them, and by the time they wake up the agreement will still be in place. Yes, many people have said that the M$ coupons have no expiration date. And Eben Moglen has already debunked their "be very afraid" tour on Groklaw: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200705170 83516872 [groklaw.net]

FUD (1)

cr0m0 (952302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220079)

I think nobody thought that Microsoft would really be going to Sue Linux. It is just another of its FUD strategies.

Will Microsoft be sued? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220127)

IBM, SUN, AAPL and others too have patents. And MSFT might be infringing on some of them. Will MSFT be sued? Will it be forced to acknowledge it and code around it?

So MS wants to protect us by selling us insurance. (5, Funny)

Door in Cart (940474) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220129)

"That sure is a nice operating system you've got there. Sure would be a shame if something bad happened to it."

Doctrine of Laches (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220131)

I wonder if the Microsoft attorneys approved of this comment that they could have sued 3 years ago. IANAL, but there's a legal defense called Doctrine of Laches - basically you can avoid liability if the patent holder delays too long before commencing litigation. It's traditionally 6 years, but I'm pretty sure recent cases have argued timeframes of 4 years. For that reason it doesn't seem smart to admit publically that you are aware of infringement unless you are ready to go to court. It seems even worse to admit you've known about it for 3 years.

This is so infuriating. (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220133)

I'm not interested in M$ won't sue.

I'm only interested in M$ can't sue.

Why? because as stated by many posters better informed by me it would start the mother of all legal wars as the big Linux backers would promptly retaliate with their own patent arsenals.

There is another word for this whole sorry escapade...... FUD. By injecting doubt into Linux in the eyes of the big corporations, they attract them towards their own offering. Yet another example of M$ cleverly using FUD as advertising and marketing.

What about laches doctrine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220147)

IANALNDIATBO (I am not a lawer nor do I aspire to become one)

If Microsoft is found "sleeping on its rights" could that not be used under the laches doctrine
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity) [wikipedia.org] ) to somehow invalidate their claims ?

PS: IMO This is neither news (for nerds or anyone else), nor stuff that matters; unless, of course, slashdot treats FUD and derivates as news - yeah, I must be new here...

Racketeering? (4, Insightful)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220177)

M$ pounds their chest saying Linux is infringing. Then they go after enterprise customers asking them to pay for protection against litigation. Then they say they won't sue (????).

I think this is called "Racketeering" isn't it. Like the mob asking businesses to pay for protection money so "nothing happens to them". I think this just crossed M$ over line in to illigal actions here.

If you work for a company M$ has approached with one of these offers I -encourage you- to ask your company to call M$'s bluff - and tell them you consider this move an illigal one and that your company will be contacting the States Attorney Genral. If enough companies do this it might scare the living hell out of M$. But first and formost - actually contact the States Attorney General - don't threaten to do it - DO IT!
  Heck maybe not just companies should do this but individuals as well. I think there are enough links to statements by M$ that the States Attonrney General's could have something to go on - right?

Many think they will not. (1)

raffe (28595) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220233)

Over at groklaw [groklaw.net] they discuss some recent statements in Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's blog [sun.com] about ms now suing. Even Mark Shuttleworth says a few words [markshuttleworth.com] about Microsoft and patents. Jonathan doesn't say they will not sue but makes some comments about it and Mark says he doesn't think they will.

Goodwill (1)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220237)

In a gesture of goodwill, I hereby announce that I will reciprocate by not suing Microsoft over Linux patents.

Thankyou.

MS approves of open source? (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220253)

open-source software that Microsoft approves of


I thought I'd never hear that phrase. In fact, didn't Ballmer say something completely to the contrary?

Re:MS approves of open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220549)

open-source software that Microsoft approves of

I thought I'd never hear that phrase. In fact, didn't Ballmer say something completely to the contrary?


Novell/SUSE is "open-source software that Microsoft approves of".

Anyway, this (software patents) is only a problem in the USA, the rest of us are unaffected...

Show us your code Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220279)

How much pirated BSD/*Nix code & design are in the Windows platform?
I find it hard to believe that it is all 100% original work.

"Show me your code Horseman and I will show you mine"

patent question (1)

SageLikeFool (547462) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220287)

If you do not actively protect a patent, does that invalidate it? I thought that as the patent holder, it was up to you to make sure that nobody else was using the same idea and that if you didn't pursue restrictions on its use then it expired.

Am I wrong?

Re:patent question (1)

debest (471937) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220617)

Am I wrong?

Yes.

You are thinking about trademarks, not patents (or copyrights, for that matter). There is no obligation on the part of patent or copyright holders to take any action to defend them.

They can't because the jig would be up (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220295)

It's FUD.
They CAN'T sue, the whole point to to cast veiled threats against customers. To try to dissuade them from switching from Microsoft. If they sued the poker game would be up and they'd have to show their losing hand.

Ever wonder where MS got the number. (5, Informative)

supersnail (106701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220307)

Here [itbusinessedge.com]

What the researcher is saying is the with 235 potential patent violations
Linux scores lower then most proprietary software he has looked at.

Incidently nowhere does he say who owns the 235 patents so given the amount of
Operating System related patents filed they are more likly to belong to IBM or HP
(DEC VAX, Tandem Non Stop etc. etc. ) than microsoft.

Pure FUD!
 

MS pulled the number out of their ass (1)

Ranger (1783) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220885)

A lot like Senator McCarthy said I have the names of 57 communists in the State Dept. Anyway, that was mighty white of MS not to sue Linux.

This is just another cheap MS tactic... (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220319)

Microsoft isn't going to sue because it doesn't have a leg to stand on. They just saw what IBM did to SCO and they'd rather not get that beating.

The long and the short of it is that Microsoft has realized they can't compete in the market based on value alone. They initally laughed off Linux but now have come to realize it was a critical miscalcuation. Their first option was to dazzle the world with um, Vista... yeah we've seen how that lead lined life preserver worked. So they've opted for tactic number two which is to claim that their competitors stole all their technology...

If Linux stole all this nifty technology from Microsoft... Why is Vista so shitty???

Makes perfect sense... (1)

MadTinfoilHatter (940931) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220379)

Microsoft has realized that Linux has a killer feature they can't compete with - it's free (as in both freedom and gratis). Since they can't rise up to Linux' level, the whole idea behind all of this saber-rattling and FUD is to bring Linux down to their level (or at least closer to it). They're trying to scare everyone into doing one of the following:
1) Stay far away from Linux. (And continue to pay the MS-tax directly.)
2) Enter into some kind of licensing agreement, which will either undermine the freedom-part of Linux, the gratis-part or both. (And continue to pay the MS-tax indirectly.)

From TFA:

"Microsoft is trying to play nice with the open-source community, but it has to do the Republican stance for its shareholders. There's a massive tension between the two positions."
What an enormous load of BS! It's never been a question about playing nice (or even wanting to). It's always been a question about how to f*** F/LOSS over horribly, (preferably) without invoking another anti-trust lawsuit.

Read it carefully. (2)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220401)

The headline says they won't sue, but the article says they have no immediate plans to do so. Those are not the same thing.

PWNED! (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220457)

Note to self....if M$ comes to me saying something about suing me, TELL THE TRUTH!! Ain't it amazing how when once the gauntlet was thrown down, they backed the fuck down?!?!?!

Damage is done (2)

geeper (883542) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220461)

They have already done what they intended to do. Any [business] person sitting on the fence about whether to start using Linux or not has been swayed in the non-use direction. That was the only purpose...creating doubt.

Great (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220493)

In an official statement, Microsoft has said it has no immediate plans to sue [CC] after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors for the time being.
Great, so there's no reason for Fortune, or any other rag, to publish any stories about Microsoft's patent ramblings until they do sue. Right?

so, uh, then, STFU, Ballmer (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220531)

put up or shut up. sue IBM and other Penguinistas all the way down to the guy with a cell phone at the bus stop, or just admit you're whining because 100% of any market is not enough for you.

Admins, get up and go up to your boss (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220575)

Yes, I know the coffee will be cold by the time you're back, now lift that butt and get moving!

Tell your boss that MS canceled the suit because of the "sue me if you dare" and similar actions from people that KNEW they have nothing to base this suit on! Make sure he understands that they didn't just "be nice" and not sue the li'l guy, but that they have no base for their claims.

The reason is simple: Your boss most likely only knows two things:

MS threatened to sue.
MS called it off.

In his mind, they might have done this not because there's no foundation for their claims, but because there's something "better to do" right now, and that they keep this as an option. And this discourages him from using OSS in your company, because, well, MS might rear its head again.

Go up there and talk with him, now. Before some marketing goon does.

Re:Admins, get up and go up to your boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220937)

Bravo! The only comment that makes sense and it is spot on. MS did all this only to scare off all the people that are thinking to go open source (maybe they heard of entire countries IT systems switching to open source) but know next to nothing about it.

Re:Admins, get up and go up to your boss (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220955)

Honestly, from what I see, it is incredibly unlikely that no open source software violates MS patents. With this silly system, everyone violates everyone's patents, and with the amount MS has, some have to be valid.

What happened is probably the typical "two headed" deal that is so common with large companies: someone decided to open their mouth about patent issues. Someone higher up saw it only after the fact, and is now doing damage control. MS has a lot to win in not sueing, mainly showing that its not an "evil monopoly" anymore and that other companies can still compete with them, which would get them (in the long run) a lot more money than a lawsuit.

So chances are pretty good that MS can sue, but decided it has better things to do. So much better, that your boss shouldn't be worried to switch to alternatives.

We have no intention of a first strike... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19220615)

But we'll still beef up our 235 patent arsenal, just in case we need to retaliate.

Offensive Patents Indicate Company Decline (1)

barik (160226) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220691)

It seems to be that when any company begins using patent litigation as a means to generate revenue, that company enters a steady downfall. Companies that use patents defensively succeed because they are actually innovating; companies that must rely on patents for income are simply milking what they have with no real plans for long-term future income.

It seems more and more that I am seeing the latter in Microsoft, rather than the former. This has always been true to a certain extent, but lately I'm seeing that very little is actually coming out of Microsoft itself -- most everything recently is a complete acquisition or partly an acquisition of another company's IP.

Microsoft just lost shitoads of patents (4, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220703)

"We can sue you, could ave done so for three years now, but we won't, just to leave you scared" is what I get from reading that article. I say Microsoft needs to be sued under the RICO act, because that's almost exactly how the Mafia works.

protection racketing, big time (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220747)

This is nothing else than the good old protection racketing the maffia used to do, then gangs, and now big corps. If you're big enough, or you have the air of being big enough, you don't need to line up all your supposedly available army, just threaten with a big enough voice that you can. Rest assured, there will be enough ordinary people who will instantly pay you up since they fear even the remote possibility of being smacked, even if that army is non-existent. The catch is, if enough of them pays, we'll never ever find out whether that army exists or not. And, after a while, that's not even important anymore.
 
 

Translation (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220759)

Corp-speak:

no immediate plans to sue
English (paraphrasing Mr Darko):
No lawsuit today, maybe tomorrow.

No Presumption of Validity, per Microsoft? (2, Interesting)

privaria (583781) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220779)

Microsoft made a statement in its recent motion for a new trial [72.14.253.104] in Lucent vs. Microsoft [wikipedia.org] , a patent infringement case that it lost back in February to the tune of $1,500,000,000. It argued that a jury in a new trial should have the opportunity to "hear and weigh the evidence" that Microsoft claims makes the Alcatel-Lucent patents invalid, under a new standard of obviousness recently established by the Supreme Court in KSR vs. Teleflex [supremecourtus.gov] . Microsoft said:

KSR calls into question the very presumption of validity, since it demonstrates that the PTO itself applied the wrong obviousness test to the patents-in-suit. Had the PTO applied the KSR test, the patents-in-suit may well not have issued. While 35 U.S.C. 282 does establish a presumption of validity, it does not mandate the "clear and convincing" burden of proof. This burden of proof could and should be altered by the courts because of KSR. See KSR, slip op. at 22-23 ("We need not reach the question whether the failure to disclose Asano during the prosecution of Engelgau voids the presumption of validity given to issued patents, for claim 4 is obvious despite the presumption. We nevertheless think it appropriate to note that the rationale underlying the presumption--that the PTO, in its expertise, has approved the claims--seems much diminished here."). [Note 2, p. 10, emphasis added.]

So, given Microsoft's anti-patent assertion in this case where it found itself on the wrong side of someone's patents, it would seem hard for them to ask us to presume that these 200+ patents of their own, issued well before KSR vs. Teleflex, are valid over the prior art that the Linux world will undoubtedly find in abundance once Microsoft finally has to reveal their claims. That is, if it ever actually tries to enforce them rather than blabbing away at its current "my dad can beat up your dad" playground level of discourse.

Obligatory disclaimer: I am a registered patent agent and an independent inventor, but not a lawyer. I don't provide legal advice or services to anyone regarding issued patents. And this wouldn't be legal advice even if I did.

We are the software. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220803)

Microsoft pulled a legal "extinguish" on open source.
A united community screamed back SUE.
Microsoft is now exposed to the world.

"immediate?" Fuck you M$. (1)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220873)

Fuck you, fuck your products and fuck your tactics you fucks.

Different perspective (1)

Dorsai65 (804760) | more than 6 years ago | (#19220913)

Okay, MS has claimed that F/OSS violates some of their patents.

Now, if MS fails to specify what patents are being infringed despite being explicitly asked to, and ignores challenges to sue potential violators, would there be any reasonable basis for them to try any kind of legal action later? I mean, if MS doesn't say what's being violated, don't they (essentially) wave any claims at a later date?

Wouldn't a judge tell MS "If you didn't tell so-and-so what patent he was violating, I can't award you any damages" - and maybe even slap some kind of penalty on MS for being shitheads?

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