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Microsoft Too Busy To Name Linux Patents?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the that's-awful-busy dept.

Patents 236

bob_dinosaur writes "According to The Register, Microsoft's Patent Attorney Jim Markwith told the Open Source Business Conference that the reason they hadn't named the supposedly infringing patents was that it would be 'administratively impossible to keep up' with the list. 'According to Ramji, the executive tasked with the difficult job of straddling Microsoft's growing support for open source in server and tools, and aggressive and unpredictable statements from management on patents, made a jaw dropping attempt to explain away the Forbes article. "The reason we disclosed that, is because there was a request for transparency following the Novell deal Iast November. This was a response to that transparency," Ramji said. It was at that point the OSBC audience erupted.'" That transparency apparently extends to multiple levels. ZDNet is reporting that Novell will share the details of its agreement with Microsoft sometime in the near future.

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cat info (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19258791)

Cats typically weigh between 2.5 and 7 kg (5.5-16 pounds); however, some breeds, such as the Maine Coon can exceed 11.3 kg (25 pounds). Some have been known to reach up to 23 kg (50 pounds) due to overfeeding. Conversely, very small cats (less than 1.8 kg / 4.0 lbs)[4] have been reported.

Cats also possess rather loose skin; this enables them to turn and confront a predator or another cat in a fight, even when it has a grip on them. This is also an advantage for veterinary purposes, as it simplifies injections.[5] In fact, the life of cats with kidney failure can sometimes be extended for years by the regular injection of large volumes of fluid subcutaneously, which serves as an alternative to dialysis.[6][7]

The particularly loose skin at the back of the neck is known as the scruff, and is the area by which a mother cat grips her kittens to carry them. As a result, cats have a tendency to relax and become quiet and passive when gripped there. This tendency often extends into adulthood, and can be useful when attempting to treat or move an uncooperative cat. However, since an adult cat is quite a bit heavier than a kitten, a pet cat should never be carried by the scruff, but should instead have their weight supported at the rump and hind legs, and also at the chest and front paws. Often (much like a small child) a cat will lie with its head and front paws over a person's shoulder, and its back legs and rump supported under the person's arm.

Like almost all mammals, cats possess seven cervical vertebrae. They have thirteen thoracic vertebrae (compared to twelve in humans), seven lumbar vertebrae (compared to five in humans), three sacral vertebrae like most mammals (humans have five because of their bipedal posture), and twenty-two or twenty-three caudal vertebrae (humans have three to five, fused into an internal coccyx). The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat's enhanced spinal mobility and flexibility, compared to humans; the caudal vertebrae form the tail, used by the cat for counterbalance to the body during quick movements.[8]

Cats have highly specialized teeth and a digestive tract suitable to the digestion of meat. The premolar and first molar together compose the carnassial pair on each side of the mouth, which efficiently functions to shear meat like a pair of scissors. While this is present in canines, it is highly developed in felines. The cat's tongue has sharp spines, or papillae, useful for retaining and ripping flesh from a carcass. These papillae are small backward-facing hooks that contain keratin and assist in their grooming.

man cat (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19258973)

CAT(1)                          User Commands                          CAT(1)

NAME
       cat - concatenate files and print on the standard output

SYNOPSIS
       cat [OPTION] [FILE]...

DESCRIPTION
       Concatenate FILE(s), or standard input, to standard output.

       -A, --show-all
              equivalent to -vET

       -b, --number-nonblank
              number nonblank output lines

       -e     equivalent to -vE

       -E, --show-ends
              display $ at end of each line

       -n, --number
              number all output lines

       -s, --squeeze-blank
              never more than one single blank line

       -t     equivalent to -vT

       -T, --show-tabs
              display TAB characters as ^I

       -u     (ignored)

       -v, --show-nonprinting
              use ^ and M- notation, except for LFD and TAB

       --help display this help and exit

       --version
              output version information and exit

       With no FILE, or when FILE is -, read standard input.

AUTHOR
       Written by Torbjorn Granlund and Richard M. Stallman.

REPORTING BUGS
       Report bugs to <bug-coreutils@gnu.org>.

Re:man cat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259161)

man cat [google.com]

Re:man cat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259447)

This is a clear case of goat.cx for the win.

Administratively impossible? (4, Insightful)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258811)

Try physically impossible. You can't list what isn't there.

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

bobo mahoney (1098593) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258883)

I would love to see the MS patent list. I bet there are patents in that that cover just about every aspect of computing. That does not mean that they are enforceable, but I bet they do have some that Linux encroaches upon.

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259991)

As I'm sure that Microsoft has encroached upon some patents of Apple, IBM, Xerox, Edison, etc....

Re:Administratively impossible? (5, Insightful)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258893)

it seems suspicious that they can count them, yet cannot identify them. "yes, 235 of them, but we have no idea which ones, and where they are. it would be too difficult to find out." yeah right.

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259175)

Any geek knows that select (count *) is faster than select *...

Re:Administratively impossible? (3, Funny)

CantStopDancing (1036410) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259547)

And most geeks know the correct form would be select count(id) (select count(*) is slower, and your syntax is wrong)

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259825)

Apparently I'm not in that group. Whoops.

Re:Administratively impossible? (5, Funny)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259267)

Maybe it started like this:

NOOOOoooobody expects the Ballmer Inquisition! Our chief weapon is patent nr 1,563,245...1,563,245 and 934,189...934,189 and 1,563,245.... Our two weapons are 934,189 and 1,563,245...and 2,100,003.... Our *three* weapons are patents nr 934,189, 1,563,245, and 2,100,003...and 2,100,004.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such patents as 934,189, 1,563,245.... I'll come in again.

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259767)

OOOOOh that would make such a beautiful SIG :-)

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259297)

You know why that is? They made the number up! Quick someone patent the number 235 before they use it in a lawsuit!

Re:Administratively impossible? (2, Funny)

jstretch78 (1102633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259313)

Its not suspicious at all, I do the same thing with the tasks assigned to me in the bug tracker.

Re:Administratively impossible? (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258977)

Try physically impossible. You can't list what isn't there.

Linux and other Open Source software projects almost unquestionably transgress patents owned both by Microsoft and others. This is not the real issue. The real question is, are these patents defensible? Or would they fall due to "prior art" or other well known / common patent flaws? And, if Microsoft and other patent holders revealed OSS patent transgression, would there be practical work arounds? Probably many of the patents would fail if challenged.

One reason Microsoft and other patent holders might not want to reveal the specific patents is that the OSS movement will challenge them rather than licene them, while many commercial groups will be inclined to do the opposite, license them and pay the patent holders a fee.

Re:Administratively impossible? (2, Insightful)

Interested Bystander (1106793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259233)

So this would be a case of "Ignore the man behind the curtain?"

How'd they know there were 235? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259277)

It's funny, because that figure has three significant figures. They didn't say "over 200" or "about 230" but that there were 235 patents.

So, the only way to count them was to have a list. A list they could very easily share with us if they wanted to. Of course, as everyone else has said, we'd code around them, challenge their validity, etc. And no, it wouldn't matter if the list wasn't 100% correct. It'd just be useful to say that, hey, we really don't infringe that one, but whatever, while fixing all the ones we might infringe upon with OSS.

Of course, that's exactly what they don't want us to do. They don't want us to stop their FUD. And therein lies the problem: promissory estoppel (they promised not to sue), laches (they knew about the infringement and did nothing), unfair competition and anti-trust actions, as well as a whole host of other things you'd see a real lawyer argue if they actually tried to bring a patent infringement suit. Of course, IANAL, so get one if you ever want to make claims like those in court.

BTW, you know why I think they gave that promise not to sue? To keep any of us from bringing a declaratory judgment action against them. I seem to recall that case law is mixed on that point, but it gives them some wiggle room to avoid having anyone bring a lawsuit over this. I wouldn't be overly surprised if Red Hat or someone had their lawyers send a nasty letter to Microsoft over this and they realized that they had to cover some ass and pump out a little more PR as a smokescreen to hide their backpedaling on this issue.

Don't get me wrong, they'll probably still use the FUD they've created as another way to strong-arm vendors, but I bet they'll do it a little more quietly and they'll do it to people they already have some hold on.

Idiot. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259757)

To keep any of us from bringing a declaratory judgment action against them.

And exactly which "any of us" would that be that has the $ to bring what would almost cetainly be a very long and drawn out case? You? Some other Open Source coder who's making ass-loads from their project and can afford this? It's like the little skinny kid telling the big bully "I'll show you!". Never happens, does it?

Re:How'd they know there were 235? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259759)

Wow. That was well written and I think you articulated the major points nicely.

As you point out, for them to say 235 it sounds like they have a list. How do we get to see it? Threaten M$ with litigation of some form even though they promised not to sue but it is still impacting on your business.... makes for a pretty tight spot.

Someone needs to leak that list.

Re:Administratively impossible? (5, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259081)

You can't list what isn't there.
Sure I can:
  • Unicorns
  • Fairies
  • Leprechauns
  • Valid Software Patents

Re:Administratively impossible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259335)

I'm a level 30 Leprechaun you insensitive clod!

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259515)

Wait... Leprechauns don't exist?!?!?!? There goes my retirement plan of stealing their gold.

Open Letter to Jim Markwirth and Brad Smith: (4, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259093)

This announcement seems almost like a tailor-made response to my . But I'm not presumptuous enough to believe that Smith even *read* my e-mail to him or the posting on Slashdot, since the coward hasn't bothered to reply. But I'm going to pretend and treat it like one with an open reply

"Most people who are familiar with patents know it's not standard operating procedure to list the patents," Markwith said. "The response of that would be administratively impossible to keep up with."


Dear Messrs. Smith and Markwirth,

Right. It's not standard operating procedure to list the patents when you are claiming patent infringement in order to use it as a weapon. You declared war on the Free and Open Source Software Movements, you're the ones pointing the gun, so c'mon. It's time to put up or shut up. Sue the community, sue Red Hat, sue Linus, sue the Mozilla Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and sue Sun. Sue IBM. Sue me! Maybe my little project violates your patents! Let's have it! SUE US!

Stop this cowardly spreading of FUD. I declare that the Emperor has no clothes. Take us to court. You know we'd sue you if you violated the GPL, so let's have it.

Or do you, as I said before, are you afraid? What is it? Fear that you'd have all of your patents thrown out of court? Or maybe you fear that the industry would turn against you? No, I think it's all those things, but most of all it's that your bluff would be called and you'd have to stop spreading FUD. You know you can do more to damage Linux's reputation by sullying its good name with lies and innuendo about patents that are either obviously invalid or non-existant.

We have a saying where I come from: "Don't let your mouth write any checks that your ass can't cash!"

Put up or shut up. Sue us!

Re:Open Letter to Jim Markwirth and Brad Smith: (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259137)

s/my/my Open Letter to Brad Smith [slashdot.org] .

Re:Administratively impossible? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259423)

There is an impossibly long list of things that Microsoft says is impossible to do... most of those have been done. People have done some pretty impossible things like removing MSIE from the OS, shrinking WindowsXP down to Win95 size and all sort of interesting impossible things.

Now if Microsoft said that listing the bugs in the OS was administratively impossible, I would believe that. But they are citing a very specific number of infringement and had the count broken down into specific areas with specific counts in each. If they have the numbers, they have the claim for each counted item. Would it be too simple for me to say they are just lying?

Re:Administratively impossible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259673)

You can't list what isn't there.
Actually, they probably are. Microsoft holds many, many patents. Last time I checked it was something like 6000-7000 and that's just the issued ones (they have at least a couple of hundred pending at any given time, and I think they apply for something like 20-50 per day). Microsoft's primary source of revenue has always been operating systems so I wouldn't be surprised if a number of them involves techniques used in the Linux kernel.

That being said, are they enforcable? I seriously doubt it. There is prior art up the wazoo as far as kernels are concerned and very little new is invented in that particular area (although virtualization might be something of a concern, Microsoft has applied for a whole bunch of patents in that area recently and Linux is just getting started).

It's the threat of a lawsuit that makes software patents valuable in this case, so having them overturned by the open source community would be really bad for Microsoft. Also, because the patents may apply to Linux it's also likely that they could apply to other Unices - like proprietary ones - owned by companies with deep pockets. I don't think Microsoft has any intention to show the list to the community. No, they just want to scare vendors to the negotiation table so thay can do their extortion thing behind closed doors.

I'm speculating mostly, but I don't think I'm far off.

The snowball effect... (-1, Troll)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258815)

Its obvious Microsoft has better things to do like look for which politician, judge, and other luser who's pocket they could grease before they post their findings. I wonder if someone from the old Xerox days(daze) cares to look in their dusty file cabinets and slap a nice one on Billy Goat

Hwhat? (5, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258821)

'administratively impossible to keep up' with the list
And yet it was NOT administratively impossible for them to verify that said patents were being infringed upon? Does ANYONE actually think that makes any sense whatsoever? Any patent lawyers or business people well versed with such situations able to clarify this? Or is it the idiocy it appears to be.

I realize that there would be a lot of paperwork involved in defending those patents once groups start having to verify with MS as to specific infringements, but isnt this overhead a cost of doing business concerning protecting your IP? Can companies infringing on patents that companies refuse to disclose information for even be considered to be infringing?

Ignorance of the law may not be a defense, but being told that you CANT know what the law is sure seems different. Mind boggling, unless i'm missing something key.

Perspectives are necessary, someone point out what i'm missing.

Re:Hwhat? (5, Interesting)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259055)

What's wrong here, is that Microsoft thinks that IT bosses, are all PHBs and it would be very easy to spread FUD amongst them.

When I started as a developer 10 years ago, may be this was the case, my bosses then had absolutely no clue what programming was all about (I am not talking about a specific programming language, or paradigm, just programming or software engineering in general)).

These were the type of people, who felt the sand under their feet, slipping away every time there were concerns regarding the technology they were managing. And the reason was obvious, they DIDN'T KNOW about the technology they were managing.

But now it's a very very different world, people who were senior programmers then, are now managers, and as such are in much better shape to judge the technologies they work with.

So in retrospect, Microsoft may have had luck in these kind of FUD tactics, 10 years ago, but that won't work now. Sure there will be some, who will fold and pay up, but then most of the competent people in the industry that I know, are saying...."Hang on a minute,, there is something very fishy about these claims"

Re:Hwhat? (2, Interesting)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259095)

You know, that makes more sense of microsofts actions in the past 5-7 years than any other opinion i've seen.

Danke.

Re:Hwhat? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259059)

It's kind of a Heisenberg thing: the more you know about which products are infringing the patents, the less you know about which patents are being infringed.

Re:Hwhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259359)

Suddenly, I have been enlightened.

Re:Hwhat? (2, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259135)

And yet it was NOT administratively impossible for them to verify that said patents were being infringed upon? Does ANYONE actually think that makes any sense whatsoever?
The beauty of is that FUD, it doesn't have to make sense once you stop to think and do some research. FUD just has to be plausible enough at first glance to scare the uninformed. Microsoft's excuses don't have to make sense either, who cares now that the damage is done?

Re:Hwhat? (3, Interesting)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259223)

As far as I can tell you're not missing anything. Patents aren't like trademarks in that you have to defend them to keep them. If in some parallel universe Microsoft said, "Linux, you're infringing on the following patents:... but we're not going to sue you today," it would in no way impair their ability to sue whomever they wanted the next day. In fact it would strengthen future cases, because they could point to the notification and make arguments about willful infringement and treble damages.

What has (probably) happened here is some MS patent office guy essentially did a freedom to operate study as if he were representing Linux, he copied too many people in on the email with the findings which probably said something like, "We find that Linux could be infringing on as many as 325 Microsoft patents, however, the validity of these patents with regard to obviousness and/or prior art is debatable."

Basically another poster nailed it, when he said that the reason that microsoft isn't naming patents is so that they can license them to other "infringing" commercial entities. Had they named them, even without a suit, a slew of legal arguments contradicting Microsoft's position would be forthcoming shortly and commercial entities would have the option to use the OS legal arguments instead of feeding the beast.

Re:Hwhat? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259327)

So let me get this straight.

Microsoft is orchestrating all of this so that they can sell licenses without disclosing WHAT is being licensed.

Sounds like buying an insurance policy where it covers nothing...and wouldnt that be illegal? or are they insulated by the fact that they can "come up with" the information at any time if necessary in court?

Re:Hwhat? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259631)

"Linux, you're infringing on the following patents:... but we're not going to sue you today," it would in no way impair their ability to sue whomever they wanted the next day. In fact it would strengthen future cases, because they could point to the notification and make arguments about willful infringement and treble damages.

i was sure that they had to decide to sue or not sue as soon as they discovered the infringement. otherwise, i'm sure that would be some form of inappropriate behaviour related to waiting until they found it advantagious to sue them (i.e. little company infriges unknowingly, microsoft lies in wait with patent, then looses the lawyers on them when the little company is a billion-dollar firm).

we got any patent lawyers around here who can clarify?

Re:Hwhat? (2, Informative)

JimNTonik (1097185) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259345)

If they provided a number of patent infringements, they've already listed them internally. It's clear at this point that their intention was never to actually act on these patents.

Re:Hwhat? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259989)

Hello I am from microsoft and I am a liar.

MS hasn't a pot to piss in. (2, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258825)


Microsoft patents attorney Jim Markwith told OSBC it would be "impossible" for Redmond's bureaucrats to respond to the volume of responses that would result from disclosure.

Do they really believe they'd have less work to do if they acted on their threats to deal with it in the courtroom? MS is just trying to keep the FUD of "using teh Linux may get you sued!!!11```" alive.

Impossible to keep up with the response. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19258829)

Not the list. There's a big difference.

Re:Impossible to keep up with the response. (4, Insightful)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258981)

You could cover all the responses at one by simply publishing the patent numbers being infringed upon. IBM should file a suit similar to the one RedHat brought against SCO.. Im sure it wont happen but it would be nice to see what MS has..

It must be.... (0, Redundant)

surfdaddy (930829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258849)

...because they're too busy working on the next Vista security patch. I also heard that there was a chair throwing class that the lawyers were going to.

Headline is wrong (5, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258851)

Let me fix that for you:

Microsoft Too Busy Backpedaling To Name Linux Patents?

What a bunch of crap (3, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258855)

Microsoft is too busy to figure out the list of infringing patens eh? then how did they count the exact number of infringing patents? if this number didn't come out of a countable list, perhaps, just perhaps, they must be pulling it out of their collective arse...

And if they are... (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259041)

And if they're making up patent infringement claims, does that count as a form of libel? Could they be sued (the American answer for everything =)) to put up or shut up? Would it be worthwhile to pursue such a course?

Re:What a bunch of crap (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259995)

Microsoft is too busy to figure out the list of infringing patens eh? then how did they count the exact number of infringing patents?
Easy.

SELECT COUNT(*) FROM patents WHERE infringing_os="linux';

Contract details (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19258877)

Wow, apparently not only did the customers not know the details of the contract but apparently neither did Microsoft. Fortunately Novell is being forthcoming and letting Microsoft know what they agreed to. Maybe we'll be next.

" as ZDNet is reporting that Novell will share the details of its agreement with Microsoft"

Vista & Word (5, Funny)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258889)

It's just that, when using the bloated Word with the equally bloated Vista, they're going to need a year or two to get the list completed.

Re:Vista & Word (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259321)

I believe the problem is they have the list, about 2 meg in size, on 1 vista machine and they are still waiting for it to transfer [slashdot.org] to one they can print from.

Re:Vista & Word (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259751)

Two meg? You sure? Given the file overheads, it would need to be a very short list.

Could this bite Microsoft later? (3, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258895)

Could someone claim in court that they thought it would be ok to violate Microsoft's patents, since they apparently have announced that they don't plan on enforcing some of their patents? And are there time limits on enforcement after a company knows of infringers, or does the ability to enforce them never expire? If there is a time limit, that could seriously bite them later too.


p.s. How about just the top five then? Certainly that won't take too long, right?

Yes, Lots of Administrative Overhead (4, Insightful)

Catiline (186878) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258897)

Actually, despite what so many other people may think, I for one say Microsoft is 100% right in their reasoning: this list might be just too hard to administer.

After all, how many hours do you think it would take for the open source software to re-write their code to work around a patent after it was added? The effort of removing patent after patent is just more than Microsoft could ever bear.&lt/sarcasm>

Re:Yes, Lots of Administrative Overhead (0)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258991)

And another issue is how many lawsuits MS is already embroiled in. MS may have many, many employees, but most of them are coders who can't work in the courtroom. They have lawyers, or course, but MS isn't a law firm and probably have a more limited supply. Even though I'm sure that supply is quite large, you have to bet they are strapped to the max, because they have to defend themselves from the big EU lawsuits, Iowa anti-trust cases, random consumers suing them, and the list goes on and on. They may know a patent is being infringed upon, but seriously, which is more important: suing a company or random open source group that probably isn't all that big or important for patent infringement, OR defending yourself from being sued by an entire continent (EU)?

Re:Yes, Lots of Administrative Overhead (1)

kihjin (866070) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259393)

While I agree with you in most cases, Microsoft has quantified just how many of their patents FOSS infringes upon.

Either they know exactly which patents are involved, or they pulled the number 235 out of some dark and smelly place.

Re:Yes, Lots of Administrative Overhead (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259785)

I know 225 ways in which you are incorrect. But it's too difficult to administer the post them all. :-)

Better things to do... (3, Funny)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258929)

They must be too busy innovating and creating new patents. ;-)

Fixed it for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259309)

They must be too busy patenting non-innovations built on top of other peoples work.

fr0st pist (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19258947)

they screwed themselves (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258953)

they claim that there isnt enough time to list off how much was infringed which then brings up the point that they waited way too long to make their charges even if they were actually correct [unlikely to begin with] which also means that they likely would have waited past what is considered timely. you couldnt do this to any person under the law [RIAA for example] so why should a company be able to do this? there has to be something illegal about this whole thing.

Re:they screwed themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259273)

There is not requirement to be timely in patents, only in trademarks.

They're Waiting for the Summer Interns to Start (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 7 years ago | (#19258959)

Once the summer interns come in, they'll get on this right away.

Re:They're Waiting for the Summer Interns to Start (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259177)

Unfortunately, and more frustratingly for Microsoft, all the best and the brightest interns are working for Google's Summer of Patents.

Typical Failure. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259013)

Impossible and contradictory tasks, answers depend on who you ask, infighting, these are the hallmarks of a company in trouble. Vista took too long to develop, does not work and is not selling. Office is being escaped by real standards based productivity apps which can no longer be fought off. Those are their flagships and their money makers. GPL 3 prevents them form stealing free software, so they will soon have to compete honestly. Not only won't they be able to grow as promissed, their revenues will collapse.

This is good because M$ is an enemy of free software and has made trouble for everyone else far too long.

Re:Typical Failure. (2, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259323)

Vista does not work and is not selling. Office is being escaped by real standards based productivity

Personal value judgements that do not reflect reality, no matter how much you repeat them. "Vista does not work and is not selling" has apparently become the rallying cry of people who are frustrated at the opposite.

GPL 3 prevents them form stealing free software

I fail to see how the world will change vis-a-vis Microsoft and free software the day after the new version of the GPL is released. They couldn't "steal" it before and won't be able to after, with or without patent FUD or dodgy alliances with Novell. This is an empty "M$ fails it" argument that means absolutely nothing.

Re:Typical Failure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259451)

> "Vista does not work and is not selling" has apparently become the rallying
> cry of people who are frustrated at the opposite.

I've seen one copy in the wild, owner wished he'd spent double and got the MacBook he wanted. Weird issues with the wireless driver - took me 3 hours to fix it for him. He isn't impressed with Vista at all, I thought it made a core2 duo perform like an old Pentium 166.

You need to get real or are you just some shill?

Re:Typical Failure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259765)

Login or shut the fuck up, kthx

Re:Typical Failure. (2, Insightful)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259349)

Vista took too long to develop, does not work and is not selling.

Whoa whoa whoa. Where are you getting all this? Yeah, Vista took a long time to develop, I'll give you that. But where do you come off immediately following that up by saying it doesn't work? I haven't had one crash or error since I started using it months ago (right after it came out). It works perfectly, and it has some great internal improvements (WPF, WCF, WF) that developers love and that will let us make better programs. And saying it isn't selling? It may not be selling as much as Microsoft had hoped/predicted, but saying it isn't selling is just flat wrong. The fact is, most software houses would kill to sell as many copies as Vista is selling.

Office is being escaped by real standards based productivity apps which can no longer be fought off.

Again, where do you get this garbage? Are you a troll? Office 2007 is actually crushing everything else. It is making people excited about an office suite again (which is pretty amazing, actually). Again, I've been using it for months and it is a VAST improvement over all previous versions of MS Office as well as all other office apps out there. Once you get used to the interface, it is just better by any measure you use. More intuitive, quicker to use, easier to find/understand power features, takes less mouse clicks to do things, gives real time previews of changes, etc. It makes openoffice look like something from the last decade. And as for standards based files, the new office files are open standards, and better because they also zip themselves up to save space. How many of the open standards you are referring to do that? And how average users can actually open all these open standards you say are crushing MS. You just try giving an open office document to a sample of the general public and see how many can open it. 95% of them can't. So get a clue: It doesn't matter that a standard is open if almost no one has software that uses it. What matters is having an open standard that everyone is ALSO using (which will shortly be the case with the MS standards, given the brisk selling pace of Office 2007).

Re:Typical Failure. (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259367)

Let me try to correct what you have said:

This is good because M$ is an enemy of free software and has made trouble for everyone else far too long.
I'm reasonably certain that if you ask Borland, Digital Research, Novell of the 80-90s, Wordstar, Wordperfect, Paradox coders, and hundreds of other people that worked for not-free software companies they would tell you that MS is the enemy of *anyone* who is not Microsoft.... including Windows end users.

The simple fact is that MS did not perceive F/OSS software as a threat until it was too late. Once Linux liberated the kernel the "fat lady" started warming up for the final song. Now, MS sees F/OSS as a threat and are busy trying to find ways to beat down this johnny-come-lately, and having little success in trying to run people out of business who really aren't in business. Sure RedHat et al are in business, but MS has no traction in competing with them. In short, MS pretty much got blind-sided with F/OSS in general and GNU/Linux in particular. OOo and other applications are the peccadillo's in MS' cash cows.

The failures by MS of late are not typical, but indeed are spectacular, and I expect that the fireworks show at the end will be nothing less than 4th-of-July impressive.

Re:Typical Failure. (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259527)

The simple fact is that MS did not perceive F/OSS software as a threat until it was too late

That's funny, Eric Raymond told me in Halloween of 1998 that Microsoft looked at Linux as a core threat. How are they noticing it late again?

The reality is that Microsoft simply did not worry about free software until it started gaining traction with corporations. When IBM and Novell and Sony And Apple and so on get behind something you can bet good money MS will be looking closely. Before that it simply was not a "threat" at all, no matter how much a few hundred thousand hobbyists claimed that was the case.

Microsoft is not scared of free software or open source or the bazaar or penguins. They are worried about what their competitors can do with those tools, but this is no different from IBM suddenly deciding to resurrect OS/2 and striking a deal with Gateway to bundle it on their machines.

On the other hand, free software like Linux and OO.org are just about the only tools left for those companies to compete with Microsoft, especially on the desktop.

Um, technically he's right. (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259027)

If there is some kind of deal with Novell, me may not be able to say any of the details publically, but that doesn't negate the fact of what he said before that sounds like a load of krap. I mean I'm a MS supporter, but I firmly believe that lawyers should be nowhere near anything that has to do with PR.

But its only about 26 patents. (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259049)

If you read the actual report that the magic number came from you will see that Microsoft only holds about 11% of the 235 'unchalenged' patents that linux 'possibly' infringes on.

Just as hard as it was for SCO (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259077)

to find the infringing code.

Forgetfulness in the private sector? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259127)

You have a patent attorney, who is too busy working on protecting your patents to tell you which patents are being infringing upon? I'd love to see that stand up in court, I have a feeling it would look a lot like the Gonzo testimony.

"Sir, I don't recall being at the meeting where the number of infringing patents was discussed..."

-Rick

Shades of SCO (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259131)

Here we go again.

It isn't transparency... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259159)

To say you have 235 nuclear-tipped missiles sitting in a silo, somewhere, and they could be pointed at you! But we won't show them to you or say where they are.

If you are going to mention them at all, you should not be surprised in the least that people will want specifics, and therefore you should be prepared to provide them, or at least show a couple of examples to demonstrate the whole thing isn't a bluff.

For heaven's sake, what's so difficult about listing the patent numbers? How hard is that? How much work does that take if you've supposedly inventoried the relevant patents sufficiently to state with confidence that there are 235 of them, broken down by category? An hour's work, including proofreading? If that's too much effort, pick the most important dozen.

Throw us a bone!

Everyone else who cares will take it from there by looking at the patent applications, which are well-documented at the patent office. All we need is a few numbers.

Perhaps MS is afraid the patents are duds?

Horseshit (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259227)

Let me be the first to say "Horse shit!".

Just curious... (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259265)

...Does Microsoft's company directory use the term "FUD Division" or "Division of FUD"?

Poor Ramji (4, Funny)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259281)

> [...] Ramji, the executive tasked with the difficult job of straddling
> Microsoft's growing support for open source in server and tools,
> and aggressive and unpredictable statements from management on patents [...]

They should hire Tony Snow, he can do that on mere brain stem functionality.

Nobody will believe that (2, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259293)

At some future time Microsoft will press an existing patent against someone. The first defence will be Estoppel [wikipedia.org] . Microsoft is once company that cannot claim it did not have the resources to defend itself. If Microsoft fails to defend at this point, especially after making the pubclic claims it is effectively estopped from raising those claims in the future.

IANAL but I like to try on the hat

Whiny little punks... (1)

hellslinger (1090585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259305)

Wow, these sniveling little Microsoft lawyer punks have had their bluff called out! Looks like their patents on walking and breathing are not going to do them any good.

Just name one then (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259319)

It would be a good start if they could even name just one patent infringed upon. Just one.

Patents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259375)

I had a big list of patents being illegally used in Linux too.
My dog ate it though. :(

Novell fooled us all... (1)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259379)

I must admit, i was wrong about the Novell/M$ deal. It looks like the Suse guys have turned the tables on the embrace/extend attempt by M$. Now with Redmond's claims that they have no intention to sue (which is doubtfull if they even could...sorry Bill, you're a Linux distributor now :) ), and with Novell saying that they are going to reveal the innards of the deal, Im thinking that this was a great strategy to ensure the future of Linux. M$ just underestimated the viral nature of the GPL. How do you like the taste of your own medicine, Mr. Ballmer?

In other words.... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259427)

... we're just making shit up...

Hey, try this excuse! (3, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259477)

My dog ate the patent list.


That's actually more believable.

Re:Hey, try this excuse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259689)

My dog ate the patent list.

Would that be the dog that keeps showing up when I try to do anything in Microsoft Word?

Patients != Bugs (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259481)

Microsoft cited administrative overhead for not detailing the 235 Microsoft patents its chief legal counsel recently told Forbes exist in Linux and open source.

This is true! An extra 235 patents to monitor would overload their workforce that is already concentrating on the 235,000 bugs located in the first release of Vista! (May I say 135,000 of those deal with using Vista as a gaming platform)

After an sccidental pentathol shot... (3, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259497)

...Microsoft's Patent Attorney explained that the reason they hadn't named the supposedly infringing patents was that "we know what the U in FUD stands for".

This didn't work for SCO (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259519)

After years of watching SCO flounder in their lawsuit in IBM - why would Microsoft try the same tactics? It didn't work before, it won't work now. There may be a temporary FUD benefit, but in the long run it'll just send Microsoft down the path to irrelevancy.

Today's statement blew their credibility totally - out of 235 patents, 11% are supposedly owned by Microsoft. But they don't know which ones and it'd be too difficult to find out.

So if they don't know which patents might be infringed upon - and find it too difficult to research it - then where did that attack against Linux come from? Pure fantasy, of course. It's probably actionable fantasy, too - all the elements of libel are present in Microsoft's "Linux infringes on Microsoft patents". Say - that might be interesting; to defend against a libel charge they'd have to prove that their statement was true. That'd keep their legal staff busy for a few months or years - and give everyone else a target to aim at.

We can only hope that most media outlets make note of the conflicting statements and complete lack of any reason for their claim that Linux infringes Microsoft patents. Microsoft has NO SUCH EVIDENCE of infringement - and has made a public statement that it's too difficult / not worth their time to try to find any such evidence.

Re:This didn't work for SCO (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259745)

So if they don't know which patents might be infringed upon - and find it too difficult to research it - then where did that attack against Linux come from? Pure fantasy, of course. It's probably actionable fantasy, too - all the elements of libel are present in Microsoft's "Linux infringes on Microsoft patents". Say - that might be interesting; to defend against a libel charge they'd have to prove that their statement was true.

Problem is, their statement probably is true. Sure, it was a stupid statement, and sure, they don't seem to have a clue about which patents Open Source infringes on. But for OSS to come back and call libel would probably be false and at any rate would be very risky. Given the vast number of patents MS has, it is almost unthinkable that some little bit of code somewhere doesn't tread on one. MS may not want to take the time now to figure out what code violates their patents, but faced with a big payout in a libel lawsuit, they might just take the time to figure it out, and then countersue for infringement after winning the libel suit. Typically, when it comes to software giants and patents, its better just to mind your own business and stay out of that arena unless your hand is forced. They just have too many patents to avoid hitting something, and trying to research prior art and defend yourself is expensive.

Translation (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259563)

Translation: FUD takes just long enough to make a "claim" to the press. Doing research to possibly substantiate those claims is not effecient allocation of FUD resources - there are other "claims" that could be made during that time.

GREAT!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259597)

Now we know that it's all smoke & mirrors...

So go ahead, infringe on ALL of ms's patents, since they're just too busy to hassle you.

Somewhere in the back of the conference room: (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259625)

"FUCK, I told you someone was going to ask which patents they were!"

lame. (1)

minuszero (922125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259679)

come on guys!
you could at least try!

-what? are you...

ccchicken? :o

Frost ?pijst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19259791)

was what got m3 future. Th3 hand person. Ask your

What they meant to say does make sense... (2, Informative)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259793)

The way MS phrased their statement (and previous statements) is stupid and doesn't make a lot of sense. They made it sound like they had a list of patents, and now say they don't. However, the statement I think they were trying to say is, "We have so many patents that we know that some open source software somewhere must be infringing on something we've patented." Then they tried to clarify that they haven't actually made a list of them all because, "it would take way too much administrative time to find out which ones they are and list them all." Stated that way, their statement would make a lot more sense, and it would probably be true.

Are patents like trademarks? (1)

semifamous (231316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259845)

If I remember correctly, if you don't protect your trademark and prevent people from using your name as a generic term (Kleenex, Google, Band-Aid), you lose your rights to it as a trademark. It becomes the general term instead and is no longer protected. (That's the short version. I'm sure there's a lot more to it than that since laws are so specific.)

Is this also the case with patents? If they don't sue, do they lose the rights to them?

The synopsis has it wrong (5, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259943)

Sigh... There is a bit of a misrepresentation of what was said. The MS lawyer actually said, "'Most people who are familiar with patents know it's not standard operating procedure to list the patents,' Markwith said. 'The response of that would be administratively impossible to keep up with.'"

This is significantly different than "it would be 'administratively impossible to keep up' with the list."

I agree with the lawyer that the response to revealing the patents would be enormous and probably too difficult to keep up with. There would be all kinds of questions like "*How* does it infringe?", "Will this change help?", "What about this prior art?", etc, etc. There are thousands of Linux/GNU/whatever developers who are implicitly implicated by their accusations. Many of these are associated with large organizations which have teams of lawyers themselves. There are probably only a few lawyers dealing with this issue at MS. Thus, it *would* be administratively impossible to handle the response.

My feeling is that if you don't want to deal with the response, then shut up. But I guess they don't agree. But it is an interesting comment none-the-less.

BTW, I'm not being sarcastic in this post, but it's pretty difficult to tell given the absurdity of the issue.

There is no spoon... (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#19259945)

Do not try and list the patents... that's impossible.
Instead only try to realize the truth... There is no list.
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