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Open Invention Network Calls Out Microsoft

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the show-em-if-you-got-em dept.

Linux Business 95

Stony Stevenson writes with news that the head of the Open Invention Network has summarily dismissed Microsoft's claims that Linux violates a number of its patents. Calling the move 'clear FUD', Jerry Rosenthal calls them out by asking for Microsoft to disclose the patents they are worried about. His argument is that if the patents are something to be proud of, if the software giant feels they're sure to succeed in court, there's no need for behind-the-hand namecalling. "Rosenthal believes that, if there are grounds for patent infringement, there would either be easy workarounds or the open source community would find 'prior art' which would invalidate the patent. OIN buys patents on the open market and makes them available to companies royalty free, so long as those companies pledge never to use their own patents to attack open source code.The organisation was set up by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony and has a war chest of millions of dollars."

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Seriously. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20868283)

What the fuck is with the comment system? STOP DEFAULTING TO THE NEW COMMENT SYSTEM!

It's total crap. Complete and utter crap.

Not a troll, just an opinion.

User Calls Out Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20868289)

The new comment system sucks soo much ass on Firefox adn Opera it's hard to believe it's even worse in IE7.

What is this, amature hour?

Re:User Calls Out Slashdot (1)

rubberglove (1066394) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869717)

Care to elaborate? I've never had any real problems with it, and now prefer it to the old system.

The OIN is a redundant outfit... (3, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868333)

Linux grew to it's present strength because the GPL (then and now) took a very clear stand against software patents. The OIN on the other hand, muddies the waters and talks about this non-existent entity called Intellectual Property.

from their site:

In order to continue this rapid pace of innovation, a refined model of intellectual property management has been established. Open Invention NetworkSM is an intellectual property company that was formed to promote the Linux system by using patents to create a collaborative ecosystem.
The more the Linux community stay away from OIN, the better. The word Open is abused day by day, it seems a complete rewrite of the dictionary is needed.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868515)

While I will admit I don't know much about them, from your own words I have to disagree with you.

The GPL (and thus the FSF) uses the copyright system to protect software freedom. The OIN apparently using the patent system to protect software freedom. There will be some overlap here, but using 2 different systems to protect the same thing isn't wasteful, it's security. Especially with such an unpredictable system. (Could anyone here have predicted the 1-click patent?)

BTW, Copyright, the basis for the GPL, is also Intellectual Property. If IP really didn't exist, neither would the GPL.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (-1, Offtopic)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868607)

The Red Sox and the Yankees are both baseball teams, so if you support the Red Sox, you support a baseball team, therefore you support the Yankees.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20868895)

What... what do... what.... HUH? WHAT!

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868973)

That's how open source is supposed to work - the alternative can be described as a series of financial, legal and political baseball riots.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

saider (177166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870705)

I don't think that the Red Sox could go very far without another team to play.

Imagine how boring it would be watching a bunch of guys standing around in the field scratching themselves and spitting.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20873559)

Then why do you read Slashdot?

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876165)

Imagine how boring it would be watching a bunch of guys standing around in the field scratching themselves and spitting.
So... no more boring than baseball already is?

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

awrowe (1110817) | more than 6 years ago | (#20878515)

Isn't that what baseball is all about anyway?

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868837)

The OIN apparently using the patent system to protect software freedom. There will be some overlap here, but using 2 different systems to protect the same thing isn't wasteful, it's security. Especially with such an unpredictable system. (Could anyone here have predicted the 1-click patent?)

BTW, Copyright, the basis for the GPL, is also Intellectual Property. If IP really didn't exist, neither would the GPL.


This is wrong at several levels. The FSF is very clear in its view that Copyright is NOT Intellectual Property. This is made explicitly clear by Stallman himself:

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/not-ipr.xhtml/view?searchterm=intellectual%20property [fsf.org]

It has become fashionable to describe copyright, patents, and trademarks as "intellectual property". This fashion did not arise by accident--the term systematically distorts and confuses these issues, and its use was and is promoted by those who gain from this confusion. Anyone wishing to think clearly about any of these laws would do well to reject the term.
The OIN counts IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony among its members. Except for RedHat none of the other companies have really promoted Linux and the GPL as much as their dollars would allow. Some like Novell and Sony have often done the opposite.

Now that Linux is getting a lot of good press, and Vista has flopped, these outfits are trying to hitch on to the Linux bandwagon.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869335)

Doesn't really matter what 1 organization says, it matters what the world says. Here's a little bit of the rest of the world:

http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/ [wipo.int]

Here's a little sample, emphasis is mine:

Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874393)

The FSF is very clear in its view that Copyright is NOT Intellectual Property.


The fact that the FSF and/or RMS claims that copyright is not Intellectual Property does not change the fact that copyright is a type of intellectual property.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869283)

BTW, Copyright, the basis for the GPL, is also Intellectual Property. If IP really didn't exist, neither would the GPL.
That's just plain wrong. Copyright is a right (to be more exact a priviledge) and not a property. Having rights to something doesn't make it your property, even though there are people who seem to think so. If you buy a flight ticket you have the right to fly on a plane at a certain seat. But in no way this turns the seat into your property.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869541)

To elaborate my point: If you have Author's Right according to the Berne Convention you can't even trade the Right. Either you are the author, then you have Author's Right automatically, or you are not, then you will never get Author's Right. Even "work for hire" is not covered by the Berne Convention. So Author's Right is certainly not a property.

Re:The OIN is a redundant outfit... (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20878295)

I am sorry, there is no way to cooperate fair with lawyers. They don't treat you right. What will the OIN do against the typical lawyer deception? How will they ensure that we don't believe they will deceive us in the future. Do they support the anti-software patent movement or do they nurture the parasite?

Snuffleupagus says hi! (5, Informative)

crush (19364) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868697)

"Intellectual property" is a misleading portmanteau of completely separate branches of law: trademarks, copyrights and patents. But the OIN despite the badly worded mission statement concentrates on patents. Specifically its a defensive patent pool (with contributions from Red Hat, Sun, Novell, IBM and others) which can be licensed by any company agreeing not to use its own patents in aggressive lawsuits against pool members.

Currently the three largest licensess are Google, Barracuda and Sun.

David Wheeler has a good overview here [dwheeler.com]

Given the current lamentable state of the patent system the OIN is probably the only way in which some sanity can be established. It must be awkward to be Novell right now having endorsed the OIN on one hand, and also endorsed the existence of Microsoft's Snuffleupagus [wikipedia.org] Patents.

Teh Lunix welcomes it's new Corporate Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20873973)

The organisation [sic] was set up by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony


Yep... I see no reason this organiZation could possibly have an axe to grind against MS, or wish to "summarily dismiss" their claim (BTW, when did they become a court of law?). It's not like these guys stand to benefit by weakening MS.

All they need to do is get Sun and Netscape to sign on, and it will sound just like the "browser wars" dream team! They're getting the band back together!

BTW, I completely agree with your comment on the term "Open" being used incorrectly. The other day some asshat was trying to claim Open Source meant something other than allowing people to view the source code... this deluded kid was stating Open Source implied some kind licensing agreement, or else it wasn't Open Source. Perhaps he needs to look up "Free and Open Source Software" (FOSS) in the dictionary. Free advice, kids: words have meaning, and are used for a reason... not just to make yourself sound cool. If you believe the latter, you grow up sounding like some ignorant loser, just like GWB.

Re:Teh Lunix welcomes it's new Corporate Overlords (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874509)

Organisation.

Ballmer (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868355)

You know what, I don't think Microsoft knows which patents Linux is violating. There was a study done a few years ago, which was reported here on Slashdot, that said Linux may be violating a number of patents, but it didn't disclose any of them. I'll bet you anything Ballmer read that and thought, "Sweet! We've won!" Then at a certain PR event, he felt so excited about it he couldn't hold it in. He had to tell the world about this awesome study he'd heard about. Just like a little kid.

And that study may or may not be accurate, but Microsoft has no idea. They haven't gone through the code, it's just a bunch of hot air. Hope this doesn't stir up the water and get them looking.

Re:Ballmer (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868593)

Oh I think they know which patents are being infringed upon. I think they also know that the large majority of those patents are frivolous. It was just a FUD attack. But let's remember, according to Microsoft, this week they're open source's best friend.

Re:Ballmer (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868745)

How the heck was that off topic? The OIN is responding directly to a claim made by Balmer that linux violates Microsoft patents. That claim was made shortly after a study was made by an open source insurance group claiming the exact same thing. All of this came about as a result of the SCO fiasco.
Links:
The original study [slashdot.org]
The Ballmer threat [slashdot.org]

I swear people here have such a short memory.

Re:Ballmer (1)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868983)

I like your though process, I think from the very beginning MS was just being a winey little kid cause they know that Linux is growing and getting more exposure and easier to use, in short coming into it's own, especially in the business, the only reason that they made a deal with Novell is to make money off the people who wanted an enterprise Linux solution, so that MS can make money from Open Source. That company is now in the business of keeping their large income static (if not larger), not making their OS any better. You see that Vista is more a money machine for MS than it is an improved OS. I can't wait for Microsoft to be outmoded and am very curious to see how they will adapt.

Re:Ballmer (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869401)

Yes, I agree completely. It is amazing to think that such a huge and powerful company could fall and die, but that is exactly the direction they are headed. All their revenue streams (essentially Windows and Office) are facing strong competition for the first time in years. Mac sales are up 30% from last year. A number of strong competitors to Office are coming out. In the very least, they will have to cut prices. Furthermore, they have shown themselves incapable of producing a better operating system. Is that likely to change in the next five years?

Will they fall completely? It's happened before (see Osborn II). Most of their projects are losing money (Xbox, even their dev-tools division, which actually does produce some nice stuff). Without the massive cash boost from Windows and Word, they will not have the money to support these. Who will want to partnership with Microsoft? They have made tons of business enemies over the years, and no friends. No one works with Microsoft except because they have to.

You can't stay at the top forever, that much is certain, and it is doubly true in such a quickly changing industry. The question is how bad will be their fall? Will it be like IBM and Apple, who emerged with new life and remade themselves? Or will it be like SGI or Commodore? Thrashing hopelessly into that good night? Only time will tell.

Re:Ballmer (1)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869815)

Given the present attitude they will burn all bridges and die kicking and screaming "what a world! What a world!" but that is just my guess. But one thing is for sure that it is a pathetic and lame blow to attack open source for patents on the Linux OS. Think I should tell MS that the "if I go I am taking you with me!" mentality won't work in the software arena?

SGI (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877463)

The question is how bad will be their fall? Will it be like IBM and Apple, who emerged with new life and remade themselves? Or will it be like SGI or Commodore?

Unlike Commodore which died SGI has changed their focus. SGI now builds High Performance [eweek.com] and supercomputers [itjungle.com] . Here's an article on CNN Money about SGI, Marking First 25 Years, SGI Highlights How Its Customers Have Changed the World [cnn.com] .

Falcon

Re:SGI (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949897)

Yeah, and the Amiga is still alive too, holding the torch of the Commodore generation. The thing is, if Microsoft falls to the level of SGI, faces delisting from NASDAQ, and files for chapter 11 bankruptcy like SGI did, then for all practical purposes they will be dead. Mere zombies of their former selves.

Amiga and SGI (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960415)

Yeah, and the Amiga is still alive too, holding the torch of the Commodore generation.

The Amiga was my fav computer/OS. Commodore did almost nothing to market it unfortunately. And the thing is is the Amiga not only ran Workbench, the Amiga OS, but also was able to run both MS DOS and Windows 3.x as well as MacOS. Watching a then current Amiga and Mac running side by side years ago the Amiga ran Mac OS faster than the Mac did. I bought my first new PC right after Gateway bought the Amiga resources from Escom. Because of this and that I had heard Gateways were good I ordered one of their laptops, and I had specifically asked that the store pass up my comment that reason I bought the Gateway because they did buy the Amiga and that I would buy a new one when Gateway released the new Amiga. I was disappointed in both cases. Gateway did nothing with the Amiga, and the laptop I got was bad. About 1/2 year after I got it Gateway had to replace the hdd because it died, then a few days short of having it a year the motherboard had to be replaced.

I don't strictly blame Gateway for this as the same thing happened to the HP PC I got the replace it.

if Microsoft falls to the level of SGI, faces delisting from NASDAQ, and files for chapter 11 bankruptcy like SGI did

Uhm, I don't recall hearing SGI declared bankruptcy. I guess that's why they're focusing on supercomputers.

Falcon

Re:Amiga and SGI (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960507)

SGI bankruptcy is mentioned in the second paragraph of the entry on wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]
The official SGI press release [sgi.com]

They are a sad shell of the mighty graphics workstation company they once were.

Re:Amiga and SGI (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20961139)

SGI bankruptcy is mentioned in the second paragraph of the entry on wikipedia

Yea, I see. No wonder I hadn't heard of it, wiki says it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 8 May 2006. Other than a few months ago when I read how they had sold some high performance and supercomputer, I hadn't heard about them since oh the late '90s. The past few years I haven't been following the industry much, basically just Macs.

Because of the problems I've had with Windows PCs and MS wants to treat it's users as criminals I've switched. Both to Linux and to Macs. A bit over a year ago I got a PC with Linux preinstalled which when I get to it I'll setup as a server. And 2 months ago I got a Macbook Pro, which I'm typing this on.

They are a sad shell of the mighty graphics workstation company they once were.

Years ago I loved SGI's graphics. I had planned on getting a MIPS based PC from SGI 'til Gateway bought the Amiga. While I didn't get one I did get another RISC based PC at the same tyme, I got a DEC Alpha [wikipedia.org] based PC from Microway [microway.com] . I got it as a dualboot PC, with Redhat and Windows NT4.0 installed. NT4.0 is the only MS Windows OS I have not had trouble with. I even had XP freeze on me the first tyme I booted up a PC with it. Knowing what I now know, if I could go back to 1997 and start over I'd get Macs instead.

Falcon

MS profitting off of Linux (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877405)

the only reason that they made a deal with Novell is to make money off the people who wanted an enterprise Linux solution, so that MS can make money from Open Source.

I don't think the MS deal with Novell had anything to do with trying to make a profit off of Linux. MS could have easily made money off of Linux by selling a version of MS Office for Linux. If MS had created such a version 7 years ago I doubt Open Office would have gained as big, and getting bigger, a share of office suites. There was some demand for Office for Linux otherwise CodeWeavers never would of thought they could make a profit from creating CrossOver [codeweavers.com] to run MS Office on Linux. OO may not of been developed either. Even at this late date MS could probably make money releasing MS Office for Linux, the longer they wait the lower the chances are though.

Re:MS profitting off of Linux (1)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20880077)

you make some very good points but I would consider making MS Office for Linux a Terrible move, that would admit open source had some weight, about the only reason I think they made office for Mac OS was to get some slack from the monopoly law suits, and if I understand correctly Macs now either run full blown windows or parallels for windows apps. MS will have to impead Linux at all cost in their minds, why else would they have to claim patent violations that they cannot pinpoint? The paniced.

MS software for Macs (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20885473)

about the only reason I think they made office for Mac OS was to get some slack from the monopoly law suits

MS had software for Macs before they ever came out with Windows. Up until the 1990s Apple's share of the market was big, not as big as Windows' share is now but it was big. In education the market share Apple had was about 50%. Back then Apple was smart about the educational market, they offered an educational discount of about 50%. But they lowered the discount in the '90s. It's barely 10% now. MS now uses the Mac market for testing. They'll try something new in the Mac version of software first and if it works they'll add it to the Windows version. If it fails MS doesn't lose anything.

Falcon

Re:Ballmer and statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20874767)

Not only that, but the original study was a statistical analysis.
Given the number of lines of code in the kernel and assuming the kernel has the same rate of patent infringement as other software, it was likely to infringe x patents.
Microsoft holds y% of software patents, so y% of x patents is how many Microsoft patents it is likely to infringe.
If the study was repeated now, the number of Microsoft patents would rise because Microsoft's proportion of software patents is growing.
Perhaps that's why Microsoft keeps increasing the number of their patents which Linux is infringing :-)

I don't believe the analysis discriminated between operating systems and various types of application programs.
Most fundamental operating system research was conducted at universities (hence not patented), Unix specifications have been open for many years, and apparently there was only 1 patent in Unix in any case (suid), so the kernel has a much lower probablilty of infringing patents.
Some graphics and compression algorithms *were* patented, but many of those patents have expired (gif?), and much more commercial effort has gone into the application area, so applications have a higher probability of patent infringement.

Re:Ballmer (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877329)

And that study may or may not be accurate, but Microsoft has no idea. They haven't gone through the code, it's just a bunch of hot air. Hope this doesn't stir up the water and get them looking.

Actually I'd prefer Microsoft had to prove Linux, and OO, violates MS patents. Then when they can't everyone will know exactly what MS is doing, spreading FUD. If I were someone like Linus and had the money I'd sue MS to prove Linux uses any MS patents.

Falcon

June '07 called... (1, Redundant)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868363)

...it wants its stories back. :P

I thought Microsoft had already shut up about this for now?

Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869249)

Shutting up means PHBs get to vaguely remember something about it, in an almost-subconscious way, that makes them feel that much more uncomfortable with the idea of Linux and open source.

We want them to admit that they were lying, publicly.

That, or if there really are patent claims, show us what they are.

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870835)

I am curious. Since you are demanding to know what these patent claims are, does this mean you think that you are the responsible party regarding these patent violations? They only have to disclose the claims to the party they choose to sue as part of the legal filings. Is that you? When the day comes that some of these patents are real (assuming any are) are you going to dig into your checkbook and pay the hundreds of millions in damages? Or are you one of the clamoring whiners who screams and froths about how your going to kick their ass but as soon as push comes to getting kicked in the teeth you run off to the side and tell someone else to go get 'em. My guess is you are the latter.

So, why don't you spine up. Form a company selling a fairly complete distro, say a respin of Redhat, and preemptively sue Microsoft for damaging your business with their false claims of patent infringets. Otherwise your bolded demands for anything are meaningless and irrelevant.

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871071)

Steve? Is that you, man?

Dude, you're an such an excellent dancer [google.com] .

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877113)

They only have to disclose the claims to the party they choose to sue as part of the legal filings.

Of course, they only have to.

Which is a bit like the Corombite Maneuver [wikipedia.org] . It doesn't matter that Microsoft doesn't have a single patent, it matters that people think they do.

When the day comes that some of these patents are real (assuming any are) are you going to dig into your checkbook and pay the hundreds of millions in damages?

First, they're not real. Don't you think Microsoft would've been happy to name them, if they are?

Second, surely you've heard of a "class action" lawsuit? Or do you really think Microsoft could demonstrate that I've cost them the hundreds of millions? Or that any other single person is as guilty? Surely, that blame rests with more than just one person, right?

Finally, given the quality of most software patents, I'd probably simply refuse to pay. Civil disobedience. I cannot patent the wheel, and Amazon cannot patent "one-click", and IBM cannot patent "outsourcing".

So, why don't you spine up. Form a company selling a fairly complete distro, say a respin of Redhat, and preemptively sue Microsoft for damaging your business with their false claims of patent infringets.

What, to prove a point?

I have better things to do with my time. Don't you?

Otherwise your bolded demands for anything are meaningless and irrelevant.

And so is your pitiful ad hominem.

Right back at ya -- if you're so convinced I'm a spineless coward, why don't you sue me? For anything -- anything at all? Surely, if I'm such a spineless coward, I'll just fork over the money screaming "don't hurt me"? Even better, what if I changed the rules so that you have to form a corporation, first?

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877541)

When the day comes that some of these patents are real (assuming any are) are you going to dig into your checkbook and pay the hundreds of millions in damages?

First, they're not real. Don't you think Microsoft would've been happy to name them, if they are?

Microsoft can't name the patents Linux and OO violates because MS didn't conduct or higher someone else to conduct the study. The study Ballmer and the rest of MS says Linux and OO violates MS patents was done by Public Patent Foundation [pubpat.org] for Open Source Risk Management [osriskmanagement.com] an insurance company that sales insurance to businesses that use Open Source Software. And the study concluded Linux and OO "MAY" violate MS patents, not that they do.

Falcon

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20917915)

Second, surely you've heard of a "class action" lawsuit? Or do you really think Microsoft could demonstrate that I've cost them the hundreds of millions? Or that any other single person is as guilty? Surely, that blame rests with more than just one person, right?


Given the brilliance of this, I'm not even going to bother the rest of your post. FYI, a class action lawsuit requires that the class be the plaintiff. Not the defendant. Microsoft won't be suing a class if they choose to sue.

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949105)

Didn't bother to look up the legal term, but this kind of thing HAS been done -- where one plaintiff went and sued a bunch of people, independently, for essentially the same crime. They then fought back, collectively.

Yes, Microsoft would sue me, an individual. And then I'd go on Slashdot with my evidence, get people to donate to my Paypal, and pool resources with other individuals they'd sued.

Re:Shutting up isn't enough. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877485)

So, why don't you spine up. Form a company selling a fairly complete distro, say a respin of Redhat, and preemptively sue Microsoft for damaging your business with their false claims of patent infringets.

If I had the money I'd do just this, file a lawsuit requesting they show what patents Linux AND Open Office violates or stop the liable and slander. Unfortunately not only do I not have the money but being on disability I'm not even employed.

Falcon

Joke story? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868375)

This is like the crippled kid down the street calling out the New York Yankees. What's the deal? Does OIN need donations, so they decided to get themselves in the news?

Re:Joke story? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868949)

Ooh, "a war chest of millions of dollars"? I bet Microsoft has more than that in their tea kitty.

Re:Joke story? (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872379)

Last checked, Microsoft had about $800 million in cash for handling business matters of any form. If you were to divide that up into all the divisions and needs and figure out how much is really allottable for patent defense, it might not seem as huge, but yes, Microsoft has a boat load of money. Or a few boats.

Re:Levitation machine (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869263)

What's the deal? Does OIN need donations, so they decided to get themselves in the news?

I do not know. I have a major conflict about one aspect. It's like trying to create levitation by buttering the back of a cat and throwing it off the balcony. It can never land because cats always land feet first/buttered side down. With that in mind, the problem is SONY... Evil rootkit drm RIAA member/good supports open source anti-litigation.. I think my head is going to explode. I think I just figured it out.. SONY entered politics. That explains the two faces.

Re:Joke story? (1)

Plain n Medium (1074140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870389)

Stories like this just make muddier water. If the OIN wants to get involved, they should offer to PURCHASE the patents, then they can sulk if they get re-buffed. Right now, they seem like little kids sulking about nothing and just using an every dirtier news stick to stir up ever muddier waters.

Continuous deja-vu (-1, Flamebait)

pzs (857406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868381)

Is this actually news, or just another excuse to play number 7 on the pub-jukebox that is the recurring conversations of Slashdot?

Blah blah, MS stifles innovation, blah blah, everything invented by OSS anyway, blah blah America too obsessed with corporate appeasement.

Next up: Which Linux distro should you install? Why the RIAA is in league with Satan! Is Linux ready for the desktop?

Peter

Sadly, this too won't make a difference. (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868559)

Let's see, hundreds of visible industry columnists, analysts, and others call out Microsoft on their patent slander.

One more voice, this of an open (and therefore enemy) patent organization calls out the FUD.

Didn't matter then, doesn't matter now. Microsoft won't budge from their desire to continue to illegally dominate the marketplace, just as they have done for a dozen years.

I'd like to say it might make a difference, and it will to some-- but not Microsoft. People don't get that they believe that they're autonomous and above the law, fighting each thing until the very most bitter end. And what's going to change now?

Sadly, nothing. And they'll get worse after Craig Mundie becomes entrenched.

Re:Sadly, this too won't make a difference. (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869355)

One more voice, this of an open (and therefore enemy) patent organization calls out the FUD.

Didn't matter then, doesn't matter now.

It does matter. By continuing to challenge Microsoft on their FUD, the OIS is establishing a non-presumptive laches defense.

Establishing good faith (asking to be told of infringements in order to comply)is one of the key steps of the defense. It will make it MUCH harder for Microsoft to claim damages from patent infringement.

Re:Sadly, this too won't make a difference. (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869625)

I wish what you contend was true. So far, this saber-rattling has been the crux of much FUD on Microsoft's part. Should they choose litigation, there are theories of law, including estoppel, with might work, as Microsoft has been asked more than once, publicly, to show their hand and have not. But it's really up to them to do so at the time of their choosing. And then, with a war chest of legal funds that's larger than the GDP of many countries, they will go to war, one patent at a time. This will bankrupt lots of people at the moment they start.

Will it cost them good will? What good will? It's inarguable that Microsoft believes itself to be holy, and immune in their quest to dominate markets they choose. This dogmatic belief in themselves isn't rationale, and it isn't legal, but look at the proof that says this hasn't stopped them before, anywhere. They will go for the throat and not stop and have inexhaustable funds to do this. And they don't really care what you or I think, or especially what sentiment there is on slashdot. We are, like it or not, the enemy that prevents them from domination and dares to criticize them.

The OIS won't be sued, and therefore has no nexus for a non-presumptive laches defense. The OIS can jump up and down, babble like a brook, and it matters not one whit to Microsoft, who is immune from OIS (and anyone else's) sentiments. Instead, Microsoft will become injured, and must at some point litigate, if only to save face. The excrement will hit the airconditioning, but Microsoft can afford both umbrellas and endless litigation without a significant dent in their income.

I wish things were different, but 20+ years of watching Microsoft gives me the sense (and I'm not a lawyer) that they really don't care about the OIS, or what anyone else but their revenue stream and shareholders think. The OIS, and you and I, are neither of these things.

Re:Sadly, this too won't make a difference. (1)

blippy (844130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20878461)

One more voice, this of an open (and therefore enemy) patent organization calls out the FUD.

If MS thought its patents to be valuable, then why wouldn't it disclose the alleged infringements, and put a stop to them? After all, isn't open source "violating" its "valuable" "intellectual property"? If it considered that all of its patents were valuable, why wouldn't they go through their portfolio with a fine tooth comb to see what other infringements there may be? One can only presume that MS doesn't think its patents are even worth the effort of looking for violations.

Re:Sadly, this too won't make a difference. (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20879325)

The moment MS starts the patent war, they cannot return from it unscathed even if they win. Patents are for rattling sabres (largely) anyway. They're chess pieces.

In a hilarious sort of way, Microsoft's been acting like Teddy Roosevelt by "walking softly and carrying a big stick". Once they have to whack with that stick, much hell breaks loose.

Let's see, Microsoft's current winner/loser list is impressive. And their cash position is still enormous, even without paying those pesky biters in the EU their due.

Once the war begins, it will be savage. If the piss off IBM, it's a cage match. I don't want to be around.

Save your breath (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868703)

If I'm Microsoft and I think I have patents that Linux infringes upon, why would I want to specify which ones? I would keep mentioning them to try and scare corporations away from using Linux. If that does not work to my satisfaction and Linux does someday become an actual threat, I can sue then and claim damages for all the time that Linux was being used and was infringing. If I tell now which patents I think are being infringed, then both of my options might be less effective.

Re:Save your breath (3, Informative)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869245)

You would want to specify them because if you know your patents are being violated, and you don't either sue with specificity, or define in particular which patents so that the offending party can correct the problem, then you eventually lose the right to sue over the patents being violated.

"Eventually" is the sticking point. I don't know how long the period is, but it's measured in years, but I believe fewer than 5 of them. (I'm not sure that courts have ever decided on a particular number...so in egregious cases it could be shorter...or longer.)

This implies that if MS knows about the patent violation and neither acts to cure it nor enables others to cure it, then it is in danger of losing the right to sue. (Well, not actually to sue, but to win.) I think this is called the doctrine of latches.

Caution: IANAL.

Laches (equity) - ctsy wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20869633)

Re:Save your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20869731)

Indeed, the legal concept is called "laches [wikipedia.org] ".

Unlike trademark law, there is no specific requirement in patent law to defend the patent. However, if the FOSS community makes every reasonable, good-faith attempt to determine the nature of their supposed infringement (which they have already done, with public statements to Microsoft asking for specifics so that they can stop infringing)... and Microsoft does nothing, then this may have an effect on any court case.

The longer that Microsoft claims infringement without taking any action to end this supposed infringement, the weaker their eventual court case becomes. I can easily imagine MS claiming in court: "They've been infringing our patent for 10 years" ... to which the judge might ask: "So why didn't you tell them 10 years ago?"

Without giving the offending party a good-faith opportunity to stop infringing, any vague patent claim holds very little significance.

Re:Save your breath (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870663)

There's an almost unlimited set of legal principles as well as routine pleadings that are usually routinely denied. I suspect that this defense is rarely successful or the whole patent system would break down given that there's no standard for determining how long is too long. One could also argue that MS's statement that Linux violates their patents is enough notice to undermine this defense. In fact under the "many eyes" theory MS could argue that the Linux community is uniquely equipped to search through the patents to determine which ones are involved.

Re:Save your breath (1)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869821)

I'm pretty sure you can only lose rights to sue for not enforcing Trademarks, not patents. If you can find any evidence to the contrary, please post it.

Re:Save your breath (2, Informative)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870027)

Under the concept of Laches & Equitiability, MS can sue, but they can't get any money. IE.

  1. they claimed they were being harmed
  2. they were asked to provide specifics so that the harm could be stopped
  3. they ignored the request
By ignoring the request, they have contributed to their own damages & are therefor supposed to be unable to collect any damages up until they specify the patents - continued infringement past that point is subject to damages.

Re:Save your breath (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877733)

I'm pretty sure you can only lose rights to sue for not enforcing Trademarks, not patents. If you can find any evidence to the contrary, please post it.

Thanks to another poster I found this:

" *11 The doctrine of latches [ipmall.info] , meaning undue delay in claiming one's rights, may result in loss of those rights. In this case the loss may be the right to a priority date, or the right to a patent."

If Microsoft takes too long to enforce it's patent rights it loses those rights. What I don't understand is that because MS has some good lawyers who can explain this to MS MS hasn't filed any lawsuits. The only reasons I can think of is to spread FUD or because they have no evidence to back up their position.

Falcon

Re:Save your breath (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869337)

I can sue then and claim damages for all the time that Linux was being used and was infringing.

Up to a point. If you know of the infringement and do nothing (they admitted knowing), after a while it becomes un-enforceable much like not protecting a trademark.

Re:Save your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20869361)

Hello "Lanham Act Violation". Not good thing to do, especially when you're already in hot water over "anti-trust".

You could be right. Here's why not sue: (1)

KWTm (808824) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873793)

Unfortunately, I think you have a point, though you might not have the details accurate.

The prevailing wisdom on Slashdot has so far been: "Linux (software in Linux distros) doesn't violate any MS patents, because Ballmer doesn't know what he's talking about. If Microsoft knew of patents, why wouldn't they sue? If we ask Microsoft what patents, and they don't tell us, then even if they do hold violated patents, they can't sue us later on." There are a few flaws in this.

I agree with parent poster that if I were Microsoft, I would not name the patents. Some /.'ers would say that Microsoft gives up the ability to sue: although patents are not trademarks, we reasonably expect the court to frown on Microsoft springing out from behind the bushes and saying, "Gimme all that money you owed me from violating these patents in the past 5 years!"

However, here's the important thing: to take advantage of their patents, Microsoft does not need to sue.

Just as Ballmer mumbling about patents is entirely a PR stunt, any finding that Linux (distros) violates a MS patent will be used for a PR stunt. So MS does not need to sue. Rather, for the time being, MS continues to mumble about "Linux violates patents." Linux (composed of the aggregate consciousness of the Slashdot mass) says, "No I don't! No I don't! Nyaah nyaah, you can't name any patents! Ballmer is a poopiehead!" Microsoft ignores this as an adult would ignore a small child that keeps saying, "Show me the patent!" until finally, Microsoft says, "Alright, fine, here's a patent you violate."

They only have to show one. It would look pretty bad to corporates if Linux then says, "Okay, well, fine. But what about the other 199?" Maybe MS eventually shows another one, and then Linux says, "Oh yeah? What about the other 198?" This gets old pretty fast, and corporations are going to be scared away from using Linux.

One of the posters said that, if MS doesn't tell us which patents when we ask nicely, they can't sue for past damages, but they can sue for forward damages. Can you imagine the havoc this can still wreak despite no past damages? Some ingrained system is distributed with Linux, and then a few years after some major corporations have settled on using it, Microsoft jumps out and says, "Okay, fine, you don't have to pay retroactively since you didn't know. But from now on, pay us $10k per computer." Let's say this is some networking thing, like something in the Aegypten / Kerberos / OogaBoogaKrypto system, where you'd have to replace the entire infrastructure rather than just individual users' systems.

The companies either have to reestablish their infrastructure, or pay through the nose; if the latter case, MS might say, "Hey, we'll give you a discount if you switch over to Windows," or some such. In any case, Microsoft can tell the corporate world, "We told you so! See what happens when you play with IP thieves like Linux?"

The thing to remember is, Microsoft succeeds because they succeed in the public relations aspect, not because of a technological success. Microsoft is not a technology company; it is a marketing company. Once you grasp this, you will see that Microsoft's position is stronger than you (the generic Slashdotter) think, and Linux's position is weaker. Because this game is really being played in a different arena than what you think.

I'm still not giving up hope, but you need to see this from the PR standpoint.

patent right enforcement (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877795)

However, here's the important thing: to take advantage of their patents, Microsoft does not need to sue.

According to Doctrine of Latches [ipmall.info] Microsoft eventually has to enforce it's patent rights or it loses them.

Can you imagine the havoc this can still wreak despite no past damages? Some ingrained system is distributed with Linux, and then a few years after some major corporations have settled on using it, Microsoft jumps out and says, "Okay, fine, you don't have to pay retroactively since you didn't know. But from now on, pay us $10k per computer."

Even if MS were able to enforce legal patents and do this, they first have to name the patents being violated. Within days of naming those patents the offending code will be removed and new code added. So there won't be much if any disruption in the market. But let's say there is a big disruption, then some big businesses would be hiring big lawyers and lobbyists to pressure congress to make software patents illegal. Either way MS would loose.

Falcon

why should MS show patents violated? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877691)

If I'm Microsoft and I think I have patents that Linux infringes upon, why would I want to specify which ones?

Because somebody with the resources can sue Microsoft. If I had the money I could start a business selling products, Linux and Open Office, that MS says violates MS patents. I could then sue MS requesting they show what patents I am violating or pay damages for the libel and slander MS spreads.

Falcon

Two chicks and a rope (3, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868725)

I'm thinking about how to make a funny and clever comment about the two chicks in the picture in the article. They appear to stand on snow, which clearly is a reference to Tux, and this is especially true for the blond one in the black dress. What is this rope pulling anyway? What are they fighting over? If one wins, all they have is the rope to slap the other one. The rest is nothing but thin air.

If this picture is meant to illustrate the fight between Linux and Microsoft, I want to be in the middle! Yeah!

Re:Two chicks and a rope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20869143)

all the picture really needs is a midget referee

Re:Two chicks and a rope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20869441)

There are lots of hints as to the answer in the URL itself:
http://www.itnews.com.au/Utils/ImageResizer.aspx?w=214&n=http%3A%2F%2Fbackoffice.ajb.com.au%2Fimages%2Fnews%2Fchallenge.jpg [itnews.com.au]
It seems itnews.com.au has an aspx proggie that dynamically resizes images, in this case
http://backoffice.ajb.com.au/images/new/challenge.jpg [ajb.com.au]
from the original 641x480 jpeg to a 214x160 image.
This is a generic photo meant to represent the "challenge" concept.
If you want to ogle those two chicks and their rope, the original (larger) jpeg is much better, of course. ;-)

Re:Two chicks and a rope (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869579)

Close, accidentally erased an S there.

http://backoffice.ajb.com.au/images/news/challenge.jpg [ajb.com.au]

As for the photo... It does look like ice or snow, but I think it's probably the salt flats.

http://www.utah.com/playgrounds/bonneville_salt.htm [utah.com]

It's an interesting pic, anyhow.

Re:Two chicks and a rope (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870819)

As usual I did not read the article, this being /. Saw the thing about the article having pictures of chicks and that motivated me to actually click on the link to see the picture. What a bummer! Instead of some real cute chicks, the article has two female Homo sapiens dressed in tuxedos tugging-of-war in snow. There should be a law against people luring unsuspecting visitors by giving titillating titles promising zoological specimens and then showing girlie pictures instead.

Someone should sue MS for disgrace of defamation (0, Redundant)

cubakos (253786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20868849)

First of all IANAL.
What if someone using linux would sue back MS for disgrace?

MS should either
  1. tell what they think you are infringing (in this case find prior art)
  2. declare that you are not infringing

Re:Someone should sue MS for disgrace of defamatio (0, Troll)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869371)

Because deep down everyone knows that linux distros (not linux itself, necessarily) violate patents en masse, just like most software does.
You see companies like Microsoft, Apple, Sony, IBM, getting sued all the time for patent infringement and/or making patent deals with each other and/or paying appropriate licensing fees to license other's patents. Are you really so naive as to believe that Red Hat violates NO patents? Come on now.

As an example, VideoLan admits that their VLC player runs afoul of mpegla patents, but says that since they are "free" and "open source" that it's up to the user to pay mpegla's patent fees, knowing full well that users aren't going to bother, and in fact, saying to MPEGLA, "You want your fees? Then sue our users, not us".
http://wiki.videolan.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions#What_about_personal.2Fcommercial_usage.3F [videolan.org]

It's a game that many OSS devs like to play: "I'm 'open source' so I can violate patents at will!!"

But big companies like Red Hat *can* pay the necessary patent fees, and they shouldn't be getting a free ride. They're one of the big boys, so let the act like it and license the patents in question by paying the fees or making licensing deals or whatever. Why should other companies like MS, Apple, Sony, Panasonic, Oracle, etc, have to pay patent fees and make licensing deals, but not Red Hat and other big-name linux distros?

To answer your question again, Red Hat and the like don't want to start a suit that could end up with an official declaration that they *are* violating lots of Microsoft patents, and would be liable to pay up for the entire time that they've been violating said patents. And that would open the flood gates, because while Red Hat might be violating 200 (or whatever) Microsoft patents, you can be sure they are violating hundreds more patents by others, and those others will come a-knocking.

Re:Someone should sue MS for disgrace of defamatio (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871269)

So, not having looked at these patents and not knowing which ones are easily invalidated by prior art, I should just blindly start throwing money at the problem to make it go away?

Great strategy.

Uhhh yeah. Great "example" (4, Insightful)

crush (19364) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872259)

deep down everyone knows that linux distros (not linux itself, necessarily) violate patents en masse

What a bogus, unsupported allegation. Either cite a violation or clam up. Oh! wait, here's one:

As an example, VideoLan admits that their VLC player runs afoul of mpegla patents

VLC is not packaged by either the Fedora Project, or by Red Hat, with the codecs which may/may not be infringing. Looks like your "deep down truths" are not so truthful.

But big companies like Red Hat *can* pay the necessary patent fees, and they shouldn't be getting a free ride.

Red Hat does not infringe any patents. So it's not getting any free ride. Furthermore it has to waste resources on legal counsel instead of coders in order to help in the creation, defense and maintenance of the Open Invention Network. (The legal counsel are excellent and do a good job. Mark Webbink especially seems like a top-notch guy).

Anyway, you're full of it. You can't even cite ONE, not ONE actual instance of patent infringement and neither can Microsoft because it doesn't exist.

Re:Someone should sue MS for disgrace of defamatio (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872403)

To answer your question again, Red Hat and the like don't want to start a suit that could end up with an official declaration that they *are* violating lots of Microsoft patents, and would be liable to pay up for the entire time that they've been violating said patents. And that would open the flood gates, because while Red Hat might be violating 200 (or whatever) Microsoft patents, you can be sure they are violating hundreds more patents by others, and those others will come a-knocking.

Then again, Neither does Microsoft. They are freaked by the idea that there isn't a company to purchase and finally kill the Penguin. They are freaked by the idea that their 2 billion patents might not be sufficiently strong enough to finally kill their competition.

If they thought they had a case it would be in court right now... And no, their lacky (SCO) doesn't count :D

OIN patents (1)

gumout (690852) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869209)

Jerry Rosenthal requests that Microsoft name the patents that are being infringed by open source. Of course, to avoid charges of hypocracy, Rosenthal is going to point to the Microsoft applications which infringe specific OIN patents. . .

Re:OIN patents (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869391)

When did he make very public claims that Microsoft was in violation of OIN patents?

When did this mythical slander that you are referring to occur?

Why Microsoft can't sue directly (4, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20869825)

I think I know why Microsoft can't show their hand even it the 200 patent violations are 100% true.

Often in a patent litigation case, there is an immediate countersuit by the opposing IP property owner as often there is many shared technologies in a complex project. The more complex a project is, the more likely someone else's patents have been inadvertently used in the project. In this case, MS code would be laid bare like Linux was in the SCO case. MS can't have the source code on the table for inspection. They know they are in possession of much prior art and many other patents, much of which they have no cross IP deals for. Closed source hides much of this behind the scenes. Because Microsoft has to keep it this way, they can't risk the counter suit. The SCO was a front for the attack Microsoft is unable to do in the open.

Microsoft would not survive the countersuit without severe damage.

This article is simply calling them on their veiled threats to put up or shut up. You may have the patents, but since you are not going to do anything about them, shut up already.

The only time to watch out for Microsoft is when Linux overtakes Windows and Open Office overtakes Microsoft Office. In other words, when they have nothing left and need a Hail-Mary play like SCO.

Remember the big deal with a trash can in Windows? MS knows it is not ready to scrap Windows and start from scratch.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_v._Microsoft [wikipedia.org]

Even tabbed browsing in IE7 is at risk if they move on this.

Re:Why Microsoft can't sue directly (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871679)

The only time to watch out for Microsoft is when Linux overtakes Windows and Open Office overtakes Microsoft Office. In other words, when they have nothing left and need a Hail-Mary play like SCO.
Even if Microsoft lost Windows entirely, they could still maintain some portion of market share with MS Office by porting it to other OS's. Unfortunately for them, they are likely too arrogant to do so and will as a result lose both equally and (in the long run) entirely.

Re:Why Microsoft can't sue directly (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871883)

As proof of the state of affairs, on the lower right corner of the default Gnome desktop in the toolbar is a little bin with a clear recycle symbol on it. Hovering over it, it indicates it is the trash. So what the heck is it? If it is trash, Apple owns it. If it is a recycling bin, Microsoft owns it.

I am sure if they could, they would have jumped on that long ago, but can't because they would have problems with much of network authentication, encryption, tabbed browsing, photo editing, and many other aspects of the software. Too much of the GUI is common to Apple, IBM OS/2, Gnome, KDE, Adobe, etc to risk opening that can of worms. Instead they hint there may be issues with patent violations of 200 Microsoft patents. Prior art and other peoples patents would be devastating to their claims.

Re:Why Microsoft can't sue directly (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872417)

As proof of the state of affairs, on the lower right corner of the default Gnome desktop in the toolbar is a little bin with a clear recycle symbol on it. Hovering over it, it indicates it is the trash. So what the heck is it? If it is trash, Apple owns it. If it is a recycling bin, Microsoft owns it. I am sure if they could, they would have jumped on that long ago, but can't because they would have problems with much of network authentication, encryption, tabbed browsing, photo editing, and many other aspects of the software. Too much of the GUI is common to Apple, IBM OS/2, Gnome, KDE, Adobe, etc to risk opening that can of worms. Instead they hint there may be issues with patent violations of 200 Microsoft patents. Prior art and other peoples patents would be devastating to their claims.
First, that is completely off topic with relation to the GP. (On topic with relation to the GGP, which is why I'm responding.) That said...

The Apple v. Microsoft case mentioned pretty much set the bar that Interfaces are off limits wrt lawsuits of that nature. IANAL, but I think there have been some other cases too to support that.

As per Microsoft's 200 patents claim - I believe the number is actually 236 patents, which as one poster surmised is likely from the SFLC's review a while back. (I think it was the SLFC...it was one of those organizations supporting the F/OSS community in that manner...I'll let you do the google for it.) It is a thinly veiled threat about actual things, and almost none of which have to do with the GUI to start with as, to my knowledge, none of the programs mentioned had to do with GUI rendering (even if they were GUI apps themselves). Even so, the Linux kernel itself does not do GUI rendering, so that would leave X Windows, GNOME, KDE and the others as susceptible if there was something on the GUI.

IANAL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20870307)

...but I do read Groklaw.

At what point does Microsoft's non-action on what they claim is an infrigement of their patents grounds for estoppel of a future suit?

As I understand estoppel, if someone relies on someone else's behavior to their detriment, with the other party's knowledge, and the second party makes no effort to asset their rights, they can't claim those rights down the line as a "gotcha!".

In this case, Microsoft claims that they have knowledge that their patents are infringed. They can either take action or not take action. If they don't take action, and other entities (linux developers, linux users, resellers, etc.) rely on Microsoft's inaction to believe Microsoft will not assert it's patents, doesn't this at some point constitute Microsoft being estopped from pursuing patent infringement claims? They can hardly argue they don't know, given their public statements and the availability of Linux source code.

In other words, don't they have a duty to "put up or shut up" here, legally?

Is sudo one of the patent infringements? (1)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870681)

Microsoft recently patented the technology of sudo, which has been in *nix for over 30 years. Neglecting the issue of prior art (as did the USPTO in issuing the patent) isn't it reasonable to assume that sudo is one of the 200 patents M$ is claiming Linux violates?

The original developers of Unix should have anticipated that over a quarter century later M$ would have patented their technology and should have used a workaround instead to avoid infringing the future patent.

Shame! Shame!

I fear... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20870965)

That not unlike The SCO Group, we're going to need to ask this of Microsoft over and over and over before we might see an answer. But then again, SCO hasn't shown any code to support their allegations at any time in the last 4 years; what makes anyone think that MS will reveal their patents?

We're all fairly certain which of the two is riding rectally impaled on the other's forearm.

Re:I fear... (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871801)

But then again, SCO hasn't shown any code to support their allegations at any time in the last 4 years
SCO did show its lines of code to the court. As it was put on Groklaw in the post 10 Myths About Open Source Software Answered, by Carlo Daffara [groklaw.net] :

Even if the copyrights belonged to SCO, there are less than 300 lines of code at issue in that case in the end, and it's mostly standard interface code that many believe would be found to have no copyright protection no matter who owns it. That's 300 lines of code out of more than 6 million lines of code in the Linux kernel.
Even at that, it was mostly header files - like the elf.h header file. So it didn't really stand up.

How low can they go? (1)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871067)

Remember when Microsoft was the first word that came to peoples' minds when "tech innovation" was mentioned? (It was never true, but that was the perception.) Who would have believed that this once-revered company could slide down to the level of SCO with its own sleazy scam to intimidate by claiming mystery "patent infringement" that it refuses to name? The giant has declared itself just another desperate pipsqueak. The dustbin of history awaits them.

Re:How low can they go? (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872013)

Who would have believed that this once-revered company could slide down to the level of SCO with its own sleazy scam to intimidate by claiming mystery "patent infringement" that it refuses to name?
Anyone in the tech industry probably as once you get past the marketing face of Microsoft, it becomes pretty obvious, pretty quickly that this is basically how they have always done business. For example, see Wikipedia's entry on Altair BASIC [wikipedia.org] :

Under the terms of the purchase agreement, MITS would receive the rights to the interpreter after it had paid a certain amount in royalties. However, Microsoft had developed versions of the interpreter for other systems such as the Motorola 6800. When they decided to leave MITS, a dispute arose over whether the full amount had been paid and whether the agreement applied to the other versions. Microsoft and MITS took the dispute to an arbitrator, who much to Roberts's surprise decided in favor of Microsoft. BASIC interpreters remained the core of Microsoft's business until the early 1980s, when it shifted to MS-DOS.
To add to the article, if I remember my history correctly - Microsoft was only suppose to get royalties on the first million; it sold better than anticipated and they sued for royalties on the rest, contrary to their contract. (That could have been with IBM and DOS though. I couldn't find anything on the Microsoft, IBM, or MS-DOS pages about it.)

Needless to say, SCO's tactics are just like Microsoft's. Expect the same from Microsoft as their monopoly deteriorates over the coming years. Or may be SCO is enough of a lesson that they won't go to the same extent.

Does it not follow logically, then,... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20875807)

> "Rosenthal believes that, if there are grounds for patent infringement,
> there would either be easy workarounds or the open source community
> would find 'prior art' which would invalidate the patent. ...that the best (only?) way to invalidate those unidentified patents Linux is claimed to have violated is to find prior art in EVERY patent?

How hard would doing that be?

Vista launch, drive up the sales (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20877783)

It's so obvious why they said Linux violates Microsoft's patents. Vista was just launching and soon companies would seriously think about switching to Linux instead of buying vista.

So Steve comes out with his patent FUD to make sure his customers don't think about switching operating systems.
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