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back to article Linux chief challenges Microsoft to pony up on patents

Microsoft's earned the respect of certain sections of the open-source community for its engineering work around open-source and Linux. Specifically, its support for MySQL, PHP and JBoss on Windows and its involvement with Eclipse and Apache have been welcomed by developers and various community leaders in and around these …

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WTF?

Great for linux, what about everyone else?

I'm using linux almost exclusively on my desktop, but what about all the other operating systems that are use open source or free software licenses? What about all the variants of BSD, and numerous niche operating systems? When I think about it Open Invention Network isn't very open...

I would hate to see some great open source projects eventually getting killed by a bunch of big corporations, because OIN(or anyone else for that matter), felt like defending the underdog. Like I said - I use linux - but I have a choice, I can switch to NetBSD, Haiku or whatever else I feel like - and I don't want this choice to be taken away from me.

It's great that linux is developing at such a fast pace recently, but this is just one more time that the guys from Linux Foundation and some other related organizations do things that leave me with a strange feeling that they're actually pretty selfish(yes it sounds kind of strange to me too).

I'm really thinking about switching to BSD now.

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Heart

Absolutely Agree With The Linux Foundation Guy

I also think that we should ask the USA to behave like a responsible and benevolent global citizen, for governments worldwide to act in the best interests of their citizenry instead of themselves and while we are at it, wouldn't it be neat if everybody all just got along and was nice to each other.

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Alert

Chess game...

This is a Chess game... but however clever Zemlin and Torwalds are... MS is very clever too, and won't give anyone any advantage unless provides a benefit for MS.

The match will go on for years to come...

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Terminator

fuck off Torvalds

Torvalds needs to realize it's not a "disease of hating Microsoft", but that it is instead justified objections to a company that has, over the past 30 years, used almost every dirty trick in the book (and a few that aren't in there) to further its own interests at the expense of damn near everything else. It has destroyed not just companies, but lives in their quest to crush their competition by any means, even illegal ones. A company that started out by selling something they didn't own - which is illegal - and grew to deliberately using a de-facto monopoly to crush competition in other fields - which is also illegal.

So although I admire the work Torvalds does coordinating Linux, he can take flying fuck if he thinks that I, amongst others, are going to ever start trusting that pile of evil bullshit called Microsoft.

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Yeah, right

"Sign a patent license agreement for Windows with the Open Invention Network (OIN). This would see Microsoft forfeit its right to prosecute those involved in open-source and Linux over claimed violations of its patents in their software."

So MS should grant foss the blanket right to do anything. Which would also alow them to copy source, line for line. All in exchange for "a slew of goodwill".

They may as well say: If MS were to close tomorrow, it would result in a slew of goodwill toward MS.

These patents are the nuclear weapons of big business. Defense based on assured mutual destruction for other companies with patents, and sabre rattling against (or destruction of) small companies without patents.

The company that patented xml and sued office, is an example of a "rogue nuclear state". The other side has nothing that MS can destroy, so MS's own patent arsenal does them no good as a defensive weapon.

As long as patents on business processes (or a general idea) are granted, I can't see MS doing this, in exchange for "a slew of goodwill".

If they do, I think that I will ask them to grant me a license to their patents and anything I produce from those patents, in exchange for a slew of my goodwill. If that works, I think I'll try to reach the same king of deal with my bank, regarding my mortgage.

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Linux

LOL

Well, maybe MS will do that, but i wont hold my breath waiting.

What i would prefer is of MS just to come out and say exactly which patents Linux infringes on so the community can either laugh at them in the face, or if indeed there is an infringement then the code can be changed so as to remove the infringement.

Intellectual property is a sham anyway. How can ideas be property? Can you imagine if this sort of crap existed thousands of years ago?

Caveman 1: "Hey guys, ive just patented this idea for making a round wooden thing with a hole through the middle. I put this stick through it and attach 4 of these to a few other bits of wood. Look, it can now carry lots of things and be moved with little effort..... right, if you want to make one of these yourself you must give me some money"

Caveman 2: "Whats money?"

Caveman 1: "Ah! Thats my other patented idea"

Caveman 3: <Smashes Caveman 1 over the head and steals invention>

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Gates Horns

It'll never happen.

Quote: "Send a message to the developer community that cares about this that Microsoft is a company that will compete on how will they innovate and not on a patent portfolio."

Since when has MS ever competed by doing something innovative? It simply isn't how they operate, or even possible for them to do so. Their entire MO is to stifle innovation and extinguish it wherever possible in favour of their own antique software.

It'll never happen.

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Coffee/keyboard

No way

I can't see Microsoft do that. Not because of any disliking of the linux community, but because it poses a real threat to them.

This would basically allow (for instance) Google to reverse engeneer Windows and put all the bits it likes into a free Chrome OS. Not bad for end users, but terrible for Microsoft itsself.

Also Microsoft currently rules the business end of computing. Giving up their patent rights would make it more viable for others to enter the market with similar code.

Not that this would not be good for everyone. More choice, cheaper software etc. Microsoft remains a business run by financial motives. There seems to be no reason that alligns with their financial motives to remove their patents (development they spent billions on).

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Pint

dunno...

Personally, I don't feel that MS (or anyone) should agree to give up all [software] patents. Protection for specific inventions should not be thrown away casually.

What should happen is that software patents should have a stricter narrower definition.

And those current patents that then fall outside of this (including existing MS ones) should be removed.

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Pirate

What rubbish

"An Intellectual Ventures spokesperson told The Reg: "As part of our portfolio management responsibilities, we do regularly sort through our inventions to ensure the assets we hold apply to our primary areas of business."

OUR inventions? Hah! That is just the problem, they invent nothing.

Their primary area of business? Squeezing money out of hardworking people and companies and at the same holding back real innovations and harming the real economy.

One change to the rotten patent system is needed --> make patents NON-transferable! Only the original inventor (and I'm using the word in a loose sense here) can enforce - or not - his patents. All these leeches will immediately be out of 'business'.

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Dead Vulture

WTF

"Microsoft's earned the respect of certain sections of the open-source community for its engineering work around open-source and Linux."

What on earth is this bloke talking about? Are you new on this whole OS thing?

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Gates Horns

Do not sleep with the enemy

MS seems to have been caught by i4i for flagrant patent infringement. And this proprietary stuff is in the ISO "standard" for OOXML! Surely it is now time for ISO to revoke that standard and tell MS to take a long walk off a very short pier.

MS were nearly caught for breach of the GPL, but the OpenSaucers allowed MS to turn it into a PR win. The morons. MS should have had its balls placed in a vice and squeezed until they popped.

Given how MS started life (a bit of an, err, "odd" deal for Q-DOS) there is a very clear pattern to their operations and that is take, take, take. You will note the lack of "give".

There must be no co-operation from the OpenSource community towards MS, Linus is so wrong with his current stance that it beggars belief. This is just another MS tactic to be their "embrace, extend, extinguish" operation. The OpenSource community should just sit back and watch MS get turned over and do everything in its power (e.g. appeal to ISO for the revoking of the OOXML "standard") to ensure that the mud sticks good and hard.

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Troll

Torvalds

Is right and wrong at the same time.

No point in hating everything Microsoft and working towards good interop, etc., but anything contributed by them is likely infected by proprietary IP (maybe not even Microsoft's!) and should be treated as the kernel-tainting trojan horse that it is. Only this sort of stance will guarantee we continue to have the choices we have today.

Patent troll alert.

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@Simpson

"Which would also alow [sic] them to copy source, line for line"

No it wouldn't. It would protect us from accusations of patent violation, not copyright infringement.

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Paris Hilton

Mutually Assured Destruction

An earlier poster had it aright comparing software patents to nuclear weapons. Microsoft can't and probably shouldn't grant such a waiver. Instead what we need is a process of disarmament across all the big players - i.e. start overturning software patents.

Paris, because I link her icon even when I can't think of a connection to the story.

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Anonymous Coward

@Simpson

> The company that patented xml and sued office, is an example of a "rogue nuclear state".

No it isn't. It's an example of a company who hold a patent which was deliberately, cynically, and flagrantly infringed by Microsoft.

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M$ being nice in some areas

They would help with ports of MySQL & PHP since they are behind in those areas -- so it is to their advantage. They won't help in an area where they are ahead.

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Boffin

Patents v Copyright

Let's not forget that copyright lasts a lot longer than patents, and the act of registering a patent means you have to describe your idea sufficiently so that other people know not to copy it. So by patenting something you are placing at least part of your idea in the public domain. A patent is supposed to be nothing more than a head start over everybody else, to protect your initial investment. Copyright protects the nuts and bolts of how you did it. That is why the likes of the Ordinance Survey make plans with deliberate errors, so they can easily prove that a map was copied.

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Big Brother

Obscurity

The thing that get me is that no one realised M$ was infringing on GPL until it released the code. Yet M$ could always view the open source code for possible intellectual property issues. They have a natural unfair advantage. We all know their past track record. How could you not think there was a strategic repositioning in play.

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Anonymous Coward

Unlikely - weaknesses would be revealed

I seem to remember that MS has already refused to be specific on the basis that their 'patents' would be challenged and might fail scrutiny. It happened sometime in the last 2 years I think, just before the SCO case began to go down the pan. Tells us something about their confidence in their patents.

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Grenade

It's not a disease, it's a sane and rational response.

> "Torvalds called on people to get over their disease of hating Microsoft."

As the subject lines says, it's not a disease. Microsoft is a source of harm to me; that is to say, their interests are inimical to mine, and they are constantly taking actions in pusuit of their self-interest that harms my self-interest. On any remotely sane interpretation of how psychology is supposed to work for rational living beings, I ought to regard Microsoft as an enemy like any other predator that can harm me. So I do.

Linus Torvalds' self-interest may be predicated on some other kind of interaction with Microsoft, but most of us aren't in his position. He might be obliged to play the kind of politics and diplomacy that requires kow-towing to huge corporate interests, but the rest of us don't, and thus have the luxury of acting rationally and with personal integrity in our beliefs.

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FAIL

Patent descriptions

Let's not forget that while the letter of the law requires patents be adequately described, the people reading those descriptions have historically not had the necessary background to understand a software patent description, and thus software patents have not had any enforcement in the description requirement.

I've looked over many software patents in the past ten years; the only one which had an adequate description was the 'ISNOT' patent. Note that the ISNOT patent was not bounced out of the process the day it was filed like it should've been.

As far as trusting Microsoft - I pay attention to history, especially when I was around for it. Those that trust Microsoft end up paying for it.

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Linux

Put me in the "diseased" camp then.

Microsoft has set the IT world back by at least 5 years and so they gain my distrust and anger. Until their poisonous products are removed from corporate desktops the world over those using computers will be forced to jump through hoops just to get functionality which could be easily implemented and widespread.

The operating system I am using right now, which was originally developed by Torvalds, would be much easier to use if it weren't for Microsoft's monopoly.

I'm almost paranoid enough to wonder if Torvalds has been the recipient of an offer of some kind from Microsoft.

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Software patents, how?

Time: ~1982. Me: 10 yrs old. My Uncle: Had already retired from Chrysler. He was an engineer in product design or something like that.

Me: So Uncle, did you ever create anything worth a damn?

Uncle: Well, yeah. You know how when you open your car door, it wants to stop in a couple places? I invented that.

Me: Wow... you must be rich.

Uncle: What??? No. When you work at a company, the company owns anything you create. You get to put your name on it, but the company owns it.

Me: You must have got something from it.

Uncle (amused): Are you looking for an inheritance or something kid? Even with putting your name on it... There was a dept that we sent all this stuff to... I was pretty happy with what I had made, so I went to that dept to check on it later in the day. The guy there didn't know that I had designed it. He tells me "wow this is great, I was going to get a patent on it, but Sam already put one in"... Sam was the guy I gave it to, to turn it in at the other dept.

Me: So "Sam" stole your idea and now he's rich.

Uncle: The company owns it. "Sam" just wanted his name on it. People do that sort of thing all the time. Sam didn't get any money from it.

Me: Yeah, but when he sold the idea to the other car companies, then he got rich.

Uncle (annoyed): You can't patent an idea. You can only patent a specific way to do it. Other companies can copy it, all they need to do change some little detail. All cars have doors like this, but take a look at a few of them. You'll see that every company does the same thing, but they all do it different. So they're ok.

Me: But..

Uncle: I think I hear your mom calling you..

So this was always my understanding of patents, and it made sense to me.

But for software, it seems like you can turn in a block diagram for something and get a patent. Then if someone just does the same thing, even in a different way, you can sue. It seems like you could get a patent on the act of turning on a light bulb.

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Intellectual Ventures?

Somehow I read the name as 'Intellectual Vultures'. Can't imagine why.

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Time for Linux to do some sueing!

I thought it was quite funny when Microsoft sued Buffalo for patent infringement for some of their NAS devices. Apparently Microsoft claimed some of Buffalo Linux based devices infringed on Microsoft patents.

From Wikipedia - about devices: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_network-attached_storage_series

What was sad was Buffalo made some kind of financial agreement with Microsoft and also stated that in the future they would be doing more Microsoft OS NAS storage products.

I've never heard of Buffalo giving back to the open source community. Most of their other products seem to be very unfriendly to the Linux community. About time someone checked their use of GPL, etc. etc. They made big bucks with Linux. Their dissing of Linux seem bad faith.

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Free ride?

When I read "This would see Microsoft forfeit its right to prosecute those involved in open-source and Linux over claimed violations of its patents in their software.", all I think of is linux and the open source community it looking for a free ride and free handouts from Microsoft when it comes to patents. What does Microsoft (a company whose goal is to stay in business) get out of the deal? Not much. What does linux and the open source community get out of it? Free use of IP (patents) generated by Microsoft with no fear of retribution.

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Gates Horns

Ballmer

has a big mouth, but if he can't provide evidence after (how many ?)years, then why is anyone doing any worrying ?

A FUD expert is all he is.

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Anonymous Coward

They will fade if we

Don't use their products. Focus on changing the U.S.A.s patent system so that business methods and software are not patentable. There will be much hand-waving from many lawyers when this begins to happen, but eliminating software from patents is is something that must be done for the betterment of all.

Linus. I admire you greatly, but it's not hatred of Microsoft that you're seeing so much as a solid mistrust of M$, or to phrase it another way, those of us who appear to hate Microsoft are certain that if we deal with them they can be relied upon to smile as they shake our hand and thrust a dagger into our stomach. I wouldn't be in business without Microsoft, I am one of those who cleans PCs of their performance-robbing malware, but I don't use the M$ O/S on my machines, and I wouldn't strike a deal with M$.

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What I for one, want to see Microsoft do

is release as much of the source of Windows (3.x, 9.x, and NT 3.x and 4.x) as it legally owns, under the GPL v3 - it's not using all that at the moment, and we may as well get the chance to see it and look at learn ... Microsoft makes a big noise about being student-friendly, but when you read their student source licenses, they're hardly friendly, particularly to themselves. (They won't like me saying this, but use of student or lecturer "Shared Source" license, is going to make it difficult to legally work at Microsoft, since there are all sorts of nice little tags preventing you from using the source and the knowledge gained, commercially ... foot-in-mouth, quick-draw foot-gun and blow off your own foot! :)

I'm not expecting Microsoft to actually release this source code under the license suggested, but it would enable people like me to write software for Microsoft Windows without fear of getting Microsoft's patent guns drawn on me for the temerity of (possibly) outcompeting Microsoft.

And damn, there isn't a Gates/Ballmer-with-Dunce-Cap-on icon, is there? Take it as read.

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Free ride? Free ride?

Somebody's hitting the magic mushrooms ...

"What does linux and the open source community get out of it? Free use of IP (patents) generated by Microsoft with no fear of retribution."

Problem with software patents is that companies usually apply for patents on pre-existing software practice/s. And the pre-existing software practices are usually so well known and so well described in university textbooks that once the patent has been applied for and the (usually) USPTO has taken the money and rolled over like a good little puppycat should, those university textbooks become illegal.

That's the effect of software patents. Most people whose lives are affected by them, think that the USPTO and the US Fe[de]ral Govt policies that enable suchlike to run rampant international, should be dropped from a very tall tower with a handerkerchief for a parachute and a ton of lead bricks to keep the feet pointed in a sane direction.

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