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back to article Ex-Sun boss punts Apple-Microsoft-world 'tried to sue me' missive

Former Sun Microsystems boss Jonathan Schwartz has claimed that Apple chief Steve Jobs threatened to sue the server and software maker in 2003. The erstwhile Sun CEO said on his 'What I Couldn't Say' blog yesterday that he felt for Google, whose HTC Android partner is currently embroiled in a legal handsets-at-dawn spat with …

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Unhappy

First

For Corey Haim tributes in titles?

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FAIL

RE: First

...your Corey Haim tribute wasn't in the title (even though you might be first to mention him)

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Grenade

Not my title.

The article's sub-title.

Viz : "My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire"

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The problem with this...

....is that it shows everyone that the only defence against a patent suit is to hit the aggressor with your own patent stick.

That's not what we need, it will simply lead to even more insane filing and granting of yet more specious patents that aren't worth a damn and that will tie everyone up in further legal knots.

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Bronze badge

Hmmm

Could all this, I'll sue you if you sue me stuff really be the incumbents protecting each other and keeping start-ups out.

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WTF?

The Cold War

So kids, the moral of the story is that provided you're big enough to have a few nukes to aim at other companies, you can get away with thieving IP because they won't nuke you. Nuclear deterrent and all that.

However, if your company is too small to have an extensive patent portfolio, say, maybe you run a small, innovative software house with loads of cool ideas, you can't play in the same park. You need to play by a completely different set of rules and ensure that you come up with something truly original.

(Bear in mind that unless you're inventing a complete game-changer, chances are the marketspace you're playing in is probably dominated by one of those bigger firms. Be careful!)

What's that Skippy? The bigger companies have an unfair advantage? Say it ain't so!

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Unhappy

One thing

So even if a small company has an extensive patent portfolio but doesn't have the cash for an extended patent battle, they still lose. I guess it just doesn't pay unless you can get big in secret, huh?

-- Skippy

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Joke

@ Dan 10

But Market Capitalism and unchecked Corporatism are pure, virtuous and good! How dare you besmirch them! Government interference, regulation and any form of social assistance are just taking money from the pockets of those who work hard! Anyone with a good idea, working in their basement can depose the titans of industry! It’s true because they told me so in school!

</heavy sarcasm>

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FAIL

"thieving IP"

Implying that IP in the form of patents can actually be "thieved" or is actually concept that has any merit except to provide work for state employees and to fill the coffers of lawyers and "concerned" politicians (who are sure to be open to "input" from the relevant economic players)

"You need to play by a completely different set of rules and ensure that you come up with something truly original."

How exactly do you do that? Meeting at 08:15: "Hey, let's do something original that's not covered by a patent (without looking at the patents of course, otherwise, double damages if you miss one)". Sounds like something out of a Monty Python skit to me. Things just don't work that way.

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@Trevor

Last I checked, the US Patent and Trade Office is part of the government.

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Grenade

@Trevor

Last I checked, government sanctioned patent offices and draconian IP legislation was a form of government regulation...

So your tongue in cheek tirade against free market capitalism seems a bit misdirected.

Most "evil" corporations today got to be so evil/big because of their government lobbying and abusing regulation, so much of the evils of capitalism is actually introduced into the system via socialist, or central planning policies.

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@blod

So you're saying that because the companies are rich and powerful enough to boss around a central government (I'm assuming here that we accept that a lot of the measures in place to keep big companies big were 'encouraged' by big business in the first place. If you disagree then we can amicably part ways here) and make a mockery of the legal system then the central government and the legal system are to blame? What do you think would happen if they weren't there? Would it not be true that the big businesses would become so powerful that they took the role of any sort of government, without all that pretending to care about people.

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@blod & @Captain Thyratron

No offence guys, but I don't consider US.gov to be much of a government. They don't exactly regulate much of anything, and pretty much every conceivable level of government was bought and paid for a long time ago.

Even disregarding that, the fact that US.gov steadfastly refuses to overhaul their patent and copyright system shows how utterly, utterly broken any hope of actual government regulation in the states is. Somewhere during the last century US.gov completely lost the plot and forgot that they are elected by the citizens of their nation. The government exists to provide those services, (such as law enforcement, defence, regulatory oversight, etc.) that require a firm set of rules and the assurance that all involved play by them. (If there were, for example, no police…then the man with the biggest club wins. Very Darwinian, and the anarchists love it…but getting away from that concept was one of the reasons that the US was founded.)

An American would find it odd that a socialist like myself reveres the original documents (and the intent behind them) that founded the US, but I honestly do. Governments should not exist simply to serve the needs of the government. They should exist to serve the people of their nation. (I do understand that reality doesn’t work like that, but I am an idealist.) Part of serving the citizens of the nation is ensuring that no individual, corporation, lobby group or other entity ever becomes so powerful that they (as opposed to the will of the people) start dictating policy.

I am not saying I could point to any government without flaw, but I could point to several governments whose flaws I find far more acceptable than those of US.gov.

US.gov’s pathetic attempts at any form of regulation were quite simply bought and paid for by people who did not have the interests of the citizens in mind. As such, governmental entities like the patent office in the US are fairly corrupt and mostly useless.

I would say that a patent office is required, that the idea behind patents, copyright, etc. is indeed a good and necessary one. I’d also say that the whole damned thing as it exists today in the united states needs to be dbaned, repartitioned and reinstalled from scratch. This time with the latest version of “not screwing your citizenry for dummies” and then fully patched, and a good anti-lobbyist program installed.

When a government is owned not by its people, but instead by a combination of an elite few and their corporations, then I no longer consider it a government at all.

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@Freddie

You have me mistaken for a non-regulation nutjob.

I was merely pointing out that this particular case is NOT an example of raging capitalism, but rather a fine example of stupid government regulation.

I did not say one should abolish all regulation, instead, one should enact smart regulation that keeps the market as free as possible.

I'm a free market proponent, but I'm one of the rare ones that accepts that true free market cannot exist without regulation, because companies will always try to smother the "freedom" of the market to keep their competitive edge, hence the government should be on the lookout for such shenanigans.

As for your question: Is it right to blame the government for its susceptibility to big money when enacting regulation? YESSSS.

I expect the corporations to look after their own asses, that's their job. On the other hand, the government should be on my side.

If I were on trial, I wouldn't get angry at the prosecutor for trying to put me in jail, but I would be furious if my defense attorney agreed with him.

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Stop

Sharx

I think it's about time to dump some rotenone on the pool

and free up some ecological space in the biz.

~D

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Well...

Interesting, but hardly surprising. Posturing, blustering and intimidation is part of the business game just as much as it is in sports. Or any other area of life where people (or perhaps mostly males?) compete, from the schoolyard and up.

Where's the "shrug" icon?

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Sueballs

...gets my vote for Word of the Day

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FAIL

Have to wonder....

If MLP's missive about Chairman Steve is true, whether he aimed the same sorts of daggers at RedHat and Novell for marketing a Linux desktop.

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Pint

I Remember The...

...call. It was the owner of vegas.com Threatening to do the nasty with my company because we registered A1-vegas.com.

They seemed to think the word Vegas was their IP. Although I disagreed, all I could do was back down, I had enough ready cash to defend myself in court for about 3 minutes.

All i could do was hide behind a couple 211s.

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FAIL

This simply shows that...

... software patents SUCK!

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Anonymous Coward

"Boo-hoo, those small boys tried to sue me

and pulled on my ponytail. I soon showed them, though: my company's so much smaller than theirs now. Yeah? Yeah?"

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Anonymous Coward

Intimidation & current business activities....

Interesting use of the patent system this... it makes perfect tactical business sense, but as part of a long-range strategic plan I'm not too sure. The pendulum will eventually start to swing the other way and the cycle will repeat, although the current players will probably be long-dead by that time.

Early tactical moves (i.e. threatening TomTom and Amazon) by Redmond need to be pinched off before they have too much legal inertia. It's brilliant really. Amazon develops the Kindle, based on free software, Redmond rattles their IP saber in its scabbard and Amazon, cowering in the corner, pays someone else for a product that they developed and brought to market! Bullying at it's finest, all nice and legal.

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Sueballs!

Very good indeed!

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Jobs Horns

Innovate outside the US

Sooner or later, won't the logical step be for a small innovator to simply no longer operate in the US of A?

Start your outfit in Manchester, Moscow or Melbourne, where you can innovate safely and if Steve (either J or B) calls tell them "you can't claim IP on ideas and look'n'feel, now go away (before I replace you with a small shell script)".

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Won't work

US laws apply all over the world. Everybody knows that, silly.

Besides, there are such things as international treaties where everyone happily agrees to acknowledge patents granted by everyone else. Time to cut loose from that idiocy, methinks...

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Jobs Horns

The Farce Be With You

I'm getting sick of Emperor Steve. Everything he says lately is "Something, something, something...iPad. Something, something, something, lawsuit."

At what point did it become OK for him to do what he's been whiningly accusing MS of for the past decade, only to a greater and more depraved extent?

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Gates Horns

RE: The Farce Be With You

"At what point did it become OK for him to do what he's been whiningly accusing MS of for the past decade, only to a greater and more depraved extent?"

Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery. Let's get things straight though, Apple haven't lost any massive anti-trust or monopolies cases recently, have they?

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@AC 10:58

"Apple haven't lost any massive anti-trust or monopolies cases recently, have they?"

Give the EU time. They've got their hands full getting the bigger fish in line. They'll get around to it. When they do, I’ll be selling tickets.

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Open Office

Open Office is a reverse engineering of MS Office, so it certainly must violate a ton of patents. But Microsoft is not going to start an exchange of patent suits with SUN and certainly not with Oracle. That would be mutual assured destruction. Fortunately for Microsoft, OO is bigger and slower than MS Office and has not eaten their market, as SUN had hoped.

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OpenOffice what?

I think you might find the reverse engineering was done in order to determine the file formats of the various Microsoft files used (Word et al).

Which, at least under European rules, is completely legal (the interoperability clause), so...

As for the rest of the product, it would be dead easy to prove and stamp it out if it was a true reverse engineered program (which would be monumentally silly in an open source program, about as silly as tweeting bomb threats about airports...).

This is why patent infringement is being *threatened*. There's no actual argument except a fail of a patent (the BBC micro "MicroOffice" suite predates both - prior art?!) which can be shouted from one company to the next to intimidate. It is like "my daddy is bigger than your daddy". Neither daddy is likely to show up and whale on the other (unless you are part of the Jerry Springer "guest" profile), it is just something that is said in playgrounds to intimidate a whole degree beyond "I am bigger than you".

I think one of the main reasons people are tied to MS Office is not speed or size but familiarity. It is what they know. And, besides, if it works for you then why not? Unlike a browser where the bar is raised every so often (CSS stuff, XHTML, HTML5, blah blah) a word processor is a word processor...

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Re : Open Office

Can you justify this statement ?

Just because something resembles another & performs similar functions isn't grounds for patents. ( At least not in sensible parts of the world). Indeed many complaints about OpenOffice is that it doesn't behave/look exactly like Office.

I and every other pharma. chemist have patented drugs that treat diseases in EXACTLY the same way as other companies compounds - perfectly legit. The market decides which to use depending on other factors such as efficacy, price, dose, side-effects etc.

Have you compared the source-codes ? -thought not

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Anonymous Coward

Good joke

You are aware that star office was built from the ground up and not really reverse engineered. Or maybe I don't understand your use of "reverse engineer" it's generally figure out how something works then based on those specs. From what I know star/sun/open office were initally written separate from ms office and I wouldn't be suprised if ms office uses things from others as well.

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WTF?

Crap crap crap

Always posted by pro Microsoft people. OpenOffice is not bigger than Microsoft Office. The latest install of OpenOffice on my machine 353Mb while office XP (which is 8 years old) is 477Mb, and that doesn't include the file converters I have to install for every new version!!

MS Office opens faster but that is just because of operating system tricks - since they are from the same company after all.

As for there being a performance difference maybe you could point me to them? I can't find a difference apart from MS office documents tend to corrupt a little more (although not on one machine, more across the company). It is great that OpenOffice can open more file types than MS Office!

Plus, you are not locked into anything with OpenOffice. With MS Office you are starting to get so tied into other MS crap it is starting to get tiresome again!!

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OOo may be slow but it's cheaper

"OO is bigger and slower than MS Office"

Have a read of this old chap:

http://www.oooninja.com/2008/05/openofficeorg-microsoft-office-moores.html

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Flame

Software Patents Do Indeed Suck

I always wondered what happened to Project Looking Glass.

I used to think computers and the computer industry were a fertile field for new ideas.

It's sad to see that now it is just a playground for a few incumbent mega corps and their lawyers.

Microsoft, the US Gov and apple. Hate. Hatez them all I does.

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Jobs Horns

iPad

I wonder how much is not implemented in the iPad because they haven't worked out how to go around Microsoft's Tablet PC patents.

Steve really really doesn't like other people's tech. Hence so many media formats that work on a $40 DVD player that don't work on a $1000 iPhone because they've been blocked by Apple's firmware.

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Unhappy

Hum

Now we know why DTrace fell out of OS X

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Grenade

Digital version of a protection racket?

"He said Gates offered Sun an Intellectual Property licence, which - according to Schwartz - was "code for 'We'll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download' - the digital version of a protection racket," he opined."

Well, so it looks like he finally understood the patent system... so, what's next?

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FAIL

As usual

Not one of you commentards understands IP. Rather than spouting rubbish on here, it might do you better to go and learn just a little bit about how the world works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re : As usual

Instead of wasting everyones time why not give us some idea of WHAT you are going on about

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