Feeds

back to article Microsoft unfurls patent lasso, snares Linux servers

Microsoft’s crusade to lock Linux companies into patent protection deals has netted Redmond’s first service provider. Amdocs Software Systems is paying Microsoft to license undisclosed Redmond patents in a deal that "provides mutual access to each company’s patent portfolio". The deal extends to the Linux servers running in …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Thumb Down

Truly a great day for patent trolls everywhere!

36
3
Anonymous Coward

Finally a company accepting that Linux infringes Microsoft patents

0
15
Linux

Linux infringes Microsoft patents

"Finally a company accepting that Linux infringes Microsoft patents"

Then why don't Microsoft sue Linux in a court of law?

7
0
Linux

I'm not sure if you know anything, but judging by this statement you do not know anything.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

... to another free Posix-y OS. It's got to be less painful than either alternative of switching to Windows or paying protection money to MS. Shame it wasn't in their interests to make known what patents were being held over their head while the fight was still on. (/me really hopes it's not something as trivial the FAT long file names in a hidden file rubbish.)

6
3
Silver badge
Linux

Re: I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

"Shame it wasn't in their interests to make known what patents were being held over their head while the fight was still on" -- I'm hoping at some point for a Wikileaks dump containing just that information, it would certainly add some fuel to the fire.

31
0
g e
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

Presumably the 'beneficial licensing agreement' came with a gagging clause.

14
3
Coat

Re: I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

"/me really hopes it's not something as trivial the FAT long file names in a hidden file rubbish."

Windows. Now with support for long filena~1

39
1
Linux

Re: I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

It will be something trivial. Microsoft has just seen how successful Apple has been with law suits using generic patents, they are probably going to try to do the same! Both companies are seeing that the pro big business United States is NOT going to enforce any anti-trust laws against them, there will be no end of this kind of thing. Apple's generic patient can be used to shut down a toaster manufacturer (rectangle in shape with rounded corners and uses a slide to open). As these companies become more confident that their patent trolls will be successful, we could be eventually be living in a world where Microsoft will be the only thing you can use on your pc and Apple will be the only smart phone/tablet that you will be legally allowed to own.

13
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

I'm of the same boat of opinion there. If threatened I'd just say "ok, we will use something else, now you got a problem with that?" and grin.

2
2
Silver badge
Linux

Re: ...that you will be legally allowed to own

Then only outlaws will have decent kit!

2
0
Bronze badge

Then only outlaws have made decent kit?

Were you referring to Microsoft?

Or Persia?

Beats me why small firms are threatened by patent laws.

I'd just agree to the terms if even remotely likely to go to Texas, declare bankrupt and restart in another name in another location. That would cost less than a thousand quid to do in Britain where the legal system is crap but not as crap as some, so I hear.

1
0

Re: I think I'd have been tempted to switch...

so far I've not seen any company with the balls Barnes and Nobel showed when they published all correspondences with Microsoft and refused to sign their NDA's just to see the patents which must be publicly available. These deals being signed are always inclusive of some other license or cross licensing but because they include the Linux word, they get press from Microsoft. Because it is all a stunt after all and too few have the balls to stand up to them.

9
0
Unhappy

The elephant in the room...

... is all the other patents that M$ are getting very cheap access to in these cross-licensing deals. Effectively monopolising or neutralising a lot of potential competition - and being paid for it! Doubt if there's any effective legislation against this tactic, so it could be very effective over the years.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Love to know the details

Sounds like a 'loss-leader' to me. You know, an MS marketing person calls a sizeable but relatively unknown server company, and says to them 'Hey, want to licence our patents - five cents a linux server - but don't tell anyone how much you paid. We won't then sue you. A real bargain".

Company manager goes "Hmmm. Indemnity from MS lawsuits for a few hundred dollars. Sure is a bargain. It'll cost me that much to get the lawyers to check it. Where do I sign", and so MS have their first server company, and can trumpet this loudly, hoping to stampede other gullible companies into maying much more.

33
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Love to know the details

Hmm... Amdocs aren't a sizeable, but relatively unknown company, they are one of the de-facto document management companies. I would strongly suspect that the agreement helps both companies sharing technologies in document management, MS is big here, as are AmDocs. That it has anything to do with Linux servers, seems to be tacked on the end.

4
0

Re: Love to know the details

> one of the de-facto document management companies

Are they? Everything I've seen about them suggests they're into CRM and telco billing software. Nary a mention of document management. Microsoft also does CRM software of course.

0
0
Trollface

FUD wins again...

"Nice Server. Shame if something should happen to it"

46
2

Predictive Failure

Surely this is an attempt to drum up some revenue aheading of Windows 8 being a complete flop......

27
2
Pint

Re: Predictive Failure

"Surely this is an attempt to drum up some revenue aheading of Windows 8 being a complete flop......"

Why would they think that? Windows ME and Vista were overwhelmingly successful.

1
0

Actually

Windows (h)8 violates over 100 patents held by me! So anyone wishing to run Windows (h)8 can just send me $1000.00 and I promise not to sue you.

14
6
Unhappy

Re: Actually

Ouch! Talk about kicking someone when they are down... Don't you think that Window 8 users will be suffering enough?

17
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Actually

Oh Jesus, now all the anti-MS sheep will be using that little moniker of yours for the next 2 years! Hope you're proud of yourself bringing that to the Reg forums!

At least it might finally kill off "Micro$oft". Oh dammit!!!

3
13
Facepalm

Re: Actually

Don't count on getting rich mate... do you think there is anyone out there "wishing to use Windows 8?"

6
0
Anonymous Coward

nothing is for free

not even when copied from windows.

2
32
Devil

Re: nothing is for free

Nothing is free? Not even protection racket money?

I notice Microsoft still wont say what these patents are that the Linux kernel is supposed to violate. They still wont go after the big Linux using companies who you would assume are the biggest financial benefiters from this "unlicensed intellectual property". And of course they wont go after the kernel developers or kernel.org.

If they're so confident in their patents why not step up? Or is harassing minor companies and getting royalties off of Android phones their new business model?

57
3
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: nothing is for free

Why the hell would anyone want to copy anything from that cobbled together, virus ridden, proprietary pile of dog's droppings that is Microsoft Windows?

As you seem to having been living in the backwoods for the last 22 years, let me clue you in, Linux, the kernel, was developed in 1990 by Linus Torvalds. This was helped early on by the community of developers around Minix, a teaching OS started by Andy Tannenbaum. Linux was adopted by the GNU project as their own kernel HURD was not ready and the BSD kernel was tied up in legal proceedings.

No sign of Windows anywhere in there, I think.

32
8
Bronze badge
Linux

Re: nothing is for free

If M$ were to disclose which patent claims they were all butt hurt about, it wouldn't be long before the open source community would have the offending crud evaluated and removed; thus removing M$'s very shaky leg to stand on.

I hate Microsoft more and more everyday.

40
2
Paris Hilton

Re: nothing is for free

Was BIGBOOBS patented, and that's what the protection money is about?

19
0
Bronze badge
Mushroom

Re: nothing is for free

The reason that Microsoft dont want to tell which patents are a problem is because they are not like Apple and want to ban others from using their technology.

Microsoft want Linux to use it's technology becuase its a good future revenue stream.

Why would they want to disrupt that by letting the legacy UNIX OS vendors / distributions know which patents are a problem? - they would then avoid them where possible.

Its a good business strategy and makes commercial sense.

5
17
Bronze badge
Mushroom

Re: nothing is for free

But Windows has had fewer security vulnerabilities than Linux that were fixed faster every year since 2003....

1
23
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Minor

Amdocs is a multinational corp with a revinue of 3 billion USD, and a net of 347 million USD. It's assets are 4.66 billion USD. Their client-list includes AT&T, BT Group, Sprint, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Bell Canada, Telus, Rogers Communications, Telekom Austria, Cellcom, Comcast, DirecTV, Elisa Oyj, TeliaSonera and O2-Ireland.

This is not some bit player, this a large providor of services used by tier-1 and tier-2 telecommunitcaion providors worldwide. Anyone who actually pays any serious attention to the telecomunitations industry knows who they are.

By your definition, Verisign is a downright microscopic. It has less then 2000 employees, a revenue of 772 million USD, and only nets 143 million.

Your ignorance does not make them a "minor company."

7
0
FAIL

Re: Minor

"Your ignorance does not make them a "minor company.""

You are correct. My ignorance of Amdocs background and market position does not "make them" a minor company.

However, the fact remains that Microsoft has never disclosed which patents are supposed to be in violation. They have never taken this to an open court and argued the legitimacy of those patents. They have never taken any action against the "obvious suspects" that they know will stand up and challenge their claim over these patents.

And most of all, they wont go after the source of these apparent "intellectual property" violations. The people who make and distribute the Linux kernel. If they honestly felt that they had a case they would stop this at the source, not cherry pick soft targets (minor *or* major) to provide a protection racket income or feel good positive validation for their claim.

A patent holder should not be allowed to litigate against an end user of a product when they clearly have no intention of addressing the source of the "problem". But of course to do that they'd have to go to court and that means the world would get to see the man behind the curtain.

My statements stands. It's a hollow protection racket, a vile business practice and reeks of a company unable to compete in a changing market.

25
0

Re: Minor

Amdocs sells billing system to telcos. I'd bet they have a lot of crap over Linux systems so Microsoft claims are irrelevant to the Linux community itself.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

"Never disclosed"? Really?

"However, the fact remains that Microsoft has never disclosed which patents are supposed to be in violation. They have never taken this to an open court and argued the legitimacy of those patents. They have never taken any action against the "obvious suspects" that they know will stand up and challenge their claim over these patents."

"Never disclosed them"? You're quite sure that Microsoft did not even tell Amdocs? Or do you just mean "never disclosed them in a way that allowed YOU to find out the particulars"?

As for "arguing the legitimacy of those patents" well then presumably a company the size of Amdocs has access to qualified legal assistance, and were advised to take a license. But maybe Amdocs ought to hire you as their legal counsel instead.

2
13
Bronze badge
FAIL

@AC 1813hrs - Re: "Never disclosed"? Really?

Wrote :-

>> "Never disclosed them"? You're quite sure that Microsoft did not even tell Amdocs? Or do you just mean "never disclosed them in a way that allowed YOU to find out the particulars"?<<

Yes, he did mean the latter. What matters is that MS never disclosed the identity of the patent to the PUBLIC; this is not just about the GP poster's nosiness, as you imply. Since the whole patent system is meant to be in the public interest, and part of the idea is to make things public (ie the patent itself is published and not kept a trade secret) it would seem logical to me that in any case like this the identity of the invoked patent *should* be revealed publically. The law should be changed to require this.

>> As for "arguing the legitimacy of those patents" well then presumably a company the size of Amdocs has access to qualified legal assistance, and were advised to take a license.<<

Being advised to pay up does not equal the patents being legitimate. There are many possible reasons for paying up, such as the legal costs and time delays, not to mention the risk of a clueless judge and jury getting it wrong.

16
1
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: nothing is for free

Looks more like a shakedown to me.

You know, "Hand over the money, I've got a gun in this bag."

When all the time "the gun" is really a banana.

"Code a bit long in the tooth, new products going down the drain?

Don't despair, there's always a quick patent violation claim to help pad the bottom line."

9
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 1813hrs - "Never disclosed"? Really?

@Nuke - Other than idle curiosity, can you tell me why an agreement between two companies should be made public? It's perfectly normal for other companies to carry out commercially sensitive agreements in secret, why isn't this ok for MS?

0
6
Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: nothing is for free

"If they're so confident in their patents why not step up?"

Possibly it's because they are trivial and/or very easily worked around, hence the gagging clauses used in all of these "agreements" to date. They are scared that people will see through them.

5
0
Facepalm

Re: @AC 1813hrs - "Never disclosed"? Really?

Other than idle curiosity, can you tell me why an agreement between two companies should be made public? It's perfectly normal for other companies to carry out commercially sensitive agreements in secret, why isn't this ok for MS?

The point isn't that it's not OK for MS. The point is that it isn't OK where patent violations are concerned.

The whole point of patent legislation is that it gives an inventor a degree of protection against having his invention copied or stolen in exchange for (in theory, at least) full publication of the details of the invention.

The idea is to ensure publication, which is considered to be in the public interest. The period of protection for the original inventor is the carrot that is offered to ensure publication; patents are supposed to be all about openness and disclosure rather than about protection.

If you claim that someone has copied your invention you must either publish the details of what you think they're doing and how it violates your patent or you fly in the face of the spirit of that legislation.

Patent abuse is rife, these days, though.

12
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 1813hrs - "Never disclosed"? Really?

Noone has said this is about patent infringement, that has just been inferred. All we know is that both MS and AmDocs have a cross licensing deal in place.

0
2
Def
Bronze badge

@dajames

What a load of horse shit.

The patents in question already are public record. That's what patents are - public records of inventions. What a company does with those patents and what deals it makes with other companies regarding those patents is none of your nor anybody else's business. If a patent violation case is brought before the courts, then that court case and any documents relating to it are (usually) made public. Until then though, there is absolutely no onus on any private company to release any detailed information regarding any of its business to anyone.

0
5

Re: @AC 1813hrs - "Never disclosed"? Really?

"No-one has said this is about patent infringement, that has just been inferred."

I think it's pretty obviously implied. The whole point of the statement looks to like MS want everyone to think that someone has agreed with them that Linux infringes Windows patents and that a value has been put on that infringement. Just because they didn't actually write that doesn't mean that that isn't what they want us to read.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Minor

"My statements stands. It's a hollow protection racket, a vile business practice and reeks of a company unable to compete in a changing market."

While generally I agree, there's also the flip side. MS is a commercial entity and it is their duty to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. They're big enough to design, create and sell products and services as well as hound money using legal means.

It doesn't make it particularly morally right, but this is business. We've heard all this practice but, in reality, would it stop us purchasing more MS products in the near future?

0
1
Megaphone

Re: @AC 1813hrs - "Never disclosed"? Really?

"Other than idle curiosity, can you tell me why an agreement between two companies should be made public? It's perfectly normal for other companies to carry out commercially sensitive agreements in secret, why isn't this ok for MS?"

How about to prevent a completely seperate body from unknowingly infringing those same patents, then after a few years MS needs a quick money fix and decides to claim on those patents that it could claimed 2 years ago. But in the interim, a huge user base is now using the offending code and you... YES YOU, now have higher usage costs to cover the company losses.

Say, if MS decide that the patent for monitor driver like software they had in the back drawer for 30 years is suddenly called in. Now you have a choice of paying MS for 30 years of patent infringement or not using your monitor as 'driver like software for monitors' is no longer allowed unless you pay.

And before you come up with statute of limitation or too vague bullshit, you know the point I am making.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 1813hrs - "Never disclosed"? Really?

You have to ask yourself,

"Why would Microsoft have gone the trouble of announcing it had been successful in securing (extorting?) a payment from Amdocs for a Linux-related patent violation but NOT disclose which patent(s) were the basis of that action?"

If non-disclosure was agreed then how come we're reading (and writing about it) in El Reg et al?

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Minor

Having worked with 'Amdocs' in Europe the name 'Amdocs Software Systems Ltd' didn't at first register. However, a quick lookup on Bloomberg confirms why:

"Amdocs Software Systems Ltd. provides services for the implementation of Amdocs’ proprietary software products and design, coding, customization and integration services. The company was incorporated in 1998 and is based in Dublin, Ireland. Amdocs Software Systems Ltd. operates as a subsidiary of Amdocs Ltd."

So what is interesting is that it is US-based division of Amdocs' services business that has signed with Microsoft not the international parent company - interesting ...

1
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

Non Disclosure Agreements should be banned

Or at least curtailed from preventing the world from knowing exactly what patent(s) were infringed and how. I accept that Microsoft or any other intellectual property owner has the right to defend their works, but justice must be seen to be done and hiding the details behind weasel worded out-of-court settlements is not on. Otherwise how can anyone else avoid inadvertently infringing a patent? Or is that the idea?

22
2
Boffin

Re: Non Disclosure Agreements should be banned

Otherwise how can anyone else avoid inadvertently infringing a patent? Or is that the idea?

Given a US patent office which has a license to print money by issuing millions of poor quality patents which lack any significant innovative step, are contaminated with prior knowledge and which are obvious to anyone skilled working in the field, it's just not in the interests of anyone trying to assert such dodgy monopoly rights to say what these are. Those asserting these almost certainly know the patents asserted are dodgy, but the protection racket works because those against whom these are asserted can't afford to litigate them. To compete in this fight, a company has to have patents of its own and can then engage in cross licensing, in nuclear arms terms: mutually assured destruction, so bad patents are only used by big fish against small fry.

16
1
Boffin

How To Innoculate Your Firm Against This Business Model

M$ themselves haves have shown us all how. It is quite simple. Refuse to ratify all such NDA clauses in potential agreements. They have demonstrated they most emphatically do not want those 235 patents identified to the world. I believe this requirement will even trump filing a lawsuit against your less than Fortune 1000 firm. Just tell everyone the Boss is rather scantily clad from your point of view. Because he is.

6
1

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.