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back to article Microsoft trades goodwill for TomTom Linux satisfaction

It looks like Microsoft finally did it. It has filed a lawsuit over alleged infringement of its US patents by Linux and open source. Today, the company filed suit against in-car, voice-activated navigation specialist TomTom NV and Tom Tom, Inc. And according to TechFlash, three of the eight patents Microsoft has contested relate …

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That reminds me

How are Microsoft's outstanding fines with the EU coming along? They wouldn't be in need of a bit of cashflow for some Government payments would they?

On the subject of the FAT filesytem, didn't they encourage it's use license free and hence invalidate claims?

From a 2003 article on dpreview.com...

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0312/03120403microsoftisfat.asp

"Microsoft will soon be charging manufacturers of flash memory card devices and those which use them $0.25 per unit or up to $250,000 to use the FAT filesystem."

"Microsoft owns patents to the FAT File System but for many years hasn't even hinted that it may one day decide to charge for it."

I wonder how the law stands on this as I'm guessing it's not been tested in court i.e. not charging, encouraging usage, then whacking on a fee?

Given the cap on fees, TomTom must be pretty sure of it's case.

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Happy

@Roger Heathcote

Re; US Patent 5579517 "Common Name Space for Long and Short Filenames" November 26, 1996.

I think your novelty score is to low. No one in their right mind would have come up with M$'s brain dead way of 'fixing' FAT-16

PS http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200902260425DOWJONESDJONLINE000552_FORTUNE5.htm

TomTom Rejects Microsoft's Patent Infringement Claims :-)

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Alert

They start with the words “A Method” Pleaseee

I had a quick look at the patents jeez they give patents for that!

They start with the words “A Method” bit of a giveaway there any patent that use the M word should be struck down with a bolt of lightning and the company have all patents stripped from them.

A method for running a computer in a car – now why would anyone give a patent for anything so obvious, its like patenting what may happen next! you don’t know but you can patent 10 guesses pleaseee.

This isn’t about Linux either TomTom don’t give monkeys about open source this is all about MS trying to force leverage in the mobile market, TomTom don’t use windows mobile, don’t have a windows browser on their app and don’t use M/S stuff apart from the PC link.

I would quote on the FAT ones but that goes from stating the bleeding obvious to filing the bleeding obvious, and anyway the USPTO have already thrown out the main fat32 patent as being even too obvious for them this lot is the remnants that haven’t been challenged yet.

So to sum up smacks of protectionism looks like racketeering

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Gates Horns

This seems fine to me ... does it really?

@AC

The patents that MS are claiming TomTom have infringed are the usual loosely written crap we've come to expect from US Software Patents. Have you read any of them or are you just a Microsoft shill?

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Thumb Up

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning!"

The first shots of the war have been made!

Vive revolution! Vive freedom!

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Linux

Proprietard trolls...

"If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed - Microsoft are lucky enough that they have enough money to go to the courts and stop the theft."

Invented is quite a strong term isn't it, they implemented some of this stuff and therefore are entitled to copyright protection but invented??? Balls.

Patents are there to protect the novel & non-obvious fruits of R&D investment.

There's nothing novel or non-obvious about any of these patents AKAICS and Microsoft have innovated almost nothing novel or useful* in the last decade, they are resting on their laurels content to become the worlds largest patent trolls, buying up huge swaths of companies and intellectual "property" and suing anyone who dares to make so much as a mouse without coughing up some fees like some feudal baron.

Linux on the other hand has innovated a boat load of useful things and has been a prime mover powering the internet for over a decade and being responsible for the massive increase in the availability of cheap powerful gadgetry we've all been enjoying for the last 5...

$20 XVid enabled DVD player anyone?

"Good luck to them I say, and maybe this will help stop future stealing from the open source shareware types."

Fuck them. Copying an idea is not stealing, if it were then M$ wouldn't have been shut down decades ago coz everything they built their business on was done by someone else first. Care to list some of the things they invented? Oh, that's right, you can't.

If you don't want anyone to use _your_ ideas then take them to the grave, the world is not short of ideas and never will be so we really don't need yours.

Roger Heathcote.

*.NET excepted, and even that concept was obvious to a lot of programmers for a long time, as somebody says there's not much that wasn't done first at xerox parc >25 years ago.

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Linux

Go your own way...

Surely the whole philosophical and ethical point of GNU/Linux and OSS generally is to be able to operate free of the Windows world and Microsoft hegemony. Those who seem to want Linux/OSS to be the next 'Windows', i.e. replace it, are missing the point as far as I'm concerned. Let M'soft, and all those content to use Windows, go their own sweet way. There is no reason for those who are not in thrall to that world to take any notice of them, unless they are being chased by the legal fraternity of course---bastards.

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@Anonymous "This seems fine to me"

"To be fair you can't blame Microsoft for protecting their own IP. If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed."

Microsoft's domination of the PC market was founded on a product (QDOS, ported to the PC as MS-DOS) that was at best an intentional mimic of the older CP/M operating system and at worst a direct rip-off of it.

Bill Gates didn't invent BASIC either, as some people seem to believe.

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Gates Horns

I'm reminded of those nature programmes...

Where the alpha male was old and injured, he would often look docile and on his last legs, but would occasionally lash out at anything it could reach, sensing that the end was near...

Hey Ballmer! Say hi to the dinosaurs for me, will ya?!

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Gates Horns

All Open Source projects/companies

should send ALL of their source code to Redmond and the US patent office asking that Microsoft can identify and prove where they violate any Microsoft patent so the the code can be changed.

It would only seem to be reasonable that Microsoft should be able to review ALL of this source code, exhaustively, and be able to prove that they had patented whatever process/thought/idea before it came into use in Open Source. Of course, any patent that they can't prove in such a manner should be removed and whoever granted the patent should be fired and maybe sued.

The US patent office is going to have to start taking responsibility for its negligent actions in regards to granting patents on the obvious or already established/in use processes or ideas.

Devil Bill, shurely no explanation is required.

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Flame

Re: Does this really mean MS is anti open source? / This seems fine to me

"Open source does not absolve people from IP laws and does not give you free reign to steal other peoples ideas."

You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment. Waving around terms like "IP" just makes you look like someone who doesn't know what they are talking about. That, or someone who wants to misrepresent the situation: open source is built on functioning copyright law. Less of the caffeine and more of a clue for you, I think.

"To be fair you can't blame Microsoft for protecting their own IP."

"IP" is a nonsense. What are you actually referring to? Ideas? Algorithms? You can't patent either in most places and nor should you be able to.

"If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed - Microsoft are lucky enough that they have enough money to go to the courts and stop the theft."

Yes, the patent system is for the rich monopolists, despite what the stooges and lobbyists would have you believe.

"Good luck to them I say, and maybe this will help stop future stealing from the open source shareware types."

Open source is not shareware. Go back to the 1980s and clue up on everything that's happened since then, fool!

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Gates Horns

Can you say "anti-trust"

Or monopoly?

(v)FAT is now a standard filesystem allowing devices like digital cameras, consoles, computers, mobile phones... basically anything to use the same media, usually flash media.

Whilst a free (unencumbered by patents, copyright, trade secrets etc) FS would be better - anyone could implement for no fee - that's not where we are now. FAT is well documented and widely supported precisely because these things need to be read and written by Microsoft's operating systems. The OS monopoly once again forced vendors onto another MS system.

Given that Microsoft have been repeatedly slapped down by the EU courts, I would expect that the moment they try this on the EU will bitchslap them again. Mighty hard.

Convicted monopolists should not be able to blackmail companies into paying them because the monopoly forced them to take a particular course of action. Patent or no patent, MS is saying that they'll have their pound of flesh or nobody gets to play.

Besides which, one of the patents covers the method of linking/displaying a long filename when the FS underneath uses 8.3 format (i.e. the tech they brought in to pretend to use long filenames under Win95). They have a patent on a hackish workaround to an inadequate FS to make it more like the better ones that predate it?

They're 'avin a laugh!

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So don't DriveDrive in Zimbabwe, Somalia or the US

So far, software patents are only useful in third world countries with corrupt legal systems.

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Stop

Comeon peopel you really don't think this way do you? Reality check

I am a heavy linux/unix user (both at work and at home), but look at the number of times MS is sued yearly over patents; and look how many *hundreds* of millions of dollars they have been fined over the years due to those patents. They have a whole army of people just trying to find patents in the system; but for some reason a bunch of people think that there is no patent infringement in Linux (kernel and userspace).

The fact of reality is that common logic (unless you are wearing blinders) would have to suggest that there are a relatively large quantity of patent infringement in Linux. Look at Linux over the years... I'd say out of any OS out there is copies the most from all the other OS's (heck probably all the other main ones combied)... before you jump all over me, from a user like me that's a good thing since normally it's copying the good things (only zealots and fanboys claim the "yeah be <foo> OS did it first", really they did it first tell me why I should care? So let's get over this stupid notion that Linux (or any other OS) doesn't infringe on a large number of patents and get into reality.

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Jobs Horns

Hoisted by their own petard

A reasonable defence in a patent case is that the algorithm in question is the only way to do it. Microsoft's 8.3 name scheme is therefore the only way TomTom can run their flash so that some rather decrepit software called Windows can talk to it. If Microsoft were to build support into Windows for a variety of decent file systems, I'm sure everyone would happily drop VFAT.

But they haven't, so we have to do it their way.

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Coat

MS vs IBM with Groklaw as proxy again?

Only difference is that this time instead of SCO vs Novell, it will be MS vs TomTom.

Didn't MS learn their lesson on this one last time? Especially with Novell to feed IBM insider information about where to look for the patent violations...

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Gates Halo

Microsoft and BASIC

"Bill Gates didn't invent BASIC either, as some people seem to believe."

No, but Gates and Allen pulled off a really impressive stunt by writing a fully operational BASIC interpreter for the Altair without actually having access to the machine itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_BASIC

If you were around at the birth of the home computing boom, you'd know that being able to run genuine Microsoft BASIC on your machine was a big bonus, and in some cases a deciding factor in which system you purchased.

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@Badger

"You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment."

Um, yes you can. It's called a "patent". And while I don't believe in method/software patents (while being a staunch defender of copyright) it *is* the law in the US--and Tom Tom sells in the US.

Sort of the mirror of the EU antitrust thing. MS sells in Europe, so has to dance to the EU bureaucrats.

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@David Hicks

"(v)FAT is now a standard filesystem allowing devices like digital cameras, consoles, computers, mobile phones... basically anything to use the same media, usually flash media."

True. However the ECMA/ISO/IEC standard does NOT include long file names, it uses 8.3 name format only.

The patent concerns the long filename extension. Which TomTom uses, right?

A nit, perhaps, but then lawsuits are all about nits.

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That reminds me...

I was going to buy one of them there Tom Tom thingys. Now would be a good time.

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Silver badge

Ha, US patents. The worst shit ever

I'm hereby patenting the "expression of personnal opinion by the mean of a message of 200 characters". Seriously, time to nuke this awful system guys. Try not to behave as a retarded country for once.

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it has all happened before

No surprises here, well maybe one how long it took MS to jump on the IP band wagon. it really is a grey area and always has been, i remember back in the old days When The BBS was the comunication means the carry on that went on with winace and winzip.

winzip first incarnation was just blatently ripped from the code of winace, and when winace took the matter to a legal level, the hate campiagn that ensude against winace was disgraceful , threating phone calls , nasty mails all aimed at the corporate greed of winace . when in fact it was just a husband and wife outfit working from home who had been ripped off by a drunk friend with no scrupuls.

So it is fair to defend ones own work, but the IP crap of the last decade is ridiculus with whole companies set up to defend IP and patents that have bought rather than actaully producing or offering any services. and american law is absolutely bonkers they have a habit of forgetting america is a country and not the world.

Open source like linux will be a target for not just MS but Numerous companies that think they can make a case......my only problem here is who do you sue who is the originator of copyright or IP infringement when your dealing with a community of developers rather than an organisation , but the bigger companies like red hat( who have already been bit by ms) and unbuntu the more they try to make cash from linux the more others will turn the screws , a good analagy is Game modifactions sure your can mod the software to your hearts content but try to make a bit of cash from the mod and your in trouble and the same goes with IP, lawyers sit on the side lines watching the open soruce community waiting for people like shuttleworth to cash in on linux so they can cash in on them, and that is probably why Nasty Big guys like MS have been sitting waiting for the right time to draw blood.

No point chasing down a poor man or a company with no profits,I Should have been an IP lawyer now there is a growing market.

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Re: @Badger

I wrote, "You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment."

Wolf writes, "Um, yes you can. It's called a "patent"."

Um, traditional patents are not protections on mere ideas. You should read up on the history of patents before assuming that the desired situation of various corporations and industries is identical to the rationale for having patents in the first place.

Whether patent offices have granted patents for ideas and had them recognised by the courts is another matter: that of the regulatory environment being ethical or not, as I wrote. The US has been able to threaten other nations with a big stick if those nations don't respect their absurd "IP" regime. Alongside the "I thought of this trivial extension of current practice first - it's all mine!" attitudes that the regime promotes, I don't regard intimidation of other nations as ethical, either.

Argue the toss about current US practice if you want, although it would be laughable to suggest that anyone should hold such practice up as an ideal. There are a number of people who want to see the regime changed significantly, and the rest of the world should consider putting its foot down on such matters, too.

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Filesystems

The problem isn't that Microsoft shouldn't have the right to defend its intellectual property.

However, people installing Linux in a second partition should be able to access files - with their long names - in their Windows partition, because not being able to do so would be anticompetitive.

So the solution is clear. Require Microsoft to cease and desist selling copies of Windows that don't allow you to choose to use a non-proprietary filesystem instead of FAT32 or NTFS. Since there are non-proprietary filesystems that allow equivalent functionality, this would not impose undue hardship on Microsoft.

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Flame

BASIC

Dartmouth College should sue MS for stealing BASIC

ETH Zurich/Logitech and Xerox sue MS for the Mouse

Xerox sue MS for Windows

Bell Labs sue them for adding subdirectories and UNIX like commands

Digital Research/Novell/Caldera sue them for MSDOS and Filesystem.

IBM and DEC (now most IP owned by HP) for making NT out of VMS and OS/2

Mosiac for messing up the Browser

Bell Labs and Sun for Mashing Up C, C++ and Java as C#

Borland for pinching ideas from Turbo Pascal for VB6

Xerox sue them for having Networking.

I saw touch screen systems and multiprocessing 20 years ago.

All the decent stuff they have they copied or bought the Company or Rights

SQL, Visio.

The only two really good original programs MS have done are Excel & Word (for Windows, not DOS), ironically first launced on Apple as MS Windows on DOS didn't really work till version 3.x

MS needs to throw away WinCE/Mo and NT/Vista/Win7 as they have trashed them. Spend the money on rewriting them properly from scratch.

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Tom
Silver badge

They konw they are going to loose - this must be to scare others

These are 'software patents - after Bilski they will be thrown out. The only thing they can be hoping for is that they scare enough customers to buy from them to cover the cost of the failing law suit.

Works for the mafia, but failing for the RIAA

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Reason?

I think we lost that somewhere over the last century...

Ok, I get that you want to patent a steam engine and then produce and sell them in order to make a living. I think that is reasonable.

But microsoft is not doing anything with these patents... IMHO this is just an unreasonable and disproportionate action. And has nothing to do with the principle on which patents were based once.

It is fair to protect your inventions but this somehow feels just so unfair.

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Anonymous Coward

Where is Tom Toms GPLed code?

Where can I download a copy of TomToms modified Linux? Or do they use a "special" version of the GPL?

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Gates Horns

short selling

Own a lot of shares?

Lost a lot of value on them recently?

Own a lot of patents?

1. Short a companies stock

2. Sue them for multiple patent infringement

3. Profit!

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Paris Hilton

Patent 517 is invalid

Excuse me, but wasn't 517 revoked/invalidated years ago? So MS is attacking with revoked patents now as their wool over eyes tactic?

How many years has MS have Balmer rattling his little saber up in front of people about the hundreds of patent violations and growing each time effect about Linux and now that they come to act we find out it's all about VFat including an nvalidated patent on it?

Paris because she's go totaly clueless about all this too.

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Boffin

Misleading headline

Patents have so far not really been Microsoft's bread and butter. With a near monopoly on the personal computer systems stack they haven't needed to worry about them. In fact they have done very well with their embrace and extend stance, albeit fighting in court to defend this if necessary (Windows 3.1 springs to mind). IBM is the real patent shop and we all know what the folks down at Cupertino are like. So Microsoft isn't really taking on Open Source per se. In fact it still supports various Open Source projects in one way or another.

The patent issue does need to be clarified in law and it will be interesting to see how taking on a European company may affect this.

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Extinguish or take over

Having read the article and all the comments, the most likely scenario is that Microsoft wish to bring Tom Tom to its knees, because Tom Tom is vulnerable just now, and then take over the company. Plenty of precedent for Microsoft absorbing other people's products into the Microsoft family.

So it's not a Linux thing! Just as Microsoft said.

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Linux

This is going to be cool...

This can only be good.

MS crown starting to slip:

Laying people off.

Share price dropping.

Vista.

and now this!!

B R I N G I T O N!!

If you ever thought of a good reason to buy a TomTom this is it!

Just go and buy one even if you are like six or something, just to see TomTom stick it to the Maaan.

I'm going to empty Halfords in a minute.

Come on Mark buy the company.

Get the Linux Foundation selling shares.

Anything just to get Microsoft right in the 'nads.

Have you ever had a PC crash or had a virus which you know should have been patched years ago!

All that work just gone poof!

Sink that damn ship in one.

--

I feel much better now.

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IT Angle

It really is in linux best interest...

to sort this out amicably - as amicably as possible.

While ever one of the biggest players in software solution procurement has a case to protect its rights then linux seems to be on very dodgy ground.

Imagine a data centre going linux only to find a partial ruling that rights have been transgressed. What happens at said data centre? Meltdown?

It would appear to take no more than one infringement to meltdown linux?

Besides, if the open source community seeks maturity it will also have to learn to handle rights issues with responsibility and respect. If not for the open source contributors themselves then certainly for those who may wish to incorporate linux into a commercial environment.

I can see sufficient doubt in the posts above that would prevent UK government bodies (eg local authorities) to steer well clear of linux until the above is resolved. Not in an inflamed rabid passion fashion but in a way that will make organizations keen on linux to use it without compromise or possible compromise.

As someone once said: it is always the right time to do the right thing?

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Paris Hilton

hmm?

@ Mage 16:32

WinCE? Not good?

It seems to do rather well in BT Vision. Best UI I have ever used as far as tele goes and the functionality is sweet.

One oversight, to me anyway, is that a remote operated UI really should allow jumps and rotation (from start to end of list OR from end to start of list).

I think the plot thickens a little bit.

Take a step back. You are in charge of IT procurement in a large funded organisation. People shout about the cost of MS stuff compared to linux/open source. But you've heard about runins about licencing and so forth. Might even have had to do a software asset assessment with amendments.

At the point of preparing a business plan that encompasses introduction of open source in the organisation you learn about some contended rights issues.

Intrigued you look a bit more and see a rabid ... well get the picture?

Maybe linux has to mature in more ways than one?

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Linux

It isn't whether you win or lose...

... its how expensive it is to play the game.

Large companies have so many patents on trivial things that they can afford to throw them away. It isn't about winning, its about MS sending a message to other companies out there who might use linux, telling them that they should license windows instead because they wouldn't survive a fight with MS.

Sure, MS may lose this fight and a couple of worthless patents, but if you're thinking about building a business around embedded devices, you now have to consider the possibility of a hostile MS showing up at your door in a few years. Or would you rather pay a small and predictable license fee?

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Gates Horns

It will be a great day when Microsoft burn in hell.

Microsoft's action has had the following effect on me. ( I own a TomTom which is a great device )

- Reinforces my commitment to never ever buy anything Microsoft

- Spend lots of money on TomTom devices.

- Never ever provide any support for people that use windows, sorry people. My time spend providing unpaid windows support are gone.... I used to help all sorts of people

with their windows problems.... but no more.

-Never buy a Fiat. ( yes I hired a Fiat 500 for a day, and it has what looks like a USB port but with a Microsoft logo, don't know what that is but sorry Fiat you are on the blacklist as well.)

Microsoft can go to hell and the sooner the better.

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Linux

hedge funds

Now you know why microsoft file so many patents - its for when they release turkeys and then rush to release new versions.

The patents are so they can hire there staff back.

Looks like a good plan - plenty of cars with tom tom - so they might have a spare few billion to pay.

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battered wife syndrome leads some to hope things will change

What part of "Red Hat users owe us money (while Novell dont since theyve paid the protection racket for 'using' our IP)|" didnt some of you folks understand?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B0GTYfPoMo

I have never listened to what the assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture has to say about the direction of our country, instead I listen to what the president says.

Same thing whether its GM, IBM or any other Fortune 500 company: do you base yoursef on some low level manager or the CEO?

"Gee, I know Steve Jobs/Eric Schmidt/pick says one thing but Bob in accounting says the company is going in another direction? Hmm, who should I believe?"

Yet when it comes to Microsoft, were supposed to be oblivious to the 800pd gorilla?

So why should I listen to some low level flunky like Bill Milf or Ramji about which way the company is going? You listen to what the guy who signs the paychecks says.

And baldy has never uttered anything remotely pragmatic about Linux while Im sure wishful thinking has helped fill in the blanks for a lot of people.

Its almost like battered wife syndrome.

"Sure, he treats me badly, beats me and threathens me but deep down he really loves me. I know it. See the nice bracelet/open source conference sponsorship he gave me? He's really sorry you know."

And when he hits you again, dont be surprised.

Abuse relationships are that way.

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Linux

Bloody excellent.

This is good news.

If the claims are found to be bogus, MS will suffer even more loss of credibility.

If any are found to be upholdable the infringing code will be changed quickly.

Everybody wins. Except Microsoft.

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Bronze badge

BASIC/Mage

Of course, MS-DOS looked a lot like CP/M. But then, CP/M looked a lot like OS/8 (from DEC), which few people realized. The old PIP command for COPY came from Peripheral Interchange Program. Of course, OS/8 had 6.2 filenames instead of 8.3.

Maybe HP and Xerox should get together and produce the next great operating system. But Apple successfully sued Xerox at one time in the past (while Xerox was unsuccessful in suing Apple), so it isn't as simple as that.

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Boffin

Re: Where is Tom Toms GPLed code?

"Where can I download a copy of TomToms modified Linux? Or do they use a "special" version of the GPL?"

Is this from the perspective of someone who does or doesn't own the device? The GPL [quoting v2 section 3] states "You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:" and all the subsections start "accompany it with".

...the point being that people with a device shouldn't be left high and dry for fixes if the company goes under, or are simply uncooperative. If anyone else can get the code, then the company is being generous with it (or their lawyers are paranoid).

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Flame

Re: It really is in linux best interest...

"Besides, if the open source community seeks maturity it will also have to learn to handle rights issues with responsibility and respect."

Hello?! Open source is built on "rights issues", specifically copyright, and there's a lot of guidance out there with regard to tracking contributions, best practices, and so on, quite possibly followed a lot more closely by open source projects than proprietary projects whose developers, hidden behind the corporate veil, might well be doing a lot of Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V with the impression that no-one will ever check up on what they've been doing.

Blah, blah, "responsibility and respect". You should acquire a clue about what people actually do in the real world instead of projecting your flawed prejudices on a large group of people.

"If not for the open source contributors themselves then certainly for those who may wish to incorporate linux into a commercial environment."

This is known as "FUD". Of course, people who advocate software patents like threatening strangers in an arbitrary fashion, just as you've done in your vague phrasing above, because patents are pretty much the only instrument which allows such extortion to occur.

"As someone once said: it is always the right time to do the right thing?"

The "right thing" in your case would be to stop astroturfing, I guess. No spurious question mark needed there.

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as somone who warned about this for years on slashdot...

i'd say those stupid enough to get into bed with Microsoft deserve the raping they'll eventually get. this turn of events comes as a surprise to no one who knows how Microsoft was created or how it got where it is today. go read "The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates". it tells you everything you need to know. Microsoft's lured a number of fools into bed. This is just the beginning.

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Stop

Open and shut case

It's an open and shut case. There are no such things as software patents in the UK and the EU. TomTom should petition for Microsoft to be labelled as vexatious litigants.

Anyway, I think it's high time the whole system of copyrights and patents was re-examined from the ground up. Patents and copyrights were never about providing revenue streams for corporations: the original intent was to encourage authors and inventors to share their works with the rest of society at large, so that we all got to benefit from them in the end. Back in the days, the grant of a temporary monopoly over your work in exchange for the promise eventually to share it with the rest of the world was the best way to encourage sharing of ideas -- if you didn't patent your invention, there was a real risk that someone else might independently reinvent it and you would wind up with nothing.

Today, the sheer fact of patents and copyright being abused right, left and centre suggests that there may well be a better system to reward people for sharing their discoveries. I'm not sure what that better system might involve, but anything's better thanm the present mess.

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Anonymous Coward

I told you so as did countless others.....

I dont want to be the guy who does it.... but damn if Im not going to remind people as much now as before: NOTHING HAS CHANGED in Microsoft stance.

I dont care which janitor or low level manager they send to conferences to say sweet nothings about OSS (because we now they try extra hard not ot even mention the word free software), the people who run the company have shown no change in their position.

As a Red Hat user, I was told that I owe Microsoft money because Red Hat Linux has stolen IP it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B0GTYfPoMo

(notice which distro is 'legit' because they payed for the rights of using those patents)

Find me ONE instance where the CEO of Microsoft has said anything different in the past 24months. Take your time, it might take you a long time because there isnt.

Im not a skeptic but Im not a doe eyed twit either. You might want to believe they have changed but everything that I hear from the leadership at Redmond says its business as usual.

The guy who runs the company hasnt changed his tune and guess what? That's who matters.

I dont bother asking some pencil pusher at Apple for the position of the company on something, I read what Jobs has to say.

Im not sure the position of the president on some foreign policy matter (like what kind of democracy needs military bases in over 120 countries?) do I read/listen to what he says or what some secretary in the steno pool has to say?

Feel free to let me know what Ballmer has said/done in the past 24months which makes you think that Microsoft has changed because the reasons given so far like they gave money (petty cash for them) to Apache and some conferences are just pathetic.

There are also now tons of internal Microsoft documents available online from recent court cases which show the methods and tactics that Microsoft uses. Feel free to peruse the emails from Gates, Ballmer and top executives and see how they work.

Then tell me how they love us and that FLOSS has nothing to fear.

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