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 …

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  1. Thomas 18
    Thumb Down

    Truly a great day for patent trolls everywhere!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Finally a company accepting that Linux infringes Microsoft patents

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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?

      2. lambda_beta
        Linux

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

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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.)

    1. Miek
      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.

    2. g e
      Holmes

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

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

    3. Bakunin
      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

    4. henrydddd
      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.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Linux

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

        Then only outlaws will have decent kit!

        1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          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.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    6. Doug 3

      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.

      1. Basil Fernie
        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.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Allonymous Coward

        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.

  4. Z-Eden
    Trollface

    FUD wins again...

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

  5. SJRulez

    Predictive Failure

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

    1. Tank boy
      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.

  6. Johnny Canuck

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Actually

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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. apjanes
      Facepalm

      Re: Actually

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

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nothing is for free

    not even when copied from windows.

    1. Bakunin
      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?

      1. Rick Giles
        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.

      2. RICHTO Silver 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.

        1. nematoad 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."

      3. Oninoshiko
        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."

        1. Bakunin
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Nuke
              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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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?

                1. dajames Silver badge
                  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.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    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.

                    1. Magnus_Pym

                      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.

                  2. Def Silver 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.

                2. MrZoolook
                  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.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  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?

          2. Nick Ryan 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?

        2. Ramazan

          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.

        3. Roland6 Silver 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 ...

      4. John Brown (no body) 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.

    2. nematoad 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.

      1. RICHTO Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: nothing is for free

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: nothing is for free

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

  8. Red Bren
    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?

    1. PyLETS
      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.

    2. dlc.usa
      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.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: How To Innoculate Your Firm Against This Business Model

        "Otherwise how can anyone else avoid inadvertently infringing a patent?"

        You *cannot* avoid inadvertently infringing a patent. That is what it is about.

        They are state-granted monopolies in the space of ideas.

        Anyone defending this kind of bullshit needs to be on the receiving end of serious correction of attitude.

        1. Jonathan Richards 1
          Stop

          ...but they shouldn't be

          > They are state-granted monopolies in the space of ideas.

          Ah, but patents are meant to be protection for inventions, explicitly NOT for ideas. If you have an idea, the correct way to make money from it is to build a better technological item with it, which you can then patent and license and/or build it yourself. You should not, in any current patent regime, be able to get a patent on a mere idea.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only those skiddies

    also known as anonymous would fire up their scripts and get the patent details...

    1. Amorous Cowherder
      Happy

      Re: If only those skiddies

      Hey, even Anonymous can't find something that never existed!

  10. JimC

    For all we know

    The license cost being paid is actually negative - ie Microsoft are paying them. All smells of a publicity stunt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For all we know

      Personally, I think that they both have technologies that the other wants to share. That it covers linux seems an aside, from the way the article was written.

      Albeit, an aside which will get the more conspiracy theory oriented out in force...

  11. Keep Refrigerated
    Devil

    Quick... someone patent this new business method!

    It seems with Android, Microsoft stumbled upon a rather successful patent snowball method of validation through appeal to consensus.

    Start with small unknown players in the industry for quick wins through the threat of a long drawn out expensive legal process. Build up this unknown pool of companies that "agree" with you, then coerce some of the more popular and well known players (but still small on the balance sheet). These well-known but small players effectively bolster your PR strategy - now your corporate mouthpiece can say things "How could company X ignore our claims on Linux, when Y has already licensed from us?".

    Finally, they just need to coerce one big player - this is where the wallet comes out - agree to cross-license with a big friendly, even if the licensing costs more for MS - the key is to get a big player on board in validating your patents. This is going to be the tricky step for Microsoft because a lot of big players rely on or maintain their own Linux. Not impossible though, I imagine MS will try to go with Oracle or Apple, even Facebook. If that fails they could always fall back on large customers such as investment banks who are used to blowing $millions on software licensing - perhaps even a government or two if they get desperate.

    Final stage in the strategy, now you've got your small players, your well known players and a couple of big players all licensing your bogus patents (note that none of them are actual developers or contributors to Linux - just third parties who use it) - you take the hold-outs to court - Red Hat, IBM, Google etc...

    The question is if they're going to get more of a blowback from Linux shops than they did with Android shops - I get the feeling that device manufacturers are used to getting pushed around - competing software companies, not so much.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quick... someone patent this new business method!

      Just because you don't know who AmDocs are, doesn't make them a small unknown bit-player.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quick... someone patent this new business method!

        True. We're huge and no fucker has ever heard of us. Thank God.

  12. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    More proof that the patent system should be scrapped immediately

    Patents were supposed to increase the rate of technological progress by rewarding publication of how novel non-obvious inventions work with a monopoly.

    Microsoft claims Linux infringes their patents, but as they have disclosed nothing, the "inventions" must be so old and obvious that people can implement them without looking at any of the secret patents.

    1. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: More proof that the patent system should be scrapped immediately

      They might be 'old and obvious' now that microsoft bought out products using them, but patents last for 20+ years so it doesnt mean that that they are no longer protected....

      Why would they disclose anything publically? Its a much stonger model to obtain revenue when you can hit a company with 200+ patents that they infringe and settle under an NDA, rather than have that list gradually whittled away by legacy UNIX OS distributions moving to avoid them.,..No one is going to fight 200+ patents as the cost woudl be immense and almost certainly at least one of them would be upheld making fighting a very expensive and ultimately future response.

      Hence even refuseniks like Barnes and Nobel caved in in the end...

      1. RICHTO Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: More proof that the patent system should be scrapped immediately

        ^futile response

  13. Tom 7 Silver badge

    The particular patents wont be mentioned in the agreement

    it will just say the company can use MS patents. If they tried to list the patents then even Amdocs would have been able to tell them to take a hike.

    This is Chicago style insurance from the 30's. Pure and simple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The particular patents wont be mentioned in the agreement

      Really? You think two very large multinational companies won't have mentioned the patented technology in question in a (presumably) multi-million dollar deal?

      1. Magnus_Pym

        Re: The particular patents wont be mentioned in the agreement

        Why presume it's a multi-million dollar deal? It could just as easily be zero dollars as 'sharing' is mentioned and no details at all.

  14. toadwarrior

    Somebody better man-up and say no to the NDA or ignore it so we can see what's there and get around it.

  15. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    Should have called Microsoft's bluff

    If they weren't going to issue an Arkell vs. Pressdram letter, then they should have called Microsoft's bluff and gone all the way to court. At least then, Microsoft will be obliged to reveal, in public, exactly what patents they are supposed to have infringed -- on pain of the case collapsing. Then, we can simply get on with challenging their validity and/or working around them.

  16. sisk Silver badge

    Tis all a bunch of BS

    I have serious doubts that these 235 patents that Linux supposedly violates exist and/or are enforceable. Said doubts will continue until Microsoft reveals which patents are supposedly being violated. There's simply no other reasonable explaination I can come up with for their refusal to reveal which patents are being violated.

    Then again I suppose they could be refusing to reveal them so that Linux devs aren't able to work around them. To me that would be even more underhanded though. I don't think the current MS would sink quite that low, though I wouldn't put it past most previous versions of the company.

    1. Goat Jam
      Holmes

      Re: Tis all a bunch of BS

      Interesting. So it is your belief that the "current microsoft" is less mendacious than they were in the past?

      Would you care to provide your reasoning for that belief because I for one have seen nothing from MS to suggest that they are any less poisonous today than they were at any given time in the past.

    2. Refugee from Windows
      Linux

      Re: Tis all a bunch of BS

      Of course how can we possibly find out what we are violating if we don't actually know what's below the bonnet? If perhaps they released which bits of code/ideas/magic smoke are being infringed then the Linux community would avoid treading on those bit and remove them. I do however suspect that it may go the other way round quite badly - would a trawl through the M$ kernel reveal any bits that have been snaffled from Linux or BSD perhaps, ones under the GNU licence.

  17. eulampios

    MS and their partners

    Who would be surprised at the news? Who would doubt that our good ol' moronic mongrel company located in Redmond, WA continues its usual practices.

    A good question concerns that cosigning "Linux" company. Perhaps, GPL should stipulate avoiding such non-disclosure agreements in case of ambiguous insinuations, unless all the relevant details are published.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS and their partners

      Amdocs are only a "Linux company" in the same way that Symantec are a "Linux company" or hell, even MS, because they make some software which runs on Linux.

      Your pre-disposition to "MS bad, everyone else good" seems to prevent you from critical thinking, or even bothering to lookup who Amdocs are and what they do. There was basically no information in the story about what's been agreed, but you and many others have jumped to the conclusion that it must be MS throwing their weight around and bullying little kids in the playground.

      We know nothing about this deal, other than it has happened and that it appears Amdocs software which runs on Linux.

      1. eulampios

        Re: MS and their partners

        Your pre-disposition to "MS bad, everyone else good"

        It's not my predisposition, its Microsoft's position: "we found that someone is infringing on our intellectual property, we or they get paid for it." We won't say what property, who pays and how much.

        If you hide you business secrets, like code, it is understood. Why would you hide this? Maybe because something or all is inaccurate. And how many times is Microsoft seen doing that?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS and their partners

          It looks to me that this deal is very much akin to a large company getting a volume agreement for software installs. Volume license agreements almost always come with NDA clause, in order that when the next company comes along there is meaningful negotiation.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Rick Giles
    Alert

    Holy crap! I predicted this two years ago....

    In forum SCO rises from the dead (again)

    Submitted on Thursday 8th July 2010 22:15 GMT

    Posted Thursday 8th July 2010 23:17 GMT

    Rick Giles

    Linux

    This is a forshadowing of what Microsoft will be someday

    At the hands of StevieB. They'll constantly be suing all and sundry that have dumped them to cut their costly license fees to Microsoft for products that are inherently better and give them more control of their servers and workstations.

  20. Rick Giles
    Linux

    "Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft's Intellectual Property Group – said this time that Microsoft's licensing programme "ensures respect for its world-class intellectual property portfolio while at the same time making available to others the result of its multi-billion dollar annual investment in research and development"."

    Translated as "Since we can't defeat Linux in a fair fight, we will use Dark Magic to ensure that we have money coming in even if we don't sell a single piece of crap software again."

    Rick Giles says, "Horacio, nut up or shut up."

    Translated as "Show us the 'infringing' patents so that we may eradicate it's supposed existence and get on with the rest of our lives. And by the way, %@#~ off."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Rick Giles

      You are suffering from the most florid case of Unwarranted Self-Importance I have _ever_ seen on this forum.

      1. Rick Giles
        Mushroom

        Re: @Rick Giles

        And you suffer from being a cowardly git.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    The Two Ms

    Microsoft: the Monsanto of software.

    Monsanto wants money from every mouthful of food in the world: Microsoft wants to make something from every keystroke.

    And yes, Rick Giles, shades of SCO indeed.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. M Gale
    Trollface

    Just remember.

    This proves that people would rather pay Microsoft protection money for nothing, than actually use Windows.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, of course! Microsoft is Sicillian!

    Must be to get so good at protection rackets and conning gullible marks!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Oh please oh please oh please sue IBM

    I would love to see Microsoft lawyers take on IBM's in the patent space. It would be the mother of all patent battles:

    MSFT: "Hey, you stole that header file! That's part of our Hyper-V IP!"

    IBM: "We invented virtualization, ninny. In 1962. Do you want to pay now, or shall we drag this out?"

    Can't wait.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh please oh please oh please sue IBM

      Oh, but patents expire. So IBM invent a file header. MS invent a file header with 8 characters. IBM increase it to 16, ad infinitum. :(

    2. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: 1962?

      Surely that patent has to be in the public domain now?

  26. Philip Hands

    http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_curtis_how_i_beat_a_patent_troll.html

    ... so, it seems that one needs to ask the troll to demonstrate the infringement in discovery

    I wonder how MS would respond to that.

  27. The BigYin

    Is this really about the kernel

    Do the patents really cover the use of the Linux kernel itself?

    Or do they cover whatever data-mining/processing Amdocs is doing with those Linux servers

    If the former - that is worrying.

    If the latter - less worrying, but software/business-process patents still suck ass.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this really about the kernel

      Finally, someone who hasn't lost all critical thinking ability...

  28. DougS Silver badge
    Stop

    This has zero implications for Linux

    This is a document management company. What kind of documents do their customers want to manage? Presumably they would include MS Office documents. The Amdocs software may advertise some capabilities that require doing some patented things with these documents. It might even have to do with basic document management, since Microsoft has solutions that do this as well and likely some patents in this area.

    If they entered the document management field like they did most of the fields they are in, they got their document management software originally by buying out an early pioneer in the field, which would also give them the pioneer's early basic patents in the field. So it's possible these might even be of somewhat higher quality than most software patents tend to be.

    They probably made a point of extending the patent coverage to their Linux servers because they couldn't help themselves from tossing out a little FUD. Until they go after a company purely for using Linux servers, such as Google or even some hosting provider that runs a bunch of web servers on Linux, I don't think anyone outside the document management field needs to care about this announcement.

  29. Tom Samplonius
    Go

    Probably makes sense for Amdocs

    Amdocs charges at least $1M USD for their basic batch of services. While they are an outsourced billing and management, they are old school. They are a legacy IT services company that sells services to other similar companies. They are the "no one ever got fired for picking X" billing provider.

    Given their ridiculous cost structure, throwing $100/year/server (or whatever) is probably a lot less than whatever they pay for their other servers.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this is why i hate computers and computer software can kiss my ass. Have fun getting unfit at the keyboard, idiots.

    1. M Gale
      Trollface

      Bit of a masochist then, are you?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An the moral of the story is....

    ... host your servers in a country with at least halfway-sane Patent laws, like the UK for instance.

    But I wouldn't put it past Microsoft to have made a large payment to try and buy this deal.

  32. localzuk
    Flame

    If MS really cared...

    They would have told everyone which patents were being abused, and started suing people.

    The response from the Linux world would have been to change everything so no possible infringement could be claimed. But no, instead they are being a troll about it and trying to milk everyone for money. No doubt they also include clauses in an NDA during these deals that prevent them disclosing what patents are being infringed too.

  33. PaulR79
    Stop

    How can I get in on this?

    "Amdocs Software Systems is paying Microsoft to license undisclosed Redmond patents in a deal that "provides mutual access to each company’s patent portfolio"."

    I see I'm not alone in wondering how they can do this.

    "Hey, you're using our patented...... things...... we can't ... I mean we won't say what but if you don't pay us we're gonna sue you!"

    I want them to try it with someone large enough to say "No, sue us." so everyone can see if they are indeed trivial or essential things. I'm betting firmly on trivial or unimportant things. Out of curiosity, if the patents were made known and were not being infringed could all the companies paying protection money then sue MS?

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: How can I get in on this?

      Just as likely:

      "Hey Amdocs want a million dollars? All you have to do is keep your mouth shut while we put out some FUD."

  34. Jess--

    I wonder whether in this case there was something in amdocs patent pool that MS wanted to use in the future but rather than go direct and say "how much do want to allow us to use patent xyz"

    they followed the approach of "your product / service infringes on our patent pool and our product will infringe on your patent pool, why don't we pay each other a dollar as a license to each others patent pool and go back to business as usual"

    just because the deal extends to amdocs linux servers doesn't mean that linux was the source of the infringement, it is likely that it was something that amdocs owns directly that happens to run on their linux servers.

    rather than try and work out how amdocs were infringing I would be looking at what amdocs holds patents for that MS would want to gain access to

  35. BrentRBrian
    Trollface

    Trying to manufacture "evidence"

    But, Madam and Mister of the Jury ... if all these people have CONFESSED ... their must have been a CRIME COMMITTED !

  36. paulc
    Stop

    Pretty rich since Microsoft is a major Linux Kernel Contributor AND user...

    Hmmm, wonder if the anti-patent abuse clauses will kick in?

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