Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Patents

Microsoft Assembles Patent Arsenal for Longhorn 571

Posted by michael
from the playing-keep-away dept.
stock writes "The heat is on. Inside eweek.com are some remarkable articles: 'You see, Microsoft is busy patenting everything it can lay its hands on with all three. In fact, Microsoft is now building up its patent arsenal, applying for a rather amazing 10 patents a day. The idea isn't to ensure that Microsoft makes a fair profit from its patents; it's to make sure that no one else can write fully compatible software.' An older article mentions some other patents."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Assembles Patent Arsenal for Longhorn

Comments Filter:
  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:07PM (#9053011)
    And the plot thickens... They are doing this (as the article states) to keep Linux and other OSs from being compatible. By breaking their network filesystems they force people to upgrade, stay away from free alternatives, and make more and more money.

    This will also be to make sure that DRM can succeed. If there were ways around their "innovations" for security what good would it do? First thing you have to do is break networking and make sure that only other secured machines can talk.

    Remember people: the end of computing [slashdot.org] as we know it is coming fast.
    • Oh, hush.

      This, to me, looks like irrefutable evidence of anticompetitive behavior. For the next antitrust trial.

      (Why do I feel so optimistic all of a sudden?)
      • It's PC makers who should be worried. Microsoft is going to lock them in or lock them out. Either they buy BIOS chips from Microsoft and build Microsoft-spec hardware, or their computers won't run Longhorn and won't do Trusted Computing^h^h^hDRM. But if they follow Microsoft's lead, their products will be identical (as if they're not identical now) and only the Dells of the world will have the volume to make money on the slim margins. Let's see: Microsoft dictates the price of the OS; Microsoft dictates the price of the BIOS; Microsoft dictates the design of the rest of the hardware. Doesn't leave much room for innovation or cost-cutting, does it?

        Don't believe me? Think Pocket PC, where virtually any PPC is the same as any other. The next logical step in all this is Xbox, where Microsoft sells the hardware and everyone else is a supplier to Microsoft. Indeed, Xbox is a learning platform for how to marry the OS with the hardware such that one won't work without the other.

        When you tie the OS so tightly to the hardware the anti-trust issue goes away. Of course only Xbox plays Xbox games -- and only PS2 plays PS2 games. So what? Of course only Longhorn PCs run Longhorn applications -- and only Macintoshes run Macintosh apps. So what?

        Oh, sure, someone will get Linux to run on Longhorn PCs, but it will be just like trying to get Linux running on an Xbox. It can be done, but it's klugy and possible illegal and really not worth the hassle.

        • Ah, but once Microsoft gets hit with an antitrust suit, a key issue will be opening the API. Which means that the Linux kernel will be able to support the DRM system.

          You'll still need a key for the hardware to accept the kernel as a trusted piece of software, but that can be accomplished by a third party providing a compiled binary optimized for your system, along with a key and the source code.

          From that point on, it's the user's responsibility to keep that key safe, and not allow anyone else to have access to it! Media will likely be encrypted and watermarked using your key, and you'll get accused of copyright violation if a copy of that watermark is found outside of your computer.

          The compiled binary+key+source concept would also have to apply to playback software.

          You need a compiled binary because software will need to be somehow certified safe. And the only way to do that is to have a "trusted" (by the copyright holders, that is) entity perform the auditing and compilation of the software.

          It does raise barriers to software development, though, the tearing down of which is part of what free software has been all about. So it's not an ideal solution, but it's workable.
          • by Thomas Shaddack (709926) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:38PM (#9054415)
            It does raise barriers to software development, though, the tearing down of which is part of what free software has been all about. So it's not an ideal solution, but it's workable.

            It is NOT workable. Why I the admin/developer/end-user should need some third party to say what software I can and cannot run? Why I should need some entity to tell me that I have to pay them to sign my own code so I would be allowed to run it? Why shouldn't I be able to design my own media player, or to take a FPGA and a couple DACs and making my own sound card? What is the purpose of the computers - being a tool for the people, or making sure some rich suit'n'tie bastards can become even more rich without having to do any real work?

            If this system takes off, it becomes just another disincentive for being legal and law-obedient citizen.

            • Then you better join a campaign outlawing hardware-level integration of DRM. Because that's the only way I can think of to stop it.

              IIRC, TCPA doesn't have to be enabled. That means you can still use newer hardware, just without the abilities granted by "trusted computing."

              I'm not really a consumer of streaming multimedia, so I don't see a problem for me.

              That doesn't mean I don't fight it...I've written my congressmen several times, even if I only get boilerplate letters back saying "blah blah blah we d
          • Ah, but once Microsoft gets hit with an antitrust suit, a key issue will be opening the API.
            You're speculating, and I disagree. There will be no antitrust lawsuit. The whole issue last time around was "integrating" the web browser (MSIE) with the operating system (Windows), leading to the exclusion of other web browsers (Netscape). With the OS married to the hardware, the only software that will run is Microsoft blessed software -- "integration" is the name of the game. Everyone will know that going in, just as they know that when they buy an Xbox or PS2. There's no deception on Microsoft's part -- this new computer will only run "trusted" applications that Microsoft has blessed. If you want a spam- and virus-free computer, you have to go along with this (so their arguement goes). The fact that you'll have to play this game if you want to share files with anyone else on the planet is just a side-effect of this new security, and you're still free to buy a Mac or build your own Linux PC. Of course, those computers won't be able to share text documents or email with anyone running a Longhorn computer, but none of that is Microsoft's fault, so there's no antitrust case -- especially with this administration.
            You need a compiled binary because software will need to be somehow certified safe. And the only way to do that is to have a "trusted" (by the copyright holders, that is) entity perform the auditing and compilation of the software.
            Close. The only way to do that will be to have Microsoft certify your binary is safe, just as today only Microsoft can give you the key to running on Xbox. I'm sure there will be no third-party blessings of Longhorn DRM, unless the third-parties are paying massive royalties to Microsoft (hence the patents). So what if the source is included if you can't compile it yourself? You won't even be able to write software for a Longhorn PC without a developer's license from Microsoft (included in Visual Studio 28 for only $1399.95). The only hope will be to get a Longhorn development box with DRM disabled - if there is such a beast - but they'll be as available to the public (you and me) as Xbox development boxes are today, i.e. not at all.
        • Couldn't resist... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vwjeff (709903) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:41PM (#9054472)
          Let's see: Microsoft dictates the price of the OS; Microsoft dictates the price of the BIOS; Microsoft dictates the design of the rest of the hardware. Doesn't leave much room for innovation or cost-cutting, does it?

          Replace Microsoft with Apple.

          This has been Apple's business model for years yet few complain. Apple does innovate (I love my iPod). The only problem I have with Apple is the tight relationship between hardware and software. Yes I know this allows the computer to be much more stable.

          I think Apple could make some serious cash if they created an x86 based OS. Their computer sales would take a hit.

          Ok, I will stop ranting now. I just (hits self in head) clicks submit Feels better
          • by ivan256 (17499) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:58PM (#9054672)
            The only problem I have with Apple is the tight relationship between hardware and software. Yes I know this allows the computer to be much more stable.

            That, of course, is bull. There is only a one way relationship. Apple software is tightly related to the hardware, but the hardware is as general purpose as any PC, and can run whatever software you care to run on it.
    • by nodwick (716348) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:16PM (#9053180)
      In fact, Microsoft is now building up its patent arsenal, applying for a rather amazing 10 patents a day. The idea isn't to ensure that Microsoft makes a fair profit from its patents; it's to make sure that no one else can write fully compatible software.

      And the plot thickens... They are doing this (as the article states) to keep Linux and other OSs from being compatible.

      Or, rather than profit motive or monopoly propagation, it could be option #3: Microsoft may just not want a repeat of the Eolas debacle [yale.edu] where they get sued for something seemingly public domain 5 years down the road. Many companies (IBM comes to mind) maintain huge patent stables for precisely this purpose.

      There are many reasons companies patent things, ranging from the defensive to the offensive. Unfortunately it's hard to tell a priori what the actual reasons are.

      • by mikera (98932) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:28PM (#9053406) Homepage Journal
        However, holding patents for defensive purposes isn't much use against pure "IP litigation" companies.

        Since these companies don't produce actual products they can't be caught out for infringing any of your patents.

        It's only really useful against other large companies (e.g. IBM) since it gives you better bargaining power for cross-licensing. And for locking out new competitors, of course :-)
      • by egarland (120202) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:30PM (#9053437)
        The USPTO only has one type of patent. The "I want a monopoly on this" patent. There should be defensive patents, patents issued saying "we figured out how to do this on our own, we don't want to stop other people form figuring out the same thing we just don't want to be prevented from using our inventions." The cost should be (much) lower and they should be approved faster and nobody should own them. That way you know right off what's going on.

        I also like the proposed reforms making large companies who apply for lots of patents pay much more and individuals pay much less.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:39PM (#9053545)
          There should be defensive patents, patents issued saying "we figured out how to do this on our own, we don't want to stop other people form figuring out the same thing we just don't want to be prevented from using our inventions."

          There's no need to register such patents. Just publish the information. If there's a dispute having a patent isn't better than having prior art. The debate is still about what infringes what. Of course Microsoft doesn't contribute much to the state of the art by publish. Some, but not very much.

          • by nodwick (716348) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:47PM (#9053683)
            There should be defensive patents, patents issued saying "we figured out how to do this on our own, we don't want to stop other people form figuring out the same thing we just don't want to be prevented from using our inventions."

            There's no need to register such patents. Just publish the information. If there's a dispute having a patent isn't better than having prior art.

            Parent AC has a good point. Publication is a straightforward way of establishing that something is "in the public domain". For precisely that reason, the first thing researchers learn is that if you think something you came up with has marketability, be sure to get that patent submission in first before you publish; otherwise the patent cannot be granted.

            Publication has most of the properties the grandparent wanted: turnaround time is typically 6 months to a year (depending on whether you go conference or journal), costs are minimal (usually a few hundred dollars for a conference, less for journal), and it gets disseminated to a wide audience.

            The downside is that the bar for patents appears lower than for publication; it seems like I'm always reading on Slashdot about patents that are successfully granted for ideas that do nothing to advance the state of the art, which leads me to suspect that there may be a "gray area" of ideas that are patentable (at least under our current system) but would have difficulty being accepted for publication. This is probably where "defensive patenting" would be useful.

            • I'm ignorant; why does publication have to be through a journal or a conference?

              And why is there a "bar" for publication? Why is there not a dedicated journal, printed on cheap paper in black and white to keep costs easily covered by low fees?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:42PM (#9053591)
          There is already an easy way to do just that. Publish a so-called defensive publication, in one of journals USPTO (as well as researchers) read and use for their prior-art evaluation process. It's too bad not more companies and individuals know this, but it is a practice some (big) companies do use, as it is significantly cheaper than doing full patent application.
        • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:43PM (#9053605) Journal
          There should be defensive patents, patents issued saying "we figured out how to do this on our own, we don't want to stop other people form figuring out the same thing we just don't want to be prevented from using our inventions."

          Actually, there are. They're called Statutory Invention Registration [uspto.gov] these days. For a very small fee you can just register that you invented something, without actually obtaining patent protection for it. But, the patent office will have that you invented it on file.
        • by cperciva (102828) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:49PM (#9053708) Homepage
          There should be defensive patents, patents issued saying "we figured out how to do this on our own, we don't want to stop other people form figuring out the same thing we just don't want to be prevented from using our inventions."

          These already exist. They're called publications. Once you've published something, nobody else can patent it (and you can't either, once a one-year time limit expires).

          The only case where someone else could patent a method which you are already using is if you've kept the method a secret -- which is exactly what the patent system is designed to stop.

          While there can be no doubt that the actual implementation of the patent system is severely flawed, the overall purpose and approach -- using the granting of monopolies to encourage people to publish their research instead of keeping it as "trade secrets" -- is certainly reasonable.
          • These already exist. They're called publications. Once you've published something, nobody else can patent it (and you can't either, once a one-year time limit expires).

            Dream on. It might work in some alternative universe, but in this one it only applies if you have the $$$ to contest the issue in court. Against a Microsoft, IBM, or IP litigation factory, you don't have a chance even if you are totally in the right.
        • There should be defensive patents, patents issued saying "we figured out how to do this on our own, we don't want to stop other people form figuring out the same thing we just don't want to be prevented from using our inventions."

          Unfortunately that's not how defensive patents work. It's more like: "You want to stop us doing business with your stoopid patent? Fine, we'll wipe your face across the floor using our stoopid patents!"

          Patents can only be defensive in the same sense that nukes are defensive: as

      • I fully agree.

        Also, having read the article, it seems to me that the author's comments about Microsoft only doing it to scupper OSS is only his opinion, not _fact_.

        Wasn't it Red Hat that patented and then explained that they were only doing it so others couldn't snap up the 'goods' ? I can't see why MS would not want to do the same. That's the idea of patents, to protect ones ideas so that others cannot capitalise from them.

        And as MS is a company that owes it's shareholders the best chance of a return,
      • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:42PM (#9053594) Homepage
        Or, rather than profit motive or monopoly propagation, it could be option #3: Microsoft may just not want a repeat of the Eolas debacle where they get sued for something seemingly public domain 5 years down the road. Many companies (IBM comes to mind) maintain huge patent stables for precisely this purpose.
        There are many reasons companies patent things, ranging from the defensive to the offensive. Unfortunately it's hard to tell a priori what the actual reasons are.


        Unfortunately Microsoft has already told us exactly what they plan to do. I forget which one of the "Haloween" documents it was, but in one of them they clearly made the point that the most effective tool to combat against Open Source software, including Linux, was through intellectual property, and specifically patents.
        In that light, the article makes perfect sense, including the reasons why Microsoft is patenting everything they can. It's just part of the war plan they have to battle Linux and Open Source software. What better way than to "innovate" in such a way that is incompatible with previous releases, and then patent the methodology so that it becomes difficult to impossible to create a competing method without violating a patent of some kind or another.
      • by angle_slam (623817) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:57PM (#9053843)
        This MS Blog [msdn.com] states exactly the same thing:
        Well, fast forward to "now", and the patent system is used almost entirely differently. At Microsoft, we used to pay little attention to patents - we would just make new things, and that would be it. Then we started getting worried - other big competitors (much bigger than we were at the time) had been patenting their inventions for some years, and it made us vulnerable. One of these big companies could dig through their patent portfolio, find something close to what we had done, then sue us, and we would have to go through an elaborate defense and possibly lose. So Microsoft did what most big companies do, which is start to build what is called a "defensive" patent portfolio. So if a big company tried to sue us, we could find something in our portfolio they were afoul of, and counter-sue. In the cold war days, this strategy was called "mutual assured destruction", and since it was intolerable for all parties to engage, it resulted in a state called "détente", or "standoff". This is what you see today for the most part in lots of industries.

        There are lots of other problems with the patent system. For example, Microsoft gets "submarined" quite often. A small company or individual has an idea, which they patent as quietly as possible. Then they sit back and wait (years if necessary), until some big company develops something (independently of course) that is sufficiently similar to their idea that they can surface and sue us. I have been involved in a couple of these, so I can speak from experience. The people involved often never had any intent of developing their idea, and they also make sure to wait until we have been shipping a product for several years before informing us they think they have a patent on something related, so that "damages" can be assessed as high as possible. This simply makes innovating the equivalent of walking into a minefield. This doesn't seem to be helping the process of moving humanity forward.

        Another view is that big companies patent lots of things, and then by the implicit threat of suing the "small guy", prevent innovation from moving forward. In practice this is harder than it sounds, since the damage to the image of the company can be considerable if it tried to sue a small target - that's why you rarely see it happen. I think this works both ways of course as I described in the last paragraph. Basically whoever has the patent has the power.

        • Another view is that big companies patent lots of things, and then by the implicit threat of suing the "small guy", prevent innovation from moving forward. In practice this is harder than it sounds, since the damage to the image of the company can be considerable if it tried to sue a small target - that's why you rarely see it happen.

          In the mind of everyone who would learn about and understand such an action, Microsoft's image has already been damaged. For most of their customers, however, such an attack by Microsoft would slip under the radar... which is probably why Microsoft apparantly has no moral objections to making such threats [advogato.org] against small targets and why people like this blogger can talk about that situation as if it were a hypothetical "view" rather than a recent occurance.
        • by jandrese (485) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:26PM (#9054251) Homepage Journal
          Another view is that big companies patent lots of things, and then by the implicit threat of suing the "small guy", prevent innovation from moving forward. In practice this is harder than it sounds, since the damage to the image of the company can be considerable if it tried to sue a small target - that's why you rarely see it happen. I think this works both ways of course as I described in the last paragraph. Basically whoever has the patent has the power.
          The thing is, you don't have to actually sue the little guy. Just have your law firm with 10 names send a threatening C&D letter to the little guy. Most of the time they will fold instead of trying to fight your suit, especially if you have some vague patent that you can taunt them with. Lawsuits are expensive and the little guy can't be sure that he will win since the Jury may not understand how vague or unrelated the patent is.
    • by 4of12 (97621) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:41PM (#9053578) Homepage Journal

      This will also be to make sure that DRM can succeed.

      And the continuing raft of viruses and worms will be used to help usher in the DRM age.

      But I have to question whether it will really succeed.

      DRM is being driven not by demand from consumers but from owners of copyrights. That's not exactly a recipe for success. It sounds to me like it will be as much a rousing success as DAT and for the same reasons.

      Despite a deployment of DRM with euphemisms that most consumers aren't expected to understand and possibly low introductory prices on DRM-protected content, I foresee a lot of folks annoyed with the restrictions more than they are joyed by the content.

      I still advocate calling the technology for the dog it is Content Use Restriction or CUR. It's designed to bite the unwitting.


    • I disagree. In addition to all the anti-trust issues pointed out by others here, if we ever needed ammo to convince users that single-vendor lockin was bad, HERE IT IS.

      No company can do anything without income, and I think Longhorn will drive users away in droves toward simpler and more robust alternatives. There's no way the market is going to select Microsoft's plan for the future because it will be appalled at what Longhorn WON'T let them do. (heh, heh).

      I know I'm not going to upgrade -- I've purchased my last copy of Windows because the price of future versions will be too high, even if they give it away.

      BTW, Why is Microsoft's solution to design problems "more code" instead of "less complexity"? They must have skipped that day in design school.
  • by raider_red (156642) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:08PM (#9053016) Journal
    I'm applying for a patent on my business model which involves abusing American Intellectual Property law by filing endless frivolous patents. (I'm hoping MS and SCO don't try to claim prior art.)

  • by zolon (605240) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:08PM (#9053019)
    This has been a tactic of many companies over the years, the only thing different about this is the fact that some of the patents that MS is getting approved have prior art conflicts.

    sin
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:08PM (#9053024) Journal
    Why do we let a convicted monopolist obtain patents?

    It seems a no brainter that they should not be allowed to protect any IP until a nonmonopolistic market restored.

    "Right to innovate" be damned. You illegally got in top, now you can be made to share the top spot, a la the Sherman Act.

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DoraLives (622001)
      It seems a no brainter that they should not be allowed to protect any IP until a nonmonopolistic market restored.

      Perhaps, perhaps not. In the department of Beneficial Unintended Consequences, the matter of them barricading themselves so securely that suddenly they discover that everyone has moved on to Something Else [linux.org] is not to be discounted.

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Funny)

      by thomas.galvin (551471)
      Microsoft HQ (to the tune of Badger Badger Badger):

      Patent patent patent patent
      Patent patent patent patent
      Lock in, lock in!

      Patent patent patent patent
      Patent patent patent patent
      Lock in, lock in!

      I think I saw a Mac, a Mac!

      At the DoJ, FTC, et al:

      <crickets chirping, tumble weeds roll by>
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @02:09PM (#9054813) Journal
      Some of your resonses are good. You are right, it is not illegal to have a monopoly. THough your monopoly must be obtained legally. If you are the best at what you do, you get reqwarded for it.

      But Microsoft didn't do that. They created false error messages when you tried to run MSware on DR-DOS. They made vendors pay more if they didn't bundle 100% MSware if it competed against their products. They Made Compaq include IE though IE resulted in 10-15% more support calls than Netscape.

      They didn't become a monopoly because their products are great. They got to be a monopoly by working over the suppliers to that MSware became ubiquious. It's smart, but illegal when you start penalizing them for putting Netscape icons on the desktop.

      The government has a responsibilty to restore competition. Ways to do this are:
      Force MS to have Linux Products. (Office)
      Deny all patents

      And those of you that believe in defensicve patents, here's a joke for you:
      What's the difference between an offensive patent and a defensive patent? Give up? The difference is that a defensive patent doesn't name you in a a lawsuit over it. Really. There's no such thing as a defensive patent because you have to "protect" your patent.

      A real "defensive patent" is an open standard. Or just publish it, so that prior art is documented.

  • by revscat (35618) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:09PM (#9053039) Journal

    ...use the courts. Admittedly, the government is responsible for laying out and enforcing the underlying rules of the market, but abuses can occur. I think it is not to much of a stretch to say that standards available to everyone -- starting with ASCII and progressing forward to HTML, XML, SVG, and others -- are what have made it possible for computers to be successful. You think we'd have the Internet if it weren't for the various RFCs being made available to everyone? Hell no.

    This is an act of desparation, but that doesn't mean it won't have deleterious effects upon the market as a whole. And you KNOW that the overburdened patent office won't be able to properly check all these for the existence of prior art, which I'd bet would cause 99% of these patents to be rejected.

    • > If you can't win in the marketplace... ...use the courts.

      Umm, but this is winning in the marketplace: you invent the technology first, so you gain temporary market monopoly for disclosing your invention through the patent system.

      In other words, rather than _never_ seeing the internals of what makes Windows tick (until someone releases the source code ...) we're actually seeing the internals now.

      Rather than relying on trade secret / obfuscation to protect the ideas/concepts, now they're employing pat
      • Umm, but this is winning in the marketplace: you invent the technology first, so you gain temporary market monopoly for disclosing your invention through the patent system.

        Which is exactly what MS is not doing in this case. Christ, they're trying to patent image compression [uspto.gov], as if (a) this hasn't been done a gajillion different times before, (b) they'll be able to force it on the marketplace, and (c) they won't abuse this patent and sue people who implement related but non-patented algorithms like SVG.

  • by twfry (266215) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:09PM (#9053045)
    After all there already have been various lawsuits against MS which have forced them to cough up some serious $$$. They do have a right to protect themselves against a broken patent system.
  • Move along... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:09PM (#9053046) Homepage Journal
    Nothing to see here. Just another sure sign that antitrust has no effect on the paranoid Microsoft.

    Heck, IMO, this is a sure sign of the problems with software patents. In normal due process you should not be able to patent as much as that in that sort of time, unless something is up with the system.
    • Re:Move along... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Paulrothrock (685079)
      Once fines and punishments can be absorbed by revenues and treated as 'costs of doing business,' antitrust laws lose their effectiveness. But to reform the laws would require massive popular support on an issue that few people are even aware of, let alone care about.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:11PM (#9053090)
    Are they going to break all compatibility with their older OSs? If they don't, can't Linux/OS X/etc. still connect? If they do, don't they risk pissing off businesses?
    • by Webz (210489)
      Isn't Microsoft notorious for keeping cruft around and being really backwards compatible? The only thing I could think of that's staying the same is definitely NTFS. WinFS is just an abstraction above NTFS, but the core is still NTFS. So if Linux/etc can interact with NTFS, then I bet they can still work with Longhorn.
  • by Gnulix (534608) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:12PM (#9053101) Homepage
    It will be really interesting to hear Miguel's views on this! Earlier on, he stated that MS patents wouldn't be an obstacle for Mono and .Net based development on non-MS platforms...
  • Tell ya what... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:12PM (#9053122) Journal
    Man, this makes me sick to my stomach and makes me suspect that RMS is right on. i mean this is just above and beyond "protecting an idea". This just sounds like blanket-patenting. It'll tie up the patent office (that is already over loaded) and muck up the legal system in a few years (in a few? it's a done deal already, i think ;-)

    i say it's akin to the myriad of "crap laws" still on the books: you *will* get fucked if you piss off the wrong person with enough money for you are *always* violating some moronic law. So it will go with this, write most any software and, "i'll be damned, who'd have patented that?!" It'll be interesting to see where this leads in the next few years.
    • Re:Tell ya what... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cdrguru (88047) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:32PM (#9053468) Homepage
      The problem is that currently, the way software patents work, there are two ways to insure that you don't get nailed infringing someone's patent:
      • Have a massive legal staff with nothing else to do.
      • Have a portfolio of patents to cross-license.
      The idea is that everybody is infringing on something, so the best defense is to just cross-license the stuff. This means that the more patents you have, the easier it is to defend against any potential infringement.

      Of course, this also means that if you don't have several million dollars to invest in patenting everything in sight, you are going to lose in developing any sort of commercial software product. Sooner or later someone will come along with the patent that they got last week that covers something you've been doing for three years. And then, since you don't have the portfolio of patents that they are infringing on, you have to either try to defend yourself in court or just fold up.

      Folding up isn't nice, but it is by far the more realistic of the two options.

      I do not see anything changing anytime soon here - it is considered just a cost of doing business to build a patent portfolio for defense purposes.

  • by stinkyfingers (588428) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:13PM (#9053134)
    This is one of those articles where everyone gets to rehash the same old MS bashing. Then, they all get modded up. Easier for me to read because all the responses are 5, Interesting. When can we get our next iTunes article?
  • by mehtajr (718558) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:15PM (#9053167)

    I guess when Microsoft hands over a stack of patent applications, we should respond with a stack of examples of prior art (surely they must exist)? Either that or start applying for patents first and if they're granted make them publicly licensed under certain conditions (e.g. for OSS)? Of course, that makes open source the demon... argh.

    Of course, knowing the patent office, they'll just rubber stamp Microsoft's applications. Right next to 1-Click and that new method of swinging one.

  • or? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andih8u (639841) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:15PM (#9053172)
    they're just doing it so some other company can't patent it later and sue them?
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:17PM (#9053220)
    Has anyone else tried the "Microsoft Inventor" application? I think Bill has the only copy, but it has a function where it automatically submits random word strings to the US patent office as complete patent applications.

    Sample output:

    e-commerce

    e-communism

    e-constipation

    e-conifer

    one-click shopping

    one-click shipping

    one-clock shopping

    one-click slapping

    BASIC

    ADA

    difference engine

    mouse

    rat

    .....

    Not only this, but it can generate 1,400 patent applications per day, all conveniently dated to 1878 so you can beat everyone to the punch. Microsoft "Created" this after it embraced and extended a third-party password-guesser program.

  • by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:19PM (#9053249)

    This approach could backfire on Microsoft.

    Large users of MS software now understand Microsoft's game. Go back five years or so and many didn't get it, or didn't care. But they've seen how lock-in allows MS to turn the screws on the when it comes to licencing.

    It wouldn't suprise me if a lot of organisations decide to stop at Windows XP for as long as possible, rather than go to Longhorn, to avoid the tighter MS handcuffs of Longhorn.

  • by poptones (653660) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:21PM (#9053277) Journal
    and stops my mind from wandering...

    I think Bill's finally lost that grasp. And I don't think anyone here should let this be a concern - in fact, it's an ultimately good thing.

    Longhorn is still two years away. Linux is getting better and better and the endless virus plagues are beginning to get to mom and joe user. If Longhorn comes on the market with an entirely new, relatively backwards incompatible system (like XP was - the XP "emulation" engine doesn't even work as well as WINE on, for example, Am. McGee's "Alice") all this lockdown is going to come back to haunt them. Does no one remember the early PC wars and two little computer companies named Apple and IBM? Yeah, they're both still around - but I don't think I need to tell you which one became the standard bearer. Does no one remember why?

    Microsoft is making the exact same mistakes IBM made twenty five years ago. So just shut up with the complaints lest you reopen that crack uncle bill is fixing in his door...

  • 10 per day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TimTheFoolMan (656432) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:21PM (#9053281) Homepage Journal
    If you read the embedded linked article Microsoft Assembles Hefty Patent Arsenal [eweek.com], that the main article refers to, it says:
    "...Microsoft has received about 1,000 patents, or an average of 10 a week."
    I don't see any reference to 10 a day. The fact is, the originally linked article Longhorn's Real Job: Trying to Gore Linux [eweek.com] got it wrong too.

    Tim

  • One day (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:23PM (#9053332) Journal
    I hope that someday soon Congress will understand the seriousness of the current problems with software patents AND give a damn. Microsoft and other companies are patenting tens of thousands of software ideas, almost all of them obvious and/or existing in prior art, and despite their invalidity, it'll still take more money than any of us has to fight them. Reading a random selection of the software patents that have been granted recently would make me pass out with laughter if they didn't threaten my own freedom to innovate.
  • by scovetta (632629) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:24PM (#9053348) Homepage
    Wouldn't building up such a huge patent arsenal actually work against their interests? This would seem to be pro-Linux in that if I, as a developer, want to make software that people can use, without fear of litigation, move to Linux. The relatively small number of Linux users is only growing, and sooner or later it will reach a critical mass where the "average" user will now see real competition with Microsoft in the consumer space. If I were a Linux PR guy, I would try to spin this as "Microsoft Bad For Innovation" or the like.

    Seems like a big mistake to me to do this.
  • by Rick and Roll (672077) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:25PM (#9053355)
    I don't see patenting to make their system compatible working well as a long-term solution. They have in recent years pissed off satisfied customers, and I see Longhorn as doing that even more. The last decent version of Windows was Windows 2000. Now they have all kinds of ads pop up on your system tray, and in Longhorn, they are implementing a strategy to keep people from ignoring them. This is not going to fly in countries where ordinary, everyday people recognize that a free alternative exists - Linux. And because people in the U. S. will have to communicate with them, Microsoft is not going to be able to completely lock them in. They will have to learn how to share files and do business with people running other OS's.

    I really think Microsoft is making a bad call here. But then again, they have known how to secure sales in the past, more than anyone else. Time will tell whether they will be able to continue to charge ridiculous amounts of money for Windoze and Office.

  • Oh, come now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TwistedSpring (594284) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:26PM (#9053370) Homepage
    Article quote: Now, after having their hands gently slapped by the Department of Justice, the boys from Redmond have another plan: Make it so that users of their next desktop system won't be able to use non-Microsoft-blessed servers or programs at all.

    What utter FUD this is. This is nonsense of the highest degree, it suggests that Microsoft will not only shut out every independent developer on the planet (i.e. nobody who isn't "blessed by" Microsoft can write software for this thing) but also prevent users from accessing their network infrastructure. What gobshite. People will still be able to write software for Windows, people who use Windows will still be able to use the Internet, FTP to and from Linux boxes, and communicate with Samba servers. I am no authority on this, but if Microsoft prevented people from doing said things then:

    1. Nobody would use Windows.
    2. Windows Longhorn would not be able to access shares and resources on Windows 2000/NT/XP hosts.

    Also, people like Mozilla and Open Source are frightened, according to this article. They're building up defenses! Hah. Many companies who are NOT open source use portable windowing toolkits for cross platform compatability. Look at Adobe -- all its products that run on Windows do NOT use the standard Windows widget set, or look at Macromedia -- same there.

    So Microsoft's covering it's ass with patents. Plenty of people have done this in the past. Perhaps Linux and the Open Source community should be doing it first.
  • by cmoney (216557) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:26PM (#9053379)
    This is mostly off topic but seeing as how most software patents that make it to Slashdot are frivolous and have a long history of prior art, why has no one gone through this:

    http://www.nist.gov/dads/

    and patented everything in there? At the time the algorithm or data structure was created, it was a novel invention. Hell any algorithm is novel otherwise it wouldn't be worth learning in school right?

    I think I'm gonna patent calculus and see how far I can get with it.
  • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:29PM (#9053418) Homepage Journal
    The net effect of the current patent/copyright frenzy will be quite simple...

    Progress will move away from the US and EU, and into India and China.

    Both may be signatories to WIPO treaties, but IIUC they're not leading the charge. Both run rampant with piracy, though at the moment that seems to be passed off as an 'enforcement difficulty.' By the time we quit pussy-footing around, I expect both economies to have grown enough, and be busy enough modernizing their own nations that they'll be able to just chuck ^H^H^H^H^H withdraw regrettfully from the IP treaties, or renegotiate them. In any event, THEY'LL have the innovative lead, at that point.

    Others have mentioned the IP-restrictive environment of New York being responsible for the rise of Hollywood.

    IP laws, they way they're being misused today, circumscribe the pie so IP owners can own bigger chunks of it. Growth in the pie itself will happen elsewhere.

    Oh yes, IMHO patents and copyrights were meant to compensate inventors and artists for their creative effort, and keep them in the creative business. For far too many copyrights and patents, the main expense is in filing, and the creative effort was trivial. The competitive roadblock is the reason. IMHO, this is abusive and retards progress in the US.
    • "For far too many copyrights and patents, the main expense is in filing, and the creative effort was trivial."

      Actually, copyright is automatic. The only reason to file a copyright is to prove the date when something was created. This can also be done, BTW, by sealing the work in an envelope or box and mailing it to yourself. The unopened box can then be presented in court and the postmark will verify the copyright date.
  • by leereyno (32197) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:32PM (#9053470) Homepage Journal
    This is part of an emerging strategy that a friend of mine explained to me. In the past Microsoft has competed in the marketplace. In the future they will compete in the courthouse. Would-be competitors will be sued before their products gain enough of a following to be a threat. Microsoft's lawyers will tromp around beating their chests and making threats intended to intimidate others much the same way that the "church" of $cientology's lawywers persecute those who speak out about the cult's abuses and fundamentally evil nature. Microsoft is pursuing these fraudulent and frivilous patents because it costs money to defend against patent suits. Microsoft will not really care whether they win or lose the court case because the purpose of the suits and the threats of being sued is to intimidate their competitors and force them to tie up resources they cannot afford in their legal defense. This is exactly what CLABS did to Aureal a few years ago, filed phony patent suits and used the courts to bankrupt the company.

    This really worries me because if blatant fraud and deceit become accepted business practices that are allowed to succeed, what does that say about the state of our civilization?

    Lee
  • by taradfong (311185) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:43PM (#9053604) Homepage Journal
    Wow, what an effort and a change in strategy. Microsoft made its mint by being proprietary, but sort-of compatible with their old products while embracing and extending other people's killer apps.

    Now, with every other OS based on a *nix core, not only does Microsoft continue to ignore this trend but they try to 'go it alone' and isolate themselves through locking down their interfaces with patents and tough to engineer interfaces. Sounds like the Great Wall of China, and that set back China a century or two when they were ahead of the world by about that much.

    I think this strategy might have worked 5 years ago before OS X and Linux - particularly now that Linux has hit critical mass on the server. It's probably too late now to try and get users to walk from Linux just for a few killer features in Longhorn.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:46PM (#9053653) Homepage
    Thanks to Mozilla's tabs, the title for this article displays as:

    Slashdot | Microsoft Assembles Patent Arse...

  • by ctid (449118) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:54PM (#9053801) Homepage
    It's hard to argue against what Microsoft is doing, because the good guys (IBM, Sun, or choose your own definition of a good guy) do this too. These companies use patents to protect themselves from patents held by other companies. So instead of paying expensive licensing fees to use some technology, you enter into a "cross-licensing" agreement, whereby you pay for the right to use technology X by allowing your competitor to use technology Y. Our (meaning everyone who wants to use a desktop computer) problem is that the Free SW community cannot enter into such agreements and maintain the freedom which is so valuable to the rest of us. Open Source software has similar problems, because you can't redistribute somebody else's patented works.


    I think that Microsoft is tacitly acknowledging that they can't keep up with the F/OSS communities any more. Even without being hit by Sasser at work, I'm hard pushed to think of anything that XP does better than the SUSE 9.0 distro I use at home, except interoperating with closed Microsoft products. The only advantage Windows has is in things that are opaque to F/OSS developers, so effectively making some key elements of Longhorn opaque is the only way they can hope to compete in the future.

  • by RhettLivingston (544140) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @12:54PM (#9053802)

    The hardest, most expensive part of development is the creation of the overall formula / mix of technologies that will make a successful product. Tremendous energies are spent debating the rights and wrongs of various approaches on technical, strategic technical (long term evolutionary goals), business and business technical grounds. The energies are spent both in informal and formal ways. Microsoft spends many millions just getting 100s of people to come in and use different interfaces so that they can determine scientifically which approaches are best for which populations. That is their investment and the overall look and feel and selection of technologies to employ is the result. And, they probably make that investment 20 times over before they actually have one product that really hits the right formula. Coding is the easy part.

    Then people come along and copy the formula, many times under more relaxed less demanding conditions and implement something better (though years later), top it off with openly speaking of stealing the show, and actually have the GAUL to CRITICIZE when the company realizes that maybe they need to start patenting the results of their investments?

    Anybody can code. Anybody can code even better when they don't have to make money on it. But few can architect. Architects are only about 1% of our population and architects with business sense and a true sense of the average joe non-geek user are far fewer. Regrettably, we, as a society in general, do not give them their due. We look at what they did and just dismiss it with "that's obvious" or "anyone could do that" or "its all been done before", all of which may be true, but if it hasn't been put together in that combination and the combination does show greater value, then they did it first, they deserve their due, others shouldn't copy it without paying their respects and dues and that's that.

    Most people spend their whole life and don't come up with a single marketable idea. Some companies spend billions and only come up with a few. I admire both the people that succeed and the companies that succeed and only hope to get my turn just once.

    And yes I'm a hypocrite who has made copies of all of their CDs and multiple family members listen to those copies in different places at the same time. But that's different isn't it? :o)

  • by rmpotter (177221) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:06PM (#9053970) Homepage
    They received 3415 patents in 2003. If MS manages to keep up the "10 patent per day" rate, then of course, IBM will have to turn over the crown. But IBM is an Open Source darling, right?
    • by gobbo (567674) <[wrewrite] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @02:20PM (#9054943) Journal
      They received 3415 patents in 2003. If MS manages to keep up the "10 patent per day" rate, then of course, IBM will have to turn over the crown. But IBM is an Open Source darling, right?

      No surprise that a giant diversified tech company pumps out the patents (legitimate or not). IBM has roughly 40,000 products and services. It's, what, an order of magnitude larger than MS in that respect? Much of that is hardware, with real engineering behind it. Simple math. I think their R&D horizon is something like 50 years, too.

      BTW, it's 10/week, in TFA.

  • Another reason? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmomo (256005) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:11PM (#9054045) Homepage
    IANAL. Apart from making money off of patents, and apart from patenting everything so that non-ms software will be incompatible, do you think that another reason would be to patent things before someone else DOES? A sort of preventative measure?
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:14PM (#9054087)
    04.05.04 - The Associated press reports that Microsoft has just been granted an Agricultural Patent, yes thats AGRICULTURAL.

    You may ask how in the hell they managed this one, but it seems they have devised a novel way to herd Worms. They just set boxes of Windows out in the fields, and the worms just keep rollin in. AMAZING. Wormherders everywhere are jumping for joy.

    Even master wormhered Paul Maud'dib had to give them credit.

  • Zealotry in action (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cereal Box (4286) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:15PM (#9054103)
    Microsoft, you see, is electing to make WinFS not just a mere file system but a complex database engine application that will manage relational and XML data as well as file data.

    Microsoft says this aims to give users a way to search for information content independent of format. I say that's a job for search engines, and Google's doing just fine, thank you very much.


    So this guy wants people to use Google to search for stuff on their hard drive?

    This is an example of anti-MS zealotry in action:

    Phase 1: denounce any radical ideas Microsoft plans on implementing as stupid, better done by (X), pointless, etc.

    Phase 2: after a couple years of this "pointless" MS tech being used, find out that it's actually not that bad and perhaps even better than a competing "kosher" technology (see SAMBA vs NFS), and start making a Linux implementation.

    Phase 3: bash Microsoft for not innovating.

    I don't see any real need to deconstruct something as basic as a file system and replace it with such a complex infrastructure except to make it harder for anyone else--say, the open-source community--to make WinFS-compatible programs and servers.

    Maybe, just maybe MS is trying something different for a change. Of course it's going to require big changes to the filesystem. I have a feeling that their interests lie in making a better FS first and an incompatible one second, not the other way around, as many would speculate. The author seems very intent on being able to access Windows disks over the network -- Longhorn won't really change that. If SAMBA doesn't work with Longhorn, there's always FTP. Somehow I don't think it's going to be as dire as the author makes it out to be.
  • Impressive FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:19PM (#9054159)
    Let's get a few things straight.
    First, Microsoft isn't trying to compete with Linux. If they were, Linux would need a similar desktop market share. Linux isn't even close. That's why you bitch about Microsoft having a monopoly. If they were roughly equal in market share, you would call it an oligopoly or a cartel, depending on their level of cooperation.

    Second, Microsoft wouldn't be stupid enough to purposely break compatibility with everything. Obviously, the author of the article is merely trying to spread FUD. Longhorn is going to be delayed while they add new features, reduce loopholes, and make sure their software is as user-friendly(read: built for those who don't know what they're doing) as possible.

    Third, they've had trouble with patents recently. People are suing them for trivial shit that would appear to be common sense or common use. Therefore, they want to cover their asses by patenting anything they consider necessary, useful, or at the very least something someone like SCO would consider suing them over.

    All that said, this article was written to do two things: whip Linux users into a frenzy, and show non-Linux users that Linux users don't think like the rest of the world. The article is so slanted, that it makes Linux users look like paranoid fools. All the author does is throw a few wild conspiracy theories out there, and hope that someone will publish him because of his love for an operating system.
    • Re:Impressive FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gerardrj (207690)
      Here, here!

      Does anyone seriously think that MS is going to break compatibility with the entire installed base just to piss off open source coders?
      If WinFS, Avalon, or any other "new" system in LH doesn't have some sort of compatibility mode, or a way to turn it off, then MS will essentially block most all upgrades. There's no way major customers are going to bring down their entire network to upgrade every machine at once. The upgrade would potentially take hours to days if all existing data/formats and ol
  • Samba2 vs. DMCA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 3terrabyte (693824) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:38PM (#9054426) Journal
    Or, taking a leaf from the Samba crew, just try to reverse-engineer and clone Avalon and XAML.

    Why isn't microsoft jumping on the DMCA wagon, and making it illegal to reverse engineer their protocol?

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:41PM (#9054478) Homepage
    I keep reading "anti-trust" this and that here, and of course it's all true. But I think it's very clear from the US Government's actions (lack thereof), that they have NO INTEREST is pursuing Microsoft in any way, shape, or form. The EU might have a chance, but then Microsoft can roll them up in a huge ball of procedural delay until it's simply a moot point. I think the only choice left is to simply ignore what Microsoft is doing (assume it's doing bad things) and concentrate on building a Linux platform (yes, an idiot proof application install standard, do something about dependency hell, and of course the "desktop") that corporate buyers actually want to deploy.
  • by farzadb82 (735100) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @01:48PM (#9054564)
    The general masses may get sucked with the flow, however, they will always look for a cheaper way out. The younger generation is almost always the answer. The younger generation will quickly teach others how to do things, how to circumvent, bypass or even replace software thats restrictive. Most of us here learned just like that whilst we were young. It was simply a part of growing up for us and we can now pass that knowledge down to the next generation. The younger generation will teach and (to some extent) educate the older generation on things that they learned and as the younger generation becomes the older generation the mindset will change, slowly but surely.

    What does it have to do with all of this ? - Well... if MS does what everyone else here is predicting, then the younger generation will find ways around it or replace it (and move to Linux or Mac, etc). They will convey this information to others and it will slowly spread.

    In my view, the best you can do is to teach others about alternatives. I use Linux solely at home, except for my wife's Win 98 machine. She has clearly stated that she has no reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest, since all she does is read emails, browse the web and write Word documents. She has also specifically stated that rather than upgrade she'd switch to Linux, since the later versions of Windows appear too complex to her and she has no desire to spend that kind of money. It was simply a matter of education, and it's only a matter of time before my whole household is on Linux.

  • Magical wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rabtech (223758) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @02:08PM (#9054789) Homepage
    Instead of spouting FUD (as so many accuse Microsoft of doing), why don't we see what someone from Microsoft has to say?

    Chris Pratley gives us a small bit of insight:

    "One of the methods for protecting intellectual property is the patent system. Now, everybody hates the patent system. After all, it is pretty broken. The original idea of patents (I gather) was to promote the spread of ideas and inventions. With no protection for ideas, inventors resorted to secrecy. e.g. the exact method by which a chemical was made was kept secret and locked up in a factory vault, so that society could not benefit from the idea except to the extent that the inventor used it himself. The patent system offered what seemed a reasonable proposition. In return for explaining the idea in great detail so that others could understand and use it, the inventor was protected for a period of years where they had exclusive rights to use the idea, or to license it to others. If someone stole the idea, the inventor had legal recourse.

    Well, fast forward to "now", and the patent system is used almost entirely differently. At Microsoft, we used to pay little attention to patents - we would just make new things, and that would be it. Then we started getting worried - other big competitors (much bigger than we were at the time) had been patenting their inventions for some years, and it made us vulnerable. One of these big companies could dig through their patent portfolio, find something close to what we had done, then sue us, and we would have to go through an elaborate defense and possibly lose. So Microsoft did what most big companies do, which is start to build what is called a "defensive" patent portfolio. So if a big company tried to sue us, we could find something in our portfolio they were afoul of, and counter-sue. In the cold war days, this strategy was called "mutual assured destruction", and since it was intolerable for all parties to engage, it resulted in a state called "détente", or "standoff". This is what you see today for the most part in lots of industries.

    There are lots of other problems with the patent system. For example, Microsoft gets "submarined" quite often. A small company or individual has an idea, which they patent as quietly as possible. Then they sit back and wait (years if necessary), until some big company develops something (independently of course) that is sufficiently similar to their idea that they can surface and sue us. I have been involved in a couple of these, so I can speak from experience. The people involved often never had any intent of developing their idea, and they also make sure to wait until we have been shipping a product for several years before informing us they think they have a patent on something related, so that "damages" can be assessed as high as possible. This simply makes innovating the equivalent of walking into a minefield. This doesn't seem to be helping the process of moving humanity forward.

    Another view is that big companies patent lots of things, and then by the implicit threat of suing the "small guy", prevent innovation from moving forward. In practice this is harder than it sounds, since the damage to the image of the company can be considerable if it tried to sue a small target - that's why you rarely see it happen. I think this works both ways of course as I described in the last paragraph. Basically whoever has the patent has the power.

    Another complete perversion of the original patent system is that because there are triple damages if the plaintiff can show the infringer knowingly infringed on a patent, there is a huge disincentive to look at the patents on file at the patent office. If you do a "patent search" to see if what you want to do is patented already, and you find nothing, you are still liable for triple damages if someone sues you and can show that you looked at their patent. This matters because even if you think their idea is irrelevant, a court may not agree with you. So the only safe thing to do is not loo
  • by zogger (617870) on Tuesday May 04, 2004 @04:07PM (#9056498) Homepage Journal
    ... track record of actually incarcerating very rich crooks. They do *some* but not many, not compared to the millions of poor people who go to jail everyday for cases of much less severe outright THIEVERY. Joe Loser robs a 7-11, gets 10 years and a fine, joe BIGCO steals billions, gets joke fine, no one there misses sleeping in their comfy beds in their mansions. SAY WHUT? And the government has an ever worse record for doing what they should have always done, REVOKE INCORPORATION CHARTERS. Incorporation is granted BOTH for the companys to "make money" and also to serve the public interest, that was the original idea. Same as patents were not JUST to make money, they were allowed for the purpose of furthering the arts and sciences, not RESTRICTING the arts and sciences.

    In my state, three felonies, buh bye,(might be 2 actually) automatic LIFE in prison. By my count, gates has been convicted of three now, his recent personal "gosh, I musta fergot, aw shucks" stock trading, and the fed anti trust suit, and in the EU similar, him being head schmoo over to redmond. I think other states have similar, 2 or 3 times, adios, have fun in jail. But, if you are REALLYBIGCO, it don't matter, because something you can't put in jail the legalised 'person' called a corporation, can't be locked up.

    It's not time to bust up microsoft,that's way long past as far as I am concerned, it's time to get rid of the federal law (santa clara versus union pacific railroad) [google.com]allowing *legal* "personhood" to a piece of paper with a stamp on it called a corporation, and put it back to NAMED human beings are always responsibile for their decisions. All incorporation does is give these goons a free skate and a legal shield to HIDE behind for crimes and to hide behind for taxes and to hide behind for campaign briberies, something joe sixpack never has. WHY is this considered "fair" and legal anyway?

    It's disgusting. Not just MS, several bigcos out there are deserving of being dissolved, their stockholders left with useless paper and digits, then MAYBE it might sink in to companies and "investors" to not invest in being crooks.

    man, this stuff gets me steamed....... and software patents? puh leeze, that was a big mistake a long time ago.... if they want to make it closed source to "make money" give them at most a 5 year copyright when they can keep it secret, then it opens up to the public. This forever and a day noise is too much too with copyrights.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...