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Microsoft Patents Linux

Mr. Ballmer, Show Us the Code 462

Posted by kdawson
from the open-letter dept.
DigDuality writes "A new campaign, Showusthecode.com, requests every leader in the Linux world, and companies invested in Linux, to stand up and demand that Steve Ballmer show the world where Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property. He has been making these claims since the Novell-Microsoft deal. If Microsoft answers this challenge — by May 1st — then Linux developers will be able to modify the code so that it remains 'free' software. If such infringing code doesn't exist, we will have called Microsoft's bluff. And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for the admission that it is."
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Mr. Ballmer, Show Us the Code

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  • by iPaul (559200) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:00PM (#18138340) Homepage
    He's going to make unsubstantiated allegations, veiled threats of law-suits, and all sorts of FUD. For the business user (and that's where you're going to see Linux go from 2% to 10% of the desktop market), even the slim chance of getting sued is taken very seriously. I won't eat my hat, but I would be very surprised if Microsoft ever files 1 scrap of paper in court, suing a linux distributor for patent violations, or an end user for some kind of piracy(?) charge.
  • SCO all over again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:01PM (#18138346) Journal
    However, the interesting part about SCO is how they try to play "methods and concepts" without actually having any patents in the case. For that matter, if it isn't in the code then it just doesn't exist, regardless of the actual ownership (IANAL).
  • by sup2100 (996095) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:02PM (#18138356)
    As long as the truth is not known, microsoft can keep on threatening. If microsoft does prove some sort of infingement then they have to sue or else they will loose their threat as linux is changed. As such microsoft would never reply to it.
  • Sorry guys... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saedrael (880381) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:04PM (#18138372)
    But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter to Ballmer. Grammatical mistakes abound, as does use of slang. I'm all for the idea, but it has to be pursued in a manner such that there is some chance of Microsoft responding.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:06PM (#18138388)
    Why can't Microsoft just fake the stolen code? They have millions of lines of source code in Windows; they probably would just show the lines they stole from Linux. Who can keep track of when these changes were made?
  • Brave! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mistersooreams (811324) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:06PM (#18138390) Homepage
    Well, this is a brave move and, if any of the people namedropped on the site (Torvalds, RMS et al) get behind it then it becomes even braver. Of course Microsoft are unlikely to raise to the bait - they are (or consider themselves to be) far too powerful for that. That said, just imagine they did actually identify particular patents that Linux infringes - and let's be honest, with the current state of the patent system, is that so unlikely? I don't imagine for a moment that any infringement is deliberate, or even known about now, but I'd say there's a non-trivial chance that it could happen. So, what then?

    "Rewriting the code" is nowhere near so easy as the site makes it sound. Software patents are often granted for particular concepts - not just ways of doing them. What if some core kernel routine were found to be infringing? That can't just be ripped out and replaced, many years of development and testing have gone into it!

    So, seriously, this is a brave move, and I'm pleased to see it. We should totally get behind it. But calling the bluff is a dangerous move if it turns out Microsoft really is holding the cards.
  • Cease And Desist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dduardo (592868) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:06PM (#18138392)
    Does showusthecode.com have permission to use Microsoft's wallpaper on their site?
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:08PM (#18138402) Journal
    And the general public still won't give a damn.

    No, but if enough companies sue M$ and Ballmer personally, it will make headlines. Enough of the bullshit and blackmail. Put up or sit down.

    (obviously NAL)

  • Even if (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:09PM (#18138414) Journal
    What is this going to accomplish? Even if they do have patents against Linux, then they aren't going to reveal them until it is most advantageous. This is like playing poker and saying to your opponent, "I dare you to show me your cards. If they are so good, then what are you afraid of?"

    Of course, that's assuming Linux DOES violate Microsoft patents, and there is reason to believe that it does. [slashdot.org] Microsoft is planning a slow roast; the longer they can draw out the FUD the better, for them.
  • Very professional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:09PM (#18138418) Homepage
    Complete with the links to the "developers" video and the Slashdot-type FUD ("VISTA UAC HAS HOLES OMFG!!!") articles. Just like that "BadVista" thing from the FSF, any person who is responsible for IT/Software strategy at a company would dismiss this as another wack job from the people who call Microsoft "M$" and like to claim that XP crashes every 10 minutes.

    I assume that these "campaigns" are targeted at people who might be exposed to Ballmer's FUD. Otherwise what's the point?

    Fighting FUD with more FUD really does not work. Like a bar brawl where the winner is usually the first person who lands a punch, FUD only works when you use it preemptively. The "let me tell you all this made up bullshit about Microsoft, and here's a video all my friends think is funnay!" is invariable useless. People like Ballmer understand this.

    Show people the facts and they'll react. Resort to character assasination and lame humour and they'll conclude you are a desperate wanker with an agenda.

  • Ummm, yeah. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by debest (471937) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:13PM (#18138436)

    if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.

    There's your problem right there: it won't garner nearly enough attention.

    MS knows that playing the patent-lawsuit game for real is long, expensive, and pretty darn risky. On the other hand, Ballmer can just fling FUD all over the place. The only "repercussion" MS faces is the shouts of protest from a community that is already regarded as a lunatic fringe by the majority of the people that MS wants to influence.

    If you were Microsoft, which tactic would you choose?
  • Re:Sorry guys... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:13PM (#18138440) Journal
    I second. Good idea, bad implementation.
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:15PM (#18138456)
    ... they'll reveal one patent violation (assuming there is at least 1) and then say "there's plenty more where that came from". That would validate their claims *and* allow them to continue the FUD compaign, perhaps with even more credibility. That outcome would clearly constitute a tactical error on the part of the Linux crowd. Of course if MS remains mum this could be considered a master stroke. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:15PM (#18138462)
    Real, fake or nonexistant, Microsoft still has the edge here.

    Any public accusations made against them will be met with suits, and discovery requests that would choke a maggot.

    Reality suggests there wont be a lot of public support for this effort or its logical expressed outcome, but I wish them luck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:16PM (#18138474)
    Interesting analogy.

    I've always thought of the USA as "the Microsoft of world politics", and Microsoft as "the USA of the software industry". Either way, it's not very complimentary to either.
  • They will neither (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:26PM (#18138530)
    show the code, nor be silent.

    They will respond, saying that to reveal the precise code they are talking about would jeopardize their legal strategy. Of course, that makes them sound even more serious about their claims.

    Why should they provide free legal advice to the Linux community, when they they are free to continue their campaign of FUD?
  • by MindKata (957167) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:31PM (#18138574) Journal
    I don't think Microsoft would do this, but as linux is open source, it would also be possible (in theory) to do the reverse of what you suggest and plant small routines from Microsoft code into sections of Linux. Of course that assumes someone working for Microsoft could get the code sections past other programmers reviewing the new Linux code, but it could be done.

    I don't think Microsoft would try this to win any kind of legal action against Linux, (especially as a lot of people are watching the code), but I wouldn't put it past someone trying this kind of stunt from other companies with some open source software. Sadly it seems with corrupt human thinking, anything is possible in the pursuit of their goals, especially where that goal is money and/or power.

    Its like the old saying ... "All's fair in love and war" .. that should be "All's fair in love, war and business" ... although the use of the word fair in that saying seems almost like positive PR to say, do anything unfair you can to get ahead. So its not really fair at all.

    The interesting thing is most humans are not like this (most people have empathy and ethics) but there are enough bad ones who are like this, to make everyone suspicious of the actions of others.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:35PM (#18138608) Homepage

    And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.

    Um... except that the law doesn't work that way. Silence != admission of anything. Good luck in court, fellas.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:40PM (#18138650) Homepage

    "Show us the code" is the wrong question here. "Show us the patent numbers" is the right question. The guy behind this has no clue.

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:44PM (#18138670)
    From what I understand, it's not a threat of Linux stealing code from Microsoft OSs. It's Linux using ideas that are directly patented by Microsoft. Even if it's a cleanroom implementation, it can still violate patent law.

    The problem is U.S. patent law and the fact that sometimes there really is only one way to design a solution, and the one to patent the design (not implementation details) wins.
  • by macemoneta (154740) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:49PM (#18138712) Homepage
    As a convicted monopoly, Microsoft's unsubstantiated claims intended to hinder the adoption of a competitor's product should be grounds for dragging Ballmer away in handcuffs. While nothing will be done in the U.S., other countries are free to deal with Microsoft. I'm curious to see what if anything results from this legally. A $1.5B fine here, a $1.5B fine there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
  • Good Odds. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:49PM (#18138716) Homepage Journal

    my best advice would be......RUN Bitches!

    It's nice to know what corner you are in but your reasons for being there are flawed, as is your entire analogy. You can't expect to be protected by a bully, no matter how strong they might appear. Sooner or later, they will make you pay for your mistaken and mean spirited loyalty.

    The problem with all of the FUD is that it's becoming increasingly evident that M$ is threatening everyone. A business that threatens it's customers is generally on the way out.

    The great irony in all of this is that M$ themselves has little respect for the IP of others and regularly violates patents, trademarks and copyrights, while simultaneously calling for fanatical protection and enforcement. Their recent loss to Actel/Lucent, and the $1,500,000,000.00 judgment highlights this. M$ themselves are more venerable to the litigation monster they helped create than free software makers who are much more careful. Ballmer has no more to offer than SCO did and I mean that in every way.

    Excuse me, while I go listen to some nice oggfiles I downloaded from archive.org. I'll keep right on partying while M$ flunks the bluff, and keeps getting dumped by customers [slashdot.org], partners [slashdot.org] and investors [google.com] alike. It's about time.

  • Re:Sorry guys... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:58PM (#18138776)
    Egad! Is he speaking on our behalf? Did we ask him to? For those are do support the idea, how about helping him with a complete re-write?
  • by oztiks (921504) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:59PM (#18138784)
    I think you cant simply threaten and threaten until you go blue in the face. I think its misuse of the law and eventually they will have to lay down their cards.

    This website can stand for a means to do this. But lets take a look at this issue more specifically, there can not be a single line of Linux code stolen from Microsoft, a) MS is closed source b) Linux has its own development methods and processes applied, so all sudden the most smartest bunch of hackers in world scheme is magical assault to circumvent Microsoft's security (be that having a spy in the organization) then steal secret high profile code to adapt to the kernel because its much easier then figuring it out for themselves? Come on, they'd have to prove this in order to prove that anything was flogged and if they did that what would that do for their reputation (yet again). Also if the code was stolen don't you think Linux would know what the code is already?

    If any part of Linux is to infringe on a MS patient its the software that runs on Linux in which the persons responsible for developing that application is in the firing line, not Linux itself. Heck wouldn't we love to sue the operating system because of applications of which it runs :)

    In either case Microsoft is backed into a corner one they cant continue to perpetuate forever and it will result with egg on their face.
  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:02PM (#18138808)
    It is not about stealing code, but infringing patents. The real question ought to be "Show us the patents", which is more informative than "Show us the code", because even if Microsoft did show you some code, how are you supposed to know which patents were infringed by it?
  • by kaiwai (765866) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:04PM (#18138824)
    When he refers to Linux, he is referring to the whole distribution - he isn't going after Fedora, Ubuntu community or 'free' distributions but after the Novells and Red Hats who are reselling the software which contains patented algorithms.

    I wouldn't be surprised that Samba includes panteted algorithm to provide compatibility with Microsofts own SMB implementation - not a malicious programme, but a reality that maybe the better thing would be to rather than attack Microsoft, to attack the idea of software patents.

    As for why Microsoft patents things; if they don't, someone else will; like the whole stupid thing that occured between Microsoft and that scum-sucking, patent sqauatting organisations like Eolas who produce absolutely NOTHING and then come up with some broadranged patent which could cover any dam thing that is made up of atoms or created by man.
  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:05PM (#18138828)
    Real, fake or nonexistant, Microsoft still has the edge here.

    Indeed. The fact that Microsoft has an unlimited publicity budget puts them a big step ahead of SCO, who used the same tactics to pump their share price. The only option the Linux comunity has is to force MS to put up or shut up.
  • Re:Even if (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aim Here (765712) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:21PM (#18138920)
    "What is this going to accomplish? Even if they do have patents against Linux, then they aren't going to reveal them until it is most advantageous."

    And sitting on a known case of infringement until such time as it's more profitable or tactically advantageous to sue is covered by the laches doctrine; if Microsoft tries that, and it can be shown in court that they tried it, then they'll lose the case.
  • Re:Sorry guys... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:45PM (#18139076) Homepage

    But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter to Ballmer. Grammatical mistakes abound, as does use of slang. I'm all for the idea, but it has to be pursued in a manner such that there is some chance of Microsoft responding.

    No kidding. The writing is so bad it actually hurts to read it. The grammar is horrible, it's filled with sentence fragments, it's poorly worded, it's hard to understand, and it's filled with flamebait. Does this guy really expect people to take him seriously?

    Microsoft is full of shit about their IP being in Linux, but poorly written flamebait isn't the best way to call their bluff.

  • Re:Good Odds. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirTalon42 (751509) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:54PM (#18139160)
    $1,500,000,000.00 is NOT chump change to Microsoft. Thats BILLION, not million. That will seriously hurt Microsoft's bottom line. Microsoft's profit for the last 12 months was $36.63 billion. Losing over 4% of their gross profit from a SINGLE cause would seriously hurt any company.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:02PM (#18139234) Homepage Journal

    adding any MS code to the linux base
    Where? Constants in an out-of-tree hardware driver maybe?
    The lines of the linux kernel source have been moved about in plain sight like chesspieces these many years.
    Unlikely that you could readily integrate any of the cruft-tastic 'Doze code with the linux kernel if you tried.
    If the claim wasn't so diabolical, it could nearly approach comic.
  • by WalksOnDirt (704461) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:24PM (#18139432)
    While that is true, this whole discussion has been muddied by the use of the imprecise term "intellectual property" in the blurb. I think this is more about patents than copyright, which makes the GPL issues here moot.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:35PM (#18139504)
    As I've said around here going on 7 times in the last few years, the antitrust case was a civil one, MS hasn't been convicted of anything and the case was light-years away from anybody going to jail.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:45PM (#18139572)
    Actually, I think you're wrong. sendfile() does implement some, but not all the claims of the patent. Note that the patent is on sending files from one file server to another file server via a single kernel call. sendfile() is simple a fd to fd copy, perfectly usable for copying a file from disk to disk in a non networked fashion. Even if the second fd is a socket, the receiver end may or may not be a "file server", thus still not infinge on the patent. The patent is pretty specific, and the sendfile() call is pretty simple and general.

    Of course, if implementations of sendfile() could be found in Apollo, or a variety of other Unix variants prior to 1995 on systems capable of running NFS, this could easily defeat the patent due to prior art, or more notably, or since sendfile() works in spite of one of the fd's being on an NFS disk for example, then the happenstance that one of the fd's is NFS served makes the "patent" an obvious solution - Consider, if the programmer uses sendfile() in a program without any preknowledge of the target environment, and the system admin makes a file system used by the program an NFS file system, the programmer and admin have also "invented" this patent, all without knowing that they may have done so. This "patent" has probably occured as an obvious artifact of countless system configurations since the advent of sendfile()-like O/S features and NFS and other network-based file systems prior to 1995.
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus herbivore> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:46PM (#18139576)

    Just goes to show that the legal system in the United States at least is based on money. Pure and simple. If you can afford the lawyers, you can win the battle reguardless of whether your right or wrong. I think the legal system needs an ovehaul.

    Fortunately you're wrong. Microsoft has lost lawsuits. Microsoft loses appeal in Office patent spat [com.com]. Microsoft loses Excel patent case [theregister.co.uk]. Microsoft even settled a lawsuit with Novell, Microsoft to pay Novell $536 million settlement [com.com]. So MS does loose some lawsuits but unfortunately by the tyme MS is made to pay they've made more than they're required to pay and/or the other party is out of business.

    Falcon
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:58PM (#18139664)

    Insightful. Microsoft holds all manner of weird patents, like "a user-interface entity that changes colors upon modification to indicate modified state" or somesuch. Thus if Linux incoprorates said, it violates patent, res ipso loquitor.

    The reason that Microsoft doesn't just start litigating is that it'll start a nuclear war among all the major players in the industry, since they all hold patents on stuff that is obvious, has prior art, and everyone already uses. The long game for MS is to separate Linux from her big corporate sponsors, read IBM, so that suing linux become like nuking Eniweitok, as opposed to Pyongyang.

  • by Doppleganger (66109) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:00AM (#18139690) Journal
    Patent holders aren't allowed to just say, "you're violating our patents and we'll sue you whenever we want", either. This would show a serious effort on the part of the open-source side to resolve any problem. If Microsoft doesn't reply with anything substantial, then they get hurt both in the P.R. department and if they ever do sue.

    "Why didn't you work with the other side at all when they openly attempted to resolve this multiple times outside of court?" is not a question you want the judge asking at the beginning of a case.
  • IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viceroy Potatohead (954845) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:35AM (#18139954) Homepage
    This is a joke, and will likely have the opposite effect. As others have said, if Ballmer says nothing in response, this reaction looks childish and entirely NOT reassuring. Or Ballmer could continue spreading FUD, business as usual, and ignore it -- same result. What it really needs is IBM, (not Redhat, the FSF, or Canonical), a company respected as much as MS by the top-end corporate powers-that-be, saying: "WE are not concerned with Ballmer's statements. We are entirely confident that they are baseless."

  • by twitter (104583) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:52AM (#18140118) Homepage Journal

    That's both factually wrong and logically wrong. The fact that MS was vulnerable to suit by Actel/Lucent despite doing everything legally and by the book (and respecting the IP in question) should make companies using Linux all the more worried.

    The court and jury disagree with you. They found M$ guilty and imposed a monster fine which reflected their outrage and the magnitude of the offense. You know, M$ thinking an army of lawyers with endless bullshit would protect them is what the jury is angry about. Obviously, you share the M$ valuation of other`s IP to take defend them without citing details and how M$ really did everything by the book. I'm starting to think they simply payed the lowest bidder and screwed everyone else.

    Seeing how abusable the patent system is should make you afraid; very afraid.

    More hot air? Show me what you've got. M$ is full of beans and others will see it that way too. As M$ burns down, and they start pulling out vague and crazy patents, they might just take software patents down with them, as is currently being looked at in the US Supreme Court fight between M$ and ATT.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @03:21AM (#18141088)
    You mean like they got caught stealing VMS code, techniques, and trade secrets to create NT? Or like they got caught prohibiting OEM vendors from bundling Netscape? Or like htey got caught pretending a hoplelessly scrambled and incomplete document of code descriptions is an API that developers can use to compete with Microsoft's products?

    The list goes on and on: not only do they pull stunts this stupid, they get caught at it again and again. Getting busted is just a part of doing business for them.
  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @03:28AM (#18141130) Homepage

    Trademarks can suffer from abandonment, but copyrighted and patented code cannot. However, if Microsoft keeps talking publicly about the existence of infringing code without revealing what it is, they are very vulnerable to libel suits. A big libel suit between Microsoft and FSF of EFF could be interesting, anc could be very costly for Microsoft.

    I think libel suits are very unlikely - the libel here is debatable, and going up against Ballmer's lawyers for such a reason is probably a waste of resources. Yet, by publicly demanding that Microsoft reveal the infringed-upon patents (not necessarily the code, which the website focuses on), at least one thing is gained: should a lawsuit occur, the defendant will be able to prove that the infringement, should any be discovered, was most certainly not willful, i.e., that they made every possible effort to ensure that they were operating legally. This would at least significantly reduce the potential monetary loss.
  • by kaiwai (765866) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @05:00AM (#18141578)
    I think you need to do some reading - big time.

    The issue is about SMB and implementing it, and that includes for example, the authentication algorithm used and so forth; there are big changes in the SMB implementation in Vista which will require changes to Samba.

    Microsoft is quite entitled to develop a new authetication scheme and patent it; if you want someone to blame for the patent frezzy, blame your government of the US of A.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, 2007 @05:27AM (#18141714)
    //Microsoft is quite entitled to develop a new authetication scheme and patent it;//

    Yes. However, in order to get a valid patent that you can uphold, then you must publish how your "invention" works, and you must establish that it is innovative.

    Microsoft do not disclose how their networking protocols work. They are trade secrets, not patents.

    Since they are trade secrets, it is perfectly allowable for other parties to try to work out how the secret works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_secrets [wikipedia.org]
    "To acquire a patent, full information about the method or product has to be supplied to the patent bureau and will then be available to all. After expiration of the patent, competitors can copy the method or product legally."

    "Trade secrets are by definition not disclosed to the world at large. Instead, owners of trade secrets seek to keep their special knowledge out of the hands of competitors through a variety of civil and commercial means, not the least of which is the employment of non-disclosure agreements (NDA) and non-compete clauses. ... However, the "down side" of such protection is that it is comparatively easy to lose (for example, to reverse engineering, which a patent will withstand but a trade secret will not) and comes equipped with no minimum guaranteed period of years."

    Samba might well include some trade secrets IP of Microsoft, but that is just bad luck for Microsoft. It is certain that Samba doesn't violate any Microsoft patents, because it would not have been necessary for Samba to do all that reverse engineering if Microsoft had published how their "patented authentication scheme" actually worked.
  • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @05:48AM (#18141798) Journal
    "It works the same. If Microsoft revealed what code in Linux violates their patents, then the Linux people can rewrite that section of code in a way that doesn't violate the patent."

    You obviously don't understand how patents work.

    Patents are for ideas or methods and not the implementation of said ideas. To make a patent claim, you don't have to "show" any fucking code, all you need to do is say, "hey, that was our idea!"

    This is why software patents are such a goddam bad idea.

    You can't "rewrite code" to overcome a patent claim, you can only remove the infringing feature or pay the "licensing" fee (which is impossible for open source, which is why MS is making all the patent infringement noises in the first place.)

    Consider Amazon and the "one click" patent fiasco if you don't believe me.
  • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @05:55AM (#18141830) Journal
    "In that case, shouldn't he point out which Linux code infringed MS patents?"

    Ummm.

    No.

    All they have to say is "Linux performs task X and task X is covered by our patents P1, P2 and P3.

    No code needs to be provided to make such a claim, this is the difference between a so-called patent and a copyright violation.
  • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @06:07AM (#18141882) Journal
    "and explicitly stated that they want Ballmer to show us the code within Linux that violates their intellectual property."

    No, this is wrong.

    If this were true, then it would be impossible to accuse a closed source company of a patent violation because you can't have access to their source code.

    The fact is you don't need to "show code" to make a patent violation claim.

    What they should be asking is "Ballmer, you cock smoking scumbag, tell us which Linux features infringe on which of your patents or shut the hell up"

    You guys might say "Oh, well, asking to 'see the code' is just a different way of asking for that" but what you are failing to understand is that this website is making a legal demand and scumbags in suits and lawyers in particular tend to be incredibly anal about interpreting what is asked of them.

    If you don't present your claims in 100% correct legalize, then they will just laugh and ignore you, which is precisely what they will do to these guys.

    They should have obtained some legal advice before posting their site because they have just made themselves look foolish.

     
  • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @06:30AM (#18141978) Journal
    "Linux is based on POSIX. POSIX wasn't Microsoft's idea"

    Good greif, they only have to pick on one tiny piece of functionality, we are not talking about being in dispute over the over-arching architecture of the OS here.

    "In order to have a valid patent infringement claim on Linux, Microsoft have to show how they applied for a valid patent,"

    Would take about 1 hour of a paralegals time to find the relevant file cabinet.

    "how the patent application described a new idea of Microsoft's,

    That is, in fact, what the patent already does. The aforementioned paralegal would just need to print the patent out.

    "and exactly where that same idea is present in Linux code."

    No, this is where the wheels fall off your argument.

    Lucent-Alcatel have just won a patent case against Microsoft concerning the MP3 codec.

    They didn't need to provide copies of the particular source code in Windows to make their claim. All they needed to say was "MS uses MP3 software in Windows and we have patents (Patents#12345 & 12346) that cover technologies contained within the MP3 specification."

    Producing the relevant source code is not required because it is not relevant. The mere fact that infringing functionality exists is evidence enough.

    Theoretically, MS could do the same thing to Samba, they would not need to provide any copies of the Samba source to make such a claim, they would just need to show that Samba provides functionality that is covered by a patent they hold.

    That is why software patents suck so badly.
  • by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:42PM (#18143696)
    The linux kernel does not have a graphical user interface. Perhaps some window manager or application (that might run on linux, or *bsd, or anything else, but which is assuredly not *PART* of linux) might have such an interface, but then it would be *that* application that would be violating the patent, not "Linux".

    And given the response to the SCO business and the attention being paid to where code comes from, if some MS shill did in fact contribute code which violated an MS patent to a Free Software project, it would be traceable back to them, and when it was shown they worked for MS, *they* would be the ones getting the heat (and the code removed, of course), not the other contributors, the project lead, or its users.
  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @02:37PM (#18144500) Journal
    If they don't say anything then everyone will know that what they're saying is total BS. And any money that they've made from these so called "Linux patents" could be considered fraud. Ooo, that'll go over well.

    If they do reply and they're caught trying to put one over on the community (either by prior art i.e. CVS commits have dates on them :) or something else) then they are just as screwed.

    But, if they answer with valid claims, then the community has some answering to do.

    Not that I think that they'll be able to do it. M$ is a very large and slow moving beast that I don't really think is capable of meeting the given deadline. I personally think that they'll just continue to make these claims attempting to scare companies to buy this "Linux patent" to add another revenue stream ignoring all logic.

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