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Microsoft Will Not Sue Over Linux Patents 291

Posted by Zonk
from the what's-with-the-saber-rattling-then dept.
San Muel writes "In an official statement, Microsoft has said it has no immediate plans to sue after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors for the time being. The company goes on to say that, essentially, it could have done that any time in the last three years if it wanted to. So what's the purpose of these bold announcements? '[John McCreesh, OpenOffice.org marketing project lead] added that while Microsoft may not have plans to sue, it could be using the threat of litigation to try to encourage corporate customers to move to those open-source product vendors with whom it had signed licensing agreements, such as Novell. "Microsoft has spent time and money accumulating patents. Maybe it has started using that armory to move corporate customers to open-source software that Microsoft approves of."'"
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Microsoft Will Not Sue Over Linux Patents

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  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:08AM (#19219939) Homepage Journal
    Dear Brad Smith,

    Sue us! C'mon, Brad. That's right. Put it all out there! You tried and failed with your feeble little pawn, SCO. Then the big bad judge ordered them to show the code! Oh my, got called on your bluff, eh?

    Now you're too afraid to sue because you think the same thing will happen to you. C'mon, Brad, go ahead? What are you -- chicken?

    Because then you'll have to show us the code, and your bluff will called and it will be all over. That's why you're not going to sue, you spineless twit.

    Thanks,

    Rob Shinn
    An Open Source developer.

    • by aegisalpha (58712) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:38AM (#19220337)
      The real shame is that the ones these statements are designed to influence probably don't know that much about OSS, SCO, or anything else that would clue them in to the FUD. That's the problem with open letters, unless published in the right place you won't reach your intended audience.

      So who wants to buy a full page ad in a trade magazine or national newspaper?
      • Nope, not me... that costs real money, and FOSS isn't about real money. My boss will inherit my laptop today, and most likely wipe Ubuntu off it, to install an old Windows XP license we have. Why? Because Windows is more familiar, not that he's dumb (he's actually darned smart). Big companies like Microsoft sue when they see that their profits are actually being damaged. FOSS isn't really doing that. I think we'll simply see several more years of saber rattling, and continued Microsoft FUD. I can't e
    • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:42AM (#19220393) Journal
      Also, another logic that probably scares them - MS's legal department probably is well aware that OSS groups are much more likely to play the prior-art/patent-invalidation card than other groups.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Exactly. Within the industry, most of the big players have cross-licensing deals. They each try to put a similar number of patents in the pile, and so no one ends up owing anyone else any money. If Microsoft got a load of their patents invalidated, then their pile would become smaller than everyone else's and they would have to start paying.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by monxrtr (1105563)
          Right, all the big corporate interests form oligopalys to shut out further competition. But if I were Microsoft I'd watch out. I'm sure the pharmaceutical industry feels very threatened by all the negative attention the software industry has brought towards patents. When Microsoft is applying for 3-5 thousand patents a year! and getting 500-1000 patents granted, $800 million drug research costs are threatened. No doubt somebody inside Microsoft told Brad Smith to STFU after that fortune article.
    • Who modded parent funny? I'd say that was insightful, for sure.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Here are some devil's advocate questions.

      On these IP issues specifically, isn't it safe to assume that Microsoft has a master plan and playing chicken/bluffing like SCO did serves no long term purpose? And if that's the case, would they honestly enter the battle unarmed (i.e. patents don't have some teeth)?

      Doesn't this issue strike at their very lifeblood? No matter how much distaste you feel for them (myself included), it's a serious, profitable company with lots of clever lawyers on the payroll and a pe
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Comparing SCO and Microsoft,

        You don't need to compare Microsoft to SCO. SCO was Microsoft's puppet, funded by PIPEs whose primary investors were likely Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures and/or one of several other ways that Microsoft used to hide the fact that they themselves provided the capital to keep SCO's case going. At least until RBC and BayStar pulled out.

        These tactics are all part of the same plan -- to hurt the credibility of Linux and open source in the eyes and minds of CxOs everywhere so they wil

  • Strategy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In an official statement, Microsoft has said it has no immediate plans to sue after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors for the time being. The company goes on to say that, essentially, it could have done that any time in the last three years if it wanted to.

    Ah, I see you've chosen the 2nd grade playground method for conflict resolution. Well played.

    I have this strange new feeling of amusement coupled with annoyance ... I can't quite describe it so I'll just come up with a new adjec

  • Boring (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:08AM (#19219945) Homepage Journal
    *yawn* This is getting boring. The minute uncle Bill comes up with some stupid supposed violation, we'll code around it. In the meantime, let's not pay attention to this craphola.
    • by Churla (936633)
      You realize that as much as you like to embody all which is evil as Bill Gates he's not the operational guy running the show over there causing this... right?
      • by lilomar (1072448)
        To quote a sig I saw floating around here somewhere...

        Look! It's Ballmer! Get him!
      • Nah of course not, just making a light-hearted reference to his company. Actually, I think the man himself doing pretty well nowadays with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
        • by Churla (936633)
          He's hoping to pull a Carnegie.

          Be a huge monopolistic overlord and financial robber-baron for his career, then dive into philanthropy in his later years so that history records him as a great humanitarian.

          More power to him, as it gets good works done with those mountains of money he has.
    • Re:Boring (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aim Here (765712) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:16AM (#19220039)
      Err, Microsoft got a big pile of FUD around these supposed patent breaches. Maybe some CEOs and IT procurement people believed them and maybe it affected their buying decisions. That's bad.

      Now when we've got them to make a humiliating climbdown, you want us to shut up?

      I say we scream this headline all the way to Bangalore and back, just so everyone gets the message that the patent threat was a pile of worthless hot air all along...

    • by dave420 (699308)
      "We"? Really, "we"? Grow up :)
  • Pay the microsoft tax or else!
  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:09AM (#19219965)
    M$ shakes its fist at Linux and cries infringement but says it's not going to sue. So why did it make the announcement in the first place? It's a corporate intimidation play. M$ wants to convince enterprise that Linux is somehow evil and illegitimate because it knows it doesn't have the goods to shut Linux down, nor can it buy Linux out. The only alternative for a sleazy corporation like M$, which is propped up almost exclusively by inertia, is to defame the competition. I hope most will be savvy enough to see through this transparently evil act.
  • Huh ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daishiman (698845) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:10AM (#19219969)
    So they're not going to sue you but they'll force corporate customers to license under threat of litigation, even though they won't sue??
  • Legality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Falesh (1000255) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:11AM (#19219979) Homepage
    At what point does this become illegal? Are you allowed to threaten whoever you like to strong arm customers into buying your product?

    There should be a way to make MS go to court or lose the right to sue.
    • Re:Legality (Score:4, Informative)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:24AM (#19220167)
      Unless they actually do something libellous in their campaign there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

      However their threats are empty, and only likely to sway companies still entrenched in the 'threaten to use open source to secure discounts' camp.

      The big problem for Microsoft is that they are no longer the big player they once were. They know this, and this is an ill judged attempt to say they are still in charge. It's only to be expected.

      Unfortunately words don't mean much when money is at stake, even their most devout customers will start to become edgy if they see competition moving to open source solutions and saving money. There is no loyalty where money is concerned.
      • by Bogtha (906264)

        Unless they actually do something libellous in their campaign there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

        How is accusing your competitors of breaking the law not libellous?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Control Group (105494) *
          If it's true.

          Truth is the universal defense against slander and libel accusations.

          Of course, in this case, you don't get to find out if it's true until the patents are tested in court. Even then, should the patents be found to be uninfringed by OSS, you would have to, in turn, sue MS and demonstrate in court that they knew ahead of time that the patents were not being infringed when they made their statements. And, as long as the patents themselves were not obviously on things that were not being infringed,
    • by Secrity (742221)
      I do not know what the requirements are; it is possible to sue somebody so to stop them from threatening to sue.
    • by cHALiTO (101461)
      I can't remember now, but I think there was a law or something, I just can't remember if it was regarding copyright or patents or trademarks, which basically said that if you have knowledge of infringement, you HAVE to sue, or risk losing the right to the infringed material/tm/whatever..

      Can any lawyer in the crowd correct this and explain if it may apply?
    • by BoberFett (127537)
      I've never really been behind the anti-Microsoft movement that has in the past insisted that they're abusing their monopoly. The whole thing with IE being bundled in the OS? Seriously, it's a damn browser which is probably appropriately a part of an OS in this day and age.

      But these tactics against Linux now strike me as little more than a protection racket, and I wouldn't mind seeing MS bitchslapped for using it.

      "That's a nice little company you've got there. I'd hate to see anything happen to it if you, sa
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083)

        I've never really been behind the anti-Microsoft movement that has in the past insisted that they're abusing their monopoly.

        They were found, in court, to have abused their monopoly pretty badly. If you ever have some free time, I suggest you sit down and read the judge's "Findings of Fact [usdoj.gov]" in that case. It pretty readable in spite of being a formal legal document, and once you'll read it you'll have a much better understanding of why a judge thought they were abusing their monopoly.

    • Re:Legality (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bill Barth (49178) <bbarthNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:40AM (#19220363)
      Is there perhaps a case (say brought by RedHat or another non-Novell Linux distributor) for tortious interference? I.e. if RedHat can show that one big deal fell through because of MS's psuedo-threat, haven't they had their business relationships interfered with in an illegitimate way?
      • I don't think it would be interpreted as interference for Microsoft to anounce their intent to protect their patent rights. They probably do have some applicable patents, which may or may not stand up to scrutiny, but they are valid right now. If they really had nothing, and they were making up these claims it could be interference, but their patent portfolio is probably extensive enough that nobody could really say their patent claims are blatantly false. So far they have not actually tried directly threat
  • by monkeyboythom (796957) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:11AM (#19219993)

    I could have used it upside your head but I choose not to at this moment. But I could.

    This is worse than FUD, it's an outright threat. By simply announcing you could sue, challenges large business into accepting risk. To the person in the trenches, they know Microsoft's got nothing. However to the CEO and the CIO, the same people who move a company forward, this is a challenge to their capital expense planning. They see the threat of lawsuit and immedietely classifiy that as risk.

    How to mitigate it? Unfortunately you don't. Because it is the idea of lawsuit you cannot work around this risk unless you avoid it altogether. And this is what Microsoft is banking on. And by avoiding Linux for this year and next in capital planning, you avoid implementation of Linux in a corporate environment for at least three years. And by that time, Microsoft is betting that you will have spent so much T&E in their shop that it would be very expensive and time consuming to leave.

    • To the person in the trenches, they know Microsoft's got nothing.


      The truly awful thing about this sort of blatant intimidation is that Microsoft doesn't need to have anything...if you call them on their bluff and say "go ahead...sue me!", they'll happily do just that. Actually winning or losing the lawsuit becomes rather academic after all the years and dollars M$ can make you waste fighting a pointless battle.
    • Microsoft is betting that you will have spent so much T&E in their shop
      I'm not sure that's the accounting term you're looking for -- T&E is Travel & Entertainment.

      Did you perhaps mean time and effort?
    • ...you would not want anything to happen to it now would you? Little John and Pete here can keep it safe for you against all the neighborhood thugs. Let's discuss the terms...
  • by Churla (936633) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:13AM (#19220021)
    The intent, as mentioned, was to get people to move to partners MS had licensing agreements with.

    The goal is to make money. MS is not after glory , it's after the Benjamin's.

    Lawsuits are like nuclear weapons, it's the option of last resort and pretty much assures either destruction of MASSIVE damage to all sides involved. When lawsuits fly the only winners will be the lawyers.
    • by Ihlosi (895663)
      Lawsuits are like nuclear weapons, it's the option of last resort and pretty much assures either destruction of MASSIVE damage to all sides involved.



      Not for the side that has their own legal department.

    • Lawsuits are like nuclear weapons, it's the option of last resort and pretty much assures either destruction of MASSIVE damage to all sides involved.
      Both sides? Not if the other side don't have any. Unless you're standing really close to them.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:16AM (#19220041)
    Possible explanations I can think of:

    1. Microsoft was planning to sue everyone and his dog until someone pointed out the various Open Patent movements, and it might be a bad idea to wake up such a sleeping giant.
          I doubt it. I don't think it's a sleeping giant as much as a sleeping leprechaun, and Microsoft is pretty careful about what they publicly announce these days.

    2. The whole "we've got patents" thing was intended to stir up some nice headlines in magazines like Forbes, with a view to getting some nice op-ed FUD. Basically, a means of encouraging Microsoft-friendly top level CTOs to kill any Linux projects they hear about. It's not like there's going to be anywhere near so many editorials printed next week saying "Further to Microsoft announcing their patents, they've now announced they don't intend to sue" as there were editorials announcing the patents in the first place.

    Much more likely. Unlike Microsoft to admit to spreading FUD quite so flagrantly, though.
  • Actually.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:16AM (#19220047)
    isn't it legally questionable to "not sue yet" if you have a patent on the technology and you know that the patented technology is widely used in the market? You're actively letting people use and enjoy your patented technologies so that there would be more users when you finally sue. Sounds a lot like "entrapment". I think they should at least forbid people from using them, preferably by telling what exactly they are using. Companies usually sit quietly on their technologies and come out with a bang when they suddenly surface their submarine patents. You don't see many of them brewing FUD on the news.
  • With the creepy and sneaky moves and double speak and apparent selfish manipulative moves they have been making lately, Microsoft have made enemies of developer circles who were not enemies of Microsoft before.

    We will prevent any such intent of microsoft forcing people/corporations to the open source solutions "they approve of".

    Any open source movement that falls in to the err of allying themselves with microsoft's such selfish moves should take notice and straighten up themselves in line with the ope
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lilomar (1072448)

      Any open source movement that falls in to the err of allying themselves with microsoft's such selfish moves should take notice and straighten up themselves in line with the open source philosophy accordingly.

      Now, don't get me wrong, I love Linux and would never go back to that POS Windows even if Bill Gates were personally paying me.
      But sometimes GNU/Free Software Enthusiasts scare me.
      Does the above quote sound like a cult to anyone else? I mean, RMS has some great ideas, but he isn't a god or anything

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:16AM (#19220055)
    If you find that your patent has been violated, you have to sue in a timely manner. You can't wait or the court will pitch out your case because of the doctrine of laches. I suppose someone should ask them how they intend to get around that problem.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity) [wikipedia.org]

    "Laches is an equitable defense, or doctrine, in an action at law. The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights", and that, as a result of this delay, that other party is no longer entitled to its original claim. Put another way, failure to assert one's rights in a timely manner can result in claims being barred by laches. Laches is a form of estoppel for delay. In Latin,

            Vigilantibus non dormientibus æquitas subvenit.
            Equity aids the vigilant, not the negligent (that is, those who sleep on their rights). "
    • by Svartalf (2997)
      But it is only estoppel in the sense of the people they delayed defense of their rights on. Future infringers may not get a free ride on that one.

      Now, having said this, it's verging on trade libel- potentially false statements made to deliberately damage a competitor in business.

      SCOX is facing multiple Lanham Act suits over this garbage.

      Microsoft really, really needs to put up or shut up. You can't allege an infringement like this without detailing it- at least if you expect
      to collect royalties or stop th
    • Actually, I think the more direct translation would be:

      "Vigilance not dormance is helped by equity."
    • In their own words:

      "If we wanted to go down that road we could have done that three years ago"
      IE. they have known about these (alleged) violations for at least three years and have consciously elected not to defend their patents in a court of law. So even if the violations actually exist, they no longer have a position whereby anyone can be (successfully) sued.
    • by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:15AM (#19220927)
      First, I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice, and should not be considered as the basis for any legal proceeding. This is abstract speculation on a point of law, and is offered only in the hope that it will inspire any persons who may face related litigation to study the relevant issues and seek professional legal advice as needed.

      1. The Wiki you linked to does mention in how some cases, such as contesting an election, a very short period of time, mere days, is enough to invoke the doctrine, so I see where you get the idea timely means something less than a year, or even a quarter. The normal period is more like six years as doctrine. The big court cases specifically involving patents show up better if you search for 'submarine patents' instead of 'laches', and you may want to look at the time frames of the most significant cases there, as they are typically a lot more than the six year period, and many of them are more than the whole current 20 year life of a patent. Microsoft could probably wait 2 or 3 years and still be within the normal period that is considered timely. The could even justify this by claiming the allowed some time for lesser remedies such as negotiation to work if they could.

      2. One principle behind laches is that the delay may be used to increase damages and make the resulting lawsuit more profitable, (usually because the defendant has presumably made more profit in the meantime). So what happens if a company waits a while to sue, but in its complaint sues only for an amount it claims reflects damages incurred before the date it first contacted the defendant, and waives additional damages subsequent to that date? You'll note my sig - I don't have a good answer to that question, but I think it may be a potential way to defuse a defense claim. Laches is an affirmative defense, requiring both assertion and proof by the defendant. A single affirmative defense doesn't usually lead to a whole case being thrown out with prejudice or anything on that order - more often it just limits the case's scope. (OTOH, if Microsoft doesn't have much of a complaint, it shouldn't take much to get the whole thing dismissed.)
    • [Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I am BS-ing below]
      [Disclaimer #2: My analysis is based largely on English law, not US Law, so YMMV]

      From your description above, the doctrine seems to only apply to cases brought in equity. If I am not mistaken this means unless the claimant only holds an equitable title to the patent, or is trying to seek equitable relief, the doctrine of laches will not apply. I suppose most patent owners would own the legal (as opposed to equitable) title to the patent, so the doctrine won'
    • by debrain (29228) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:44AM (#19221429) Journal
      If you find that your patent has been violated, you have to sue in a timely manner. You can't wait or the court will pitch out your case because of the doctrine of laches. I suppose someone should ask them how they intend to get around that problem.

      Laches need not apply, for the following reasons (off the top of my head).

      First and generally, statutes (legislation) trump common law (judge-made law). Laches is common law doctrine, patents are statutorily enacted. The period for execution of patent rights falls within a statutory declaration of, I believe, 20 years. The Court is not likely to have the power to supplant the statutory rights granted to the patent holder because of a delay. If patents were meant to have a timeliness to prosecution component, that ought to have been something considered by the legislature (Courts are inclined to presume competence of the legislature), and its absence may be deemed intentional.

      Second but generally as well, equity [wikipedia.org] trumps law only where the law is unduly harsh. Patents are a legal concept whose temporal restrictions have been well reasoned by the legislation and long considered by the judiciary. As commercial negotiations regularly involve sitting on ones' right to sue, it is nigh impossible that equitable doctrines would come into play. It does not squelch the right to assert the proprietary protections vested by statute.

      The concept of estoppel [wikipedia.org] may apply. Where one reasonably relies upon the statements of another to their own detriment, they may have an equitable remedy. Thus, if a commercial entity relies upon Microsoft's declaration not to sue in the immediate future, Microsoft may be barred from recovering at law because the commercial entity relied upon Microsoft's statements.

      That being said, Microsoft has limited the scope of its statement to "immediate future", therefore any prolonged infringement would not be protected by such mechanisms. Microsoft need only bring a few demand letters to discontinue infringement, and the defense of estoppel is waylaid.

      Thus, laches is unlikely to apply, however estoppel may, but only for the quasi-timeframe Microsoft cited of the immediate future. YMMV & HTH. :)
      • That being said, Microsoft has limited the scope of its statement to "immediate future", therefore any prolonged infringement would not be protected by such mechanisms. Microsoft need only bring a few demand letters to discontinue infringement, and the defense of estoppel is waylaid.

        Right. Microsoft is threading the needle, doing everything possible to preserve their ability to sue, while at the same time weakening the grounds for asserting a reasonable apprehension of suit that would justify a declaratory

  • by AVee (557523) <slashdot@aveBLUEe.org minus berry> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:16AM (#19220057) Homepage
    They are trying to move OS companies into a direction where they have to play the whole IP game. They won't kill open-source, but they can try to make money out of it. And that just what they are doing right now.
    What they are saying is that they really honestly don't mind when we are using Linux. And it's true, it even is smart.

    Just look at it, Dell customers get to use Linux but still pay their share of MS tax, but now for an OS Microsoft doesn't need to develop or support.
    You thought having 99.9% marketshare is the ultimate way to make money? Think again.
  • by Laxator2 (973549)
    If the infringement is real, how comes they did not already "fu***'n kill Google" ? But if M$ manages to use the patent threat to fool people into signing licence agreements then those people will put the rope around their own neck. They will pay M$ for software M$ dos not own and did not even bohter to sell them, and by the time they wake up the agreement will still be in place. Yes, many people have said that the M$ coupons have no expiration date. And Eben Moglen has already debunked their "be very afra
  • IBM, SUN, AAPL and others too have patents. And MSFT might be infringing on some of them. Will MSFT be sued? Will it be forced to acknowledge it and code around it?
  • by Door in Cart (940474) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:22AM (#19220129)
    "That sure is a nice operating system you've got there. Sure would be a shame if something bad happened to it."
  • I'm not interested in M$ won't sue.

    I'm only interested in M$ can't sue.

    Why? because as stated by many posters better informed by me it would start the mother of all legal wars as the big Linux backers would promptly retaliate with their own patent arsenals.

    There is another word for this whole sorry escapade...... FUD. By injecting doubt into Linux in the eyes of the big corporations, they attract them towards their own offering. Yet another example of M$ cleverly using FUD as advertising and marke
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      That's okay, because we don't even have 'won't sue'. They've only ever said that their current plan is not to sue immediately. They've never said the plan isn't to sue later, and they've never said their plans will never change. They could decide right this instant to sue, and they haven't lied. (About this, at least.)

      We all (slashdotters) know this is FUD. The problem is that not everyone is as sensible. Most of the world feels the need to be extremely cautious, and this FUD will work. Even if they
  • Racketeering? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gabrieltss (64078) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:25AM (#19220177)
    M$ pounds their chest saying Linux is infringing. Then they go after enterprise customers asking them to pay for protection against litigation. Then they say they won't sue (????).

    I think this is called "Racketeering" isn't it. Like the mob asking businesses to pay for protection money so "nothing happens to them". I think this just crossed M$ over line in to illigal actions here.

    If you work for a company M$ has approached with one of these offers I -encourage you- to ask your company to call M$'s bluff - and tell them you consider this move an illigal one and that your company will be contacting the States Attorney Genral. If enough companies do this it might scare the living hell out of M$. But first and formost - actually contact the States Attorney General - don't threaten to do it - DO IT!
      Heck maybe not just companies should do this but individuals as well. I think there are enough links to statements by M$ that the States Attonrney General's could have something to go on - right?
    • Re:Racketeering? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Control Group (105494) * on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:26AM (#19221097) Homepage
      No, it isn't racketeering. This, though similar to, is not a protection scam.

      "Boy, this sure is a nice store. Be a shame if something happened to it, wouldn't it?"

      Is a protection scam. The threat is of performing an illegal act - breaking the windows, trashing the place, burning it down, or what have you. All of those things are themselves illegal.

      While what MS is doing is similar in result (they hope), it is in content much the same as the DA offering a lighter sentence for witness cooperation. It's "we could prosecute, but we won't if you cooperate." This is - obviously - not illegal. It's the same thing as all the megacorp patent cross-licensing that goes on.

      Which is itself indicative of how crap the system as a whole is, and this is perfect evidence of why we need patent reform yesterday. But waving the bloody shirt and calling it racketeering doesn't help anything.
  • Over at groklaw [groklaw.net] they discuss some recent statements in Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's blog [sun.com] about ms now suing. Even Mark Shuttleworth says a few words [markshuttleworth.com] about Microsoft and patents. Jonathan doesn't say they will not sue but makes some comments about it and Mark says he doesn't think they will.
  • In a gesture of goodwill, I hereby announce that I will reciprocate by not suing Microsoft over Linux patents.

    Thankyou.
  • open-source software that Microsoft approves of


    I thought I'd never hear that phrase. In fact, didn't Ballmer say something completely to the contrary?
  • If you do not actively protect a patent, does that invalidate it? I thought that as the patent holder, it was up to you to make sure that nobody else was using the same idea and that if you didn't pursue restrictions on its use then it expired.

    Am I wrong?

    • by debest (471937)

      Am I wrong?

      Yes.

      You are thinking about trademarks, not patents (or copyrights, for that matter). There is no obligation on the part of patent or copyright holders to take any action to defend them.
  • by supersnail (106701) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:35AM (#19220307)
    Here [itbusinessedge.com]

    What the researcher is saying is the with 235 potential patent violations
    Linux scores lower then most proprietary software he has looked at.

    Incidently nowhere does he say who owns the 235 patents so given the amount of
    Operating System related patents filed they are more likly to belong to IBM or HP
    (DEC VAX, Tandem Non Stop etc. etc. ) than microsoft.

    Pure FUD!
     
  • Microsoft isn't going to sue because it doesn't have a leg to stand on. They just saw what IBM did to SCO and they'd rather not get that beating.

    The long and the short of it is that Microsoft has realized they can't compete in the market based on value alone. They initally laughed off Linux but now have come to realize it was a critical miscalcuation. Their first option was to dazzle the world with um, Vista... yeah we've seen how that lead lined life preserver worked. So they've opted for tactic number
  • Microsoft has realized that Linux has a killer feature they can't compete with - it's free (as in both freedom and gratis). Since they can't rise up to Linux' level, the whole idea behind all of this saber-rattling and FUD is to bring Linux down to their level (or at least closer to it). They're trying to scare everyone into doing one of the following:
    1) Stay far away from Linux. (And continue to pay the MS-tax directly.)
    2) Enter into some kind of licensing agreement, which will either undermine the freed

  • In an official statement, Microsoft has said it has no immediate plans to sue [CC] after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors for the time being.
    Great, so there's no reason for Fortune, or any other rag, to publish any stories about Microsoft's patent ramblings until they do sue. Right?
  • put up or shut up. sue IBM and other Penguinistas all the way down to the guy with a cell phone at the bus stop, or just admit you're whining because 100% of any market is not enough for you.
  • Yes, I know the coffee will be cold by the time you're back, now lift that butt and get moving!

    Tell your boss that MS canceled the suit because of the "sue me if you dare" and similar actions from people that KNEW they have nothing to base this suit on! Make sure he understands that they didn't just "be nice" and not sue the li'l guy, but that they have no base for their claims.

    The reason is simple: Your boss most likely only knows two things:

    MS threatened to sue.
    MS called it off.

    In his mind, they might hav
    • by Shados (741919)
      Honestly, from what I see, it is incredibly unlikely that no open source software violates MS patents. With this silly system, everyone violates everyone's patents, and with the amount MS has, some have to be valid.

      What happened is probably the typical "two headed" deal that is so common with large companies: someone decided to open their mouth about patent issues. Someone higher up saw it only after the fact, and is now doing damage control. MS has a lot to win in not sueing, mainly showing that its not an
  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:01AM (#19220703) Homepage Journal
    "We can sue you, could ave done so for three years now, but we won't, just to leave you scared" is what I get from reading that article. I say Microsoft needs to be sued under the RICO act, because that's almost exactly how the Mafia works.
  • This is nothing else than the good old protection racketing the maffia used to do, then gangs, and now big corps. If you're big enough, or you have the air of being big enough, you don't need to line up all your supposedly available army, just threaten with a big enough voice that you can. Rest assured, there will be enough ordinary people who will instantly pay you up since they fear even the remote possibility of being smacked, even if that army is non-existent. The catch is, if enough of them pays, we'll
  • Corp-speak:

    no immediate plans to sue
    English (paraphrasing Mr Darko):
    No lawsuit today, maybe tomorrow.
  • Microsoft made a statement in its recent motion for a new trial [72.14.253.104] in Lucent vs. Microsoft [wikipedia.org], a patent infringement case that it lost back in February to the tune of $1,500,000,000. It argued that a jury in a new trial should have the opportunity to "hear and weigh the evidence" that Microsoft claims makes the Alcatel-Lucent patents invalid, under a new standard of obviousness recently established by the Supreme Court in KSR vs. Teleflex [supremecourtus.gov]. Microsoft said:

    KSR calls into question the very presumption of validity,

  • Fuck you, fuck your products and fuck your tactics you fucks.
  • Similar to RIAA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alucinor (849600) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:26AM (#19221091) Journal
    Doesn't Microsoft wanting to collect royalties from Linux vendors strangely mirror how the RIAA also wants royalties from all these other sources? Both are quite similar, strangleholds on the traditional distribution channels, aka robber barons, who strike out at any alternate form of distribution. Both groups are making gobs of cash, but they're also dependent on that ridiculously huge cash flow to prove sustainability of their models. MS makes insanely huge profits, but if they started to dip, investors would question whether their model was not just a flash in the pan, though a big one, nonetheless. MS's moolas don't neccessarily translate directly into success: it doesn't scale with man-hours cranking out great code, and it doesn't mean the price reflects their product's real value (how many times over have we payed for the same millions of the lines of Windows code?), just that they're really the only option to run Win32 applications.
  • Considering that MS paid Novell M$40 for that agreement, I would be very happy to accept similar terms...
  • hmmm, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:30AM (#19221167) Homepage Journal
    immediate
    1. occurring or accomplished without delay; instant: an immediate reply.
    2. following or preceding without a lapse of time: the immediate future.
    3. having no object or space intervening; nearest or next: in the immediate vicinity.
    4. of or pertaining to the present time or moment: our immediate plans.
    5. without intervening medium or agent; direct: an immediate cause.
    6. having a direct bearing: immediate consideration.
    7. very close in relationship: my immediate family.
    8. Philosophy. directly intuited.

    Couldn't they just used the words "Microsoft has said it has no plans to sue after alleging patent infringements by open-source vendors."

    How about you guys just license these specific patents to OIN, http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051110-5553 .html [arstechnica.com] , Oh I remember its that whole sharing thing Bill never understood. I personally lay the blame with his grandmother. http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2000/pulpit_200 01123_000672.html [pbs.org]

    See also Triumph of the Nerds:
    Vern Raburn President, The Paul Allen Group I ended up spending Memorial Day Weekend with him out at his grandmother's house on Hood Canal. She turned everything in to a game. It was a very very very competitive environment, and if you spent the weekend there, you were part of the competition, and it didn't matter whether it was hearts or pickleball or swimming to the dock. And you know and there was always a reward for winning and there was always a penalty for losing.

  • Great! Big stupid corporations who drink heartily from MS's teets will languish under higher expenses for lower quality software, giving younger nimble companies willing to *risk* (zomg) Linux deployments an edge in the competition! New wine for new wineskins.
  • Glaring mistake! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SQLz (564901) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:27AM (#19223093) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft has spent time and money accumulating patents. Maybe it has started using that armory to move corporate customers to open-source software that Microsoft approves of."
    Should read:
    "Microsoft spent time and money accumulating Linux distributions, installing them, and stealing their ideas to accumulate patents. Now it wants to pick up where SCO left off and continue to spread FUD about linux."
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:33PM (#19224077)
    Sounds like it may be an attempt to weaken the grounds (reasonable apprehension of suit) for supposed "violators" to file for a declaratory judgement, while keeping the "we could sue somebody someday" FUD alive to scare enterprises away from Linux.

  • Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:51PM (#19224339)
    Why can't someone scan through the MicroSoft patents, and look for obvious, prior art, etc. type of things. Then send a note to the patent office reporting their findings. Being helpful government officials, I'm sure they will handle things properly.

    Once these patents are gone, we can then ask Microsoft to revise their count, so that we can see how much work is necessary for the next round of patent reversions.

    I am not a patent lawyer, but shouldn't there be some simple way to tell the patent office that they aren't doing their job of vetting patents properly? Shouldn't MicroSoft be slapped properly for submitting so many invalid patents?
  • Related Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by fatalfury (934087) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:31PM (#19224959) Journal
    Groklaw [groklaw.net] has an interesting writeup about this situation, with insightful quotations from Eben Moglen on the Microsoft/Novell agreement. Here's a brief excerpt:

    The business model of threatening to sue people works if the people are 12-year-olds. It does not work real well if they are the pillars of finance capitalism. So as a party engaged in annual "be very afraid" tours, you're going to start to get pushback by enterprise customers who say, "That's *us* you're threatening."

    Now what if you could reduce their sense of being the people who are made afraid? What if you could find a way to give them quiet and peace -- and make a little money on the side -- so that the only people who are left quaking when you did your annual "Be Very Afraid" tour were the developers themselves? Now you would have given yourself a major ecological boost in swinging your patents around and threatening to hurt people.

    Deals for patent safety create the possibility of that risk to my clients, the development community. If enterprise thinks that it can go and buy the software my clients make from some party who gives them peace from the adversary in return for purchasing a license from them, then enterprises may think they have made a separate peace, and if they open the business section one morning and it says "Adversary Makes Trouble for Free Software", they can think, "Not my problem. I bought the such-and-such distribution, and I'm OK."

    This process of attempting to segregate the enterprise customers, whose insistence on their rights will stop the threatening, from the developers, who are at the end the real object of the threat, is what is wrong with the deals.

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