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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

Microsoft Applies For .NET Patent 628

Wojina writes "Microsoft has applied for a comprehensive patent on what appears to be the entire implementation of the .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime) and the framework APIs. Microsoft's CLR is an implementation of the CLI (submitted to ECMA for standardization). Does this bode ill for the Mono project? See the CNET News story." And a chaser: Nept points to this interesting Microsoft-funded .NET obfuscation project.
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Microsoft Applies For .NET Patent

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  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @10:58PM (#5276470) Homepage
    I think Donald Knuth has prior art.
  • CNET Article Text (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2003 @10:59PM (#5276476)
    If approved as is, the patent would cover application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow actions related to accessing the network, handling Extensible Markup Language (XML), and managing data from multiple sources. APIs are the hooks in software that allow applications to work with another system.

    Microsoft declined to elaborate on its plans for the patent, but intellectual property attorneys said that if it's granted, the company could dictate how, or whether, developers of software and devices can link to the .Net initiative.

    "It looks pretty broad," said Jeff E. Schwartz, a partner with McKenna Long & Aldridge. "It could be fairly significant."

    The patent is one of several that Microsoft is applying for related to .Net, the company's Web services initiative. By submitting the application, which was filed last year and made public last week, Microsoft is following the lead of other major tech companies that have aggressively pursued patents over the years.

    IBM is the most prolific patent generator, topping the list of corporate patent awards for the last 10 years. Big Blue landed 3,288 patents in 2002, bringing its total over the past 10 years to more than 22,000. Lately, the company has been focusing on patenting technology related to its computing-on-demand initiative.

    Patents have become an increasingly common way for software makers to exert control over their intellectual property. One of the concerns about the proliferation of technology patents is the impact it could have on standards development. Some developers fear the trend will let a few patent holders dictate the direction of standards.

    It's unclear what effect the Microsoft .Net patents would have on the standards process. Microsoft already has submitted many of the fundamentals of .Net to a standards body known as ECMA, formerly called the European Computer Manufacturers Association.

    One person affiliated with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), another major standards body, said it's difficult to comment on the .Net patents without knowing Microsoft's specific plans. The W3C is in the process of developing a policy that would let the organization include patented technology in its standards as long as companies agree to provide the technology royalty-free. The person, who asked not to be identified, said Microsoft has agreed to such terms in the past.

    IBM said last year that it would not charge royalties on patented technology that is part of an e-commerce Web standard.

    More and more, the patent debate is pitting companies like IBM and Microsoft--which are looking to patents to protect and recoup the millions of dollars they spend developing products--against members of the open-source and free software movements, which say the patent process stifles innovation by covering processes that are common on the Web.

    People like Free Software Foundation guru Richard Stallman have urged boycotts of companies that aggressively enforce patents.

    Meanwhile, Bruce Perens, a consultant and leader of the open-source movement, worries that Microsoft's patents could shut out alternative software development. "Microsoft is being careful to patent every aspect of APIs related to .Net," he said. "It's preventing the open-source community from being involved in this area."

    Open-source developers are already hard at work trying to build open-source implementations of .Net. One of them, the Mono Project, provides many of the same APIs as .Net. When the Mono Project is completed next year, developers will be able to build .Net applications that run on Linux and Unix.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:18PM (#5276598) Journal
      Patents have become an increasingly common way for software makers to exert control over their intellectual property.

      They may also be doing it to prevent or reduce somebody else from filing a similar patent against them. IOW, protecting their own ass from stupid lawsuits. Thus, it is kind of hard to assertain the real motivation behind such.
      • by Senjutsu ( 614542 )
        They may also be doing it to prevent or reduce somebody else from filing a similar patent against them. IOW, protecting their own ass from stupid lawsuits. Thus, it is kind of hard to assertain the real motivation behind such.

        But we can infer based upon prior actions. Microsoft has a long history of taking predatory, underhanded actions against anything they percieve as a threat to their domination of any industry that interests them.
        • Examples please (Score:4, Informative)

          by xswl0931 ( 562013 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @01:18AM (#5277171)
          Please provide links to the number of times Microsoft has filed a patent infringement suit against someone. I think you will find that most if not all suits regarding patents have been against Microsoft. It would appear that Microsoft is simply trying to protect themselves.
          • Re:Examples please (Score:5, Informative)

            by Senjutsu ( 614542 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:08AM (#5277384)
            Well, to begin with, there's the Halloween Documents [opensource.org], which include amongst other things the quote:

            The effect of patents and copyright in combatting Linux remains to be investigated.

            Examples from Here [ffii.org] include:

            ASF: changing copyright rules by means of patents [ffii.org] Microsoft has prohibited a Free Software programmer from writing import/export filters for its Advanced Streaming Format (ASF). The programmer wanted interoperability with a format that Microsoft is promoting. But for Microsoft, interoperability is in this case doubly disadvantageous: besides reducing the lock-in effect, on which Microsoft's platform strategy relies, it also can circumvent the locks on unauthorized copying, by which Microsoft wants to attract content providers to its ASF platform. Whereas in the DeCSS case a court ruling was necessary to enforce new draconian copyright provisions of the highly disputed Digital Millenium Act, in the ASF case a simple patent suffices to achieve the same legislative goal.


            Microsoft bars GNU software from interoperating with CIFS [ffii.org] During the 1st week of April 2002, Microsoft published a license for its new specification CIFS which it is trying to establish as a de facto communication standard. This license says that free software under GNU GPL, LGPL and similar licenses may not use CIFS. It bases this ban on two broad and trivial US patents with priority dates of 1989 and 1993. Preliminary search results suggst that these patents to not have EP (European Patent) counterparts. But there is nevertheless an EP patent which could possibly be used by MS for the same purpose. Critical network infrastructure such as Samba as well as new projects such as Mono seem to be affected.

            There's also this [linuxuser.co.uk] account from Linux User (Warning: It's a pdf file):

            Asked by CollabNet CTO Brian Behlendorf whether Microsoft will enforce its patents against open source projects, Mundie replied, "Yes, absolutely." An audience member pointed out that many open source projects aren't funded and so can't afford legal representation to rival Microsoft's. "Oh well," said Mundie. "Get your money, and let's go to court."

            There are, I'm sure, other examples which could be provided, but this is just a small sample of Microsoft attitudes with respect to Patents and Free Software.
        • Microsoft has a long history of taking predatory, underhanded actions against anything they percieve as a threat to their domination of any industry that interests them.

          Maybe, but they have never used patents to do so. Based on some quotes from billg, I even get the idea that he's opposed to it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Dude, you really should not post the entire text of articles. It shows a total disrespect of copyright laws and is liable to get you fired someday, Anonymous Coward or no.
    • by enos ( 627034 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:30PM (#5276684)
      Do you honestly believe that we're going to slashdot CNet?
  • What a joke (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:00PM (#5276484)

    Looks like they are patenting. The concept of client server computing.

    Well it looks like we all owe them everything.

    Where should we send the check?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:00PM (#5276485)
    This note was originally published at John Munsch weblog on January the 14th.

    Lots of reasons why I want .NET to fail and fail badly

    It's benefits a criminal organization. Not one that's been found guilty of crimes once or maybe twice, but lots and lots of times. Those crimes are many and varied, but here's just a few of them: Stac Electronics v. Microsoft, DOJ v. Microsoft, Sun v. Microsoft.
    P.S. If you want to split hairs, Stac v. Microsoft isn't a criminal action, it's doesn't stem from a criminal abuse of their monopoly like the other two cases. Instead it was just a case of a small company being driven out of business by willful patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, etc.

    Microsoft isn't just one thing anymore. It's too damn big for that. I'm sure even Bill himself knows better than to think that he truly controls the whole ship because it's become big enough that he can't possibly know all the projects, people, etc. anymore. But even a really large company still has a kind of collective personality that it exudes and a large part of the personality both internal and external to Microsoft for many years now is that of a total control freak.
    If they don't own it, if they don't control it, if they didn't create it, if it doesn't have a broad stamp from Microsoft on it, then they don't want it. Sometimes it's sufficient for the thing to merely exist and they'll refuse to acknowledge it, other times they need to actively stamp it out because they can't control it.

    When was the last time you can remember Microsoft saying they supported a standard? That is, not something they invented and submitted a RFC for, an actual, take it off the shelf and re-implement it without renaming it or "improving" it so it doesn't work with anybody else standard. C++? Basic? HTML? A video or audio codec? Java? Anything?

    I'm sure there's something, somebody will point out their excellent support for TCP/IP or something and I'm sure that's true. But if you were to look at Microsoft as a person in your life, you'd wonder what was wrong with him or her such that so much had to be controlled by that person.

    When your business is selling the operating systems that 90+% of everybody uses, software development tools should not be a profit center.
    Why should I have to plunk down a couple of thousand dollars for a "universal subscription" in order to have access to compilers and basic development information? Sun doesn't have to do that? On this point I'll quote from the .NET "rebuttal" that I linked to above, "For non-profit use VS.NET can be had pretty cheaply, especially if you know anyone that is in college somewhere." Pretty cheaply? For a non-profit (that means charities, churches, universities, the hobbiest who is going to give away his work for FREE)... pretty cheaply? Wow. That is well and truly pathetic. To try and justify it, and say, oh well, you can try to scam an educational discount so it won't be so dear, is even more pathetic.

    Marketing. Have you been "lucky" enough to catch one of the .NET commercials with William H. Gacy telling you how great it is without really ever telling you anything about it? Microsoft doesn't trust .NET to stand on its own technical merits and it knows it may go like cod-liver oil down the gullets of a lot of people who have seen how the company works behind closed doors even if it were the tech shiznit.
    So they are going to pull a page out of Intel's bum-bum-buh-bum "Intel Inside" playbook and try to sell the brand like it's sneakers and cola. Trust us, you'll look cool if you use it, and we'll keep hammering the brand on TV so somebody who doesn't have much tech savvy in your organization will ask you if you are using it, or have plans to port to it, or whatever, even if he hasn't got a clue what "it" is in this case.

    They don't trust you. They don't like what they can't control and they can't control you. They can try and they always will keep trying but ultimately you are going to see them keep trying to do things and always keep a step towards the door just so they can bolt if they have to. Want to see what I mean? Go visit GotDotNet sometime if you haven't already been there. It's the grassroots community website that Microsoft put up to support .NET just in case there wasn't any grassroots community who actually wanted to do it. Or maybe just in case there was and they couldn't control it.
    Ever been to SourceForge? Of course you have, everybody has because that's one of the hubs of all open source projects. You can go there and get the source of thousands of cool open source projects and it really serves the community well. There's even hundreds of projects now that list C# among their programming languages. So why did Microsoft feel compelled to create their own GotDotNet Workspaces that is clearly just a ripoff of SourceForge?

    A few reasons are fairly clear: First, at many of their workspaces you don't get in unless they know who you are. Ever been stopped at SourceForge and asked for a name and password to look at a project? What about download binaries or source? No? At GotDotNet you will, lots of projects are marked with a lock. Second, forget about all those messy licenses that Microsoft might not approve of, you don't need to worry your little head about BSD vs. GPL vs. LGPL. You've got the one true workspace license that you have to agree to, or else you won't be putting your project there. Lastly, well it's kind of obvious, but it's really all about control isn't it. After all, if you aren't under their thumb, that has to be a bad thing. So a SourceForge that they control is pretty much a requirement, isn't it?

    It's a really sad way for a lot of people to waste a whole lot of time rebuilding that which already exists. Wouldn't the whole computing world be a lot better if there wasn't a team of people, maybe a couple of teams of people building complete copies of .NET for other platforms? If those same people were working on giving us new libraries and new tools for an already existing language instead of pouring in the thousands of man hours it's going to take to build a copy of the C# compiler or a .NET version of Ant and JUnit?

    In the end, we'll all just be left with another way to do the exact same thing only in a different language. Lord knows the world benefits now from being unable to share media between France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the US, and Japan because we can't all speak the same language. I benefit every day from the fact that I can't read a Japanese manga I might enjoy or understand a TV show from Europe. Once you are done building this tower, go build a few more right beside it using Perl, Python, and Ruby too. They're all trailing behind in certain areas, we need to make sure the same set of stuff is reinvented and rewritten for all of them too.
    • by rhyd ( 614491 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:47PM (#5276775)
      "if you were to look at Microsoft as a person in your life, you'd wonder what was wrong with him or her such that so much had to be controlled by that person."

      thats where miguel has gone wrong. you should not be investing in a project that relies on the continued good will of MS. especially if that project is esentially aiming to take some control away from redmond

      "castles made of sand, melt into the sea, eventually"
  • hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:06PM (#5276525)
    A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

    Hell, i think Apache can claim prior art...

    • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:08PM (#5276537)
      Hell, IIS opens *all* your computing resources to the distributed computing system
    • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:13PM (#5276566)
      A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

      When you file a patent you enter a negotiation with the patent office. You start by claiming the sun, moon and stars (i.e. claim 1 which you quoted). Usually you end up with considerably more narrow coverage. Sometimes you end up with nothing (no patent).

      • Re:hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

        by silvaran ( 214334 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:53PM (#5276802)
        You start by claiming the sun, moon and stars

        You're absolutely right. They're going to work on the stars next year.
        • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

          by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:27AM (#5277450)
          They're having trouble with the moon. Seems that a little-known government agency known as "NASA" went there before Microsoft even existed, thus claiming the moon before Microsoft ever did. Microsoft engineers are currently working on a magic time machine to overcome this obstacle.

          All your moonbase are belong to us.
          • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

            by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @08:41AM (#5278588)
            They're having trouble with the moon. Seems that a little-known government agency known as "NASA" went there before Microsoft even existed, thus claiming the moon before Microsoft ever did.

            In other news...

            Microsoft have recently announced funding for a new research project into the history of space travel. This will build up to culminate in a series of "one-off" TV shows hosted by former X-Files cast members, which will prove conclusively that man has never been to the moon.

            A court case against NASA is expected to follow shortly, alleging that other "one-off" TV shows hosted by the same former X-Files cast members and describing man's visit to the moon were faked, and that Microsoft's reputation as the number one supplier of moon-based products has been irreparably damaged.

            We now return you to our regularly scheduled Microsoft bashing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:07PM (#5276528)
    "I TOLD YOU SO" goes out to the Mono project guys. You can't trust Microsoft. Unless they had signed a solid, binding legal document that says "this is the .NET spec, and MS irrevocably grants free patent licenses to anyone implementing it", you should not touch it. Java has no patent problems. The open source community should stick to Java instead of dealing with MS.
    • by gabbarsingh ( 207183 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:26PM (#5276659) Journal
      Why is this modded down to 0? I had similar concerns about Mono. M$ went w/ gnome dudes possibly for covering fire against DoJ. An Open Source implementation of .Net gives so much validity to M$ .Net. But we all new that M$ could yank the chain and throttle Mono. It could and it will.

      And a scolding is in order for Icaza and gang. Has history of M$ taught nothing to you? Do we (Linux/Apache/GNU) are server people, we need to learn from a desktop company how to put an XML wrapper around http requests!
      • Not just Miguel. I was intrigued by Ian Clark's latest project, Locutus [mp3newswire.net], until I read that it was built on the .NET framework. Knowing that, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.
      • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:10AM (#5277391)
        And a scolding is in order for Icaza and gang.

        What?! Oh I see, it's Icaza's fault that MS is trying to patent technology so vague that it even affects Apache.

        Or are you saying that nothing is worth doing because someone may try and patent it later?

        First of all, this patent only applies to "web services". Mono is so much more than that.

        Second of all, Mono was started before this patent was filed, and it hasn't been accepted yet. Say what you will about the patent office, they still reject 75% of all patent applications.. why are you so sure this one will go through?
    • by pi_rules ( 123171 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:45AM (#5277025)
      You can't trust Microsoft. Unless they had signed a solid, binding legal document...

      You can't even trust them then. Unless you've only been hitting Slashdot for the past week you couldn't have possibly missed the whole Sun vs. MS deal with Java. Legally binding document or not -- they'll still try and f-over the competition.

      Now they're trying to get a legally binding document to help them cover Java, web services, XML, RPC, and SOAP by wrapping it up in somthing called .NET.

      If it were IBM, Apple, or Sun I'd give them the credibility to assume they're patenting it to keep it from being non-controlled, and just letting the patent ride out so nobody else can patent it and enforce it. Not with Microsoft though; for them it's all about the short-term money.
  • Patents & Antitrust (Score:5, Informative)

    by joelparker ( 586428 ) <joel@school.net> on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:08PM (#5276536) Homepage
    How will the patents fit with the antitrust? Check this "The Legality of a Unilateral Refusal to License Under the Antitrust laws" here [ffhsj.com]

    ... When a patented or copyrighted product is one of many products competing in a market, antitrust issues typically do not arise from unilateral conduct. However, when a patented or copyrighted product is so successful that it evolves into its own economic market, succeeds in garnering a large market share, or is essential to compete in a market, the antitrust laws and the intellectual property laws collide. The antitrust laws' primary purpose of preserving competition is frustrated when the holder of a patent or copyright exercises the exclusionary market power that comes with those rights.

    The United States Supreme Court has yet to deal with these knotty issues, although the Court apparently is seriously considering doing so....

    Cheers, Joel

    • However, when a patented or copyrighted product is so successful that it evolves into its own economic market, succeeds in garnering a large market share, or is essential to compete in a market, the antitrust laws and the intellectual property laws collide.

      So let's assume that Windows has evolved into its own economic market. The desktop user software market. Where does .NET fit in? It's targeted for a (arguably) separate market -- web service provisions (well that and a few other things).

      So if they're in separate markets (they might not be, I'm not a market analyst), does the company itself, being a monopolist, justify denying them a patent upon a market they don't have a monopoly?
    • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:21AM (#5276921)
      Either I don't understand what's so special about the .NET framework, or it seems safe to assume that this issue will be a moot point until CORBA is wiped from the earth.
  • by f00zbll ( 526151 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:09PM (#5276546)
    I don't know about others, but all of Microsoft's talk about using standards and supporting them has been completely invalidated. That just isn't going to fly in the financial world or any large enterprises that see standard protocols and processes a way to insure their investments.

    Chalk another one up for greed and mis-guided beliefs. IBM backs up their talk about not charging for their patents by donating software to open source. Until microsoft puts their money where their mouth is, they just lost a huge chunk of credibility.

  • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:10PM (#5276548) Homepage
    10 second scan of the claims notices alot of refrences to "distributed" and "web client". It looks like this just refrences the web services part of .NET, not the CLR itself. It doesn't neccesarily seem to apply to normal ASP.NET, either, and there's vast prior art there anyway. It's just XML based web services applications.
  • Okay (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pros_n_Cons ( 535669 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:10PM (#5276549)
    From Mono's FAQ

    Question 122: Could patents be used to completely disable Mono (either submarine patents filed now, or changes made by Microsoft specifically to create patent problems)?

    No. First, its basic functional capabilities have pre-existed too long to be held up by patents. The basic components of Mono are technologically equivalent to Sun's Java technology, which has been around for years.

    Mono will also implement multi-language and multi-architecture support, but there are previous technologies such as UCSD p-code and ANDF that also support multiple languages using a common intermediate language. The libraries are similar to other language's libraries, so again, they're too similar to be patentable in large measure.

    However, if Microsoft does patent some technology, then our plan is to either (1) work around it, (2) chop out patented pieces, (3) find prior art that would render the patent useless. Not providing a patented capability would weaken the interoperability, but it would still provide the free software / open source software community with good development tools, which is the primary reason for developing Mono.
    • Re:Okay (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:37PM (#5276725) Homepage
      No. First, its basic functional capabilities have pre-existed too long to be held up by patents.

      Somebody has far too much faith that the Patent Office will not issue a patent for that which has prior art. Sorry, but it doesn't look that way from here. The PTO may well grant a patent, even though it really shouldn't. Then what?

      if Microsoft does patent some technology, then our plan is to [...] find prior art that would render the patent useless.

      Which means a lawsuit. More specifically, it means defending against an infringment lawsuit brought by Microsoft. This is the sort of thing that the side with the deeper pockets usually wins, just because he can keep stretching things out and delaying final judgement. How deep did you say your pockets were? (We know how deep Microsoft's are.)

      I've always been of the opinion that Mono was a misguided waste of development time and talent -- precisely because Microsoft could (and would) torpedo it before it became a real threat (and after it had soaked up a ton of open source developer time and "validated" .NET in a lot of people's minds.) Looks like the torpedo bay doors are coming open.
      • I assume if Mono dates from the period before the Patent application then MS is too late.
      • Re:Okay (Score:5, Insightful)

        by salmo ( 224137 ) <mikesalmo@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @03:49AM (#5277683) Homepage Journal
        Just because a patent is issued doesn't necessarily mean it will be held up in court. It helps to have the FSF standing behind you in these situations. See, it's amazing who you can get pro bono these days. Look at the folks who have been doing work for the EFF lately.

        Besides, MS has little to no history of suing for patent infringement. Just because they're filing for patents, doesn't mean they're automaticly going after mono. In this day and age tech companies are using patents as a way to keep score. "See, we're making major technological breakthroughs. We recieved X thousand patents last year." This would be an example of good publicity. Suing the Mono project when they're submitting .Net to the EMCA, etc. would be bad publicity. It would definitely make people reconsider developing for .Net.
    • Re:Okay (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:16AM (#5276899)
      Also From Mono's FAQ

      Question 666: Will Mono ever be genuinely useful enough that Microsoft takes note?

      No. Mono will be permanently between 60 and 75% complete. This should be enough to allow toy applications to run and advocates to trumpet our success, but far enough away that no Windows-oriented .NET software is ever successfully ported to Mono. Thus ensuring that Microsoft does not "cut off our air supply", if you know what we mean.

      Furthermore, we are sure that if some contributors ever bring us closer than 75-80% to source or binary compatibility with Microsoft .NET (c), that Microsoft will introduce a raft of new APIs and features ensuring that our compatibility level will drop back below the required threshold. Because Microsoft learned at the knee of IBM, we are fairly certain that they will not let their products stagnate in a manner similar to AT&T's UNIX(tm).

      We've taken our inspiration from the other wunderkind Microsoft compatibility project, Wine. As most have noticed, Wine has avoided any legal or marketing attention from Microsoft due to systematic lack of useful compatibility. If RMS be with us, we achieve the same.
    • Re:Okay (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Refrag ( 145266 )
      (2) chop out patented pieces

      I think this is Microsoft's plan. If Mono has to chop out pieces, it'll kind of be like embrace and extend in reverse.

      Instead of extending the standard to work uniquely with Windows, they'll force other platforms to retract so the standard works uniquely with Windows.
  • by Fringe ( 6096 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:10PM (#5276550)
    The wide-ranging patent surely includes...
    • The Blue Screen Of Death
    • The 200-page EULA in a 5-line scroll-pane
    • Solitaire as a Productivity Application
    • FUD as a revenue-centre
    Didn't they invent Al Gore also?
  • This is surprises me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tundog ( 445786 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:12PM (#5276561) Homepage

    One of the biggest obstacles for .Net has been acceptance. Despite all the marketing hype, .Net hasn't seen the wildly successful adoption of the .Net framework in the marketplace. I do R&D for a huge software company, and we are betting heavily on Java services. This is only one more reason to be wary of the .Net initiaitive. As such, M$ marketing is probably (or soon will be) tearing their hair out over this.

    • Mono is evil (Score:4, Interesting)

      by plierhead ( 570797 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:28PM (#5276673) Journal
      One of the biggest obstacles for .Net has been acceptance. Despite all the marketing hype, .Net hasn't seen the wildly successful adoption of the .Net framework in the marketplace.

      Thats why Ximian is misguided. They actually help MS in their .Net marketing initiatives. Because of them, MS can point to an open source alternative and claim that .Net is kind of open. On the other hand, Ximian only release their code under GPL and GPL-like licenses, not under more permissive BSD license. My belief is that Ximian's business plan involves keeping this right to themselves, probably for sale later on - perhaps in a couple of years - when (if) .Net ever achieves dominance. If that happens, IT mega-companies (IBM and the like) would pay large sums for unrestricted access to a .Net lookalike, and only Ximian will have it. Ximian could dispel this by releasing their code under a BSD license. After all, the normal argument that applies to BSD does not matter here - MS already have their own .Net platform and have nothing to gain from Ximian's code.

      Don't support .Net. And don't support Mono. They are Microsoft's whores.

  • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:15PM (#5276579) Homepage Journal
    21. A system as recited in claim 19, wherein male person inserts a penis into the female person. The female person's insertion point (herein referred as "vagina") shall accumulate the male person's semen until such time as the male person has entered the completion phase. This completion phase is what enables the spawning of child persons.

    The above is just as rediculous as the real thing.

    --sex [slashdot.org]

  • A bogus patent ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob Loblaw ( 545027 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:18PM (#5276609)
    that the USPO will be happy to give since they get money whether it is valid or not. Ximian will have a hard time outspending MS in the court room to prove that it is bogus though (the US government couldn't do it). Conveniently, it will likely prevent any legal running of MS .NET services on a Mono platform in the meanwhile.
  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:19PM (#5276614)
    Please raise your hand if you thought Microsoft was going to allow .NET to be a reasonable and viable platform on non-Windows operating systems!

    All of those raising your hands, please contact me. I have an exciting opportunity for you. I'm trying to get some money out of Nigeria.

  • claims are insane (Score:5, Informative)

    by stevenj ( 9583 ) <stevenj@al u m . m i t.edu> on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:19PM (#5276618) Homepage
    Take claim 1, which is the broadest independent claim:
    A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

    How are, for example, a web server (handles requests submitted by remote devices) and web browser (interface to present functions used to access resources) not covered by this claim? The next independent claim is:

    A distributed computer software architecture, comprising: one or more applications configured to be executed on one or more computing devices, the applications handling requests submitted from remote computing devices; a networking platform to support the one or more applications; and an application programming interface to interface the one or more applications with the networking platform.

    Like, e.g. SETI@Home over TCP/IP? Or PVM [ornl.gov]?

    Or claim 19:

    A system comprising: means for exposing a first set of functions that enable browser/server communication; means for exposing a second set of functions that enable drawing and construction of client applications; means for exposing a third set of functions that enable connectivity to data sources and XML functionality; and means for exposing a fourth set of functions that enable system and runtime functionality.

    ...like, say, Mozilla.

    Of course, there are dependent claims that try to make this more specific (ooh, using XML documents over a network, that's original). And, of course, the whole thing could be rejected by the patent office.

    Still, it's like they didn't even make an effort to try and avoid the most obvious prior-art objections. Almost like they have complete contempt for the patent office, and confidence that no one will dare to challenge their multi-billion-dollar legal war chest if they ever do assert patent rights over someone. But no, that's crazy.

  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:20PM (#5276620)
    Microsoft can patent J2EE?

    Seriously: Microsoft explicitly names the .NET base class hierarchy in the patent. That should worry the Mono guys. If the patent is even extremely narrowly enforced, the Mono guys seem to be in breach.
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:21PM (#5276631) Homepage
    1. A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

    There is so much prior art for this claim it's not even funny.

    But wait, it gets even funnier in claim #4....

    4. A software architecture as recited in claim 1, wherein the application program interface comprises: a first group of services related to creating Web applications; a second group of services related to constructing client applications; a third group of services related to data and handling XML documents; and a fourth group of services related to base class libraries.

    What?!! A network web service that can handle XML data using (said with pinky put to side of mouth) "CLASS LIBRARIES."

    Hmmmmmm... Now where have I seen this before? Maybe Microsoft will try to patent a network service for sending and receiving text messages for the express purpose of communicating.

    This is just another example of why software patents need to DIE! DIE! DIE! The sad thing is that about 50 guys had to waste their time writing this patent. Does anyone else see the irony of the first name listed on the patent, "Adam Smith"?

    Adam Smith wrote in his famous book, The Wealth of Nations, "Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man or order of men."

    Do you see the irony now? Today he would be be called an "ANARCHIST!" and he would definately be at home (somewhat) on slashdot. :)
    • The sad thing is that about 50 guys had to waste their time writing this patent.

      50 guys? You must've never dealt with a patent lawyer. It takes one guy a couple of days to write 20 pages of that gibberish.

      They're amazingly good at converting a simple diagram along with a couple of plain sentences into piles and piles of patent-speak.
    • by praksys ( 246544 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:28AM (#5276952)
      Patents usually start out with one very broad claim and then each claim after that narrows the original claim down until (supposedly) the whole thing covers just the new invention and nothing else. The result is that when you look at individual claims then it may look like they cover prior art - but this does not matter so long as the prior art is excluded by other claims. So if you really want to tell whether there is any prior art which is covered then you have to consider all of the claims taken together.

      Personally I had trouble understanding the claims one at a time. I have no clue as to what is actually covered here, and so far I have not heard from anyone else who has a clear idea, so it is a little early to judge whether there might be prior art problems.
  • wait a minute (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ashpool7 ( 18172 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:21PM (#5276637) Homepage Journal
    Will it even stand up with Mono around? Even if it is Microsoft's idea to begin with, they didn't apply for the patent until after Mono showed up.

    I'm not sure it will fly. US Code title 35 Sec. 102 says something like

    "A person shall be entitled to a patent unless the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States"

    Mono has been around since July 2001, but since it's half-done, does that count?
  • No MONO? Great! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spicerun ( 551375 ) <`spicerun' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:23PM (#5276647)
    Maybe now an OSS equivalent (but doesn't have to be the same as) of .NET will be developed instead of riding on MS' twisted coattails. As much as I dislike patents, perhaps this would be a good thing by getting an original and open standards version of something like .net without having to be or have the harmful effects of .net.
    • Re:No MONO? Great! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alext ( 29323 )
      Maybe now an OSS equivalent [...] .NET will be developed


      One interesting angle is that an OSS VM can very naturally enforce open source. While Java bytecode can be turned back into source code, minus the comments and some stylistic info, an OSS-centric VM could have a bytecode that was exactly equivalent to the source code. This way, it would be effectively impossible to ship anything other than the source.

      It's been obvious for 40 years (LISP) or maybe 55 (Turing's ACE Report) that programs-are-data, and tools today like IBM Eclipse go as far as they reasonably can to treat Java this way.

      OSS has the opportunity to steal a march on Java and Dotnet and converge the worlds of users and developers. This is a natural evolutionary step, but OSS is only model that has a strong reason to promote it.
  • Java Obfuscation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by srichman ( 231122 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:26PM (#5276657)
    And a chaser: Nept points to this interesting Microsoft-funded .NET obfuscation project.
    Why is this "interesting"? Java bytecode obfuscators have existed for years (23,000 matches [google.com] on google). It's pretty much par for the course; Sun has been distributing a bytecode disassembler with the JDK since its early releases, after all. I wouldn't expect things to be any different with .NET.
  • .NET? (Score:4, Funny)

    by chunkwhite86 ( 593696 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:28PM (#5276672)
    And here I thought .NET was a code obfuscation project!
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:30PM (#5276687)
    I have an idea... Don't use this stupid .NET thing. I simply don't understand why it's such a big deal. Seriously... What is there in this .NET that is so important that the whole world needs to jump on it like flies on shit? Microsoft does these things on purpose to screw everyone over, and every time they do, everyone falls for it again. Well I'm not going to fall for it. This .NET thing can take a long walk on a short pier. I'm gonna continue performing my work on FreeBSD, without all this fancy shmancy junk, and guess what? It'll cost less too.
  • Walling off .NET (Score:4, Interesting)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:33PM (#5276700) Homepage
    I had trouble following the patent text; it's pretty dry. It's not clear to me whether the patent covers just the .NET API, or if it would cover any similar system.

    If it covers any similar system, and the patent is granted as-is, that would be bad for the Mono project. But if it just covers the .NET API, the Mono guys won't care much.

    It would be nice if Mono projects could talk to .NET servers and vice versa. But it isn't strictly necessary. Mono is potentially a useful system, all by itself, without it ever talking to a Microsoft server.

    This action by Microsoft really reminds me of IBM's Microchannel. Before Microchannel, anyone could make hardware cards compatible with IBM computers (ISA bus). The Microchannel PCs (the PS/2 series) were different: you had to license patents from IBM to make cards for Microchannel. IBM probably thought they would be able to lock customers in, but what actually happened was that people voted with their wallets for non-Microchannel solutions. Microchannel drove customers away from IBM and towards IBM's competition.

    Does anyone really need .NET? How many even really understand what it is? Now, Microsoft not only needs to explain why you should abandon your current system to use .NET, they need to explain why .NET is worth locking yourself in.

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:39PM (#5276742)
    Patent Everything NOW, so that in a couple of decades it will ALL BE FREE. I just wish all this crap had gone down during the Reagan administration -- then we'd be reaping the rewards today.
  • No biscuit (Score:3, Funny)

    by AirLace ( 86148 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:48PM (#5276779)
    I don't see how this can fly. Mono has prior art on pretty much all of this.
  • what .NET is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtotheh ( 229796 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:51PM (#5276790)
    I code with MS stuff by day and Linux by night. At work we're starting to make the move everyone is in MS-land, which is from ASP with VBscript <blech> to .NET with C#. As far as I can see the Web Services stuff is not really taking off, I wouldn't be surprised if it slowly faded away as time goes by.

    Anyway what is .NET? .NET is _not_ platform independent. You're definitely expected to run it on a Windows server. And to access it with IE. In fact it generates code (this particular code I don't think you can even get at) that makes it favor IE - it writes Javascript functionality for you on the fly but if you're what it calls a "downtarget" browser -- anything but IE - some things are not as nice. For instance validations that in IE happen on the client require a server trip; things like that.

    It is supposedly "language agnostic", which means that it can subclass a VB.NET parent in a C# child. This agnosticism only extends to the languages MS has supported for it, namely VB,C#,C++(which is in some way I don't know the details of non-standard C++ in order to be .NET compatible) and J# (if anyone uses J# please tell me I'd be surprised)

    What .NET really is in my opinion is a supercharged development tool, and a respectable new language. C# is actually pretty cool, they hired the guy that was the brain trust for Borland Delphi and copied lots of Java ideas - but hey Java is very much a copy of C......But the main thing is it is a very nice environment to code in. You can make a call to SQL Server (of course non-MS databases need not apply for this) and step through the code going through VB and C# function/object calls and then step through the SQL proc all without skipping a beat. And there's lots of type-ahead type things. If you define a function or a class method when you make a call to it the args are displayed. The debugger is very nice, you can roam through the code with a mouse and variables show their values as you pass over them.

    I guess what they're going for is convincing tech managers that their programmers will be sufficiently more productive with their stuff to make up for the license costs. I try to find open-source equivalents for any features I like in the MS stuff, there are some respectable things like DDT (I think - the C/C++ debugger) - many emacs packages, JDEE in particular - Wing for Python (not open source though) - but the MS stuff really has some nice features for coders. You can get used to it.......and then news like this comes out and you remember what MS is all about.

  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Monday February 10, 2003 @11:57PM (#5276814) Homepage Journal
    As I have stated before ... [slashdot.org]

    Microsoft's CEOs have made it "patently" clear [ffii.org] that they intend to restrict competing .Net implementations by cultivating Microsoft's patents, such as United States Patent Application #20020059425 "Distributed computing services platform" [uspto.gov] which covers the design and inter-operation of .NET based implementations.
    Although there is prior art examples of individual technologies such as the JVM etc, Microsoft patents such as the one mentioned, define and claim the interoperation of the components, in such a way that any re-implementations will be sure to be covered by the patents. This remains true even for the Microsoft specs submited to standard

    In comparison, Sun has granted the Apache and all open source developers FULL access to the specs, test kits and granted the full rights to develop competing products under the JSPA [apache.org] . Sun has also fully pened up the Java development standards process under the new Java Community Process (JCP) [jcp.org] . Even to the point of granting full open source re-implentations of J2EE such as JBoss [theregister.co.uk] ...

    JBoss received the green light last week, after Sun told ComputerWire that it would allow all of the APIs contained in J2EE 1.4 to be open sourced. Fleury had expressed concern that certain critical APIs, including Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) 2.1, would be not be made available to open source organizations.

    However, Java Community Process director Onno Kluyt said: "Sun's plan with 1.4 is that although it started before JCP 2.5, by the time it ships it will allow the creation of independent implementations. I don't think the APIs are that interesting, because the license that sits on top of J2EE will allow that [independent implementations]".

    There those that claim that .NET is open to re-implementation, but until Microsoft make a simliar public legal declaration to Sun's JSPA, any .NET reimplementation represents a pending legal mindfield.

  • by gotscheme ( 246456 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:04AM (#5276847)
    The real depressing thing about this is that I have been planning to develop on .NET. I don't know about anyone else, but I have been happy with the way Microsoft has been pursuing its .NET strategy (at least the development environment, the framework, and so on), namely working towards standards.

    I like developing on Windows as long as the tools are good, and despite the early bugginess of VS .NET, I have been pretty happy working with it and the .NET framework. I was planning on rewarding Microsoft for doing the right thing with their .NET strategy through paying for their software in future projects (I have been training on it for a while now). I understand their aim to have domain over some of their ideas, but IIRC they were working to make this beast an international standard, not to close competition. I think this is a step backward. Of course, it is hard for me to understand the entire patent request, so maybe they are not requesting too much. Nonetheless, why would they even do this? It just seems like a bad PR move given the fact that people are already pissed off [com.com] enough to migrate toward Linux, and are getting more aggravated. Alas, may the USPTO use some wisdom.
  • by Headius ( 5562 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:15AM (#5276896) Homepage Journal
    Come on now, you guys didn't really think Microsoft was going to sit back and let someone else build a free implementation of their golden goose before it was even in wide acceptance, did you? What is it about some Open Source projects that makes their fearless leaders so starry-eyed? It is perhaps surprising that Microsoft waited this long.

    Microsoft still makes more off Windows sales than anything else -- don't forget that. No matter how ubiquitous Office is, Windows is the cornerstone of the Monopoly. By filing for a patent on .NET, their new platform-of-choice, they can lock out all competing implementations, either a little bit or completely, making sure that the only full .NET implementation is the one they've delivered, under Windows.

    This also bodes pretty badly for .NET. If you ask me, the lawyers at Microsoft won an argument on this one. If MS really wanted to get a stranglehold on the market, they'd have waited until .NET actually had its foot in the door before filing a patent. By doing so now, before it's really even gotten out of the gate, they've doomed it to be "just another Windows-based programming platform".

    Don't believe me? What shop that isn't pure Microsoft would even consider jumping onto the .NET bandwagon now? Commit all your resources to a platform that still performs more poorly than those available for higher-end, non-Wintel machines? Doubtful. The development benefits are marginal compared to Java, and native application developers will still prefer C or C++. Now that Microsoft will have a legal noose around .NET's neck, all circulation is effectively cut off.

    It's a stupid move for Microsoft, if they intend to expand and defend their monopoly. It's also a move that projects like Mono and .Gnu should have seen coming a mile away. Microsoft has nothing to gain by researching, developing, and standardizing a platform that could conceivably allow network AND desktop applications to run on non-Microsoft platforms. Did Miguel et al just think Microsoft had learned the error of their ways?
  • Tcl-DP is prior art (Score:5, Informative)

    by nuzoo ( 588862 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @12:37AM (#5276998)
    There's no reason to wring your hands about this patent. Tcl-DP [mini.net] is prior art for claim 1, and it existed prior to 1995. This places it before Microsoft even knew what the Internet was, though it appears that any prior art predating 7/10/2000 will kill this one.

    Claim 1 reads:

    • 1. A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising: an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network; and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system.

    Tcl-DP provided an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote devices over a network (the RPC server), and an application program interface to present functions used by the application to access network and computing resources of the distributed computing system (the dp_RPC command protocol). The client application mentioned in the dependent claims is provided by any application configured as an RPC client.

  • Don't Panic - Yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by rhysweatherley ( 193588 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @01:27AM (#5277217)
    I'm the primary author of DotGNU Portable.NET, so this does affect me to some extent.

    First, this is a patent application, not an actual patent grant. I doubt that the application would last very long in its current form - it's too broad, even by the USPTO's narrow criteria for broadness.

    Second, because Microsoft is standardizing this technology through the ECMA, as an eventual lead-in to ISO, they will be in a difficult position if they start demanding royalties or playing RAND games.

    They backed off on the Kerberos thing, and they could be made to back off here too - blatantly targetting the only two competitors in the CLR space (Mono and Portable.NET) won't win them any PR points.

    Third, most of what is discussed here has precedents in prior art. If Mono and Portable.NET infringe, then so does the JVM, and that's definite prior art.

    We perhaps need to organise a bit to lobby on this one, but it isn't the end of the world - yet.

    More information on Portable.NET here [southern-storm.com.au].

  • by gstaines ( 607930 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @01:40AM (#5277267) Homepage
    Bill Gates, gets out of bed and can smell something in the air. His lawyers have been busy overnight. "God! I love the smell of EVIL in the morning" says Bill

    News Flash: "A new anti-trust law passed today requires microsoft ship its software with a new scratch and sniff sticker on all of its products. Lawmakers apparently want consumers to be able to smell the Evil that is Microsoft before making their purchases" But Chairman Bill Gates likes the smell so much that he is painting he new estate in florida with a paint modeled on the scratch and sniff stickers.

    News Flash later that day: Microsoft is reportedly trying to aquire a patent on the smell of evil, The odor of fear and the stench of stupidity, all reported important for its next product release.

  • Here are the APIs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Milo77 ( 534025 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:05AM (#5277371)
    I wonder if MS isn't doing this because of all the people coming out of the wood-work trying to get royalties out of MS for things like ActiveX? Anyway I wonder how useful MONO will be without the below namespaces. I didn't think you could patent an API - the implementation perhaps, but after reading the patent it really sounds like their trying to patent the API. If I were them, I'd just copyright the API that way it'll never be release to the public domain :)

    From the patent (supposedly 94 namespaces):

    System.Windows.Forms System.CodeDom.Compiler System.ComponentModel.Design System.Configuration.Assemblies System.ComponentModel System.ComponentModel.Design.Serialization System.Configuration System System.Net System.Collections System.Globalization System.Net.Sockets System.Collections.Specialized System.Xml.Schema System.Xml.Serialization System.Xml.XPath System.Xml System.Xml.Xsl System.Data.Common System.Data.OleDb System.Data.SqlClient System.Data.SqlTypes System.Diagnostics System.DirectoryServices System.Drawing.Design System.Drawing.Drawing2D System.Reflection System.Drawing System.Drawing.Imaging System.Drawing.Printing System.Drawing.Text System.EnterpriseServices System.IO System.Resources System.IO.IsolatedStorage System.Messaging System.Reflection.Emit System.Runtime.CompilerServices System.Runtime.InteropServices.Expando System.Runtime.InteropServices System.Runtime.Remoting.Activation System.Runtime.Remoting.Channels System.Runtime.Remoting.Channels.Http System.Runtime.Remoting.Channels.Tcp System.Runtime.Remoting.Contexts System.Runtime.Remoting System.Runtime.Remoting.Lifetime System.Runtime.Remoting.Messaging System.Runtime.Remoting.Metadata System.Runtime.Remoting.Metadata.W3cXsd System.Runtime.Remoting.MetadataServices System.Runtime.Remoting.Proxies System.Runtime.Remoting.Services System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters System.Runtime.Serialization System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Soap System.Security.Cryptography System.Security.Cryptography.X509.Certificates System.Configuration.Install System.Security.Permissions System.Security System.Security.Policy System.Text System.Security.Principal System.ServiceProcess System.Text.RegularExpressions System.Threading System.Timers System.Windows.Forms.Design System.Web System.Diagnostics.SymbolStore System.Management System.Management.Instrumentation System.Web.Caching System.Web.Configuration System.Web.Hosting System.Web.Mail System.Web.Security System.Web.Services System.Web.Services.Configuration System.Web.Services.Description System.Web.Services.Discovery System.Web.Services.Protocols System.Web.SessionState System.Web.UI System.Web.UI.Design System.Web.UI.Design.WebControls System.Web.UI.HtmlControls System.Web.UI.WebControls System.CodeDom System.Data System.EnterpriseServices.Compensating.ResourceMan agerSystem.Security.Cryptography.Xml
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:07AM (#5277381)
    This patent seems legally irrelevant, and it seems highly doubtful that Microsoft could legally get the Mono project or other third party ECMA C# or .NET for infringing it.

    However, this patent shows bad faith by Microsoft. If Microsoft wanted C# to be perceived as an open language and core set of libraries, this is the last thing they would want.

    Where does this leave us? We have two companies, Sun and Microsoft, that are engaged in some bizarre battle to try and control the software industry. Both have attempted to get patents that allow them to use the patent system to control who implements the language and how (yes, Sun has patents on key aspects of Java). Both are trying to keep control of the software, APIs, and future language evolution. And what is particularly ironic is that all this battle is about decades old technology.

    What does this mean? Both open source and commercial users should say "no thanks" to both Java and C#. We need to get back to a model where programming languages and libraries are standardized through open standards processes and where the core language and APIs and are not covered by patents. C, C++, Smalltalk, Ada, and many other languages have shown that this is possible. In fact, had Sun not derailed and preempted the adoption of those other languages with promises of a bright Java future (on which they have failed to deliver), we might well be using some language now that is technically superior to both Java and C# and is covered by a truly open standard.

  • by andrejs ( 471528 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:49AM (#5277520)
    If enough of us protest calmly and sanely with prior art and generalness point by point... this seems to be a blatant power grab by ms....

    From the FAQ at the PTO:
    #50 How does one file protest on patents that are pending?

    Protests by a member of the public against pending applications will be referred to the examiner having charge of the subject matter involved. A protest specifically identifying the application to which the protest is directed will be entered in the application file if: (1) The protest is submitted prior to the publication of the application or the mailing of a notice of allowance under rule 1.311, whichever occurs first; and (2) The protest is either served upon the applicant in accordance with rule 1.248, or filed with the Office in duplicate in the event service is not possible. For more detailed information on protesting a patent, you may visit our Web site at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep.htm for the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) Chapter 1900.
  • Disclosure (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:37AM (#5278369) Journal
    You can only apply for a patent on things that have been kept secret before you applied. Anything that is public domain (or even published as a result of industrial espionage) can not be patented. Therefore the only thing that Microsoft can patent is the low level functionality of parts of their own runtime that were not released in the shared source version. This is stuff that would probably be implemented differently on non-windows platforms anyway, so the patent won't have much effect. For another example of how well patents work, have a look at the AAC audio compression algorithm patented by Dolby / the MPEG-LA. Currently the best AAC encoder is written by PsyTEL and doesn't use any of the patented algorithms. Algorithmic patents simply don't work. In general, a good algorithm is so obvious that someone else has already thought of it, but didn't patent it because it was so obvious, or it's so complicated that while it may appear to be the best, a little more thought can lead to an even better one.

"No matter where you go, there you are..." -- Buckaroo Banzai