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Microsoft Too Busy To Name Linux Patents? 236

bob_dinosaur writes "According to The Register, Microsoft's Patent Attorney Jim Markwith told the Open Source Business Conference that the reason they hadn't named the supposedly infringing patents was that it would be 'administratively impossible to keep up' with the list. 'According to Ramji, the executive tasked with the difficult job of straddling Microsoft's growing support for open source in server and tools, and aggressive and unpredictable statements from management on patents, made a jaw dropping attempt to explain away the Forbes article. "The reason we disclosed that, is because there was a request for transparency following the Novell deal Iast November. This was a response to that transparency," Ramji said. It was at that point the OSBC audience erupted.'" That transparency apparently extends to multiple levels. ZDNet is reporting that Novell will share the details of its agreement with Microsoft sometime in the near future.
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Microsoft Too Busy To Name Linux Patents?

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  • Re:Hwhat? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @04:16PM (#19259135)

    And yet it was NOT administratively impossible for them to verify that said patents were being infringed upon? Does ANYONE actually think that makes any sense whatsoever?
    The beauty of is that FUD, it doesn't have to make sense once you stop to think and do some research. FUD just has to be plausible enough at first glance to scare the uninformed. Microsoft's excuses don't have to make sense either, who cares now that the damage is done?
  • Re:Hwhat? (Score:2, Informative)

    by JimNTonik ( 1097185 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @04:31PM (#19259345)
    If they provided a number of patent infringements, they've already listed them internally. It's clear at this point that their intention was never to actually act on these patents.
  • by Crazy Taco ( 1083423 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @04:56PM (#19259793)

    The way MS phrased their statement (and previous statements) is stupid and doesn't make a lot of sense. They made it sound like they had a list of patents, and now say they don't. However, the statement I think they were trying to say is, "We have so many patents that we know that some open source software somewhere must be infringing on something we've patented." Then they tried to clarify that they haven't actually made a list of them all because, "it would take way too much administrative time to find out which ones they are and list them all." Stated that way, their statement would make a lot more sense, and it would probably be true.

  • by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @05:14PM (#19260117)
    Even better is the fact that there are a mountain of patents* that could (and would) be used to assault Microsoft back to the stone age if they fired a shot at Linux and/or OSS. There are a large number of companies that stand to lost considerably if Microsoft wins any sort of patent war on Linux and OSS.

    *The real kind of mountain and not the Darl McBride version of a mountain.
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @05:16PM (#19260163) Homepage Journal

    Office 2007 is actually crushing everything else. It is making people excited about an office suite again (which is pretty amazing, actually).

    Yes, cursing is an expression of excitement. Witness Fanboy Mossberg's reaction [] and judge for yourself:

    In my own tests, I was cursing the program for weeks because I couldnt find familiar functions and commands, even though Microsoft provides lots of help and guidance.

    Wouldn't it be a better idea to spend those weeks learning something like Open Office on GNU/Linux? After spending six years on XP, anyone in a hurry to get better software is going to find it in the free world before they fork over the cash for a Vista Heavy Metal Super Computer.

    Vista is not selling as well as XP did and may go the way of the Zune. M$ has stuffed it's channels and is doing all the usual PR blitz but they can't change reality. When you say:

    It [Vista] works perfectly.

    you are flying in the face of reviews and personal experience. Despite the low expectations most M$ users have, I have yet to meet anyone who says that Vista just works. Most have stories like this [].

  • Re:Typical Failure. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @05:33PM (#19260447)

    They couldn't "steal" it before and won't be able to after,

    I don't know about today, but if you go back to a DOS 6.0 disk and do a search for the ascii string "COPYRIGHT STACKER INC" with a hex editor, I'm pretty sure that the before part of that statement isn't true.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @06:08PM (#19261057) Homepage
    The number 235 didn't come from any Microsoft internal research or MS funded research. It came from an independent research paper that examined patent vulnerability of various software. Microsoft saw the paper and decided to run with it, saying that the paper proved that "Linux violates 235 of Microsoft's patents".

    Then the paper's author spoke out, saying that MS was misrepresenting the results. First, it was 235 potential infringements, in part because none of those 235 patents had been tested in court and could be invalid. Second, these were not all Microsoft's patents.

    Frankly I think he was far too kind. Microsoft turns "potential" into "actual", and "235 patents" into "235 of our patents". That's not "misrepresenting", that's fucking lying, especially when it comes to implicitly claiming ownership of patents which are not theirs.

    Oh yeah, and thirdly the author said that Linux was not atypical compared to closed source software in how many patents it potentially violated. The fact is, and one of the conclusions of the study, was that software patents are such a minefield that pretty much every piece of software potentially violates some.

    This was all on /., I think about a week ago. I'll let someone else dig up the link for some karma.

    By the way, this probably means that the best source for finding out which patents Linux hypothetically violates would come from the original paper.
  • by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @06:39PM (#19261547)
    "(although virtualization might be something of a concern, Microsoft has applied for a whole bunch of patents in that area recently and Linux is just getting started)"

    Like this one? icrosoft+virtualization []
    They patented something that already existed at the time. Just do a Google patent search for "Microsoft" and "virtualization" and see there's nothing to fear. I'm kind of embarassed for them that all of these patents seem bogus. Curiously, one of the virtualization patents includes mention of a "DOS-based" operating system. I wonder if "Linux-based" operating system is similar enough to infringe :) Seems like either their lawyers made a mistake, or they were worried about someone creating virtualization software for Windows. VMware obviously infringes on most of Microsoft's virtualization patents. I wonder if they have an agreement.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @06:51PM (#19261751) Homepage
    Whatever, here are links: The slashdot article [], and the first post in it links to this article covering the paper author's rebuttle. [].

    I can't help but notice how the numbers keep changing. The study says 283 patents, Balmer at one point said 228, and now it's 235. Frankly since they aren't substantiating any of these claims anyway I think MS just makes up a number to keep people confused. Maybe they'll think that further research turned up another 7 patents, even though it's still all based on a completely braindamaged intepretation of someone else's work.
  • Mod parent -1, Wrong. That study not only 1) says the number of patents is 283, not 235, but 2) isn't talking about just Microsoft patents, that study was talking about all software patents, and 3) that study came out 3 years ago. ges+283+patents/2100-7344_3-5291403.html []
  • by CamoCoatJoe ( 972244 ) <> on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:12AM (#19266171) Journal

    Maybe it is time to search the patent database, pull out any Patents tied to Microsoft and list them on the web. Let people vote up or down the patents that could conflict with current standard and try to identify them ourselves instead of waiting... TO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.h tml&r=0&f=S&l=50&TERM1=Microsoft&FIELD1=AS&co1=AND &TERM2=&FIELD2=&d=PG01 []

I consider a new device or technology to have been culturally accepted when it has been used to commit a murder. -- M. Gallaher