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More Patent Threats From Microsoft
Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 05:21 PM EDT

Ina Fried has an interview with "Microsoft's top intellectual property lawyer", Horacio Gutierrez, and Gutierrez directly threatens to sue any company, like Red Hat, that refuses to sell out and do a patent deal like the one Novell signed up for:
"If every effort to license proves not to be fruitful, ultimately we have a responsibility to customers that have licenses and to our shareholders to ensure our intellectual property is respected," he said.
So, more threats to try to force Red Hat to sign a deal that violates the GPL and that the GPLv3 makes very interesting in effects for Microsoft. I almost hope they mean it this time. Talk about anticompetitive use of patents, though. Nothing but the destruction of the FOSS development model and chosen license structure will do. No one I know, including FOSS lawyers, is losing any sleep over these threats.

Oh, by the way, Gutierrez tells us something else you probably assumed:
In an effort to help head off patent disputes, Microsoft is an investor in Nathan Myrhvold's patent-buying Intellectual Ventures effort and has also made deals with several other such patent companies. "We've done deals with a number of others," Gutierrez said.
OOOOh. Scary. The giant eats babies. Quick, do whatever he tells you!! Puh lease. The last straw sinking companies clutch at is patent lawsuits and other "IP" litigation to bring up the bottom line, when they see they can't win fair and square with products people actually want.

But what is clearer to me now is that Microsoft is apparently determined to control or destroy FOSS as we know it. And they think patents give them the power to do it. What I think will really happen is a whole mess of litigation, including some antitrust claims. I don't rule out Red Hat's ability to be legally creative, of course, but no one can do a Novell-style deal again, with respect to GPLv3 code, without triggering results [PDF] I am sure Microsoft would not wish for.


  


More Patent Threats From Microsoft | 158 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Thread
Authored by: MDT on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 05:28 PM EDT
All corrections here please. Try to put something meaningful in the title, so
we don't get tons of duplicate corrections. Not that I expect there to be that
many.

---
MDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-Topic Thread
Authored by: MDT on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 05:29 PM EDT
Off topic stuff here. Please try to put in clickies, they aren't hard.

---
MDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

News-Pick Thread
Authored by: MDT on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 05:30 PM EDT
For all those comments on the news picks. Please include clickies if you need,
thanks.

---
MDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Patent Threats From Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 05:51 PM EDT
It figures. Microsoft can't design or put a real operating system together. If
Microsoft built the Pantagon, they'd set it up for one light switch to turn on
everything and make it so nothing could be turned off. That's what happens with
Microsoft, everything runs whether you want it or not. And Microsoft eats 68%
of the cpu clock running itself. Not much left for you to run your apps. Now
all they can do is threaten on patents and copyright because they can't sell
their product. And with world-wide recession a lot of businesses and people are
not going to upgrade.

Ken King

[ Reply to This | # ]

A note from the future
Authored by: Ehud on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 06:03 PM EDT
In the former United States it was known as the '376 patent. It held as its
main claim "A method of providing managed care for residents provided at
the expense and exclusivity of that third party." That was the basis of
the upheaval of the rest home industry in which I now reside. We are provided a
retirement home of sorts where we no longer worry about our mortgage or our
belongings, and we are treated well. The small price we pay is absolute
allegiance to our those corporate owners we affectionately call our
"sponsors."

After a while, the rest homes and care homes that did not conform with the '376
patent had their violations explained to them, and they eventually joined
forces, or folded. The home we sit in today is one of those which saw the light
and its management paid the patent violation fee, and quickly agreed to the
designated sponsor.

I met him sitting on one of the front porches. He was rocking back and forth,
as most of us do, trying to create wind and motion where there is nothing but
the still air. He had about him the measure of a man triumphant, and I couldn't
help noticing that it was in stark contrast to the darkened eyes and shuffle
that everyone else effected. I'd been a journalist, before it was illegal. It
was bound to happen. First there was an argument over what was Copyright and
what wasn't. Then were efforts to get "fair-use" removed. In the
latter stages they eliminated the Internet search-engines from showing previews,
images, or partial texts. Finally even the online stories couldn't be repeated.
The final wire-services contracts rules out any non-wire-service stories -- if
we did a local piece and they didn't like it, it didn't print -- not even
locally.

He was an ex-CEO of a multinational software company. His gray hair and his
thick glasses belied a youthful look which apparently had served him well prior
to the IP-Bomb Era. Most times he was fast, clear, and lucid, expounding in
detail on things I'd never hear elsewhere. At times he longed wistful at some
backward time when he fought the great fight. His company was one of the
pioneers of using Intellectual Property Bombs to destroy their opposition. It
was a heyday, a profit wonderland, and a strategy for business -- especially for
judges appointed in the Eastern District of Texas.

They used the power of raw money to lobby and thereby legislate change. They
effected laws which discouraged anyone from doing anything without paying them
their share. Like the mafia of the 1920's they extracted their share to protect
their clients from harm.

As times changed, though, so did strategy. And with those changes his company
became not so much dominant, as hamstrung by those same laws they helped create.
Where before they owned a patent portfolio, eventually when the government
nationalized their patents they owned nothing, and the government owned them.
Where before they told other companies what to settle for, now they were told
their product was nationalized. They had never created an original software
product in their entire existence, but they had stolen many (DEC), upgraded many
(DR DOS), and sold it all under various names (Win3.5, Win95, Win98, WinME,
Win2K, WinXP, WinV, Win7). They bought their binary file formats an ISO
standard (OOXML). In the end they became INVALUABLE.

And in that hubris lay their downfall. In being invaluable they afforded the
same government they'd already trained to ignore the laws, the power to
nationalize their product.

A philanthropist, a father, a husband, a leader, and now a member of the Steve
Jobs Software Rest Home, he sat with me and share his experience.

more from 2018 coming soon.

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Patent Threats From Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 06:25 PM EDT
We tend to think that the computers are there to serve us, and we write the
software which will make them do precisely that.

Not the other way around.

Penguins do not pay taxes, for the fairly-obvious reason that penguins do not
use money.

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Patent Threats From Microsoft
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 06:35 PM EDT
He'll have to be slightly more specific. Which patent(s), which jurisdiction(s),
who already has licences.

It currently costs, I believe, $15000 for a licence to the accursed MP3 patent;
assuming you guess right as to which corporation to license it from. That puts
it somewhat out of reach of hobbyists; and so (until the patent expires in a
couple of years' time) the Linux hobbyists, and the engineers-in-training, will
cheerfully run Ogg Vorbis; or even run 'uncompressed'. Nowadays there's
relatively little point in data compression for 'music'.

But it does mean that the 'free' Linuxes ... OpenSuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, etc. ...
tend to come without MP3 encoders and decoders. That's just obstructive and
pointless, in the grand scheme of things, and is getting in the way of teaching
the next generation of scientists and engineers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I like to hope
Authored by: RPN on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 06:39 PM EDT
I like to hope MS is a dead duck.

The MS 'I'm a PC' ads have just hit my awareness here in the UK and they seem to
me pointless and silly. I'm not a fan of TV ads to put it mildly at the best of
times but these seem particularly silly and pointless.

In a way a pity. There are little details MS gets right. The managers are a real
pile of ... though and patent threats are definitely not part of a successful
future. If it is true Windows 7 is just Vista rehashed then they are doomed
IMHO. Why should I run either on my hardware, especially with recession looming,
when Linux with Compiz etc runs happily on it? Care to answer MS? Didn't think
so. (Hint my Smoothwall firewall machine is over seven years old and showing no
signs of failing and never has exceeded 20% utilization in its metrics; hardware
lasts. Software is the problem.)

Written very happily on a Duron 1200 with 512MB of RAM, 80GB hard disc, MX5200
128MB graphics card running Hard Heron with middle fancy graphics settings.
Other main machine Duron 800, 1GB RAM otherwise similar and fine. I also run XP
fine on K6/500 machines with rubbish graphics cards and limited memory and a
Win200Server on the same processor and 512Mb RAM with a very basic graphics card
well and securely. Why run Vista? You got it. No reason at all. Period.

Richard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Give Thanks For Your Protection, Your Watchdogs Of The Night
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 08:25 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

All those, "M$ is being more open! We should applaud their effort and
encourage them, not slam them for not doing enough!" people, explain this
away.

And then M$ wonders why people treat them with such rampant distrust.

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger
who can only imagine what M$ would be getting away with without PJ keeping an
eye on the sandbox

[ Reply to This | # ]

Just Sick
Authored by: PeterMan on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 05:37 AM EDT
This latest threat makes me just sick. I am left without words to describe the
arrogance and perverseness underlying it. So we deviced a nice scheme to
Embrace, Extend and Extinguish Linux, in order to participate in this scheme we
offer you to sign a deal with us that gives your customers protection against
being sued by us for infringement of unspecified patents. After all, it would be
a petty if something happened to their nice restaurants, wouldn't it? If you
don't want to do so voluntarily we will might sue you. Beacause what is ours is
ours and what is yours is ours as well. We own the market, this socialist
travesty of capitalism that is this Linux stuff is eating away our marketshare.
That is just unlawful, unamerican and unethical.

Isn't it about time that this company is put out of its misery? Isn't it about
time that Microsoft is sent to the heavens to meet its creator? Then all of its
employees are free to do more useful things. Bill can be a dishwasher and Steve
can live among his likes in a zoo.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft monopoly enforcement
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 06:13 AM EDT
This desperate protection racket scam combined with others like the high profile
ISO rigging scam is a sure sign that Microsoft has concluded that the FOSS tide
is at the tipping point and that desperate times need desperate measures.

There is Linux pre-loads on laptops, ODF adoption growing rapidly and 1 million
OpenOffice 3 downloads in a matter of 2 days, OpenProj replacing MS Project, the
likes of Zimbra, Kolab, and Open-Exchange replacing MS Exchange, Alfresco Labs 3
replacing Sharepoint, Google and other cloud services replacing the Windows
desktop, MySQL and ProgreSQL replacing MS SQL server, GPLed Java and Eclipse
extending its lead against proprietary .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio. The end
is in sight for Microsoft's monopoly control of the market - unless Microsoft
can leverage the patent system and corruptible politicians, lawmakers and
bureaucrats/officials to grant themselves an artificial state enforced monopoly
in perpetuity enforced by state legislation. This takes the form of software
patents and patents on standards specifications, and a 16-20 year monopoly is
effective perpetuity in the case of software which is developed and obsoleted
rapidly and has a useful lifetime considerably less than the patent monopoly
term granted. This protect-the-monopoly-scheme is what Microsoft and its
lobbyists are planning to put into effect now. We just have to wait and see how
many people Microsoft can corrupt to see if it will be effective. Besides the
Bush administration and through that the DOJ, they have managed to get control
of ISO, and many national standards boards so far, and they are lobbying to get
software parents enforced in the EU through the back door. The price of defence
against all this is vigilance at all levels, and quick action to expose and
counter corruption and Microsoft's anti-competitive moves no matter how
insignificant they may seem at first sight.

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Patent Threats From Microsoft
Authored by: Tezzer on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 09:26 AM EDT
<yawn>

Show us the code {again}

---
Kandor

[ Reply to This | # ]

are these threats serious?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 01:03 PM EDT
I'm thinking it's just bluster to attack Red Hat as PJ
said, and try to con them into thinking they have to pay
tribute to Redmond, and thereby set a precedent for all
commercial Linux vendors. Pretty heavy-handed tactics
against a company with revenues smaller than BillG's pocket
change. Does anyone think there is a real threat here? At
the least losing Red Hat would be a serious blow. Not fatal
to Linux and FOSS in general, but a darn dirty shame and it
would hurt, since Red Hat supports so much Linux
development.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think you are right - and moreover -
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 05:55 PM EDT

But what is clearer to me now is that Microsoft is apparently determined to control or destroy FOSS as we know it.

I think that is correct. And Microsoft would not do this unless it thought it had a chance of success.

We are not in a battle to displace Microsoft. We are in a battle for survival. It's ominous that Microsoft has never lost a battle.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cheat If You Can't Compete - The Patent Threat Motto (nt)
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 09:27 PM EDT
Patents on algorithms just plain annoys me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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