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Topic # 13573 17-May-2007 23:16
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NEW YORK: Microsoft has made its broadest challenge to date against open-source software, including Windows rival Linux, claiming that such programs violate 235 Microsoft patents and saying it will seek license fees.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/4061694a28.html

Looks like Microsoft is getting snotty. I guess you could get on with innovating and making better software...or you can throw lawyers at people. I can't figure out which category to put this in, but its about MS.

 It really seems quite shameful to me. Hardly going to make MS any friends or improve the world of computers very much. But what can you do when you sell things other people give away for free?

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  Reply # 71092 17-May-2007 23:26
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You could try embracing it?

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  Reply # 71095 18-May-2007 00:36
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So it's wrong for people to protect their patented works?

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  Reply # 71096 18-May-2007 01:16
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bradstewart: So it's wrong for people to protect their patented works?


I agree, but there has to be a timeframe in which they should be able to claim it within. Im sure MS have known about alot of the infingements for years, so why make a fuss about it now?

So if linux systems have been using them, they should either stop, pay up, or if its been sooo long then MS should just back off.

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Reply # 71113 18-May-2007 09:24
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First, I think we should get the link to the story that started it al. It's a Fortune article and you can read it here. Don't link to Stuff, because they have second hand information, and because they remove their content in a couple of weeks, making it impossible to find out what you are talking about later.

I've spoken to Microsoft New Zealand's Director of Innovation Brett Roberts about this issue. There's no need to "shake in their boots".

He puts it is clearly: there are three ways to deal with patent: ignore, litigate and license.

Brett told me Microsoft is not into litigation, but patents can't be ignored. So the friendly option available is licensing, and this is what they are doing. As in many organisations licensing, patents, copyright stuff needs lawyers involved because of the legal aspects.

By the way, check this taken from a speek of Richard Stallman from the Fifth International GPLv3 Conference:


A few years ago, I realised that there were other ways software patents might be used to make software non-free, so we're designing GPL version 3 to block them too. For instance, one issue is, what if the developer of the software has a patent on it, or rather, has a patent on some particular computational technique used in the program. I made a terrible mistake when I said "has a patent on the program", that's not how patents work. I know better, and yet I still made this mistake. There's no such thing as a patent on a program, software patents don't work that way. Every software patent is a monopoly on a certain kind of technical functionality or method. A program violates the patent if anywhere inside the program it implements that method or that functionality. The result is that one program can infringe any number of patents at the same time.

Two years ago, a thorough study found that the kernel Linux infringed 283 different software patents, and that's just in the US. Of course, by now the number is probably different and might be higher.


This quote is November 2006. And is from someone outside Microsoft.

Now read this from Infoworld:


IDG News Service: The Fortune story has caused a lot of concern over how Microsoft may proceed in regard to its patent claims. Did you know Microsoft officials were going to reveal the number of patents?

Hilf: We did. [But] the Fortune article does not correctly represent our strategy. That's what has people so inflamed. It looks like our strategy changed and we are moving in a new direction, but it hasn't. In the Novell deal, we said we had to figure out a way to solve these IP issues and we needed to figure out a way for better interoperability with open-source products. The Fortune article makes it look like we are going out on this litigation path.

Our strategy from everyone in the company -- from [Steve] Ballmer to Brad Smith to me and everyone in between -- has always been to license and not litigate as it relates to our intellectual property. So we have no plans to litigate. You can never say we'll never do anything in the future, but that's not our strategy. That article spins it on the attack. The only new piece information in that article is that it just put a number on the patents.

IDGNS: What was the aftermath after the story ran?
Hilf: The people in the open-source community that I know well ... they contacted me right away. All of the European guys I know called me at 2 a.m. I told them what I told you. They said "Okay, that’s what I needed to hear." The other question I got was, to be very honest, "Do you have a different strategy than the company?" which I didn't understand at first. I said again, "Don't look at Fortune magazine as the manifestation of the Microsoft strategy." It's the same strategy we've had. I think [the effects of the story] will be short term as people realize that it looks like Microsoft is on the attack. I think longer term it will be fine and the work will continue on.




Now, why is that in the movement things are so slow to get down to the roots?

Patents have a life and can be enforced at any time. If patent on software is something that should be given, then it's another story and take it to the USPO and other entities.

Now, why you say that it's shameful? I see this as FUD. Come to think about it you are not being reasonable. Just because a company does not offer their product or services for free then you are against it?

Do you realise that RedHat offers services to support Linux and charges for it? "Oh, heavens no, RedHat offers Linux with a subscription and they are making money out of the free software".

Do you get it now? There's no free lunch.









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  Reply # 71174 18-May-2007 18:13
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freit there is no need to be defensive about it. I've paid for software many times (I always pay for iD Software stuff cos Im a DOOM fanboy). And yes..I am aware of paid support for open-source products..although what it has to do with this thread is um...well moving right along.

I think its shameful because...well patents and software never really jived. I don't like em. There's no real productive use for software patents that I can see. Its just dirty tactics. Patents on software? Cmon..we'd all be paying royalties to the first caveman with counting stones for our use of mathematical operators. I see software a lot like music, really. If everything is copyrighted then you can't be inspired by previous works without forking out the $$. Amen break anyone?

In my opinion the best thing to give a creative mind is a wide variety of tools and canvases. Not charge it 20 cents every time it uses a brush. Poor people have good ideas too some times.

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Reply # 71182 18-May-2007 18:53
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Interesting twist there... Disregard the original discussion, which was on "throwing lawyers" and the explanation that there isn't "throwing lawyers" happening and divert the topic.









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  Reply # 71279 19-May-2007 13:32
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Well I'm confused. Moving right along.

Although for the record I might put my hand up & say that I think paid/commercial support is always a good thing for any type of software. It's a service. Although I don't know how long you can last trying to create data into a unique object which can't be obtained without $$.

Has there ever been a software program that wasnt piratable? I know theres alot of research behind copyprotection. Although judging from doom9.org it doesnt seem to get very far.

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