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Microsoft Patents Linux

Mr. Ballmer, Show Us the Code 462

Posted by kdawson
from the open-letter dept.
DigDuality writes "A new campaign, Showusthecode.com, requests every leader in the Linux world, and companies invested in Linux, to stand up and demand that Steve Ballmer show the world where Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property. He has been making these claims since the Novell-Microsoft deal. If Microsoft answers this challenge — by May 1st — then Linux developers will be able to modify the code so that it remains 'free' software. If such infringing code doesn't exist, we will have called Microsoft's bluff. And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for the admission that it is."
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Mr. Ballmer, Show Us the Code

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  • by LibertineR (591918) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:00PM (#18138338)
    Billions and billions of dollars and an army of lawyers in one corner:

    A group with an idea and a web site in the other:

    I like their spirit, but my best advice would be......RUN Bitches!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just goes to show that the legal system in the United States at least is based on money. Pure and simple. If you can afford the lawyers, you can win the battle reguardless of whether your right or wrong. I think the legal system needs an ovehaul.
    • Good Odds. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:49PM (#18138716) Homepage Journal

      my best advice would be......RUN Bitches!

      It's nice to know what corner you are in but your reasons for being there are flawed, as is your entire analogy. You can't expect to be protected by a bully, no matter how strong they might appear. Sooner or later, they will make you pay for your mistaken and mean spirited loyalty.

      The problem with all of the FUD is that it's becoming increasingly evident that M$ is threatening everyone. A business that threatens it's customers is generally on the way out.

      The great irony in all of this is that M$ themselves has little respect for the IP of others and regularly violates patents, trademarks and copyrights, while simultaneously calling for fanatical protection and enforcement. Their recent loss to Actel/Lucent, and the $1,500,000,000.00 judgment highlights this. M$ themselves are more venerable to the litigation monster they helped create than free software makers who are much more careful. Ballmer has no more to offer than SCO did and I mean that in every way.

      Excuse me, while I go listen to some nice oggfiles I downloaded from archive.org. I'll keep right on partying while M$ flunks the bluff, and keeps getting dumped by customers [slashdot.org], partners [slashdot.org] and investors [google.com] alike. It's about time.

  • by iPaul (559200) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:00PM (#18138340) Homepage
    He's going to make unsubstantiated allegations, veiled threats of law-suits, and all sorts of FUD. For the business user (and that's where you're going to see Linux go from 2% to 10% of the desktop market), even the slim chance of getting sued is taken very seriously. I won't eat my hat, but I would be very surprised if Microsoft ever files 1 scrap of paper in court, suing a linux distributor for patent violations, or an end user for some kind of piracy(?) charge.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oztiks (921504)
      I think you cant simply threaten and threaten until you go blue in the face. I think its misuse of the law and eventually they will have to lay down their cards.

      This website can stand for a means to do this. But lets take a look at this issue more specifically, there can not be a single line of Linux code stolen from Microsoft, a) MS is closed source b) Linux has its own development methods and processes applied, so all sudden the most smartest bunch of hackers in world scheme is magical assault to circumve
    • by kaiwai (765866)
      When he refers to Linux, he is referring to the whole distribution - he isn't going after Fedora, Ubuntu community or 'free' distributions but after the Novells and Red Hats who are reselling the software which contains patented algorithms.

      I wouldn't be surprised that Samba includes panteted algorithm to provide compatibility with Microsofts own SMB implementation - not a malicious programme, but a reality that maybe the better thing would be to rather than attack Microsoft, to attack the idea of software p
      • by iPaul (559200)

        What keeps companies from Eolas out of suing Linux vendors is there's no money. Microsoft's goal is to keep people from using Linux. They don't care about the laptop I'm using right now, but about Ford or the US Navy deciding that Linux would be better than Windows for their desktop needs. If they were to actually sue someone, it would be a distro. Since their primary concern isn't money, Ubuntu would be a fine target, although RedHat would be a better target. They have plenty of patents to choose from

  • SCO all over again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:01PM (#18138346) Journal
    However, the interesting part about SCO is how they try to play "methods and concepts" without actually having any patents in the case. For that matter, if it isn't in the code then it just doesn't exist, regardless of the actual ownership (IANAL).
    • by abes (82351)
      I think this might be different from SCO in that it's talking about patent infringements versus ownership of code. While the idea behind showusthecode seems like a good idea, it also seems to me likely that linux does infringe on other patents. However, only because software patent law allows anyone to patent anything. If M$ patented the for-loop, and the case came in front of a technophobe of a judge, perhaps they could be found guilty. M$, has many many patents, like most other big companies.

      Of course, co
  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:01PM (#18138348) Journal
    Open source Windows! Open source Windows!

    (okay, probably not the first ...)
  • by sup2100 (996095) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:02PM (#18138356)
    As long as the truth is not known, microsoft can keep on threatening. If microsoft does prove some sort of infingement then they have to sue or else they will loose their threat as linux is changed. As such microsoft would never reply to it.
  • by BlueCollarCamel (884092) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:04PM (#18138370) Homepage

    And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.
    And the general public still won't give a damn.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArcherB (796902) *
      And the general public still won't give a damn.

      No, but if enough companies sue M$ and Ballmer personally, it will make headlines. Enough of the bullshit and blackmail. Put up or sit down.

      (obviously NAL)

  • Sorry guys... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saedrael (880381) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:04PM (#18138372)
    But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter to Ballmer. Grammatical mistakes abound, as does use of slang. I'm all for the idea, but it has to be pursued in a manner such that there is some chance of Microsoft responding.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I second. Good idea, bad implementation.
    • by value_added (719364) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:18PM (#18138482)
      But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter ...

      I stopped at the

      It's come to many in the Linux community's attention ...


      which, unfortunately, was the very first sentence.

      If I was Balmer, I'd be thinking, "WTF? I run a billion dollar corporation and I'm supposed to read and respond to this? This is even worth picking up a small stool."
      • by Damek (515688)

        If I was Balmer, I'd be thinking, "WTF? I run a billion dollar corporation and I'm supposed to read and respond to this? This is even worth picking up a small stool."


        I think you meant "This isn't even worth picking up a small stool."

        Pot? Kettle. But then you aren't trying to take on Microsoft with your comment, so it doesn't much matter :)
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:19PM (#18138488) Homepage
      And that is worse than a pit stained fat guy dancing all over a stage screaming "Give it up for me!" like a doped up schoolgirl?

      Yeah, Microsoft's CEO looks real Professional.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Agreed. Was this written by a 13-year old?

      The pointless linking to the YouTube videos don't really help the cause either.
    • My thoughts exactly. The "Fun With Ballmer" section and Ballmer quotes also help to disqualify the campaign. Open letters are one thing, but this is ... lamebait ;)
    • Not to mention that the side-bar is full of links to negative press about Vista or Microsoft in general. I doubt Microsoft will respond to a site that is obviously a lot of flame-bait towards MS.
    • You read the text? I ran away screaming at the horrible compression fragments on the JPEGed logo. Do we still hate GIFs that much? What did PNG do to hurt you?
    • Re:Sorry guys... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jlarocco (851450) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @10:45PM (#18139076) Homepage

      But the text on that website is extremely unprofessional; it reads more like a rant than an open letter to Ballmer. Grammatical mistakes abound, as does use of slang. I'm all for the idea, but it has to be pursued in a manner such that there is some chance of Microsoft responding.

      No kidding. The writing is so bad it actually hurts to read it. The grammar is horrible, it's filled with sentence fragments, it's poorly worded, it's hard to understand, and it's filled with flamebait. Does this guy really expect people to take him seriously?

      Microsoft is full of shit about their IP being in Linux, but poorly written flamebait isn't the best way to call their bluff.

  • Brave! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mistersooreams (811324) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:06PM (#18138390) Homepage
    Well, this is a brave move and, if any of the people namedropped on the site (Torvalds, RMS et al) get behind it then it becomes even braver. Of course Microsoft are unlikely to raise to the bait - they are (or consider themselves to be) far too powerful for that. That said, just imagine they did actually identify particular patents that Linux infringes - and let's be honest, with the current state of the patent system, is that so unlikely? I don't imagine for a moment that any infringement is deliberate, or even known about now, but I'd say there's a non-trivial chance that it could happen. So, what then?

    "Rewriting the code" is nowhere near so easy as the site makes it sound. Software patents are often granted for particular concepts - not just ways of doing them. What if some core kernel routine were found to be infringing? That can't just be ripped out and replaced, many years of development and testing have gone into it!

    So, seriously, this is a brave move, and I'm pleased to see it. We should totally get behind it. But calling the bluff is a dangerous move if it turns out Microsoft really is holding the cards.
    • by iPaul (559200)
      Have they decided not to charge for FAT? Could they raise that old chestnut?
    • Re:Brave! (Score:5, Informative)

      by mgiuca (1040724) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:31PM (#18139476)
      I think the point is that is MS actually does sue Linux users, there will be a huge retaliation. (And there always has been this threat). So they won't.

      Before you say "won't that nullify the point of this site, since it won't prove anything about whether MS has patents or not", I'll point out that if "we can't sue or you'll retaliate by suing us" is MS's response (or excuse for not doing anything at all), then it proves that they can't do anything about it and we can get on without all this FUD.

      It would also serve to show that they are equally, if not more, in violation of the open source community's patents than we are of them.

      I was also interested to read [eweek.com] that the original study [eweek.com] (the "283 patents" which Ballmer refers to) was actually a finding that Linux contained 283 potential patents in total. It estimated that 1/3 of the patents were owned by the OS community companies themselves (eg. IBM). And Microsoft owned just 10% of them - which if my calculations are correct is just over 28 patents, not over 200 as Ballmer claims.
  • Cease And Desist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dduardo (592868) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:06PM (#18138392)
    Does showusthecode.com have permission to use Microsoft's wallpaper on their site?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:08PM (#18138406)

    Patent #5845280 [uspto.gov], "Method and apparatus for transmitting a file in a network using a single transmit request from a user-mode process to a kernel-mode process". Compare this with the Linux (and BSD) SendFile() [die.net] API.

    Yep, that's a patent violation.

    • by adrianmonk (890071) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:44PM (#18139562)

      Patent #5845280, "Method and apparatus for transmitting a file in a network using a single transmit request from a user-mode process to a kernel-mode process". Compare this with the Linux (and BSD) SendFile() API.

      I'm not sure I buy that sendfile() (not SendFile(), by the way) is really a violation of that patent. In particular, the patent abstract says this:

      the requested file is retrieved from the secondary data storage device and placed in kernel-mode accessed memory (e.g., cache memory). After the requested file information is stored in the kernel-mode accessed memory, a kernel-mode data transmission procedure transmits the requested file information directly

      The way I read that, this patented mechanism always loads the entire file into RAM before starting the transmission. Does sendfile() really operate in this manner? The way I understand it, in effect it just pushes the read()/write() loop into the kernel. But the virtual memory subsystem will typically fault in data from the filesystem (secondary storage) in a lazy manner. There may be some read-ahead caused by the disk driver or the filesystem, but if you open() a 500 MB file and then call sendfile() on it, the kernel is not going to read the entire 500 MB of data into RAM first.

      I realize that's picky, but I'm assuming patent interpretation is inherently picky. Also, another technical point: sendfile() doesn't necessarily read from disk and write to the network. It just takes two file descriptors, so I don't see any reason why it couldn't be used to copy from one network connection to another (e.g. for a proxy server), or from disk to disk, or from /proc to /dev/tty, for all I care. Therefore, it seems to me that sendfile() by itself cannot be an infringement. You would have to write code that opens a disk file and a network connection and then calls sendfile() on the two in order to have infringement. (Not that there isn't code out there that does this; I think that's why sendfile() exists in the first place, after all...)

  • Hmmmm, I like the idea behind the site, but I'm not sure about the site itself. I mean, I had a look at it and I just got the impression that it was trying too hard to be anti-Microsoft. The "Get the facts" thing just links to a bunch of articles criticising Microsoft and/or Microsoft products. Now, I'm sure these criticisms are perfectly valid, but I think if this site wants Microsoft's co-operation, then putting a list of links criticising their products on the main page, and calling it "Get the facts" i
  • Even if (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:09PM (#18138414) Journal
    What is this going to accomplish? Even if they do have patents against Linux, then they aren't going to reveal them until it is most advantageous. This is like playing poker and saying to your opponent, "I dare you to show me your cards. If they are so good, then what are you afraid of?"

    Of course, that's assuming Linux DOES violate Microsoft patents, and there is reason to believe that it does. [slashdot.org] Microsoft is planning a slow roast; the longer they can draw out the FUD the better, for them.
    • by strider44 (650833)
      I always dismiss research and statistics that come from people who have a direct stake in the outcome being a certain way. Your link there is about as reliable as Microsoft's "Get The Facts" web page.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aim Here (765712)
      "What is this going to accomplish? Even if they do have patents against Linux, then they aren't going to reveal them until it is most advantageous."

      And sitting on a known case of infringement until such time as it's more profitable or tactically advantageous to sue is covered by the laches doctrine; if Microsoft tries that, and it can be shown in court that they tried it, then they'll lose the case.
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:09PM (#18138416)
    A cross comparison of the MS' patents (which are in the public record) with Linux code should be sufficient to find potential infringements. One of the advantages of the current patent system is that it forces the patent holder to publicly disclose the invention with sufficient detail so that a person versed in the art can copy the invention. That disclosure also lets anyone innovate around the patent if they want. If the Linux community is worried, then they can proactively start changing Linux to avoid MS IP. Why not use the open source ethos of freedon-to-modify to create a Linux that goes beyond anything MS can dream up as defined by those public documents.
    • by iPaul (559200) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:26PM (#18138536) Homepage
      I would be stunned if Linux doesn't "infringe" on some patent that Microsoft holds. There have been so many patents issued for so many crap ideas that it may be impossible to build anything without infringing on someone's patent. (And in some cases two people hold different patents covering the same thing). The patent in question could be as *stupid* and possibly *indefensible* as "method of communicating with a computer using a keyboard." But they won't fire a shot. Get used to phrases such as "Our attourneys are examining the matter and we don't want to comment on possible litigation." Also get used to Microsoft trying to decide how to pursue the matter, and there are so many ways. It will scare off business users, who might be considering 10,000 desktop roll-outs, to pass on Linux to avoid lawsuits. If they actually go to court they could loose (and it would cost s lot of money). IANAL, but I would imagine they would start building a case by threatening vendors into a Novel style deal, if they actually do anything at all.
  • Very professional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:09PM (#18138418) Homepage
    Complete with the links to the "developers" video and the Slashdot-type FUD ("VISTA UAC HAS HOLES OMFG!!!") articles. Just like that "BadVista" thing from the FSF, any person who is responsible for IT/Software strategy at a company would dismiss this as another wack job from the people who call Microsoft "M$" and like to claim that XP crashes every 10 minutes.

    I assume that these "campaigns" are targeted at people who might be exposed to Ballmer's FUD. Otherwise what's the point?

    Fighting FUD with more FUD really does not work. Like a bar brawl where the winner is usually the first person who lands a punch, FUD only works when you use it preemptively. The "let me tell you all this made up bullshit about Microsoft, and here's a video all my friends think is funnay!" is invariable useless. People like Ballmer understand this.

    Show people the facts and they'll react. Resort to character assasination and lame humour and they'll conclude you are a desperate wanker with an agenda.

  • Give us all a break (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3seas (184403) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:12PM (#18138430) Journal
    As a consumer, a computer user, I don't think a lack of an answer is an answer, but a continuation of a mystery.

    As a consumer I want the honest truth and I think it is wrong that any company is allowed to pursue the use of consumer deception.

    Any such company using consumer deception should be exposed and punished.

    Microsoft has been busted enough with antitrust that it should be required to show such evidence it claims, or fined to the benefit of the consumers and the developers it's claim is against.

    Dishonesty should cost the party commiting it, not benefit them.

  • Ummm, yeah. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by debest (471937) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:13PM (#18138436)

    if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.

    There's your problem right there: it won't garner nearly enough attention.

    MS knows that playing the patent-lawsuit game for real is long, expensive, and pretty darn risky. On the other hand, Ballmer can just fling FUD all over the place. The only "repercussion" MS faces is the shouts of protest from a community that is already regarded as a lunatic fringe by the majority of the people that MS wants to influence.

    If you were Microsoft, which tactic would you choose?
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:15PM (#18138456)
    ... they'll reveal one patent violation (assuming there is at least 1) and then say "there's plenty more where that came from". That would validate their claims *and* allow them to continue the FUD compaign, perhaps with even more credibility. That outcome would clearly constitute a tactical error on the part of the Linux crowd. Of course if MS remains mum this could be considered a master stroke. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.
  • Not only is it SOP for their FUD modus-operandi, but in this case they have to distance themselves (MSFT) from themselves (Novell). Their new acquisition distributes Linux, and they might face "equitable estoppel" on patent claims. To most safely preserve any patent claims, they really should stop Novell from distributing Linux. Yet this might bring them afoul of anti-trust laws.

  • They will neither (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:26PM (#18138530)
    show the code, nor be silent.

    They will respond, saying that to reveal the precise code they are talking about would jeopardize their legal strategy. Of course, that makes them sound even more serious about their claims.

    Why should they provide free legal advice to the Linux community, when they they are free to continue their campaign of FUD?
    • And despite judgement after judgement where MS get taken to the cleaners over patents without actually suing anyone (OSS) over patents Slashdot will continue to insist this is MS strategy. This is IBM mana.
    • by Svartalf (2997)
      They have to reveal WHAT is infringed upon in order to file suit. Making public proclaimations
      about infringement without proof is a Lanham Act violation, as SCOX is about to find out.
  • by Joebert (946227) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:26PM (#18138542) Homepage
    Oh yeah, someone's deffinately getting beaten to death with a table leg over this one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Joebert (946227)
      Redundant ?!

      Ok, remember the knock knock bannana orange joke ?

      Knock knock !
      Who's there ?
      Bannana.
      Bannana Who ?
      Knock knock !
      Who's there ?
      Bannana.
      Bannana Who ?
      Knock knock !
      Who's there ?
      Bannana.
      Bannana Who ?
      Knock knock !
      Who's there ?
      Orange.
      Orange Who ?
      Orange you glad I didn't say Bannana ?

      This joke works on the same idea.
      Had I joked about a chair, it would've been redundant.
      However, I only refered to the chair as a premise in the title.
      The meat & potatoes which is the actual comm

  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:32PM (#18138578)
    But that's what Open Source is about. Taking a good idea and improving the implementation! Rather than bitch about how unprofessional the website is lets take the idea and polish the implementation.

    Ideas people?
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:35PM (#18138608) Homepage

    And if the campaign garners enough attention and if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is.

    Um... except that the law doesn't work that way. Silence != admission of anything. Good luck in court, fellas.

    • Um, yes, if you don't protect your rights, and have become injured, and you know you're injured, then several theories of law say you're tacitly approving of the injury, and your losses become assuaged by this approval. Your knowledge of tort law needs some brushing up. The law actually does work that way.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:40PM (#18138650) Homepage

    "Show us the code" is the wrong question here. "Show us the patent numbers" is the right question. The guy behind this has no clue.

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:44PM (#18138670)
    From what I understand, it's not a threat of Linux stealing code from Microsoft OSs. It's Linux using ideas that are directly patented by Microsoft. Even if it's a cleanroom implementation, it can still violate patent law.

    The problem is U.S. patent law and the fact that sometimes there really is only one way to design a solution, and the one to patent the design (not implementation details) wins.
  • by macemoneta (154740) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:49PM (#18138712) Homepage
    As a convicted monopoly, Microsoft's unsubstantiated claims intended to hinder the adoption of a competitor's product should be grounds for dragging Ballmer away in handcuffs. While nothing will be done in the U.S., other countries are free to deal with Microsoft. I'm curious to see what if anything results from this legally. A $1.5B fine here, a $1.5B fine there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)
      As I've said around here going on 7 times in the last few years, the antitrust case was a civil one, MS hasn't been convicted of anything and the case was light-years away from anybody going to jail.
  • .. but I haven't been following the entire ordeal.

    What are the patents that Microsoft are claiming to be infringed by Linux (I think this is different than "Show us the code")?
  • Naive (Score:3, Informative)

    by Quarters (18322) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:59PM (#18138782)
    "if Steve Ballmer maintains silence, then the community and companies behind Linux can take the silence for for the admission that it is."

    No, they can't. Silence does not equal tacit admission or approval. The patent holder can keep their mouth shut about everything until the patent has all but expired and then go crazy sue-happy to their heart's content. Unlike trademarks patents don't have to be defended to remain valid.

    Instead of a stupid mainfesto-rant web page the "community" (and boy do I hate that term being used in place of "users" or "developers" all to often) should instead be reading through Microsoft's patent portfolio and using that to determine if Linux is infringing. That's the point of patents....the patent holder is given an exclusive lock on the technology, but only if they share their idea with the world.

  • by dont_run (1050730) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:16PM (#18139340)
    If you assume that Steve Ballmer is decent, then he would blush and indeed thrive to have the truth be known and Linux fixed of any violation. That is, if there is any infringement at all. I'm also of the opinion that there isn't, unless he's talking about FAT. And why in the world are people still using that crap anyway? We should be campaigning for the digital devices industry (digital camera and MP3 players for the most part) to support some other file system for their memory modules.

    But here's the deal: this is not about truth or logic. It's about uncertainty. As long as Microsoft says nothing, people will be uncertain whether he's bluffing. And as long as people are uncertain, they will behave like roaches and run towards any furniture that might offer some protection.

    That's all he has to do. Be quiet. And he wins as long as he stays quiet. Nothing will happen in May, no matter how much you wish for it or how many companies and people come forward to ask the question. By the way, I think the only hope is for someone in the mainstream media to catch Steve Ballmer stuttering when asked to disclose the patents in national television channel. And we know how likely that is!

    Of course this will eventually desensitize the victims, unless Microsoft actually sues somebody. But Steve and his gang know that they just need to slow down the loss of customers to Linux for a while longer, while Microsoft entrenches itself more and more. Just a while longer...

    Sorry for sounding so negative about this initiative. It's DOA. Nothing short of a lawsuit will bring this matter to light. If Microsoft does the stupid thing of actually threatening someone or some company (not the unspecified, general threats so far), that victim can preemptively sue to force their hand. It will provide some entertainment after SCO vs IBM is closed.
  • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @11:41PM (#18139544) Journal
    Ballmer is carrying on about "Intellectual Property" (ie patents), not copyright infringments.

    In patent cases there is no "code" to be shown because theer is no allegation that any code was in fact stolen.

    MS and their lawyers will be laughing themselves silly over the amateur hour antics of these dingbats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lxt518052 (720422)
      In that case, shouldn't he point out which Linux code infringed MS patents?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by suckmysav (763172)
        "In that case, shouldn't he point out which Linux code infringed MS patents?"

        Ummm.

        No.

        All they have to say is "Linux performs task X and task X is covered by our patents P1, P2 and P3.

        No code needs to be provided to make such a claim, this is the difference between a so-called patent and a copyright violation.
    • and explicitly stated that they want Ballmer to show us the code within Linux that violates their intellectual property.

      BTW, I find it indeed ironical that they did ask Ballmer, who had admitted banning his kids from using Google, to do a patent search on Google.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by suckmysav (763172)
        "and explicitly stated that they want Ballmer to show us the code within Linux that violates their intellectual property."

        No, this is wrong.

        If this were true, then it would be impossible to accuse a closed source company of a patent violation because you can't have access to their source code.

        The fact is you don't need to "show code" to make a patent violation claim.

        What they should be asking is "Ballmer, you cock smoking scumbag, tell us which Linux features infringe on which of your patents or shut the he
  • IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viceroy Potatohead (954845) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @12:35AM (#18139954) Homepage
    This is a joke, and will likely have the opposite effect. As others have said, if Ballmer says nothing in response, this reaction looks childish and entirely NOT reassuring. Or Ballmer could continue spreading FUD, business as usual, and ignore it -- same result. What it really needs is IBM, (not Redhat, the FSF, or Canonical), a company respected as much as MS by the top-end corporate powers-that-be, saying: "WE are not concerned with Ballmer's statements. We are entirely confident that they are baseless."

  • by jopet (538074) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @09:33AM (#18142578) Journal
    where MS secretly has violated opensource licenses by taking open source code and including it in their closed source code. How is the opensource community to check this? How could one ever find out with closed source software?
  • Slander of Title? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @11:21AM (#18143072)
    Can't any OSS vendor sue Microsoft for Slander of Title [wikipedia.org] to force Balmer to "show us the code"?
  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @02:37PM (#18144500) Journal
    If they don't say anything then everyone will know that what they're saying is total BS. And any money that they've made from these so called "Linux patents" could be considered fraud. Ooo, that'll go over well.

    If they do reply and they're caught trying to put one over on the community (either by prior art i.e. CVS commits have dates on them :) or something else) then they are just as screwed.

    But, if they answer with valid claims, then the community has some answering to do.

    Not that I think that they'll be able to do it. M$ is a very large and slow moving beast that I don't really think is capable of meeting the given deadline. I personally think that they'll just continue to make these claims attempting to scare companies to buy this "Linux patent" to add another revenue stream ignoring all logic.
  • by SQLz (564901) on Sunday February 25, 2007 @04:46PM (#18145588) Homepage Journal
    Ballmer had millions of lines of infringing code in a briefcase, Darl McBride stole it, then lost it, and nobody really knows where it is now.

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