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Microsoft Patents Software Linux

Microsoft, Sue Me First 349

Posted by kdawson
from the no-meee dept.
corigo writes "Supporters of free and open source solutions have thrown down the gauntlet at Microsoft's feet. Christian Einfeldt of Digital Tipping Point says 'Sue Me First,' and he's not alone. More and more people are signing up and challenging Microsoft to put their lawyers where their mouth is. The open source community is far from running scared. Will Microsoft step up to the plate, or are they just continuing a scare campaign with no real ability to leverage the patents they claim open source is infringing?"
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Microsoft, Sue Me First

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  • by Palmyst (1065142) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:39PM (#19215091)
    I remember stories about McDonalds and Disney taking aggressive action to defend their exclusive rights even against small-time infringers with the justification that refraining to sue could have been construed as abandoning their trademark. So, if microsoft does not sue these people, would it be tantamount to abandoning their right to sue later, or is it all just a bunch of meaningless hot air?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:44PM (#19215123)
    Is there actually a legal way to tell them to "put up or shut up"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:48PM (#19215157)
    Wouldn't it have been pointed out in the Lindows case? I mean if Lindows is stealing patents AND your trademark, wouldn't it be an open and shut case?
  • by Timoteo47 (1080787) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:54PM (#19215235)
    The open source community should call Microsoft's bluff and file a pre-emptive class action lawsuit. The lawsuit would basically challenge the court to decide whether or not Linux and other open source projects violate Microsoft's patents. This has been done before when a company is under threat of lawsuit, they preemptively ask the court to decide if what they are doing is legal. This removes the cloud of a potential lawsuit so that the threatened company can conduct business. Of course you would want to file the lawsuit in Federal court in San Francisco.
  • by f0dder (570496) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:02PM (#19215325)
    from digg.. Much has been written about Microsoft's allegation of patent infringements in Linux (by which I'm sure they mean GNU/Linux ;-) ). I don't think Microsoft is the real threat, and in fact, I think Microsoft and the Linux community will actually end up fighting on the same side of this issue. .... And I'm pretty certain that, within a few years, Microsoft themselves will be strong advocates against software patents. Why? Because Microsoft is irrevocably committed to shipping new software every year, and software patents represent landmines in their roadmap which they are going to step on, like it or not, with increasing regularity. They can't sit on the sidelines of the software game - they actually have to ship new products. And every time they do that, they risk stepping on a patent landmine. They are a perfect target - they have deep pockets, and they have no option but to negotiate a settlement, or go to court, when confronted with a patent suit... Read the rest here. http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/118 [markshuttleworth.com]
  • Re:Not really. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by killjoe (766577) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:02PM (#19215333)
    "Whether or not they would be upheld in court is a different matter, but it would be enough to prevent a small group of programmers from threatening their cash flow."

    Apparently not because the small developers are daring MS to sue them.

    I see this going the way of lindows. Ms sues Lindows. Lindows challenges Ms trademark. Ms knows they are going to lose. Ms pays lindows a bunch of money to withdraw their suit.

    The way I see it Ms will sue and then pay the people they are suing in exchange for dropping their challenge to Ms patents.

    This could be a good money making scheme and I think Ms is stupid enough to actually take these people up on their dare.
  • RE: jakshamesh! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LaurieDash (983898) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:14PM (#19215461) Homepage
    Microsoft may well step up but that does not mean they want to. I believe they are intending to scare the open source community, which will in turn (however subconsciously) affect the future open source development. Not insulting the open source community's intelligence in any way, i'm just saying when a developer is working on a new feature they're gonna have this threat in the back of their mind and may choose to make less inovative choices due to this threat, no matter how "fuck you" they think they are. I find this all the more interesting after the article about who really owns linuz trademarks [slashdot.org] and mozilla's financial success [slashdot.org]. I mean who really gets sued?
  • by DukeLinux (644551) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:16PM (#19215481)
    Remember, that in America at least, court cases are generally won by money not truth. On television, people win court cases on merit. Frankly, Micro$oft can throw in a few attorney's to fud things up and confuse the judge, then throw in a bribe or two to close the deal. It really is not relevant if M$ has any patents or not. They have money...like O.J. did.
  • would you want to sue an organisation that routinely blows people up?

    i'd think its a bloody smart idea to leave dealing with those guys to those with the protection of governement (cops, armed forces etc) if you value your life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:34PM (#19215641)
    The doctrine of laches says you lose the right to sue if you don't do so promptly. In terms of patents, you can't delay suing just to wait until you can extract maximum damages. You will probably be left with nothing.

    "Laches is an equitable defense, or doctrine, in an action at law. The person invoking laches is asserting that an opposing party has "slept on its rights", and that, as a result of this delay, that other party is no longer entitled to its original claim. Put another way, failure to assert one's rights in a timely manner can result in claims being barred by laches. Laches is a form of estoppel for delay. In Latin,

            Vigilantibus non dormientibus æquitas subvenit.
            Equity aids the vigilant, not the negligent (that is, those who sleep on their rights). "
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laches_(equity) [wikipedia.org]

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:45PM (#19215695) Homepage Journal
    1 - no im not
    2 - regardless of who wins, the stakes ARE high. We are talking about basic freedoms here. Not just some IP thing. Think outside the box here.
    3 - time will tell who wins i dont think its going to blow over this time. Microsoft on one side trying to screw us, RIAA on the other. Its going to get ugly before it gets better.
  • Polar Opposites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bitspotter (455598) on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:34PM (#19216027) Journal
    In legal matters, The Free Software Foundation [[http://www.techliberation.com/archives/041419.ph p doesn't want money; they want compliance]]. Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't want compliance; they want money. It should be no surprise, then that they are not interested in helping the FOSS community to come back into compliance with their patents; any violation could mean revenue.

    Of course, "could" is just a possibility. If they actually ever went to court, software patents might be overturned in general, particular patents could be invalidated specifically, claims made with valid patents could be found non-infringing, the community would likely recode the claims found infringing to steer clear of the patent, AND Microsoft would still have to deal patent infringement countersuits launched in retaliation.

    It is far better for them attempt to profit from vague fear than vague fact.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @08:40PM (#19216083)

    creates in the mind of traditional business people the idea that such enthusiasts are risk-seeking.


    Yes. Enthusiasts are risk-seeking.

    Airplane enthusiasts are risk-seeking. Baseball card enthusiasts are risk-seeking. Stock market enthusiasts are risk-seeking. Insurance enthusiasts.

    Enthusiasts, by nature, like to push the envelope. They try to see how far, or in which interesting new directions, they can take their pet.

    But that doesn't stop traditional business people from using airplanes or insurance. Traditional business people understand that enthusiasts are enthusiasts. Many business people realize that when enthusiasts for some unheard of something-or-other start showing up in the news a lot, there is likely some new business opportunity opening up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:00PM (#19216201)

    So, if microsoft does not sue these people, would it be tantamount to abandoning their right to sue later, or is it all just a bunch of meaningless hot air?
    Mod up, please. This is a critical juncture in Microsoft's legal strategy. MS seems to have foolishly but effectively locked themselves in to litigation if they wish to protect those particular patents. If they don't follow through with their threat now, they will set a precedent that will haunt them in future pursuits of patent issues.

    God help us all if a lawyer ever learns how to code...

  • by 4e617474 (945414) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:19PM (#19216349)

    They can't sit on the sidelines of the software game - they actually have to ship new products. And every time they do that, they risk stepping on a patent landmine.

    That's not that big a risk. License a patent, pay some damages, buy the competition. They don't really hurt that badly in any of those scenarios. It's when some high-rolling PHB says "What do you have that can do the job of this other software that I heard about?" and they have to say "Nothing." that they really hurt. What keeps them filling their swimming pools with a fresh batch of c-notes every week is that the sheep don't have to know the name of more than one software company.

  • Re:Not really. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:20PM (#19216355)
    If these people actually send letters to MS asking for a lawsuit or precise disclosure of the infringements, then MS has three choices:
    1) actually must sue them
    2) disclose what specific code infringes
    3) lose the ability to enforce their patent rights against people who requested one of 1 or 2.
    4) Profit!

    Now, I know that patents normally don't act this way, but in this case they do. MS has been publicly stating that the software infringes. If somebody asks MS directly what specific code is infringing, and MS is not forthcoming, that will prevent them from winning a later suit against that person. Microsoft must make an effort to resolve the situation, or their later suits will be dismissed according to the doctrine of laches.

    So if you are confident that your software doesn't infringe on any valid patents, go ahead and send MS a registered letter asking for the details of the infringement.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:28PM (#19216425) Journal
    Mickey Mouse as a trademark has expired. He's now in the public domain.

    No wait... Disney called in a favor from their brown-paper-bag-shills at Congress, who promptly introduced this legislation which kept Mickey from entering the public domain. AFAIAC Disney used Congress to steal it. No wonder Disney grew old and stale: They have no incentive to come up with anything new. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono_Copyright_ Term_Extension_Act [wikipedia.org] The "Copyright Extension Act" is unofficially known as the "Mickey Mouse Act". How is that for 'corporate sponsorship' gone mad?

    Who were the Congressional Shills? Despite the name it wasn't Congressman Sonny Bono, but I can't tell you who did it. This is what sucks about Congress. We get nasty bills passed that take away our rights, but Congressmen are shy to stick their name on it. So while grumbling about this, the DMCA, the Parrot Act, you could be voting for a shill who sponsored it.

    How about someone do a web site showing who is a shill and who isn't. Wikipedia doesn't carry this sort of info.
  • Re:Bingo! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:01AM (#19217423)
    Right, MS is going after a bunch of individual users.

    Get real people, MS is only going after fortune 1000's.

    This stupid lawyer is going to be taken seriously because he is tough enough too stand up to a company that has no interest at all in suing him?

    Look at this quote:

    "First, Microsoft has succeeded as a company because they have mostly refined the innovations that other companies pioneered. So Microsoft has some major problems with "prior art" and "obviousness" defenses to its patent claims."

    A lawyer made that statement?

    Generally speaking , Judge, MS is not much of an innovator so rule all claims of all 200 or 100 or 50 or even 20 patents (whatever) for that matter invalid. Here is my one paragraph motion for summary judgment. Done.

    What friggin law school did this poser slide out of?

    GET REAL REAL folks this is all hot air BS to fight FUD.

    If you believe the end justifies the means then you are no better than the other side.

    If you want to believe this crap then you like being lied to.

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