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Microsoft Patents The Almighty Buck Linux

Microsoft Charging Royalties For Linux 286

Posted by samzenpus
from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept.
andydread writes "It seems Microsoft's campaign to scare manufacturers away from open source and Linux in particular is proceeding at full force. The latest news is from Digitimes out of Taiwan. Apparently Microsoft is threatening Acer and Asustek with having to pay Microsoft a license fee for the privilege of deploying Linux on their devices. This time, it's in the form of Android and Chorme OS. So basically, this campaign is spreading to PC vendors now. What are the implications of this? Does this mean that if I build PCs with Linux (Ubuntu/ChromeOS/Fedora) and sell them I am at risk of getting sued by Microsoft? "
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Microsoft Charging Royalties For Linux

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  • by weachiod (1928554) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:08PM (#34045992)
    How wonderfully twisted summary. Even the article doesn't say Microsoft is demanding license for installing linux. It says Acer and Asustek should patent license fees just like everyone else:

    As Android is an open platform, vendors of Android handsets have to pay royalty fees of at least US$10-15 per handset for licensed use of the patents concerned, the sources explained.

    There are only several Taiwan-based handset vendors and only HTC has signed for licensed use of Microsoft patents, leaving Acer and Asustek being the targets for the royalty charge, the sources indicated.

    What a surprise, HTC pays license fees so they aren't asked to do so!

    I don't like software patents either, but development does take its time and money and you currently still have to play by the rules like everyone else. Just because you're not selling as many devices as HTC doesn't mean you don't have to pay the same royalties. Even Google, like every other company, is asking for patent royalties, so why suddenly Microsoft shouldn't? Sure, hate the software patents, but twisting this as something like Microsoft demanding manufacturers to pay if they want to install Linux is just... wrong.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:11PM (#34046008)

      You and your damn facts. Can't we just get some nice Microsoft bashing going on?

    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:17PM (#34046032)

      In regards to *which* patents are being contested we can probably look at the Motorola Lawsuit to see just what Asus is being expected to pay for:

      Microsoft says Motorola is violating nine patents "that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."

      So they aren't being sued for "linux" they're being sued for the software prebundled along with the kernel and cell phone related patents.

      • by robbak (775424) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:42PM (#34046140) Homepage

        They are being sued for 'computer', in other words.

        To the original poster: You live on planet earth. You therefore are liable to being sued by Microsoft.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Venerence (1421867)

          To the original poster: You live on planet earth. You therefore are liable to being sued by Microsoft.

          I don't think you are considering it as a true Microsoft CEO. If we ever discover Martians, I'm sure Microsoft will find a way to sue them for their rich martian ambrosia.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by h4rm0ny (722443)
            If we ever discover martians, one of two things will happen. Either they will be more technologically advanced than us, in which case the US, Russian and Chinese governments will tell us all what wonderful friends of ours they are and offer us all as cheap, third-world labour to the martians. Or they'll be less technologically advanced than us in which case our governments will tell us what a terrible threat they are to us and invade them. Unless they're particularly fluffy and people protest, in which case
          • Which MS product was named Ambrosia(TM) exactly?

            • It's called a "metaphor".

            • Which MS product was named Ambrosia(TM) exactly?

              None. But that doesn't matter, since you can't infringe a product.

              In this scenario, Ambrosia is the hypothetical Martian product. Microsoft are simply patent holders, looking to find a patent broad enough to allow a claim of infringement against the Martians.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          yeah I was thinking if xerox alto infringes on that, if there were apis for getting count of dropped packets(to tell something about "signal strength") it might fit.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:11AM (#34047154)

        Microsoft says Motorola is violating nine patents "that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."

        What a sad, sad state of affairs. Any moron given enough time fiddling with several devices will come up with the idea that maybe it would be cool to sync email, calendars, and contacts. Maybe even schedule a meeting or two. Software patents are not necessarily bad, but I would call it near criminal to allow corporations to patent the obvious just because their legal departments are a step ahead of everyone else. A bad patent is a bad patent, and all the major companies agreeing to play along because it costs less to litigate than it does to pay (and protects them from needing to litigate occasionally) does not make it any worse than it is. I raise my glass to any company in any market with the guts to ignore those patents even if it is just to undercut the competition.

        And here's to the poster. Even though he's "overstating" the situation, the ensuing discussion brought the patent thing up. I had no idea it was that bad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Would be interesting to watch this one develop, I think. A lot of software patents under litigation now are unbelievably vague. And as always, there's something interesting on the subject over at Groklaw [groklaw.net].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099)

      That strongly depends on the validity of the patents in question. Since TFA doesn't say what the patents are, it's hard to determine how legitimate they might be, but statistically for software patents, they're probably bogus (however what a court would make of it is a crapshoot).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dahamma (304068)

        Hmm, I can't figure out to what in the parent post you are saying "it depends". He was saying the summary is twisted and wrong, which it is - this has nothing to do with Linux, and everything to do with using *any* OS that doesn't involve paying a royalty to MS.

        If they feel that their patents are valid, they have a right to demand license fees. And everyone has a right to ignore them and settle it in court. But "Microsoft Charging Royalties for Linux" is just a HORRIBLE title given the article referenced

        • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:47PM (#34046170) Homepage

          They are using Linux. MS is demanding royalties each time they use Linux. Thus they are charging for Linux.

          As far as we know, they're not demanding such fees for Symbian or MacOS.

          Of course, nobody ever knowingly demands royalties for invalid patents depending on the high cost of court and the near random nature of court decisions to make their victims pay up...

          • by Dahamma (304068) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:34AM (#34046584)

            Looking up the details, the patents are for "synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power". Last I checked, none of those are included in the Linux kernel - they are part of the Android middleware/OS, and/or apps the vendors added.

            In fact, a bit more research shows that yes, Symbian, Palm, Nokia, and some other Linux embedded vendors are in fact already licensing the patents (and have been for *years* - the first article I found was from 2005). And Apple has patent cross licensing agreements with Microsoft (and likely all of those other companies) as well. This is about Taiwanese companies trying to make cheap phones by avoiding the patent license fees everyone else has already agreed are valid. And those companies probably also violate Apple patents (in Apple's opinion, at least) - to that matter, Apple has already sued HTC (a Taiwanese company paying MS fees now as well) for this.

            • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @04:20AM (#34047188)

              [...]patent license fees everyone else has already agreed are valid.

              Europe, India, China. I think most inhabitants of our planet still live in jurisdictions that would not recognize such a patent.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by sjames (1099)

              FIDO was really good at synchronizing messages public and private. Calendars and contacts are simple to map logically to messages. (Either is just a message containing a contact or meeting details).

              There's absolutely nothing novel about notifying a program of anything at all. It's been done by signals or select (for examples) from the beginning of operating systems as a concept.

              MS has been invited on numerous occasions to articulate how they feel their patents are violated and has refused to do so. By that,

      • by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:43PM (#34046144)

        Sorry to pull you back to the real world... any patent that has been issued and has not expired or invalidated, is valid. It's a simple as that.

        Whether you think it's a legitimate patentable invention doesn't matter. As long as the patent office thinks it is, then the patent will be issued. If you think it's not valid for whatever reason, you will have to ask a judge to invalidate it. And until they agree with you and invalidate the patent, it is valid.

        • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:52PM (#34046202) Homepage

          The wheel was patented a few years ago. I think it's safe enough to say it would never survive even a cursory review of prior art.

          It would (unfortunately) still have to go to court eventually, but that doesn't make it valid, it just makes the legal system insane.

          Sorry to pull you back into sanity.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854)

          Sorry to pull you back to the real world... any patent that has been issued and has not expired or invalidated, is valid. It's a simple as that.

          If a patent is issued in error or in contravention of the law, it's not valid. It's as simple as that.

          If you think it's not valid for whatever reason, you will have to ask a judge to invalidate it. And until they agree with you and invalidate the patent, it is valid.

          No, upon the judge finding it invalid the government will start treating it as invalid. It was invali

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RobertM1968 (951074)

            Sorry to pull you back to the real world... any patent that has been issued and has not expired or invalidated, is valid. It's a simple as that.

            If a patent is issued in error or in contravention of the law, it's not valid. It's as simple as that.

            If you think it's not valid for whatever reason, you will have to ask a judge to invalidate it. And until they agree with you and invalidate the patent, it is valid.

            No, upon the judge finding it invalid the government will start treating it as invalid. It was invalid all along.

            It's like unconstitutional laws: segregation and the "separate but equal" doctrine didn't suddenly become unconstitutional when the courts woke up in the 1950s and 60s. They were unconstitutional since Amendment XIV was ratified. Court rulings don't change basic facts, they change what facts the government will admit to as being true.

            Very interesting (and misleading) post. While technically, it may be correct, it changes nothing. Invalid all along or not, in effect it was still very valid until that legal determination was made, including often, the damages that were done during the time frame when the (whatever) was considered valid or went unchallenged...

            ...Just like the poor example you gave. Do you think those who lived in the 40's and 50's and part of the 60's suddenly woke up when Amendment XIV was ratified thinking "wow, that's

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If you commit a crime and are never caught, you're still a criminal.

        • The patent was issued by a corrupt, overreaching, immoral, unethical, illegitimate government. If you think your rights and denial of rights, as a sovereign human being, stem from a corrupt, overreaching, immoral, unethical, and illegitimate government, then yes, you are free to subject yourself to the whims of the owner of this vile patent. Or if you are too weak minded or lacking the resources to fight it.

    • by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:43PM (#34046142) Journal

      I don't like software patents either, but development does take its time and money and you currently still have to play by the rules like everyone else. Just because you're not selling as many devices as HTC doesn't mean you don't have to pay the same royalties. Even Google, like every other company, is asking for patent royalties, so why suddenly Microsoft shouldn't? Sure, hate the software patents, but twisting this as something like Microsoft demanding manufacturers to pay if they want to install Linux is just... wrong.

      From HERE [reuters.com]:

      The patents in question relate to synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power, Microsoft said in a statement

      Really? synchronizing email, calendars and contacts? Doesn't the iphone do that? Why is MS not suing Apple? Wait, didn't my Palm Treo do that? Hell, my wife's old Palm Pilot did that. Before all that, Eudora did it. So, in other words, this is nothing new, as far as the software goes. The only difference is the hardware. So why is MS not suing Apple, Palm or any of the other software applications that do this stuff... you know, like any OS anywhere that runs on a battery powered device or does email? Oh, that's right, because the whole point is to scare Acer, Asus and other smaller manufacturers from supporting Android.

      This is not about development costs. How much software development cost went into patenting an idea that's been around since before Windows for Workgroups. This is legal blackmail, nothing more. HTC is paying MS off because it was probably cheaper than a lawsuit (and probably gets the money back in WinMo7 licensing deals). This is about companies installing software that isn't written by MS. This is about not paying licensing fees, BECAUSE OPEN SOURCE HAS NO LICENSING FEES!!!

      • by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:56PM (#34046222) Homepage
        It seems their strategy is to target Windows customers that are starting to make the switch to a Linux based OS. Probably in an attempt to scare them back onto the Windows path, but I hope suing their customers backfires on them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kenh (9056)

          No, they are going after manufacturers that infringe on their patents, they are not "suing their customers" as you put it.

          The vast majority of phone consumers don't think of the OS in the phone, they think of the functions, what their friends have, and what the subsidy from their carrier will be when picking a phone. It is a small, small, minority of smartphone buyers make OS selection their prime, over-riding criteria for picking a smart phone.

          As "proof," I submit the following YouTube "I Want an iPhone" v

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mysteray (713473)

            No, they are going after manufacturers that infringe on their patents, they are not "suing their customers" as you put it.

            In this usage "going after" means making a credible, even if implied, threat of filing a lawsuit. Seeing that Acer and Asustek both distribute Windows on some of their products, the statement that "Microsoft is suing their customers" seems pretty accurate to me.

      • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @02:19AM (#34046750)

        Really? synchronizing email, calendars and contacts? Doesn't the iphone do that? Why is MS not suing Apple?

        Because Apple has a cross licensing deal with MS and recognizes the patents.

        Also you can patent specific implementations and methodologies. It's entirely possible and likely that other email synchronization systems can be employed that don't run afoul of Microsoft's patents.

        As to Palm I'm sure they had their own treasure trove of patents which they both defended and cross licensed with Microsoft.

        Just because Open Source has no licensing fees doesn't mean it doesn't have to respect the law that closed source software abides by.

      • Apple and MS have a cross-licensing patenting agreement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corporation [wikipedia.org]

        It came with the $150M investment MS made in Apple about 15 years ago. There have been a couple other funny instances, like MS actually has the patent on the Jog Dial interface used by the iPods...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yet another "I'm right and you're wrong because these are the rules and rules shouldn't be broken because they're the rules" post. Circular reasoning sucks balls in any context.

    • Since we're quoting the article, don't forget this bit.

      But because Acer and Asustek are international vendors of netbook PCs, the actual motivation of Microsoft's royalty charge is to keep Acer and Asustek from using Google Android or Chrome OS instead of Windows Mobile for their netbook or tablet PCs, the sources pointed out

      This article could be complete BS, but regardless, what if they just want to sell to countries that don't recognize software patents? Must MS get paid for anything shipped that resembles a PC?

    • by russ1337 (938915)

      I have not RTFA however i can tell you that my organisation pays a 'per installation fee' to MS even if we install Linux.

      I recently proposed through our company 'innovation scheme' that we install Ubuntu or RedHat on some of our non-critical machines. THe idea being to 'free up licences' to use in another area in which we are purchasing new desktops.

      The answer from our IT people was 'it doesnt matter which OS we install, we pay MS $xxx.xx per installation anyway - its in the contract"

      I'm thinking of submitt

      • It sounds like you have a site license, which of course licenses the ... site. The amount of money the license costs is based on the total number of potential devices on the site at the start of the annual license term, as you are licensing them all.

        You can always just to go an Open or Select volume license and buy licensing for specific devices.

        I don't see MS being evil or anything in your case, you just have a specific license which does exactly what it is sold to do - license everything.
    • by AftanGustur (7715)

      I don't like software patents either, but development does take its time and money and you currently still have to play by the rules like everyone else. Just because you're not selling as many devices as HTC doesn't mean you don't have to pay the same royalties. Even Google, like every other company, is asking for patent royalties, so why suddenly Microsoft shouldn't? Sure, hate the software patents, but twisting this as something like Microsoft demanding manufacturers to pay if they want to install Linux is just... wrong.

      What a wonderfully twisted argument.. you completely miss the point.

      Acer ans Asustek have a tiny part of the market and their number of devices sold is almost without effect on the competition. Microsoft is not asking for this "license fees" for the money, their goal is to send a message and scare manufacturers away from the Android. That is the point here.

      Microsoft has never wanted to publicly list the patents they are claiming are in Android or Linux, they know very well that if there are any grou

    • by Shihar (153932) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:12AM (#34046502)

      like software patents either, but development does take its time and money and you currently still have to play by the rules like everyone else. Just because you're not selling as many devices as HTC doesn't mean you don't have to pay the same royalties. Even Google, like every other company, is asking for patent royalties, so why suddenly Microsoft shouldn't? Sure, hate the software patents, but twisting this as something like Microsoft demanding manufacturers to pay if they want to install Linux is just... wrong.

      Shit like this is why the cell phone industry is in as sorry of a shape as it is. Mobile devices are hotter than hell right now. EVERYONE makes them in fucking China. The only thing you need as a producer is to design some hardware from some off the shelf components, add your spin on it, and flip on a switch in China. What is happening? Not this.

      What is happening is that only people armed to the teeth with both piles of money and patents dares step a foot into this market. Every single pissant start up Silicon Valley should be building a phone, but instead it is limited to only people armed to the teeth for a legal fight. This is fucked up, and for a consumer, it is hitting you in the pocketbook. Further, absolutely none of these patents are novel. It isn't like a company hits on a great idea no one will ever think of and patents it to protect themselves. What is happening is that everyone is patenting the obvious next step, and than suing when everyone goes to take that obvious next step.

      What people forget is that patents are not some sort of moral fucking right. They are a completely artificial creation made by governments. It is a government granted monopoly, and it isn't granted for some fucked up sense of morality. It is granted for the singular reason of "promoting the useful arts". It is written into the fucking US constitution. When it fails at this, we are doing it wrong. If patents are stepping in the way of competition and innovation, they are failing in their singular purpose. Clearly, they are failing.

      Patent law is so horribly fucked up these days there are no words for it. Consumers, small and medium sized businesses, and the economy are getting screwed. Microsoft is leading the charge. They can't compete in an open market, so they swing a government enforced sledgehammer at the competition.

      I almost considered looking into getting a WiMo7 phone, but after this sort of anti-consumer crap, fuck those guys.

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        When you're talking about governments (plural), you shouldn't go off onto a tangent about the US constitution. China, for example, couldn't give any less of a shit about said constitution. And saying "Microsoft is leading the charge" is a bit disingenuous - from memory, Apple and Nokia took the first swings in this battle.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        Replying to negate an accidental bad mod. While I'm here , how does importing goods/software from companies that do not have software patents work? Does it completely bypass the silliness or are there imports costs, etc?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vintermann (400722)

      I don't like software patents either, but development does take its time and money

      Development of software patents does not take time and money. At least not time and money spent on software development. You do like software patents more than you should if you think so.

      This is legalized extortion, nothing more. Microsoft is not providing anything of value to the companies they threaten.

  • Blowback (Score:5, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:09PM (#34045998) Journal

    Apparently in completely unrelated news, Asus is deprecating Windows Phone 7. [techtree.com] This even though Google totally cleaned Garmin's clock [businessweek.com] on the free navi thing.

    As always, Garmin-Asus seeks the best for our consumers either on Android platform or on Windows platform. However, we see the potential of Android platform devices, so we are focusing on Android platform currently. - Steven Tu

    Meanwhile Microsoft's VP, Corporate Communications Frank X. Shaw [microsoft.com] is over on Twitter [twitter.com] right now trying to repair the damage done by today's CNN Money report. [cnn.com] In case y'all want to wander over and lend him a hand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Microsoft is turning into a really big fish in a really big pond; the problem is that pond is in Minnesota. You can't throw your weight around when you don't have a strong presence in every aspect of your market anymore.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Like with BeOS and TRON MS can play hard and fast. They can move in to ensure one emerging area is kept safe by using the desktop.
  • How the mighty have fallen.

  • Twould make you want to twist their necks, wouldn't it?
  • Chorme! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mogness (1697042) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:18PM (#34046034) Homepage

    ...This time in the form of Android and Chorme OS.

    I'm just glad it's for Chorme OS and not Chrome OS...

  • Is this a poorly translated article that was originally in another language? None of it makes any sense. For example:

    "As Android is an open platform, vendors of Android handsets have to pay royalty fees of at least US$10-15 per handset for licensed use of the patents concerned, the sources explained"

    What does being an "open platform" have to do with paying patent royalties?

    • by hedwards (940851)
      I'm guessing that normally the royalties would be included in the cost of licensing the firmware.
    • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:31PM (#34046094) Homepage Journal

      Easy!

      "gee, that is an awful nice handset you have there. It would be a damn shame if something were to happen to it. Perhaps you would be interested in our protection services?"

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      When you buy Windows, for example, it will include a license fee for any patent that needs licensing to use it.

      Android like other OSS is passed around freely, without controls, so users have to take care of that separately.

      That's also why Windows can play MP3 out of the box, but Red Hat not.

  • Installing Linux... (Score:2, Informative)

    by the_rajah (749499) *
    "Does this mean that if I build PCs with Linux (Ubuntu/ChromeOS/Fedora and sell them I am at risk of getting sued by Microsoft?."

    Apparently it's not a problem unless you're installing them on a smartphone. These aren't really Linux patents they're claiming are being infringed.
    • by pedantic bore (740196) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @05:37AM (#34047444)

      Yup.

      Whoever wrote the summary should have read the article...

      Here's my summary:

      Microsoft: "Hey, smartphone makers, you're using some of our patented technology."

      Smartphone makers: "Can't disagree with you."

      Microsoft: "So, you should give me some money."

      Smartphone makers: "Yeah, I guess."

      Microsoft: "If you were already paying for them by buying a windows license, then we'd already square. But since you're not, then just give me a few bucks per unit. Cool?"

      Smartphone makers: "Cool. Just don't tell the folks at slashdot, because they'll twist this around to make it sound like you're trying to intimidate us into not using Android, rather than us trying to license technology from you that we want to use in our phone."

      Microsoft: "Yeah, and then somehow tie this in to their precious desktop linux."

      Smartphone makers: "(snort)"

  • by PhilipTheHermit (1901680) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:31PM (#34046092)

    If I understand the article correctly, Microsoft has software patents on a number of technologies related to smartphones, and is seeking royalties from some portable electronics companies for their use of technology covered by the patents.

    Generally a "ho hum" situation, BUT, Microsoft seems to be using the situation to pressure the companies to stop using Android and Chrome on the devices. Seems to be.

    If anything, rather than proving that Microsoft is some sort of terrible evil, this proves that SOFTWARE PATENTS are a terrible evil.

    We should never allow ANYONE to patent something that is not a physical item or process. The idea that a company can write up a vague description of how some software product MIGHT work SOMEDAY, if SOMEONE decides to develop it, and get the patent office to grant them the right to act as a gatekeeper for that idea, should be abhorrent to all people with scientific and technical backgrounds.

    I think that about sums up the situation.

    Now, perhaps I'm wishing for the moon here, but if anyone from the patent office, Congress, or the Obama administration is a Slashdot reader, this would be an excellent situation to use to show the average representative in Congress why, exactly, software patents should be abolished. "Here are two companies that are not using Microsoft products, and not stealing secrets from Microsoft, and in fact not using any Microsoft property at ALL, whose businesses are being interfered with because Microsoft was granted some software patents and they're using them as bargaining chips. This situation is ridiculous and should be addressed. (Etc, etc)".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's no longer about "How it might work". There are many patents that simply cover "what it is used for".

      ie "Email push over wireless" - this says nothing about the specifics of the process, only what it accomplishes in the end.

      THIS is the problem with the today's patent landscape.

    • by scsirob (246572)
      Oh boy, you are soooo right.. One of the guidelines for patents is that the 'invention' should not be obvious to the average skilled person. Now, if I never look at any patent description and write my software, doesn't that already prove that whatever patent I 'violate' is rubbish to start with? If something can be thought of by any skilled programmer then why should someone else get money because they 'thought of it first'?? Software patents are EVIL and MUST GO!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by javilon (99157)

      The USA has lost all manufacturing jobs to Asia and it hopes to survive creating "intellectual property". This is a case of a USA company suing Asian manufacturers for royalties. Chances are that if you explain this to a Congress representative, he will side with Microsoft.

      Of course this is a foolish thing to do, because "intellectual property" is a faulty concept that can only be enforced in a society without freedom of speech. So if the USA is successful its people live in tyranny and if it fails its eco

    • by bit01 (644603)

      If anything, rather than proving that Microsoft is some sort of terrible evil, this proves that SOFTWARE PATENTS are a terrible evil.

      No, it proves that both software patents and M$ are evil. Both are necessary prerequisites for the harm to occur.

      This is like the lawyers who wash their hands of responsibility because "they were only doing what they were told to". Sorry, but being paid doesn't magically absolve a person or company of ethical responsibility.

      ---

      I want a free and open market. Do you?

    • "this would be an excellent situation to use to show the average representative in Congress why, exactly, software patents should be abolished. "Here are two companies that are not using Microsoft products, and not stealing secrets from Microsoft, and in fact not using any Microsoft property at ALL, whose businesses are being interfered with because Microsoft was granted some software patents and they're using them as bargaining chips. This situation is ridiculous and should be addressed. (Etc, etc)".

      You fo

  • Asus denies it (Score:5, Informative)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:35PM (#34046114)

    Here. [focustaiwan.tw]

    Terribly summary, by the way.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Wednesday October 27, 2010 @11:39PM (#34046130)

    I doubt it's intentional, but if Microsoft wanted to use their patent portfolio to scare businesses away from Linux (and I don't know that it's true), they probably would fantasize about reading this on the front page of Slashdot:

    Does this mean that if I build PCs with Linux (Ubuntu/ChromeOS/Fedora) and sell them I am at risk of getting sued by Microsoft?

  • All the manufacturers have to do is get the patents invalidated which is entirely possible.
  • Oh noes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Osgeld (1900440)

    you sign an agreement to distribute MS licenses and they dont like it when you break it

    sounds simple to me ... dont sign the agreement!

    easy 3 step plan

    1) dont sign with MS
    2) let distrubutors sign with MS to offer MS product on sale (buy windows 7 for 75$ instead of giving it away)
    3) profit

    manufactures benefit from not being tied in to a deal, consumers still get a choice (its functional out of the box, but if you want windows add x cost), meanwhile they have a usable machine on OS software, +1 open source o

  • by John Sokol (109591) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @12:54AM (#34046436) Homepage Journal

    Rule 1. Anybody can sue anyone for anything.
    Rule 2. If they fail to respondent in general the one who filed the suit wins.
    Rule 3. If there is no ground for the suit it's easy to get it tossed out.
    Rule 4. The golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules, in other words the one with the most expensive lawyer wins.
    Rule 5. 90% of civil cases are settle out of court. This is mostly a poker game, with bluffs gambits deceptions , misdirection, Sleight of hand, deceit, corruption and hocus pocus.
              A company like Microsoft is counting on the other party not doing there homework, not being as well connected, or not having as much leverage with politicians and judges.
    Rule 6. Carrying a bluff all the way to court, and getting called on it would be devastating for a company like Microsoft. The best thing that could ever happen is Microsoft actually following through with it's threat.
    Rule 7. Judges are held responsible for there judgments. I have noticed that they will do anything to defer to a previous similar judgment by another court on a related case rather then actually commit to a decision that they make themselves.
          So in court what mostly happens is both parties are presenting similar cases in which the courts decided in there favor and the judge then decides who make the more relevant argument.

    I have seem a similar strategy used to shake down companies for patent infringement on bogus patents.
    The corporation being sued will look at this from a strictly profit and loss perspective, it's cheaper and more profitable to remain on good terms with Microsoft.
      So they start by shaking down a small plays because they know they will kowtow, and Microsoft will even kick them back a discount or some other bullshit so it really doesn't cost them.
    But this sets up a legal precedent establishing the legitimacy of Microsoft's claims.
    They then can go after larger or more resistant players.
    After a certain critical mass, it will be much more difficult to argue that the claims are fraudulent in court.
    The EFF & GNU could be in for one heck of a battle if they don't intervene sooner rather then later.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by j-beda (85386)

      Good analysis. Would be stronger if you use "their" for the possessive rather than "there" (which is the place) (in 5 and 7).

      Oh, and "its" is the possessive while "it's" is the contraction for "it is"- that's one I always have trouble with (in 6).

      I don't think settling actually creates any legal precedent - that requires at least a court ruling. I does start to create a psychological and social "precedent" however.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Sokol (109591)

        I can't spell to save my life, I am a computer programmer.

        So I am not even an amateur at law. But my former partner for 5 years was known as an attorney that could pull of the impossible. He broke Jean Claude Van Dam's unbreakable contract. Talk about Teflon coated.

        He never ever went to court, it was all poker and maneuvering. His dad is one of the most powerful entertainment lawyer in Hollywood.

        It was amazing to watch him work. When he was up against other lawyers it was like watching him pick the wings of

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Rule 3. If there is no ground for the suit it's easy to get it tossed out.

      Yeah, that's why the SCO case was thrown out so quickly. Oh, wait...

    • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @10:51AM (#34051094)

      Settling a lawsuit does not create a legal precedent. When you settle a suit, what actually happens, legally, is that the plaintiff withdraws their complaint. As far as the court is concerned, the legitimacy of the claims was never examined and the case was never decided. So no precedent.

  • by gig (78408)

    You can pretend that the PC is an open platform all you like. It is not. Microsoft stole the PC from IBM and they're not giving it up.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:48AM (#34046642) Homepage

    "Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Android Patent Infringement" [businessinsider.com] "Microsoft says Motorola is violating nine patents "that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."

    So this has nothing to do with Linux. Those are features of Android. And, from some other patent agreements [microsoft.com], the "synchronizing mail" thing applies only to synchronizing with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange.

    All ASUS has to do is remove Microsoft Outlook and Exchange compatibility from their version of Android. Encourage users to use Google's "cloud" apps instead. Or ordinary IMAP. Microsoft will love that.

    • by DeBaas (470886) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @02:11AM (#34046726) Homepage

      If Asus does not supply Exchange compatibility they will loose business. It is to many users an important feature.

      They should sell the outlook compatibility as a separate app or license priced at roughly the cost of the license. That way they only have to pay for users that use the functionality as well as make clear that this is not them but MS which making you pay the 15 USD

  • "Does this mean that if I build PCs with Linux (Ubuntu/ChromeOS/Fedora) and sell them I am at risk of getting sued by Microsoft? " No. They've got far more to lose than to win. Consider why anyone would need to pay MS for a product they didn't develop nor invest time in. If MS tries suing anyone for royalties, they risk being counter-sued for anti-competitive behaviour (what *else* would you call it when MS charges royalties for Linux?). They *really* don't want to be in court for anti-competitive behaviou
  • Sue everyone! (Score:3, Informative)

    by minus9 (106327) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @02:26AM (#34046776) Homepage
    Perhaps this info-graphic can help explain the current absurd state of mutual destruction in the mobile industry. It tries to show who is suing whom.

    It's a couple of weeks old though so obviously massively out of date:
    http://infobeautiful2.s3.amazonaws.com/whos_suing_whom.png [amazonaws.com]

    I'm sure yacht brochures are being mailed to all the lawyers as we speak.
  • Does this mean that if I build PCs with Linux (Ubuntu/ChromeOS/Fedora) and sell them I am at risk of getting sued by Microsoft?

    No, it does not. Unless you're high profile enough to represent a true threat in terms of mindshare, or moving enough systems to represent a significant revenue stream from royalties, they don't give a crap about you -- you're insignificant. (And whether you choose to interpret that as a good thing or a bad thing is entirely up to you... :D)

  • by Just Brew It! (636086) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @02:45AM (#34046864)

    Quite frankly, I would've been surprised if they had not tried something like this; it is certainly in character (and in the interests of their shareholders). And if they happen to get some protection *ahem* I mean "royalty" payments as a side effect, that's just more money to the bottom line.

    Clearly they've got good lawyers on staff. Too bad their development teams aren't quite up to the same standard.

  • now all that contributed in some way with the development of linux can reclaim MS their (retroactive) salary! Even the ones that work for competitors like IBM, Oracle or RedHat.
  • From The Fine Article:

    Microsoft plans to impose royalty fees on Taiwan-based vendors of Android handsets for using its patents in e-mail, multimedia and other functions, with Acer and Asustek Computer being targets

    Which is NOT how the slashdot story describes the article.

    Seems like every time Microsoft and a Linux vendor are involved, the narrative is predictable.

    Microsoft holds software patents, and it feels the devices infringe those patents. The infringing use of those patents is what is being sued over,

  • by Uzik2 (679490) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @06:42AM (#34047670)

    You can be sued at any time, by anyone, for any reason, no matter how stupid.
    Further, you must defend yourself in court, or you will automatically lose.
    It's expensive for the person suing you so it's not generally done unless they're really angry or really rich.
    Does any of that description fit any person or corporation in the story you posted?

    The suit will be thrown out but Microsoft hopes by the use of fear to control you without actually having to pay lawyers.
    They have lawyers on staff who get paid anyway so there's no down side to this unless you call their bluff or stop buying their stuff because of their practices.
    Up to you man.

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