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Is Microsoft About To Declare Patent War On Linux? 204

Glyn Moody writes "Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, has just published a piece called 'Apple v. HTC: A Step Along the Path of Addressing IP Rights in Smartphones.' In it, he notes that today's smartphones are all about the 'software stack,' not the 'radio stack,' and that 'as the IP situation settles in this space and licensing takes off, we will see the patent royalties applicable to the smartphone software stack settle at a level that reflects the increasing importance software has as a portion of the overall value of the device. In the interim, though, we should expect continued activity.' That 'activity' obviously means lawsuits against those producing those software stacks, and Gutierrez seems to be hinting strongly that Microsoft intends to join in. So where does that leave all the Linux-based stacks such as the increasingly-popular Android? Is this just a clever way for Microsoft to start a patent war on Linux without appearing to do so?"
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Is Microsoft About To Declare Patent War On Linux?

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  • FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:21AM (#31508090) Journal

    What a complete piece of FUD article. Nowhere in the original post he say anything about Linux or using this to attack Linux or Open Source in general. In fact, this is a guy who has previously wrote this about Microsoft open sourcing:

    Some observers question how a company can contribute to open source projects while, at the same time, insisting on respect of its intellectual property rights by its competitors. In fact, these two things are not inconsistent, and striking a balance between them is one of the key things every commercial technology company must do in order to compete effectively in a mixed source world.

    Yeah, it really seems like his out there to destroy Linux.

    Did the article writer also forget that Microsoft does Windows Mobile? He says " one that doesn't even involve Microsoft directly.". How does mobile market not concern Microsoft directly when it's making Windows Mobile, an OS that HTC has always been it's flagship manufacturer.

    Then completely out of context he quotes Bill Gates words from 1976, 34 years ago, how programmers should be paid for their work instead of doing everything for free. Did he just completely ignore how well funded Linux and some other OSS projects actually are? Mozilla alone brings in $80 million a year.

    It's not about destroying Linux, it's about making some sense to patent fights in mobile markets.

  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:34AM (#31508308) Homepage Journal

    This isn't about Linux. It's about Google. Google could be using a closed-source kernel, and Apple would still be suing them, with Microsoft quietly cheering.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:36AM (#31508330) Journal

    It draws more people and pays the bill.
    Just like how TLC is no longer a learning channel, but gets more viewers

  • Re:FUD article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:39AM (#31508376)

    Besides, why now? Why not 5 years ago? Why not last year?

    Yeah exactly like with Mono. If Microsoft was really wanting to launch a patent assault over mono they would have done it years ago they wouldn't be waiting for some unspecified time in the future to do so. It's the same FUD as the supposed "java trap" that also never materialized and was never going to materialize.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jezza ( 39441 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:43AM (#31508440)

    IBM have already stated that they will use their IP to protect Linux, especially against Microsoft. If Microsoft really want to try this they'll do so knowing they'll need to defend Windows IP against IBM - I wouldn't fancy their chances.

  • Sleeping giant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:45AM (#31508478) Journal

    The second Apple or Microsoft started a patent war with Linux someone would in their camp would utter the same words Isoroku Yamamoto did right after attacking Pearl Harbor in World War II.

    Isoroku Yamamoto: I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ircmaxell ( 1117387 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:55AM (#31508642) Homepage
    That's why these lawsuits aren't directly attacking Linux (yet). Apple went after HTC, even though most of the meat of their suit involves Android. They are doing this in the hope that going to court and winning will set the legal precedent they need to increase the chances of victory against the far more powerful forces at play. MS will likely do the same thing. I HIGHLY doubt they would go directly after Linux (the kernel), Red Hat, Ubuntu, or Android right off the bat. What's more likely to happen, is they will start going after the small players, and get to the point where they have done enough damage to take on the big ones...

    All this does is show how broken the US patent system really is, and how entire markets could be taken out in a mass suicide strike unless something is done about it.
  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:01AM (#31508714)
    Slashdot took a serious nose dive when they left behind the tech and took up the banner of political activism. I knew that on the day they (as in KDawson) started posting non-tech political articles on the front page that all kinds of weirdos and trolls were going to come out of the woodwork. The genie is out of the bottle and nothing is going to stop the endless cheap shots and mud smearing between idealogical camps.
  • Re:FUD article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:06AM (#31508782)

    "Besides, why now? Why not 5 years ago? Why not last year?"

    Yeah exactly, it starts making a lot more sense when you just put Apple's lawsuit in the context of their fallout with Google.

    I'm sure Microsoft are taking notice though, because if Apple can enforce those patents, it can enforce those patents against everyone, including Microsoft, and not even necessarily just on phones, because most if not all the patents in Apple's claim actually seemed very generic, enough so to be applicable against desktop Windows too.

  • by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:09AM (#31508814)

    In the late 1800's, the US was a hotbed of innovation, in part because US companies were a little cavalier about Intellectual Property law, especially when it came to ripping off foreign IP. Sounds a lot like China and the far east today. Right now, the products I find on sites like are both cooler and cheaper than what I find on Amazon and Thinkgeek, unless they are the same ones. But there are a lot of items I can find from asian based sites that I can't find on western retail sites. The innovation center of gravity is shifting across the Pacific. Where Japan failed with force of arms, China is bringing about the Asian Co-prosperity sphere through commerce.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:16AM (#31508914) Journal

    not just that.

    Please, please let them actually insinuate a patent war against linux. All they have to do is show the patents, which, you know, they never did before. At which point people will initiate prior art reviews faster than MS can request patents from the patent office.

    This way, we can invalidate them, move on, and ignore windows as most people have done. I am amused when people think windows is a bigwig and enterprise basically has no interest in it, other than for their employee desktops, and mostly because people don't even know how to use anything else at this point.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:16AM (#31508916) Journal

    They don't even have to go after the "big" ones. If they can keep the upstarts from using open source, they don't need to attack the "big player" if nobody uses anything but closed source, patent encumbered stuff. (ie: help anyone attacking open source so people second guess using open source for fear of being attacked by patent infringement...)

  • ahem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:16AM (#31508926)

    Linux is not a giant. Nothing that anyone does is going to change that any time soon.

    Depends on your definition. It runs on vastly more devices than Microsoft or Apple. The fact that most of them aren't PCs may have gone over your head isn't going to change that anytime soon.

    Besides, it's rather apparent that the author was probably referring to either IBM or Google as the sleeping giant (or perhaps Nokia, who still remain predominant in cell phone markets outside of the rather provincial and self-absorbed United States), rather than the operating system both happen to have a significant investment in Linux, and are prepared to defend with their own mammoth portfolio of patents (both legitimate and software). SCO should be a lesson to anyone willing to be Microsoft's proxy, and I wouldn't be overly suprised if IBM and/or Google decided it was time to stop batting away Microsoft's proxies and go after the source of the rot itself.

    Now that Apple has armed the nukes, all bets are least until the supreme court deals software patents the death-blow they (and those who litigate with them) so richly deserve. Should be entertaining...and with even a sliver of commen sense, most satisfying in its outcome.

  • Try 1998 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:21AM (#31508990)

    So, after all the waiting, will this be the year of Linux on the judge's desktop!?

    Don't know what you're waiting for. Those of us with even a modicum of technical savvy have been running Linux on our desktop for years, and remain quite happy doing so. There is in many people's experience nothing that runs on Microsoft for which there isn't an adequate, and often better, free alternative.

    Just because you're behind the curve doesn't mean everyone is.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:23AM (#31509016)

    No the Java trap never happened because Sun was never going to sue anyone even if it had been more popular. It was FUD pure and simple.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Megaweapon ( 25185 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:52AM (#31509440) Homepage

    /. is desperate for page hits, nothing more. Taco and crew sold the site out long ago, and what was once (think pre-2000) a great resource for geekdom has devolved into a pathetic flamebait aggregator operated by lemmings. Sad, really.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:56AM (#31509494)

    >Just like how TLC is no longer a learning channel, but gets more viewers

    How dare you, sir! I have learned lots from TLC and the History channel. Specifically:

    1. The Paranormal powers of Hitler and the eventual return of his ghost.
    2. How Jesus and Bigfoot are flying to Alpha Centauri to establish a new religion.
    3. That Nazi gold is buried in the Andes and only an expert dowser and his sidekick spirtual medium can find it.
    4. How prophecies from hundreds of years ago apply in my everyday life!
    5. That Stalin's mustache was the seat of his paranormal power!
    6. That Nessie was the dinosaur Noah rode after the flood!
    7. That special codes in the Bible reveal winning lotto numbers!

    Thats stuff they wont teach you in school.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @12:57PM (#31510654)

    So why are you whiners posting here again?

    No, seriously. I know you'll mod me down as troll, but if you hate it so fucking much, why give them traffic or comments to draw traffic. If you hate it so much, express your distaste by closing your account and leaving.

    Why is this so hard to grasp?

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @01:09PM (#31510926) Homepage Journal

    Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free?

    What I want to know is this: when is Microsoft going to pay everyone for all the IP they've stolen. borrowed, and cheated others out of?

    Remember the MSIE screwjob they did to the original developers? That they'd give the developers they licensed it from a cut of the profits from sales, then proceeded to GIVE it away, getting MSIE nearly for free when they had NO browser to compete against Mozilla, Netscape, et al

    Remember when MSIE needed a TCP/IP stack and had nothing to compete against trumpet, sun, and so forth? What did they do? Copy & paste from BSD. Since they recognize that hobbiests cannot do all that work for nothing, when are they going to pay the BSD developers for the BSD sockets stack that became winsock?

    When are they going to pay the Stacker folks what they really deserve, rather than the pittance the courts awarded? Shouldn't they (Microsoft) have been fined $750,000 per unit shipped since it was copyright infringement at its most blatent level, and distributed for commercial use?

    Funny how MS loves to talk about IP when they perceive the fact that they're past their peak, but when it comes to others' IP, the value of IP suddenly diminishes.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @01:42PM (#31511652) Journal

    Thats stuff they wont teach you in school.

    They fixed that in Texas.

  • Re:FUD article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @01:43PM (#31511702) Journal

    The Java trap never happened because Java never became popular enough.

    The language that still has twice as many job postings than its closest contender (C) never became "popular enough"?

    Did I miss a "whoosh" anywhere?

  • Re:FUD article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @01:55PM (#31511960)

    No. And this is why people keep going to Slashdot. Because while it isn't great (and I can tell you that the old memories are heavily clouded), the alternatives are much, much worse. People who complain are the same people complain that democracy sucks, all the while forgetting the alternatives.

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