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Microsoft Patents The Almighty Buck Linux

Microsoft Charging Royalties For Linux 286

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 iris-n ( 1276146 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @12:29AM (#34046088)

    Neither do you.

  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @12:46AM (#34046166)
    All the manufacturers have to do is get the patents invalidated which is entirely possible.
  • Oh noes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:10AM (#34046278)

    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 once they see gmail and facebook run the same, prices drop

    CPM vs DOS anyone? this is how its been done since day one with this platform, welcome to 1981

  • by weicco ( 645927 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:32AM (#34046358)

    Nope. I think don't you understand patents.

    If this IS a Microsoft scheme to enforce usage of their OS, surely it'd backfire, considering the manufacturers don't want to pay royalties as it is?

    If manufacturers don't want to pay royalties then they have to switch to a country that doesn't recognize patents. Otherwise they can be taken to court and ordered to pay hefty fines + pay hefty royalties or pay hefty fines + stop manufacturing.

    I think it would encourage makers to use Open Source even further.

    This is a question about patents, not copyrights. Open Source doesn't cover you from patent suits. And unless you didn't notice, TFA is about vendors using Open Source.

    Patents have upsides and downsides. I'm not sure how they balance. It seems that at least in the software world there's more downsides than upsides to put it nicely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:34AM (#34046376)

    "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" - by weachiod (1928554) on Thursday October 28, @12:08AM (#34045992)

    OH man, per my subject-line? I know what you mean! Incidentally, I actually LIKE Linux 2.6.35 core, via KUbuntu 10.10, but I do NOT like how the "FUD SPREADERS" work around here, spreading FALSE bullshit... in fact, that kind of thing really upsets me because it's how a lot of "Internet technical urban legends" start, & misinform noobs especially (via dishonest means). That type of CRAP spreads!

    I like BOTH forms of "major OS'" nowadays (*NIX variants, yes, even MacOS X (nice stuff) &/or Windows 32/64), but I do NOT like "gossipping whimps" who work via deceit - hell, nobody really does I do not think!

    Example? Ok: 2 days ago, there was an article here about London Stock Exchange moving to Linux (after they F'd up & couldn't keep a Microsoft solution going there stable, whereas by way of comparison?? NASDAQ has for the same type of system no less, a market trade data dissemination system, called MDDS (which overall runs on their proprietary designed "SuperMontage" system))... I pointed out that this failure @ LSE is most likely NOT due to Windows usage since NASDAQ does well on it, but rather, the software architects, coders, & network staff that maintain this system with their DBA's too (i.e.-> their IS/IT/MIS team).

    So, what happens? Well, this guy named "Unknowingfool" here tried to tell me "NASDAQ runs on LINUX" (which is complete bullshit, the NYSE does though), & then, he tried to imply I stated that NASDAQ runs its entire stock exchange on Windows... I never, EVER, stated that... in fact, I put out all the pertinent info. I know of above!

    I busted him in trying to put words in my mouth I never said, and his outrageous lies on NASDAQ running its entire show on LINUX where I know it does NOT (in fact, I have been designing & coding or co-coding large "enterprise class/mission critical" systems like the ones @ these Stock Exchanges for 16++ yrs. now, & they are OFTEN built of multiple parts, like SuperMontage (well, this one's a LITTLE more "specialized & proprietary design" than usual, but my point's there)).

    See it here: []

    It's unbelievable, but it DOES "2nd your motion" about the "Pro-*NIX zealots" that try to pull the wool over others' eyes here and with OUTRIGHT disinformation/misinformation OR twisting things!


    P.S.=> This is a GOOD site, with some good smart folks too (some with REAL skills, not the majority imo sadly, but a LOT of them), but there are some of what I call the "not men" element around here and I am NOT the only person noting it here either... here's someone you NIX folks will recognize, noting the SAME SHIT (and I am sure he has most of your guys' respect):

    "It just takes one Ubuntu sympathizer or PR flack to minus-moderate any comment. Unfortunately, once PR agencies and so on started paying people to moderate online communities, and to have hundreds of accounts each, things changed." - by Bruce Perens (3872) on Friday July 30, @04:55PM (#33089192) Homepage Journal []

    He's dead on too... once "big monies" & their paid trolls/shills come around? It screws up great sites, because MOST of them??

    Man, per the URL above my initials above as the example I saw this week? Man - They're TOO DAMNED STUPID to tie their own shoes!

    Worst part is, they end up ruining the rep of great websites (like this one CAN be & is, except for the "pro-*NIX trolls & gossip + misinf

  • by John Sokol ( 109591 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @01:54AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2010 @02:26AM (#34046546)

    Based on the cautious denial by AsusTek most likely they are being charged a "fee" by Microsoft for bundling a different OS on a "device" that is covered by the broad AsusTek Microsoft OS agreement. Standard Microsoft practice. If you want to bundle Windows, and it's hard to be a OEM/ODM if you don't, you sign away your rights to bundle any other OS on any "Computer type device", IBM was prevented from bundling OS/2 on their PC's. Well technically they weren't prevented they just had to pay Microsoft a fee for each machine that shipped with OS/2, and I believe the fee was double the cost of Windows. In order to get the cheapest price for Windows you need to agree that you will ship Windows on all devices. If you want to carve out a device or product line, your cost of windows goes up and so does the cost of the right to include an OS from a different vendor.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @02:48AM (#34046642) Homepage

    "Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Android Patent Infringement" [] "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 [], 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 pedantic bore ( 740196 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @06:37AM (#34047444)


    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 javilon ( 99157 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @06:44AM (#34047470) Homepage

    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 economy and superpower status will go down the drain.

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @07:05AM (#34047538) Homepage Journal

    "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 forgot to preface your "proposal" with the requirement that the reader assume that patents are not property of the patent holder, because right now patents ARE the property of the patent holder.

    How does your argument stand up against a more conventional patent, say for a physical device? Let's say I invent a lettuce harvesting machine and then start to sell it, then another company comes along and builds their own lettuce harvester using my design. According to your criteria, the other company hasn't used any of my property, so if I go after them to defend my case and get their infringing harvester off the market OR to pay me a license fee for each harvester built, you'd say that proves patents are wrong/evil/in need of reform?

    Patents protect not only the actual manifestation of an idea or invention, but they also protect the idea.

  • by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Thursday October 28, 2010 @07:22AM (#34047594) Homepage Journal

    ...don't forget to pay your $699 licensing fee, you cocksmoking teabaggers!

    Seriously, it sounds like they've got it all, even down to the "sue your (ex-) customers" part. I suppose that means that someone should check that the monopoly privileges in question really do belong to them.

  • by Uzik2 ( 679490 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @07:42AM (#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.

  • by magnusrex1280 ( 1075361 ) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @11:49AM (#34051060)
    Yes, but that's OK, because if you (meaning anyone, not you specifically) aren't a lazy fuck, then you've read the article yourself. It's not my job to fix someone else's awful summary post.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"