Microsoft, Linux OSS and the 235 Patent Violations: Covering Your Butt

Rob Enderle

Microsoft has put a firm number, well, firm so far, of 235 of its patents it says Linux and other open source software violate.


With each announcement, Microsoft, in effect, strengthens the likelihood that it will take formal legal action, because if it does not and allows these patents to continue to be violated, it may forever lose its ability to enforce them. It has been cross-licensing up a storm but should eventually shift to enforcement.


So how concerned should you be?


Who's in the Clear?


Well, if you are an HP or Novell Linux customer, you appear to be in the clear, because both are protected (HP potentially doubly so) from any hostile action by Microsoft. Both of these companies have gone to extreme lengths to ensure their customers are not impacted by this, and that probably should be taken into account when you are dealing with either firm. (I'm thinking a big "Thank You" is in order.)


This indemnification isn't limitless, but even if some of your Linux isn't directly protected by either of these companies, the fact that one and/or the other is providing the solution should lower the probability significantly that you will be taken to task publicly by Microsoft.


I would also argue that any company that uses a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement broadly would be unlikely to be a target if only because it makes little sense to target one of your most loyal customers first with any action like this. For anyone else, a license audit could be a trigger event.


Will Microsoft File Against Corporations?


This is tough to call, but Microsoft says no at this time. I've covered Microsoft for several decades now and it has not shown a tendency to want to go after IT shops, and there is a lot of risk associated with doing so broadly, as SCO has demonstrated. It could actually trigger a pull back from its solutions in response to this, and the revenue risk is significant.


On the other hand, the firm isn't really known for bluffing either, which suggests it will likely use other methods to convince line management to license. Typically, if Microsoft indicates it will do something, eventually it tries to do it. The key word here is "try," as it doesn't mean they will be successful and litigation hasn't been a slam dunk for them of late, in any case.


My take is Microsoft will put litigation off as long as it can, but is on a path where I don't think it can avoid litigation forever if it wants to actually protect its patents. But such action is likely still some time off, and it will come with substantially more warning, both globally and individually, before Microsoft pulls the trigger.


In short, Microsoft is clearly already applying pressure, but litigation against IT is likely years off, if it ever comes.


Who Is Likely to Go First?


The common strategy is to pick someone to take to court first that you are most likely to win against. Ideally, you want a venue where the laws work in your favor, and you want to deliver a message both in the filing and the coverage that surrounds it that motivates those that are also violating your patents to either stop using the infringing code or license.


The likely initial targets would seem to be the Linux Foundation as a proxy for Linux, IBM as the largest non-licensed supplier (and contributor) to Linux, and Red Hat as the most powerful branded Linux distribution owner. Linspire would likely be even easier, but I doubt slam-dunking them would do much other than showcase the extreme disparity between the two companies, though Microsoft might be able to get much of its name settlement back (which honestly could be a legitimate consideration).


There is a lot of bad blood between IBM and Microsoft right now, and the PC Company, which mitigated this, is gone. This is probably the vector Microsoft would most like, but IBM and Microsoft are cross-licensed and IBM has done well in the SCO action, both of which make taking it on more risky. In addition, IBM has massive resources that, while no longer Microsoft's equal, are still a force to be reckoned with. If Microsoft lost, it would be against one of the strongest firms in the segment so it wouldn't be dead in the water, and if it won, the penalties could be legendary. However, this would be an incredibly difficult case to win given that IBM is now the most expert at defending against this charge and has a massive patent portfolio defense itself.


The Linux Foundation is on the other side of the equation and likely couldn't stand up to an attack like this alone, but is preparing counterclaims anyway. However, going after the foundation could ferment a broad war and if Microsoft wasn't careful it could become a much stronger rally point than it is already for an anti-Microsoft agenda.


It isn't clear how much of the related liability can pass through to the Linux Foundation and, if Microsoft lost, the downside would be worse than any of the other choices. If it won, the foundation has no appreciable financial resources to seize and would probably bankrupt and re-emerge as a new entity. In short, Microsoft's chance of winning is the best, but the end result could actually be more bad than good, and it might never actually be able to collect what it won.


Like the Three Little Bears, Red Hat may be just right. This company is the poster child for Linux to the real world, its weakness would be Novell's strength, and Microsoft is now closely partnered with Novell. Just filing against Red Hat broadly would likely do really good things for Novell's top and bottom lines. Red Hat isn't the pushover the Linux Foundation likely is, but it doesn't have IBM's resources, cross-licenses or litigation experience either.


Red Hat is very visible and is perceived as a larger company than it actually is. Finally, it isn't very well liked by the OSS purists who will find it hard to come to the company's defense, limiting their alliance options and their ability to respond forcefully. This would seem to provide the best balance between risk, cost, visibility and benefit.


What Should You Do?


If you are using Linux and are not adequately indemnified (and given Red Hat's resources and likelihood of being the initial target, I would argue their indemnification may not be adequate), I'd simply make sure your own legal organization is in the loop and that you are following their advice. If something goes south, you can then show you behaved reasonably to protect your company. You may not like what your legal department recommends -- that's often true of attorneys -- but they are there to protect the firm and having them on your side could make the difference between looking competent and looking intentionally negligent.


The most exposed will be those in companies which have policies against OSS products and are intentionally violating these policies. I can think of no better trigger for a software audit by Internal Audit than the visibility of a highly publicized IP legal action. When I was a senior auditor in charge, my recommendation was always termination when intentional policy violations like this were discovered, and I can't recall a time when that recommendation was not followed.


Internal Audit, thanks to Enron, WorldCom and options backdating problems is vastly more powerful now than it was in my day, so cover your butts and either stop using OSS products or change the policy if your company has one.


Though, if I were to actually bet, my sense is you are more likely to get nailed by a disgruntled employee who has gone to a competitor (who then uses this against you in a critical government or large enterprise bid triggering an audit) or simply reports the violation to Internal Audit as his or her way of uniquely saying "thank you" for the wonderful job opportunities.


In any case, it will be increasingly risky to violate corporate policies in the current environment. This latest positioning by Microsoft just makes this type of violation more likely than it was to be caught.


Now on a scale of one to ten, this whole thing dropped a lot in importance whenthis little piece of news (yes there really is a Skynet) hit, a reminder that not only can life imitate art but that being paranoid may increasingly be an advantage and that keeping all of this in perspective remains important.

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May 16, 2007 5:22 PM Hugo Ahlquist.. Hugo Ahlquist..  says:
Deja SCO..If there are applicable patents and if they are being infringed, then MS must name with specificity which patents and where they are being infringed or they are subject to estoppel and/or laches. The infringing party must be notified so that they can legally mitigate damages as they are legally entitled to do. Otherwise these are "Submarine" patents.MS has a narrow window in which to act as the whole concept of software patents has been called into question along with the obviousness factor now in play potentially invalidating many improperly issued patents.From their perspective, this move is optimal use of their patents. FUD is all the real value that they have.From the side-lines, I find it fascinating that there is such a thing as a "Cult of FOSS" while there is no corresponding "Cult of Microsoft" other than paid shills. Wonder why that is? Reply
May 16, 2007 5:25 PM Rawhyde Rawhyde  says:
It seems to me that if OSRM says 283 patents are potentially infringed upon and can point to 27 that belong to Microsoft, and the FSF knows of more than 200 patents that Linux may infringe upon, I'd say it's very likely that no one will need Microsoft to tell them which patents they are talking about. It wouldn't take long for a band of Groklaw types to scour for prior art and for the OSS developers to start refactoring their code to remove whatever may be deemed to infringe. My guess is that you will never have seen anything like the push to render the patents worthless or otherwise irrelevant. If anything ever went to court, no judge in the country could say violation of the patent was willful and that the violators did nothing to remedy the situation. And how would Microsoft have been damaged? They are one of the most profitable companies in the world. Bill Gates (richest man in the world) announced that Vista has sold 40 million copies in the last 100 days--What damage can Microsoft demonstrate?This is all just worst-case speculation anyway. It isn't going to come to any of this. GPL3 is coming along and threatens to throw a monkey wrench in the Microsoft licensing schemes; the recent Supreme Court decision that enforces the obviousness of an idea test for patents will likely pull the rug out from a lot of the software patents out there; a lot of Microsoft's patents will have prior art found; and Microsoft has sat around a long time without defending their patented IP. I think they know these things and are just rattling sabers now to act like they have done something to stave off shareholder lawsuits. Reply
May 16, 2007 5:32 PM Bobcat Bobcat  says:
Typical of your stupidity Rob you still think that M$ is in the drivers seat and can somehow enforce its patents, dream on little man. The Open Source Community *can't wait* for M$ to sue someone -- ANYONE! Here's why little man:1) First there is a little matter of an organization called the OIN, comprised of not only Red Hat, but IBM, Sun, Dell, Phillips, et al. who probably collectively have 100 times more patents than M$. If M$ is foolish enough to actually sue anyone, the REPRISAL will be swift and sure. It would trigger a massive PATENT WAR, and everyone will lose, but M$ most of all as it will lay bare the fact that the Emperor Has No Clothes, and it will be seen as a toothless and clawless lion. The LAST thing M$ wants is a PATENT WAR..,. and they will get one if they sue *anyone*.2) If M$ is so stupid as to sue *ANYONE* then the FIRST thing that will happen is that M$ will have to reveal all 235 patents it claims LINUX infringes. It is speculated that many will be thrown out and the handful that remain will be either written around, or if non-essential, scrapped. The the second to last thing M$ wants to do, and that is as long as they don't sue someone they don't have to articulate which patents are in question. 3) The chances are very good that the actual worth of these patents is not in their actual worth per se but rather as a medium for the spreading FUD about LINUX.4) Suing anyone will only create more hostility towards M$ and bring into question their now spouted poop about wanting to "interoperate" with other operating systems. In the end that will only drive even more people away from M$.No Little Man of little intellect, M$ shot off its mouth and and they have been called on it. You were right on one thing though: If they don't enforce those 235 patents they can kiss them good-by in ever trying to enforce them in the future. M$ can do one of two things: One they can sue to enforce their patents. That way everyone loses but M$ will lose the most. The Second way is M$ can show it is a good corporate citizen and DONATE those 235 patents to the Open Source Community, it doing so they could generate some good will towards their company which right now they really, really need. Sadly, Gates, et.al are too full of themselves and too filled with self importance not to do something that will lead to ruination. If we are all lucky, maybe they will swallow their pride and THINK first before they decide to sue. M$ can kiss those 235 patents good-by, that's a small price to pay for shooting off their big mouths. All other alternatives will lead to far worse results. Reply
May 16, 2007 5:35 PM NukemAll NukemAll  says:
If Microsoft launches a full blown attach against any of the aformentioned organizations, it will have blown its foot completely off. They may make short term gains in the name of patent infringement but they will loose the respect of their customers by alienating them. The first opportunity those customers get they will drop them dead and without remorse. Microsoft is in a loose - loose situation. Their only hope is to become competitive again and sell a product that everyone is willing to buy. Their billions will dwindle just like ants eating an elephant. Pissing off the world is no way to gain customers. Their long range success depends on making friends not enemies. When their stock begins to drop their stock holders will begin to see the writing on the wall.. It will not happen overnight, but if I were a stock holder I'd be moving somewhere else. No, they know if they play their big card the result will hazardous to their future, only serving to alienate customers and potential customers and opening a bag of worms that could potentially expose their proprietary code to scrutiny by the courts. They are infringing just as much if not more on other's patents which could negate any benefit they gain. Should they pull a stupid stunt like suing Red Hat, though Red Hat is a minnow pirana in the Microsoft sea of sharks, the blood drawn from the incidence would arouse the other piranas and Microsoft would have their hands full.Microsoft's only long term hope is to become innovative and play nice.Nukem Reply
May 16, 2007 5:44 PM CalcProgrammer1 CalcProgrammer1  says:
Microsoft...stupidity in action. They're just mad that Vista can't succeed. Novell and Microsoft can both die, because Novell seems to be breaking all that Linux was made for. Selling Linux code to Microsoft? Linux should be Linux, and MS should me MS (and should be stupid too). Anyways, I couldn't care less if Novell and Red Hat died, for there's always Ubuntu left. And seriously, with Linux code all over the Web, there's nothing Microsoft can do to effectively "stop Linux." Reply
May 16, 2007 6:00 PM See Level See Level  says:
RE: bobcat1) First there is a little matter of an organization called the OIN, comprised of not only Red Hat, but IBM, Sun, Dell, Phillips, et al. who probably collectively have 100 times more patents than M$. Exceedingly incorrect, not all patents from those companies are included, even if they were it wouldn't be 100 times what Microsoft has.2) If M$ is so stupid as to sue *ANYONE* then the FIRST thing that will happen is that M$ will have to reveal all 235 patents it claims LINUX infringes. 0 for 2 this isn't going to be your night is it. This was even more incorrect than your first attempt at a point.3) The chances are very good that the actual worth of these patents is not in their actual worth per se but rather as a medium for the spreading FUD about LINUX.It's not FUD when it's a real threat staring you down, and studies conducted by open source researchers themselves show hundreds of likely infringements in Linux.4) Suing anyone will only create more hostility towards M$ and bring into question their now spouted poop about wanting to interoperate with other operating systems. They've made a much better attempt at interoperating than the open source fanatics, who clearly only want to see Microsoft destroyed with no other acceptable option.As for your claim Microsoft will only damage themselves if they sue, Microsoft can afford some damage, they have $50 billion in the bank and more coming in by the truckload. Meanwhile the Free Software Foundation probably can't even get $1 billion in credit, and their top lawyer has already announced he is running for the door. Reply
May 16, 2007 6:25 PM Bruce Miller Bruce Miller  says:
Rob,You have described --- in a level of detail for which Microsoft's enemies will thank you --- how Microsoft is likely to use its threats of patent infringement to pressure customers not to use F/LOSS --- exactly what Microsoft's enemies are attacking it for.You show your pro-Microsoft bias in two important ways:1. You make no attempt to assess the enforceability of all or any of the 235 patents allegedly violated;2. You pass over in silence the probability that smart lawyers on the other side will demand review of Microsoft code under court-ordered conditions. Similarly, you pass over in silence any analysis whether a review of Microsoft code would or would not reveal a substantial number of violations of others' patents. Reply
May 16, 2007 6:33 PM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
At some point they do have to name the patents otherwise they constantly lose credibility. More important, they appear unreasonable. How can someone correct or respond the the problem if they don't know what the problem is?Once you number the patents I think you do have show what they are, and post SCO, I doubt anyone is going to be seen as credible with non defined claims. The reason they aren't naming them is they don't want them challenged prematurely but now that they have clearly indicated they know what they are, I don't see how they can credibly avoid naming the darned patents at some point. But, if I'm right, this does indicate progress towards litigation and if the customer isn't the target then someone is. It simply appeared to me Red Hat was the most likely. (Just because there is progress doesn't mean that progress won't stop). Reply
May 16, 2007 6:42 PM Mark Mark  says:
As I said elsewhere Rob, I don't know what you call it in the States but the rest of the world call's it racketeering. This shakedown scheme is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen, just name the patents and if there is a problem the community will fix it, and to suggest as Microsoft have that it is intentional infringement, please, what drugs are they taking in Redmond nowdays.This, I hope, is the beginning of the end for this disgusting corporation, their right up there with Al Capone in my eyes. Reply
May 16, 2007 6:43 PM howtomarketyourstuff.com howtomarketyourstuff.com  says:
Microsoft to Sue Linux Open-Source Software for Patent Violations In today's headline, I just read a report that Microsoft may in the as-of-yet undetermined future launch a lawsuit for patent infringement against OSS establishments. By the way, OSS stands for Open-Source Software. Rob Enderle, a well-respected ... Reply
May 17, 2007 8:32 AM James James  says:
So Rob, did you get to see a list of patents like you got to see a list of code from SCO? Seriously, though, I am glad to see you are firmly on Microsoft's side advocating people stop using OSS, because with your hilariously inept record, that is an excellent sign for those of us in the reality-based community. Reply
May 17, 2007 8:43 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
Actually I never saw the SCO patents and my statment on OSS is don't use it if your own company's policy forbids it, work on changing that policy first. That last should be a no brainer. Seriously what part of that statement do you disagree with? I question your "reality?. Did you actually read what I wrote? Reply
May 17, 2007 8:44 AM Mark Mark  says:
If they are not prepared to identify the offending code, it is, regardless of the Wikipedia's interpretation, nothing more than Microsoft's attempt to run a dirty little protection racket, no ifs, buts or maybes it is what it is.And no, software patents can't survive, we know that here in Australia, you know that over in America, if only our collective bone head politicians would wake up and fix the situation we'll all be better off. Reply
May 17, 2007 8:51 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
I don't know about your collective bone head politicians but ours created the DMCA which was to fix piracy. I worry what they would end up doing to "fix" software patents. I figure by the time they are done we'd all be back to using chalk and cave walls because we couldn't afford the risk of using anything tech... Reply
May 17, 2007 9:00 AM Mark Mark  says:
Trust me Rob, ours are bone heads, they imported the DMCA in all it's glory. Reply
May 17, 2007 10:59 AM judecn judecn  says:
Racketeering accusations and software patent validity aside, Microsoft has made a tactical mistake: by revealing the number of patents they think Linux infringes upon, they have also revealed the extent of the damage they are capable of doing. Even if ALL 235 patents are valid (i.e. can be proven to be valid in court), AND if Microsoft doesn't get counter-sued, AND if the Supreme Court finds software patents to be invalid, the best they can do to hurt FOSS is delay its inevitable victory in the marketplace by forcing its developers to re-work the code so it no longer infringes. As a computer science student and FOSS developer, I can tell you that the only limit on what software can be made to do is in the programmer's imagination; FOSS developers CAN and WILL find a way around so long as Microsoft doesn't patent the act of free thought :) Not only that, but software patents aren't valid everywhere, so development can and will continue whether Microsoft wants it or not.Realistically, though, for each patent Microsoft claims Linux infringes, they will inadvertently trigger separate lawsuits challenging the patent's validity, and Microsoft does not want that for obvious reasons. It's just what I have suspected all along: there will come a time when companies interested in using or currently using FOSS will no longer take Microsoft's threats seriously because Microsoft, by failing to act on its FUD claims, will have lost all credibility. It looks like that time is upon us. So Microsoft can rant and rave all it likes; it isn't fooling anyone :) Reply
May 17, 2007 11:00 AM judecn judecn  says:
"...AND if the Supreme Court finds software patents to be invalid..."Sorry; please change "invalid" to "valid." My bad. Reply
May 17, 2007 12:18 PM Clifton Hyatt Clifton Hyatt  says:
Rob,First a personal note.I have in the past been extremely critical of your writings, I considered them shallow, biased, and so full of inaccuracy as to be defacto, if not intentional, FUD What I have encountered the last several pieces I have read have, in my opinion, been far more reasoned and balanced and I am encouraged by that;both in the sense that it is a better contribution to the global discourse and that I hate the thought of someone selling their good name for money.Please take that previous paragraph as a positive statement, and an encouragement toward unbiased excellence.Now on with the post.If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today....The solution is patenting as much as we can.A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose.That price might be high.Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.� 1991 Bill Gates, MicrosoftThe quote above is the primer to what Microsoft is about.It is about "excluding future competitors", plain and simple.Let me make my case for why.Let's assume FOSS developers do _not_ want to violate the law.As there is not a _single_ instance of _any_ FOSS project being charged (I think we can all agree SCO doesn't count) much less found guilty of violating either copyright or patent, the previous assumption seems valid by any reasonable metric.I hope you would be willing to agree to that and state as much.Certainly the numerous calls to simply point out what might be considered a violation from many quarters would reinforce that assumption, as would the open nature of development.You simply can not expect to succeed with an intentional violation when that violation will exist open to the scrutiny of the entire world.Now lets go over some hypotheticals.1) Microsoft's patents are valid.2) They successfully prosecute someone with deep pockets, let's say IBM.2) they are awarded the maximum damages possible.4) There is no counter action.What could the hypothetical consequences be of those hypotheticals?1) IBM has (wildly, astronomically high) a charge of 4 billion to pay out, huge bite but they will go on.2) All offending code has to be adjusted to deal with the patents, lets say it takes a year (again wildly inflated for our hypothetical).This is an ideal set of hypotheticals and would seem to satisfy the stated desire and requirement of Microsoft toward their fiduciary shareholder responsibility and business 101.Now for any other company 4 billion would be the lottery but for MS it a quarters proffit.While shipping reduced functionality software would be a blow to FOSS until they deal with rewrites, it won't be a killer.It could stall adoption, it could send some to Novell, it could even eat into the install base.But the truth is it's FOSS, even if all the paid programmers leave, it will continue.In all the countries that haven't yet introduced sw patents, among all the poorer countries that face the choice of reduced functionality software or the increasing difficulty of pirating it will go on.Microsoft suing and wining doesn't change the rules of the game, it doesn't get them what they want.So what do they want?MS has a monopoly of some 90% on desktops, market share of some 60% in servers, what about 95% of office suites.This is the bulk of their revenue.Their first directive is to not lose revenue, their second directive is to increase revenue. Reply
May 17, 2007 12:19 PM Clifton Hyatt Clifton Hyatt  says:
There are three primary ways MS can increase revenue (not withstanding the marginal increases to be had from increased efficiencies) 1) Derive more revenue from their current market share.2) Increase their market share.3) Successfully enter new markets.Yea, I know much of this is elementary, bear with me.Microsoft's ability to increase revenue from current market share comes from two quarters, price increases and reducing piracy levels.The primary constraint on price increases comes from Linux, without it they are once again the lowest price offering (granted OSX as a broken out item is less than XP but as a system it is generally higher).While they have historically drastically undercut UNIX much of the current server market can't support UNIX pricing levels, the point being that for the current installed base there are modest limits to what they can achieve through price increases.Piracy is another matter.If we assume an average global piracy rate of 50% we are talking about real money.To take advantage of that MS needs two things, one they need a way to enforce payment and second they need to be the lowest cost or only choice (especially if we assume that one of the primary motivations to piracy is economic).The easiest, surest way to enforce payment is a technological kill switch, a capability MS is clearly building toward.Now once they build that kill switch before they throw it they have to make sure there is no credible alternative, and certainly not one that is cheaper and arguably of comparable functionality.Increasing market share, MS is a victim of their own business success here.It's hard to go anywhere but down with some of their market percentages, unless you factor in the growth of their current markets.Currently about 1/6 of the world is computerized, if we assume a conservative 1/2 of the population ends up computerized that is a threefold increase in market size.Unfortunately for MS the next 2/6 are less affluent than the current 1/6, how much of that market can they count on capturing if they aren't the lowest cost option?This is what MS has to be most focused on.If Linux remains in the market what percentage of this increasingly cost conscious 2/6 will break to Linux, 30%, 50%, 70%, especially if they are forced to actually pay for it?If it is even the conservative number a very important thing happens, their position as a monopoly falters.MS's record on entering new markets has two success rates one for markets that have a corollary to a market they currently dominate, and a very different one for markets without that corollary.Additionally, the resistance from possible partners for new markets has increased over time do to there predatory business practices.Clearly their ability to quickly dominate new markets and set defacto standards is fundamentally affected with the loss of monopoly positions.Without monopoly position they have to compete in ways they haven't had to for some time.MS has two advantages over nearly all other competitors, first is their monopoly position and second is the extent of the network effect that they can bring to bear throughout their platform.FOSS is the only other cohesive entity that has been able to credibly challenge the former and can match the latter.From a global perspective it is FOSS that provides the competition and obstacle to all of MS's growth opportunities, market by market.And these growth opportunities dwarf by many orders of magnitude even the the most wildly optimistic possible monetary wins from litigation. Reply
May 17, 2007 12:19 PM Clifton Hyatt Clifton Hyatt  says:
The only worthwhile goal here for MS is "excluding future competitors", and they can't achieve that by actually going to court.But what happens if they can get Redhat and other successfull commercial organizations to do similar Novell deals?It seems you would begin to fracture the FOSS comunity and this has to be their goal.Their efforts to date have been to divide FOSS participants, whether that is their effort to differentiate between paid and non-paid developers or one FOSS distributor from another.If Novell developers are free to develop code that is "safe" from MS patents but no one else is safe to use it, they have created a division.If other distributors do a similar Novell deal only "distributors" that MS is willing to do such a deal with are safe to distribute the code.If MS is successfull propagating the Novell deal it fractures the FOSS ecosystem _as well as_ giving them a revenue stream, but the primary goal is to short circut the virtuous cycle of FOSS licenses.Divide and conquer is the goal here and that is not accomplished by going to court.Foss can't continue as it has on code that is patent encumbered, and if MS can get a percentage of FOSS players to accept that premise they have taken the first step to halting it.That's the game they are up to.It's not about collecting royalties on patents, it's about rolling in a Trojan horse to destroy the community from within. Reply
May 17, 2007 3:08 PM Rhonald Rhonald  says:
Not only MS will loose court case, but also, it will increase the popularity of GNU/Linux indirectly and GNU/Linux will be grabbed by various users who were trampled by MS not long back.But I don't think this is what MS wants. They rather keep spreading FUD and keep everyone confused rather than getting it cleared. Reply
May 17, 2007 5:04 PM awpoopy awpoopy  says:
This is article is exactly what macrosnot wanted as an outcome from their FALSE announcement. Let's see, the author of this article is writing a column on what kind of operating system? The author is posting it onto a Windows 2003 Server. The author has never tried Ubuntu? The authors article may be one of the many such articles sighted in a class action lawsuit against macrosnot. The lawsuit will show a loss of revenue by way of businesses not wanting to use the services of Open Source consultants, developers and/or VARs due to FALSE and NEGATIVE press releases, interviews and advertising. The phrase "properly indemnified" is racketeering; plain and simple. NOTE: We, the Open Source community, DO NOT WANT MICROSOFT CODE. If there really is some microsoft code or IP or patent infringement somewhere, SHOW US THE CODE AND IT WILL BE REMOVED. There, that wasn't so difficult was it? Reply
May 17, 2007 6:22 PM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
I'll have a follow up post on this shortly, but I now think we have largely been misled and not by Microsoft. Their intent was apparently to showcase a willingness to license and not to stop through litigaton (unless folks refused to remove the offending code or license) the use of FOSS. That, evidently, wasn't front page material and the story was spun into something more sensational. Microsoft's patents are in the public record, granted it would take some work, but there have been a number of efforts to identify which patents are violated outside of Microsoft's claims, it should be easy to make the determination to correct the problem (at least some of it) either by licensing or removing the infringment. I'm actually not aware, though that doesn't mean it isn't happening, in a FOSS effort to do either (otherwise someone would report progress right?). I'm not sure getting upset alone does much to address the issue. Reply
May 17, 2007 7:44 PM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
I don't think Racketeering applies, definitions below. I also think Microsoft believes their patents are valid, they are just adverse to the risk of seeing what would happen if they were challenged globally. This last makes you kind of wonder whether software patents can survive an OSS infringement even if they are valid. If the largest software company in the world is worried about this, what about any other software company? Definitions of Racketeering on the Web:1. Racketeering in business means carrying on a dishonest or illegal scheme in order to make money. (Such an enterprise is called a racket.) It ranges from transporting liquor across state lines to avoid excise taxes to bribing a jockey in a horse race. 2. In organized labor, collusion between union officials and employers in writing contracts, coercion of employers to accept union terms, appropriation of pension and strike funds for private gain by union officials, and similar practices.www.indiainfoline.com/bisc/jmer.htmlThe act of operating an illegal business for personal profit. www.white-collar-crimes.com/criminal_terms.shtmlengaging in a racket wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwnOrganized crime is crime carried out systematically by formal criminal organizations. The Organized Crime Control Act (U.S., 1970) defines organized crime as: "The unlawful activities of ... a highly organized, disciplined association...."Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Mafias are criminal organizations whose primary motivation is profit. Gangs sometimes become "disciplined" enough to be considered "organized. ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeering Reply
May 23, 2007 10:18 AM Dj_FlyBy Dj_FlyBy  says:
This is gonna sound rude, and quite frankly I mean it to sound rude.M$ can kiss my ass, and the asses of all the other OSS users/developers in the world. They claim all these stupid infringments yet they can't show/tell us what they are so that we may fix/work around them. That alone, In Canada, is considered a breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities to the Organization. Of course it is hard to punish Bill Gates for peforming such acts when he himself is breaking these laws.How can M$ make such a claim anyways when the M$ OS itself was written from the beginning using code that was stolen (The Kernel Code - Stolen From a Classmate of Bill Gates, of which Bill Gates has openly admitted publicly).It all boils down to a simple, yet disgusting, reality.M$ wants to be the only one alive, and will shut down (well try to shutdown) all those that do not bow to its feet and beg for mercy like the whole "SCO" incident.In Short,Nothing will stop me from living in the OSS world. You can try, but you'll have to kill me first, or lock me up for life.OSS For All!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reply

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