Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, violates 235 of its patents

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Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, violates 235 of its patents
By ping898 - Mon, 14 May 2007 12:31:03 GMT
Originally Posted at: Nephrites Citadel

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http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortu.../28/100033867/

long article, but interesting...
Quote:
Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you, maybe.
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But now there's a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it's being cast by Microsoft. The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents. And as a mature company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like Google, Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free software won't be free anymore.
The conflict pits Microsoft and its dogged CEO, Steve Ballmer, against the "free world" - people who believe software is pure knowledge. The leader of that faction is Richard Matthew Stallman, a computer visionary with the look and the intransigence of an Old Testament prophet.
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At the same time, Smith was having Microsoft's lawyers figure out how many of its patents were being infringed by free and open-source software. Gutierrez refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed, lest FOSS advocates start filing challenges to them.
But he does break down the total number allegedly violated - 235 - into categories. He says that the Linux kernel - the deepest layer of the free operating system, which interacts most directly with the computer hardware - violates 42 Microsoft patents. The Linux graphical user interfaces - essentially, the way design elements like menus and toolbars are set up - run afoul of another 65, he claims. The Open Office suite of programs, which is analogous to Microsoft Office, infringes 45 more. E-mail programs infringe 15, while other assorted FOSS programs allegedly transgress 68.
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If push comes to shove, would Microsoft sue its customers for royalties, the way the record industry has?
"That's not a bridge we've crossed," says CEO Ballmer, "and not a bridge I want to cross today on the phone with you."



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mrhnau

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Kind of frightening, but not something I'd be too suprised about these days... I don't think Microsoft is hurting too much financially, but I think they are looking down the road to the point people find Linux a very viable alternative to Windows and stop paying the big bucks for it...
 

exile

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If Microsoft keeps this up, they are going to get not a mere bloody nose, the last time they went high-profile legal as the target of government lawsuits, but a broken neck. The financial mass of the anti-MS worldnote that I said anti, not non-MS, because what's involved is an unprecedented level of hostility toward MShas gotten big enough worldwide that they are in a position, I strongly suspect, to block every legal initiative and countersue on grounds of monopolistic practice, restraint of trade and so on, toe-to-toe with Ballmer. You bet he doesn't want to go into details. What I know about the Linux gang and Richard Stallman suggests to me that they'd like nothing better than to take MSwhich I suspect has no friends, only clientsapart, down the ground.

MS seems to believe they can use their corporate mass to close down what is almost certainly a trend implicit in the very technology of the industry. Mightier than all the armies (and fat-cat monopolies) is an idea whose time has come.
 

mrhnau

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another thought... lets say Microsoft is able to pull down every linux platform. How close would the government be to slapping a "monopoly" tag on MSFT?
 

Andrew Green

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another thought... lets say Microsoft is able to pull down every linux platform. How close would the government be to slapping a "monopoly" tag on MSFT?

That will never happen. Can you imagine them trying to sue in the EU? They'd get laughed out of court and probably hit with a few fines just for good measure ;) Maybe they should launch this campaign in China instead? :lol:
 

Ping898

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My thought on it is MS is bringing all this up in an effort to scare businesses away from using Linux because of the legal ambiguity and the possibility of lawsuits in the future...
 

exile

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This just kills me. :(

Ditto. Time for a major boycott campaign against MS.

Mind you, I really don't think that MS can succeed herethere's the whole EU thing mentioned above, and a good deal of the world would just love to break one or two of MS' kneecaps. But they should be stung for bad intentions just to show them that the law doesn't exist for the benefit of the 800 lb gorilla trying to throw its weight around in your living room....
 

crushing

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My thought on it is MS is bringing all this up in an effort to scare businesses away from using Linux because of the legal ambiguity and the possibility of lawsuits in the future...

No kidding, since Microsoft's underwriting of the SCO lawsuit doesn't appear to be paying off, it looks like they are going to take it up themselves. Same ol' FUD creation.
 

Bob Hubbard

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The Genie is out of the bottle....good luck to Balmy Balmer at getting it back in. LOL!
 

jks9199

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Microsoft is just going to hurt their already tarnished image...

It just looks like a big bully who's afraid of the little kids on the block.

I can't see how anyone in their legal department didn't see that this was just a no-win idea!
 

Andrew Green

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Microsoft is just going to hurt their already tarnished image...

Pretty much, sueing open source software over patent laws, which tend to be riddiculous, when you are a monopoly is just really poor PR, not the FUD they where going for.
 

tellner

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another thought... lets say Microsoft is able to pull down every linux platform. How close would the government be to slapping a "monopoly" tag on MSFT?

These days? They wouldn't. The FTC has damned near declared that monopolies are a Good Thing(tm).
 

tellner

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My immediate thought was "They're tired of funding SCO's lawsuit and think they can do a better FUD 'n Blood campaign on their own." Groklaw has a pretty good thumbnail sketch of why this isn't worth worrying about. And, as they pointed out on Slashdot, Micro$oft isn't even saying what the infringed patents are, either because they'd get shot down faster than a Swingin' Dick Cheney hunting buddy or because the FOSS community would simply work around them.
 

Andrew Green

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Well here's my doings.

My computer has been Windows free for some time. Windows users have two choices, they either pay thousands of dollars for software, or, in most cases decide that software piracy is not so bad and generally acceptable "For home use", I decided to get my software legally, and didn't want to pay 1000's for MS and Adobe products.

Apart from mine, my brother is also converting, and apparently my dad is on the border right noow after recently buying a new one and experiencing Vista.

I have 2 computer labs at work. One has 4 Ubuntu systems, and the other has 24 thin clients running off a Ubuntu server.

I have no intention of going back, and miss relatively little. Games are really the only huge thing. A better image editor would be nice, but the Gimp is alright once you get the feel for it. I'm not much of a artist anyways.

Of course going to Windows would mean giving up all the stuff that I'm currently rather fond of. Things like Mythtv, thin clients without paying riddiculous fees, the lack of viruses / spyware, the system wide update tools and the customizablility of my desktop, Bluefish for web development, easy setup of apache / mysql, etc.

Some stuff is good either way, Openoffice wins over MS Office, Firefox & Thunderbird run on both, Evolution or Kontact however are Linux only.
 

exile

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Groklaw has a pretty good thumbnail sketch of why this isn't worth worrying about.

Groklaw is giving specifics and details that confirm every single intuition I had about why this whole thing is a crock. I am so happy to read this kind of overview analysis!! The market has its flaws, plenty of them, but one thing I love about it: in the fullness of time, the bullies and thugs tend to go down into the dust, as long as there are enough independent thinkers out there staying twelve steps ahead of them... which in the case of MS, isn't all that hard...
 
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