Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Dec 2006 19:54 UTC, submitted by John Mills
Linux "Mid November, Steve Ballmer said 'Linux uses our intellectual property' and Microsoft wanted to 'get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.' Many people didn't understand what he really meant, among them the LXer editors. Therefore, LXer sent an Open Letter to the Waggener Edstrom Rapid Response team, and two weeks later, the answers are in (no pun intended). Check the full story for the answers a Microsoft Spokesperson gave us, which hopefully can answer some of our questions."
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Nice howto
by ralph on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:06 UTC
ralph
Member since:
2005-07-10

on saying basicly nothing (though to be fair, a little nice FUD is sprinkled in at the end for good measure) with a lot of words.

Impressive.

Reply Score: 5

Such a high level of enlightenment
by jstead1 on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:10 UTC
jstead1
Member since:
2006-10-26

Seems like MS's sole goal in this response was to use the word "innovation" as much as possible. If you say it enough, it must be true.

Reply Score: 5

ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

And to never call property property. Did you know that property rights protect your property and not your ownership of your property?

Apparently if you own something people can't hurt it...

I know, I also always thought property rights were about owning and not protecting... This is obviously a use of weak language in order to hide the true effect of what's being described. The later explanation of the cost of patent analysis is proof enough that software patents are very broken right now!

Patents were supposed to protect innovators and not force them to pay people to check their innovations to make sure no one else also came up with it: The concept of novelty has been lost somewhere.


They also avoid discussing trade secrets because they're well aware that the general public would be appalled by this practice and the "law" behind it.

Reply Score: 4

Huh?
by Dudesdad on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:13 UTC
Dudesdad
Member since:
2005-07-10

This guy is practicing at running for Senator.
All talk and no substance.

Reply Score: 5

LOL
by jerzeejerome on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:18 UTC
jerzeejerome
Member since:
2006-04-18

Yea he did wear innovation out.

Reply Score: 2

"Microsoft Answers IP Questions"
by twenex on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:19 UTC
twenex
Member since:
2006-04-21

No it doesn't.

Reply Score: 5

somebody Member since:
2005-07-07

Yes, it does. And they were very clear with stating it.

They haven't got shit. Either that or they don't have a f--king clue what they would have. But it is more likely to be first.

It was a simple and political statement "if your speech is long and boring enough maybe all spectators will fall asleep before you would even touch the facts"

Reply Score: 5

twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

+5

Reply Score: 2

bitter grapes
by cmost on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:25 UTC
cmost
Member since:
2006-07-16

The truth of the matter is that Linux and the Open Source community; working in concert, have surpassed Microsoft Windows in almost every aspect. From security to the sheer number of OS tools to the GUI to the ease of installation to hardware recognition to the number of packages available for users immediately upon installation. Vista has just been released and it already trails nearly every Linux distribution in existence today in all of these areas. While another Windows release won't appear for five or six years, Linux distributions are updated every few months adding more features and ever more innovation. Microsoft is scared and rightfully so. It's only due to their draconian OEM arrangements and sweetheart deals with schools and big enterprises that Windows gets into the hands of the vast majority of users who become trapped by familiarity. Once software vendors begin to recognize the Linux OS as mainstream and begin deploying such commercial hits as Quicken, Adobe Creative Suite, and AutoCAD, Windows will be in serious trouble. In the meantime, perfectly adequate open source equivalents to these titles already exist or are in the works. Microsoft needs to realize that the way forward is to clean up its own house and undergo a major overhaul of its business practices. The days of trying scare, crush, buy and smear its competition are over. Balmer needs to shut the hell up and get over himself.

Edited 2006-12-11 20:27

Reply Score: 5

RE: bitter grapes
by Kelly Rush on Mon 11th Dec 2006 22:32 UTC in reply to "bitter grapes"
Kelly Rush Member since:
2005-06-30

Linux still has a lot of hurdles to overcome, not the least of which is ease of installing ALL software (i.e. not just that in the given repository). God help you if the software you want hasn't been compiled for your particular distro or CPU. I can't for the life of me figure out why the OSS community hasn't embraced Autopackage, or something similar...

This is not to say that Linux has not made a great many in-roads over the years; however, to say that it surpasses Windows on all fronts is simply hiding your eyes to the reality of the situation. Rather than trying to find ways to blame Microsoft for impeding the acceptance of Linux in the market, just keep looking inward to resolve the remaining problems. Once this has been done, the market will simply migrate on its own.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: bitter grapes
by hal2k1 on Mon 11th Dec 2006 23:04 UTC in reply to "RE: bitter grapes"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//God help you if the software you want hasn't been compiled for your particular distro or CPU.//

Actually, this isn't difficult.

Take OpenOffice 2.04, for example. It was available for download (from OpenOffice.org) as a set of RPM packages. Some people didn't want to wait the few days that it took for this to be repackaged and become available in the Debian repositories, so what to do?

The answer is Smart Package Manager.
http://labix.org/smart
http://labix.org/smart/features
"Channels are the way Smart becomes aware about external repositories of information. Many different channel types are supported, depending on the backend and kind of information desired:

APT-DEB Repository
APT-RPM Repository
DPKG Installed Packages
Mirror Information
Red Carpet Channel
RPM Directory
RPM Header List
RPM MetaData (YUM)
RPM Installed Packages
Slackware Repository
Slackware Installed Packages
URPMI Repository"


So what you do is install Smart Package Manager for debian via Synaptic, then download all of the OpenOffice RPM packages, then run Smart and make a new channel by pointing to the directory where you downloaded the RPM packages, then tell Smart to install them.

Presto! Install OpenOffice 2.04 on Debian via the provided RPM packages without it having been compiled for Debian!

This method should work for any Linux distribution running on x86 hardware. If you have a different CPU family ... then you must compile it from source, or alternatively wait for your distribution repository maintainers to do that for you.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: bitter grapes
by CowMan on Mon 11th Dec 2006 23:58 UTC in reply to "RE: bitter grapes"
CowMan Member since:
2006-09-26

Well, you always have the option of compiling it yourself, as most things have source available.

The unfortunate reality is that MS does maintain, and trys to enforce, a monopoly position on the desktop environment. So, while Linux matures as a mainstream-desktop capable OS and Windows degrades into an expensive, encumbered & often inferior OS, there will still not be any mass-switching.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: bitter grapes
by wirespot on Tue 12th Dec 2006 15:59 UTC in reply to "RE: bitter grapes"
wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

I can't for the life of me figure out why the OSS community hasn't embraced Autopackage, or something similar...

Because once you install kits made by virtually anybody you will eventually get spyware, trojans and so on. Unverified kits are the number one vector for propagation of Windows spyware.

I for one much prefer to know that my kits come from a trusted repository, and that they were assembled by honest people and are guaranteed free of malware.

Look at update.mozilla.org. They don't keep up with checking the extensions properly, and at some point some smartass figured this out. Today there are at least two dozen shady "toolbar" extensions listed which conduct at least some amount of spying on the user.

Reply Score: 1

RE: bitter grapes
by Kelly Rush on Mon 11th Dec 2006 22:33 UTC in reply to "bitter grapes"
Kelly Rush Member since:
2005-06-30

Oh, and yes, while this guy did say a lot, in reality, he really didn't say anything at all.

Reply Score: 3

v RE: bitter grapes
by tomcat on Tue 12th Dec 2006 00:07 UTC in reply to "bitter grapes"
v RE[2]: bitter grapes
by tomcat on Tue 12th Dec 2006 05:55 UTC in reply to "RE: bitter grapes"
RE[3]: bitter grapes
by Gone fishing on Tue 12th Dec 2006 06:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: bitter grapes"
Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Quote [Hey, Linux bigots: Reality bites, doesn't it?]

Words fail me? What reality?

If MS get away with this patent nonsense that will damage more than Linux, what about Haiku, BSDs, Sky OS, Riscos etc etc. in fact small to medium sized commercial software companies are more at risk than Open source as itís rather a diffuse target. Do you think that a small software company can stand up to MS and itís lawyers What about other software this isnít just about the OS.

I hope a patent war (genocide might be a better word) doesnít happen if it does, this is simply about large un-innovative companies protecting their monopolies by manipulating the law and throwing Millions to the lawyers. If the world is stupid enough to fall for this, theyíre just saying MS you can be the richest company in the world forever forget about innovating anything just watch the cash role in.

Reply Score: 4

A threat to ALL Software Development!
by shotsman on Tue 12th Dec 2006 08:32 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: bitter grapes"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

Every person and/or company in the world who writes software (either for pleasure or for a living, either commercially or for Open Source) is in danger of being sued for Patent Infringment by the likes of Microsoft.

As long as companies like MS can get away with beng non specific about what patents are being infringed then ANY software could infringe their patents.

So, companies like Microsoft (and they are not the only culprits here by any means, they are just the most visible) can hold a Sword of Damocles over ever virtually software developer in the world except where Software Patents are specifically disallowed (eg Europe) or ignored (China etc)

Just imagine the furore in forums like this when the Software equivalent of the RIAA/MPAA start legal action against several million software developers.
How long will it be before someone tries to make compilers illegal as they are essential tools in patent infringement and problably infringe a zillion patents anyway.

This might sound silly but this is where things could end up if this FUD is allowed to continue unabated.

Reply Score: 2

tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

It's funny. Everybody has their particular weapon of choice. The open source community likes to marshal its numbers and battle proprietary software. They take pride in their development methodology and their devotion to open standards. They see nothing wrong with releasing free software that competes directly with a commercial product. That's a weapon. You can deny it, but it is. Microsoft is trying to protect its business investments and, it seems, patents are a legal way for it to do precisely that. You may not like it -- but that could very well become its weapon of choice.

As I see it, patents are a means of balancing private and public interests. F/OSS proponents say it isn't fair to restrict what they do with patents. Closed source proponents say that it isn't fair to dump products onto the market at below cost in order to undermine commercial interests. Patents allow commercial interests to constrain how far F/OSS competitors can go. This seems like a reasonable tradeoff to me.

And, frankly, there's nothing which says that somebody can't license a particular patent from a Microsoft or IBM or whoever; however, since patent licensing is anathema to the open source religion, F/OSS proponents prefer to fight the battle with words. But it's pretty futile. As it's been said, money is the mother's milk of politics. The U.S. Congress isn't going to exclude software patents from the patent system. The only way to foster change is to dump money into the political river; then, politicians will start listening. Right now, you're not even on their radar. Sad, but true.

Reply Score: 1

h times nue equals e Member since:
2006-01-21

The problem is not the existance of software patents. The problem is the existance of frivously broad, vaguely formulated patents on (in essence) pure mathematics with a next-to-trivial complexity. Companies have realized, that their shareholders get warm, fuzzy feelings when announcments like "We have filed 100+ patents this year, bla bla bla" are presented to them. Since warm-fuzzy shareholder feelings usually translate into good stock prices, the importance of patent quantity has long ago triumphed over quality.

Another part of the dilemma is the duration of software patents, which is way too long (in most countries 20 years). Think about what happened during this period, what landslide shifts in the landscape of computing have occured during this time. Is it justified to grant patents for periods about two times longer than the average technology life-time?

Note, that as some before have mentioned, valid patents typically allow to implement at least similar ideas. If
John Steed et al would have patented the cranck in a way similar to modern software patents, John Watt wouldn't have been able to bypass this patent by the invention of the sun and planet epicyclic gear[1][2].

On a related site note:

Most FOSS licenses are within both the letter and spirit of copyright laws worldwide. Note, that the used licenses determine the possible developement modells, not the other way round. In contrast, many (if not most) software patents at least fail to fulfill the quality standards patents need to pass, thus leading to buisness modells, that run counter the arguments in favour of patent regulations. (e.g. innovation is stiffeld, large players can raise the barrier to enter the market arbitrarely, etc. )

Please understand, that people tend to oppose business modells, that reley almost soley on the exploitation of weak regulations (in this case patents).

Bottom line: I guess it is save to say, that most FOSS advocates wouldn't have a problem with a system, where only protection for truly innovative (e.g. non-trivial
for someone trained in the field) products for a reasonable period of time would be granted. All other, more trivial innovations can still enjoy protection by trade secrets or copyright measures.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Watt
[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_and_planet_gear

EDIT: fixed two typos and reformulated two sentences, so that they flow better

Edited 2006-12-12 18:25

Reply Score: 2

Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> As I see it, patents are a means of balancing private and public interests.

Patents are a means to encourage innovation. They don't balance public and private interests, they balance the public interest of innovation being made and the public interest of already-made innovation being available to everybody. There are no private interests to protect here because no private person or company has per se the right to own an idea.

Reply Score: 2

hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//It's funny. Everybody has their particular weapon of choice. The open source community likes to marshal its numbers and battle proprietary software. They take pride in their development methodology and their devotion to open standards. They see nothing wrong with releasing free software that competes directly with a commercial product. That's a weapon. You can deny it, but it is. Microsoft is trying to protect its business investments and, it seems, patents are a legal way for it to do precisely that. You may not like it -- but that could very well become its weapon of choice.

As I see it, patents are a means of balancing private and public interests. F/OSS proponents say it isn't fair to restrict what they do with patents. Closed source proponents say that it isn't fair to dump products onto the market at below cost in order to undermine commercial interests. Patents allow commercial interests to constrain how far F/OSS competitors can go. This seems like a reasonable tradeoff to me. //

Strangely enough, "IP" laws aren't actually about trading off private interest with public interest. The laws are supposed to achieve tradeoffs between fairness and incentives ... all of which is supposed to be in the consumers (read voters) interest.

Patents aren't supposed to "allow commercial interests to constrain how far F/OSS competitors can go". That is not what they are for. A patent is supposed to encourage new inventions, and encourage that the invention eventually become public property. You are required to disclose the way that the invention works, to the public, on a patent application. The "return" is that you get a period of 20 years where you have exclusive rights to that invention, which you may then license to whomever you please.

One of the main problems with software patents is that 20 years is far too long a term relative to a typical software product lifecycle. For software, this term should be more like five years.

Patents are supposed to encourage competition, but they way they are used at this time is (as you point out) is to actually constrain competition.

This is the way that it should be instead:
http://www.sincerechoice.org/

Edited 2006-12-13 00:57

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: bitter grapes
by xxmf on Tue 12th Dec 2006 11:30 UTC in reply to "RE: bitter grapes"
xxmf Member since:
2006-06-15

This isn't (as quite frankly anyone should see) a function of which OS/GUI is 'best', but which has the critical mass of applications that joe user wants to run.

I won't make a call about which is best but I will point out which owns the apps. I'll also point out the illegal and anticompetative means that it employed to aquire that market dominance, starting with the licensing model that ran from 1980 untill the FTC's decision to squash it in 1991. Oh and there was some more antitrust cases too I believe.

linux: quality/license revenue = excellent

windows: quality/license revenue = pathetic

qudos to the linux guys.

Thanks, M

Reply Score: 1

RE: bitter grapes
by netpython on Tue 12th Dec 2006 06:14 UTC in reply to "bitter grapes"
netpython Member since:
2005-07-06

dead on :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE: bitter grapes
by baad_to_The_bone on Tue 12th Dec 2006 12:20 UTC in reply to "bitter grapes"
baad_to_The_bone Member since:
2006-02-08

Once software vendors begin to recognize the Linux OS as mainstream and begin deploying such commercial hits as Quicken, Adobe Creative Suite, and AutoCAD, Windows will be in serious trouble.

Perhaps you hadn't noticed, but Linux zealots have some deep issues with software that is open but not Free, let alone commercial software!

(Like there was really a need to start GNOME other than Qt being "just open" rather Free?)

Any vendor who is porting their software to linux is just begging zealots to begin work on some half-assed Free software clone that they can call "superior".

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: bitter grapes
by draethus on Tue 12th Dec 2006 14:01 UTC in reply to "RE: bitter grapes"
draethus Member since:
2006-08-02

Perhaps you hadn't noticed, but Linux zealots have some deep issues with software that is open but not Free, let alone commercial software!

(Like there was really a need to start GNOME other than Qt being "just open" rather Free?)

Any vendor who is porting their software to linux is just begging zealots to begin work on some half-assed Free software clone that they can call "superior".


Perhaps you should do a little research before posting. KDE licensing itself under GPL was incompatible with Qt's QPL at the time. There was a valid reason to go the legal route back then. And Gnome is hardly a clone of KDE - they are worlds apart, using different software at the core.

Where are the clones of Maya, Mathematica, realplayer, scalix and others? I don't see clones of NVidia's and ATi's drivers either, despite "zealots" hating them. Not everybody using Linux is a zealot, and most people will acknoledge good software isn't necessarily open-source.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: bitter grapes
by baad_to_The_bone on Tue 12th Dec 2006 19:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: bitter grapes"
baad_to_The_bone Member since:
2006-02-08

Perhaps you should do a little research before posting. KDE licensing itself under GPL was incompatible with Qt's QPL at the time. There was a valid reason to go the legal route back then

Typical zealot nit-picking. Does it really matter if it was KDE or Qt that was incompatible? The point is, it wasn't Free with a capital G.

Where are the clones of Maya, Mathematica, realplayer, scalix and others

"Moonlight|3D strives to become a free modern, flexible, feature-rich and extensible modelling and animation tool."

If you remember, I said the clones are always of lower quality, so don't tell me that Moonlight3D isn't Maya-quality yet. Of course it isn't, and never will be.

And aren't there 50 zealot media player clones for Realplayer? I was sure there are.

Here are some more examples.

How about clones for GetRight? SmartFTP? ICQ? Norton Commander? WinZip? Beyond Compare? TextPad? Acrobat? Partition Magic? Winamp? Nero? Cakewalk? ACDSee? Photoshop? Flash?

I was going by http://www.linuxrsp.ru/win-lin-soft/table-eng.html but I think I'll stop half-way through. I'm sure you get the idea. 99% of all commercial quality Windows shareware have some kind of lame zealot GFree clone.

No commercial vendor will create quality software for you, when linux forums are filled with people celebrating lower quality clones, simply because they are GFree.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: bitter grapes
by Morin on Tue 12th Dec 2006 21:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: bitter grapes"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> How about clones for GetRight? SmartFTP? ICQ? Norton Commander?
> WinZip? Beyond Compare? TextPad? Acrobat? Partition Magic? Winamp?
> Nero? Cakewalk? ACDSee? Photoshop? Flash?
>
> I was going by http://www.linuxrsp.ru/win-lin-soft/table-eng.html but
> I think I'll stop half-way through. I'm sure you get the idea. 99% of all
> commercial quality Windows shareware have some kind of lame zealot
> GFree clone.

Unfortunately, you are partly right here. First however, let's take WinZIP out of the discussion because, honestly, every ZIP program out there does what must be done.

You are right in that for each and every program, a "free" (as in FSF) clone exists, which is in most cases of lower quality than the original. However, only in some cases these clones exist just for the sake of having a free clone. In many cases, the original doesn't run on the intended platforms, or contains ads and other malware.

In those cases, there is a valid reason (completely independent from any licensing) to create a clone. The sad part of the story is that a fundamental will to create a product of equal quality to the original is often missing. This is very obvious with ICQ and TextPad (I use these as an example because I know them well):

Linux has Gaim as an ICQ replacement. This program sucks hard: I see many people offline who are actually online, just because libgaim screws up. The same annoys me on OSX, where I have Adium, which internally uses libgaim. Also, with some people I simply can't read their away-message. Contrast that with Miranda (which ironically is free as in FSF too), where everything works. Yet, nobody seems to recognize a reason to port Miranda over to Linux, or to fix the bugs in libgaim.

With TextPad, things are even harder to believe: There is no unknown proprietary protocol, or advanced techniques, or whatever in TextPad. It's just an ASCII text editor with a damn simple user interface. On Linux, there is GEdit which comes close, though some things are missing. There is XEmacs, which can't even handle copy&paste correctly. There is vi, which is close to physical torture. Yet, vi and Emacs are claimed to be the pinnacle of text editors.

But the problem is not Free Software. There are many free programs that are far superior to their proprietary counterparts. Compary Miranda to ICQ; compare Firefox to IE; thunderbird to Outlook. The problem rather seems to be a lack of appreciation for quality for which I have no explanation.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: bitter grapes
by hal2k1 on Tue 12th Dec 2006 23:03 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: bitter grapes"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//How about clones for GetRight? SmartFTP? ICQ? Norton Commander? WinZip? Beyond Compare? TextPad? Acrobat? Partition Magic? Winamp? Nero? Cakewalk? ACDSee? Photoshop? Flash?//

I'll avoid the "zealot" type of goading in your post, and attempt to answer the actual question here.

GetRight ==> KGet http://www.tuxmagazine.com/node/1000123

SmartFTP ==> gFTP http://gftp.seul.org/ http://gftp.seul.org/screenshots.html

ICQ ==> I don't use this. Perhaps Licq. http://licq.sourceforge.net/

Norton Commander ==> Midnight Commander (Krusader for GUI version)

WinZip ==> Ark or FileRoller http://fileroller.sourceforge.net/

Beyond Compare ==> Meld http://meld.sourceforge.net/ http://meld.sourceforge.net/screenshots.html and Krusader http://krusader.sourceforge.net/

TextPad ==> Xemacs http://www.xemacs.org/ or Gedit http://www.gnome.org/projects/gedit/screenshots.html or Kate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_%28text_editor%29

Acrobat ==> KPDF http://kpdf.kde.org/ or Evince http://www.gnome.org/projects/evince/

Partition Magic ==> Qtparted http://qtparted.sourceforge.net/ http://qtparted.sourceforge.net/screenshots.en.html

Winamp ==> Beep Media Player http://bmp.beep-media-player.org/index.php/BMP_Homepage (but seriously, you would really want to run amarok instead, surely?) Amarok http://amarok.kde.org/

Nero ==> Nero for Linux. But K3b is better anyway http://www.k3b.org/

Cakewalk ==> ardour http://ardour.org/ (you would probably run dynebolic http://www.dynebolic.org/ or 64studio http://64studio.com/

ACDSee ==> gwenview http://gwenview.sourceforge.net/ http://gwenview.sourceforge.net/screenshots.php?album=/1.4 or xnview http://perso.orange.fr/pierre.g/xnview/enhome.html

Photoshop ==> Krita http://www.koffice.org/krita/ or GIMP http://www.gimp.org/

Flash ==> Flash http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=S... (or if you really must, use gnash).

In about half of these cases, the Linux applications are better than the Windows ones.

Edited 2006-12-12 23:17

Reply Score: 4

Santa Claus meets M&M's
by tpaws on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:27 UTC
tpaws
Member since:
2006-06-02

"They do exist!" ..... Thud.

Reply Score: 3

Earl Colby pottinger
Member since:
2005-07-06

No where in all that wordage did I see a single hint about any areas that Microsoft can lay a solid claim about Linux conflict vs them.

It would be one thing for example to claim that Linux used some graphic method patented - but there was nothing.

Am I right that if Microsoft tried to sue with the vague claims as give by this spokesperson that the defending lawyer can get copies of the SCO vs IBM court records and point out the years wasted because the judge did not cut to the bone and demand proof of conflict right away. Where would that put Microsoft.

Please note, I do not disagree with the judge in SCO's case. He has caused there to be a clear and complete record that after three years of claiming IBM was in conflict and millions of line of code examined that no such proof existed. The SCO case should now have set a higher standard of proof than just making vague claims in all future cases in the USA.

Reply Score: 3

Output of "wc"
by Shaman on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:37 UTC
Shaman
Member since:
2005-11-15

19 830 5530

So, this article is 830 words that say nothing at all. Politicians and lawyers should fear this guy, he's able to say nothing at all while expounding about the innovation and general goodness of the company he works for. It's impressive public relations on a scale that would have made my A/PR college profs giddy.

Reply Score: 3

A good LXer comment
by britbrian on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:40 UTC
britbrian
Member since:
2005-07-06

The translated version is right on the mark
http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/24238/

Reply Score: 5

Trying to read between the lines
by MechaShiva on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:42 UTC
MechaShiva
Member since:
2005-07-06

All the other posters seem to have hit the nail on the head (lots of words, no direct answers). Read a little deeper into it though, and you start to get something that could be telling. Here's a couple things I picked up on:

- Microsoft means patents when they say "IP".
- Microsoft has been trying to figure out a way to leverage their patents against the open source community for a while.
- Microsoft feel that their patent deal with Novell is the first step to establishing that leverage against the rest of the community. If you were wondering what MS was paying $400 million dollars for, well, there it is.

The next big question is whether or not Novell knew this is what they were being paid for. Did they really think their patent portfolio scared MS enough to pay the lions share on that deal? It is possible if you consider that Novell owns lots of Unix IP (sorry SCO) and between that, their NDS/eDirectory work (think active directory) and who knows what else from the early days of netware and file print serving. Is it likely though? Anyone want to write that open letter and see what Novell's PR staff says?

Reply Score: 5

EU
by raver31 on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:50 UTC
raver31
Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think this guy has researched IP in the EU.

Now, if it was Ballmer, he would have "MSNed it" before commenting, but this guy should have googled the info.

In the EU, IP and software patents are null and void. Simple as that.

Not just are they not worth the paper they are written on, they are a waste of trees that make the paper.

Also, Novell is not Linux.

Microsoft cannot grant immunity to Novell with sueing other copmanies, as Novell do not own the rights to Linux. No-one does.


His last paragraph was interesting.... admitting that even Microsoft has to adapt to the market.

I can see a future where they have to adapt even more.

Reply Score: 4

RE: EU
by RenatoRam on Tue 12th Dec 2006 15:57 UTC in reply to "EU"
RenatoRam Member since:
2005-11-14

What good ole Steve is trying to use as a threat is the fact that in the EU it is possible to obtain a patent on a piece of software IF and ONLY IF it is strictly related to a physical device, and would not have any sense without it.

So you can patent a device that does some new and useful stuff (and has some software inside). But NOT the ALGORITHM.

That's what's different.

Besides, nobody can get sued for USING a softwar, even in the states i think. This is all marketing, as usual.

Reply Score: 1

RE: EU
by Morin on Tue 12th Dec 2006 18:11 UTC in reply to "EU"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

> Microsoft cannot grant immunity to Novell with sueing other
> copmanies, as Novell do not own the rights to Linux. No-one does.

That's not entirely correct... but let's break it up into the four types of IP the MS guy mentioned:

- copyright: Of course this exists, and is owned by the individual authors. They'll probably not give this away, but they have granted everyone to use their work by releasing it under the GPL. Important to prevent use of the code in proprietary software, and to resist copyright infringement claims by other entities (read: SCO).

- patents: Don't exist in the EU.

- trademarks: They do exist. For example, Linus himself owns the trademark for Linux (might be specific to countries). Important to resist trademark infringement claims, and to prevent counterfeit software ("Microsoft Linux").

- trade secrets: Well... they're not really secret.

Reply Score: 1

liars
by kiddo on Mon 11th Dec 2006 20:54 UTC
kiddo
Member since:
2005-07-23

As is standard with most companies in this and indeed other industries, we do not publicly list the patents that are applicable to a product or by a component. One of the benefits of patent agreements is that they allow freedom of action now and in the future.

Then STFU, don't tell us to stop coding because YOU REFUSE to list what you are accusing us of. You look like the RIAA suing someone and then saying "uh.. proofs? we don't have any sufficient ones, hold on, hand over that guy's hard drive"

Novellís products and Microsoftís products change on a regular basis and conducting a complete patent analyses for every version of every product is costly and complex.
Products changes, that doesn't change a flying f... about the issue, you are accusing us of patent infringement, PROVE IT! The fact that software is evolving over time is irrelevant. If you can't prove it because it's too complex, hire a beowulf cluster of lovely lawyers, you have the money to do that.

As weíve stated, we undertook an analysis of our patent portfolio and concluded that it was necessary and important to create a patent covenant which Novell and Microsoft agreed on for the benefit of our customers.
What? I thought you just said you did not have time to do full patent analysis, then you say you just did? Just hand over that report.

Reply Score: 5

RE: liars
by B. Janssen on Tue 12th Dec 2006 12:40 UTC in reply to "liars"
B. Janssen Member since:
2006-10-11

While i share your outrage, especially with regards to the "put up or shut up" sentiment, i have to correct you on one issue.

MS :Novellís products and Microsoftís products change on a regular basis and conducting a complete patent analyses for every version of every product is costly and complex.

MS: As weíve stated, we undertook an analysis of our patent portfolio and concluded that it was necessary and important to create a patent covenant which Novell and Microsoft agreed on for the benefit of our customers.

kiddo: What? I thought you just said you did not have time to do full patent analysis, then you say you just did? Just hand over that report.


They said:
(a) they don't do a patent analysis for every version of every product
(b) they did an analysis of their patent portfolio.

(a) can mean a whole lot of things, but every meaning i can get from it, is different from what (b) says. Analysing your portfolio, the patents you claim, is different from analysing your product for any patents touched. (a) > (b), so to speak.

Just because it is MS we are confronting here doesn't mean we can get sloppy with our accusations.

Reply Score: 1

uh
by deanlinkous on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:01 UTC
deanlinkous
Member since:
2006-06-19

patents....
agreement...
important...

Is there a subliminal message in there....I think it might be...

Reply Score: 3

Charlie Brown
by brewmastre on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:13 UTC
brewmastre
Member since:
2006-08-01

Anyone feel like they were watching Charlie Brown and MS is the teacher?

LXer: Why does Microsoft Corp. never specify which Intellectual Property Linux infringes on?

MS: wah wah wah...wah wah

Reply Score: 5

RE: Charlie Brown
by JeffS on Tue 12th Dec 2006 00:04 UTC in reply to "Charlie Brown"
JeffS Member since:
2005-07-12

That's the best damn post I've seen in a while.

Actually, I'm enjoying this whole thread. Anytime MS speaks on Linux, IP, innovation, or other such things, it is an absolute joy to watch them get ripped to shreds in forums and the IT post, by people that are a lot smarter, perceptive, and funnier then any of the mentally deficient blowhards at MS.

Reply Score: 4

In future
by twenex on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:16 UTC
twenex
Member since:
2006-04-21

I will be advising those who ask that Microsoft does NOT have any patents that infringe on Linux. If they did they would have said so, either in press releases or in court.

Reply Score: 2

So "freedom has it's price", they say
by ido50 on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:26 UTC
ido50
Member since:
2006-02-06

Not only do they avoid answering any of the questions presented, they are actually trying to convince the reader that software patents encourage innovation and provide freedom.

"Microsoft. Because you've gotta pay to innovate."

Reply Score: 5

I thought...
by jakesdad on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:26 UTC
jakesdad
Member since:
2005-12-28

A lot of products listed that they are covered by patents.

In fact I can go through my house and find lots of stuff that says its covered by patent number blah blah blah... Why should software be different?

Reply Score: 2

RE: I thought...
by twenex on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:31 UTC in reply to "I thought..."
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Not sure of your point there...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I thought...
by jakesdad on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:38 UTC in reply to "RE: I thought..."
jakesdad Member since:
2005-12-28

They state that they dont list their patents. I thought that most products listed patents. Thats all. No real point ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE: I thought...
by ido50 on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:43 UTC in reply to "I thought..."
ido50 Member since:
2006-02-06

Software shouldn't necessarily be different. The current problem with software patents is as follows:
1. It doesn't matter if you wrote the code. As long as you're the first to claim it, ownership will be yours. So what if you had nothing to do with writing the code?
2. You are allowed to charge any amount of money that you want to give other software publishers permission to use your patent. You can demand a dollar, you can demand 2 million dollars, whatever you want.
3. Almost everything can be patented. Software patents are as abstract as can be. Did you know that displaying the "Visa" logo in a web store is a software patent?

Software patents must be stopped, otherwise software as we know (and like) could not continue to be written.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I thought...
by ma_d on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:53 UTC in reply to "RE: I thought..."
ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

I actually think the result is going to be a declaration that all software patents are void, or a complete lack of real lawsuits (only little companies fighting over real patents and not big companies fighting with a portfolio).

I'm guessing that someday MS, or someone else, will sue. And the judge will find that because the patents are so numerous and vague that if he upholds either side he threatens a whole industry.

But hey, IANAL! I'm just throwing theories out at what will happen. I just can't imagine that many people will pay attention to patents while they develop software.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I thought...
by tmack on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:56 UTC in reply to "RE: I thought..."
tmack Member since:
2006-04-11

"Did you know that displaying the "Visa" logo in a web store is a software patent?"

Actually, that's trademark infringment, if you aren't authorized/licensed to display the trademark.

Similar, yet very different thing.

I hate Microsoft, their employees, their software and their patents. I hope these guys, and the other groups that are holding the future back (RIAA, MPAA) are put out of business.

Edited 2006-12-11 21:56

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: I thought...
by rcsteiner on Mon 11th Dec 2006 22:41 UTC in reply to "RE: I thought..."
rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

Software patents are different from most other patents because they tend to describe a general method for doing something, while other types of patents tend to describe a specific implementation.

If hardware patents were like software patents, the first bicycle maker would have gotten a patent for "a device which transports a person using wheels and a frame", and the auto industry would have been paying him royalties for that basic concept for the past 100 years...

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: I thought...
by hal2k1 on Mon 11th Dec 2006 23:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I thought..."
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//If hardware patents were like software patents, the first bicycle maker would have gotten a patent for "a device which transports a person using wheels and a frame", and the auto industry would have been paying him royalties for that basic concept for the past 100 years...//

Another example that people might be able to relate to is a patent for an "electric light". For a hardware invention patent such as that, it is necessary on the patent to describe how the "electric light" invention works. In the case of the original electric light, that method was to take a thin resistive wire, place it inside a sealed globe filled with inert gas, and pass a current through the wire so that it became white hot and emitted light.

So then the patent for "electric light" really becomes a patent for an incandescent light. This allows another inventor to make a competing product by coming up with a "flourescent electric light". The new device does the same thing effectively as the original electric light (it uses electricity to produce light), but it does not use the method described in the original patent, and so does not violate the original patent.

Similarly for "headache tablet". Panadol should be able to patent a specific formula for paracetmol, but that patent should not prevent someone else making Aspirin, Tylenol or Nurofen.

It should be possible to do the same with any patent. That is, it should be possible to achieve the same thing in a different way, and so not violate the original patent. If it is not possible because the patent claims "all methods of doing <whatever>", then the patent is too broad and should be invalidated.

Also, if a patent describes only what and not how something is done, then that patent too should be invalidated. It should not be possible to patent a "network server protocol" without describing exactly how that protocol works, in the same way that it should not be possible to patent "antigravity machine" without describing exactly how it worked.

Edited 2006-12-11 23:34

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: I thought...
by vondur on Tue 12th Dec 2006 17:08 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I thought..."
vondur Member since:
2005-07-07

If I remember correctly someone recently tried to get a patent for a warp drive engine (from Star Trek) filed here in the US. The patent was denied unless the person who filed it had a working prototype! (I'm waiting for the phaser myself!)

Reply Score: 1

patent madness
by unapersson on Mon 11th Dec 2006 21:43 UTC
unapersson
Member since:
2005-07-19

"Novellís products and Microsoftís products change on a regular basis and conducting a complete patent analyses for every version of every product is costly and complex."

That is the real problem with software patents. People aren't actually infringing an idea someone else "invented", they're merely infringing by inventing something completely independently while being completely unaware of the patents someone else holds.

That's the big lie with software patents, the intellectual property they protect is just a big fraud. I'm sure every programmer in the world is infringing a patent every time they write a page of code.

They are nothing like real patents. Whatever happened to the inventions needs to be novel and inventive. People don't look at them to find new ideas. They are nothing more than landmines placed to lay claim to common developments.

Reply Score: 3

RE: patent madness
by tmack on Mon 11th Dec 2006 22:25 UTC in reply to "patent madness"
tmack Member since:
2006-04-11

That's a good point.

The point at which a software idea becomes patentable needs to be much higher than say, a mechanical patent.

I can see software patents on certain things, like say a really clever way to compress audio. If it's original and works really well, then yeah, you should be able to patent it.

However, patenting "double click" or "the if statement" is a clearly too broad and stupid to be patentable. That would be like patenting "a heavy device that drives metal spikes into a material, in order to increase its structural weight capacity." It's stupid.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: patent madness
by grat on Tue 12th Dec 2006 05:38 UTC in reply to "RE: patent madness"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

The point at which a software idea becomes patentable needs to be much higher than say, a mechanical patent.

Actually, it doesn't. The same level applies, and it's an issue currently before the Supreme Court-- It has to do with "Obviousness".

IMHO, just because I figure out how to solve a problem no one has ever has to solve before, doesn't necessarily mean I should get a patent.

If another programmer of similar skill can solve the same problem, in the same way, independently-- Then my method should not be worthy of a patent, because it falls under the "Obvious" category.

Patenting the use of cookies to track purchases within an e-store, for example, isn't really that brilliant. Any moderately competent programmer looking at HTML, and browsers, would be able to figure out that cookies are a data store, because, well, duh-- that's what they were designed for.

Figuring out how to obtain 10:1 compression of audio and still produce something that sounds like the original, that takes talent, time, and effort. I'm not saying I'm in favor of the mp3 patent, but if software patents are legal, that's the sort of thing that should be patentable.

I also think they should be more emphatic about enforcement-- using patents to ambush the competition (GIF, MP3, SCO) after years of non-enforcement should be discouraged, preferably with live ammunition.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: patent madness
by hal2k1 on Tue 12th Dec 2006 06:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: patent madness"
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//I'm not saying I'm in favor of the mp3 patent, but if software patents are legal, that's the sort of thing that should be patentable.//

It should perhaps be patentable if it is not "hidden" or "submarine", and if it allows alternatives.

It does appear to allow alternatives ... because mp3 and ogg both work by "throwing away" parts of the information contained in audio waveforms, but they throw away very different parts of the information. (That is why it is not good to convert from mp3 to ogg or vice versa ... you end up with too much info thrown away).

However, as I understand it, the mp3 patent was "submarined". That is, mp3 was used extensively, became the defacto standard method of audio compression, and was proposed as a real standard, when suddenly someone piped up and claimed "we have a patent on that, you all owe us money".

IMO, that behaviour should not be allowed.

Reply Score: 3

This proves it....
by timbobsteve on Mon 11th Dec 2006 22:06 UTC
timbobsteve
Member since:
2006-06-25

The FUD machine is alive and well... and it has a twin brother who is great at bullsh*ting and avoiding the questions.

Microsoft has no idea what Linux infringes upon. If they did, it would have been made a lawsuit by now.. and the Linux community would have removed the offending code immediately (if not only for their distaste of non-open code). Another poster was right before when they said that the whole MS-Novell deal was just a way for MS to gain some leverage over the 'idea' of Linux. They were losing their footing at the top and had to slow us all down somehow.

Reply Score: 5

RE: This proves it....
by japh on Tue 12th Dec 2006 08:50 UTC in reply to "This proves it...."
japh Member since:
2005-11-11

"Microsoft has no idea what Linux infringes upon. If they did, it would have been made a lawsuit by now.. and the Linux community would have removed the offending code immediately"

I'm not so sure about that. There is really no good outcome for Microsoft if they would start a lawsuit.
What can happen is:
1. Their patent is proven to be invalid.
2. Their patent is valid and the code in Linux will be changed. Possibly a bit of cash will find its way to Microsoft.

In the end, the signal to the world is: "Patent problems with Linux solved. There's nothing to worry about."

No, what is valuable for Microsoft is that people believe that there MIGHT be problems and that there MIGHT be a lawsuit.
They have nothing to gain by showing any evidence and suing some Linux company might turn out to be a PR disaster.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: This proves it....
by Gone fishing on Tue 12th Dec 2006 09:51 UTC in reply to "RE: This proves it...."
Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Possibly your right, however I find the arguments used here http://www.msversus.org/microsoft-patents.html quite convincing.

I'll Quote a little

[There are many patents held by Microsoft which should have been denied due to the existance of prior art or because they're self-evident and are not true inventions as defined by U.S. patent law:

* Double-clicking a button
* Grouping task bar buttons
* Two-way scroll mouse
* Task list generated for software developers
* Using the human body as a conductive medium for power and data (much prior art done by research labs)
* The equivalent of the sudo Unix command as old as at least 1980

The patents might seem frivolous, but all it takes is the threat of litigation to put small and medium companies out of business. A company or individual usually can't afford a defense fund if Microsoft were to decide to enforce licensing.]

And of course as MS has 5000 other patents some will be a real problem. I think I'll finish by quoting Bill Gates (again taken from the above website)

"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." - Bill Gates, Challenges and Strategy Memo. 16 May 1991 I think that partly somes up my feelings.

Reply Score: 2

RE: This proves it....
by draethus on Tue 12th Dec 2006 09:17 UTC in reply to "This proves it...."
draethus Member since:
2006-08-02

Microsoft has no idea what Linux infringes upon. If they did, it would have been made a lawsuit by now.. and the Linux community would have removed the offending code immediately (if not only for their distaste of non-open code). Another poster was right before when they said that the whole MS-Novell deal was just a way for MS to gain some leverage over the 'idea' of Linux. They were losing their footing at the top and had to slow us all down somehow.

Oh they have very clear ideas about what patents Linux infringes on, they're just keeping quiet.

Microsoft bought and now owns the OpenGL patent, for example. You cannot remove stuff like that without seriously crippling Linux. Ironically, at one stage they were planning to drop OpenGL from Vista (or something like that), but they had no intention of losing the patent...

Reply Score: 2

An alternative view on IP patents
by irbis on Mon 11th Dec 2006 22:32 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

The truth is, I didn't get any real information from the article, almost the opposite... But maybe increasing uncertainty (FUD?) was the whole point of the interview, huh...?

Just for the sake of balance, I encourage everyone to read or at least browse, for example:
Vandana Shiva: "Protect or Plunder?: Understanding Intellectual Property Rights":
http://www.amazon.com/Protect-Plunder-Understanding-Intellectual-Pr...
The book may not be neutral but neither is the interview mentioned here. Shiva's book clearly shows what sort of historical background and socio-economic consequences the often confusing "intellectual property" mumbo jumbo talk in the west really have.

It seems that IP patents are usually meant to maintain the economic status quo or strengthen the already strongest economic players' (aka MS) hold of the global economy, not to really increase innovation or free global competition.

After more and more Asian countries have become an economic threat to the western dominion, the old western economic ideals of free competition and innovation seem to get more and more forgotten in west. Now the big western companies often just seem to want to keep hold of all the global power they used to have a hold of before, by trying to enforce globally ever more IP patents, have stagnant anti-innovative monopolies over patented information and even patented life forms, how ever ridiculous, just because of the fear of free competition...

Welcome back to the age of colonialism and imperialism?

Edited 2006-12-11 22:50

Reply Score: 3

I do have fun here
by foez on Mon 11th Dec 2006 23:06 UTC
foez
Member since:
2005-08-29

If there are any stories on earth to bash linux and promote microsoft this poster will find it for you ;-)
He probably can do the Ballmer dance.

Reply Score: 2

Baloney ratio
by diskinetic on Mon 11th Dec 2006 23:37 UTC
diskinetic
Member since:
2005-12-09

I had a communications professor tell me once that if the answer is shorter than the question, there's a 50/50 chance of it being true, and diminishing as the answer exceeds the length of the question. It was a joke, but it's eerily applicable here.

Reply Score: 2

And who, exactly, was confused?
by Phloptical on Tue 12th Dec 2006 00:26 UTC
Phloptical
Member since:
2006-10-10

I thought Ballmer's agenda behind his statement was quite clear. And that is, "Get ready, we're rounding up the lawyers so you all are either with us, or against us." Why else would he have said something so blatantly confrontational (and irresponsible) if he didn't want to alert the public at large of his impending action?

The pro-Linux camp may be a lot of things, the word "dense" isn't one of them.

Reply Score: 2

RE: And who, exactly, was confused?
by twenex on Tue 12th Dec 2006 00:33 UTC in reply to "And who, exactly, was confused?"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

How true.

Reply Score: 2

RE: And who, exactly, was confused?
by xxmf on Tue 12th Dec 2006 11:34 UTC in reply to "And who, exactly, was confused?"
xxmf Member since:
2006-06-15

One would conjecture that *if* there is no substance in Balmers claims, or that he fails to follow through on his promise to sue. The the likes of RH, IBM, HP, Novel^h^h^h^h^h, and SUN would have a good case that their business is damaged by bad faith and litigous remarks from a seniour MS exec.

Hopefully ;)

Reply Score: 1

japh Member since:
2005-11-11

Now all that is needed is to find a company who would be willing to spend the next 5-10 years in court.

You need a lot of cash and a lot of patience for that. Also, when you're finally done, the outcome is mostly irrelevant since so much time has passed.

Reply Score: 1

xxmf Member since:
2006-06-15

well yeah but the IBM's SCO team will be looking for a new project soon. ;) Your probably dead right about the timeline, and really that needs fixing - big corps make an art of procrastinating (SCO takes 3 years so far, when really the question "OK please show us what you've got" should have had the case thrown out in less than a week ;) . However irrelevent? Not sure - if it took 10 years to reach conclusion, thats 10 years worth of damaged business and the costs are paid for, good long term investment I reckon.

-xx

Reply Score: 1

Yawn
by diegoviola on Tue 12th Dec 2006 06:13 UTC
diegoviola
Member since:
2006-08-15

Talk is cheap. Show me the code.

Reply Score: 2

missed
by deanlinkous on Fri 15th Dec 2006 10:56 UTC
deanlinkous
Member since:
2006-06-19

all those answers...did I skip a section ;)

Reply Score: 2