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08.07.07

Microsoft’s Case Against Linux Takes a Dive, Novell Rearms, Patent Trolls Leave the Bridge

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Oracle, Patents at 9:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It probably need not be said or mentioned, but just in case you have not heard about it yet, Google joined hands with OIN. IBM and Oracle are among the giants who were already there.

This is a huge blow to Microsoft’s attempt to subvert Linux development and/or hurt adoption of Linux through extortion, threats, and repeated baseless accusations.

Upon Google’s move, the company did not neglect to give big a thumbs-up to GNU/Linux. Herein there’s a risk. Google is possibly alienating its anti-FLOSS crowd in the process. Google reminded everyone that every time you use Google, you’re using Linux.

You’ll often hear members of our open source team say, “Every time you use Google, you’re using Linux.” It’s absolutely true. Check a Google engineer’s workstation, and you’ll probably find it’s running Linux.

Thank you, Google, for a free public relations plug.

In other news, Microsoft’s now-weaker-than-ever patent claims are called “a cheap shot”. There is also the obligatory comparison to SCO, whose bad image Microsoft is now inheriting.

Microsoft is yet to display any evidence of these infringements. CEO Steve Ballmer has made a lot of noise in the press about their claimed existence, but has not backed this up by with any specifics. It’s merely Microsoft’s latest strategy against Linux and it seems doubtful that these fallacious claims would enjoy much success in a courtroom.

It’s been done before. SCO launched a similar attack on Linux and failed – miserably. Microsoft’s claims on the Linux code base, at this stage, seem every bit as farcical as SCO’s, if not more so. It basically amounts to a cheap shot.

One thing remains a mystery. Why has Novell just hired a patent lawyer? It has already stated that it does not believe Linux infringes on any patents. Then again, the weakness of the system has not stopped patent trolls from taking preemptive strikes. In the past couple of days alone we find that notable lawsuits were filed which address both hardware and software.

The first case involves Sharp and Samsung.

Sharp said it filed the suit in the Court for the Eastern District of Texas and was seeking compensation and the prohibition of sales of products infringing five of its LCD patents including one that relates to technology used to enhance display quality.

The second case is a much more amusing one. It reminded me of Xerox and Palm, whose tiff forced many users to adopt new graffiti stroke patterns. Luckily, I was able to avoid it by sticking with older models of Palm handhelds.

SP Technologies filed a claim alleging that Apple has infringed on a patent it was granted in 2004 for a “method and medium for computer readable keyboard display incapable of user termination”.

[...]

SP Technologies is seeking “reasonable royalties” from Apple, which online rumours have speculated could see compensation paid for each iPhone already sold.

Can you see how trivial this patent is? How about prior art? It is also funny how the troll waited until the phone got widely distributed. How typical.

A patent troll that sued Sony very recently did the very same thing. It was waiting until Playststation 3s became more widespread. It then demanded the destruction of them all. Microsoft and the MP3 format make a nice example too. Yesterday we mentioned the decision, which was overturned. Last night Alcatel-Lucent said it would appeal, so the story is not over.

Trolls abound + weak cases = total waste of time

Where is that reform that everyone (including Microsoft) craves for?

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