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11.07.08

Theft of Ideas, Followed by Patenting; Microsoft Sued Again

Posted in Asia, Courtroom, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Vista at 5:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gavel
China is hammering Vista again

WANNA HEAR a dirty little secret? Microsoft does not seem keen on checking for the possibility of duplicates at the USPTO. In fact, it seems to be a matter of principle not only to obtain lots of patents but also to ignore prior art in the process. This revelation came to light yesterday at Slashdot.

Eric Brechner writes a best practices blog called Hard Code for Microsoft under the name I.M. Wright. His most recent post sounds like an endorsement of open source development (and does end with a call for Microsoft developers to participate in the shared source community). But even better is his advice regarding patents: ‘When using existing libraries, services, tools, and methods from outside Microsoft, we must be respectful of licenses, copyrights, and patents. Generally, you want to carefully research licenses and copyrights (your contact in Legal and Corporate Affairs can help), and never search, view, or speculate about patents. I was confused by this guidance till I wrote and reviewed one of my own patents. The legal claims section–the only section that counts–was indecipherable by anyone but a patent attorney. Ignorance is bliss and strongly recommended when it comes to patents.’ Interesting advice from inside Microsoft. I wonder if Ballmer would agree that ignorance should be ‘strongly recommended when it comes to patents’?”

Stealing Ideas

Going back to 2006, it’s possible to see Microsoft accused of theft.

Microsoft denies theft charges

Symantec filed the complaint last week in Washington state federal court.

It claims Microsoft misappropriated data storage software for use in technology such as its new Vista operating system.

“Over the course of nearly a decade, Microsoft has deliberately and surreptitiously misappropriated Symantec’s valuable storage technologies, misled and thereby convinced the US government to issue patents to Microsoft based on technologies invented by Symantec,” the complaint says. Microsoft countered that the suit was a result of “a very narrow disagreement” on the terms of a 1996 licensing deal Microsoft had with software security company Veritas, which Symantec acquired last year.

Going as far back as 2004, another accusation of theft shows up.

Microsoft settles Sendo ‘tech theft’ lawsuit

UK mobile phone maker and erstwhile Microsoft partner Sendo today said they had settled their long-running legal dispute.

The terms and conditions of the out-of-court deal were not disclosed, but it is known that Microsoft will hand back its four per cent stake in the privately held Sendo.

Sendo was Microsoft’s original smart phone partner, but the two fell out in 2002 when the manufacturer accused the software giant of nicking its technology and customers.

We covered more examples in the not-so-distant past. We also elaborated on the meaning of this.

Microsoft Sued for Infringement

The example above (from 2006) reveals that Windows Vista is theft — or put differently — an accumulation of knowledge of other people. That’s just the nature of ideas.

Maybe Microsoft will learn to change as more lawsuits like this new one hit it.

A small Chinese hi-tech firm is suing Microsoft for alleged intellectual property rights violations in its latest Windows Vista operating system, the second lawsuit launched in China this year against the US software giant for alleged patent violations.

Microsoft goes on the defensive.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said Friday it didn’t violate the intellectual property rights of China E-Commerce Info-Tech Co., a Chinese company that is suing it for alleged patent infringement.

The small company, based in Xi’an city in the western Shaanxi province, alleges that Microsoft’s Windows Vista uses a technology that the Chinese company developed for Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, the China Daily reported Friday, citing China E-Commerce Chairman Wang Jianbo.

Will Microsoft ever grasp the ideals it once cherished (see quote below), or will hypocrisy prevail despite all those lawsuits? Earlier on we wrote about Avistar.

“Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

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