EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.07.09

Innovative Microsoft

Posted in Action, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Oracle, Red Hat, TomTom at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

INNOVA~1 Galore

“I don’t understand how IE is going to win. The current path is simply to copy everything that Netscape does packaging and product wise.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

Summary: Synopsis of developments regarding the legal challenges Microsoft unleashes upon Linux

THE principal question about TomTom’s lawsuit has recently been transformed into one which revolves around GPL compliance and ethical traps. This latest angle is already being examined, explained, and summarised. Mary Jo Foley, who is in good terms with Jeremy Allison (she interviewed him before), wrote about this issue which was first raised by him. She summarised the TomTom issue — as it appears at this stage in particular– without provoking:

[I]t’s looking more and more like the open sourcers are right and TomTom is the canary in the Linux-patent coal mine.

One of our readers explained this whole situation in simple terms, as follows: “The lawsuit publicizes a patent trap of Microsoft’s own creation. Microsoft created a de facto industry standard in the FAT (File Allocation Table) format that it made widely available for adoption without letting it be known that it held and would assert the patents behind the standard. What makes the FAT patents valuable is not the technology behind them but the fact that they were promoted and accepted as a standard without word that Microsoft would someday come asking for money. Two of the patents are for converting between long and short file names – a FAT function that is commonly implemented in digital cameras, MP3 players, and other devices, not just in Windows and Linux.

“Some wishful thinkers within the open source community may accept Microsoft’s claim that this is about TomTom rather than Linux, along with the blather that accompanies most patent litigation about how Microsoft would rather license than litigate. But this is in fact a landmark assault into the most troubled and controversial terrain of the patent system. It will reverberate for a long time to come.”

Microsoft’s latest action has already led to public protests. Here is the leaflet distributed in Brussels protests a few days ago [PDF]. To quote a portion:

Economic Parasites

When your tech product or website is accused of infringing a software patent, you can:
• Pay the patent holder a licence fee; they decide the amount
• Fight the patents in court – expensive and time consuming

• Take your product off the market
These are the options currently being considered by Tom Tom NV.
Microsoft is claiming that Tom Tom’s car navigation systems violate eight Microsoft patents.

Groklaw has begun taking a closer look at the TomTom case and one person points out (from the comments): “I *also* wonder this: Microsoft is a big company. Has Microsoft *ever* distributed a Linux based device with VFAT support? If so, would the fact that, under the GPL they cannot do so without conveying a patent license to the recipient that is transferable to anybody the recipient sees fit, and the fact that Microsoft as owner of the VFAT patents is able to provide such a license mean that it can be legally assumed they DID provide such a license?”

Asks one informant of ours: “What about Microsoft’s Linux lab and their offerings to Apache and SAMBA? What if Microsoft released something under the GPL (to anyone), doesn’t that mean they relinquish any necessary patent claims?” We already know for a fact that Microsoft uses GNU/Linux-based products, but using is not necessarily selling.

A few days ago, Red Hat got sued by a partner of Microsoft (little more information here), but that’s not the main concern in people’s mind because it symbolises Red Hat’s rise to prominence. An interesting addendum from Open Sources states this:

[UPDATE: 2009-03-05 9.30a ET] I’m told that Oracle is also a defendant, although this filing is from April 2008.

Oracle is a member of OIN, so it is likely to be part of the battle that was initiated against TomTom. Additionally, the last time this case was mentioned it was also shown that Google had grown tired of the patent system (Google too is a relatively recent addition to OIN’s members). The word is still spreading out there and since many people respect (sometimes love) Google, they come to disrespect the patent system. Academics too continue to dispute the viability and value of this system.

Markets outperform patents in promoting intellectual discovery, say economists

When it comes to intellectual curiosity and creativity, a market economy in which inventors can buy and sell shares of the key components of their discoveries actually beats out the winner-takes-all world of patent rights as a motivating force, according to a California Institute of Technology (Caltech)-led team of researchers.

Further discussion at TechDirt:

[O]nce again, the study found that a free market solution greatly outperforms a patent monopoly solution where the “first” provider gets a monopoly. The research was led by economist Peter Bossaerts and a team of others — and it made a point that won’t surprise anyone who’s studied the economics of monopolies. Patents tend to function just like any other monopoly system: it shrinks the overall market, decreases net social benefit, provides monstrously excess rewards to a single provider and harms everyone else. In fact, the research found that the patent system created a massive disincentive for many people to participate in the very process, even if their contributions could have been quite helpful in speeding along the innovation.

Given that software patents may have already died (most of them anyway [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]), Microsoft’s last resort in the fight against Linux may be dead on arrival. Linux vendors can carry on doing business with confidence that Linux is here to thrive, as is GNU.

Google’s market cap is not far from surpassing that of Microsoft. That’s how deep in trouble Microsoft is, especially now that Google expands from Linux phones to Linux 'desktops' (sub-notebooks), as of yesterday’s reports.

GNU and Linux

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. 2019 Microsoft Glossary

    How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press



  2. 2019 Surveillance Glossary

    Distortion of technical and nontechnical terms in this day and age of '1984'



  3. Openwashing Report: It's Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently 'Open' Now Even Though It's Actually Proprietary.

    The latest examples (this past week's) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance



  4. GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

    A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)



  5. Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

    Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world



  6. Links 18/8/2019: New KNOPPIX and Emmabuntus Released

    Links for the day



  7. Links 17/8/2019: Unigine 2.9 and Git 2.23

    Links for the day



  8. Computer-Generated Patent Applications Show That Patents and Innovations Are Very Different Things

    The 'cheapening' of the concept of 'inventor' (or 'invention') undermines the whole foundation/basis of the patent system and deep inside patent law firms know it



  9. Concerns About IBM's Commitment to OpenSource.com After the Fall of Linux.com and Linux Journal

    The Web site OpenSource.com is over two decades old; in its current form it's about a decade old and it contains plenty of good articles, but will IBM think so too and, if so, will investment in the site carry on?



  10. Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

    At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?



  11. Caturdays and Sundays at Techrights Will Get Busier

    Our plan to spend the weekends writing more articles about Software Freedom; it seems like a high-priority issue



  12. Why Techrights Doesn't Do Social Control Media

    Being managed and censored by platform owners (sometimes their shareholders) isn’t an alluring proposition when a site challenges conformist norms and the status quo; Techrights belongs in a platform of its own



  13. Patent Prosecution Highways and Examination Highways Are Dooming the EPO

    Speed is not a measure of quality; but today's EPO is just trying to get as much money as possible, as fast as possible (before the whole thing implodes)



  14. Software Patents Won't Come Back Just Because They're (Re)Framed/Branded as "HEY HI" (AI)

    The pattern we've been observing in recent years is, patent applicants and law firms simply rewrite applications to make these seem patent-eligible on the surface (owing to deliberate deception) and patent offices facilitate these loopholes in order to fake 'growth'



  15. IP Kat Pays the Price for Being a Megaphone of Team UPC

    The typical or the usual suspects speak out about the so-called 'prospects' (with delusions of inevitability) of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, neglecting to account for their own longterm credibility



  16. Links 17/8/2019: Wine 4.14 is Out, Debian Celebrates 26 years

    Links for the day



  17. Nothing Says 'New' Microsoft Like Microsoft Component Firmware Update (More Hardware Lock-in)

    Vicious old Microsoft is still trying to make life very hard for GNU/Linux, especially in the OEM channel/s, but we're somehow supposed to think that "Microsoft loves Linux"



  18. Bill Gates and His Special Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein Still Stirring Speculations

    Love of the "children" has long been a controversial subject for Microsoft; can Bill Gates and his connections to Jeffrey Epstein unearth some unsavoury secrets?



  19. Links 16/8/2019: Kdevops and QEMU 4.1

    Links for the day



  20. The EPO's War on the Convention on the Grant of European Patents 2000 (EPC 2000), Not Just Brexit, Kills the Unitary Patent (UP/UPC) and Dooms Justice

    Team UPC continues to ignore the utter failures that have led to lawlessness at the EPO, attributing the demise of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) to Brexit alone and pretending that it's not even a problem



  21. Links 15/8/2019: GNOME's Birthday, LLVM 9.0 RC2

    Links for the day



  22. 'Foundation' Hype Spreads in China

    Nonprofits seem to have become more of a business loophole than a charitable endeavour; the problem is, this erodes confidence in legitimate Free software and good causes



  23. Links Are Not Endorsements

    If the only alternative is to say nothing and link to nothing, then we have a problem; a lot of people still assume that because someone links to something it therefore implies agreement and consent



  24. The Myth of 'Professionalism'

    Perception of professionalism, a vehicle or a motivation for making Linux more 'corporate-friendly' (i.e. owned by corporations), is a growing threat to Software Freedom inside Linux, as well as freedom of speech and many other things



  25. Links 14/8/2019: Best Chromebooks, EPEL 8.0, LibreOffice 6.2.6

    Links for the day



  26. Being in Favour of Free/Libre Open Source Software Means Rejecting Software Patents

    Those who believe in Software Freedom cannot at the same time believe that software patents are desirable; we've sadly come to a point where many companies that dominate so-called 'Open Source' groups actively lobby for such patents, in effect betraying the community they claim to be a part of



  27. Links 14/8/2019: Apache Evaluated, HardenedBSD Has New Release

    Links for the day



  28. Planet Python is Being Overrun by Microsoft, Just Like PyCon and Python in General

    Microsoft is perturbing the Free/Open Source software (FOSS) world from the inside, promoting Microsoft's most malicious proprietary software from within that world while taking positions of power in powerful FOSS projects



  29. Coming Soon: The Innards of the Eric Lundgren Case That Microsoft is Desperate to Hide or Spin (by Defaming Lundgren)

    Microsoft is rather stressed about Eric Lundgren coming out of prison and telling how Microsoft put him there; right now Microsoft is mostly name-calling while seeking to control public dialogues



  30. Wrong Person in Charge of the Linux Foundation (and in Charge of Linus Torvalds)

    There are several glaring issues when it comes to the leadership of Linux's steward; for one thing, it lacks actual background in... Linux


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts