10.02.10

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Signs of Defeat: Microsoft is Suing Linux Again, Using FAT Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SCO at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is throwing gorilla dust again

Salt throwing

“We counted over a million lines of code that we allege are infringed in the Linux kernel today.”Darl McBride (SCO), September 11th, 2003

Summary: Microsoft declares patent war on Motorola, which has a very extensive patent portfolio of its own and may never again partner with Microsoft as a result

MICROSOFT grew out of a culture of aggression and its founders are fiends*. Having heard testimonies about extortionists like Bill Gates we are not surprised to see Microsoft going down the same path as SCO. As an increasingly frail company that fewer and fewer people care about, it just needs to roar a little, due to bad judgment from eccentric managers like Steve Ballmer, who famously said that “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”

What Ballmer was trying to say is that he cannot compete against GNU/Linux unless he creates and lobbies for something imaginary which he calls “intellectual property” (that would be deceiving terminology for software patents). Ballmer cannot be too happy to see all those dying Microsoft products which he must drop as the company’s value drops too.

Some years ago we still saw some real announcements coming from Microsoft. Occasionally they announced some new products, but in recent months/years the announcements were often about the death of products and yesterday the main announcement was about Microsoft suing a partner/competitor using software patents. Linux is part of this lawsuit based on the following list of patents from Microsoft Emil (the first few correspond to FAT):

The nine patents in question in the ITC complaint include:

* 5,579,517: Common name space for long and short filenames
* 5,758,352: Common name space for long and short filenames
* 6,621,746: Monitoring entropic conditions of a flash memory device as an indicator for invoking erasure operations
* 6,826,762: Radio interface layer in a cell phone with a set of APIs having a hardware-independent proxy layer and a hardware-specific driver layer
* 6,909,910: Method and system for managing changes to a contact database
* 7,644,376: Flexible architecture for notifying applications of state changes
* 5,664,133: Context sensitive menu system/menu behavior
* 6,578,054: Method and system for supporting off-line mode of operation and synchronization using resource state information
* 6,370,566: Generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device

There are also comments on this article in LWN.

Microsoft is just suing Linux/Android, which is winning. Apple must be happy to see Microsoft do this. The brutes from Microsoft are now suing the last major hardware company which sells Android-powered phones and does not pay Microsoft for the ‘privilege’. The rest of them, all of which are based in Asia, already pay for imaginary Linux patent infringements (never named, just numbered but not enumerated based on some hypothetical basis).

“After suing another Open Source project, how come M$ say it loves Open Source ? What about Outercurve farce ?”
      –Reader from Brazil
All the major Android-distributing companies — notably HTC, Samsung, and LG — already pay Microsoft for Android (or at least claim to be paying Microsoft for it). All along we kept arguing that the only large distributor of Android which did not pay Microsoft for Linux was Motorola, which has patent prowess just like Nokia. “Guess this time they [Microsoft] went too far,” said to us one of the readers. “Motorola has thousands of patents, covering broad areas(uProcessors, Telco).”

“Nokia could join with Motorola and sue the ASS out of M$. This time they’re not fighting Tom Tom like firms,” said another reader. To quote other responses from Techrights readers: “After suing another Open Source project, how come M$ say it loves Open Source ? What about Outercurve farce ? Shameless face…”

Microsoft’s lawsuit in this case is not so different from the legal action against TomTom (mixture of patents targeting Linux and other areas). HTC appears to have surrendered to Microsoft only after Apple sued them too. Our guess is that Microsoft has been extorting and pressuring Linux/Android vendors for quite a while and Motorola refused to pay for the non-existent/unbacked claims. Here is the coverage from Murdoch’s press

Android has since replaced Microsoft as the mobile operating system of choice for handset vendors that don’t already have their own proprietary software. And while Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Co. and HTC have committed to making Windows Phone 7 devices, all of them have a much larger presence in Android.

In IRC, one reader hypothesises that the timing of this lawsuit was intended to almost coincide with the release of Vista Phone 7 [sic], perhaps in order to ensure that people talk about Android being “not free” while Microsoft keeps waving its lousy new platform, attempting to use half a billion dollars in marketing just persuading carriers/manufacturers to support Vista Phone 7.

Mitchell Ashley remembered quite correctly Ballmer’s words which are analogous to his early laughter at the hypePhone. Ashley chose the headline: “Steve Ballmer: Google Android “just some words on paper”. You can say the same about Windows Mobile 7 today.”

Google Android is winning over customers, whether Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer wants to admit it or not. In a Tokyo press conference in 2007, Ballmer referred to Google’s upcoming Android OS as “just some words on paper right now” and “right now they have a press release — we have many, many millions of customers…”.

We’ve had a very long discussion about what Google and OIN should do about it. gnufreex wrote: “I am now thinking Google should buy some patent troll and go after everything Microsoft makes.”

A complaint could probably be filed by Google because this is racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Microsoft is trying to embargo Motorola phones, using a sort of economic pressure/sanction (International Trade Commission [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) in hope of making Motorola settle rather than pursue justice in court. Microsoft did the exact same thing to TomTom. It’s vicious.

Microsoft said today that it has filed suit against Motorola for patent infringement related to Motorola’s Android smartphones. Microsoft filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington and also filed a complaint to the International Trade Commission.

Here is an example of very poor coverage of the lawsuit

Microsoft says Motorola’s Android phones are patent infringers

Techrights’ inception as “Boycott Novell” about 4 years ago was designed to end Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux. These attacks began shortly after Novell and Microsoft had signed their patent deal, which was initiated by Novell in the middle of 2006.

“These attacks began shortly after Novell and Microsoft had signed their patent deal, which was initiated by Novell in the middle of 2006.”Beware the spinners who keep pretending that Microsoft has turned soft on software patents. This lawsuit only provided further justification for avoiding Mono and Moonlight, especially in Android (c/f MonoDroid [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]).

Microsoft has gotten desperate and its mob/lobbyists are spinning this lawsuit as reasonable.

If the allegations are true and Microsoft Florian is indeed one of the mobbyists [sic] on the company’s payroll (like ACT), then utterly disgusting techniques is all this monopoly abuser has got left, trying to force its way back in by ‘spamming’ blogs and getting told off for it, e.g. in the following comment:

When will you stop spamming the intewebs, Florian? Are you get paid per post?

You anti-FLOSS crusade is so ridiculous that it is not even funny anymore. It is really pathetic that Microsoft sends failures like you to do perception management.

To quote one line of nonsense from this mobbyist, “Google must now act constructively and try to work out amicable arrangements with those right holders.” Amazing!
___
* Bad behaviour descends from above. For example, “we will have to consider the patents they violate,” wrote Bill Gates about Star/OpenOffice some years ago.

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12 Comments

  1. faltu said,

    October 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Gravatar

    Andriod is stomping all over iPhone. Apple cannot match Google pace of development.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s not just Google’s pace of development. Google enjoys the work from dozens of other large companies on Linux. Apple is essentially trying to catch up with IBM, Intel, HP, Red Hat, Google, and others. Developers are shown (e.g. in new surveys) to prefer to code for Linux/Android, not iOS.

  2. dyfet said,

    October 2, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Gravatar

    I am writing an article on this topic over the weekend. It will be up on planet gnu first, I think.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Let us know when it’s published and where.

    dyfet Reply:

    Done. http://planet.gnu.org/gnutelephony/?p=10

  3. Agent_Smith said,

    October 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Very upset with all this stuff. The ironic thing, I wrote in Ghabuntu’s blog about the dangers of hostile companies suing Linux/Open Source projects, and, 2 days later, it happens. Seems like I was foreseeing this tragedy.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It was easy to foresee.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Apple was getting beat, but they got a new life by adopting very large quantities of open source (most popularly, a variant from the BSD family of operating systems). Also, they do allow developers to build third party apps. So Apple is most surely not working alone.

    However, their model is more closed than Google’s. This is one reason they are turning so aggressively to tragic patents. They are a significant handicap courtesy of a very broken patent system.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Apple sells to the rich people’s niche. It needs patents to prevent and to kill commoditisation.

  4. Agent_Smith said,

    October 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Actually, it was possible, but I did not think they would DO it, not so fast. I never thought they would go down so low.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The lower MSFT (stock) goes, the lower Microsoft will stoop.

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