Microsoft about to enter into patent war?

Fortune Magazine has an in-depth article about Microsoft and its claim that free software infringes on 235 of its patents. I don’t know where the truth lies, but Microsoft has more than 800 lawyers and it looks like they are going to make sure that they remain relevant through legal action. This has deep implications for a whole sector of our economy because there are lots of companies that rely on free software (Google being the mindshare leader that I can think of, but most of the startups I interview use LAMP, Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP, to build their companies).

Microsoft up to this point has used patents defensively (i.e., only if sued themselves) but the gestures that the leadership is sending to the marketplace lately is that they are about to enter into a more offensive phase of using patents.

UPDATE: TechMeme has a lot more reactions on this issue.

147 thoughts on “Microsoft about to enter into patent war?

  1. If Microsoft have to pay a few billion $ a year to use other companies software patents, why should MS have to let others (Open Source or Not) use their patents royalty free? It’s about time they start to pursue patent violations after spending $5-7 billion per year on R&D. Of course there wil probably be cummunity outcry to the DOJ that this is unfair business practices and they are tryig to hurt RedHat, Ubuntu, and every other flavor of Linux or force agreeemnts similar to Novel’s.

  2. If Microsoft have to pay a few billion $ a year to use other companies software patents, why should MS have to let others (Open Source or Not) use their patents royalty free? It’s about time they start to pursue patent violations after spending $5-7 billion per year on R&D. Of course there wil probably be cummunity outcry to the DOJ that this is unfair business practices and they are tryig to hurt RedHat, Ubuntu, and every other flavor of Linux or force agreeemnts similar to Novel’s.

  3. I keep hearing that “people deserve free software,” can someone tell me why??? If that is true then we also deservve free food, free clothes, free housing, free healthcare, free computers, free gasoline…etc.
    Why should anyone work anymore? I can tell you that I am quitting my programming career. It is getting harder to make money, there is plenty of free software out there already for all needs.

  4. I keep hearing that “people deserve free software,” can someone tell me why??? If that is true then we also deservve free food, free clothes, free housing, free healthcare, free computers, free gasoline…etc.
    Why should anyone work anymore? I can tell you that I am quitting my programming career. It is getting harder to make money, there is plenty of free software out there already for all needs.

  5. Welch, why do you think I think I need your approval for validation of anything? Does your ego know no bounds?

    Welch, your only purpose for me is to serve as entertainment, nothing more. Not validation or approval, but entertainment. Entertainment of the sort that the court jester provides when playing the “fool” for the royal court. I know that hurts your ego, but them’s the facts.

    Now, are you a legit tech journalist (I’ve seen you pay the role in your writings elsewhere), or are you the blowhard you act as here, on Scoble’s blog? Are you the knowledgeable tech guy or the ill-mannered, ill-tempered, deranged buffoon that’s deluded himself into believing he’s the smartest guy in the room?

    I’d say you’re both. That you’re a buffoon is evidenced by your writings here. As for your tech journalism elsewhere, well, the fact is, there are two categories of tech journalists: Dvorks and Udels. You’re of the former. And that is the category of tech journalists that are quite ignorant of the field that they cover, and are given to axiomatic assertions, proclamations, declarations, and brook no opposition. And when faced with opposing opinion, they ignore it, or result to handwaving, misdirection, and finally, insults, all the while maintaining an air of superiority.

  6. Welch, why do you think I think I need your approval for validation of anything? Does your ego know no bounds?

    Welch, your only purpose for me is to serve as entertainment, nothing more. Not validation or approval, but entertainment. Entertainment of the sort that the court jester provides when playing the “fool” for the royal court. I know that hurts your ego, but them’s the facts.

    Now, are you a legit tech journalist (I’ve seen you pay the role in your writings elsewhere), or are you the blowhard you act as here, on Scoble’s blog? Are you the knowledgeable tech guy or the ill-mannered, ill-tempered, deranged buffoon that’s deluded himself into believing he’s the smartest guy in the room?

    I’d say you’re both. That you’re a buffoon is evidenced by your writings here. As for your tech journalism elsewhere, well, the fact is, there are two categories of tech journalists: Dvorks and Udels. You’re of the former. And that is the category of tech journalists that are quite ignorant of the field that they cover, and are given to axiomatic assertions, proclamations, declarations, and brook no opposition. And when faced with opposing opinion, they ignore it, or result to handwaving, misdirection, and finally, insults, all the while maintaining an air of superiority.

  7. Sad to see John C. Welch go once more into the gutter when he’s clearly losing an argument. Welch, you’re supposed to be so much more knowledgeable than everyone else here (your a tech journalist, afterall *rolls eyes*), so why don’t you act like it? Present your arguments without the snide remarks, without the insults, and have the guts to admit when someone you disagree with has a valid point.

    Oh, I’m sorry, did I miss the part where I have to follow a higher standard than say, you Pepper? At least I went out and found actual sources for both sides of the VLC issue. Your research is? Hmm?

    Roll your eyes all you like, where’s you contribution to the overall knowledge base? Care to show us your contribution to the great Google Tech Support Database in the clouds? I’d love to see it. Bet it’s full of awesome. Or do you only exist to play moralizing prat in other people’s work?

    Or is it that you actually have no real contribution other than bitching about how mean and bad I am. Man, it would suck for you if I and a lot of people stopped commenting, because then you’d have to have an actual original thought.

    On the valid point thing, why do you need me to…well, validate your point. If your point is valid, it carries that distinction with or without my approval. Maybe if you had more confidence in your game, you’d not need other people’s approval.

  8. Sad to see John C. Welch go once more into the gutter when he’s clearly losing an argument. Welch, you’re supposed to be so much more knowledgeable than everyone else here (your a tech journalist, afterall *rolls eyes*), so why don’t you act like it? Present your arguments without the snide remarks, without the insults, and have the guts to admit when someone you disagree with has a valid point.

    Oh, I’m sorry, did I miss the part where I have to follow a higher standard than say, you Pepper? At least I went out and found actual sources for both sides of the VLC issue. Your research is? Hmm?

    Roll your eyes all you like, where’s you contribution to the overall knowledge base? Care to show us your contribution to the great Google Tech Support Database in the clouds? I’d love to see it. Bet it’s full of awesome. Or do you only exist to play moralizing prat in other people’s work?

    Or is it that you actually have no real contribution other than bitching about how mean and bad I am. Man, it would suck for you if I and a lot of people stopped commenting, because then you’d have to have an actual original thought.

    On the valid point thing, why do you need me to…well, validate your point. If your point is valid, it carries that distinction with or without my approval. Maybe if you had more confidence in your game, you’d not need other people’s approval.

  9. Sad to see John C. Welch go once more into the gutter when he’s clearly losing an argument. Welch, you’re supposed to be so much more knowledgeable than everyone else here (your a tech journalist, afterall *rolls eyes*), so why don’t you act like it? Present your arguments without the snide remarks, without the insults, and have the guts to admit when someone you disagree with has a valid point.

  10. Sad to see John C. Welch go once more into the gutter when he’s clearly losing an argument. Welch, you’re supposed to be so much more knowledgeable than everyone else here (your a tech journalist, afterall *rolls eyes*), so why don’t you act like it? Present your arguments without the snide remarks, without the insults, and have the guts to admit when someone you disagree with has a valid point.

  11. Funny how MS haters (e.g. you), cheer when microsoft gets sued, but take umbrage that they might finally decide to fight back by enforcing their own patents.

    Funny how Microsoft has yet to release any info on all this IP being infringed upon, isn’t it. Kind of pulling a Joe McCarthy, and trying to make people fear that they MIGHT be in trouble by using linux.

    BTW, your defense of VLC was pathetic, to say the least. Unless you’re saying that the official OSS position is that responsibility for patent royalties should be passed from OSS devs to the users.

    It wasn’t a defense at all. That would require me to say VLC is handling it correctly. To provide the other side of the story, I did a little research, (Funny how in the midst of your slavering, you couldn’t be bothered to make a phone call), and called up MPEGLA’s licensing office in D.C. They disagree with VLC’s position in the extreme, and according to them have attempted to contact VideoLAN many times to deal with this. But they also see the complications. As the MPEGLA folks said “On the one hand, they’re getting the technology used by more people. On the other hand, they’re not handling the license correctly”. It’s not a simple issue. How do you license when there’s no money being made? It’s still being hammered out.

    Even you can see how disingenuous that stance is. You and OSS devs know damn well that users aren’t going to do that (even those that would be inclined wouldn’t know to whom or how to pay the royalty). But this isn’t the first time you’ve taken an intellectually dishonest position. It’s your m.o.

    Yes, yes, just like your MO is to do no research and just foam at the mouth when you see my name. However, there’s a difference. MPEGLA is stating the specific problem, and the problem they have with VideoLAN’s policy. So, regardless of the eventual solution, both sides have stated their views publicly, or will do so publicly. (The MPEGLA people were quite nice about it, not defensive, not anti- or pro- anything, quite understanding about the condundrum involved with FOSS and their licensing models.) Microsoft will not come close to stating what the “list of patents” actually are, so no one can possibly resolve anything.

    And your comment regarding Apple’s MPEG2/QT policy was overly-defensive, as I was not attacking them for it. Just pointing out that they abide by the MPEG2 license while VLC (and many OSS video player devs) fails to do so. (That you feel the need to defend Apple at all times, even when they aren’t being attacked, is quite telling.)

    BWAAAAHAHAHA. Your only response mode is as Microsoft fanboyattackdog, and now you’re crying “Poor Me” over the response it gets you. Wahh, you want some cheese with that?

    I can point out publicly available instances where I praise Microsoft and tell Apple they’re being jerks. Can you show the same, where you praise Apple and tell Microsoft they’re being jerks? Or is the fanboy hand up your backside not allowing your muppet self to do that?

  12. Funny how MS haters (e.g. you), cheer when microsoft gets sued, but take umbrage that they might finally decide to fight back by enforcing their own patents.

    Funny how Microsoft has yet to release any info on all this IP being infringed upon, isn’t it. Kind of pulling a Joe McCarthy, and trying to make people fear that they MIGHT be in trouble by using linux.

    BTW, your defense of VLC was pathetic, to say the least. Unless you’re saying that the official OSS position is that responsibility for patent royalties should be passed from OSS devs to the users.

    It wasn’t a defense at all. That would require me to say VLC is handling it correctly. To provide the other side of the story, I did a little research, (Funny how in the midst of your slavering, you couldn’t be bothered to make a phone call), and called up MPEGLA’s licensing office in D.C. They disagree with VLC’s position in the extreme, and according to them have attempted to contact VideoLAN many times to deal with this. But they also see the complications. As the MPEGLA folks said “On the one hand, they’re getting the technology used by more people. On the other hand, they’re not handling the license correctly”. It’s not a simple issue. How do you license when there’s no money being made? It’s still being hammered out.

    Even you can see how disingenuous that stance is. You and OSS devs know damn well that users aren’t going to do that (even those that would be inclined wouldn’t know to whom or how to pay the royalty). But this isn’t the first time you’ve taken an intellectually dishonest position. It’s your m.o.

    Yes, yes, just like your MO is to do no research and just foam at the mouth when you see my name. However, there’s a difference. MPEGLA is stating the specific problem, and the problem they have with VideoLAN’s policy. So, regardless of the eventual solution, both sides have stated their views publicly, or will do so publicly. (The MPEGLA people were quite nice about it, not defensive, not anti- or pro- anything, quite understanding about the condundrum involved with FOSS and their licensing models.) Microsoft will not come close to stating what the “list of patents” actually are, so no one can possibly resolve anything.

    And your comment regarding Apple’s MPEG2/QT policy was overly-defensive, as I was not attacking them for it. Just pointing out that they abide by the MPEG2 license while VLC (and many OSS video player devs) fails to do so. (That you feel the need to defend Apple at all times, even when they aren’t being attacked, is quite telling.)

    BWAAAAHAHAHA. Your only response mode is as Microsoft fanboyattackdog, and now you’re crying “Poor Me” over the response it gets you. Wahh, you want some cheese with that?

    I can point out publicly available instances where I praise Microsoft and tell Apple they’re being jerks. Can you show the same, where you praise Apple and tell Microsoft they’re being jerks? Or is the fanboy hand up your backside not allowing your muppet self to do that?

  13. “You and OSS devs know damn well that users aren’t going to do that (even those that would be inclined wouldn’t know to whom or how to pay the royalty).”

    Oh really? Why? Do M$ fanboys always assume that OSS users are dishonest? I spot a trend…

    “That you feel the need to defend Apple at all times, even when they aren’t being attacked, is quite telling.”

    That you feel the need to attack Apple or John’s positive attitude towards it even when when it was completely unwarranted is also telling.

  14. “You and OSS devs know damn well that users aren’t going to do that (even those that would be inclined wouldn’t know to whom or how to pay the royalty).”

    Oh really? Why? Do M$ fanboys always assume that OSS users are dishonest? I spot a trend…

    “That you feel the need to defend Apple at all times, even when they aren’t being attacked, is quite telling.”

    That you feel the need to attack Apple or John’s positive attitude towards it even when when it was completely unwarranted is also telling.

  15. @69
    Welch,
    Funny how MS haters (e.g. you), cheer when microsoft gets sued, but take umbrage that they might finally decide to fight back by enforcing their own patents.

    BTW, your defense of VLC was pathetic, to say the least. Unless you’re saying that the official OSS position is that responsibility for patent royalties should be passed from OSS devs to the users. Even you can see how disingenuous that stance is. You and OSS devs know damn well that users aren’t going to do that (even those that would be inclined wouldn’t know to whom or how to pay the royalty). But this isn’t the first time you’ve taken an intellectually dishonest position. It’s your m.o.

    And your comment regarding Apple’s MPEG2/QT policy was overly-defensive, as I was not attacking them for it. Just pointing out that they abide by the MPEG2 license while VLC (and many OSS video player devs) fails to do so. (That you feel the need to defend Apple at all times, even when they aren’t being attacked, is quite telling.)

  16. @69
    Welch,
    Funny how MS haters (e.g. you), cheer when microsoft gets sued, but take umbrage that they might finally decide to fight back by enforcing their own patents.

    BTW, your defense of VLC was pathetic, to say the least. Unless you’re saying that the official OSS position is that responsibility for patent royalties should be passed from OSS devs to the users. Even you can see how disingenuous that stance is. You and OSS devs know damn well that users aren’t going to do that (even those that would be inclined wouldn’t know to whom or how to pay the royalty). But this isn’t the first time you’ve taken an intellectually dishonest position. It’s your m.o.

    And your comment regarding Apple’s MPEG2/QT policy was overly-defensive, as I was not attacking them for it. Just pointing out that they abide by the MPEG2 license while VLC (and many OSS video player devs) fails to do so. (That you feel the need to defend Apple at all times, even when they aren’t being attacked, is quite telling.)

  17. Funny how Microsoft gets sued, and pretty successfully too, quite a few times over the years for patent violations, and is now suddenly decrying patent violations.

    “I’m shocked, shocked I tell you to find that there is gambling in this establishment!”

    “Your winnings Inspector”

    “Ah, thank you”

  18. Funny how Microsoft gets sued, and pretty successfully too, quite a few times over the years for patent violations, and is now suddenly decrying patent violations.

    “I’m shocked, shocked I tell you to find that there is gambling in this establishment!”

    “Your winnings Inspector”

    “Ah, thank you”

  19. “Assuming you believe software is patentable, read on (if you don’t, stop reading here.) Royalties are an accepted way to be compensated for your IP. And, to those who say they haven’t create anything patentable, consider their R&D budget — it’s probably $6 billion per year by now. Doesn’t it seem fair for them to be able to seek compensation for the results achieved from their R&D efforts? It happens in every other industry.”

    OMG you mean the convicted illegal monopolist faces actual competition and therefore must compete with lowering prices and increasing innovation????? Nooooo!!!!

  20. “Assuming you believe software is patentable, read on (if you don’t, stop reading here.) Royalties are an accepted way to be compensated for your IP. And, to those who say they haven’t create anything patentable, consider their R&D budget — it’s probably $6 billion per year by now. Doesn’t it seem fair for them to be able to seek compensation for the results achieved from their R&D efforts? It happens in every other industry.”

    OMG you mean the convicted illegal monopolist faces actual competition and therefore must compete with lowering prices and increasing innovation????? Nooooo!!!!

  21. @Welch

    Now, to go off topic, let’s move on to your your beloved Apple’s MPEG2 scam (fleecing its users).

    According to you, they make $7.50 per MPEG2 codec. I’d have more respect for them if they were doing this just to cover the MPEG2 license, but it does appear that this is yet one more case of Jobs milking his userbase for all their worth. And to make matters worse, OSX already comes with an MPEG2 codec that is used to power the DVD player; why can’t Apple let their QT player use the same codec?(On Windows, once an MPEG2 codec is installed, all players that use DirectShow filters can use it; the license need only be paid for once.) The reason Apple doesn’t allow QT to use the already installed MPEG2 codec that the DVD player uses is that he’d miss opportunity to milk his fanbase.

    And you defend this with your “that’s not a bad bit of profit” remark. It’s sad that you care more about Jobs’ bottom line than his users, of which you are one. Tell me, do you get the warm and fuzzies whenever you hand Jobs another dollar? Do you get a high when paying $10 just to get the QT player to play videos at full screen, because you know that you’ve made Jobs just a bit richer, not caring about your own pocket or the pockets of Mac users? It truly amazes me that you and your ilk defend Apple making $7.50 per MPEG2 codec (and likely defend the $10 to get QT to play fullscreen), when you would have been the first to loudly trash Microsoft for doing the same.

  22. @Welch

    Now, to go off topic, let’s move on to your your beloved Apple’s MPEG2 scam (fleecing its users).

    According to you, they make $7.50 per MPEG2 codec. I’d have more respect for them if they were doing this just to cover the MPEG2 license, but it does appear that this is yet one more case of Jobs milking his userbase for all their worth. And to make matters worse, OSX already comes with an MPEG2 codec that is used to power the DVD player; why can’t Apple let their QT player use the same codec?(On Windows, once an MPEG2 codec is installed, all players that use DirectShow filters can use it; the license need only be paid for once.) The reason Apple doesn’t allow QT to use the already installed MPEG2 codec that the DVD player uses is that he’d miss opportunity to milk his fanbase.

    And you defend this with your “that’s not a bad bit of profit” remark. It’s sad that you care more about Jobs’ bottom line than his users, of which you are one. Tell me, do you get the warm and fuzzies whenever you hand Jobs another dollar? Do you get a high when paying $10 just to get the QT player to play videos at full screen, because you know that you’ve made Jobs just a bit richer, not caring about your own pocket or the pockets of Mac users? It truly amazes me that you and your ilk defend Apple making $7.50 per MPEG2 codec (and likely defend the $10 to get QT to play fullscreen), when you would have been the first to loudly trash Microsoft for doing the same.

  23. “Microsoft up to this point has used patents defensively (i.e., only if sued themselves)”

    Huh? How does that explain how they’ve been threatening their own customers using GNU/Linux since 2004?

    “Some customers actually entered into direct patent licenses with Microsoft at that point, Smith says, including some “major brand-name companies” in financial services, health care, insurance and information technology. (He says they don’t want to be identified, presumably because they fear angering the FOSS community.)”

    Hitachi, Samsung are known to have done this in 2007 out of fear of MS.

  24. “Microsoft up to this point has used patents defensively (i.e., only if sued themselves)”

    Huh? How does that explain how they’ve been threatening their own customers using GNU/Linux since 2004?

    “Some customers actually entered into direct patent licenses with Microsoft at that point, Smith says, including some “major brand-name companies” in financial services, health care, insurance and information technology. (He says they don’t want to be identified, presumably because they fear angering the FOSS community.)”

    Hitachi, Samsung are known to have done this in 2007 out of fear of MS.

  25. Welch, did you even comprehend what you posted from the VLC site? Did you understand the ramifications of it? Or were you in such a hurry to post that you didn’t think through what it really meant. Because it goes to prove Microsoft’s argument.

    Let me quote what you quoted regarding VLC:
    “With many products the producer pays the license body (in this case MPEG LA (http://www.mpegla.com)) so the user (commercial or personal) does not have to take care of this. VLC (and ffmpeg and libmpeg2 which it uses in
    most of these cases) cannot do this because they are Free and Open Source implementations of these codecs. The software is not sold and therefore the end-user becomes responsible for complying to the licensing and royalty
    requirements. You will need to contact the licensor on how to comply to these licenses.”

    They are simply carrying the OSS party line, which is, “We violate patents without fear of being sued because we have no money. Patent holders, please go after our users instead of us.”

    These guys are clearly in violation, and admit it. They could easily accept donations to cover the licenses, but can’t be bothered. And MPEG2 is just *one* of the licenses they violate. WMV is another. Flip4Mac pays the WMV license, VLC does not. Why? Because VLC is an OSS dev, and OSS devs Do NOT GIVE A DARN ABOUT HONORING PATENTS/ROYALTY FEES. Which is Microsoft’s position.

    Microsoft was ordered to pay 1.5 billion for violating the mp3 license (when they weren’t even violating it with malice; it was ruled that those they indemnified violated it by licensing it from the wrong party; give me a break), and Microsoft haters cheered. They want Microsoft, Flip4Mac, etc to honor patents, but feel that OSS is too pure for such triflings.

    And you seem to defend the position that the users should be sued rather than the devs of the patent-violating software. A truly dispicable position for you to take; and you have the gall to call Ballmer pathetic? Look in the mirror.

    Now, we see that VLC’s only defense is that they have no money, so can’t (and don’t fear) being sued. But Red Hat, et al, do have plenty of money, so they should be held liable for patent violation. Do you at least admit that? Or is “I hate Microsoft” your only basis for whatever position you take, consistency be damned?

    (And I’ll go further and say that Red Hat, et al, should be held for current and past violations, so that even if they alter the code to get around the patent, they still have to pay up (this happens with closed source devs all the time; OSS devs should be held to the same standard (particularly those that make plenty of money and can’t use charity as a defense)).)

  26. Welch, did you even comprehend what you posted from the VLC site? Did you understand the ramifications of it? Or were you in such a hurry to post that you didn’t think through what it really meant. Because it goes to prove Microsoft’s argument.

    Let me quote what you quoted regarding VLC:
    “With many products the producer pays the license body (in this case MPEG LA (http://www.mpegla.com)) so the user (commercial or personal) does not have to take care of this. VLC (and ffmpeg and libmpeg2 which it uses in
    most of these cases) cannot do this because they are Free and Open Source implementations of these codecs. The software is not sold and therefore the end-user becomes responsible for complying to the licensing and royalty
    requirements. You will need to contact the licensor on how to comply to these licenses.”

    They are simply carrying the OSS party line, which is, “We violate patents without fear of being sued because we have no money. Patent holders, please go after our users instead of us.”

    These guys are clearly in violation, and admit it. They could easily accept donations to cover the licenses, but can’t be bothered. And MPEG2 is just *one* of the licenses they violate. WMV is another. Flip4Mac pays the WMV license, VLC does not. Why? Because VLC is an OSS dev, and OSS devs Do NOT GIVE A DARN ABOUT HONORING PATENTS/ROYALTY FEES. Which is Microsoft’s position.

    Microsoft was ordered to pay 1.5 billion for violating the mp3 license (when they weren’t even violating it with malice; it was ruled that those they indemnified violated it by licensing it from the wrong party; give me a break), and Microsoft haters cheered. They want Microsoft, Flip4Mac, etc to honor patents, but feel that OSS is too pure for such triflings.

    And you seem to defend the position that the users should be sued rather than the devs of the patent-violating software. A truly dispicable position for you to take; and you have the gall to call Ballmer pathetic? Look in the mirror.

    Now, we see that VLC’s only defense is that they have no money, so can’t (and don’t fear) being sued. But Red Hat, et al, do have plenty of money, so they should be held liable for patent violation. Do you at least admit that? Or is “I hate Microsoft” your only basis for whatever position you take, consistency be damned?

    (And I’ll go further and say that Red Hat, et al, should be held for current and past violations, so that even if they alter the code to get around the patent, they still have to pay up (this happens with closed source devs all the time; OSS devs should be held to the same standard (particularly those that make plenty of money and can’t use charity as a defense)).)

  27. I’ve always put my trust into SteveB to run Microsoft into the ground, and he has delivered. Has he ever delivered a master stroke like this!

    This is it, Microsoft has declared total war on their customers, and wants to sue everyone not using SUSE. Through today’s act, Microsoft have declared themselves to be outside the civilized society, and they will be dealt with accordingly, as has been SCO.

    Microsoft won’t be around by 2012.

  28. I’ve always put my trust into SteveB to run Microsoft into the ground, and he has delivered. Has he ever delivered a master stroke like this!

    This is it, Microsoft has declared total war on their customers, and wants to sue everyone not using SUSE. Through today’s act, Microsoft have declared themselves to be outside the civilized society, and they will be dealt with accordingly, as has been SCO.

    Microsoft won’t be around by 2012.

  29. Sad. It shows how little confidence Ballmer has in his own game. Instead of creating killer products, he now wants to sue everyone else to keep THEM from creating killer products. What a pathetic little jackass he really is.”

    Welch,
    With the current situation, creating a killer product would be useless since OSS devs would clone it and give it away for free, even if it were patented up the wazoo.

    Right. So where’s the dead on free knockoffs of iLife? Photoshop? (Don’t even start with GiMP, that’s a crackhead’s version of photoshop, with TEH UGLEE UI) Final Cut Pro? Premiere Pro? I don’t mean applications that KIND of do the same things, but ones with the same level of fit and polish, and are free. Oddly enough, you don’t see many. Wonder why that is?

    The fact is, OSS devs do violate patents and licenses with impunity. You’re a card-carrying member of the Apple fan club, right? Then let me put this in terms you can relate to. Apple charges users $10 for an MPEG2 plugin for their QuickTime player, as a way to pay the MPEG2 license fee (passing the fee to the consumer). Meanwhile, the VideoLAN devs don’t bother paying the MPEG2 license fee for their VLC media player. So Apple honors the MPEG2 license while VideoLAN does not.

    Apple also eats all the MPEG 4 costs, and passes none of that along, what’s your point. Apple is making $7.50 on every MPEG2 plugin you download. that’s not a bad bit of profit.

    On VLC, they kind of do a bit of dancing around it, but address this issue here: http://download.videolan.org/doc/faq/en/videolan-faq-en.pdf:

    3.4. What about personal/commercial usage?
    Some of the codecs distributed with VLC are patented and require you to pay royalties to their licensors. These are mostly the MPEG style codecs. With many products the producer pays the license body (in this case MPEG LA (http://www.mpegla.com)) so the user (commercial or personal) does not have to take care of this. VLC (and ffmpeg and libmpeg2 which it uses in
    most of these cases) cannot do this because they are Free and Open Source implementations of these codecs. The software is not sold and therefore the end-user becomes responsible for complying to the licensing and royalty
    requirements. You will need to contact the licensor on how to comply to these licenses.
    This goes for playing a DVD with VLC for your personal joy ($2.50 one time payment to MPEG LA) as well as for using VLC for streaming a live event in MPEG-4 over the Internet.

    So it appears that since VLC isn’t selling, it’s up to the user to fork over the $2.50. If that’s incorrect, i’m real sure that MPEGLA can handle talking to VLC.

    A huge amount of OSS software violates patents/licenses. They’ve been able to get away with it because it’s not worth the effort to do anything about some guys in their garage.

    Again, show me the money. Show me all the patents that FOSS violates with impunity. Because so far, your example kind of sucks.

    But once big players like IBM, Red Hat, etc, start funding them, shipping their products, and/or making money off of those products, then don’t be surprised if the license and patent holders come knocking on the door.

    Think about the patents IBM holds for a minute. Think about what that will cost Microsoft if they decide to NOT be nice guys about such things. Remember that IBM invented and patented most of what you use on any computer. IBM is SO not the company to go dicking with about patents and IP. Just ask SCO how that’s working for them.

    The garage-developer working in his spare time needn’t worry, he’s still too small-fry do deal with (e.g. VideoLAN). But the big guys that make money on license-violating software should pay the royalties due to the patent holders.

    Provided the patent holders show which patents are being violated, and those patents hold up in court with no prior art. Right now, Microsoft is pulling a Joe McCarthy…”I have in my hand a list of names…”

  30. Sad. It shows how little confidence Ballmer has in his own game. Instead of creating killer products, he now wants to sue everyone else to keep THEM from creating killer products. What a pathetic little jackass he really is.”

    Welch,
    With the current situation, creating a killer product would be useless since OSS devs would clone it and give it away for free, even if it were patented up the wazoo.

    Right. So where’s the dead on free knockoffs of iLife? Photoshop? (Don’t even start with GiMP, that’s a crackhead’s version of photoshop, with TEH UGLEE UI) Final Cut Pro? Premiere Pro? I don’t mean applications that KIND of do the same things, but ones with the same level of fit and polish, and are free. Oddly enough, you don’t see many. Wonder why that is?

    The fact is, OSS devs do violate patents and licenses with impunity. You’re a card-carrying member of the Apple fan club, right? Then let me put this in terms you can relate to. Apple charges users $10 for an MPEG2 plugin for their QuickTime player, as a way to pay the MPEG2 license fee (passing the fee to the consumer). Meanwhile, the VideoLAN devs don’t bother paying the MPEG2 license fee for their VLC media player. So Apple honors the MPEG2 license while VideoLAN does not.

    Apple also eats all the MPEG 4 costs, and passes none of that along, what’s your point. Apple is making $7.50 on every MPEG2 plugin you download. that’s not a bad bit of profit.

    On VLC, they kind of do a bit of dancing around it, but address this issue here: http://download.videolan.org/doc/faq/en/videolan-faq-en.pdf:

    3.4. What about personal/commercial usage?
    Some of the codecs distributed with VLC are patented and require you to pay royalties to their licensors. These are mostly the MPEG style codecs. With many products the producer pays the license body (in this case MPEG LA (http://www.mpegla.com)) so the user (commercial or personal) does not have to take care of this. VLC (and ffmpeg and libmpeg2 which it uses in
    most of these cases) cannot do this because they are Free and Open Source implementations of these codecs. The software is not sold and therefore the end-user becomes responsible for complying to the licensing and royalty
    requirements. You will need to contact the licensor on how to comply to these licenses.
    This goes for playing a DVD with VLC for your personal joy ($2.50 one time payment to MPEG LA) as well as for using VLC for streaming a live event in MPEG-4 over the Internet.

    So it appears that since VLC isn’t selling, it’s up to the user to fork over the $2.50. If that’s incorrect, i’m real sure that MPEGLA can handle talking to VLC.

    A huge amount of OSS software violates patents/licenses. They’ve been able to get away with it because it’s not worth the effort to do anything about some guys in their garage.

    Again, show me the money. Show me all the patents that FOSS violates with impunity. Because so far, your example kind of sucks.

    But once big players like IBM, Red Hat, etc, start funding them, shipping their products, and/or making money off of those products, then don’t be surprised if the license and patent holders come knocking on the door.

    Think about the patents IBM holds for a minute. Think about what that will cost Microsoft if they decide to NOT be nice guys about such things. Remember that IBM invented and patented most of what you use on any computer. IBM is SO not the company to go dicking with about patents and IP. Just ask SCO how that’s working for them.

    The garage-developer working in his spare time needn’t worry, he’s still too small-fry do deal with (e.g. VideoLAN). But the big guys that make money on license-violating software should pay the royalties due to the patent holders.

    Provided the patent holders show which patents are being violated, and those patents hold up in court with no prior art. Right now, Microsoft is pulling a Joe McCarthy…”I have in my hand a list of names…”

  31. Everyone here is missing the most significant point:

    What does this say to developers who are considering adopting Silverlight? Will people believe that Microsoft will maintain cross-platform support for Silverlight given these infringement threats.

    Silverlight is the single most important initiative at Microsoft and they are going to shoot themselves in the foot. So stupid…

  32. Everyone here is missing the most significant point:

    What does this say to developers who are considering adopting Silverlight? Will people believe that Microsoft will maintain cross-platform support for Silverlight given these infringement threats.

    Silverlight is the single most important initiative at Microsoft and they are going to shoot themselves in the foot. So stupid…

  33. Well well well – we oss’ers have been expecting this and that Microsofts partners baystar, sco, and novell have been scr*w*d.

    Robert – software patents are /dev/null in europe. Microsoft even threatened Denmark when they failed. This means more oss in europe and less in america.

    If you think patenting complier break points (you know prior art) is a good use of american patents then discuss the proper issue usa pto reform.

    Ibm took Sco (really Microsoft) to the cleaners, MS then dumped Darl McBride. The lesson here is that partnering with microsoft is a way to find yourself with no IT products. Novell is going that way – the ceo of Novell recently said that all his companies products where rubbish.

    I can live without the organisations of Sco,Novell and Microsoft. So sue away.

  34. Well well well – we oss’ers have been expecting this and that Microsofts partners baystar, sco, and novell have been scr*w*d.

    Robert – software patents are /dev/null in europe. Microsoft even threatened Denmark when they failed. This means more oss in europe and less in america.

    If you think patenting complier break points (you know prior art) is a good use of american patents then discuss the proper issue usa pto reform.

    Ibm took Sco (really Microsoft) to the cleaners, MS then dumped Darl McBride. The lesson here is that partnering with microsoft is a way to find yourself with no IT products. Novell is going that way – the ceo of Novell recently said that all his companies products where rubbish.

    I can live without the organisations of Sco,Novell and Microsoft. So sue away.

  35. Microsoft is doing so much well in last years and now this..

    I can see Microsoft hatering coming back, as 1999/2000

  36. Microsoft is doing so much well in last years and now this..

    I can see Microsoft hatering coming back, as 1999/2000

  37. SCO FUD redux.

    “…Someday, for all countries that are entering WTO [the World Trade Organization], somebody will come and look for money to pay for the patent rights for that intellectual property. So, the licensing costs are less clear than people think today.” – Steve Ballmer, Nov. 2004.

    I guess the time has come. Port25 and Microsoft “openness” indeed.

    Disgusting, despicable morally & ethically bankrupt monopoly. Time for every independent FOSS developer to make a stand. It may very well be your last.

  38. SCO FUD redux.

    “…Someday, for all countries that are entering WTO [the World Trade Organization], somebody will come and look for money to pay for the patent rights for that intellectual property. So, the licensing costs are less clear than people think today.” – Steve Ballmer, Nov. 2004.

    I guess the time has come. Port25 and Microsoft “openness” indeed.

    Disgusting, despicable morally & ethically bankrupt monopoly. Time for every independent FOSS developer to make a stand. It may very well be your last.

  39. @50:

    You say that like OSS is the only ones doing this. I know you say there’s a reason why OSS hasn’t been sued before, but how many times has MS been sued successfully for patent infringement? I don’t know the exact number, but it’s more than 0!

    The biggest problem here is that you’re right, products are patented up the wazoo, but it’s not because they’re innovative by any means.

    Just recently MS added a feature to Visual Studio that has existed in another IDE called BlueJ since the mid 90s. Then, they patented it( http://www.bluej.org/mrt/?p=21 ).

    The patent office has no idea what’s innovative and what isn’t. A guy just the other day got a patent for what is essentially a doubly-linked list. I think I learned that in second semester university!

    There are even attempts to change the patent system to “not first to create but first to patent”. That is to say, you could do something really innovative and purposefully not patent it so the world can use it freely… then I could patent it and then sue you.

    The problem is that the entire patent system (especially when it comes to software) is broken.

    Microsoft are just as bad as OSS when it comes to stealing ideas, so don’t imply that it’s all one sided ‘stealing’.

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