More FUD from Linux folks... why?

Story: Open letter to Novell: Release the patent numbers!Total Replies: 24
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May 16, 2007
2:06 PM EST
Why on earth do you think that Microsoft in any way, shape or form has detailed out their supposed "235" patent violations to Novell?? Do you work at Microsoft (no.. of course you don't)? Do you work at Novell (no.. of course you don't)? Yet.. you are POSITIVE that Microsoft laid out their patent claims on Linux before Novell... how do you know that? How could you know that?

I'm sorry folks, but Linux users are rapidly outpacing Redmond in the manufacture of FUD. Why??

With that said, while I don't if I could come up with 235 or not, you can certainly just take a gander at Microsoft's patents... and you'll see why it could be that high of a number. Let's face it, if it has to do with operating systems, interfaces or just computing in general, Microsoft felt the need to patent it (for the express use in business deals... and of course, litigation).

Patent system used to be for inventors... now it's strictly for large big corporations to use as leverage.

May 16, 2007
2:09 PM EST
Quoting:Why on earth do you think that Microsoft in any way, shape or form has detailed out their supposed "235" patent violations to Novell??

Because Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's IP bozo, said they did.

May 16, 2007
2:25 PM EST
sander, nowhere did he mention these 235. The patents discussed by Microsoft and Novell could be the 235, would be a superset, could be a subset, or could be patents not involved in that number at all. But to state that Novell knows the 235 does make for GREAT headlines.... which I suppose was the real point.

May 16, 2007
2:30 PM EST
> sander, nowhere did he mention these 235

cjcox, I don't know who "he" is but Horacio Gutierrez was quoted in recent news reports as saying that Microsoft would not disclose the patents to the general public but that they (MS) had disclosed them to "Linux distributors"... in another article it said "Novell".

That said, I actually agree that we (the Linux community) may well do ourselves more harm than good by stirring ourselves up each time some gasbag at Microsoft farts.

May 16, 2007
2:37 PM EST
"I actually agree that we (the Linux community) may well do ourselves more harm than good by stirring ourselves up each time some gasbag at Microsoft farts."

If we choose to ignore Microsoft gasbags, we would never respond to anything they say. :)

May 16, 2007
3:03 PM EST
cjcox: I don't care about the headlines..... much :-)

However, short of pushing a big company to sue Microsoft, or sacrificing a Linux distribution on the altar of Microsoft (see I can't think of any other (legal) ways to get my grubby little paws on that patent list.

If you have a better plan, do tell.

May 16, 2007
3:05 PM EST

And you choose to believe MS about this for what reason?

May 16, 2007
3:39 PM EST

>And you choose to believe MS about this for what reason?

Maybe you're confused about my use of the term "gasbag"? It does not mean "reliable witness"...


May 16, 2007
4:17 PM EST
> I can't think of any other (legal) ways to get my grubby little paws on that patent list.

Searching on Microsoft returns 32744 results. The 235 are almost guaranteed to among them.

You didn't ask that it be easy. :)

May 16, 2007
4:48 PM EST
I thought the 235 came from Ravicher's list. If so, get the list from him.

May 16, 2007
4:55 PM EST
@don: Nope. Rachiver's list is the one with 283 patents from various companies which we may or may not be infringing. It was part of a study that showed everyone was infringing everyone's patents:,1759,1729908,00.asp

The patents on the 235 list are all owned by Microsoft. That's the list I'd like to see because that's the list Microsoft threatens us with. If we can defuse them all we can put a big dent in MS's FUD campaign.

May 16, 2007
8:55 PM EST
Gotchya. Guess I was confused on that. Too many lists to keep up with - Letterman's top ten, Ravicher's 283, Ballmer's 235... And I won't get into the Python lists. ;-)

May 17, 2007
1:35 AM EST
@ sander, I suspect Novell cannot give this information (it does not have it), but it can pressure Microsoft to take action. It's about time Novell took action, not just denied and distanced itself from Microsoft's claims. It is Novell that helped this problem emerge in the first place.

May 17, 2007
2:52 AM EST

This is so SCREWED UP that I cannot believe ordinarily sensible people would think this way.

Microsoft is the bad guy. It is Microsoft's obligation to turn over that information. There is no reason to believe that Novell knows the specific information you are seeking, though it doesn't matter. They are not the ones issuing threats.

May 17, 2007
2:56 AM EST
The principle theory behind Microsoft's plan is simple

The fattest man will survive the famine.

And even the darkest, most loathe-ladened part of my being has to tip my hat to the simple genius of the strategy. If this is indeed the first shot fired in the Patent Wars, Microsoft doesn't even have to insure it has that many bullets in surplus. The fog of war will certainly insure enough friendly fire casualties. MS has insured it has two valuable POW's who will be of value when the attrition factor has determined the victor. They will have no place to go when it is over. Novell and Dell will give MS "legitimacy" on the Linux landscape without the nagging nuisance of companies like RedHat, Xandros and Linspire opposing them.

Based on figures obtainable from internet sources only, since that is all most any of us have to use, as far as I can see, Microsoft is the only combatant that has the money to survive this. That is given this IS the Patent War that insures mutually-assured destruction. So costly is the price of litigation in money, time and public good will, I just can't see how anyone else will survive it.

Here are the holes in the theory. Not a word has been said about IBM or Sun Microsystems. IBM's patent portfolio itself makes Microsoft's look like a tattered edition of See Spot Run. What I am waiting for is to see how these two companies engage in the battle. Another side benefit may be that Sun Microsystems will finally lose its balance and fall to one side or another of the fence they've been walking for years.

May 17, 2007
5:39 AM EST

sun is too busy trying to become Linux...they'll fight this eventually just like IBM will.

May 17, 2007
7:45 AM EST
@helios: I disagree with your opinion that Microsoft has enough money to survive patent Armageddon. I don't think they do. They may be one of the last companies to go bankrupt in a patent war, but bankrupt they'll become. The patent war is fought in the courts and lawsuits, once started, don't stop when one party goes bankrupt. See for example all the Groklaw discussions on what would happen in SCO went out of business.

May 17, 2007
12:00 PM EST
> The fattest man will survive the famine. But he'll sweat a lot in the process (there's that word again ;-))

I like your argument but I'm going to toss a monkey wrench into it.

The Free and Open Source army are, by definition, freedom fighters. Microsoft, however is an army of mercenaries. Their vast stock pile of ammunition is owned by someone else (the stockholders). As big as it is, it could disappear in a week. I don't know what conditions would preclude that collapse but we could actually be witnessing them now.

May 17, 2007
12:54 PM EST
Quoting: sun is too busy trying to become Linux

I personally suspect they're trying to become Apple, except with a Free OS to complement their hardware. But I think your point is valid.

Quoting: Sun Microsystems will finally lose its balance and fall to one side or another of the fence they've been walking for years.

It seems that they'll fall towards the Free Software side and not Microsoft's. Sun, like IBM, is primarily a hardware vendor, but with a nice, Free OS to put on the hardware. I think they'll be GPLing their OS soon, quite probably under version 3, which will benefit Linux and Free Software in general...sort of off topic, eh? I just drool at ZFS....... And it's always possible that IBM (okay, not likely, but there ain't no harm in dreamin') will GPL AIX to compete with Sun (although they are a distributor of Solaris). Basically, the software world is very much ready to toss Windows out with the garbage without missing a beat. MS better be careful. It's not too late to work with FOSS, but threats and half-hearted "attempts" at "interoperation" won't get them anything but empty coffers.

I personally am sick of dealing with MS and would welcome the opportunity to defecate on their grave.

May 17, 2007
1:12 PM EST
The biggest difference between Sun and m$, in my irresistible opinion, is Sun produces high-quality products. I think they are more highly-regarded as a hardware company, but their software is pretty nice too. It is orders of magnitude better than the crudware m$ peddles, though that is such a low barrier it's hardly worth mentioning. If I were ever insane enough to accept a job that required maintaining the highest uptimes and reliability, and good performance, I would go for Solaris on Sparc, no contest.

McNealy was trash-talking Gates long before it became fashionable. They've been wobbly on the whole notion of FOSS, but overall they've made a lot of useful contributions. Sun's mouthpieces have put their feet in their mouths many times, but they're still a real engineering-driven company, unlike m$ which long ago abandoned any real engineering, and has degenerated into a bullying blowhard of little substance.

May 17, 2007
3:57 PM EST
I honestly don't know what to think when someone starts calling *us* the ones who spread FUD for simply asking some fair questions. So it may be Novell doesn't have all the information we seek, but there was enough evidence to make at least asking for it worth it.

If they don't have it they can simply say so.

What the hell are we supposed to do? MS can go around making outright threats, no matter how baseless they are, scaring the uneducated away from GNU/Linux and we're supposed to just sit tight and shut up?

Some people have too much mercy for the bully.


May 17, 2007
10:50 PM EST
Quoting:So it may be Novell doesn't have all the information we seek, but there was enough evidence to make at least asking for it worth it.

I agree, I believe it was the right thing to do, based on the available evidence.

May 19, 2007
11:23 PM EST
I just read thus weekend, where MS issued a statement to say that they really didn't mean to say they would sue anybody. I guess cooler heads saw the resulting beating they took on the press and quickly back-pedaled. But as sales of their new OS stalls it won't be long before they will loose their cool and try to pull a SCO.

May 20, 2007
3:08 AM EST
I just read an interesting story at LXer, about the Novell-deal. You all ought to read it, because there are big chances Microsoft is fooling us and they are laughing at us right now because it succeeded very well.

Here a 'short' summary of it:

If you'd ask me, Andy is right, and the most probable thing what happened is, the deal was made under a non-disclosure agreement, which means Novell can't tell anything about the deal. Therefore, Microsoft can say IP and patents were part of those deal, but even if that is false and patents were _not_ part of the deal, Novell can't say Microsoft is lying, because the non-disclosure agreement. Maybe Novell didn't offer _anything_ worth any value in return for Microsofts patents. All Novell offered, was to sign an agreement to not disclose what the deal was about.

If that's true, Microsoft can say Novell 'saw and admitted' there were IP issues, and Novell products might infringe on patents. Microsoft could even say Novell paid for that IP, even if that is not true. Because of the non-disclosure agreement, Novell can't say MS is talking horseshit.

After that, Microsoft can say to other companies: Look, Novell admitted they should pay for our IP, they did, and so should you! Nobody knows if Novell paid anything for those patents, and maybe Microsoft even knew those patents didn't have any value. But because of the non-disclosure agreement, Microsoft can basically say whatever they like. This basically means, Microsoft paid to spread lies on Novell's behalf. That seems the most probable explanation to me. It also explains that Novell can't deny Microsoft disclosed patent numbers to Novell, even if that's a big Microsoft-lie. It also explains why Microsoft is not going to litigate: Because they know their patents aren't worth cr@p. Nonetheless, if they can make it look like Novell _thinks_ the patents are worth anything, it could use Novell as an example of a company who is afraid of those patents, even if Novell isn't afraid of those patents. Hovespian's reaction to the patent-issues show the latter being true anyway, so this seems a very reasonable explanation to me.

If that explanation true, Novell can't say anything about the deal, because of the non-disclosure, and at the same time, the people at Microsoft are laughing their @r$e$ off because some Linux-users take the patent deal serious. The more companies sign a non-disclosure agreement with Microsoft, the more Microsoft can speak on the behalf of other companies, saying those other companies saw "Microsoft patents and IP issues" as a dangerous thread. If Microsoft can spread this lies on behalf of a lot of companies, a lot more companies will be afraid and will pay to Microsoft for non-existing IP; while all parties in those non-disclosure agreements know the whole IP story is h0rsesh1t.

It's even more likely that Microsoft knows there patent are worthless because -As Andy Updegrove stated, the patents may be outdated, -Basic OS IP is not owned by Microsoft, because it existed before Microsoft did, -Microsoft wasn't even able to get money out of the FAT patent, and probably Microsoft is afraid the same thing that happened to the FAT patent (it being declared not enforcable) would probably happen to those 235 patents too, -If Microsoft starts to litigate, the whole IP /patent system could collapse in 'patent armageddon', which means Microsofts IP isn't worth anything after the dust has been blown away, -If Microsoft starts to litigate, there will be big differences between worldwide regions with strong and weak IP protection. If those patents can be enforced in the USA but not in the EU, the whole US economy will be much weaker in comparison to that of the EU, and all 'new' IT-innovations will come from the EU in the future. -In case of the armageddon, the OIN (Open Invention Network) might as well say Windows infringes on its patents, and may ask Windows is taken out of the market immediately till the issue is resolved. This is Microsoft biggest nightmare of course.

My 2 cents: Microsoft is laughing their @rse$ of because of all the talk of Armageddon, while the Novell deal wasn't about patents at all, and if it was Novell didn't pay anything for those patents, and Microsoft just continues to spread IP-lies since Novell can't defend itself by just speaking the truth anymore.

May 20, 2007
4:00 AM EST
>If that explanation true, Novell can't say anything about the deal,

There's a difference between disclosing details and saying nothing.

Novell may indeed be constrained from making public certain details, but they have not been shy about saying that the deal contains no admission of IP infringement. For that matter, even Microsoft has said that the deal contains no admission of IP infringement.

One more thing -- Novell hasn't paid Microsoft a dime. There was a portion of the deal that appears to make Novell pay Microsoft for certain rights, put in at Microsoft's request. It's just PR. The bottom line is that Microsoft paid Novell hundreds of millions of dollars. The money that Novell supposedly pays Microsoft offsets only a small portion of that.

I think you're right about Microsoft laughing it's @rse off. The deal with Novell sent much of the FOSS world into apoplexy. It delayed release of GPLV3 and caused a re-drafting that increases the likelihood of unintended consequences. Basically, the FOSS world put Microsoft into the position of helping to draft its most important license!!

Cost of deal with Novell - hundreds of millions of dollars. Throwing the FOSS world into a tizzy? Priceless.

The ironic part is that we had a deal that resulted in Microsoft pushing free software, and all the FOSS folk puked.

Go figure.

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