Funny, but with a scary lining

Story: Ballmer: "Number of patents Linux infringes on is declining"Total Replies: 9
Author Content
Sander_Marechal

Oct 10, 2007
12:24 PM EST
While it's funny to see that the longer this drags on and the more code we create, the fewer patrents we violate, there is a dark lining to this. What if the number has been reducing because Microsoft is actively investigating which of the patents they have are actually strong enough to hold up in court? Sure they will find that a lot of patents aren't good enough, so the list dwindles. But what if they end up with a dozen or so patents that they think are valid, and take FOSS to court?
softwarejanitor

Oct 10, 2007
12:39 PM EST
It would be better to know what patents they are talking about like we did with the LZW patents that Unisys was suing people over a few years ago than having this hanging over FOSS developers/distributors forever. Even if they have patents they can sue over, they have to win, and they have to be able to find a way to collect royalties. In the mean time once the patents are disclosed the software will be coded around them. That is why Microsoft is dragging this out as long as they can. They don't want to sue, they want to create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
Sander_Marechal

Oct 10, 2007
12:51 PM EST
Or they want to keep the FUD just until the last possible moment, then lash out their patents in full. It makes sense. The last thing they need is another SCO-like scenario where they throw out some evidence (i.e. 285 patents) only to have 200 of those invalidated the very next day by FOSS researches carrying heaps of prior art and pointing out at least a dozen ways in which each of them is invalid. They'd better keep the FUD blowing and then attack with, say, 30 patents that are hard to invalidate.

It shows the same symptoms as your scenario (keeping up the FUD and not disclosing anything at the moment) but the end result is more dangerous. And it explains why the number of patents that the FUD is about keeps lowering.
softwarejanitor

Oct 10, 2007
1:06 PM EST
Why would they tip us off by lowering the number if that was their strategy though? Not to say you are wrong... I'm just trying to look at all the angles...
Sander_Marechal

Oct 10, 2007
1:11 PM EST
Libel or stockholder lawsuits perhaps? It's one think to say to a judge "When we made those claims, we believed these 150 were infringed by them and we were investigating them deeper. Here's the research evidence that backs this up". It's probably not as smart to say "Yes we said they were infringing 285 patents. Please disregard the discovery evidence that says our research had already shown 100 of them not to be infringing after all."
NoDough

Oct 10, 2007
5:48 PM EST
Quoting:...SCO-like scenario where they throw out some evidence (i.e. 285 patents) only to have 200 of those invalidated the very next day by FOSS researches carrying heaps of prior art and pointing out at least a dozen ways in which each of them is invalid.


"given enough eyeballs, all patents are shallow"
Sander_Marechal

Oct 10, 2007
8:30 PM EST
Indeed they are :-)

IIRC, the peer-to-peer patent project isn't doing badly at all. http://www.peertopatent.org/
dinotrac

Oct 11, 2007
4:24 AM EST
>"given enough eyeballs, all patents are shallow"

No, just the ones that shouldn't have been granted.

Legitimate patents can be avoided, which, I suppose, is a form of shallowness.

I struggle with the idea of what kind of software could possess the novelty required to legitimate a patent, but, if such a thing truly exists, it could provide a true advantage to the inventor by forcing others to find different, possibly inferior, means to their ends.



NoDough

Oct 11, 2007
7:47 AM EST
Quoting:>"given enough eyeballs, all patents are shallow"

No, just the ones that shouldn't have been granted.
I didn't say they were invalid, just shallow.
dinotrac

Oct 11, 2007
9:14 AM EST
>I didn't say they were invalid, just shallow.

If you're just talking about discovery, then you are correct.

If you're talking discovery and correction, then you are most likely correct.

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