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Microsoft Stoking the IP Fire 99

gokulpod writes to tell us the Financial Express is reporting that Microsoft is heating up the IP battle once again with warnings about IP indemnifications issues. From the article: "Analysts believe that the core issue at stake is whether open source software increases litigation risks. Open source advocates are quick to point out the IP litigation faced by Microsoft itself. Ubuntu founder and leader Mark Shuttleworth says, 'Linux is growing fast and whenever there is a new way of doing things, people will raise all kind of issues.'"
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Microsoft Stoking the IP Fire

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  • Those who can, compete.

    Those who can't, sue.
    • by muszek ( 882567 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:27AM (#14775438) Homepage
      And yet we learned one more thing from TFA:

      "Ubuntu (open source software being used by Google)"

      which clearly is the most accurate and informative definition of Ubuntu

      Lesson learnt: those who don't know shit about technology, try to explain everything in relation to Google. I guess keyboard is a "device used by Google engineers to input data into computers" from now on.
      • In defense of TFA:

        1) How many of us would have wished for big G to be the gravitational force around which tech revolved over M$ four years ago?

        2) I bet Ubuntu would not be too dissapointed in this, for the same reason that Duracell touts they they are the 'only battery trusted by some reandom adventurers'.

        3) This is a financial website. Let's not forget that your typical /.'er isn't a typical computer user, let alone even close to being a normal human being. They do awknoledge Linux as a viable alternativ

    • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:46AM (#14775489)
      Well MS isn't going to sue, they will find lackeys like SCO to do the suing for them while find ways to shovel money at them.

      It looks like they picked on the wrong guy with IBM though, the groklaw headline reads IBM Subpoenas Microsoft! Sun! Baystar and HP! [groklaw.net].

      Imagine the cockroaches that are going to crawl out when those documents hit the court. Presuming of course that those documents haven't been lost, shredded or otherwise just become unavailable.

      I wouldn't be surprised if IBM sued MS after the sco trial is over just to get their money back from the lawsuit. You know MS is going to settle, they tend to pay up pretty quickly when slapped with lawsuits.
      • Destroying evidence (Score:4, Informative)

        by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:58AM (#14775704) Homepage
        Imagine the cockroaches that are going to crawl out when those documents hit the court. Presuming of course that those documents haven't been lost, shredded or otherwise just become unavailable.
        There were some interesting analyses a while back going into detail about how MS is able to effectively destroy evidence [pbs.org]. It involves tricks with a retention policy specifying a document life span shorter than needed to carry out a delayed document request. Some bizarre naming or routing scheme ensures that those without insider information get routed to the wrong deptartment, so by the time the request gets to the right people, the documents are long gone.

        While I can't comment on whether that is or isn't technically illegal, it does show bad faith, contempt for the laws of the country (and by extension for the country itself), and a lack of ethics. But we knew those last parts already.

        MS relies heavily on delay tactics anyway, so this method for destruction of evidence supplments them.

        • There's some discussion on Groklaw that says if MS doesn't provide this info (e.g. claims it's destroyed), then they run afoul of Sarbannes-Oxley. Damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
      • Did You notice that the deposition of MS will take place earlier than the deposition of Baystar? I would imagine that MS takes a high risk to deny claims which are acknowledged later by Baystar, and that MS would better produce all those letters which migh be produced by Baystar as part of their communication.
    • "If Necessity is the mother of Invention, then Ownership is the mother of Innovation" Horatio Longbottom, 2005

      I'm speculating that there is an obvious correlation between the amount we sue, and how innovative we are as a society (aka the research investment argument).

      Ultimately we will be so innovative that we will just spend all our time suing others.

      Is it possible to have a sustainable economic system in which the only good or service manufactured is the legal pursuit of another entity for de

  • Balmers chopping up chairs as firewood :D
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:39AM (#14775318)
    The big difference here is that MS say they will stand up for any user that has a MS license and fight to the death over IP issues, whereas with another vendor (whatever flavour it is) you will be on your own
  • by graystar ( 223824 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:42AM (#14775324) Homepage
    Surely this just opens up a new market for a "insurance" style product. You pay a premium from a company
    that has a list of open source software etc that it will protect.

    If you ever have a problem, then come in spinner.....

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:45AM (#14775331)
    When you license software normally, i.e. not Open Source, you don't run the risk of infringement because you are only the user of the software and have no rights to distribute it. On the other hand, if you somehow become a distributor of some software through the GPL or other Open Source license, then wouldn't you be liable? Though you aren't the creator of the work, you are essentially distributing it to others as your own work (in fact, it is your derivative work which you are distributing).

    What if it were Microsoft incorporating Linux code into Windows? Wouldn't you want them to be held accountable? Aside from the obvious double standard, why would you think that OSS projects and distributors not be held liable as well?

    It's a little disingenuous for Microsoft to claim that as a benefit, though. It's only because they don't grant you any rights that you have that protection.
    • If the closed source you use infringes on coypright, you have to cease to use it IMMEDIATELY or face a lawsuit with punitive damages. If you infringe someones patent as a customer of $closed source company$ you still owe the patent holder royalties, even if you immediately stop using the software.
      Both of these scenarios are the same for Open Source as a user. So how do I gain anything when using closed source. I don't become a magical distributor of software either just by using Open Source. Very few people
      • I didn't say anything regarding copyrights, except in regards to distribution which is not the issue.

        If you use a product which is found to be violating another's patent, the maker of the product is held liable. Where do you get the idea that a customer would be held liable for patent royalties? It is the author of the offending product who is at risk of litigation, not the users. There may be a case in certain fringe cases where the offending product is actually middleware upon which a customer may have
        • Where do you get the idea that a customer would be held liable for patent royalties

          From patent law, you may want to read up on patent litigation [theregister.co.uk] before commenting further!

          • Fringe case, as I mentioned. The customer used the product as middleware to develop their own product. This is not the case in the vast majority of user scenarios.

            Costly and annoying? Sure, but it's not a situation many people will ever encounter.
            • You are confusing copyright and patents, a patent on a mechanical device carries no stipulation that only manufacturers or distributors are liable. It is the device itself that is patented, using the device without a patent license (usually sublicensed) is infringement. Microsoft are cutting of their nose to spite their face with this one, they indemnify customers upto the retail value of their software and that is one huge jackpot.
        • Patent law specifies that anyone using the patented whatever without a license is in violation, and owes damages.

          Most times companies figure it isn't worth the time, effort, expense, and bad publicity to go after the customers of someone else. They DO have the right to do so, however. And it HAS happened (though quite rarely).

          Also, unlike trademark violations, you are allowed to choose which patent violations you will prosecute, and which you will ignore. With trademarks you are legally obligated to defe
          • I worked for a company which deployed (among other things) an IVR* solution to banks and trading houses of varying sizes. At least one of them is an extremely well known name. It turned out at some point that there was a (probably submarine) patent on the technology we were using. We never got sued. We weren't that big, and we'd probably go under if we were sued. Us going under would have been BAD for the patent holder, because they were making a fortune suing all of our clients instead.

            Disclaimer: I
    • IP is a broad term which I think covers both copyright and software method patents and I think Microsoft is trying to say it covers function as well.

      If Microsoft imatated a function from Open Source, I would consider it an act of flattery. If they copied the code, the labor of coders who chose the GPL license, then Microsoft would be sued accordingly.

      Open source doesn't "Copy" code from Microsoft. We imitate function in different ways.

      Microsoft is certianly not offering the Patent protection that they sai
  • IP Battle? (Score:5, Funny)

    by HaydnH ( 877214 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:52AM (#14775347)
    At least I can safely say I own! Oh wait...
  • by Jivha ( 842251 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:56AM (#14775355)
    From the article:
    Microsoft claims to provide "uncapped protection for legal costs associated with a patent, copyright, trademark or trade secret claim alleging infringement by their product". Open source majors like Red Hat also provide assurance programmes to protect their customers.

    What has the world of patents and copyrights come to? We have product manufacturers offering to protect their customers from being sued for using their products!!! This is a feature?

    Imagine Honda offering "uncapped protection" for their car users against being sued for driving them? Or Adidas offering the same for their shoes(they were recently sued by Nike for violating some "Air" patents)

    I think I miss the vapourware days. Even if the features were imaginary, they at least sounded useful.
    • What has the world of patents and copyrights come to? We have product manufacturers offering to protect their customers from being sued for using their products!!! This is a feature?

      Microsoft has run out of real reasons for customers to use their software, so now Microsoft needs to use FUD to create false reasons for customers to use their software.

  • by tpgp ( 48001 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @06:58AM (#14775361) Homepage
    It should be noted here that if you believe that you're protected from IP lawsuits by using Microsoft software then you're incorrect.

    For example - if you use functioanlity covered by the excel patent case [theregister.co.uk] microsoft lost recently, then your business will suffer.

    Gartner recommends [gartner.com] the following:
    * Test all Office-based applications to ensure that they work with the new code, because newly purchased, repaired or reimaged PCs are affected. Pay particular attention to Access applications that interface with Excel.
    * Consider deploying Office without Access to users with no specific need for its database functionality, as a quick and viable alternative to installing the new code.
    * Recognize that installing the patches on new implementations without testing may be a quick alternative that minimizes legal risk, but risks breaking applications.
    * Request that Microsoft issue a patch for Office 2003 SP1, as it has for Office XP SP3, so that an entire service pack does not need to be tested and deployed for Office 2003.
    * If you anticipate significant difficulties in complying with the letter, try to get Microsoft to offer consulting assistance at little or no cost. Microsoft says that account managers will make arrangements to help organizations that have major problems complying.
    * If you feel you cannot comply with the order, work with legal counsel to understand your risk and exposure.
    So... MS loses a patent case, you're liable to clean up the mess.

    Furthermore, if the functionality is essential to you, and you avoid installing the service pack, you could be sued [blogspot.com]

    MS is no different to Open Source.

    First the vendor is sued, if the litigation is successful, they remove or work around the patent-protected functionality, then if the user continues using the disputed code, the user is liable.
    • If Microsoft was serious about it, they should give some compensation for the cost of the upgrade. Imagine large corporations, tens of thousands of desktops. Imagine how much does it cost to upgrade everyone because Microsoft messed up with some IP. I sincerely don't believe in something like assuming half responsibilities. If you're responsible for something, you should be responsible for the whole. Microsoft is currently only "kind of" responsible for IP issues with the software, which may give some cust
    • MS is no different to Open Source.

      How long needed RedHat to act upon SCO accusations? There is a difference.

      M$ whether likes it or not cannot risk aggravating vast user base. It will be one way or another on the case with its customer(s).

      And RedHat waited almost year to launch its case against SCO. It was obvious from the beginning that SCO is fliring with legal system, yet RH waited, leaving many user open to anxiety. (*)

      If you personally would ever have even a single customer, you would easily fee

    • MS is no different to Open Source.

      You're confusing the issue. There is no difference, if the patent-challenger wins. But the difference is that with Microsoft or other vendors with software assurance, they'll at least eat the cost of fighting that battle, and if they win, you're in the clear at no cost to you. With open source, you have to pay for the suit yourself, and even if you win, you've had to spend a fortune on the case (the practical result being that most users would settle rather than litigat

      • You're confusing the issue. There is no difference, if the patent-challenger wins. But the difference is that with Microsoft or other vendors with software assurance, they'll at least eat the cost of fighting that battle, and if they win, you're in the clear at no cost to you. With open source, you have to pay for the suit yourself, and even if you win, you've had to spend a fortune on the case (the practical result being that most users would settle rather than litigate). Clear? [emphasis mine]

        Sorry - but
        • Open Source Vendors can (and do) have software assurance.

          I realize this, but this is the minority because it costs money. How many users outside of large enterprises really buy software assurance from open-source vendors? So I think it's a fair point - the majority of the installed userbase of OSS is not indemnified.

          There is nothing special about proprietary software that means you cannot be sued by an IP holder for using it.

          True, though I never claimed otherwise. What is special (at least with Micros

          • I realize this, but this is the minority because it costs money. How many users outside of large enterprises really buy software assurance from open-source vendors? So I think it's a fair point - the majority of the installed userbase of OSS is not indemnified.

            1) Who outside of the enterprise cares about IP litigation?

            2) The majority of the installed userbase of proprietary software is not indemnified either - as they've pirated the software (additionally, many with legitimate software will also not have pr
  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:01AM (#14775366)
    Ok, and how is this a Microsoft vs Linux Issue?

    I'm sure the article meant this in more of an illustrative measure, but this is a very bad way to present the issue.

    Sure companies are going to protect users from legal issues, this is a part of business. It is also a measure of success with a lot of companies, as some do include protections for their customers and are willing to front any legal blows.

    Now if Joe Blow compiles Linux and straps on some tools and you use it in your business and you get sued over stuff it contains, what else would expect to happen?

    But this is true of any piece of software or OS, why make this a MS vs Linux specific issue? Buzz, get Slashdot attention, make Microsoft out to be something they are not (good or bad)?

    If RedHat is offering or trying to offer a level of abstract between their users and lawsuits as Microsoft is, how could this be Linux vs Microsoft? The last I looked Redhat pretty much only shipped Linux.

    This is a common business concept and sure there are reasons when you have a lot at stake to go with the better protection. You could also buy insurance to protect your company as well.

    Is this not news to just me?

    • http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200602212 20214214 [groklaw.net]
      IBM Subpoenas Microsoft! Sun! Baystar and HP!
      Tuesday, February 21 2006 @ 10:02 PM EST

      Hold on to your hats! IBM has subpoenaed Microsoft! And Sun! "

    • Ok, and how is this a Microsoft vs Linux Issue?

      Well, not just a Microsoft vs Linux issue, but a Microsoft vs Open Source Issue as well.
      Microsoft is saying (by implication) that open source is riddle with plagiarism filched from others' IP.
      I mean, if it's free, they must've got it from somewhere, right?
      So, sooner or later, I guess, the real owner is going to sue the end user for theft.

      From TFA:
      Customers understand the value proposition of open source. They are smart enough to understand that ru

  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @07:05AM (#14775376) Homepage Journal
    1) Any patent lawsuit against a user of a software component used by major vendors will automatically result in those vendors lending legal support to reduce the chance that their own customers will also end up being sued.
    2) Any patent lawsuit costs the suing party at least several hundred thousand dollars.
    3) Any patent put before the courts is at very great risk of being destroyed by prior art.
    4) Any payout awarded from a single end user has to be in proportion to value of the patented technology. The value of a single instance will could only be measured in hundreds of dollars, not coming close to covering the costs of suing
    5) Patent lawsuits take six years to over a decade to work it's way though appeals.
    6) Developers will release new software using a method that circumvents the patent in question within two months. This will be quickly adopted and by the time the first patent case is resolved there will be no further customers for the patent holder to sue.
    7) The outrage generated in taking out a case against any open source will result in Groklaw [groklaw.net] and other groups putting the suing party and their lawyers under the closest scrutiny. You will not believe the level of bad publicity, let alone the the amount of prior art, dirty business practices, and legal suspect practices and even violation of statutes [rcn.com] that will be uncovered.

    Lastly to quote Pulp Fiction, and then "we are going to get medieval on your ass."

    Any IP case against users of open source pute the attacker at a far greater risk.
    • The above post really spells out what this is all about. It is exceptionally unlikely that there is signifiant risk to a "normal" business from being sued over software patent infringmet. What Microsoft are trying to do is stem the tide of OSS adoption by creating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Unthinking company directors will read the headline, become concerned and stick with MS, however small the real risk.

      Most organisations I have worked for have, at some point, permitted the priacy of software, or encour
  • "Ubuntu (open source software being used by Google) founder and leader Mark Shuttleworth"

    well there's a little mistatement, or at least exageration about google + ubuntu...

    anyhow, not a judgement call on it, but does it seem M Shuttleworth seems to be becoming the talking head for Linux stuff nowadays, simalar to ESR before (as in the go to guy for the press, not in the raving, neo-con who's "not conservative", gun nut, wacko type sense...)
    • Re:shuttleworth (Score:3, Informative)

      by semiotec ( 948062 )

      I am sorry, but I don't understand why that is a mis-statement or exaggeration.

      Google has confirmed that they do in fact use Ubuntu internally (see link below) and Ubuntu is a collection of open source software (which is in fact, an understatement, if anything).

      link: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060131-6087 .html [arstechnica.com]

      From the article:

      'Google press relations office, technology spokeswoman Sonya Borälv responded very quickly to my query on the topic. She said that "[w]e use Ubuntu internally

      • the problem with the statement is that (to me) it implies that it's what google uses for it's production linux, i.e. it's immense farm of linux servers (which from I understood are a heavily modified version of redhat or something), not just what some in-house developpers have running on their desktop.

        even as to the latter, unless google has changed, and they may very well have, I thought that in house people there had various preferences as to what their distro of choice to use was. I didn't think there w
  • You have to love the hypocrisy of it all. It reminds me of a story I heard on the radio awhile back, where a drug user called the cops because she paid $100 to a dealer, only the drugs were fake. She could not honestly see the irony of her complaint. I am sure Microsoft doesn't see the irony in theirs.
  • by DCFC ( 933633 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @08:16AM (#14775555)
    MS will no doubt be up for fighting a SCO-like kamizaze attack. But I can't be the only person who spotted the way that MS will only do it if it doesn't cost much ?
    According to Techweb (and many other sites), 25% of Office users will suffer the pain of having to alter apps because Microsoft didn't own some of the technology it shipped.
    http://www.techweb.com/wire/software/179100683 [techweb.com] Users are currently infringing patents now. But come the next update apparently MS will disable these features.
    Thus your applications will go bang. I see that as bad.
    Recall how MS issued the WMF vulnerability patch by remotely rebooting people's machines, including servers ?
    If you buy an MP3 or DVD player which breaks someone's patent, it's hard to care if the manufacturer gets sued. But if you look at the Blackberry debacle, we see that a patent holder can reach into a user's equipment and disable it.
    RIM is not a trivial firm, albeit smaller than MS, it has fought hard, but is losing.
    MS lost it's case, and recall all the fights over tech in IE ?
    Perhaps this is the real reason the MS is pandering to the copyright holders in the MPAA and RIAA for Vista ?

    Thus we have both a legal and technical framework by which you can be shafted. MS can't protect you.
    Like with viruses, it's very size makes it more vulnerable, and a more attractive target.
    If you were a SCOlike entity would you rather extort $1 from every copy of Windows or Gentoo Linux ?
    There are (I guess) >50,000 patentable things in Microsoft's product line. Most of which are of course prior art, or a few licenced or owned. But MS cannot afford even to buy off all the patent holders who might come after it.
    Thus MS protection is very limited.
    Part of my education was during the Cold War about the role of the British nuclear deterrent, which was a distant 3rd after Russia & the US. It couldn't destroy Russia, but could make an awful mess.
    To me it points to what the open source movement should be moving towards with future versions of GPL etc.
    By patenting a slew of s/w features, MS, Oracle et al now have something to fear.
    The gangs of lawyers on contingency unleashed if MS tries to screw the O/S user base have the same deterrence as as the UK nukes. Not the end of the world, but the end of your world, which is good enough.
    Since the lawyers are being used weapons, not as revenue generators, you can cut a deal where they get to keep all the money.
    This means they will be more effective than the SCO gang, because their goal is to make a profit, not mutually assured destruction.

    DCFC the Pimp. http://pauldominic.com/ [pauldominic.com]
  • I'm not sure exactly what the legal definition of indemnity is, but in general speak I understand it to be that "if you get sued for IP infringement, Microsoft will handle the court case on your behalf as a representative of the allegedly infringing product". They're pushing this as a feature (which is a bit crazy, as noted above) in order to try to get a foothold in Asia.

    But in today's patent-happy legal minefield, do they really expect that no-one would stand up for Linux users? It's a matter of precede
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was talking to a sales rep yesterday about an 'exciting new product' that involves hardware plus software tools. I asked if the software tools were going to be made available for Linux. The response I got was blistering. Not only were they never going anywhere near anything open source but they were removing all their cross-platform functionality. No more Java either. The guy was absolutely rabid. He was also totally ignorant about open source.

    So, will Microsoft's IP (patent in this case) FUD work?
  • Analysts believe that the core issue at stake is whether open source software increases litigation risks.

    We need to get IBM to issue a statement in response to this. Their attempt at stockpiling patents/IP regarding Linux has been documented in the past, as well as their commitment to refrain from legal action against anyone who wants to use it.

    IBM are a very fortunate ally for the Linux community to have where the likes of Microsoft are concerned...especially considering that IBM probably have justifiable
  • by caudron ( 466327 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @09:07AM (#14775741) Homepage
    Between Microsoft and all the Linux distros combined, only one company or group has been found guilty in a court of law of IP violations. That's right, Microsoft...repeatedly.

    This is a red herring. Microsoft wants us to beleive that they are "going the extra mile" to protect us from something that is really unlikely, but in truth, if you are using Microsoft products, you are already using work that has taken IP-protected material from other sources without permission or right. And several courts have already said so. But Microsoft doesn't want you to hear that.

    If you are using Linux, Microsoft /says/ you are using legally dubious software, and yet neither Red Hat, nor Novell, nor Canonical, nor Mandriva, nor any major Linux distributor has been proved to violate any IP-rights in any court anywhere. The closest they came to such a thing was the SCO issue, which has been universally panned as a bogus suit that will come to no good end for SCO.

    So, between Microsoft and Linux, who /should/ be providing you with legal indemnity? The answer is easy.
  • Should we be sending someone over to India to point out that Europe doesn't have software patents, all that software patents so is allow US companies to boss you around so why should you adopt software patents?

    Droping software patents seems to be the best solution to this ?problem?
    • It seems that computer programs _are_ excluded from patentability in India, see http://swpat.ffii.org/players/in/index.en.html [ffii.org], which makes this latest move interesting.

      In fact, Microsoft has, though implicitly, argued that it's risky to use Linux in EU because of software patents: EU-only Get-The-Facts ads have referred to Total-Cost-of-Ownership studies that rely heavily on risks for patent infringement.
  • So who controls all litigation?
    1984 mis quote
    And if all others accepted the ip which the Company imposed--
    if all records told the same lie--
    then the ip passed into history and became profit.
    In west, capitalist throws chair at invisible competitor.
    In communist East Germany state chair factory sue you.
  • by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @09:48AM (#14775922) Journal
    I'm not a US citizen and I don't live in America. Some days I think "thank God". It is dismaying to see America's can-do spirit and open-minded, generous approach to life being wrecked by a never-ending avalanche of lawsuits, patent rows, legal opinionating and fuddish litigation threats, all egged on by "analysts" (the kind of fellows who were advising us all to buy stock the day before the dotcom bubble burst). There is nothing sane about setting fire to your own house.

    I much prefer the approach taken by the government of Brazil. They decided to put in some support for open source, and when Microsoft objected they told Microsoft to go sling their hook. There was no chair-throwing or calling down of world war three, at least in public. Microsoft swallowed hard and started to behave themselves. Good to see that standing up to bullies can work.
    • There's a quote I saw somewhere comparing anyone in a court of law to a fish between two cats, the lawyers. Do your country a favor and thin your herd of lawyers. This overabundance of lawyers is the cause of nearly all problems in the US. They're friggin war-profiteers in the legal battleground that they keep expanding. Break out the stakes and holy water and slay the blood-suckers. Save yourselves!
  • I initially parsed the headline as:

    Microsoft smoking pie fire.

    Which makes absolutely no sense, but did cause me to think, 'Well, the fanbois will be all over that one.'

    I'm beginning to suspect that my wife may have secretly replaced my normal coffee beans with decaffinated coffee beans. I keep turning around to see if there's a grey haired old man with a microphone waiting to ask me what I think.

    Sig arrêt

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:10AM (#14776056) Homepage Journal
    The difference though is that Microsoft has multiple cash cows, which makes all the difference in the world.

    Just as freedom of the press was once said to be for people who could own one, justice is now the exclusive privilege of those who can spend the most on lawyers. You don't cut off your legal competition's air supply, you let the cost of litigating drain their lifeblood.
  • TechNewsWorld has an interesting article [technewsworld.com] by an IP lawyer explaining why lititgation risks with Open Source aren't as great as they're often made out to be.
  • This must be the follow on to the MS article about playing well with Open Source.

    well done.
  • Doesn't the wording of the EULA (apparently) release them from any obligation whatsoever?
  • This is coming from a company which over the years have settled hundreds of millions dollars (or billions?) for violating intellectual property rights?

  • by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:01PM (#14776957)
    "Litigation suits can be tremendously expensive, with the cost easily exceeding what you paid for the software many times over''

    For a company that warns off others against using Open Source because of litigation concerns they do seem to spend an inordinant amount of time in court defending itself against accusations of violating/stealing other peoples IP.

    "As an industry leader, we are committed to spreading awareness on the issue among the Indian CIOs so they can make the best software decision that will best meet their business needs while at the same time balancing the risks involved,''

    As a convicted monopolist, we are committed to spreading as much fud amoung CIOs so as we can scare them off buying anything other thing MS as well as forcing up the cost of Open Source through the use of bogus IP litigation concerns.(end translation)

    Most people have little to fear as you're not big enough to go after. Unlike Apple, Amazon or Blackberry for instance. Good times ahead for the lawyers I guess. The root cause of the current IP racket is the US Patent Office and its predilection to grant nonsensical patents. We need less IP law not more. Lets see where doing business with a 'legimite' software company gets you:

    A List of Microsoft Litigation [groklaw.net]

    Microsoft Litigation
    • American Video Graphics v. Microsoft .. Violating Intellectual Property Rights.
    • AOL Time-Warner v. Microsoft .. Illegal Bundling.
    • Apple v. Microsoft .. Copyright Violation.
    • Arendi Holdings v. Microsoft .. Patent Violation.
    • AT&T v. Microsoft .. Failure to Share Source Code.
    • Pulp Fiction writer sues Microsoft .. Misappropriation of Trade Secrets.
    • Borland v. Microsoft .. Staff Poaching.
    • Brazil v. Microsoft .. Impeding Competition.
    • Bristol Technology v. Microsoft Corp .. Deceptive Business Practices.
    • BTG International v. Apple and Microsoft - Patent Infringement.
    • Caldera v. Microsoft .. Withholding code and Embedding Fake Error msgs in Windows.
    • eLeaders v. Microsoft .. attempted to Monopolize the Market.
    • California Cities sue Microsoft .. Monopoly Control.
    • Corel-Microsoft deal .. caused Corel to Withdraw from the Linux market.
    • DoJ investigation re Illegal Bundling of MSN with Windows 95.
    • Minnesota: Gordon v. Microsoft .. Broke Windows unless it ran on MS-DOS.
    • South Korean v Microsoft .. over Slammer Worm.
    • Daum Communications v. Microsoft .. Illegal Bundling.
    • Eolas Technologies v. Microsoft .. Patent Infringement.
    • E-Pass v. Microsoft .. Patent Infringment.
    • EU anti-trust case .. exerting Undue Influence.
    • Eu v. Microsoft Europe .. Unlawful Tying and deliberate Interoperability Barriers.
    • Syn-X Relief v. Microsoft .. Software Piracy.
    • Goldtouch v. Microsoft .. Patent Infringement.
    • Intertrust Technologies v. Microsoft .. Patent Infringement.
    • Japan FTC v Microsoft .. a Do Not Sue MS clause in OEM Contracts :)
    • Be, Inc. v. Microsoft .. Antitrust Lawsuit.
    • Burst v. Microsoft .. Patent Violation.
    • Netscape v. Microsoft .. Illegally Exploiting Monopoly Power.
    • Sun v. Microsoft .. Illegal Tying and Exclusionary Agreements.
    • Novell v. Microsoft .. Suppress the sales of WordPerfect.
    • Priceline v. M
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:05PM (#14776992)
    It is really silly to worry about lawsuits anymore - You WILL be sued, no-matter what. Anyone with anything to lose is a target. The only thing you can do is make sure you have good lawyers.

    The unfortunatly thing is that all these lawsuits make it prohibitivly expensive for the little guys (who can't afford an army of lawyers), and give big corporations the advantage - and at the same time that this is handing the world over to big corporations, we have to listen to people tell us that if it wasn't for this lawsuits "we would be taken advantage of by big corporations". *sigh*
  • by mstone ( 8523 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @01:21PM (#14777612)
    Microsoft sees 'legal issues tied to software' as a place where it needs to guide consumer thought. Why? Because FOSS kicks proprietary software's ass when it comes to legal encumbrances.

    Seriously, take a look at the ridiculous and downright insulting terms of sale that have been associated with proprietary software over the past few years: We've seen EULA terms that boil down to, "we own your computer, we're just letting you use it," spyware, rootkits, data tagging, terms of sale that demand holes in network security so the software can call home to snitch on you, and the occasional ABA software license compliance audit.

    Frankly, in objective terms, buying proprietary software puts the user in a lousy legal position.

    FOSS, on the other hand, lacks the power to impose any of that nonsense on consumers. You get a nonexclusive right to use the software, and the freedom to bypass or remove any pieces you dislike. You don't have to agree to bend over and lube up just to install the stuff.

    This whole 'indemnity' issue is misdirection. Micorosoft wants to keep people so busy worring about the (overall very good) legal status of FOSS that they ignore the (overall rotten) legal status of Microsoft's own products.

    This is a big-ass hint, gang.. Microsoft is telling us what it fears. It fears a world where corporate lawyers shoot down potential deals with Microsoft because the legal encumbrances on the software are unacceptable.

    We need to counter this FUD by making lots of noise about how good the FOSS legal package is. We need to see Microsoft's:

    "if you use FOSS, you MIGHT get sued"

    and raise it with:

    "if you use proprietary software, you WILL get EULA terms roughly equivalent to a full body-cavity search, you'll PROBABLY get spyware, you COULD get a rootkit, and you MIGHT get a software audit from the ABA. (and by the way: the number of ABA audits every year is larger than the number of lawsuits against FOSS)"

    Loudly. And frequently.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears