Author Topic: MS at it again....  (Read 6706 times)

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Offline Profixer

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MS at it again....
« on: November 17, 2006, 09:27:57 PM »
Not really security related, but something which pisses me off.....

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=software&articleId=9005171

Seems the MS - Novell deal was bullshit afterall.....  :(

Me thinks I am saying bye bye to SuSE on my laptop....

//Steve
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Offline Corrine

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2006, 12:14:10 AM »
It seems that there are a lot of people who have no clue about patents.  Read my comments first before you jump to any conclusions. 

http://securitygarden.blogspot.com/2006/11/microsoft-linux-patent-infringement.html

Bottom line, IMO, Novell was infringing MS patents.  MS attorneys called them on it.  Novell legal staff agreed and they negotiated a license with MS.  The technology is unchanged.  It is the same as what it was before you read that article.  The terms of the agreement are, of course, confidential. 

As a hypothetical example, Microsoft could have a patented claim for a means of obtaining data in a certain manner, perhaps based on a particular mathematical formula.  Perhaps Novell was using the same mathematical formula.  They have to pay MS for the right to use their patented invention in their product.


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Offline Profixer

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2006, 01:12:05 AM »
Actually Corrine... in my opinion, it is nothing at all to do with patent infringement... both MS and Novell knows this

what its all about is scaring Linux using/potentially using companies into moving to SuSE out of fear that they might at some point be in trouble... by moving to SuSE, they get their so called "patent pledge" from MS / Novell, and in turn both Novell and MS earn on this...

I will be looking forward to seeing what happens when the FSF finalize GPL 3 and forbid these forms of agreements from taking place... then Novell are gonna have a bit of a problem...

Linux itself (the kernel) does not infringe on MS patents... and it would be interesting for MS to even try and challenge this... many of the open source applications that come with distributions of Linux may  / may not infringe... though again... we have seen / heard NOTHING from MS about which ones they are... if they really wish to stop GNU/Linux users from "infringing" patents, then they need to state what they are, so these apps can be removed / remade...

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Offline Assarbad

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2006, 03:10:41 PM »
I will be looking forward to seeing what happens when the FSF finalize GPL 3 and forbid these forms of agreements from taking place... then Novell are gonna have a bit of a problem...
The GPL 2 is not free after all, but making GPL 3 even more political than it already was in the drafts would kill it.

Linux itself (the kernel) does not infringe on MS patents... and it would be interesting for MS to even try and challenge this... many of the open source applications that come with distributions of Linux may  / may not infringe... though again... we have seen / heard NOTHING from MS about which ones they are... if they really wish to stop GNU/Linux users from "infringing" patents, then they need to state what they are, so these apps can be removed / remade...
... reminds me of SCO :hysterical:
Oliver (working at FRISK but posting here as a private person!)

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Offline Assarbad

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2006, 03:24:14 PM »
(Sorry, could not edit my previous post, therefore it is a reply now)

I love the "firing back" of readers linked from the article given in the first post. This one I like in particular:
Quote
DOS ripped off Unix

What is he talking about?
Windows was based on MS-DOS. MS-DOS was a rip-off from Unix.

-- L.B.
Despite the factual inconsistency: Windows 9x/Me was not based on DOS but relied on DOS as the OS - Windows NT however has nothing to do with DOS at all. I wonder what Linux is? Maybe a rip-off from Unix?  :hysterical:


What I hate more than everything is the term "Intellectual Property". It is so stupid. After all usually not the inventors but some other people benefit from the profits of patent licenses.

Quote
As far as is currently known, the thumbtack was invented by the clockmaker Johann Kirsten in the year 1903 in the town of Lychen in Uckermark, Germany [2]. He sold the rights to the invention to Otto Lindstedt, a businessman, who received a patent for the thumbtack on 8th January 1904. Lindstedt became a wealthy man while Kirsten, the clockmaker, remained in poverty. (source: Wikipedia)

Also patents - especially computer-related - should last no longer than 4 years. I mean, if you buy a PC now it will be basically outdated after 4 years, so why should a patent last almost 5 times as long (depends on the jurisdiction)? Patents are good for the inventor to gain profits from his/her invention - if it is the inventor gaining the profits and if the patents last not too long and serve the public after a reasonable time. Remember: patent regulations are still from a time when it partially took days, weeks or months to communicate with any point on earth. This is history. Also production goes a lot faster now. Development of the processes is a lot faster ....................
Oliver (working at FRISK but posting here as a private person!)

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Offline Corrine

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2006, 01:04:05 AM »
Quote
Also patents - especially computer-related - should last no longer than 4 years. I mean, if you buy a PC now it will be basically outdated after 4 years, so why should a patent last almost 5 times as long (depends on the jurisdiction)? Patents are good for the inventor to gain profits from his/her invention - if it is the inventor gaining the profits and if the patents last not too long and serve the public after a reasonable time. Remember: patent regulations are still from a time when it partially took days, weeks or months to communicate with any point on earth. This is history. Also production goes a lot faster now. Development of the processes is a lot faster ....................

Granted the patent system has its faults.  As to inventors gaining profits from their invention -- well, look at it this way:

An inventor in a large company is paid a salary to "invent".  That is what they are hired to do.  There are not many inventors who have the funds to get their invention to the market place.  Market study, a manufacturing facility, raw materials, tooling up, hiring staff, marketing, packaging, shipping, etc.

Most inventions are only one little tidbit of the whole piece.  A finished product is generally based on many parts that incorporate many "inventions".  A patent would not be granted on a "computer".  There would be separate design patents for the CD tray, DVD, fan openings, the box, etc.  Then comes the mechanism (track) that the CD tray opens/closes on.  What about the motor for the fans?  We haven't even gotten close to the software yet -- which I agree is probably outdated before the patent even issues.  Look at some of the patent titles:

Wall socket connector for AC adapters
Icon for a portion of a display screen
Automatic assigning of shortcut keys
Methods and apparatus for filtering and caching data representing images
Real time data matching

As to patents only lasting 4 years -- Microsoft wasn't being funny when Ballmer said how much MS spends annually on R&D.  Referring to just one title above -- automatic assigning of shortcut keys.  Something of that nature is certainly likely to be of value longer than 4 years.  Since patents do not issue at the same time, the patent on the "icon" could expire before the patent on the "real time data matching". 

Most countries have now gone to "first to file" and the patent is for 20 years from the filing date.  The problem there is that a patent doesn't issue over night.  It takes at least 18 months to 2 years (and often longer) from filing to issuance.  If a product is to be sold worldwide, it is even more complicated.  What if the claims of a patent are narrowed on a key element in, say Japan?  If the company plans on selling their product in Japan, if they want a universal product, they may need to make changes for the product for all countries.

It just isn't all that simple. And, without patent protection, then what?  I invent something very clever but don't have the money to market it.  You come along with mega-bucks and put the invention on the market, keeping all the profit because there's nothing to prove that the "intellectual property" belongs to me.

Whew!  That was long winded but consider this -- I'm not a patent attorney, but I have my entire career associated in one way or another with the Patent Staff of the company where I work.  Most likely, I started there before you were born.  :rose:


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Offline Assarbad

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2006, 01:59:50 AM »
An inventor in a large company is paid a salary to "invent".  That is what they are hired to do.
If they are hired to do exactly this and the wage represents this status it is fine - otherwise it's not. I'd say too often it's not. In Germany an employee even has the right to get a share of what the company saves (or earns) from an idea of the employee.

As to patents only lasting 4 years -- Microsoft wasn't being funny when Ballmer said how much MS spends annually on R&D.  Referring to just one title above -- automatic assigning of shortcut keys.  Something of that nature is certainly likely to be of value longer than 4 years.  Since patents do not issue at the same time, the patent on the "icon" could expire before the patent on the "real time data matching".
I am aware of the fact that it takes long to get a patent issued, however: the day you apply, the protection starts. But I would even say let's start the 4 years at the date the patent is issued. So you get ~6 years overall protection. Also not bad. And last but not least it will further innovation on the side of the patent holder - not only on the side of the others (which of course will attempt to build something similar working around the patent claims thus being innovative ...).

It just isn't all that simple. And, without patent protection, then what?  I invent something very clever but don't have the money to market it.  You come along with mega-bucks and put the invention on the market, keeping all the profit because there's nothing to prove that the "intellectual property" belongs to me.
Well same holds if both of us invent something and I patent it earlier than you ... oopsie. That is inherent in the system. And yes, it is unfair.

Whew!  That was long winded but consider this -- I'm not a patent attorney, but I have my entire career associated in one way or another with the Patent Staff of the company where I work.  Most likely, I started there before you were born.  :rose:
I know, we talked about it before - and there is no offense intended on my side. However, my stance is that knowledge should be free.

Go tell someone of these so-called primitive people in the jungle of ... that you own the ground around your house. They'll laugh at you. So do I if someone tells me his/her idea is his/her intellectual property. Yes, it was his/her idea but it's not his/her property! A fine line, but an important one ...

I also had cool ideas already. For example an adapter to get a crossed-over network cable and vice-versa. I notified a shop and "suddenly" 2 years after they had this on stock ... coincidence? Most likely! And I would have been ashamed to apply for a patent for it even if I could have earned money from it. Also I have the idea that a laptop could have a switch and a VGA/DVI input to be activated via this switch, so on-site (e.g. when working with the customer's PC or on an otherwise headless machine) you could simply plug your notebook to the VGA/DVI output of the other machine and perform maintenance tasks using your laptop display as the monitor. This one has not been implemented yet - probably too geeky. However, what is so new with this idea that it should be patentable? I mean it is basically just another use for an existing device. Such things should not be patentable. I have read many patent descriptions and despite the mostly cryptic expressions used I have found only a minority to be worth to get a patented - using only my common sense.

We should understand that marketing and consumption are going way too far nowadays - one could say consumption consumes us. Selling ground on the moon? Selling stars?
No problem ... you can buy everything ... luckily not[1] ...

Patents are a limited monopoly granted by so-called authorities (e.g. "the state xyz"). But where do these so-called authorities take the right from to issue patents in the first place? Probably I'd not complain about 20 or 40 years for a patent to be valid (and profitable), as long as the patented matter is revolutionary new ... not just derived from something existing and any person knowledgable in this specific area could have "invented" the same using his/her brain for 5-10 minutes. Too many patents are of this quality and that's the problem ...


[1] Eternal life, eternal health and all these things are luckily out of reach even to the richest people.
Oliver (working at FRISK but posting here as a private person!)

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Offline Corrine

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2006, 12:29:26 PM »
Quote
Also I have the idea that a laptop could have a switch and a VGA/DVI input to be activated via this switch, so on-site (e.g. when working with the customer's PC or on an otherwise headless machine) you could simply plug your notebook to the VGA/DVI output of the other machine and perform maintenance tasks using your laptop display as the monitor. This one has not been implemented yet - probably too geeky.
So, write a paper on it, providing complete details on how this could be accomplished, publish it and your idea will be "state of the art".  As a result of that "disclosure", your idea will be unpatentable and available for anyone to incorporate in their product, unless the person reading your paper can prove some unique feature/method/process that is "not obvious by one skilled in the art".

Yes, I agree, there is a lot of gobble-de-gook involved in the patent process.  But its fun to discuss different points of view.



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Offline Coldmoon

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2006, 01:41:10 PM »
I think this has gotten slightly off-topic if you look at it specifically, but there is an issue you have not explored in your discussions up to this point that I believe is just as important (though Corrine already mentioned it):

Quote
-- Microsoft wasn't being funny when Ballmer said how much MS spends annually on R&D...

One aspect of a patent is to provide an element of risk management for the company that decides to develop, integrate, or outsource a new technology. This is to establish "ownership" of said technology which allows the company reasonable ability to predict costs and profits into the future, regardless of how long that period of time may be. If you do not have this mechanism (or similar) in place, these calculations become more difficult with the resulting uncertainty causing a chilling effect on the company as to whether these technologies can be used or if by using/developing them, they may be setting themselves up for costly litigation in the future.

Though you can see a certain primal attractiveness to Assarbad's POV, the model just does not hold up over the long run. Even worse, the influence over development then becomes diffused among general developmental groups that may or may not be interested in designing to meet your customer's specific requirements resulting in longer time to market to address these needs. I know this is a very old argument, but it is still something, IMHO, that has not really been addressed specifically by the open source community.

Further, the following argument is an illusion regardless of where you fall on this subject:

Assarbad said:

Quote
...However, my stance is that knowledge should be free.

Go tell someone of these so-called primitive people in the jungle of ... that you own the ground around your house. They'll laugh at you. So do I if someone tells me his/her idea is his/her intellectual property. Yes, it was his/her idea but it's not his/her property! A fine line, but an important one ...


First of all, whether you pay money or not for your education, it is never free. The seeker of knowledge pays through time, effort, study, and practice; thus incurring a "cost". To say knowledge should be free ignores this fact. It also ignores the time a seeker's teacher(s)/mentor(s) spend to give him/her said knowledge.

The second issue here is an attempt to compare apples with oranges. In these societies, the "property" you speak of is to support each member's basic needs for survival and identity and not for stranger (to them at least) concepts of personal enrichment or technological progress. To suggest that this strategy should or even could be made to fit all situations ignores the fact that progress has been forced to reject this in favor of more complicated models...
Coldmoon over dark water...

Offline Assarbad

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2006, 02:24:01 PM »
One aspect of a patent is to provide an element of risk management for the company that decides to develop, integrate, or outsource a new technology. This is to establish "ownership" of said technology which allows the company reasonable ability to predict costs and profits into the future, regardless of how long that period of time may be. If you do not have this mechanism (or similar) in place, these calculations become more difficult with the resulting uncertainty causing a chilling effect on the company as to whether these technologies can be used or if by using/developing them, they may be setting themselves up for costly litigation in the future.
Too many trivial (software) patents exist - and that is the point. And their impact on other developers could be mitigated by shortening the period of validity for the patents.

Though you can see a certain primal attractiveness to Assarbad's POV, the model just does not hold up over the long run. Even worse, the influence over development then becomes diffused among general developmental groups that may or may not be interested in designing to meet your customer's specific requirements resulting in longer time to market to address these needs. I know this is a very old argument, but it is still something, IMHO, that has not really been addressed specifically by the open source community.
Where is the connection to OpenSource? Even more, you don't seriously expect people that dedicate their spare time to "customers" - by spending hours fixing bugs, implementing new features and so on - to care for "time to market", do you? Maybe they do, but surely not with the "customer" in mind. Companies getting profits from service/support around a certain OpenSource product may indeed choose to take care of something like "time to market" in a project (see OpenOffice.org with Sun, Ubuntu with Mark Shuttleworth).

Please, before talking in such a way about OpenSource, get yourself involved in it! ... and let's talk about it again after you have contributed half a year of spare time ...

First of all, whether you pay money or not for your education, it is never free. The seeker of knowledge pays through time, effort, study, and practice; thus incurring a "cost". To say knowledge should be free ignores this fact. It also ignores the time a seeker's teacher(s)/mentor(s) spend to give him/her said knowledge.
This statement can really only come from someone raised in a capitalistic society, I assume. :? Have you ever heard of free as in freedom, not only of free as in free of charge? I wonder how much you charge your parents if they ask you for help and you measure your time in bucks?!

It looks like those who say "freedom" too often forget about the true meaning of the term, while others who were raised in a not so free society permanently have the impression that the so-called "freedom" in our current society is just a big fake. Want an example? When I was young we knew what not to say because you could get in trouble and there was basically always someone listening (yes, even children or worse, their parents, could get into trouble when saying something "wrong"). Nowadays everyone is ignorant towards others and the freedom of speech is worth a sh*t without the money to make yourself heard!

The second issue here is an attempt to compare apples with oranges. In these societies, the "property" you speak of is to support each member's basic needs for survival and identity and not for stranger (to them at least) concepts of personal enrichment or technological progress. To suggest that this strategy should or even could be made to fit all situations ignores the fact that progress has been forced to reject this in favor of more complicated models...
Oh, I wasn't aware that caviar, champagne, luxus cars and so on belong to the category "basic needs" ... but well, sometimes you are being educated for free by another member of the society and learn such new and exciting facts :mrgreen:

You don't need patents to finance your basic needs - instead you need them to keep others from using something you found out[1] (monopoly) and get much more money than you will ever be able to spend as a normal human being (far beyond basic needs!). I agree that given the society we live in there has to be a mechanism like patents to get companies to invent instead of stealing knowledge. However, the time a patent is valid - especially in the software sector - should be reconsidered. Although for software I'd rather ban patents at all. There is nothing that could be new enough to justify a patent. Otherwise you can surely name good examples, hmm?

[1] ... although that process of finding out may have taken only a few minutes ...

Cheers,
Oliver (working at FRISK but posting here as a private person!)

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Offline Profixer

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2006, 11:44:01 PM »
Before I respond, I want to make one thing clear.

An invention is a physical representation of an obtained knowledge. Therefore when we patent an idea / invention we are basically patenting the underlying knowledge.... this is why it is referred to intellectual property and not merely property.

This was basically for anyone who does not understand that you do not need to implement something to patent it.

This is where the patent system fails. Who the HELL has the right to decide what knowledge belongs to them? This is pure insanity. Everyone has the right to think for themselves, and share this knowledge, even express it through any physical implementation. With 6 billion people living on this planet, I find it highly likely that the same knowledge is being obtained every day by at least 2 people... but WHY OH WHY can someone try to take away the right of this other person by patenting the idea. Do not forget that the patent system doesnt even demand that something is implemented... you could sit around thinking of ideas and just apply for a patent and then wait on someone to come up with the same idea, implement it, make some money... and then BANG... sue them... do not also forget that it is impossible for anyone to see pending patents (unless they are published by the patent applicant), which means with the time it takes to get a patent granted, another company can have done 18 months of research and development, only to find some guy who patented the same idea, but it was patent pending and he / the company sues them for infringement.. Where is the protection of risk to companies then Coldmoon?... the other company wasted time and money and could get sued for even more....yes it can provide protection to companies, but it also can destroy them and stifle competition... The recent attempt to adopt US style patenting in the EU was turned down flat... WHY? because the EU knew that adopting this style would basically turn the EU software market into a battleground of litigation, where basically 1000's of small companies would be forced to close because they are supposedly infringing on a patent by using "Pay with credit card" on their website (yes theres a patent for that, COME ON!!!) and numerous other ludicrous patents... patents stifle competition, and allow the companies with the biggest wallets to screw everyone else, and decide the future of development. Human society was BUILT on the sharing of knowledge and freedom of expression...we would never have come this far otherwise... are we to allow this to be ruined by capatilist bullshit which doesnt give a **** about this and only sees the dollar signs?
My sarcasm knows no bounds

Offline Profixer

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2006, 11:48:31 PM »
oh and btw, if anyone thinks that anti-patent arguments are merely rantings of open-source advocates, then think again... you need only read about the thousands of companies within the EU that signed protests against adopting US style patents through http://swpat.ffii.org/

these are companies, with risk management... humm.... why wouldnt they want patents? cos they know the consequences of them are no good to anyone...
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Offline Profixer

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2006, 11:53:24 PM »
if you want to make money on an invention, then you need to work with it, maintain it and compete with others like everyone else in this world... the measure of how much money a company can make out of an invention should not depend on how patented it first... it should be on the quality of the implementation, the support the company gives, and how well they maintain it... let the consumer decide!!! they dont want one company that decides everything... they want competitors, they want quality, they want to be able to choose....
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Offline Assarbad

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2006, 11:55:50 PM »
Only one correction from my side:
Human society wasis BUILT on the sharing of knowledge and freedom of expression...

... otherwise I fully agree.

these are companies, with risk management... humm.... why wouldnt they want patents?
... because they see the risk in (software) patents?! Good risk management, I'd say!
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Offline Assarbad

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Re: MS at it again....
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2006, 12:14:26 AM »
Oliver (working at FRISK but posting here as a private person!)

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