Summary: The Linux community tries again to get Microsoft to come clean over claims that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property. This time a website set up calls upon the Redmond giant to Show Us the Code.

TOPICS: Open Source

This link comes from the Hardware 2.0 mailbag.

The Linux community tries again to get Microsoft to come clean over claims that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property.  This time a website set up calls upon the Redmond giant to Show Us the Code.

The site contains an open letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer:

It's come to many in the Linux community’s attention you have claimed again and again, that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property.  Not only that, but it's been reported Microsoft has convinced businesses to pay for a Linux patent that you can't provide.

Therefore, this website will serve as a response to this accusation, and within it, a request.   The request is simple, since you, Microsoft, claim to be so sure of yourself: Show Us the Code.

If Linux developers are made aware of the code, then the code can be omitted and Linux can re-write necessary aspects of the kernel or operating system.

The website goes on to ask for support:

So this is what we're requesting.  We are requesting the support of the Linux community.  We are calling out to Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Dr. Eric Schmidt, Mark Shuttleworth, Kevin Carmony, and Matthew Szulik, as well as any and all developers for any Linux distribution or any company that feels threatened by your non-existent lawsuits: 

Publicly pledge your support for Microsoft showing the public the code within Linux that violates their intellectual property by May 1st, 2007. 

And now we get to the really naive part:

If you [Steve Ballmer] or Microsoft cannot comply with a response by the date outlined, everyone who endorses this will consider your threats and claims to be empty and libelous.

I've covered this story here before a few weeks ago and as far as far as I can see nothing has changed.  There's no legal reason why Microsoft should do anything by any date (although the company could clear the air if it wished).  Microsoft is perfectly within it's rights to sit on any information it has until the time is right to disclose it.

As open source becomes more and more commercialized (or at least there's greater and greater levels of commercial interest) it's going to have to get used to living with the threats of legal action - it's the price that has to be paid for doing anything nowadays it seems.


Topic: Open Source

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  • Put up or shut up!

    If you have the cash to make the bet, stop talking and put it on the table! I thought we (at least here in the US) were firm believers in the "innocent until proven guilty" stance. Until Microsoft comes forth with proof that Linux violates their patents, their lawsuits hold about as much water as a colander.
    • What lawsuit????

      Its funny, Show me the lawsuit! Are you doing predictive reasoning here? Until MS actually sues someone, they don't have to show you jack. The prosecution in a normal case does not have to provide any evidence until a case has been filed. Stop trying to have MS do something special. They don't have to reveal anything. When you are the biggest SW company in the world, the threat of a lawsuit is all you need sometimes to get what you want. The US does the same thing when we talk about bombing someone (if they don't do this or that). Not that we will, but the threat is all that is needed somethings. Big dogs act alike. Why would you expect otherwise. :-)
      • And until MS sues someone

        The Linux community doesn't need to remove a single piece of "offending" code from their OS or apps. Nor do they have to even pay any attention to Microsoft.

        The problem comes up when you factor in the Bosses. They hear things like "Linux is violating Microsoft's patents" and they back away from Linux because of fear. That's precisely what Microsoft wants, being unable to compete against Linux on their own playing field.

        What [i]will[/i] happen is that every single linux hacker out there will decompile Microsoft's code line by line and prove there's no patent infringement.

        That, Microsoft does NOT want.

        Be careful... you're toying with a completely different group here. They won't buckle under threats of lawsuits, they'll make it blow up in your face. Think SCO.
  • Linux morons...

    One more time for the stuopid ones, it doesn't take a single line of code to violate another's IP.

    Clue for you. A patent is not copyright. DUH!!!
    • You should look in the mirror ...

      You are obviously the one who has utterly no clue what he is talking about.

      Since Linux (the kernel) is software (i.e., lines of code) all actions and methods it uses are specified by that code.

      Hence, if it infringes on a patent, there *must* be code which actually implements the infringement.

      It's really a pretty simple concept.
    • Apprently you don't know how the process works.

      If there are infringed upon patents, it is up to the patent holder to show where the infringement took place (showing proof). There are three (3) types of infringement that could be taking place: [b]Direct infringement[/b] which is knowingly infringing on a patent, [b]Indirect infringement[/b] where a device is claimed in a patent and when a third party supplies a product which can only be reasonably used to make the claimed device and [b]Active inducement of infringement[/b] whereby one sells products that only has use if used in an infringing way, the seller could be found liable for the direct infringement of the end user.

      In all 3 cases, it is the burden of the Patent holder to prove that a violation has taken place. This clam of Patent Infringement was brought on by a claim that Linux violated 283 patents, of which less than 30 belonged to Microsoft. The person that did the study said that these were possible infringements and so far no one has claimed anything until now.

      No one expects someone like yourself to understand this though, you are after all No_Ax_to_Grind, a poor lapdog to Microsoft, begging for table scraps or whatever they will throw your way.
    • Ein Grosser Festo ist unser Bundesgerichtshof

      I also note that for all your blather about the US legal system and patents in particular, you suddenly go silent when particulars are posted.

      Such as the previous post in another series by the same [b]Subject[/b] as this one.

      [i]Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co.[/i], 535 U.S. 722, 740?41 (2002).

      Now begone.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
    • When speaking of morons...

      You should at least be able to spell the word "stupid." If you are unable to do so, you wind up looking like a moron yourself.
    • This character NO_AXE should learn to spell .

      If anything it is you who is behaving like you are stupid . Get over yourself you old horse .
  • Waiver by unreasonable delay

    Microsoft is playing a very dangerous game here, since the United States Supreme Court has ruled (in [i]Festo[/i] that a patentholder can waive its rights by unreasonably delaying prosecution of patent claims.

    In the instant case, the Linux community may well be on very solid ground. By publicly asking Microsoft to disclose its patent rights so as to "do the right thing" and remove infringing code, they're setting the stage for a perfect defense of waiver if MS should file suit later.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Check the timelines!

      You might want to check to see how long MS has to file that. You will find that the timeframe in which they have to file is quite extensive and by THAT time, they will have effectively gotten all they want. It's called gorilla tactics. This is nothing new. Dog eat dog. The "show me something" is a lame attempt by some lame linux nut that will get no response from MS. They are afterall the biggest SW company in the world. Do they really even have to stoop to talk to those guys. NOT! they are small fry, nobodies! MS could care less about some rogue website making demands. If a Federal Judge is not involved MS doesn't even pay attention. This must be some feel good situation that the Linux community wants to feel. MS has you right where they want, at a standstill, so you are afraid to develop anything (or anything of any real signficance) so they can continue to dominate. Is that illegal? No! It's called, "may the one with the best hand win". Kinda like poker! A good bluff will beat you!
      • I'm sure MS has a great chance like the SCO !

        NOT ! Bunch of MS Zealots I will continue to use LINUX , because it is not in any danger like all you clowns claim . If anything worry about your precious MS who has been slapped about with a 1.52 billion lawsuit . Now isn't that something .
      • Now we're just haggling over price

        [i]You might want to check to see how long MS has to file that. You will find that the timeframe in which they have to file is quite extensive and by THAT time, they will have effectively gotten all they want.[/i]

        Not really. The Court found that unreasonable prosecution delay constituted waiver, but didn't set any rules for how long "unreasonable" was. In the face of a public war of words, MS is going to have a hard time claiming that their refusal to timely disclose their (claimed) rights exposes any potential defendants to liability.

        Of course, it's possible that someone (think North Carolina) might file a suit for declaratory judgment just to settle the matter for good. If they do, I wonder whether they would try Delaware again or look for somewhere (anywhere?) else. Interesting question.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Guerrilla?

        You wrote: "It's called gorilla tactics," when I suppose you meant "It's called guerrilla tactics."

        But a pretty good malaproprism, given that the 800-pound gorilla (Microsoft) is involved.
        • panic obviously setting in

          which mistake just about shows the intellectual level of this counter- propaganda, if this is all the spin M$ can manage . they're in big trouble
  • Not as it seems...

    Ballmer and MS should put up or shut up.

    The fact is that these threats, as infuriating as they are, are merely FUD. Going after Linux for patent infringement would put MS in jeopardy. Because of fact that basic algorithms and commonly known ideas which have been around forever can be patented it is a certainty that ALL OS's infringe patents.

    Of course we have Ballmer misusing studies to support his FUD.
    <a href=",1759,1729908,00.asp">Author of Linux Patent Study Says Ballmer Got It Wrong!</a>
    Tim Patterson
  • Obvious ploy by MS, but what to do?

    It's obvious that MS has no legal claims (or if they do, they never intend to pursue them). It serves them better to hold the legal threat over potential customers, giving the decision-makers second thoughts about using Open Source software.

    The question is, how can the Open Source community defend their work against Microsoft's charges? It's darned near impossible when MS won't publicly identify where the infringement is.

    This site is a decent start, but the deadline is useless. MS won't comply, and the site will be yesterday's news about two days later. What they should do is the following:

    1. Put a running counter up on the site, pointing out that Microsoft has failed to respond to this request for a specific number of years/months/days/hours/minutes/seconds.

    2. Every month, send out another press release, reminding everyone how long it has been. Some of the press will report it, so it will remain in the public eye.

    3. Have a birthday party for the challenge once a year, celebrating another 365 (or 366) days the challenge has survived without a Microsoft response. I'd suggest broadcasting highlights of these parties on or

    4. If it goes on long enough, start listing big events, scientific break-throughs, celebrity marriages/births/deaths, dictators who've been overthrown, countries that have been formed/disbanded, since the challenge was issued. And once again, note that MS hasn't revealed a single bit of functionality or code that infringed their patents.

    5. Start a "predictions" area, where people can predict what will or will not happen before Microsoft responds to the challenge. My first entry would be: "The United States will win the World Cup before Microsoft reponds to this challenge." And then keep track of those who fail/succeed to predict it correctly.