Microsoft patent peace for our time

Microsoft patent peace for our time

Summary: Isn't Microsoft just buying patent peace in our time?

SHARE:

Another day, another Microsoft patent deal. This time with Amazon.

And more whining from Linux advocates that this is a "Microsoft tax" aimed at making Linux users pay Microsoft for the open source operating system.

I have thought that too. But let me play devil's advocate a moment, using as my text Marshall Phelps' Burning the Ships.

Isn't Microsoft just buying patent peace for our time?

Think about it. We are never told how much money changes hands in these transactions. It could be a dime, or some other token. It's certainly less than the targets would spend on lawyers defending a patent suit.

And who are Microsoft's targets? Mainly big companies, tech outfits with patents of their own, who have as much to lose from patent war as Microsoft. The terms can't be too onerous. TomTom continues rolling along after caving in to Microsoft's "demands."

So who, assuming this continues, is the real target? I'd say it would be patent trolls, of whom Microsoft faces a host. The nastiest may be its own former chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold.

The only brief Microsoft filed in the Bilski case, still before the Supreme Court, supported the idea of patents protecting only software that causes physical transformation. Microsoft is not arguing that all software can be patented.

Arguments in the patent case now called Bilski vs. Kappos, held in November, seemed to tilt toward approval of limits on software patents, maybe the full elimination of business method patents. Both sides came in from criticism from both sides of the bench.

But a deal on assets that are made worthless by a court is still a deal. Microsoft has assets of dubious quality, and every incentive to make deals now.

My guess is Amazon got a good one.

Topics: Microsoft, Legal, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

22 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It's all about VFAT. Nothing else. Move along.

    nt
    D.T.Schmitz
    • HAHAHA Nice FUD. 3rd forum you've tried to spread it in

      But unlike dim witted linuxgeek and knows better but shills anyway mentalist, most people here have functioning brains. Only a handful of the hundreds of signees have devices or anything else that requires syncing with windows via VFAT or any other mechanism.

      Let's see your proof BS meister.
      Thought so...
      Johnny Vegas
      • the details of TomTom revealed it was mostly about VFAT

        However in this case, there has been a patent exchange. I suspect there
        is more interesting stuff in the Microsoft portfolio that might have been
        exchanged, and similarly in Amazon portfolio. Maybe it's to do with
        ebooks, content etc. We'll find out in due course.

        Business as usual.
        stevey_d
        • Maybe it has to do with an announcment made by Amazon today

          fyi,

          http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-10535-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=75580&messageID=1470649

          Coincidence? H3ll no.
          D.T.Schmitz
          • BZZZZ FAIL! No actually that was annouced months ago

            That was just adding Windows Servers to EC because to no one's surprise Amazon kept trying to sell EC into corporate accounts and kept getting told yeah we'd be interested if it ran on Windows but no thanks until it does. Give us Windows/SQL servers and we'll talk...
            Johnny Vegas
          • No, you are confusing negotiations with the final release

            These kinds of things aren't put together overnight.

            It's no coincidence my Friend.

            That's major Windows IaaS on Amazon and MS won't hand that over without a major consideration and X-Licensing agreement.

            This is not small potatoes, pure and simple.
            D.T.Schmitz
    • RE: Microsoft patent peace for our time

      Microsoft is not arguing that all software can be patented.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
      zakkiromi
  • it is about kindle

    amazon wanted to allow it to sync with M$ file systems and formats.
    Linux Geek
    • or content delivery through windows media player / zune online

      something like that I guess. After all there is the ipad...
      stevey_d
  • Unconscionable contracts

    "But a deal on assets that are made worthless by a court is
    still a deal."

    I'm not entirely sure about that. I know that if a contract
    requires the violation of a law to be fulfilled to a letter, it's
    null and void, but if the basis of the agreement itself is later
    rendered null and void, surely there would be some
    ramifications?
    Third of Five
  • PC-BSD 8.0 Released!

    Avoid the troubles of linux with its insecure software (requires apparmor) and patent infringements by running PC-BSD 8.0!

    What is PC-BSD?
    PC-BSD is a free operating system with ease of use in mind. Like any modern system, you can listen to your favorite music, watch your movies, work with office documents and install your favorite applications with a setup wizard at a click.

    Download the torrent today!
    http://www.gotbsd.net/
    http://www.pcbsd.org/
    Loverock Davidson
  • Deleted

    .
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Microsoft patent peace for our time

    "patent trolls"

    All this talk about ?patent trolls? is pure hype. If you will look at the 1898 Rude et al. v. Westcott et al. SCOTUS case [130 US 152, 9 S Ct 463, 32 L Ed 888] you will see that at least since 1874 inventors have been selling and partnering with other parties to enforce their patents. Without doing so, few inventors and small companies can afford to enforce their patents, meaning larger competitors can easily beat them out of the market they created and run them into bankruptcy. That?s big companies idea of ?patent reform?. Therefore, all this present day discussion of ?trolls? is a hoax whose purpose is to cut off the small entity support system and deny them any profit from their creations. Simply put, its intent is to legalize theft.

    Patent reform is a fraud on America. It is patently un-American.
    Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform.
    staff2
    • Different Patents

      If you had tried to patent math in 1874, your
      patent would have been denied. Software is
      algorithmic math. Business patents have no place
      in the economy. These things need to be changed.

      As opposed to offering the little guy a chance,
      these patent exchanges are generally only
      between large companies with large portfolios,
      and the result is a large barrier to entry for
      the little businesses, which have little to
      offer patent-wise and which can't afford to
      challenge the big guys in court.
      daengbo
  • This is a balanced article rather than the other flamebait

    Amazon & Microsoft exchanged patent licensing it turns
    out.
    I imagine a bit part of the microsoft side was FAT32, which
    many large USB Flash manufacturers pay Microsoft for (and
    TomTom pays for this too).

    I doubt a lot of the cheap chinese hardware pays for FAT32
    etc, as they are so cheap and hard to track that it probably
    isn't worth Microsoft going after the fees.

    It seems to me Microsoft only chases the patent fees if
    hardware is involved, although SUSE also did a
    patent/technology exchange (but I guess this goes well
    beyond FAT32).

    But I don't think Redhat did.

    I don't have an Axe to grind either way, it's just business.
    stevey_d
  • @Dana I forgot about an email I got in my Inbox

    Might this have anything to do with MS/Amazon's X-Licensing agreement? Yes? Gee I wonder, Hmmmm.

    [b]
    Dear Amazon EC2 Customer,

    We are excited to announce the immediate availability of Reserved Instances with Windows, which work like Reserved Instances with Linux/UNIX. You simply pay a low, upfront fee for each Reserved Instances with Windows you want to reserve and in turn receive a significant discount on the hourly price during a 1 or 3 year period. After the one-time payment, that Windows-based instance is reserved for you, and you have no further obligation; you may choose to run that instance for the discounted usage rate for the duration of your term, or when you do not use the instance, you will not pay usage charges on it. You can find more detailed information on Reserved Instances at http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/reserved-instances.

    In addition, we are also pleased to announce today the availability of Extra Large High Memory instances, for use with all operating systems. The new instance type is specifically designed for memory-intensive workloads such as databases, memory caching, and rendering. You can also leverage this new instance type as a lower cost option if you are already using Standard Extra Large instances. The High Memory Extra Large instance type is defined as:

    Extra Large: 17.1 GB memory, 6.5 ECU (2 virtual cores with 3.25 ECU each), 420 GB storage, 64-bit platform
    *
    Please visit the Amazon EC2 service page for more information on the Extra Large High Memory instance type.

    We hope that you take advantage of these new offerings!

    Sincerely,

    The Amazon EC2 Team
    [/b]
    D.T.Schmitz
  • Advanced Acai

    "Microsoft patent peace for our time" is this true. You know now-a-days Microsoft itmes is No 1 in every country ...

    http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/advanced-acai-review-does-advanced-acai-really-work-1778693.html
    rockyxnm
  • RE: Microsoft patent peace for our time

    This is a gang/mob kind of deal. It's easy to be done, serves the M$ intent to spread FUD over the FLOSS, and it opens the way for more of the like, including the Novell type deals.
    M$ fears competition from Linux and Open Source Software in general, for good reasons.
    Lets suppose that every time that M$ negotiates a grant / cross licensing agreement with other big monopoly, in case they use Linux servers, the M$ guys tell them: ok friends, now we are prepared to give you a big discount on this deal, but you must authorize us to issue a press release that mention that our present deal also covers your usage of Linux servers. If you accept, lets just draft the related non disclosure agreement.
    What do you people think the other party would say?
    If this is not what happened, so who can explain the reason why there are so many companies that use Linux and M$ did not went over them?
    Of course its because they never went to M$ (yet) asking for any kind of patent deal.
    Now, the good question is: how to stop this dirty scheme ?
    meandnotme
  • We need to abolish software patents

    Software patents prohibit innovation, and promote monopolistic conditions. It's time we limit them or abolish them. Microsoft has been using the system for years, which is strengthening it's monopoly stronghold. As another person mentioned the VFAT (or FAT32) cases, this would make the most sense with Amazon. I am guessing that it might have to do with Linux's use of VFAT. If so, I hoped that Amazon was aware that a workaround has since been coded, in order to free Linux from the VFAT patent violation. Patents are good for some things, but not software.

    <a href="http://members.apex-internet.com/sa/windowslinux">http://members.apex-internet.com/sa/windowslinux</a>
    Chris_Clay
    • Software patents are in . .

      [b]urgent need[/b] of being killed off.

      Like it is in most of the world; No such thing !

      In fact; before long it should be made [b]a criminal offence[/b] to claim [b] anything under the [b]excuse[/b] of software patents.
      hkommedal