[clug] FOSS patent infringements

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Wed May 16 23:55:32 GMT 2007

Hash: SHA1

Alex Satrapa wrote:
> On 16 May 2007, at 20:11, Sam Couter wrote:
>> What would be really scary for Microsoft is if IBM decided to join the
>> party.
> AFAIK, the only thing stopping IBM from coming out and saying,
> "Microsoft is violating 2543 of our patents" is that, being a commercial
> entity with a defined market, Microsoft can claim real financial losses
> due to IBM's statement, and sue for damages.

Microsoft cannot afford to sue, primarily because it would then actually have
to show up with evidence.  That can be challenged, and many different sources
have pointed out that the software patent field is ready for a complete
shake-down and many previously granted patents would be invalidated.  They
also can't sue because it's amazingly bad PR, and even SCO wasn't that stupid.
  What they're trying to do is to approach people who don't know the facts and
try to impress them with their patent claims in private, probably under NDAs.

What we'll probably see is that as soon as anyone finds out that Microsoft has
approached company X, they'll get a discrete couple of 'amicus' briefs from
IBM, the FSF, etc. etc., telling them how to defend themselves.  I'd imagine
most of this will be in proving that Microsoft's patents are invalid, and the
general idea will be 'tell them to see you in court and they'll back down,
because we'll be supporting you'.  Microsoft could even be in breach of the
RICO laws (anti-organised crime laws), at my non-legal first guess.  So it's
very unlikely that they'll even get money out of anyone.

But they can go to the media, which they have.  It's a pity for them, but
hardly surprising, that it's actually turned out to work against them (by
having got Eben Moglen, Linus and various others interviewed to state the
contrary case).

Anyway, on with the circus,

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