Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really this dumb?

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Jonathan Walker, Jul 7, 2007.

  1. http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=557 (Microsoft Watch)

    Start quote:

    Leave aside for a moment the question about whether Microsoft is trying to
    coopt or cooperate with the open-source movement. From a legal standpiont,
    here’s what doesn’t add up, to me. Microsoft employs hundreds (if not
    thousands) of lawyers. How could these lawyers have:

    * failed to forsee that the Free Software Foundation would find a way
    to put a legal monkey wrench into the GPL to thwart Microsoft’s intent
    to undermine Linux and the GPL?

    * allowed the Novell support certificates that Microsoft has been
    distributing to go out without an expiration date on t hem?

    * expected Novell not to back the GPL v3, in spite of the money it
    paid to Novell to cement its first patent-protection deal with a Linux
    distributor?

    End quote


    --
    Jonathan Walker

    "You'll have to excuse me — I have a long
    bath and a short dress to get into."
    Jonathan Walker, Jul 7, 2007
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    Can someone give me a more concrete (real or made up) example of how the
    gplv3 might affect Microsoft?
    Kurt Häusler, Jul 8, 2007
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    In message <>, Kurt Häusler
    wrote:

    > Can someone give me a more concrete (real or made up) example of how the
    > gplv3 might affect Microsoft?


    As soon as some components of SuSE (e.g. Samba) are updated to use GPLv3,
    customers who got SuSE certificates from Microsoft will be able to redeem
    them for the updated version. At this point, Microsoft becomes a "conveyor"
    of GPLv3-licensed software. Therefore it becomes subject to its provisions.
    One of which is, if you offer patent protection to some users, you must
    offer it to all. From section 11
    <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html>:

    If ... you convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered
    work, and grant a patent license to some of the parties receiving the
    covered work authorizing them to use, propagate, modify or convey a
    specific copy of the covered work, then the patent license you grant is
    automatically extended to all recipients of the covered work and works
    based on it.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 8, 2007
    #3
  4. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 00:35:33 -0500, Kurt Häusler wrote:

    > Can someone give me a more concrete (real or made up) example of how the
    > gplv3 might affect Microsoft?


    Microsoft can only distribute someone else's copyrighted software if that
    third party licenses M$ to distribute it.

    That third party can specify whatever conditions they like in the license,
    and if M$ wants to distribute that software then it *must* agree to the
    conditions in the license. There is no ambiguity in this point.

    M$ purchased "vouchers" from Novell to distribute "SuSE Linux".

    The vouchers do not specify what version of SuSE Linux. Nor to they
    specify an expiry date.

    Novell has stated that it will redeem that voucher for the version of SuSE
    that is current.

    If that current version contains, for example, the GCC

    (the compiler that the linux kernel and almost all Linux programs and GUI
    applications are compiled under)

    and the version of GCC is one that has been released under the GPLv3, then
    Novell has given Micro$oft's customer - on Micro$oft's behalf - software
    that can only be distributed under the terms of the GPLv3.

    This means that if M$ gives it's customer a voucher for software that is
    only available under the GPLv3 at the time that the customer wants to
    redeem that voucher, then M$ has distributed code released under the GPLv3.

    What is the term in the license that M$ so loathes?

    Any person who distributes GPL3 code cannot subsequently sue the recipient
    of that code - or anybody else - for any alleged patent violations because
    the GPL3 requires that or else that person is in violation of the license
    which is the only right that person has to distribute that software.

    There are other conditions - such as needing to also make the source code
    as freely available as the object code that they're distributing.


    --
    Jonathan Walker

    "You'll have to excuse me — I have a long
    bath and a short dress to get into."
    Jonathan Walker, Jul 8, 2007
    #4
  5. Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    In message <>, Jonathan Walker quoted:

    > http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=557 (Microsoft Watch)
    >
    > Microsoft employs hundreds (if not thousands) of lawyers. How could
    > these lawyers have [fucked up]...


    I think it's simple: they're not accustomed to doing this kind of deal.
    Previous agreements they've done involved rights to exclusive trade
    secrets, tightly-controlled copyrights in closed-source software, that kind
    of thing. They were then able to screw those companies by going on to
    develop competing products and generally muscle in on their markets.

    With Open Source, the deals don't give them anything that everybody else in
    the world can't get. The tables have been turned: now Microsoft is in the
    situation of having made a deal which is effectively worthless. They have
    no experience with this sort of situation, and no idea how to compete under
    such rules.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 8, 2007
    #5
  6. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 19:15:48 +1200, Jonathan Walker wrote:


    > Any person who distributes GPL3 code cannot subsequently sue the recipient
    > of that code - or anybody else - for any alleged patent violations because
    > the GPL3 requires that or else that person is in violation of the license
    > which is the only right that person has to distribute that software.


    Interesting. I am involved quite a bit in interoperability and the legal
    issues are quickly making the technical issues seem trivial in comparison.

    I am a bit worried myself as I used to work for a company writing open
    source linux drivers (but not in the kernel or any distros) implementing
    patented protocols and algorithms with permission, under the gpl2 (or any
    later version), just trying to do the right thing, currently I and a
    couple of others are still distributing them (and won't be suing anyone
    for using it!). I think the patents have since been sold. Who knows what
    the legal consequences are, it might be a good idea to stop distributing
    them, which seems somewhat counter to the goals of software freedom to me.
    On the other hand, I like the idea of protecting the users (and other
    coders) from patent lawsuits so updating the gpl to version 3 seems
    tempting too but is it my right to do so?
    Kurt Häusler, Jul 8, 2007
    #6
  7. Jonathan Walker

    Peter Guest

    Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    Kurt Häusler wrote:
    > I am a bit worried myself as I used to work for a company writing open
    > source linux drivers (but not in the kernel or any distros) implementing
    > patented protocols and algorithms with permission, under the gpl2 (or any
    > later version), just trying to do the right thing, currently I and a
    > couple of others are still distributing them (and won't be suing anyone
    > for using it!). I think the patents have since been sold.


    Is the software that you are distributing covered by patents? If so, who
    owns the patents?

    > Who knows what the legal consequences are, it might be a good idea to
    > stop distributing them, which seems somewhat counter to the goals of
    > software freedom to me.


    If you don't have the right to distribute the software, then that isn't a
    fault of GPL.

    > On the other hand, I like the idea of protecting the users (and other
    > coders) from patent lawsuits so updating the gpl to version 3 seems
    > tempting too but is it my right to do so?


    Who has copyright to the software? AFAIK, you can put whatever licence on
    the software that you create.

    IANAL


    HTH

    Peter
    Peter, Jul 8, 2007
    #7
  8. Jonathan Walker

    Peter Guest

    Peter, Jul 8, 2007
    #8
  9. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 21:16:11 +1200, Peter wrote:

    > Is the software that you are distributing covered by patents? If so, who
    > owns the patents?


    In the sense that the software implements patented algorithms and
    protocols, yes. (It couldn't have been done any other way, in order to
    function with the hardware) By permission of the patent owner at the
    time of course, who was my employer at the time. I believe ownership may
    have changed since.

    >> Who knows what the legal consequences are, it might be a good idea to
    >> stop distributing them, which seems somewhat counter to the goals of
    >> software freedom to me.

    >
    > If you don't have the right to distribute the software, then that isn't a
    > fault of GPL.


    The software (linux driver) was intended to be a fully open source
    project, licensed under the GPL right from the start, and according to the
    terms of that license anyone may distribute it as long as they comply with
    the license. I just want to know what further implications gpl 3 might
    introduce regarding the patent aspects.

    >> On the other hand, I like the idea of protecting the users (and other
    >> coders) from patent lawsuits so updating the gpl to version 3 seems
    >> tempting too but is it my right to do so?

    >
    > Who has copyright to the software? AFAIK, you can put whatever licence on
    > the software that you create.


    We assigned copyright to the free software foundation which seems to be
    standard practice with the gpl.
    Kurt Häusler, Jul 8, 2007
    #9
  10. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 03:21:27 -0500, Kurt Häusler wrote:

    > On the other hand, I like the idea of protecting the users (and other
    > coders) from patent lawsuits so updating the gpl to version 3 seems
    > tempting too but is it my right to do so?


    If *you* own the copyrights, then *you* can choose what license you want
    to release the software under.

    If your company owns the copyrights, then your company can choose what
    license it wants to release the software under.

    Copyright ownership is the important thing - not patents.

    Besides, mathematics is not patentable - and software is applied
    mathematics.


    --
    Jonathan Walker

    "You'll have to excuse me — I have a long
    bath and a short dress to get into."
    Jonathan Walker, Jul 8, 2007
    #10
  11. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 05:23:05 -0500, Kurt Häusler wrote:

    > We assigned copyright to the free software foundation which seems to be
    > standard practice with the gpl.


    Then it is highly likely that the FSF will eventually move that software
    over to the GPL3.


    --
    Jonathan Walker

    "You'll have to excuse me — I have a long
    bath and a short dress to get into."
    Jonathan Walker, Jul 8, 2007
    #11
  12. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 22:36:20 +1200, Jonathan Walker wrote:


    > If *you* own the copyrights, then *you* can choose what license you want
    > to release the software under.
    >
    > If your company owns the copyrights, then your company can choose what
    > license it wants to release the software under.
    >
    > Copyright ownership is the important thing - not patents.


    Well that's an issue in itself, I am now unsure who owns it. I had up
    till now assumed that the copyright was assigned to the FSF but apparently
    that's not the case. I misunderstood what I was doing, as it isn't that
    straightforward, for a non lawyer. The basics are but all the nooks and
    crannies are where issues tend to pop up.

    > Besides, mathematics is not patentable - and software is applied
    > mathematics.


    It is in some jurisdictions though isn't it? Otherwise what sorts of
    patents is the GPLv3 attempting to protect against?

    Yes I know I lack in knowledge about the legal issues and probably
    shouldn't be concerning myself with licenses, patents and copyrights but I
    feel you have to these days and so its never too late to catch up.

    I am not really worried about the driver I wrote a while back as its for
    obsolete technology and unlikely to provoke much in the way of legal
    troubles but it would be nice to be armed with knowledge for future
    occasions.
    Kurt Häusler, Jul 8, 2007
    #12
  13. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 05:53:26 -0500, Kurt Häusler wrote:

    > It is in some jurisdictions though isn't it? Otherwise what sorts of
    > patents is the GPLv3 attempting to protect against?


    Invalid patents held by a corporate bully.


    --
    Jonathan Walker

    "You'll have to excuse me — I have a long
    bath and a short dress to get into."
    Jonathan Walker, Jul 8, 2007
    #13
  14. Re: Are Microsoft¢s patent lawyers really thisdumb?

    On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 22:39:31 +1200, Jonathan Walker wrote:

    > On Sun, 08 Jul 2007 05:23:05 -0500, Kurt Häusler wrote:
    >
    >> We assigned copyright to the free software foundation which seems to be
    >> standard practice with the gpl.

    >
    > Then it is highly likely that the FSF will eventually move that software
    > over to the GPL3.


    Embarrassingly it turns out I did not in fact properly assign copyright to
    anyone at all. I am going back to farming and leaving software development
    to the lawyers! Nah probably not but its clear I have a lot to learn
    before I can have much confidence in my abilities in the legal aspects of
    software development.

    Think I will stop distributing the software just in case though.
    Kurt Häusler, Jul 8, 2007
    #14
  15. Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    In message <>, Kurt Häusler
    wrote:

    > I am a bit worried myself as I used to work for a company writing open
    > source linux drivers (but not in the kernel or any distros) implementing
    > patented protocols and algorithms with permission...


    Patented under what jurisdiction(s)?
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 8, 2007
    #15
  16. Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    In message <>, Kurt Häusler
    wrote:

    > We assigned copyright to the free software foundation which seems to be
    > standard practice with the gpl.


    The GPL doesn't require you to assign your copyrights over to anyone else.
    Lots of projects use the GPL while copyright remains with those actually
    contributing code, e.g. Samba, and of course the Linux kernel.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 8, 2007
    #16
  17. Jonathan Walker

    Peter Guest

    Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    Kurt Häusler wrote:
    > The software (linux driver) was intended to be a fully open source
    > project, licensed under the GPL right from the start, and according to the
    > terms of that license anyone may distribute it as long as they comply with
    > the license. I just want to know what further implications gpl 3 might
    > introduce regarding the patent aspects.


    AFAIK if it was licensed under GPL2, then it stays that way until the owner
    of the copyright changes the license to GPL3. If GPL3 isn't invoked, then
    nothing changes.
    Patents are another matter, but again, it is up to whoever owns the patent.


    HTH

    Peter
    Peter, Jul 8, 2007
    #17
  18. Jonathan Walker

    thingy Guest

    Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    Jonathan Walker wrote:
    > http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=557 (Microsoft Watch)
    >
    > Start quote:
    >
    > Leave aside for a moment the question about whether Microsoft is trying to
    > coopt or cooperate with the open-source movement.


    I think the answer is yes.

    From a legal standpiont,
    > here’s what doesn’t add up, to me. Microsoft employs hundreds (if not
    > thousands) of lawyers. How could these lawyers have:
    >
    > * failed to forsee that the Free Software Foundation would find a way
    > to put a legal monkey wrench into the GPL to thwart Microsoft’s intent
    > to undermine Linux and the GPL?


    They are external to the agreement (GPL), and not part of it, so
    anything they do cannot directly influence the meaning and the intent of
    the GPL.

    > * allowed the Novell support certificates that Microsoft has been
    > distributing to go out without an expiration date on t hem?


    This WAS a boob.

    > * expected Novell not to back the GPL v3, in spite of the money it
    > paid to Novell to cement its first patent-protection deal with a Linux
    > distributor?


    I dont think Novell wants GPL3 either. Novell is not really an Open
    source company, it bought SUSe which was....look how many of the SUSE
    (senior) people have left....clash of cultures and the Novell boss says
    what is going to happen will happen, so ppl leave.

    > End quote
    >
    >


    Mistakes do happen, and often I think MS is its own worst enemy.....lets
    see Steve Balmer throws chairs....so maybe the lawyer was afraid to say
    anything about Steve's "brilliant plan" to screw Linux around......

    ;]

    They were trying to be cute and fell over themselves....they get what
    they deserve.

    regards

    Thing
    thingy, Jul 8, 2007
    #18
  19. Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    In message <1183922564.764607@ftpsrv1>, Peter wrote:

    > AFAIK if it was licensed under GPL2, then it stays that way until the
    > owner of the copyright changes the license to GPL3.


    A lot of folks released their stuff saying it was under "version 2 of the
    GPL, or (at your option) any later version".
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 9, 2007
    #19
  20. Re: Are Microsoft’s patent lawyers really this dumb?

    In message <>, Jonathan Walker wrote:

    > http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=557 (Microsoft Watch)
    >
    > Start quote:
    >
    > Leave aside for a moment the question about whether Microsoft is trying to
    > coopt or cooperate with the open-source movement. From a legal standpiont,
    > here’s what doesn’t add up, to me. Microsoft employs hundreds (if not
    > thousands) of lawyers. How could these lawyers have:
    >
    > * failed to forsee that the Free Software Foundation would find a way
    > to put a legal monkey wrench into the GPL to thwart Microsoft’s intent
    > to undermine Linux and the GPL?
    >
    > * allowed the Novell support certificates that Microsoft has been
    > distributing to go out without an expiration date on t hem?
    >
    > * expected Novell not to back the GPL v3, in spite of the money it
    > paid to Novell to cement its first patent-protection deal with a Linux
    > distributor?
    >
    > End quote


    Here's another interpretation from Ars Technica
    <http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070708-microsoft-says-novell-deal-not-affected-by-gpl-3.html>,
    which says that the vouchers are for Novell service agreements, not for the
    software itself.

    Which is fine. But now Microsoft is saying those service agreements won't
    cover software released under GPLv3. But surely that's up to Novell, which
    is providing the actual service, not up to Microsoft?
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 9, 2007
    #20
    1. Advertising

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.
Similar Threads
  1. =?iso-8859-1?Q?Frisbee=AE_MCNGP?=

    OT: Lawyers even Jtyc could love.

    =?iso-8859-1?Q?Frisbee=AE_MCNGP?=, Jul 30, 2003, in forum: MCSE
    Replies:
    19
    Views:
    685
    Kendal Emery
    Aug 4, 2003
  2. David Napierkowski

    Dumb, dumb dumb Qestion

    David Napierkowski, Oct 30, 2004, in forum: Digital Photography
    Replies:
    6
    Views:
    354
  3. Au79

    Dumb, Dumb Vista

    Au79, Feb 10, 2007, in forum: Computer Support
    Replies:
    4
    Views:
    532
    WhzzKdd
    Feb 11, 2007
  4. Lawrence D'Oliveiro
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    354
    victor
    Aug 31, 2010
  5. Lawrence D'Oliveiro

    If A Patent Is A Monopoly, Then A Patent Pool Is A Cartel

    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 29, 2010, in forum: NZ Computing
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    494
    Gordon
    Oct 31, 2010
Loading...

Share This Page