Hey Microsoft, Sue Me First

I bought the domain name HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org at the suggestion of Marcel Gagné after posting a blog entry on the topic. The idea was to ask Linux users to join me in calling Microsoft's bluff. Let's get the patent infringement claims tried in court and get this over with. Several people talked me out of it. Fortunately, a lawyer named Christian Einfeldt had the same idea and followed through. Here's a copy of Marcel's entry on the topic from his own blog, with a link to the "Sue me first Microsoft list" in case you want to add your own name. Christof, if you're reading this, you're welcome to the domain name HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org.

Want to get sued by Microsoft? Then read on. At the end of this post, you'll have your opportunity. By now, you've no doubt heard the story that Microsoft claims that Linux and FOSS violates at least 235 of their patents. Once again, Microsoft innnovates through intimidation and litigation. Does anyone really think they'll come clean as to which patents Linux supposedly violates? To quote Ballmer, "What's fair is fair." Well, fair comes with a price, even for the mega-rich like Mr. Ballmer. If he honestly means what he says, that is. In that corner wherein our wildest imagination wanders about, can we even begin to conceive that Microsoft might allow their closed source to be examined for the patents it might violate?

Among my favorite lines in the article is "The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents." In other words, only commercial software could be of high quality so if free software is good, it must have stolen from non-free software. If it's got to be commercial to be good, then you have to wonder what their excuse is for putting out so much crap.

Well, Christian Einfeldt, over at the Digital Tipping Point, has thrown down the virtual gauntlet and started an online petition where signees request that Microsoft sue them first. Or to put it another way, "Hey, Microsoft! Put up or shut up!" To add your name to Christian's list, head over to his Sue me first Microsoft list.

-Marcel Gagné

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A more useful idea: how

caballosweb's picture

A more useful idea: how about an organisation such as EFF assembles a legal team to wade through Microsoft's patents, pick a few weak ones and bust them on prior art grounds? Obviously a non-trivial amount of time and effort would be required, but the payoff would be a handy political effect. If Microsoft is going to rattle their sabre, the open source community can rattle its as well.

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When will there be content

Rainer München's picture

There's no content on HeyMicrosoftSueMe.org. I am going to be in the open-source business, so everything about getting sued by MS is interesting to me.
Or did I understand something wrong and it's meant to be on sale?

Interesting Read

Kauai Hale's picture

Interesting to read the comments on your list. One person went as far as to describe his downloads and use of the software as illegal. Although this probably wouldn’t stand up in court.
Whether you are right or wrong, lawsuits are expensive and a pain in the but. Why invite one? On the off chance that Microsoft really does decide to make good on their threat (who would have thought the record companies would really sue a bunch of college kids for downloads), this would make an easy starting list.

There is also the distinct

Ubuntu-Zenwalk user's picture

There is also the distinct possibility that thorugh these deals, Microsoft will tie up the high level portion of the organization and keep them from creating work arounds with the patents when Microsoft unleashes its brigade of patent lawyers. Then it is a matter of money and desperation to keep the courts to rule that Microsoft is not a distribution vendor by the wording of the GPL v3. Corporate crimes, which would lead to that kind of ruling, are the most violent and well planned of all forms of organized crime.

Great idea. However, no way

Marc's picture

Great idea. However, no way Microsoft is going to sue someone on that list. It would be like suicide.

Their count is bogus anyway

Joe Buck's picture

They explicitly refer to patents infringed by OpenOffice, but that's put out by Sun, and Sun and Microsoft have cross-licensing agreements. That would suggest that even if OpenOffice infringes a Microsoft patent, it's likely that Microsoft has already given Sun a pass on the violation.

Oh Patent, Let me number the ways I infringe thee.

PhoneyWar's picture

Even without access to the source it's not too difficult to make some educated guesses about patents and other IP which Microsoft has used without the owner's permission.

Let's start with the original MSDOS. Is there anyone here who has any doubts this was directly based on CP/M? -- The history of that particularly dishonest series of transactions is well documented.

The original windows GUI (1.0) was never released due to the blatently obvious nature of it's origins. When 1.01 was eventually released over a year later, the appearance had been significantly altered and large portions of the underlying functionality had been deliberately removed or crippled.

Windows NT, on which all the more recent versions are based, was designed and implemented by VMS Guru and former DEC employee David Cutler.

I could go on like this for some time but I shall restrain myself :) The problem, as any LEO will confirm, is knowing what 'they' have done and proving it are two very different things. And without access to the entire windows codebase 'that ain't happening'.

As an aside, I attended a private conference just over four years ago at which Steve Ballmer assured us he would personally destroy the company's entire codebase before he would allow it to be made public. This went down rather well which should tell you which industry sector the delegates were from ;)

I will point out one thing. I am not an 'Anti-Nazi', ie. a Microsoft bashing, *nix supernerd. However I do believe in using the right tool for the job, for most people this is Windows on the desktop and *nix in the machine room -- that's the computer room or server room to you young whippersnappers :)

Let's keep persons and products separate, please

MacroRodent's picture

Windows NT, on which all the more recent versions are based, was designed and implemented by VMS Guru and former DEC employee David Cutler.

Yes but NT and VMS are really very, very different, even if they share some
ideas (just like many other OSes share). If you claim Cutler's
involvement in NT means it steals from VMS, logically you must then
accept the SCO argument that Linux is tainted because some people who
have worked on Unix have also worked on Linux. No, we really don't
want to go in that direction!

Persons AND Products ?

PhoneyWar's picture

I think you may have misunderstood me and made a connection which isn't there.

I wasn't claiming that NT stole from VMS purely because Dave Cutler worked on it. I was suggesting that it was one of many areas in which a potential Patent/IP issue exists because:-

a) Developers like to re-use ideas and code.
b) Microsoft have been caught doing this in the past.

I think Lord Hailsham said it best in a BBC television interview about the Porfumo Affair, when Robert MacKenzie asked him if there was a security risk.

"Don't be bloody silly man, of course there's a security risk. You can't have a Cabinet Minister sharing a girlfriend with a KGB agent. The question is not if there is a security risk but whether an actual breach of security took place."

And in this case the only way that could possibly be determined is by a full audit of the entire Windows codebase which, as we both know, simply isn't going to happen.

By contrast, the GNU/Linux source is readily available to anyone who wishes to examine it and/or audit it in anyway they please. That's the whole point.

The SCO case is an entirely different issue although related to the above. SCO's original complaint was that through the deliberate actions of IBM, GNU/Linux contains code extracted from and/or derived from proprietary UNIX sourcecode which is the property of Caldera Systems Inc.

Of which they have yet to provide any credible evidence, documentary or otherwise.

Persons and products

MacroRodent's picture

I think I understand what you mean, but I still consider it
a very dangerous direction of thought. If you have software developers
switching jobs between firms, you WILL have movement of ideas and
code (with honest people not transferred on diskettes or similar, but
imprecisely via human memory, as part of the skills they must
necessarily practice in the new job). And that is really as it
should be, otherwise the development of technology would slow down
to a crawl, not to mention that draconian attempts to prevent
this would effectively bind engineers into a new kind of serfdom:
employable only by the first company they ever join!
(I accept the necessity of NDA:s and no-compete clauses,
but they must be time-limited, or very specific to some
product).

About SCO: Yes, they originally did allege mountains of directly
copied code, but not having been able to prove it, they seem to have
switched to the notion of copied methods and concepts.

the the neverending politics of microsoft

Obama's picture

There's no way anyone can enforce copied methods and concepts. If there actually is, then all future progress all over the world would come to a screaching halt. In some ways, MS reminds me of that other gigantic corporation too used to raking in massive amounts of money.. the United States government.

Microsoft Trademark

factseeker's picture

LINK TO TARR LINK TO TRADEMARK ASSIGNMENTS LINK TO TRADEMARK DOCUMENT RETRIEVAL LINK TO TTAB VUE ( Use the "Back" button of the Internet Browser to return to TESS)

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