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Re: Tom Tom and Microsofts Linux patent lock-down ..

From: Rex Ballard
Subject: Re: Tom Tom and Microsofts Linux patent lock-down ..
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:48:01 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Mar 14, 4:06 pm, Doug Mentohl <> wrote:
> 'Microsoft's got a long history of licensing its File Allocation
> Table/Long File Name (FAT LFN) with companies in the car navigation
> space and that have specifically been using Linux and open source'

Linux had LFN for FAT back in 1993.   Microsoft didn't introduce it
until Windows 95.

Even before that was Sun PCNFS, which had it back in 1988-ish.

Pat Volkerding had a fully functional LFN for FAT back in Slackware
1.0, allowing Linux users to use FAT file systems for Linux files.

Microsoft seems not to have noticed that there are more than a few
similarities between how Linux did it in 1993 and how Microsoft
finally did it in 1995.  Keep in mind that Microsoft's code was
carefully guarded as trade secret, while the Linux code was published
in source code format.  The preponderance of the evidence says that it
was Microsoft that stole from Linux, not the other way around.  The
patent should be nullified, and the code should be published as Open

> 'Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of
> intellectual property and licensing Horacio Gutierrez said 18 companies
> had signed up, including Kenwood, Alpine, and Pioneer'

Just because they agreed to be part of Microsoft's "patent umbrella"
which protects them from patent troll whiplash lawyers, doesn't
necessarily mean that Microsoft has the right to enforce the patents.
Quite the opposite, if the patent application was fraudulent, and
failed to mention the pre-existing GPL code, the patent itself could
be nullified, or awarded to the prior author.  That's the ugly problem
with Software Patents.  Just because you were "first to file" doesn't
mean that you have the right to poach other people's work.

For most of 30 years, Microsoft has depended on trade secrets,
proprietary code, copyright laws and licenses that strictly forbade
reverse engineering of code.  Meanwhile, Linux, Unix, and OSS have
depended on early disclosure, disclosure statements affirming
originality, even certificates of originality, as well as threat of
federal prosecution for publishing proprietary copyrighted corporate
source code as personal Open Source contributions.

Microsoft has to deal with the problem of the preponderance of the
evidence.  If Linux source code is publicly available and anyone can
read it, and Microsoft's code was tightly controlled, carefully
protected, and never disclosed to the public, it's very hard to argue
that the proprietary, never-disclosed code could not have been
"intuitively derived" from the available information available to a
person skilled in the technology.

> 'Microsoft is eroding Linux and open source and slowing their
> development. A deal with Microsoft prevents GPL'd code from returning to
> the ecosystem whence it came, with any improvements or updates, as
> companies that do patent licensing deals with Microsoft must keep it
> in-house ...'

That would be a violation of the GPL.  Since the GPL requires
and the Microsoft patent law governs derivative products, not the
the GPL would supercede the patent agreements.

Anyone who created proprietary code that was distributed outside the
corporate employees, would be violating the terms of the GPL, and
could face lawsuits involving every person who has ever contributed to
that OSS product, possibly thousands of authors - who would be
entitled to demand/enforce all terms under which they originally
contributed their source code.

Not all OSS licenses mandate give-back, and many companies agree to
license upgrades and enhancements provided by others if they decide to
offer a proprietary version of the product.  Mosts corporate products
use plug-ins and shared libraries to assure compliance with the other


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