back to article Royalties are the admission price, Microsoft tells freetards

Let's be perfectly clear. Everything is up for negotiation and nothing is off the table when it comes to Microsoft's dealings with open source. Except for one thing: patents. Microsoft's legal chief Brad Smith this week made it abundantly clear that while Microsoft is increasingly prepared to deal with open source companies …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward

    Freetard... come on El Reg..

    Is it only me or is everyone else getting sick and fed up of the use of "Freetard" in the Register.

    Can it go on the banned list along with Mobe?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a role for sourceforge or the apache foundation??

    Perhaps an umbrella organisation could take on the responbsibility of coordinating and managing the licensing negotiations with MS - becoming the "entity" of interest.

    Not sure if that's a role for Apache Foundation or SourceForge - but it could be.

  3. NB

    nothing to see here

    So it's the usual legalese bulls**t we've all come to expect from microcock. How patents foster innovation I really don't know. Especially when, these days, you can patent something as trivial Amazons One-Click system.

    Software patents are a ridiculous concept, you might as well allow people to patent every individual brick in a house seperately in the hope that someone might make a similar brick and you have the joy of suing the s**t out of them and ruining what may have become an architectually(sp?) revolutionary building.

    All software patents achieve these days is a state of affairs whereby start-ups are afraid to get started because of fear of being annihilated by one of the bigger players in a frivolous patent suit. Software patents grant power to patent trolls who, rather than actually innovate or create anything of value, sit around waiting for anything that even potentially infringes their so-called patent and sues the crap out of them.

    Wow, can you feel the innovation?! CAN YOU FEEL IT?! There's nothing going on here but the same old exploitative crap we expect from bullies who are scared the smaller kids might gang up and do something about them.

    Well done MS, you've proven yourselves to be exactly the bunch of selfish, self-serving, greedy, bloated, bullying wankers I knew you were.


    Mine's the trenchcoat with the shotgun hidden in it.

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    The Wild Wild West .... and MS in ITs Alien Territory

    ""People come to us, they have open source software, they have proprietary software and they expect us to take a license," Smith said." ...... Surely they expect Microsoft to license it and pay them royally ....... for a Mutual Benefit Memorandum of Understanding.

    And such an arrangement because some open source software Sources have further Understanding that will require such Shared Funding for Continuity of Service.

    And with regard to "Hanging over Smith were claims he and Microsoft licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez made last year that free and open source software violates 235 Microsoft patents. The tricky part is Microsoft will not publish details of those patents to the frustration of many in open source, who could use the information to validate the claims and build work arounds." ... that does leave Microsoft vulnerable to patent applications/patent pending claims which could mirror their "own" but which they have failed to reveal/publish, leaving the new claimant/patentee able to claim against them for any gains which they have amassed on the patent.

    Submit a patent which mirrors their Source kernel and they will be effectively rendered bankrupt/taken over/liquidated/stripped bare.

    I trust we are not to hear Custer's last few words, ...... What Injuns, where? ....... uttered as What aliens, where? :-)

    At least now they cannot say that they didn't know.

  5. Matt Horrocks
    Gates Horns


    "The tricky part is Microsoft will not publish details of those patents..."

    So.. don't steal our ideas or we sue, but we aren't going to TELL you what our ideas are when we do start to sue - you have to guess!

    That just makes no sense at all...

  6. Andraž Levstik

    More nice FUD

    It's nice FUD to have N patents violating project X and so forth... The adminstrativia of the patnets is bollocks... Consdirengi they a) have to already know them if they infringe them and b) how hard is it to copy paste a bunch of patent numbers and people can look them in

    Keep up the FUD machine microsoft... maybe one day you'll manage to FUD your own shareholders with something like: Due to microsoft going out of business we are forced to reposes all your property be it intellectual or physical including your body and brain... Resistance is futile you will comply or be sued out of existance...

    Microsoft... get a life... bullying others isn't...

  7. David


    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but in "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" the Cathedral represents any kind of software development (open or closed source) that takes place behind closed doors and with only very few releases each year.

    ESR actually uses the the Open Source project Emacs C core, developed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), as an example of cathedral development. (See Chapter 4, "Release Early, Release Often".)

  8. amanfromMars Silver badge

    More for Morons

    "So.. don't steal our ideas or we sue, but we aren't going to TELL you what our ideas are when we do start to sue - you have to guess!" ... By Matt Horrocks Posted Thursday 27th March 2008 11:20 GMT

    Actually, Matt, it is simply a matter of Reverse MetaData Engineering.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Drop the Freetards stuff will ya'?

    Ok, it was maybe a reasonable joke about those people who expect to get music recordings for nothing (note: I said maybe); but it definitely isn't something that should be used in the area of Software Libre and the political landscape that there is in the computing world these days where the privileged established few don't like what others are doing.

    I for one don't want to be out of work and sued just because someone has a patent on something obvious that's been provided to them by a broken system. That sort of thing will lead to the mass exodus of people from the programming world and the stifling of innovation. Calling the people who are fighting to stop this situation from coming to pass such a childish name is not worthy of them nor El Reg.

  10. Dunstan Vavasour


    Well, they can't take any *action* about patent infringement without providing all the relevant evidence - what has been created/distributed, and the patent it infringes. Which makes it clear that their objective with their patent portfolio *isn't* compliance.

    The statement "you guys are infringing all these patents" has no legal value because it's not specific. And not being specific means that they have a vested interest in this infringement continuing. I'll say that again: their desired outcome is that as much free software as possible infringes their patents. This is an obscene abuse of the patent system, which is there to allow inventors to profit exclusively from their inventions.

    First they ignore us; then they laugh at us; then they fight us; then we win. MS has clearly embarked on a new phase of fighting us, and it is a dirty tactic.

  11. Scott Dunn

    WTO or no?

    Gee, if they have in international patent complaint, they may have some trouble getting some help from the WTO. Apparently the US *ignores* certain WTO complaints against them.


  12. tardigrade

    Supremely well crafted FUD.

    'Jim Markwith justified the reason not to publish the claimed patents saying it was "administratively impossible".'

    Nice one Jim. That needs to go in the Guinness book of records as the lamest excuse ever. Yes I appreciate the work load that would result in this, but at least be serious. If your going to sue the planet there is a cost involved.

    @NB I couldn't agree more.

  13. Cameron Colley

    Don't patents have to be protected?

    I though that, in the UK, if you knew someone was in violation of your patent you had to sue or loose your patent? I take it the US has no such rules?

    Oh, and I agree with AC above -- what the hell is a "freetard" anyhow? Someone intelligent enough to be able to get along without paying overinflated prices to a monopoly for the privilege?

    OS wars aside -- the open source movement and it's supporters are responsible for a hell of a lot of good software, heck, El Reg runs on Apache.

  14. Adrian Midgley

    MS business model is preventing things working

    The business model of Microsoft depends upon preventing people being able to do stuff.

    Except when MS can extract a rent for them doing it.

    Given how hard it is to make things work when all your efforts are directed at making them work, this explains many outcomes.

    Here their behaviour is clearly against the best interests of the species.

  15. tardigrade

    @Cameron Colley

    "heck, El Reg runs on Apache."

    Ergo El Reg are Freetards.

    Ouch I'm gonna get sin binned for that. :)

  16. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    dear mr balmer and mr gates

    dear sirs,

    I am delighted to infom you your product, microsoft windows, violates 1000 of my patents. Please send your cheque to

    happy dude

    742 evergreen terrace

    Springfield NT

  17. James Anderson

    Pure FUD

    What could MS reasonably patent?

    Windows interfaces from the original xerox parc, to the Apple and GEM clones plus the venerable X-Windows all pre-date MS Windows.

    The guts of the NT operating system was an implementation of faily standard and well know OS techniques.

    So whats left:

    Patent No. 666: "ActiveX - A method for exposing priviledged OS functions to random users over the network"

    Patent No. 13: "A method of infuriating users by displaying a popup dialog requerting an 'OK' response after destroying two hours work."

  18. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    What the fud?

    How can you hold a patent secret?

    I thought the idea was that you either had a trade secret or an idea that was protected by patent. And that if you were using a clever invention that you didn't want anyone to see or hear about, you dared not get it patented.

  19. James Pickett


    "Microsoft will not publish details of those patents"

    Don't patents have to be published? Isn't that what Patents Offices are for, or am I hopelessly old-fashioned? How can you be accused of infringing a patent if you're not allowed to know what it is? It's time MS put up or shut up.

  20. Scott Herter

    They can't throw away their defence

    Unfortunately they can't just license their patents in a royalty free open way because it would throw away their defense against other claimants of patent infringement. This is the way it works, Company A claims Company B infringes some patent(s). Company B then searches through their patent portfolio and comes up with some list of patents that Company A infringes. Then the negotiations begin. 9 times out of 10 it ends in a cross licensing deal. Sometimes if one company is infringing a much larger number of patents then the other company, a payment is made.

    If Microsoft does what the Open Source community wants, it would be defenseless against a company claiming patent infringement since ALL of Microsoft’s patents are open to be used, they have nothing to hit back with and will be forced to pay for everyone that comes after them with a claim. While many would love to see Microsoft devoured in such a feeding frenzy, it would be criminally stupid to set your own publicly held company up for such a fate.

    The main reason Microsoft is rattling the saber at the Open Source community is indeed FUD. It is also certain that the Open Source community is infringing at least some patents Microsoft has. They don’t do anything other then talk because there is no money they can actually get from a law suit and the public relations hit would be far worse then any benefit they could possibly hope to get in the courts.

    Patents in software are a lot like nukes, they are more of a deterrent against others using their patents against you.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    El Reg is a freetard?

    "OS wars aside -- the open source movement and it's supporters are responsible for a hell of a lot of good software, heck, El Reg runs on Apache."

    And it runs it on Debian (according to netcraft, and they should know).

  22. WhatWasThat?

    Defending patents

    <disclaimer> I am not a lawyer and am not schooled in patent litigation. All knowledge gained from publishing my own software through my own software company to Fortune 500 companies; and dealing with their BS. </disclaimer>

    There is no clause, but a good deal of precedential law that shows if you can't be bothered to defend your patent after a lengthy amount of time (and that means fililng court proceedings for infringement or "instigating licensing negotiations"), AFAIK 18 months, then it reflects very badly against you if you do go to court later.

    This 18 month (?) timer starts from when you officially learn of the infringing product and resets if negotiations "break down" (SCO) and / or if the patent changes hands to "new ownership" (TI's patents sold to NS vs. Intel), such as MS selling from its OS operation to its IP Holding Trust or vice versa... hmmm...

    Dealing with software patents is a huge pain. When we are supposed to be writting to STANDARDS that everyone must follow, it NECESSARILY limits the ways you can do something, even something that is "non-obvious".

    The problem is not that new, innovative ways to do something are being patented (and royalties due), but that ways of doing things are being patented that are inefficient or have no utility and then having interpretaions shoehorned as Joe Freeman violating X's patent for "Textual and / or graphical display of salutation to existential and nonexistential observers through a virtual viewing aperature via a common electronic display unit"... ie. "Hello, World."

    Because of the limitiations imposed by required standards that cannot / should not (looking at you RAMBUS!) be patented, there is little room for innovation to complete a specific "business method". Trying to impose a patent on breathing should(!) be thrown out without a thought - the same with patenting a way of doing business. If not, can I patent the process of charging customers for my services? If not, then why does it matter *how* they pay me(Visa patents...)?

  23. Paul

    (Tricky) business as usual

    "Smith claimed patents foster innovation"

    Yeah, because innovation is one of Microsoft's strong points, right? No, wait, they haven't innovated anything, ever, in their entire existence. So much for that claim.

    "The tricky part is Microsoft will not publish details of those patents..."

    Of course not, because then they'd be worked around or invalidated, which would leave Microsoft with no choice but to compete on merit (by, erm, innovating, among other things). Which anyone with at least 3 brain cells knows they're incapable of doing.

    Do please explain, Mr Smith, just how exactly do patents "foster innovation" when developers can't do anything without possibly infringing some indeterminate patent that you claim to hold but won't actually reveal?

    I don't expect royalty-free licencing, but if they're so sure of the validity of the couple of hundred patents they claim, specifying them would only *strengthen* their position. Instead, they come across as being full of crap.

  24. Shakje

    Freetard debate

    I was under the impression that a freetard was someone who was unwilling to pay for anything software wise, and would be willing to use something inferior purely instead of paying something for a better quality product. El Reg is bandying it about a bit too loosely though, and a quite offensively considering that retard has far more connotations in the UK (Register being a UK publication and all that) than the US, almost all of them negative in the extreme to mentally disabled people. I'm not offended for other people in general, and I tend to stand of the view that placing emphasis on negative words is what makes them powerful and hurtful, but some words are exceptions to that, and I think the UK use of retard is one of those.

  25. Phil
    Thumb Down

    Careful where you're pointing that insult

    Let me add another vote to the comments about the use of 'Freetard'. El Reg has always seemed to have a good understanding and appreciation of the value of FOSS. Also over time I have modified my opinions over 'free culture', much due to the strong arguments made here about the issue of the right for creatives to earn a living. In that context I understand the use of the 'freetard' label (albeit an ugly and unnecessarily provoking title IMHO). Once it starts to get used for those people who are working hard to a) create high quality, open software, and b) maintain the freedom to do this I think the writer has lost the plot and has been carried away by the 'fun' of insulting others. If the term has to be used the appropriate place seems to be in a piece like Andrew Orlowski's on the LSE meeting , where it almost seems proportionate. But for this article, shame on you.

  26. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Pending Virtual Reality Patents ...

    "Patents in software are a lot like nukes, they are more of a deterrent against others using their patents against you." ..... By Scott Herter

    Posted Thursday 27th March 2008 13:24 GMT

    And not a lot of people know that, Scott. Heavy MetAI Neural Bombe like nukes...... and Real SMART too. They just destroy Primitive Networks though with no Physical Collateral Harm...... leaving a Trail of Busted Egos that can do no more Harm.

  27. Graham Bartlett


    No, that's trademarks. Patents are a different matter.

    However, if you think that someone's infringing on your patent, you do have to tell them what the patent is when you issue your cease-and-desist warning. (Yes, James Pickett, patents *are* published. Which of the millions of patents in existence do you think MS are talking about? Are you volunteering to read every one to find out? Now go away.) And you don't get damages unless the person/organisation involved continues in violation of the cease-and-desist.

    So if MS do issue a C-and-D, the projects concerned can close downloads for a few weeks while they figure out workarounds, and then reopen. (Or while they get evidence in place to show they were there first.) If MS don't do a C-and-D, they're simply blowing air.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. John Saunders
    Gates Horns

    M$ patents and 'IP' are weapons

    M$ doesn't want to publish what the supposed violations are. That's in keeping with their playing the viral angle in reverse with their most recent 'Open' efforts to infect FOSS with their 'intellectual property'. Expect a 'revelation' from M$ only when legal action will be very painful to the enemy.

  30. Jim

    Re: Freetarded

    How ironic that the only supporter of the mis-use of this term is someone so ready to insult by assumption.

    So, using your methodology, I may assume that you are a 40 something who thinks that an MSCE makes him an expert on all things IT. I also reckon that you think anyone can acheive anything just by hard work, totally ignoring the impact of birth privileges.

    How did I do?

  31. b4k4
    Gates Horns

    they have patented wiping your arse

    they have people who's job is dreaming up silly ideas, or re-wording the bleedingly obvious, and then getting them patented. the whole world violates such patents.

    Didn't El Reg list a few of Bill's more recent patents, eg. "to do list"?

    open source have to stop inviting MS to their conferences. it just gives them undeserved publicity ops so they can pretend to be playing fair with everyone.

  32. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Born Free to Slave for a Wage whenever Cash is easily Printed?

    "The world does not owe you a living!" ..... By Adam Tustian Posted Thursday 27th March 2008 17:20 GMT

    Indeed, but we do appear to have to pay for living, Adam, and that is an unsatisfactory subjective decision made by the division of wealth rather than by the giving of wealth. [It is an artificial, man-made Control construct too easily abused with the notions of an omnipotence and the ultimate failing in those who would be so naive, although one must imagine that they would think themselves smart.]

    But hey, if that is the way the Game is to be played then a reallocation of wealth that divides to wealth that gives is inevitable..... and that is very likely to cause a Chain Reaction Meltdown of Divisional Wealth Systems as IT Ripples around the World with Revised Controlling Power Protocols.

    You may like to consider that it has already started given the headless chicken shenanigans of the Markets and their Financing Buddies in the present deepening Fiscal Meltdown/Scam Revelation.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Parallel TraQS [in Different Worlds] again and a Gain?

    And the above mentioned approach in "Born Free to Slave for a Wage whenever Cash is easily Printed" is akin to ..."And this approach is also dangerously close to functional decomposition, an approach to design that really doesn't map well to object-oriented languages." .....

    Do you think it possible that with our InterAction/HyperRadioproActivity with Computer and Communications Processor Systems, and they are pretty Ubiquitous for Modern Control, that man himself will Learn More/Everything at an XXXXPonential Rate ....... thus to leave the Past behind and Concentrate on Building the Future in an Altogether Different Manner, Virtually?

    The Posit from amfM is that IT is so...... and is a QuITe Natural Default in Advanced IntelAIgent Being, which can be Taught/Shared/XXXXPlained in Simple Plain Text for Ease of Translation into Foreign/Alien/Different Languages.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. BitTwister

    @Adam Tustian

    > I'm proud to be a Thatcher child

    Hmm, that explains much.

  37. Steve B

    Ironic really

    The worst PC design was the IBM, the worst OS was that of MS, however due to a fantastic marketing campaign the combo gained unwarranted popularity and developers flocked to the platform due to the larger available market which started the Tsunami.

    I always estimated that IBM and MS put computing back by 20 years and I wasn't far out in my estimates. All this cr@p about software patents when all they are doing is taking stuff that was in the other OSs and platforms before the PC and re inventing it.

    Still, the suckers (mass public) went with the US marketing guys and you now reap what you sowed.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like