Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Microsoft goes after the weak to assert its software patents?

Ryan Paul writes "Microsoft has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against TomTom alleging that the device maker's products, including some that are Linux-based, infringe on patents related to Microsoft's FAT32 filesystem. This marks the first time that Microsoft has enforced its FAT patents against the Linux platform, a move that some free software advocates have long feared could be disastrous link here."

Such a move has long been expected, and from time to time, MS has made noises about its software patents being infringed but then didn't pursue it. This raises the possibility that MS feels more threatened than in the past by competition from Linux.

The choice of TomTom, a small firm, as the target suggests that MS thinks it is likely to fold and would like to have a precedent. Is it possible that MS also believes software patents may not be solid?

As most of us here believe, software patents are a particularly outrageous creation of the courts among the group of dubious extensions of intellectual property. Some public outrage is needed here.


I have defended Microsoft's patent policy in the past; for many years they did not patent; then they acquired a large defensive patent portfolio. This represents a turn to the dark side. If you read the complaint, Microsoft claims to have patented the idea of automobile software interoperating. This should have failed any possible test of non-obviousness. Interoperability is fundamental from operating systems to the internet. You shouldn't be allowed to patent "the internet because it is inside an automobile."

This is consistent with my view that Microsoft is on the decline.

There is a doctrine in property law known as the adverse possession doctrine that holds that if the owner of a property which has been taken by someone else declines to enforce their ownership rights, the property is considered to have been transferred to the usurper. It would be interesting to see if the courts might consider something similar with respect to patents. MS has known about these infringing uses for some time, but has declined to act on this. A parallel application of the adverse possession doctrine in the IP realm would suggest that this inaction should void the patents in question.
Microsoft has lost the FAT patent case in Germany already. http://linux-watch.com/news/NS9467496750.html. This is a smoke screen. Microsoft is trying to hide and establish the precedent for enforcement for the submarine patent about FAT64 (or exFAT). This file format just has been accepted as standard for new SDXC cards. In the past anyone can implement the SD standards, but now MS will try to enforce their patent and cash in. Looks like Microsoft is going to become the biggest patent troll. I hope that Novell holds them accountable, because Microsoft was forced into patent agreement after the fiasco with SCO.

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