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[DotGNU]PHM Re: Microsoft to Patent .NET

From: Seth Johnson
Subject: [DotGNU]PHM Re: Microsoft to Patent .NET
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 12:10:26 -0500

(Hartmut comments on MS .NET patent)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Patents] Microsoft to Patent .NET
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 10:34:02 +0100
From: PILCH Hartmut <address@hidden>

> >
> >'20030028685'.PGNR.&OS=DN/20030028685&RS=DN/20030028685
> Wojina writes "Microsoft has applied for a comprehensive
> patent [1] on what appears to be the entire implementation
> of the .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime) and the framework
> APIs. Microsoft's CLR is an implementation of the CLI
> (submitted to ECMA for standardization). Does this bode ill
> for the Mono project [2]? See the CNET News story." [3] And
> a chaser: Nept points to this interesting Microsoft-funded
> .NET obfuscation project [4].
> [1]
> [2] (Also see:
> [3]
> [4]

See also

for a list of Microsoft patents and patent applications at
the European Patent Office (EPO).

They have become the most prolific software patenting
company, competing with Matsushita
(National Panasonic) for place number 1, leaving IBM far
behind, see

> >
> .Net patent could stifle standards effort 
> By Lisa M. Bowman 
> February 10, 2003, 3:00 PM PT

> Microsoft is in the process of applying for a wide-ranging
> patent that covers a variety of functions related to its
> .Net initiative. 

Not only one.  

Ms Bowman should give at least the patent number and cite
the main claim, rather than cite only hearsay from some
lawyers who may be as clueless as Ms Bowman herself.
> If approved as is, the patent would cover application
> programming interfaces (APIs) that allow actions related to
> accessing the network, handling Extensible Markup Language
> (XML), and managing data from multiple sources. APIs are the
> hooks in software that allow applications to work with
> another system. 

Ballmer, Allchin and others have made it clear many times
that they are using these patents to pursue the strategy
against open source software outlined in the halloween

> Microsoft declined to elaborate on its plans for the patent,
> but intellectual property attorneys said that if it's
> granted, the company could dictate how, or whether,
> developers of software and devices can link to the .Net
> initiative. 
> "It looks pretty broad," said Jeff E. Schwartz, a partner
> with McKenna Long & Aldridge. "It could be fairly
> significant." 
> The patent is one of several that Microsoft is applying for
> related to .Net, the company's Web services initiative. By
> submitting the application, which was filed last year and
> made public last week, Microsoft is following the lead of
> other major tech companies that have aggressively pursued
> patents over the years. 

Microsoft is not following anyone's lead but is the leader
in software patenting.
> IBM is the most prolific patent generator, 

No longer.  But IBM's press releases (e.g. from January)
seem still to have an impact.

It would also be nice if Ms Bowman could distinguish between
true technology and logic patents.  Summarising both under
"tech patents" follows the lead of corporate press releases
but does not help clarify anything.

> topping the list
> of corporate patent awards for the last 10 years. Big Blue
> landed 3,288 patents in 2002, bringing its total over the
> past 10 years to more than 22,000. Lately, the company has
> been focusing on patenting technology related to its
> computing-on-demand initiative. 
> Patents have become an increasingly common way for software
> makers to exert control over their intellectual property.

What is the "intellectual property"?
Patents ?  Copyrighted works ?

If it is the former, the above is a tautology.

If it is the latter, as I would find correct, the above is

Patents are a new way for software makers to gain control
over other people's intellectual property.  And not a common
one at all.  There are not many software makers which have
engaged in an extensive patenting strategy like Microsoft. 
Most of the extensive patenters are large hardware makers. 
Microsoft was the only software maker at the 1994 USPTO
hearings that advocated software patents.

> One person affiliated with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),
> another major standards body, said it's difficult to comment on the
> .Net patents without knowing Microsoft's specific plans. 

What a waste of text bandwidth.

> The W3C is
> in the process of developing a policy that would let the
> organization include patented technology in its standards as long as
> companies agree to provide the technology royalty-free. The person,
> who asked not to be identified, said Microsoft has agreed to such
> terms in the past.

No company is asked to provide anything, let alone
"technology". All they are asked to do is to desist from
pursuing patents which happen to cover the proposed

> More and more, the patent debate is pitting companies like
> IBM and Microsoft -- which are looking to patents to protect
> and recoup the millions of dollars they spend developing
> products -- against members of the open-source and free
> software movements, which say the patent process stifles
> innovation by covering processes that are common on the Web. 

The "product development recouping" myth was created by Ms
Bowman, who seems to be very eager to give the patent lobby
extra bonusses and extra legitimacy using arguments which
she herself invents (because they can't supply her any
founded arguments themselves), and to attribute weak
arguments to the "opensource and free-software movement". 
E.g. "companies recouping their investments vs free software
gurus fearing that patents could be granted for common
well-known processes".

Hartmut Pilch, FFII & Eurolinux Alliance              tel.
Protecting Innovation against Patent Inflation
135,000 signatures against software patents

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