Coffeehouse Thread

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If you cannot compete, sue

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  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2011111122291296

     

    But hey, PJ is just an open source loving legal assistant, why should you care about her rants?

    Is there a single Microsoft employee who thinks this is wrong?

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    The purpose of a business is to make money within the law, not to make moral judgements about whether it should make money using a specific method.

    A publicly owned company (as Microsoft is) is actually legally obliged to pursue every feasable avenue to make money on behalf of it's shareholders (especially in the USA due to the oddity of corporations having legal rights equivalent to a person); if management made a moral judgement not to make as much money as they possibly could, then they could be sued by the shareholders.

    If you don't like the way that patents are used in competition, then either petition your government to change the laws, or get enough shares together to control the business. Complaining on a website won't do anything.

    In perspective: plenty of companies make money from arms manufacture which directly results in deaths.  In terms of business morals, using patents is small beer. I would like to see the use of patents in this way removed, but let's not pretend that anything is going to happen as a result of a few blog entries or forum postings.

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , fanbaby wrote

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2011111122291296

     

    But hey, PJ is just an open source loving legal assistant, why should you care about her rants?

    Is there a single Microsoft employee who thinks this is wrong?

     

    I'm afraid Dr Herbie is right. If you're expecting moral behaviour from any tech company then I think you're going to be waiting for a long time. The system of patents needs to be overhauled to stop this kind of abuse.

    Reading that did make my stomach turn - and I hope Barnes and Noble can fight it - but let's remember that Google isn't exactly an innocent victim here. Aren't they accused of lifting whole portions of copyrighted Java code and re-badging it so they could avoid paying licence fees?

    Anyway, this highlights on of the biggest problem with open source: self-delusion. They believe that the likes of Samsung and Barnes & Noble and HTC are "supporters" of Android; they're not. They're supporters of the bottom line. There are two reasons why Android is so popular amongst OEMs:

    1. Apple won't license iOS to them
    2. It's free

    They will not lift a finger to help fight Microsoft because it would be more expensive than caving in, so they cave in. Google won't step up for the same reason. The community has to come up with a way to fight on their own. Tricky with all these dodgy NDAs being signed left right and centre.

    There might be one consolation: if MS is making so much money from Android then they're probably not going to risk it by putting too much work into their own mobile strategy.

    Perplexed

     

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    , Dr Herbie wrote

    The purpose of a business is to make money within the law, not to make moral judgements about whether it should make money using a specific method.

    A publicly owned company (as Microsoft is) is actually legally obliged to pursue every feasable avenue to make money on behalf of it's shareholders (especially in the USA due to the oddity of corporations having legal rights equivalent to a person); if management made a moral judgement not to make as much money as they possibly could, then they could be sued by the shareholders.

    If you don't like the way that patents are used in competition, then either petition your government to change the laws, or get enough shares together to control the business. Complaining on a website won't do anything.

    In perspective: plenty of companies make money from arms manufacture which directly results in deaths.  In terms of business morals, using patents is small beer. I would like to see the use of patents in this way removed, but let's not pretend that anything is going to happen as a result of a few blog entries or forum postings.

    Herbie

    I see, I should thank god Microsoft isn't in arms manufacturing, and the rest is small change.

    But how do you feel about this? ( ) Happy ( ) Good ( ) OK ( ) Don't care ( ) I Don't like this

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    @Dr Herbie:

    How did you feel when a patent troll [A publicly owned company which is actually legally obliged to pursue every feasable avenue to make money on behalf of it's shareholders (especially in the USA due to the oddity of corporations having legal rights equivalent to a person); if management made a moral judgement not to make as much money as they possibly could, then they could be sued by the shareholders.] sued Microsoft based on some XML patent?

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    @fanbaby: I did say that I would like to see the use of patents in this way removed (middle of last paragraph). I don't think that righteously indignant blog posts are the way to do it, but I'm not passionate enough about it to try and do anything practical (except signing UK patent reform petitions when they arise).

    Herbie

     

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    @fanbaby:

    , fanbaby wrote

    @Dr Herbie:

    How did you feel when a patent troll [A publicly owned company which is actually legally obliged to pursue every feasable avenue to make money on behalf of it's shareholders (especially in the USA due to the oddity of corporations having legal rights equivalent to a person); if management made a moral judgement not to make as much money as they possibly could, then they could be sued by the shareholders.] sued Microsoft based on some XML patent?

    I felt it's not really any of my business specifically who decides to sue Microsoft or any other company other than my current employers.

    However, I think patent trolls should be illegal -- it should be illegal to sell a patent outright; patents should only be licensed and there should be prevention of exclusive licensing (only the original holder should have the right to exclusivity as a business benefit).  I think patents should not be awarded for an idea that has not been implemented is some manner (even if it's only a prototype) and I think prior art should play a more important role.

    Again, I'm not really passionate enough about it to start campaigning the government about it, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time writing on-line about it wither.

    Herbie

     

     

  • User profile image
    Proton2

      1. "to make as much money as they possibly could"

     

    A company, or person can run a business for the short term, or for the long term or a combination of both, making decisions, guesses or bets on what the future might be, and what competitors might do.

    Do you expand your business, at some risk, at the hope or guess that you will get more market share, make more money, or do you stay the course, keep small, keep your money for a rainy day, increase dividends to your shareholders, etc.

    To claim that the duty of a business is to maximize profits is just wrong headed thinking. There are so many different ways that a business can unfold and so many decisions that can either make more money or bankrupt the company. Shareholders don't sue, they sell their shares, or vote out the current heads if they don't like what they are doing. You can only sue if some deliberate malfeasance has taken place.

    Do the shareholders of Borders sue because the boom times didn't last as long as the people running Borders thought it would?

    Microsoft spends billions each year on R&D, they are obviously in it for the long term. If as a shareholder you want Microsoft to stop spending money like this, to maximize profits for the here and now, do you sue? No, you sell your shares and buy some other stock in a company run more inline with your thoughts on how a business should be run.

    Its just anti-capitalist rhetoric that a company must be run to maximize profits for its shareholders.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    @fanbaby: Remember that you are complaining about the rules by one specific company when Apple, Google, Sun, Facebook all use the law to be profitable.

    You need to stop cherry picking blog that have Microsoft, as pretty much everybody is doing the same. As Dr Herbie said you can either spend your time reading blog and complaining in forums or you can petition your Government, that is the only way you can get the change you want.

    You also need to get rid of the idea that this forum is just full of fanbois, that react in a way that secures your convictions, people here are much smarter than that.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    @fanbaby: Are you complaining against B&N? They have some valid claims if you actually read the documents.

    B&N is competing just fine. The Nook Color was taking sales from the Kindle, so Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire.

    If someone came to your house and said "I own that table. You can keep using it, but I want you to pay me a rental fee," wouldn't you investigate to see if they really owned the table?

  • User profile image
    JeremyJ

    @fanbaby: I am not sure why you are picking on Microsoft specifically.  Especially when everyone is suing everyone.  The system may be broken but I don't blame anyone for playing within the current rules.

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  • User profile image
    AndyC

    @fanbaby:There are two sides to every story. If B&N really believed they were "trivial and unnecessary" features, why haven't they just issued an update to remove them?

    The patent market, particularly for software, in the US is so far beyond broken it's hilarious. I'm pretty sure the only people who don't think so are the lawyers. Perhaps that is why America has so many of them. Wink

    @Dr Herbie: The problem with not being able to sell a patent is that it's often the most valuable asset a small business might have. If the ownership of that patent can't be transferred the value of that business may be substantially less to another company planning a buy out.

    I think a great deal of the issues with the patent market would go away if you just dramatically reduced the length of exclusivity that patent holders gain. There'd be less sense investing in weak patents if it would be likely to be money down the drain. Similarly vague sweeping patents that could cover any number of implementations wouldn't be nearly as tempting. And less patents going to the patent office might mean the ones that do come in recieve a little bit more scrutiny.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    I think fixing the patent system would be pretty easy. Make a time limit on software patents similar to pharmaceuticals. Seven years should be plenty to make money off of your invention. After that, it's either a failure or it's expected functionality.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    I agree with JeremyJ. And I'll add I don't think any company is going to come out a winner when it comes down to patent war. It just has a chilling effect on the progress of technology and causes companies to spend money on litigation that they could have used in developing new innovative products. In the end of the day when everyone sues everyone else the only people who benefit are the patent lawyers on all sides.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    , Dr Herbie wrote

    The purpose of a business is to make money within the law, not to make moral judgements about whether it should make money using a specific method.

    A publicly owned company (as Microsoft is) is actually legally obliged to pursue every feasable avenue to make money on behalf of it's shareholders (especially in the USA due to the oddity of corporations having legal rights equivalent to a person); if management made a moral judgement not to make as much money as they possibly could, then they could be sued by the shareholders.

    If you don't like the way that patents are used in competition, then either petition your government to change the laws, or get enough shares together to control the business. Complaining on a website won't do anything.

    In perspective: plenty of companies make money from arms manufacture which directly results in deaths.  In terms of business morals, using patents is small beer. I would like to see the use of patents in this way removed, but let's not pretend that anything is going to happen as a result of a few blog entries or forum postings.

    Herbie

    That really is a stretch of truth. A company like Microsoft might consider that it was bad public relations to do actions that the public at large considered immoral, deciding that the fallout of those actions would hurt the company. So a company taking consideration of moral implications to their actions is serving the shareholders.

    There's also nothing immoral about manufacturing arms.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @brian.shapiro:

    ++

    I would say bad PR is the reason Microsoft is no longer #1 by market capitalization. Nothing to do with their tech or anything like that. It's totally because of bad PR and legal decisions starting from the 90s. No other tech company had their dirty laundry aired in public as much as Microsoft.

    Microsoft served as an example to future tech companies on how not to handle anti-trust allegations.

    Anti-trust is serious business. Microsoft didn't realize it at the time. They barely made out of this mistake, because the company was to be dissolved by the government.

    In pretty much the last minute the decision was changed by the DoJ to government regulation (which expired recently), but the original judgement was much harsher.

    These days when a big company gets big enough that they come under anti-trust scrutiny (eg: Google), they cooperate swiftly at the highest levels (incl. having the CEO testify before Congress).

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    OK..... I am pretty sure MS can forget about patents and simply make Mango voice navigation trigger the finger-tap when getting close to the check point, instead of a bling sound.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
    Last modified
  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    , Bass wrote

    @brian.shapiro:

    ++

    I would say bad PR is the reason Microsoft is no longer #1 by market capitalization. Nothing to do with their tech or anything like that. It's totally because of bad PR and legal decisions starting from the 90s. No other tech company had their dirty laundry aired in public as much as Microsoft.

    Microsoft served as an example to future tech companies on how not to handle anti-trust allegations.

    Anti-trust is serious business. Microsoft didn't realize it at the time. They barely made out of this mistake, because the company was to be dissolved by the government.

    In pretty much the last minute the decision was changed by the DoJ to government regulation (which expired recently), but the original judgement was much harsher.

    These days when a big company gets big enough that they come under anti-trust scrutiny (eg: Google), they cooperate swiftly at the highest levels (incl. having the CEO testify before Congress).

    In the anti-trust case I think it was more about politics than about public perception. I don't think the majority of the public ever believed that Microsoft was doing something anti-competitive, a minority did. However, Microsoft's opponents in the industry wielded a lot of political muscle against them.

    However you're right in either case, companies have to keep politics in mind as well.

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