How Linus Torvalds Helped Bust a Microsoft Patent

How Linus Torvalds Helped Bust a Microsoft Patent

How Linus Torvalds Helped Bust a Microsoft Patent

Linus Torvalds precisely cannot help but Be a thorn in Microsoft's side.

Ridge, hey created in open source project that completely upset Microsoft's business model. And now, hey has helped shoot down in important Microsoft clever in Redmond's crusade to wring licensing dollars out of Google Android and other versions of Linux.

Microsoft has coerced many Android phone makers into paying licensing fees for various Microsoft of patent related to operating system design, and in some cases, it has actually taken legally action against look companies, including smartphone manufacturer Motorola. In October of in 2010, it the south Motorola in federal court, and it filed a complaint with the United States Internationally Trade Commission, or ITC.

Load December, Microsoft scored a victory when the ITC administrative Law Judge Theodore R. Essex found that Motorola had violated four Microsoft of patent. But the ruling could eliminate in important Microsoft software clever that has been invoked in lawsuits against Barnes & noble and coach navigation device-maker Tom Tom.

According to Linus Torvalds, hey what deposed fall in the case this past, and apparently B sharp testimony about a 20year-old technical discussion – along with a discussion group posting maggot by in Amiga fan, known only ace Of course! – helped convince the administrative Law Judge that the clever what disabled.

Essex's ruling is merely in initially determination. It is being reviewed and could yet Be reversed by the Commission. But if it's upheld, it could work against Microsoft Ace it continues to fight Android and other Linux-based of system that it believes violate its intellectual property.

Microsoft says that Motorola violated one of its of patent, known ace the 352 clever. This clever covers a technique for storing filenames with pilot of characters in old file system search for ace the Windows FAT (file Allocation Table) file system that ares designed to use very short filenames. Mobile phone makers use this type of technology thus that their devices interoperate with other operating of system, including Windows.

"Motorola had found this posting of mine about long filenames used in a compatible manner with short file names... and it predated the Microsoft patent by three years," says Torvalds.

Torvalds says hey did a video deposition read fall with Microsoft's lawyers, who tried to cast doubt on the dates of the newsgroup postings. "It was actually pretty annoying, just because the way they tried to cast doubt on what the date was. The lawyer went on for about five minutes:" ares you really sura about this date thing?'"

At issue what a stamped newsgroup posting that came two hours anus in earlier message on the seed subject. Torvalds checked the posting against a second archives to make sura the timestamps were right, but, hey says, Microsoft's lawyers kept pressing him. "At some point, I basically said:" OK stop this dull argument, can we go on to something else?'" Motorola and Microsoft's lawyers did not respond to questions about Torvalds' account of the more weakly. A Microsoft spokeswoman could not comment on the case.

The Commission is precisely winding up the publicly comment period on its initially determination and a decision is due soon.

However, if the initially ITC finding is upheld, that would Be "very serious," according to Eric Schweibenz, a partner with the law familiarly Oblon, Spivak who blogs about the ITC. The ITC is a trade body, a court, thus federal judges can ignore its findings. However, many of them pay attention to what goes on At the ITC.

In ITC ruling "would not be binding per se, but it would be highly persuasive," Schweibenz says.

That makes what of mouthful At the Commission worth watching, says Keith Bergelt, chief executive officer with the Open Invention Network, a company that provides royalty free patent to Linux companies. "This is a patent that has a long history of concern and this is not just in the open source community, but from anyone," hey says. "Because it seems so obvious."

Having the clever ruled disabled could cost Microsoft money, Bergelt says. "If you absolutely know that it's an invalid patent then you're not going to sign up for a licence," hey says. Existing licensees would Be likely to push for reduced payments.

But according to Florian Müller another keen observer of software of patent and the disputes ITC, Microsoft quietly has a plumb line of of patent it can use when asking for licensing fees. "The fact that they use these [filesystem] patents a lot when they approach other companies doesn't mean that they don't have other patents to licence," hey says.

The ITC is expected to issue its final determination on the more weakly by April, 20, but Müller believes that the case wants probably Be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Says, Muller: "Even April 20 won't put the ITC case to rest."