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How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactOS?

Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:33 am
by BrentNewland
http://www.google.com/patents/US5920316

Just curious if it would let Microsoft sue ReactOS for infringement.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:39 am
by jimtabor
No, plus it would not hold up in court.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:08 am
by Techno Mage
I have seen a task bar in popular games, and they never got patent attacked

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:38 am
by SomeGuy
Not to mention dozens of Linux distros, eComstation, Calmira II, QNX, Haiku (optional), NewDeal, and I have also seen it in various DOS-based utilities.

Besides, by the time ReactOS reaches 1.0 any Windows 95 patents will have expired. :D

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:56 pm
by Aeneas
@ Someguy

I have no idea how it is in the US, but in Europe, you would be perfectly right as the maximum protection period IS 20 years - basically, 2015.

APART from that, however, THERE IS NO SUCH THING as "software patents" in Europe. The US are pushing hard for it, but they are still not accepted. The point is, in Europe software is generally treated not unlike "literature" or "design".

Even the US patent, as pointed out above, would not survive a court battle very well... I mean, WHAT IS a "taskbar"? A piece of element on the screen that you can access to perform other stuff? Well... then the editor "vi" from Unix v7 hat, in a sense, a "taskbar", not to mention the stuff seen on Xerox and Apple machines.

And finally: If MS would be "desperate enough" to sue ReactOS, then a) they just MIGHT win in the USA, although not easily because all sorts of free software organisations will bite them (do not forget that the EFF is collecting patents on free software with the idea to create a status of "mutually assured destruction" - apart from actively fighting patents: https://www.eff.org/patent-busting ). And in Europe that will be all meaningless - because there are simply no patents here. So "whom" do they want to sue? The ReactOS foundation? IN THE USA?! - It WOULD be, of course, a tremendous recognition of ReactOS. In the ensuing media attention, I guess your project would get more money than by any usual campaign.

It does look, however, that Microsoft has, in a way, "recognised" Wine, because I read some time ago that in some products they have implemented checks specifically to counter Wine. (Nice guys, eh?) So they know about it - and do nothing against it...

BTW, I could imagine that Bill Gates himself would actually like ReactOS. ;) Bill was a talented geek. Yes, he got rich and famous and all that stuff, but I could imagine that all that mess which Windows has become does not appeal to him - while ReactOS, well, that is a lean and comparatively "little" system. I guess he would value that elegance...

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:01 pm
by michaelj2
interesting.

and by now, something like a taskbar is basically generic, as it is seen in so many places, windows has it, mac has it basically, because the programs drop down there and they sit there showing they are active. and it is in many other places, so I don't think they will sue for that. also sueing REACT_OS for that or for anything else would help to put react os "on the map" and into people's heads, and so much publicity would revolve around react os, that it would actually be good for react os. Unless of course they woudl have to pay a lot of money, but something generic like a taskbar, they could not win, as it easily could be proven that many others like apple have a taskbar as well.

so when will react os come out of the alpha stage and be widely available ?

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:37 pm
by DOSGuy
It's been in alpha for 14 years, but there are many who are of the opinion that it's getting close to being worthy of a beta designation.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:11 pm
by SomeGuy
michaelj2 wrote:and by now, something like a taskbar is basically generic, as it is seen in so many places,
Exactly. You wouldn't patent the English (or any other spoken) language would you? You wouldn't be able to communicate with anyone without owing licensing fees! That is exactly what patenting user interface elements does, because that is how you communicate with your computer.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:30 pm
by milon
If MS wanted to aggressively protect their taskbar, they'd have to sue Mac, Linux (all GUI versions), ReactOS, and likely other OS's as well. And they'd have to win all those cases. In my opinion, it's not going to happen.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:32 pm
by PurpleGurl
SomeGuy wrote:
michaelj2 wrote:and by now, something like a taskbar is basically generic, as it is seen in so many places,
Exactly. You wouldn't patent the English (or any other spoken) language would you? You wouldn't be able to communicate with anyone without owing licensing fees! That is exactly what patenting user interface elements does, because that is how you communicate with your computer.
I would. Then I can sue those who say things I disagree with. ;-) Seriously, what we need to do is find "prior art" so in case something happens, we'd have a leg to stand one. I don't see how they can succeed since there are too many targets and there have already been decisions saying that "look and feel" of interfaces is acceptable.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:03 pm
by BrentNewland
My worry is more that it specifically mentions a "Start" menu. Mac OS doesn't have a comparable start menu (just the dock and finder), and Linux usually has a series of menus. I don't know of any Linux distros before 95 that had an actual start-like button (like KDE does, IIRC).

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:10 pm
by Phalanx
BrentNewland wrote:My worry is more that it specifically mentions a "Start" menu. Mac OS doesn't have a comparable start menu (just the dock and finder), and Linux usually has a series of menus. I don't know of any Linux distros before 95 that had an actual start-like button (like KDE does, IIRC).
You must look at the nature of the element, not just how it is described. As such the fact it is called a start menu does not matter (that's copyright not patent law).

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:30 am
by BrentNewland
Phalanx wrote:
BrentNewland wrote:My worry is more that it specifically mentions a "Start" menu. Mac OS doesn't have a comparable start menu (just the dock and finder), and Linux usually has a series of menus. I don't know of any Linux distros before 95 that had an actual start-like button (like KDE does, IIRC).
You must look at the nature of the element, not just how it is described. As such the fact it is called a start menu does not matter (that's copyright not patent law).
The description might be able to cover any menu on a task bar that allows to to launch programs, open documents, AND control system settings. And it's a patent from 1997, not sure if there is any prior art for a start-menu style function.
The taskbar may also include a (start menu) button that enables a user to gain access to a menu for launching programs, opening documents and controlling system settings.

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:04 pm
by SomeGuy
Why are we continuing to discuss this? The "Start" menu was a fairly obvious thing. The only reason nobody did that before was because in a day when you were expected to read and understand a 200 page manual to operate your computer, it was considered overly simplistic and a waste of valuable screen space.

Of course the way the patent system works, you can take a dump and patent what comes out.

At any rate, prior to 1995 most Unix's had a "right-click" (or sometimes Middle-click) system menu that was often like the Start Menu, except it used a physical button rather being tethered to a visual one.

A couple of Pre-1995 examples:
SunOS 3.5
SunOS 4.11 with sub menus
Perq shell popup menu
RiscOS 3
Irix "tool chest"
PubTech File Organizer for Windows 2.11 and its application menu

And the corresponding 1995 Dilbert comic strip:

Image

While we are at it
Microsoft's original design for 95 using three separate buttons

And while Microsoft's 1995 desktop implementation tried to mimic that of the 1984 Macintosh, the oversimplification of the "Start" menu meant that only files inside an explorer window had a proper "File" menu. One had to use the less discoverable right-click menu to access file actions for the icons directly on the desktop.

And I will reiterate that others have cloned Microsoft's Task Bar and Start Menu, and had no trouble at all.

NewDeal
Haiku
QNX
EcomStation
Linux-KDE
Linux-Gnome
Calmera II

Re: How does Microsoft's patent on the taskbar affect ReactO

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:54 am
by BrentNewland
SomeGuy wrote:Why are we continuing to discuss this? The "Start" menu was a fairly obvious thing.
Because there is never any discussion here about violating Microsoft patents, despite all the patent lawsuits going on right now?
At any rate, prior to 1995 most Unix's had a "right-click" (or sometimes Middle-click) system menu that was often like the Start Menu, except it used a physical button rather being tethered to a visual one.
Not comparable. ReactOS doesn't use a mouse menu, it doesn't use an applications menu, it uses a start button.
And I will reiterate that others have cloned Microsoft's Task Bar and Start Menu, and had no trouble at all.
Microsoft would have a much stronger case against ReactOS because of how similar it will have to be. And a bigger target because we're going to obliterate their market.