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Big trolls vs. small trolls: The real battle behind patent reform

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Microsoft

The dirty secret IBM, Microsoft, and other self-proclaimed advocates of patent reform don't want you to know is that they are trolls, too. They have large and highly profitable business units using exactly the same tactics as the patent trolls they hate. The reason they hate the trolls is not because of what they do -- after all, IBM and Microsoft were the pioneers of treating patent portfolios as profit centers rather than cost centers. No, the reason they hate the trolls is because the trolls attack them with the weapons they themselves perfected.

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This ends up being a pain in the neck in the x86 world, but it could be much worse. Way back in 2008 I wrote something about why the Linux kernel reports itself to firmware as "Windows" but refuses to identify itself as Linux. The short version is that "Linux" doesn't actually identify the behaviour of the kernel in a meaningful way. "Linux" doesn't tell you whether the kernel can deal with buffers being passed when the spec says it should be a package. "Linux" doesn't tell you whether the OS knows how to deal with an HPET. "Linux" doesn't tell you whether the OS can reinitialise graphics hardware. Read more