Wow. That has caused a little more than a ripple.
Yesterday, I wrote the article titled “Microsoft patents BlueJ” about Microsoft’s patent application. I thought a bit of public visibility can’t hurt our case.
It certainly has generated some visibility. The story made the front pages of digg, slashdot, reddit and del.icio.us. The article has had more than 20,000 hits in the last 24 hours.
Many people have asked me to keep them updated, so I’ll do this with a short summary.
The good news is: Our web server seems quite stable. We haven’t been “slashdotted” to a halt, as so many other sites that were unprepared for the traffic that slashdot can create. But then again, we serve downloads of BlueJ from this machine, and they run at about 2,500 a day with much larger file sizes than this web page, so the traffic wasn’t so unusual.
And the University of Kent, where our server sits, has large pipes. We run mirrors for various things (such as sourceforge) so we are well equipped for traffic.
But now for the stuff that matters.
Many people have commented and mailed me directly with a lot of advice – thanks to everyone, who has taken the time to chip in. (What an astonishing collection of hobby lawyers internet geeks are! I had no idea. And with quite varying degree of insight…)
Some advice was really useful, and I might make use of it. For now, the most interesting comment – to me – came from Chris Worland, Program Manager at Microsoft (comment #45 in the original article). He writes (in part):
Hi all – I’m sorry about this situation. My view is the same as yours.
I’ve mailed my friends in Microsoft’s legal group to call attention to this…I’m pretty sure they aren’t the type to read Digg on Saturday mornings.
BlueJ’s story will be read and re-evaluated. I’m sure that on Monday, there will be some discussions on Monday whether we were overzealous with our patent application, or whether it represents some different concept that we do have a case to patent (which looks rather doubtful to me).
Although we are often considered a mechanical monstrosity rolling over everyone, my view working there from my last seven years is the opposite. We’re someimes chaotic and uncoordinated.
However, we are not the type of people who tolerate hypocrisy. If our product was a port of someone else’s idea (which it looks like we’ve already said publicly), we’re not going to pursue this.
We all trying to be respected as honorable people that are viewed favorably by our peers outside the company.
There’s a saying that might apply here: “Don’t attribute to malice what can easily be explained by incompetence.” Well, if Chris really manages to get Microsoft to move back on this without legal intervention, that would be very nice.
Otherwise – rest assured everyone who urged us to fight this: We will file an objection to the patent, and I am hopeful that we will be successful in demonstrating prior art.
There are two universities involved here. Both have an enterprise/legal unit. And Sun Microsystems have supported us in the past. We are also talking to them to see whether they might be able to help us. (And they have probably almost as many lawyers as Microsoft…)
We are talking to all of them.
But let’s see. I thought Chris’s response was quite encouraging, and we’ll see whether something will move within the next week.
Don’t know – maybe I’m being naïve again, but I’m willing to take the chance.
It’s been an interesting day for me. — Thanks for your support.