Ballmer: Linux "Infringes our intellectual property"

Ballmer: Linux "Infringes our intellectual property"

Summary: Earlier this month we were all trying to figure out the reasoning behind the Microsoft/Novell deal. After all, the two companies have hardly been best buddies in the past.Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer, in a Q&A session after his keynote speech at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle, offers some insight.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Earlier this month we were all trying to figure out the reasoning behind the Microsoft/Novell deal.  After all, the two companies have hardly been best buddies in the past.

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer, in a Q&A session after his keynote speech at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle, offers some insight:

"We've had an issue, a problem that we've had to confront, which is because of the way the GPL works, and because open-source Linux does not come from a company -- Linux comes from the community -- the fact that that product uses our patented intellectual property is a problem for our shareholders. We spend $7 billion a year on R&D, our shareholders expect us to protect or license or get economic benefit from our patented innovations. So how do we somehow get the appropriate economic return for our patented innovation, and how do we do interoperability." [emphasis added]

Here's another choice quote:

"... we want Suse Linux to have the highest percent share of that, because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft."

Reading between the lines here, Ballmer is saying that all other Linux users out there are stealing from Microsoft and its shareholders.

And finally, this one:

"We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it's not an exclusive thing."

Hint of things to come perhaps?

This kind of talk from Ballmer is bound to send waves through the Linux community.  I'm left wondering if this is designed to scare customers off the idea of deploying Linux for fear of a legal minefield ahead or whether Microsoft is seeing defending IP as an extra revenue stream in a changing world.  Does this kind of talk help the likes of Dell and HP to stay faithful to Windows on the desktop environment?  Yeah, it think it probably does.  What it also means is that while Microsoft has spent years dismissing Linux, it's also been keeping a closer eye on it that some people believed.

Personally, I'd be very interested in seeing what IP Linux infringes.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  I think IBM would be particularly interested to know too.

Topic: Open Source

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  • "Infringes our intellectual property"

    does it have anything to do with FAT or NTFS? in that case, i'll be very happy to recompile my kernel without the bloat...
    galileon
    • Same as SCO

      "So how do we somehow get the appropriate economic return for our patented innovation, and how do we do interoperability."

      Tell us the patent numbers Steve, I think your buddies in SCO have proved that saying "Your infringing our stuff but we won't tell you what it is" doesn't work, especially not in court!
      BobF_z
      • FUD.

        Do not even loose time on this one.
        Pure and simple FUD from Microsoft.
        In this case it is not even a case of pattents, or IP, but at most a case of usage of MS protocols ...
        Forget it. It is simple not even court admissable.

        Regards,
        Pedro
        p_msac@...
    • property

      I think it's TCP/IP. oh wait, Microsoft stole that from the UNIX world.
      dwest_z
    • So we pay Novell $348 million...

      Ballmer tells us that Linux infringes ; now M$ is being "compensated" for that infringement by paying Novell $348 million? That's how he is getting compensation for his stockholders for the infringement? How does that work? Don't you usually get money FROM the infringing party? What is wrong with this picture?

      Maybe we should ask Monkey Boy how the stockholders are being compensated by this outflow of cash to a competitor that has been vanquished by simple marketing initiatives in the past. Maybe we should ask why Server 2003 is one of the (one or two Windows) products that is covered by the patent truce. What Novell patents does it infringe?

      Don? Anton? Adrian? Anybody?
      Still Lynn
    • What is the reason you haven't

      already done this if it's just bloat? This is a nonsensical post.
      xuniL_z
  • What property?

    As mentioned above, if its just the FAT and NTFS stuff, then that means dang near every other OS on the planet is doing the same thing, including OSX. The other thing I can think of is Samba. There may be some under the hood things as well, but I think MS should be required to plainly list everything that they say belongs to them, with the patent or copyright to prove it.
    Stuka
    • What IP?

      The IP Microsoft stole, fair and square, of course!

      Hi_C
      Hi_C
    • Read the FSF report

      Even they acknowledge almost 300 IP problems.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • To be fair..

        To be fair, the FSF says none of the 284 patents that Linux could possibly be infringing have been upheld in court and that most are probably invalid because of prior art and such...

        Let's not be overly selective on which facts are reported. Lay them all on the table.

        Odds are the IP that Ballmer is talking about has to do with interoperability, e.g. CIFS and .Net. And what's the EU pressing MS on right now? Server interoperability...
        NetArch.
        • Well duh! What else could they say?

          Now, the question is, are you so limited you think that out of 284 each and everyone is incorrect? (The folks the FSF hired didn't.)
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Just who paid for this study in the first place?

            I'm always curious as to the source of any report. Money
            talks...and as our grand congress men and women have proven
            over the years it's not the mouth piece but the money behind the
            mouth piece that counts and their motivation is hardly ever (can
            anyone think of a time when it was for our benefit?) good., and
            or fair. Balanced?

            I say let's do this thing and find out if and which are problems. I
            can't say one way or the other but I get the feeling that a lot of
            these claims will prove false...gut feeling and past history as my
            guides on this. And if anything is left standing then the Linux
            and Open Source communities will be able to solve it. The only
            thing stopping them is a lack of knowledge of just what might
            be a ture problem for them.

            Pagan jim
            Laff
      • $50, Don

        Point it out, make $50 bucks.

        Of course, you can't -- as many have pointed out to you, the FSF has no such report.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Wrong, even the poster above knows it.

          I am sorry you are so limited that you don't know what everyone else does.
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • I notice you couldn't point it out

            Gee -- even for an "easy" $50 you can't put up.

            Of course, you'll never admit you were wrong either. Well, it's not like you had any credibility to lose.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Hey fool, see my post below.

          What the FSF review found.
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • It was OSRM that commissioned the study

            Not the FSF... So, technically, Yagotta is correct. There is no FSF study on Linux patent violations.

            Even further, OSRM didn't identify any of the patents...
            NetArch.
          • Sorry, the FSF PAID for the study.

            So you are wrong, it is theirs.
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Not what I found

            OSRM hired Dan Ravicher to conduct the study. Dan happens to also be counsel to FSF. But OSRM paid for it. They viewed it as a marketing expense for their Linux insurance business...
            NetArch.
        • Next time, do some research...

          [url]http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5291403.html?tag=nl]It is on ZDNet[/url] for Christ's sake Yagotta, and you couldn't find it?
          Scrat