Ballmer: Novell deal proves open source needs to 'respect IP rights'

Ballmer: Novell deal proves open source needs to 'respect IP rights'

Summary: The same week that Microsoft issued a press release providing further details about some of the technological advances that will result from the November 2006 technology agreement between the two companies, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Wall Street what he really thinks the deal means to Microsoft.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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The same week that Microsoft issued a press release providing further details about some of the technological advances that will result from the November 2006 technology agreement between Novell and Microsoft, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Wall Street what he really thinks the deal means to Microsoft.

During a forecast update meeting for financial analysts and shareholders on February 15, Ballmer reiterated that, to him, the deal is more about Microsoft exerting intellectual property (IP) pressure on Novell than anything else.

Ballmer didn't talk up technological cross-collaboration. He didn't mention helping customers with interoperability challenges. He didn't mention new sales opportunities. Instead, he said:

"The deal that we announced at the end of last year with Novell I consider to be very important. It demonstrated clearly the value of intellectual property even in the Open Source world. I would not anticipate that we make a huge additional revenue stream from our Novell deal, but I do think it clearly establishes that Open Source is not free and Open Source will have to respect intellectual property rights of others just as any other competitor will."

Ballmer has riled the Novell management team more than once by hinting that Microsoft believes that Novell and other open-source vendors are violating Microsoft patents.

(This past weekend, in an interview with LinuxWorld, former Novell employee and lead Samba developer Jeremy Allison, when asked about supposed Microsoft threats over alleged open-source patent violations, said the rumors were true.

"I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using, which they then cannot redistribute. I think that would be the restriction. I would have to look quite carefully. So, essentially that’s not allowed. But they’re not telling anyone about it. They’re completely doing it off the record," Allison said.)

Until customers come forward and admit these Microsoft threats, it's gong to be tough to prove Allison's contention.

But it isn't difficult to see that Microsoft's brass sees the Microsoft-Novell deal as being, above all else, about setting a precedent by getting an open-source vendor to pay royalties for IP.

Topic: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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118 comments
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  • Funny that Novell was infringing...

    But Microsoft paid them 150 million for it ???? Don't companies normally sue when you infringe on their IP not give money to the infringer ???
    mrlinux
    • No one said that at all...

      Go back and read it again. All Ballmer said was open source must respect IP just like everyone else.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Everyone else except...

        Microsoft. It's one thing for a software company to talk about respecting IP rights. It's another thing for a company that is consistently being sued and settling out of court for infringing upon IP rights to lecture anyone else. Three words...Pot, Kettle, Black.
        jasonp@...
      • Shutup Troll!

        sheesh
        An_Axe_to_Grind
        • Re: Shutup Troll!

          Same three words...
          pot, kettle, black.
          handydan918
      • Who is casting the first stone?

        Microsoft has never respected anyone else's Intellectual Property rights! They have often plagiarized numerous other developers' applications and called it "innovation". This is just another tactic for Microswipe to maintain its monopoly position. The real question is not whether Microswipe's IP rights are being respected, but whether these so-called software patents truly belong to them in the first place, as in the case of the MS-Symantec suit.
        JJQ1000
    • Microsoft paid for Novell IP...

      ... and Novell paid for Microsoft IP. The net result was, of course, a cash transfer from Microsoft to Novell. I think that obtaining money was the major reason Novell called to request negotiations.
      Anton Philidor
      • So what you're saying here....

        ... it that Novell's IP is worth a great deal more than Microsoft - nearly ten times as much IIRC.

        [i]"I think that obtaining money was the major reason Novell called to request negotiations."[/i]

        So Microsoft was violating Novell's IP big-time? Is that what you're saying?
        bportlock
        • Sure.

          Of course the Novell IP in Microsoft products generates more income than the Microsoft IP in SuSE. That makes the Novell IP worth more.

          And it was probably Novell's need to money that led its management to call Microsoft. The cash and assistance Microsoft provided will be essential to Novell's continuation.

          Think of Novell as Apple managed by Sun.
          Anton Philidor
          • "Think of Novell as Apple managed by Sun."

            Naw...I just think what obvious is the truth...Microsoft steals and pays when caught. This thief has enough money to pay damages and not be labeled the crook that the company is.

            All the more reason why I am so happy I put my ethics first and no longer support Microsoft with a single dollar. It's really a sad commentary on business in America when people ignore ethics for the hope of cash.

            The danger is Real! The Danger is Microsoft!
            nomorems
          • Funny you mention Apple and SUN.

            Every American taxpayer has paid and Apple/Sun tax for decades and you are talking about MS? Get real. Know the facts before you open your big mouth. SUN invented nothing except what it's incrementally added on top of what was given to it via government sponsored research void of anti-trust law. Same with Apple...a conglom of several research projects and not one bit of innovation from apple. At teh very least, MS writes it's own code dude. If they are "copying" then it's a high compliement to a dev. to nail someone elses implementation from scratch. It's harder than creating something new where the dev. if free to let their own creative juices flow more freely. <br>
            You really are nothing but a troll.
            xuniL_z
          • Learn YOUR history, jack!

            Apple was started through true innovation. Steve Wozniak was truly innovative in his initial designs of the first apple computers. And you just gave an argument confirming that Microswipe is indeed plagiarizing other people's IP.
            JJQ1000
      • Novell Didn't Call Microsoft.

        Microsoft bugged Novell for the deal, and offered them millions of dollars to take it.

        Then, when Novell bent over to pick up the bundle....

        Now, Microsoft is claiming that Novell wanted, it and really needed it -- and that they must have liked it or they wouldn't have let it happen.
        darkonc
  • I see nothing not accurate in his statement.

    "The deal that we announced at the end of last year with Novell I consider to be very important. It demonstrated clearly the value of intellectual property even in the Open Source world. I would not anticipate that we make a huge additional revenue stream from our Novell deal, but I do think it clearly establishes that Open Source is not free and Open Source will have to respect intellectual property rights of others just as any other competitor will."


    I see nothing there that is not accurate, open source, like everyone else must respect others IP. Now that is not a claim in anyway that there is any IP violation, just stating that he is right in saying everyone must respect it.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • If you read the link about the interview with Jeremy...

      There is a reference that Ballmer stated Linux infringed on Microsoft's IP.
      mrlinux
      • Sorry but Jeremy lacks any credibility...

        After all, he is the one that said the GPL conditions had been met but "HE" didn't think that in his "PERSONAL OPINION" it's intent was met.

        Heck, everyone has an opinion on what their "intent" is, but the fact is the license wording is all that matters. Jeremy couldn't accept that fact and had a temper tantrum over it.

        Credibility = Zero
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • And yet he appears to have more credability than No_Ax.

          At least he is not trolling the ZDNet talkbacks almost every day trying to defend Microsoft.
          B.O.F.H.
        • No, Jeremy has credibility

          It's rather [b]your assertion[/b] that he doesn't have credibility that lacks credibility.

          Do you really expect someone who is upset about a situation to [b]not[/b] come out and say, "Ok, this isn't what was supposed to happen, and I'm upset about it."

          Putting yourself in the picture. Have you not railed long and loud about how unfair the EC is to Microsoft? Did you feel the need to quietly suck it in and stay quiet? Your postings say you were/are very upset about it, and you haven't been as polite as Jeremy has been in expressing his feelings over that either.

          Hypocrisy, thy name is No_Ax.
          zkiwi
          • its funny,,

            Open Source, makes the rules, (the GPLv2) some companies do business BY THOSE RULES.. (ie, they dont violate the GPLv2).

            but Open Source cry about it anyway,, why, because it involves Microsoft !!!.., (childish).

            so Open Source, not liking the way people are playing by the rules, choose to CHANGE the rules, in a vein attempt to maintain "control" of their "FREE" babay...

            ofcourse, Open Source EXPECTS everyone to play BY THEIR RULES, (or their modified rules to keep advantage),, but Open Source dont seem to want to also play by EVERYONE elses Rules..

            You know, the LAW, IP, Patents, or in the FREE and OPEN Market.

            you choose the change the rules, price fix your product and prefer to attack your perceived competition rather than try to compete on quality and innovation.

            we guess you've given up on trying to win by quality and innovation, and have chosen to try to "win" by making the "rules" of the game support your argument.

            Get over it FOSS, play by the big boys rules, or dont play at all,

            all you are doing is losing the respect of EVERYONE,
            (then get RMS to "sell" Free/Open Source to cuba just to top it off.. !!!)

            *** a "fanatic is someone who wont change their mind, and cant change the subject!". churchill
            Aussie_Troll
          • So...

            Do you think you'd complain if you'd been messed with successfully albeit legally?

            Just to mess with you, what would you think if Microsoft was forced to endure a code audit because it might be taking code from FOSS in violation of the GPL or whatever? Would you complain about it, or what?
            zkiwi