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Ballmer Threatens Linux Patent Lawsuits

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the big-whoop dept.

506

gillbates writes "Today Microsoft warned several Asian countries that using Linux could subject them to lawsuits, claiming that Linux violates '228 patents'. Apparently, Steve Ballmer believes he can enforce U.S. law in Asia." Ballmer is presumably speaking about this story. So, companies which sell insurance against lawsuits and companies which make competing products both warn of the dangers of using Linux. Maybe someone should point out that Microsoft is battling dozens of patent-infringement lawsuits itself, and any user of Microsoft software (including governments) could also be sued?

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lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853306)

lol

Re:lol (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853336)

I agree. Why do countries put up with this nonsense? I personally think these Asian countries should sue the companies for general stupidity. "Someday, for all countries that are entering the WTO, somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property" -> Someone needs to slap Ballmer for pretending to have weight with the WTO. For shame sir, for shame....

Re:lol (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853578)

What do you mean? This is business, plain and simple. Balls. The amount of /. mindshare that could be spent on writing better FOSS software, alone, is staggering.
In the US National Football League, this maneuver is known as a 'play action fake'.

Maybe someone (4, Insightful)

banana fiend (611664) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853308)

There's the problem. Microsoft has someone to do that. "Someone" who is willing to send out threatening letters to MS product users on behalf of the OpenSource community will be hard to find (or hard to pay for)

Re:Maybe someone (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853345)

That might not be true. Look what a week of gathering cash did for Firefox!! I bet that if Slashdot posted a "donate money to fight Microsoft in court" fund we'd raise millions of dollars to help fight the lies!

I'm willing to donate literally tens of dollars to such a cause.

Re:Maybe someone (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853455)

I had to reread that last sentence because my mind automatically inserted "thousands of" for me.

Re:Maybe someone (3, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853442)

I've said it a thousand times:Balmer is a complete idiot.Balmer is a stuffed scarecrow speaking with Gates voice saying things that Gates knows he would sound stupid saying but nonetheless just has to say to see reactions.
pay no heed to this sycophant.move along in an orderly fashion,nothing to see here.

Re:Maybe someone (1)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853451)

There's the problem. Microsoft has someone to do that.

Not really an issue when you consider the fact that companies like SCO are losing money in these infringement cases.

FTA: "Some day," he continued, "for all countries that are entering the WTO [World Trade Organization], somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property."

Notice how he didn't say the SCO!

Groklaw started all of this (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853525)

Wasn't this 228 patent violation thing started by PJ, Groklaw, and her employer? Yep, hate to break it to you slashdot, but Groklaw started all when it tried to sell Linux "insurance."

Sorry to attack a sacred cow like Groklaw, but the truth must be told.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853316)

fp

Re: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853318)

I knew we should have taken out the ability to double click!

Solution to THAT problem..... (4, Funny)

Smiffa2001 (823436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853628)

....is to make em all triple-clicks.

C'mon then, someone tell me that the patent says "two or more clicks in quick succession"....

I, for one... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853320)

welcome our new law-abiding, microsoft... oh wait, that makes no sense.

In related news... (5, Funny)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853321)

And in related news from Middle Earth...

OSGILIATH (Reuters) - Mordor Corp. warned Middle Earth kingdoms on Thursday they could face the wrath of Orc armies for harbouring and aiding Gandalf and his fellowship of hobbits instead of rightfully bowing to the will of Sauron.

The growing popularity of Gandalf - a wise and benevolent wizard who freely aids all in need and is a friend of all free people of Middle Earth - is a thread to the global dominance of Sauron's Dominion Of Evil.

Gandalf's fellowship has illegally kept Sauron's valuables, Mordor's Mouth of Sauron said at the regime's Middle Earth Kingdom Leaders Forum in Osgiliath. He did not provide any details on what exactly the nature of Sauron's valuables which were stolen are, which the Fellowship disputes.

Ex-hobbit Gollum McBride, who claims that "nasty hobbitses stole his preciousss", is suing elves and hobbits alike, including the Shire.

Rohan's Riders of Defense at Gandalf's council last month readied 20,000 horsemen to face the assault of Mordor Corp instead of submitting freely to the evil reign of Sauron.

Other kingdoms in the region are also beginning to rally under one banner. Gondor, Arnor and Erebor this year agreed to jointly combat Sauron's forces at Gandalf's advice.

The kingdom of Gondor, in particular, sees its proximity to Mordor as a potential threat. Conspiracy buffs believe that subliminal messages sent to Denethor from Sauron via his Palantir might drive the steward insane and thus confuse and cripple Gondor's defenses, possibly during a battle in the Pelennor fields.

The Mouth of Sauron said that security fears some rulers had about surrending to Mordor were "overblown".

"We think Sauron will provide far more security than Gandalf ever could. Sauron is a better protector for you lot because he has this awesome Ring which he forged, he fixed and he stands behind. Gandalf doesn't have an awesome Ring," he said.

Re:In related news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853341)

HAHAHAHAHAHA...I LOVE it.

Re:In related news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853408)

Too bad stupid mods didn't read the effing article.

Re:In related news... (1, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853418)

"Gandalf doesn't have an awesome Ring"
HA! I read in G-ORK-LAW, that Gandalf has in fact got a ring, and that its a ring that predates the sale of Rings and related Ring-based-technologies by the Elvish smiths of SCOria. Further more, if you look at the fine print on page 3772 of this 17GB PDF [a.link] (dated 324 Second Age), you can clearly see that the "Three Rings For Elven Kings" (and hence Nenya, or was it Varya) is implicitly included in the "bringing them all / in the darkness binding them" clauses of the contract.

You did it again... (5, Funny)

koi88 (640490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853419)


You left out Tom Bombadil.
And the liberation of the Shire.

Bahhh...
I hope it will be included in the Special Extended Edition of this post...

Well, that's helpful. (5, Insightful)

Jaywalk (94910) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853322)

I'm glad Ballmer has been so proactive in helping China figure out what to do with software patents. It looks like Europe is leaning [groklaw.net] toward at least minimizing -- if not eliminating -- software patents. When China turns its attention to the subject, Ballmer's little speech should give them some food for thought on which direction they should go.

Keep in mind that China is a Communist country and any concept of intellectual property is relatively novel.

Re:Well, that's helpful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853405)

I don't think it's a "novel" concept in itself, what is novel about it is the fact that the State isn't owning it now, some private entity is.

Re:Well, that's helpful. (5, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853454)

I'm glad Ballmer has been so proactive in helping China figure out what to do with software patents. It looks like Europe is leaning toward at least minimizing -- if not eliminating -- software patents. When China turns its attention to the subject, Ballmer's little speech should give them some food for thought on which direction they should go.

Keep in mind that China is a Communist country and any concept of intellectual property is relatively novel.


Keep in mind that China, Japan and Korea are cooperating together to create a standardised asian linux system, and considerable sums of money have been invested in the project. A large pat of the reason was to remove dependence on foreign companies... which is to say, Microsoft.

China, Japan and Korea working together is no mean feat either - they are historically incredibly bitter enemies. Think a nice English/Irish/French cooperative linux distribution and you might get the idea.

I doubt China will be scared of Liux by anything Ballmer has to say about patents. You're quite right. They are more likely to take the other option and view the software patents as the problem.

Jedidiah.

English / Irish / French comparison underestimates (1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853551)

Saying the Japanese and Chinese are like the English and the French is the understatement of the year. Japan invaded China to open World War II and killed nearly 30 million Chinese people.

So? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853625)

An English king, with inherited possessions in France, decided that the crown of France was also his, and ignited a *Hundred* *Century* war. It lasted so long that it was called, no kidding, The Hundred Century war.

While the maiming and killing technology of the day was nothing like what it was during WW2, it certainly made the life of more than a chap more miserable and shorter than it would've been otherwise.

Then after the Hundred Century war, things kept being quite tense between England and France, even in North America, you'd be amazed to notice!

You might have heard of a character named Napoleon, too. He was at the origin of a couple deaths apparently (though those people which died because of his actions would've probably be dead anyway today)

Re:Well, that's helpful. (1)

SlashDread (38969) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853626)

Small correction: this is Communist China. While there are improvements over the past strictly "maoist" policies, this is a country where any concept of property plain is relatively novel.

"/Dread"

Hooray (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853323)

Steve Ballmer spreading FUD. What else is new?

Re:Hooray (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853602)

Well, we always knew that Ballmer and McBride were just Gates's sock puppets.

Why do you think Gates hired him in the first place? It's not like he provides any strategic direction for microsoft, he's just Gates's jackass by proxy.

Indemnified? (5, Informative)

CaptainBaz (621098) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853329)

Maybe someone should point out that Microsoft is battling dozens of patent-infringement lawsuits itself, and any user of Microsoft software (including governments) could also be sued?
That's funny, I thought Microsoft had indemnified its customers against IP threats? [slashdot.org]

Re:Indemnified? (5, Insightful)

Slashcrunch (626325) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853464)

By indemnified, I believe they mean that their customers will not be sued by other companies for using MS products. MS would be sued, and be required to pay up or make the required changes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no MS fanboy, but lets be clear about it. I don't think any company can safely claim to be 100% in the clear when it comes to patents. Not in the world we live in...

s/in the world we/in insane countries some of us/ (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853554)

Software patents are RIDICULOUS and ABSURD. Write your congressperson.

Re:Indemnified? (5, Informative)

Maffy (806058) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853482)

I believe Microsoft will indemnify as long as you don't use any non-Microsoft software at all on your system.

See this article [groklaw.net] on Groklaw for a description of some of the other possible loopholes.

Matt

Re:Indemnified? (4, Funny)

base_chakra (230686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853500)

That's funny, I thought Microsoft had indemnified its customers against IP threats?

That's true, they did. Which means that even if Microsoft sues itself, I'll be in the clear!

ballmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853332)

Isnt this the same Microsoft that a while back had some of its windows update or main website running on linux powered servers? so theyd have to sue themselves too i guess.

Re:ballmer (2, Interesting)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853556)

That was Akamai's caching system that was running on Linux.

What is interesting is that because Microsoft's code is closed, they could be violating a lot of patents and no one outside the organization would know.

Linux's openness is the reason there is a target on Tux's back. Of course, Linus and Morton have said they will re-code if they have to to avoid patent issues, if and when they come up.

I wonder if Google could come up with a way to see if anyone is violating any patents. It would be an extremely useful tool, and a lot of corporations would buy such a tool.

Good way to make friends (5, Interesting)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853333)

This should go over really well. At least MS is entrenched in most business environments here in the U.S. so they can get away with a lot of this stuff. But in Asia (especially in places where they are pushing the stripped-down edition of Windows) this is going to alienate them even more than just having high prices.

"Buy our expensive software... or try the alternative and we'll sue you."

Good way to make friends.

Re:Good way to make friends (1, Insightful)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853359)

Good way to make friends.

They're not out to make friends. They're out to make money.

Ohh, suddenly I feel all validated... :-)

Re:Good way to make friends (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853433)

You can't make money if no ones buying because they think you and your company is an ass.

Re:Good way to make friends (1)

peterprior (319967) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853605)

Yes you can! Look at SCO!

Incidently, thats the whole point.. If you don't buy our products we'll get money from you by other means. ie: suing you.

Re:Good way to make friends (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853612)

You can't make money if no ones buying because they think you and your company is an ass.

There are 40 billion counterexamples to that theory.

Re:Good way to make friends (4, Insightful)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853466)

They're not out to make friends. They're out to make money.

They're making a big effort to become the de facto software company in Asia, like they are in the U.S. and Europe. That's why they're making their software available at lower prices in stripped-down versions. In most parts of Asia, you don't have to justify NOT buying MS software - as you do here. That's what MS is trying to build in Asia. They are trying to make "friends" among businesses like they have here. That is the best way for them to make money.

But, as I wrote in my previous post, I think this tactic may be too aggressive and backfire by putting people off. At least I hope people won't buckle to a show of trumped-up muscle. If they truly decided MS software is what's best for them, more power to them. But I hope they won't be scared into buying it. And I don't think they will.

Re:Good way to make friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853548)

Their lower prices don't help anything, I don't know anyone in South Korea who actually owns a copy of Windows.

And Linux is finally getting a small (very) bit of notice over here. Even my wife (who is Korean) asked me what open source software and linux were (result of watching that movie where Tim Robbins plays the Bill Gates-esque guy).

Re:Good way to make friends (0)

peterprior (319967) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853468)

Maybe they should make their Microsoft Barney read out statements like this over there. They love novel characters and things like "Hello Kitty".

Barney: "We sue you!"

"Ahhh hahaha" *clap clap*

This will backfire. (4, Informative)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853337)

There is an article in Groklaw about how Poland is voting against EU software patents, and that the majority has tipped against them. His comments only help to underscore why this is the correct decision, and can only help our cause. It looks like the US will be the only country to recognize software patents.

We will not forget you for this, Poland! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853350)


You are not forgotten!

MOD PARENT UP! (0)

IgD (232964) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853545)

Mod the parent up. The issue has nothing to do with intellectual property. Software patents in general are trivial. Microsoft is trying to wield its monopoly power again to maintain control of its operating system market dominance. If they really try this there will be such a huge backlash...

Re:This will backfire. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853546)

. It looks like the US will be the only country to recognize software patents.

And that is because most patent filings are jokes and predatory towards inovation and fair use.

I look at the bright side, with all the useless patents going on for marketing stong arming, it will just tick off the rest of the world towards the US patent system it will fail.

Worse yet, it will fuel outsourcing even more as if you can't run the code for patent infringment in the US you can run it in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal or St. John's. And except for Montral you get fluent English language support. And do it better and cheaper.

And if the above don't work, Aruba -- the execs will like to travel there.

A new approach (2, Interesting)

Nehle (784297) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853355)

Well, this is a new approach to spreading FUD. If he's referring to SCO, I would doubt that anyone still buys that.
If he's saying that they are infringing Microsoft's own patents then why can't he give examples, and why haven't Microsoft already been taking legal action? They sure don't seem to be afraid of doing so

Just wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853358)

If you can't beat them threaten to sue their customers. I wonder how the general public would react if Microsoft's constant thinly veiled threats were actually reported by anyone other than obscure tech sites like slashdot?

Counter with more speech, not a speech ban (2)

wheelbarrow (811145) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853368)

This subject making is presented in a way that implies that some sort of legal authority be brought to bear to make Ballmer shut up. I say that the best way to counter mis-information is with good information. I'd rather live in a society where people fight back against this sort of thing rather than whine, cry foul, and expect mommy to make him stop.

Re:Counter with more speech, not a speech ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853523)

Think the WTO.

Internationism can suck my ass, but MS will use any means that they can think of to maintain their monopoly.

pirated copies of linux (5, Funny)

stonebeat.org (562495) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853370)

maybe MS prefers that the asian countries use pirated copies of Windows instead of pirated copies of Linux ;)

Re:pirated copies of linux (2, Insightful)

pllewis (634741) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853517)

They probable do. Isn't this really the way MS got it's foothold on the PC market. How many people back in the 90's got a copy or gave a copy to someone else, not that it still doesn't got on.

Ho hum (2, Interesting)

dprust (316840) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853374)

I'm getting bored of seeing these patent lawsuits. To think that insurance companies exist just to sell insurance against such lawsuits shows just how pathetic our patenting system is. *yawn*

What ever happened to winning by doing better than the competition, anyway? Are American corporations so pathetic that they have to stoop to this level to compete now?

Re:Ho hum (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853497)

``What ever happened to winning by doing better than the competition, anyway? Are American corporations so pathetic that they have to stoop to this level to compete now?''

You just said it. They are competing by doing better than the competition. Just that they are trying to win over not customers but judges. It's probably easier that way - customers are either stuck on Windows or addicted to free - either way you won't get a lot of money from them.

Writing software doesn't make you money anymore, so you have to look elsewhere. Some companies provide value added services. But that's only for the big guys; who's going to buy them if you don't have brand recognition? Anyone can support a Linux installation - so unless you're big, you have to compete with all the other small guys. That, again, means little money. Fortunately, the USPTO creates new opportunities for making money!

Re:Ho hum (1)

AVee (557523) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853538)

What ever happened to winning by doing better than the competition, anyway? Are American corporations so pathetic that they have to stoop to this level to compete now?

Erm, do you really want me to answer that question?

But it's not just American corporations, it happens in europe as well, although a bit less i think. It's is at least very common among big corporations...

Re:Ho hum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853604)

You realise that you talking about Microsoft, right?

And why the hell do you think that Microsoft == American coporations?

Novell, IBM, Redhat, and many others are specificly American Corporations and especially Redhat isn't going to go around suing anybody for patent violations. In fact more money, time, and code go into free software from American Corporations then any other group that I can think off.

Microsoft is microsoft. There like a Enron. A bunch of fucking assholes. But most business in the US isn't anything like that. Also remember that although big corporations are big and nasty usually more then 75% of business (according to employment) that goes on in the US is carried out by small businesses, which are privately owned companies run by individuals.

Quit with the overgeneralizations already.

Patent Law (2, Insightful)

teiresias (101481) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853377)

While the long arm of United States patent law cannot be enforced in the Asian countries Balmer accuses, I am sure he is referring to the influence that will be exerted (directly and indirectly) to these countries by Microsoft and it's respective surrogates.

Does anyone know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853384)

if patent no. 75842962989 ("Making silly movements to modern pop-music in front of an amazed audience") has also been violated by any Linux developer?

Re:Does anyone know (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853432)

Hehehe...I get the joke, but I would hardly call "Get On Your Feet" as modern. :)

Re:Does anyone know (0)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853461)

Yes. See Dance Dance Revolution.

MS: Please, sue the governments first... (1)

AVee (557523) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853386)

That will be a nice test cases for the legal status of Open-Source. And when they lose it will make govs think about their intellectual property laws. Some govs might finally stop listening to the 'advice' of big cooperations once they feel the consequences for themselfs. Either way it means improvement... But i'm not that hopefull, MS is just spreading FUD again, i don't think Ballmer will go as far as sueing govs, he isn't that dumb either. But other might...

FUD, FUD, FUD (2, Insightful)

rkhalloran (136467) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853389)

(a) The EU is moving away from software patents (b) the majority of nations in Asia don't have them AFAIK (c) many governments are pushing OSS for open, stable file formats and to promote local entrepreneurs in development and support areas.

I suppose with the SCO FUD-fest against Linux imploding, that Ballmer feels the need to spread FUD direct from the source to combat the Penguin Horde advancing on the Gates of Redmond.

So what if they sue? (4, Insightful)

kindofblue (308225) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853394)

Just curious, since I'm not an international lawyer, what happens if somebody sues a Chinese company. Can't China just claim that they will not honor any software patents on any software or on Linux specifically? It's not like they have a history of respecting other countries IP rights.

The US could complain to the WTO or somebody, but they are toothless. China is too big to start a trade war with.

Poland just recently decided against supporting software patents in the EU. Does that mean they will not respect other countries' patents on software or just that they will not go along with Europe issuing them?

Re:So what if they sue? (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853536)

One wonders what ramifications this has for, say, Red Flag Linux.
You have to weigh up the willingness of China to promote itself as a country worth doing business with (following WTO rules helps here!) with its willingness to protect Chinese industry (and government projects) against the threats of US businessmen (ie. Ballmer).

Maybe there will be some fudge. The WTO recently ruled against US gambling law which, failing appeals, might see the US using its right to change the conditions of its membership of the WTO.
One can imagine a market with growth potential like China's being so attractive that they feel this is a strength in their hand when working out what they can get away with, but again you have to consider the amount foreign business will want to push things given they want to get into that market so badly...
Oh for a crystal ball!

Re:So what if they sue? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853594)

Wow, YAAL (You Are A Lawyer), ALOS (A Lawyer On Slashdot)!

The WTO is already bending some of its rule to let in China. It seems they're ignoring their rules on human rights because opening new avenues for trade and profit are far more important. So they may bend IP rules as well. However, IP rules are directly related to profit for the companies of WTO members. The WTO will pick the path which brings them the most money.

Ballmer is a pox mark on life (1)

Locdonan (804414) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853398)

Who the hell made him the lawyer for asia? on American Law!? Ballmer is bringing Microsoft to a new low, and thats saying something.

Lots of companies infringe on each other's patents and they settle back and forth, and make concessions. Besides, if you are running a corporate version that you are paying for support, wouldn't you be able to argue that the corp selling their version is resopnsible. you do not write the code, you run it! I wouldn't expect to be sued for Microsoft's stupidity.

Just another typical day on Planet Ballmer... (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853399)

...where the sun is rapidly setting on certain parts of his windows operation. The man might be a good businessman but he doesn't seem to realise that making veiled threats does not intimidate people as it does in the west , in asia its considered extremely rude and gets their backs up and hence they're MORE likely to be contrary and ignore you and your company even further.

Re:Just another typical day on Planet Ballmer... (1)

jai0 (789339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853490)

Nobody ever knows who built open-source software..
I strongly suggest Mr.Ballmer to read this [linuxworld.com] . This will hopefully give him a clue..

First thing that comes to mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853400)

WHO THE F*CK is microsoft to WARN?

No law (2, Insightful)

lildogie (54998) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853401)

> Apparently, Steve Ballmer believes he can enforce U.S. law in Asia.

No, I think he's counting on it that Asia cannot prosecute Microsoft under U.S.A. racketeering laws.

Re:No law (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853444)

yeah, well they have their own racketeering laws over there and don't seem to be using them either...

Typical...... (0, Redundant)

Annihilon (832269) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853404)

Enforcing US laws in Asia? Good luck MS - we will all have a laugh while you make an a** of yourself.

Re:Typical...... (4, Insightful)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853535)

I don't think the point is enforcing U.S. law in Asia so much as it's forcing an Asian company to comply with U.S. law if they want to do business in the U.S. or with a U.S. company.

People and companies outside the U.S. have legal action taken against them in U.S. courts all the time. While they can't necessarily do anything to that person/company in their own country, they can effect the status of that person/company with regards to dealings in and with the U.S. In layman's terms, that person/company is put on the shit list.

Is this guy for real? (1)

cpn2000 (660758) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853406)

Does this guy just wake up every morning, and decide that he is going to get himself in the news by making inflammatory statements/claims?

I believe the real war for M$ is in the trenches, and Ballmer making these stupid statements from time to time has only got to unnerve his customers (rather than his competitors).

What they really need to be doing is getting aggressive on making deals happen using price points that will work (which they are already doing), and work on improving their image as far as security goes (something they dont seem to have a high priority for). This type of arm-twisting may have worked in the past, but so far it has made no dent in the OSS roadmap.

indemnification (1)

hthb (798809) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853407)

"Maybe someone should point out that Microsoft is battling dozens of patent-infringement lawsuits itself, and any user of Microsoft software (including governments) could also be sued?" Am I remembering incorrectly, or hasn't Microsoft indemnified all it's customers from patent infringment in MS products?

FUD, FUD and more FUD (2, Insightful)

thodu (530182) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853422)

The original report said that the kernel potentially (since they are non-court validated) infringes an estimated 283 patents. And now Ballmer is sure that all of the issued patents are actually valid.

This sort of MBA doublespeak makes my blood boil!

And open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853423)

Maybe someone should point out that Microsoft is battling dozens of patent-infringement lawsuits itself,

And not to mention, the open source in it's products... If you could prove a open source module exists you could invoke a derived works clause...

I wonder if google collects Redmond requests for source code?

Windows is more secure? (4, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853430)

We think our software is far more secure than open-source software. It is more secure because we stand behind it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software.

Hilarious. That is like saying "I am the strongest man in the world because I have brown hair, I wear shoes, and I am standing here right now."

Actually, He Probably Can (1)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853434)

Despite the fact that Asia is notorious for being a den of thieves when it comes to software, I'd bet that Microsoft can lean on enough people who can lean on the right people over in Asia to crack down.

And well they should. If the patents are bullshit then the lawsuits will put them permanently six feet under and if they're legit then Linux can fix itself for the future. Wah wah. Patents are coming. Boo hoo.

You will buy our software or else (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853458)

Ironic that Microsoft advocate the choice of software based on its merits rather than just jumping on the open-source bandwagon. Then they basically say not to choose software other than Microsoft as we'll sue you.

Surely Microsoft should target the vendor not the recipient of the software? that is if there's anything but FUD in their argument.

It just shows how desperate they are becoming.

US law? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853465)

Patent law, like copyright law, is essentially international in nature. You can be granted patents in any number of different countries; it's possible that MS holds patents in the relevant countries, not just in the US.

Besides which, a significant number of the projects that may be targetted are developed in the States, and thus fall under US patent laws. They may not have a case overseas, but that won't matter much if they cut the legs out from under the project. Sure, with open source you can take over development yourself, but most people simply won't want or be able to.

I know who's building open-source sofware (1)

boule75 (649166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853469)

"Nobody ever knows who built open-source software."

Hey, Steve! Just compile a Linux kernel and you will discover at last the joy to use some home-built software!

cd /usr/src/linux/
make

...

BBC-news coverage. (2, Informative)

AVee (557523) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853470)

The BBC has an article [bbc.co.uk] about it as well. It has a nice tough at the end:

Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, has the most to lose should Linux use spread.

This nicely puts Balmers statement in the correct perspective for the readers that aren't 'into the bussiness'. I like that...

Aha! (1)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853492)

Apparently, Steve Ballmer believes he can enforce U.S. law in Asia.

So *that*'s who is really going to replace Ashcroft as AG. The whole Alberto Gonzales thing was just a red herring.

Countries should laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853507)

"Apparently, Steve Ballmer believes he can enforce U.S. law in Asia"

Can any country really take the US seriously anymore? Haven't we become a parody on ourselves?

From our elected officials to our foreign policies to our biased media and corrupt corporations.

How long can we fool ourselves?

Does anybody know Steve's birth day? (4, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853513)

Does anybody know when Steve's birthday is? I'd like to get him a monocle, a fake scar, and a white cat.

I think he can pull that look off better than Bill can.

Either that, or a pinstripe suit - so he can do the "Nice OS you have hear. It'd be a shame if anything were to happen to it" thing better.

Assumed ACE (4, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853521)

I think M$ is planning this as a last ditch. I think they are being very wary of how they approach Linux as a competitor in hopes that suits like SCO's will stifle Linux. Now that it's becoming obvious that SCO's suit isn't likely to succeed, they are hedging their bets with patents. I think this could ultimately backfire on them even if they hold these patents. Prior art is one aspect they aren't figuring on. Another is the fact that Linux is being adopted by a lot of companies and governments. To go into court in, say, 3-4 years and try to sue bsed on these patents might not sit well with a judge. Especially some of the more silly patents. They could come off as looking like they let the patents go unchallenged and simply enforced them in an effort to stifle competition. Whatever the case, having IBM, Novell, and more big companies backing Linux is only going to help.

the 21st century will be China's century (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853528)

MS needs to figure out a way to get into that untaped resource, that is what balmer is trying to do, he isn't stupid

They will be the cash cow in 10 years, i am starting to pickup chinese while i am starting to prepare for IP Law. i think it will be benificial to have that skill.

The ultimate test (1)

Znort (634569) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853529)

I am really going to watch this closely. If countries can be bullied by a corparation into buying their software this will redefine the whole "Choice" concept. Some tried to sue because changing laws were impacting business but this is new. It make me wonder if this situation will not trigger a diplomacy crisis because isn't Microsoft trying the "Offer you can't refuse" trick to an entire continent ?

SCO case times 10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853532)

I absolutely hope this doesn't go to the extent SCO has taken it, as otherwise this will get REAL ugly...

Microsoft says: (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853550)

Okay fine! If you're not our customer, prepare to be sued for it!

While I generally take legal threats and action fairly seriously, my knee-jerk reaction is that Microsoft will be laughed out of the arena on this one. This would be a persuit that would turn the public against them. I can see the IBM propaganda commercials on TV now. They'd be depicting a hobbyist writing making something in their garage or basement followed quickly by a SWAT team with guns pointed at his head.

While it's true that business has taken a natural interest in Linux. It's free, it's reliable, it's flexible, it's customizable and it's everywhere and simply growing and growing. It can't be stopped. Anything that Microsoft does againt the users of Linux will certainly make them look even more evil in the public's eye than ever before.

Public opinion has turned against the RIAA and MPAA because they're now known for suing children and little old ladies. Clear Channel has bad enough vibe out there that they are operating under the names of the companies they bought out just to hide their identity since many people no longer want to go to Clear Channel events. Most people accept Microsoft as part of their computer like a keyboard, mouse or monitor. But when people and small businesses start getting sued and the public gets wind of it, not only will it serve as free advertisement for the new "Underdog" but it'll cause a lot of negative opinion against Microsoft. Apple will start collecting more fans as their next home PC will be a happy-faced G5 running something that's not Microsoft.

Go ahead Microsoft... make my day.

MS CANT use patents to stifle competition (4, Interesting)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853553)

Their threats are empty. They are CONVICTED of being a monopoly and illegally USING that power to force themselves into dominance in other markets.

If MS attempts to use a patent to stifle Linux uptake, the courts can strip the patent from them even if it IS a valid patent.

Microsoft threatening like this is the best thing that has ever happened to those of us who oppose software patents. MS is huge and rich, but compared to the rest of the US and world economy, they are a flyspeck. Microsoft seems to be ACTIVELY trying to turn the whole world AGAINST them.

Funny how Ballmer is sounding like Darl McBride...

If you are a former customer, expect to be sued. You have our "presssccciiooouss" IP.

Suing your customers, or THREATENING to sue your customers is not a proven successful business tactic.

IBM has more patents than God, and their business interest is in protecting Linux. I am not too worried about MS or someone sucessfully getting Linux stopped via software patents, and the attempt will do more to teach our business community and our government that software patents are bad and should be abolished or limited in scope.

For one thing, companies should have to choose: Copyright or patent. They can have one or the other, not BOTH.

the problem (1)

subzero_ice (624972) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853559)

"We think our software is far more secure than open-source software. It is more secure because we stand behind it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software."

Mr Ballmer, there is a diffrence between crackpot thoughts and facts. I suppose as a CEO you must have been advised at one point or another to check for facts and crackpot thoughts before presenting them. Or do you speak from your a** all the time?

Why am I not surprised? (3, Interesting)

asrgomes (130880) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853573)

This is just another public manifestation of the tactics used by MSFT. FUD FUD FUD....

But it is quite intesting to notice the effect this type of argument has on some IT people. The other day one of our clients (a manager of a US company) tried to explain me (and my team) how all open-source licenses are dangerous. It was kinda funny, because he couldnt event tell the difference between acronyms such as GNU, GPL, LGPL, CPL, MPL, etc. Basically, open-source is bad because lawyers told him so, although he was unable to cite any real example. I got really upset.

Yeah, Ballmer's arguments make a lot of sense from his own perspective. MSFT wishes to thank SCO...

BSD, Linux, whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853583)

Who really cares? We can compile just about anything for any POSIX system. So the kernel might have patent issues, use a different kernel. So the office software might use a stupid patent, use different office software. For business uses, I don't see any problem in avoiding the issue by evasive means. If it MS claims *BSDs use patented software too, then they'll have a lot more PO'd companies to deal with anyways.

New patent. I 0wn y00 all!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10853597)

A method by which an minute electrical signal automatically originates from an organic controller, is carried by organic equivalents of wires to a group of organic actuators, thereby causing attached organic diaphram to move, bringing in oxygen to sacs where carbon dioxide is exchanged with oxygen.

I 0wn breathing now .. y00 will 0w3 me for licensing!!!

all y00r br3aths belong to me

Thanks, OSRM! (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853615)

How nice that OSRM, presumably pro-Linux, has provided such potent fodder for Steve Balmer. I've always thought the whole Linux indemnification thing was dangerous, and now we see that is true, it was only a matter of time before it was used against Linux. Thanks, OSRM!

Intolerance (1)

JMZorko (150414) | more than 9 years ago | (#10853621)

I am growing very intolerant of deceitful practices, fear-mongering, etc. With the RIAA, MS, SCO, and our current **cough** administration, powers seem to have aligned to try to turn me from a bright-eyed idealist looking for solutions, to a jaded, apathetic part of the problem. This makes me very angry (which is another thing I rarely was before).

Is it just me? Is being pissed at all manner of things just part of growing up?

Regards,

John

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