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Ballmer Suggests Linux Distros Will Soon Have to Pay Up

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the oh-good-more-smack-talk dept.

Patents 520

An anonymous reader writes "Via Groklaw comes comments from Microsoft's Steve Ballmer at a UK event, in which the company once again threatens Linux distributions that haven't signed up with their program. '"People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us," Ballmer said last week ... Ballmer praised Novell at the UK event for valuing intellectual property, and suggested that open source vendors will be forced to strike similar deals with other patent holders. He predicted that firms like Eolas will soon come after open source vendors or users. Microsoft paid $521m to settle a patent claim by Eolas in August.'"

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Which IPs in particular? (5, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 7 years ago | (#20909857)

I couldn't tell from the article, but which intellectual property is MS saying open source solutions are infringing on? Or am I misunderstanding the issue?

Re:Which IPs in particular? (2, Funny)

j35ter (895427) | about 7 years ago | (#20909885)

It says *Balmer* made the statement. Why do you think there might be any truth in his saying ? :)

Re:Which IPs in particular? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20909967)

Ahhh, gotcha.

A chair throwing patent.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (5, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20909903)

I couldn't tell from the article, but which intellectual property is MS saying open source solutions are infringing on?

      Not just from the article. They refuse to say, have been asked to spell it out, and continue to threaten without making any specific claim. After a while you just learn to tune them out.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (5, Informative)

Jerry (6400) | about 7 years ago | (#20910105)

They refuse to say, have been asked to spell it out, and continue to threaten without making any specific claim.

Which is exactly why they are, by now, UNENFORCEABLE.

The IP laws require that when an IP owner notices an infringement they have an obligation to notify the infringer of the exact nature of the infringement in order to allow them to mitigate the damages by removing the infringement. Failure to do that will render any subsequent claims for damage moot.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (5, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | about 7 years ago | (#20910191)

Amusing thought...

With patent infringement, there's "accidental infringement" and "willful infringement," with treble damages on the latter, because of evil intent.

At the moment, the Linux camp is milling around saying, "Patents, what patents? Show us the patents!" and it can be pretty well "documented" with press releases and blogs. Seems to me that it would be pretty darned hard to show any sort of evil intent.

But there are also laws against frivolous lawsuits, SLAPP, and such. Seems to me that threatening IP action without specifics, without opportunity to mitigate, especially when the threatenee has been asking for those specifics, ought to go a long way to landing the threatener in that "bad lawsuit" camp.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (4, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | about 7 years ago | (#20910451)

Just posing a couple questions here...

Don't these kinds of threats put MS in legal jeopardy? Couldn't Linux companies sue MS claiming that Balmer's statements are harming their business, especially in light of the fact that MS refuses to identify these patents? I would think that this situation could cause more problems with the EU.

The DOJ of course is completely hopeless at this point, but other countries can still offer some relief.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1, Informative)

Macthorpe (960048) | about 7 years ago | (#20910197)

For what seems to be the nine billionth time, no. Copyrights require that they are defended, not patents.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (4, Informative)

hypnotik (11190) | about 7 years ago | (#20910287)

Actually, that would be trademarks.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (5, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 7 years ago | (#20910341)

For what seems to be the nine billionth time, no.

Make it 9000,000,001.

The non-presumptive laches defense applies specifically to this circumstance.

Although a presumption of laches arises where the patentee brings suit more than six years after gaining actual or constructive knowledge of defendant's infringing activities, the defense of laches is not defined by any specific period of time. Any period of time may be found to amount to unreasonable delay, depending on the facts present, although shorter delays are less likely to trigger the defense. []

Because the Open Invention Network and others have repeatedly requested that Microsoft identity the infringing code, the laches defence becomes non-presumptive much earlier.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20910539)

MOD PARENT UP! If you're not understanding what he's saying, due to all the legalese, it's this:

If Microsoft fails to sue a patent infringer, even though they have demonstrated that they know the infringement exists, then tries to file suit later, the doctrine of laches kicks in -- Microsoft failed to mitigate their own damages by bringing a suit as early as possible in order to get the infringer to stop. What this means is that, with the laches defense, Microsoft would lose standing to sue -- because if they were getting damaged by the 'patent infringers', they should have sued in a timely fashion.

The bottom line is this: Microsoft's claims of patent infringement are spurious, slanderous, and, since they invoked the name of Red Hat, a violation of the Lanham Act.

So here's what I say: after the SCO case gets dismissed, Red Hat, your next target should be Microsoft.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

tsa (15680) | about 7 years ago | (#20910309)

That doesn't matter. MS has much more money that Redhat and is able to sue them to oblivion even without proof.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

tsa (15680) | about 7 years ago | (#20910347)

Oops, that/than

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

masdog (794316) | about 7 years ago | (#20910499)

But they don't have more money or patents than IBM...

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 7 years ago | (#20910595)

>Running with Linux for over 9 years!
Time you upgraded then - That RedHat 0.8 is looking a bit long in the tooth.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (0, Troll)

weicco (645927) | about 7 years ago | (#20910299)

And if this is the same article I just read elsewhere (I don't have the time to read TFA now) MS didn't threaten anyone. All they said was basically "if you sue us for patent infringment, why don't you sue open source gang also?" So no threats, they are just asking that others should also suffer because of stupid patents.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | about 7 years ago | (#20910489)

So what do you think Ballmer meant when he said that Novell had signed a deal with Microsoft which allowed Novell to use Microsofts IP in Linux whilst Red Hat had not and should be obligated to pay Microsoft for their contribution to the IP Red Hat use in their products.

Sounds like a threat to me !

Amusingly this speech took place in the UK which doesn't recognise software patents in the first place.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (4, Insightful)

arkham6 (24514) | about 7 years ago | (#20910485)

This translates to:

We don't have anything specific yet,but we are busy digging through the source looking for infringing content. As soon as we get something even semi legit we will show you. Until then, we will make idle threats.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (4, Funny)

germ!nation (764234) | about 7 years ago | (#20909925)

If SCO has taught us anything it's that you don't have to tell anyone the details, even the judge.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (2, Interesting)

Jaxoreth (208176) | about 7 years ago | (#20909961)

which intellectual property is MS saying open source solutions are infringing on?
The ones in the flying pink teapot the size of a refrigerator.

Well not software patents in the UK (2, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 years ago | (#20910031)

Well not software patents in the UK.... they are supposed to be non enforcible.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

mister_woods (949290) | about 7 years ago | (#20910085)

I find it rather strange that Ballmer makes his demands for Linux users to pay Microsoft for patent infringements in my country, the United Kingdom, that does not (and hopefully will never) recognise software patents.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (1)

init100 (915886) | about 7 years ago | (#20910505)

In your country, it's called Computer-Implemented Inventions instead, and I've heard that the UK patent office actually helps applicants word their patents correctly to cover software even if software patents "as is" are not enforceable.

Re:Details of the IP in question (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#20910235)

but which intellectual property is MS saying open source solutions are infringing on?

Let's make it simple.. Take a lot of code and patent a few ideas. Someone else does the same. In review as your code gets complicated, you may very well have used someone else's IP in your implimentation. Often in a patent dispute regarding code, the countersuit results in a cross license agreement. IBM and others have war chests full of patents to protect FOSS against attacks.

MS hints at an attack as part of the FUD campaign. If they launch a real attack, the code of Windows will be put on the operating table for dissection for infringements. See any problems with this? Just to show an easy to see example, Microsoft was sued over the use of a trash can in Windows. That is why they have a recycle bin. Apple owns the trash can.

Now look at a copy of Ubuntu. It has a little box with a recycle logo in view right on the desktop. They call it the Trash. Who can sue? Apple, Microsoft? If Microsoft sues, guess what happens to tabbed browsing in IE7. This is something showing on the surface. Start digging into functionality and the fight could get ugly for Microsoft. The bigger the code, the bigger the possiblilty of infringment of someone else's pattent. The code doesn't get much bigger than Vista for the desktop.

Can you say HUGE BULLSEYE? The noise is just noise. It is intended to slow down the implimentation and keep obvious duplication of features to a minimum by the competition by raising the question of costly litigation. It's just the ongoing FUD campaign.

Prior art and other discoveries in a court battle could be very damaging to many of Microsoft's patents. If they don't name them, they can't be shot down.

Re:Details of the IP in question (2, Insightful)

CodeShark (17400) | about 7 years ago | (#20910369)

The problem is that most of the PHB's [] in the world is that they won't see your comment, and those that have Red Hat Linux on the table for consideration may see the innaccurate statements and accept as real and shift their purchasing $$ to another company, say, Novell's Linux or if Ballmer's wet dreams come true --an MS platform.

What it points out is that for the giant in Redmond, business is business, and the truth doesn't matter. Microsoft also has a nickname (Microsloth) for much of their own IP -- it's been purchased, code pirated (my term for their clone products which have triggered numerous lawsuits most settled out of court against M$ to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars) -- but a deserved sharklike reputation for FUD. []

Note to the pointy haired bosses: Ignore the bald man in the M$ suit from Redmond -- chances are that if his lips are moving, he's being shifty with the truth to try and get your money. Cover your wallet and walk away quickly.

Re:Which IPs in particular? (2, Informative)

rtyhurst (460717) | about 7 years ago | (#20910555)

That's the whole point.

They *aren't* saying, they're just FUD-ing.

From a linked story at [] ...Mark Taylor, president of the Open Source Consortium [...] described Microsoft's tactics in damning terms.

"We say show us the patents," he told "This has been the strategy against open source all along. It's precisely the same tactics as SCO used: implied threats and mafia techniques. This is just FUD. It's smoke and mirrors. "

Taylor added that Microsoft is sorely mistaken if it hopes that its actions will slow down the spread of open source. ....

M$ has a history of trying to protect and extend its domination over the software market with legal wars and threats of legal wars.

With the failure of VISTA, and IE getting serious competition from Firefox, M$ isn't so much a software company any more so much as a litigation company.

I say they have richly earned the thumping they will receive at the hands of Open Source over the next few years.

Microsoft is a toddler (4, Informative)

mikesd81 (518581) | about 7 years ago | (#20909859)

It seems that Microsoft is becoming more and more like a little kid every day. I just don't understand how in any normal world they can stay in business. All they do is spit out the same FUD every chance they get. It's like the boy who called wolf.

Re:Microsoft is a toddler (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20909901)

He's saying that in UK, but the US patent law is void there and European directive never passed (and EPO has a strict policy). So those are empty threats which few will take seriosly.

MS is scared shitless (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 7 years ago | (#20910573)

No, not because of linux on the desktop, not even of linux on the server. What it is scared of that with 95% of the desktop it still does NOT control the market. Oh it controls consumers but consumers are fickle. Consumers will buy whatever is cool at the moment. iPhone? Not MS software. iPod not MS software. Mobile phones not MS software. Media centers not MS software. Cars not MS software. Biggest selling console not MS software.

MS has had very little success getting its software onto something else then the PC despite the fact that many would claim that to Joe Public computing IS microsoft. Just how then do you explain that so few choose their phone to have a windows version? Why does the Zune not sell?

And all the while that pesky opensource remains there, undefeated, unwilling to adopt, making small gains perhaps but never just giving up like it is supposed too.

No linux on the desktop ain't going to happen anytime soon, but that is not what MS is really afraid off, it doesn't fear that it is going to loose 95% of the desktop market, but that that market itself will stop growing or even shrink.

Is that likely? Don't matter, what matters is what MS thinks. They been pushing the end of the desktop of ages (and then claiming it will outlive everything) so they worry when they don't see themselves being the software supplier of choice in this new market.

Take google, is google ran its servers on windows as it should (in MS view) do you really think Ballmer would be throwing any chairs? No, it is the realisation that MS one way or another is NOT making a penny out of google (well a few thousand desktop sales perhaps but who cares about that).

None of the mobile phone companies have yet properly chosen Windows as the one and only OS and just keep on insisting on experimenting with software that does not make MS any money.

Nintendo? Do you really think MS was pleased when they included opera as the browser? Do you realize just what this means? Several MILLION people will see for the first time in their live a NEW browser. MS does not like this, it does not survive well when people have a choice, especially when this choice is the default and just works out of the box. That ain't how MS works.

It gets worse, not just are individual consumers learning there are choices and not choosing MS as their software supplier, companies like IBM, HP, Dell are showing that they are far from the loyal lapdogs MS thought they were. Oh the revolution ain't there yet, it may never happen, but if you are a despot and you hear a voice shouting OFF WITH HIS HEAD and you see your "loyal" guards knod in agreement, it is time to worry.

If you think a company like IBM would not relish a change to see MS humbled, you do not understand human nature.

Then their are countries, China is a huge unexplored market, it should buy MS software NOT mess around with linux even if it is just sales tactics. That is not how MS works, it doesn't compete, it dominates. The old example of Munich must be mentioned, for the first time in decades MS was faced with a counter proposal and they reacted instantly by not just lowering the price but by the way of free training and more effectly making MS pay munich to deploy windows. Still no takers. You know you are in trouble when you can't PAY people to use your software.

No, the revolution won't come in 2007 or 2008. Most likely it will never come, it is already here. When was the last time you came across an IE only website? How many years have you been able to file your taxes from Linux/Mac? (Holland several years now) Java programs are finally getting traction, just look at P2P.

AMD opens it graphics cards to opensource, a thing many said was impossible, Intel already heavily supports opensource drivers for its hardware. Are there any giant PC makers left that do not sell Linux no matter how obscurely? Lots of hardware makers now mention linux in their support list.

Oh, it is all small stuff, but it is there and MS is scared, scared because it made a lot of enemies, scared because the user is not as locked in as MS likes it or even the user himself realizes, scared because the world ain't operating as it thought it did.

Take KDE4, if you look at what it promises, you see a close resemblence to Vista (or OSX) except that it ain't going to cost you 300 dollars to upgrade. Enlightenment 0.17 does a lot of the eyecandy as well, except on hardware that would croak under Vista. And again, for free.

Does this matter? E17 was going to be the window manager for Yellow Dog Linux on the PS3. So? The PS3 is selling like the zune. Should MS care? Perhaps not but it did, the plan was canccelled and that shows the final thing MS fears.

Linux can't go bankrupt and it can't be bought. Linux officially on the PS3 failed, the PS3 might take Sony but NOT the enlightenment project. If dell stops selling linux that is too bad for that distro, but linux will go on. When MS funded SCO to take Linux down, it resulted in nothing but wasted money. Linux take up did not slow one tiny bit. In fact the only result seems to have been to give MS a worse reputation and Linux a lot of free press.

Don't get me wrong, MS ain't in any danger of going bankrupt anytime soon, but we are not dealing with rational sane people here. This company is run by someone who throws chairs over somebody quiting their job. When someone is insane, you shouldn't bother trying to explain their actions rationally. (Is ballmer insane? Ask yourselve this, if an ordinary person threw his chair at another person over something minor, would they NOT be examined by a shrink after being escorted out by the police?)

Pay you for what? (5, Insightful)

FredDC (1048502) | about 7 years ago | (#20909881)

I use Linux, in part because I didn't want to give you any money anymore, so could you please explain to me why you think I owe you money?

Because I generally don't give money to someone, simply because they tell me I should. I know, it's insane, but I need a reason...

Re:Pay you for what? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20909917)

And if you're paying with your share holder's money, then you are criminally incompetent.

Re:Pay you for what? (1)

HartDev (1155203) | about 7 years ago | (#20909973)

Every time Ballmer speaks it makes me ill, if any Linux or Open Source vendor signs up with them it makes me gag. My father worked on SUSE for about 3 years and then moved to Canada, the politics and whatnot was too much. I hope red hat and ubuntu show Microsoft that no one cares what they think or say!

Re:Pay you for what? (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20910301)

I use Linux, in part because I didn't want to give you any money anymore, so could you please explain to me why you think I owe you money?

Microsoft: Well, you own a computer, don't you?

What IP? (0, Redundant)

sc0ob5 (836562) | about 7 years ago | (#20909887)

What intellectual property was this again?

Re:What IP? (3, Insightful)

tgatliff (311583) | about 7 years ago | (#20910419)

Its just FUD because M$ is afraid of the EU slipping from its grips... An example of this would be the Vista adoption rate in the EU... IP is an arms race. Yes, Eolas could definitely try something, but if M$ tried it then IBM would smear then against the wall like a bug with their "IP". What I find interesting is that the OSS world does not give enough credit for what IBM does for OSS... It is my opinion that without the help of IBM to Linux, M$ would have done considerable damage...

Yeah, but.. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20909891)

Eolas actually told them what patent they were supposedly infringing.

Anyway, let it be said *again*. If you pay Microsoft, or anyone, for a license to "unspecified patents" then you are an *idiot* and I hope you get sued by your share holders.

Re:Yeah, but.. (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 years ago | (#20909981)

Microsoft are infringing upon my unspecified patents too, you have an obligation to compensate me...

Mr Ballmer, if your listening, i would like $504,000,000 as-well please, you do have to respect unspecified intellectual property remember.

Re:Yeah, but.. (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 7 years ago | (#20910471)

I, too, am Sparticus. With money.

hmmm... (5, Funny)

Enoxice (993945) | about 7 years ago | (#20909911)

The real life equivalent of the AI meeting with the player every turn to say "we demand tribute for our patience" and demanding gold and technology. Too bad I can't have my usual response: a full-out attack, leaving their names to the annals of history! muahaha!

I don't play too much CivII, do I?

Re:hmmm... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20909989)

The AIs are only interested in chance. Just offer them an even game and they won't be able to refuse. Much cheaper than a court case.

I don't watch too much S:AAAB [] , do I?

Re:hmmm... (2, Funny)

Jaxoreth (208176) | about 7 years ago | (#20909997)

The real life equivalent of the AI meeting with the player every turn to say "we demand tribute for our patience" and demanding gold and technology.
So would this be the standard AI, or the neurotic [] one?

Re:hmmm... (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 7 years ago | (#20910065)

I wonder if microsoft will, like the game, continue to offer "your last chance" when you have 10 tanks surrounding its town..

Re:hmmm... (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 7 years ago | (#20910165)

It's a strange game; the only way to win is not to play.

IP Violations, Eolas? (1)

perlfu2 (946921) | about 7 years ago | (#20909921)

Iirc, Microsoft has yet to fully, or even partially disclsoe their IP holdings in regards to open source. Merely threatening with.. something. I also tend to wonder what Eolas claims regarding IE activeX controls has to do with open source vendors.

Suddenly, I like Ballmer a little less (3, Interesting)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 7 years ago | (#20909929)

Suddenly, I like Ballmer a little less. Possibly, the Linux foundation's [] will harness those feelings; it is after all supported by HP, Ericsson, Nokia, Novell, IBM, RedHat, and ... Microsoft... WTF?!

Re:Suddenly, I like Ballmer a little less (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 7 years ago | (#20910055)

don't worry, they'll sue each of those companies you list in turn ... and win.
win like you know who.

Can you blame him? (1)

nahpets77 (866127) | about 7 years ago | (#20910077)

I can't believe the money involved in these "IP" settlements. Millions of dollars for things like "embedded content in a webpage". MS is at the mercy of patent trolls like everybody else, so MS is using the same gorilla tactics to protect their interests. They had to pay $500 million in a previous settlement.. that's half a billion dollars, for infringing on some supposed IP. Where do they get these numbers from? As long as there's a payoff for stupid patents, we're going to see FUD from MS and others.

Re:Can you blame him? (3, Informative)

Salsaman (141471) | about 7 years ago | (#20910305)

So why don`t they lobby the US government to get rid of software patents ? Why do they lobby in Europe and other places to try and get software patents accepted there ?

The obvious answer is that they benefit more from using their patents to shut down competition than they lose from paying the odd multimillion dollar fine.

We are using Red Hat. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#20909931)

come get us. with something other than empty threats of course.

They must love FUD (5, Informative)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | about 7 years ago | (#20909945)

They keep throwing Novell's name around. Novell has publicly denounced MS' claims about this. []

Re:They must love FUD (1)

nahpets77 (866127) | about 7 years ago | (#20910149)

I don't think it matters. How many people do you think have read that FAQ? MS is using brainwashing tactics by constantly repeating that Novel and Microsoft have signed a patent agreement. Since the agreement really did happen, everything else MS says about Novell, Suse and Linux must be true, right?

Re:They must love FUD (1)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | about 7 years ago | (#20910393)

For people who hate the deal so much, they are sure taking MS at their word...

Re:They must love FUD (2, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | about 7 years ago | (#20910281)

Novell has publicly denounced MS' claims about this.

Hovsepian lies.

It's NOT what they SAY that counts, it's what they DO.

And what Novell does is to continue to PAY MICROSOFT A ROYALTY for each copy of SLES that it sells. Ballmer called that payment the "IP Bridge": []
And you'll see, as well, an economic commitment from Novell to Microsoft that involves a running royalty, a percentage of revenue on open source software shipped under the agreement. .... and we're going to make clear that IP, the patent bridge, the IP bridge is an important thing.

That royalty payment says that NOVELL "BELIEVES" that Linux contains MS IP, even though there has been no proof of such a claim.

Why did Novell do this? Hovsepain claims he couldn't sell SUSE against Windows, which is probably a true statement about his sales ability, but I believe he had $308M other reasons, and a hope that Microsoft's legal pressure on other distros would force FOSS users to move to SLES and pay for it.

He could be right... (4, Interesting)

Jennifer York (1021509) | about 7 years ago | (#20909963)

Ballmer may be right in that some Open Source Software infringes on their patents. I'd be surprised if it were otherwise; they are giving out patents on single click purchasing [] , and even the simple check box []

Microsoft is unlikely to enforce it's patents, but what should scare us are the other Patent Houses where their business model is based on litigation [] . They are the dangerous ones...

the reason microsoft won't show their patents (5, Interesting)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about 7 years ago | (#20909985)

My guess is that any of Microsoft's patents could be coded-around trivially - therefore their patents, once revealed, have no value. Their only value is as a bargaining tool (cudgel).

Re:the reason microsoft won't show their patents (1)

dvice_null (981029) | about 7 years ago | (#20910273)

I think that patents won't hold in court, because they are too trivial or have prior art.

- What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge patents?
- No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to.

Ballmer talking repect is like Bush talking peace (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910003)

the only thing worse are all the morons who buy into their evil crap

the real criminals are not in jail

Re:Ballmer talking repect is like Bush talking pea (1, Offtopic)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about 7 years ago | (#20910477)

or Bush talking about "US leadership" on the global warming issue..

Reiterating the call for proof (1)

dustwun (662589) | about 7 years ago | (#20910017)

Well, I suppose it's time to trot out the old standby articles for this of Linus demanding proof. Torvalds on Microsoft [] I really don't want to hate Microsoft, or any other company really. I just for once wish that companies would treat people (employees, customers, competitors, etc) with respect. It is still possible to do business and battle with someone and respect them at the same time. This seems to be a lost art for many.

Stage three (5, Insightful)

Dexter77 (442723) | about 7 years ago | (#20910019)

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win." - Mahatma Gandhi

I see we're on stage three now.

Re:Stage three (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about 7 years ago | (#20910153)

I like this saying, nevermind that is overused here, in /. However, to achieve stage four, we will have to fight.

We will have several fronts to do that - first, code, features and working distros/software, second, legal standings, antitrust, more lobbying (it can be also honest stuff), more civil activities against software patents, third, real talking to the people, welcoming them to our world. Be polite, help them, give them resources, materials to research. Give most interest to kids, because they love open source after they get their teeth in.

We won't have chance to sit out this one, I think, because it's Microsoft - they maybe greedy, but they ain't stupid.

Re:Stage three (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20910343)

We are fighting. Sit down and enjoy the show.

Seriously, what do you think we're doing? It may appear that we are sitting on our asses typing, but that's HOW you fight this. You can't make a bunch of signs and stand in front of some random government building and get -anything- done about this. You can't blow shit up. You can't even call Microsoft and get anything done. They'll just ignore you. (Yeah, that's back to step 1.)

You can:
Show your boss, fellow employees, family and friends that you understand the situation and explain how it is FUD.
Write in your blog and on Slashod that you understand, etc, etc.
Set up dedicated websites to showing what FUD this is, or contribute to ones that exist.

Notice how all of that is 'fighting' without lifting a fist or even a lawyer? We -can- win this one Gandhi-style... In fact, it's probably the only way we can win it.

IANAL... (2, Interesting)

nimid (774403) | about 7 years ago | (#20910033) would it be possible for Microsoft to settle/lose a non-novel and obvious patent case just so that it would set precedent? (One that would hurt them a little but OSS a LOT)

If this could be done, wouldn't it validate the patent and allow the plaintiff to then go after Open Source Software? It would be a bit like the whole SCO fiasco again but only with the power of the courts behind them.

Thank goodness that in this enlightened age, no-one would collude and pull off something like that.

See the Video (1)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | about 7 years ago | (#20910035)

Re:See the Video (1)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#20910469)

Thanks for the great clip. One of the best parts is Steve gives his e-mail and says e-mail me! I think I will.

Let's force him to put up. (4, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | about 7 years ago | (#20910041)

Isn't there a law to force Ballmer to put up or shut up? Is it possible to go to court to have him clear the air instead of damaging Linux's progress? lawyers please clarify.

Re:Let's force him to put up. (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | about 7 years ago | (#20910089)


Why stand for this? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 years ago | (#20910051)

Shouldn't some of the linux vendors sue microsoft for libel?
If they're making such threats, shouldn't they be required to prove them, and subsequently to pursue their rights (if any) in the matter?
I'm sure if a large company made such threats and claims against microsoft products they would try to do something about it...

Chances are microsoft has little or no claim, and they know if they pursued it they'd get little or no money, the offending code (if any) would be replaced and linux would go on but with the patent threat now lifted. Someone should force their hand by suing them for libel.

To Sue or Not to Sue (1)

McMurphy's_Law (1155161) | about 7 years ago | (#20910073)

via Groklaw, Ballmer said, "We've spent a lot of money licensing patents, when people come to us and say, "Hey, this commercial piece of software violates our patent, our intellectual property, we'll either get a court judgment or we'll pay a big check." ------------- The key concept in that statement is Litigation. That seems to be the M$ business model. It's amazing how similar M$ and $CO are isn't? Makes you wonder where $CO got the idea to sue the Linux community in the first place and we've all seen how well that turned out.

Re:To Sue or Not to Sue (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | about 7 years ago | (#20910125)

Actually, MS is more in to threatening suits than actually carrying them out. This is probably since they'd have to actually show which patents were being infringed, and that's not something they're willing to do at the moment.

Oh, yeah... and... you must be new here.

Re:To Sue or Not to Sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910529)

Yep. Thanks for your comments. I'm Still getting a handle on posting as evidenced by the lousy formating of my post. I didn't notice it before but I suppose you format with html. I'll do better in the future.


Re:To Sue or Not to Sue (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 years ago | (#20910427)

Makes you wonder where $CO got the idea to sue

Darl McBride has a long history of ridiculous litigation. It's nice to try to tie connections up in a nice neat theory but we can't realy blame Darl for driving SCO at high speed into the brick wall that is IBM. Helping after the fact does not mean it was all their idea.

Ballmer is just the example most visable to us of a businessman using stupid and counterproductive intellectual property laws as a weapon against his competators.

Heh (0)

pyster (670298) | about 7 years ago | (#20910079)

While I am sure that linux does infringe upon some MS patents (some related to fat for sure) i call into question the legitimacy of some of those patents and I think ballmer is unwise in making these threats. Why add fuel to the alienation fires? Turn your focus on making a better product that exceeds requirements and expectations of consumers. And not stating what those patents are makes you look silly in the wake of sco.

The OS that truly handles multicores will be the OS that wins. Linux, OSX, Windows... currently they all fail here.

Re:Heh (1)

JustJim0183 (747076) | about 7 years ago | (#20910181)

They whole point is which patents? Be specific. Excactly what code is it that Linux has incorporated that belongs to M$.

Like it has been said earlier, the community would be more then happy to remove it once we know what it is! (especially given M$'s record on quality, it's code that probably needs to be replaced anyway)

Re:Heh (1)

pyster (670298) | about 7 years ago | (#20910303)

yes, but telling the community would allow them to make changes and no longer infringed upon them and remove the ability to spread FUD.

I dont think he is talking about code. He is talking about patents.

MS needs linux to show there is something competing against them. They also need to have linux play well with their products to keep their corporate customers happy. I think ballmer's BS is bad for MS.

btw using "M$" makes ppl look like tools to those who are not religious fan boys. I realize there are alot of them here but still...


xgr3gx (1068984) | about 7 years ago | (#20910081)

Same old story. Show us the patents so the OSS community can rewrite a better version of the alleged infringed code, and knock off this FUD patent Bull Sht.

Is this legal? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 7 years ago | (#20910083)

Does Microsoft expose itself to a Slander of Title, or just plain Slander, lawsuit by making the claims?

How about Unfair Trade Practices?

Or can't RedHat sue for a declaratory judgment that it's *not* violating any MS patents, and having the claims made explicit during discovery?

Fud fud fud (2, Funny)

Fenice (1156725) | about 7 years ago | (#20910099)

Hooo, ~scary~ So what? Eolas is coming for linux users? Weren't we already waiting for Microsoft? What next? Santa Claus maybe? Or a wing of flying chairs? The two only things he is sucessfully discrediting is Microsoft and the distros wich ranked with him (I feel like sorry for Suse to be associated with this man).

Linux's Retaliation (3, Interesting)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | about 7 years ago | (#20910115)

Is there any way we can really sock Microsoft in the Jaw on this? Like, can an organization or Alliance of some kind pre-emptively sue MS to say "You cannot repeatedly make threats that we infringe on your whatever simply because you want to scare people?

Oh yeah? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910119)

Prove it, monkey boy. Show us the code.

I'll pay up! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910133)

As soon as Microsoft pay's up to Xerox for windows. BSD for the Tcp/IP stack. Berkley for nslookup.exe.

and so on and so on. MOST of microsofts products are based on others Intellectual property and violates at least 60-80 patents somewhere.

Hey microsoft. as soo as you are clean I'll come clean. No, I dont consider clean your legal wiggling bullcrap. 100% legit.

as soon as they pay up

excuse me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910151)

I always thought that you can copy a linux CD infinitive times with 0 extra cost.

If that still applies then one can copy the novel cd into their own distribution.

If not, this is a novel feature of Novel linux and should be advertised more!

Does this really surprise You (1)

mdigiac1 (1169929) | about 7 years ago | (#20910223)

Microsoft has been doing this for years. Making idol threats to anyone who has an idea that could potentially cost them profit. This is only happening more now because they realize like I and many others that Windows is a huge pile of crap in a fancy package. The idea of people and companies migrating to linux scares them because it means that they would have to charge less for their os. Also because companie like google and IBM are challenging their office by offering cheaper solutions all they have left to cling onto is their worthless "patents"(whichever one they choose to exploit this time).

Eolas and Open Source .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | about 7 years ago | (#20910225)

"We're in discussions with major players in the Linux world and are working on a plan to resolve the '906 patent issue with the entire Linux community"

"The solution will be supportive of the open-source community"

Michael Doyle Eolas Founder Jan 2004

FUD (1)

wikinerd (809585) | about 7 years ago | (#20910259)

People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us

Dear Microsoft, I perceive your patent threats as a monopoly's attempt to use a broken patent legal system to eradicate competitors.

SCO went into bankruptcy. You will, too, someday.

Intellectual Property (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | about 7 years ago | (#20910269)

According to an article [] in The Inquirer he specifically did not mention patents, but the very gummy "intellectual property" buzzword.

At this point it really feels like there's just rattling empty threats and Mr. Ballmer lost of few more of his marbles.

BTW: Software patents are not enforcable in the EU.

afraid of the oin? (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | about 7 years ago | (#20910317)

in other words: "now that the OIN (open invention network) shut our big mouth [] , we have no other possibility to spread FUD anymore, than saying that OTHERS might sue Linux vendors and users..."

Apes in glass houses shouldn't throw chairs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910325)

Let's not forget that in those countries where the Supreme court have not yet ruled against the stupidity of software patents; Microsoft are target number 1.

Do Microsoft still indemnify their customers against patent claims up to the value of any software licenses? Doesn't this mean that all Microsoft customers have the same liability as linux users, less the value of any licenses? What about Microsoft's undisclosed balance sheet liability with respect to this indemnification? I'm sure they disclosed this to the SEC as is their fiscal duty? Do Microsoft even have the cash reserves to cover a claim up to the total value of their software sales for the last decade?

I'm sick of Ballmers fuck-ugly poker face, it's time the other major tech companies start calling his hand. Software patents are invalid in the EU, can Ballmer give us examples of where he alleges MSFT copyright, trade secrets (because we have loads in these in software) or trademarks have been violated? Guess not, what an asshole!

Tortuous interference in business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910329)

'"People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us,"

The phrase your looking for is "Tortuous interference in business"

Is Microsoft going to repeat SCO ? (1)

jonfr (888673) | about 7 years ago | (#20910349)

I wonder if Microsoft is going to repeat SCO history, that is make claims then go bankrupt. They may have a lot of money now, but the as the saying goes, it is a lot easer to spend money then to earn them. This also applies to companies, even the largest and richest onces (at the moment).

They have a patent on bugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910351)

What has happened, is that M$ has been issued a patent on bugs in software. Hence, almost all software infringes on M$ IP.

More Empty threats! (1)

FirstOne (193462) | about 7 years ago | (#20910375)

It's just another empty threat, because if M$ sued, they would open themselves up to copyright violations/liabilities exceeding their net worth. I.E. Vis-a-vee their Linux lab activities and their employees distribution of 50+ Linux Varients. (Using their linux actiities to improve M$ products, I.E. Copyright violations for PROFIT).

Now, some lawyers may want to argue this point.. But, does M$ really think it can prevail in all of the different jurisdictions around the globe? I doubt it.

Then there are other patent holders who hold a vested interest in Linux.. Do you really think they'll sit still while M$ attacks the code which enables their products.

The furball of lawsuits would probably result in an SCO outcome for M$, broke, deranged, hiding from their NEW creditors in bankruptcy court. Note: BC doesn't work all that well for multinationals as foreign courts will just seize their offshore assets.

Interesting (3, Interesting)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | about 7 years ago | (#20910421)

It will be interesting to see their next step.

Phase 1 was "state the fact about patent infringement".
Phase 2 is now "explain that since the VENDOR wont pay for patents, then the customers will be on the line" Phase 3 ???

Microsoft will eventually HAVE to file a suit or someone will file a suit against them for scare tactics of some sort. I'm sure the Microsoft lawyers understand this, which means they must have a phase 3 in mind. Who will be the first target? And in which court?

Sometimes I think Microsoft can't lose this battle. If their first suit really tests patent law and then win...well then they start the major money collection, and Linux suffers a hit for it's users having legitimate concerns of legality. However if the patent claims are denied...the Microsoft basically has the green light to use the patents owned by countless others. Because of their size and bankroll, they can implement such technologies much quicker than most companies, and they will pull ahead on many fronts.

What for ? (2, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | about 7 years ago | (#20910429)

He predicted that firms like Eolas will soon come after open source vendors or users.

Why would they do that ? They went after Microsoft because Microsoft could actually afford to pay.

Well, shit (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#20910511)

He predicted that firms like Eolas will soon come after open source vendors or users. Microsoft paid $521m to settle a patent claim by Eolas in August.

Now I understand why after MS almost won, they paid 512 million to Eolas.

During the case, Eolas said they're not going after open source software. But now, Microsoft predicts different things. Interesting how they know.

I clearly remember they settled with another patent troll, while they made a deal with them: MS pays so the troll can go after MS' competitors (on the same patent). If the troll knocks the competitors out, MS gets their money back. Otherwise they keep them.

In fact I remember now: it was the joystick vibration patent.

I wouldn't be surprised of MS and Eolas had a cute little talk after which Eolas submitted to be Microsoft's bitch in the "War against Linux" if Eolas gets their money.

Now I like Microsoft, but when I sense dirty tricks made able just the sheer amount of money they can afford to throw away, it pisses me off.

It would be worth paying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910525)

If I could get an itemized receipt.

I'm trying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20910535)

I'm thinking really hard for a single place that MS were innovators. I think I've worked it out - while they've never had an innovative concept in their existence absorbed many software houses along the way that were true innovators. Ballmer seems to be trying to pull some bizarro world magic trick off where he tells everyone there's something up his sleeve then waits for the applause. It's terribly confusing. I call it ConFUD.

Maybe MS is lining up the next SCO (2, Insightful)

JoeCommodore (567479) | about 7 years ago | (#20910553)

He predicted that firms like Eolas will soon come after open source vendors or users. Microsoft paid $521m to settle a patent claim by Eolas in August.

Sounds like maybe MS lawyers are whispering in Eolas' ear to goad them into being the next SCO...

Why sue your competition and waste money on legal fees when you can con others to do it for you.

How? (1)

outriding9800 (547724) | about 7 years ago | (#20910591)

Windows is closed source how could linux got the code and put it in the linux kernel? And why now? the NT kernel came out in the late 80's and linux in the early 90's.
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