Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Oct 2007 16:14 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Microsoft Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has warned users of Red Hat Linux that they will have to pay Microsoft for its intellectual property. "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 at a company event in London discussing online services in the UK.
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Open Source Asymetry
by logicnazi on Tue 9th Oct 2007 19:19 UTC
logicnazi
Member since:
2005-09-21

I agree this is almost certainly a threat MS has no intention of carrying out. However, it isn't so obvious to me that the open source position is as secure as other commenters suggest.

In particular given the broken US patent system it is likely that linux (or included packages) infringes on some MS patents and that Windows infringes on patents held by IBM, redhat and others. The problem is that doesn't put the two companies in a symetric position.

Suppose they both sue each other and both win. Now maybe the judges give the OIN guys an injunction to enforce against MS but more likely they just get damages and fees from each copy of windows sold. Suppose the same thing happens with linux. Well now the open source guys are f--ked because they can only distribute software if it can be freely distributed and the patent claims of MS could prevent this.

Now there are several places in the above story that might just be my ignorance or confusion. It would be great to hear from a real lawyer. However, the general point is that the patent system is designed for use by companies distributing items for profit and not open source technologies so there is the danger of getting hung up on these points.

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