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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RE[3]: definition of extortion
by SReilly on Tue 9th Oct 2007 23:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: definition of extortion"
SReilly
Member since:
2006-12-28

However, fortunately the IT business as a whole has not sunken to such low levels yet. Maybe some companies will still appreciate good business practices and ethics too instead of only money?

I'd like to agree with you on that one, but patent infringement lawsuits, and subsequent out of court settlements, are an extremely common occurrence in the IT industry. Just check out the settlements MS has agreed on with Sun and Novell. IBM is also well known for patent trolling.

The thing is, MS is doing this because they don't need to provide any proof, at least as far as any pointy haired manager is concerned. All they need to do is plant enough doubt in the minds of purchasing and tech managers to get more customers.

In the end, MS don't want a patent war as they would lose to the likes of IBM, OIN and Oracle. But as long as they don't take it to court, they don't need to prove that what they are saying is true.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: definition of extortion
by irbis on Wed 10th Oct 2007 08:27 in reply to "RE[3]: definition of extortion"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

"but patent infringement lawsuits, and subsequent out of court settlements, are an extremely common occurrence in the IT industry. Just check out the settlements MS has agreed on with Sun and Novell. IBM is also well known for patent trolling."

Yeah, you are right, and I just wanted to be an optimist, although it is hard in current IP climate. I meant that Red Hat or IBM has not yet accussed that Microsoft products would be infringing their Linux-related patents, as far as I know. But they (and any others including my grandma or dog) could do that as well as Microsoft especially if no proof or facts are expected.

Reply Parent Score: 2

elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

All they need to do is plant enough doubt in the minds of purchasing and tech managers to get more customers.


I suspect he's more than likely targeting the general counsels and C-level execs that need to sign off on Sarbox-mandated quarterlies. The IP concerns of GPL-software with regards to SOX-compliance were addressed ages ago, but execs are still jittery, I suspect this is simply trying to dredge up that poor dead horse and exploit the fear of nervous executives still squeamish about SOX violations.

Realistically, they're the only people that would even care about Microsoft's empty threats. IT-savvy people know that Microsoft has been on a merciless linux witchhunt for years now, and non IT-savvy people don't understand the issues and don't really care, it's a vendor concern in their eyes.

In the end, MS don't want a patent war as they would lose to the likes of IBM, OIN and Oracle. But as long as they don't take it to court, they don't need to prove that what they are saying is true.


It's interesting to note that Ballmer is very clever in his accusations. "We believe linux violates our IP" is an ambiguous, non-commital statement. There's nothing slanderous, and yet nothing that MS can have held against them or disproven. It's no different than the anti-trust trial, where Microsoft was taken to task for using vaporware to combat competitiors releasing actual products, but it was found to be a ethically-questionable yet perfectly legal tactic.

And, of course, although the meaning is often lost on people that throw the term "FUD" around, it is a perfectly legitimate marketing technique, and hardly unique to the tech industry.

Reply Parent Score: 3