Ballmer Beats the IP Infringement Drum -- Again

Lora Bentley

Forgive me, but I had to chuckle when I first saw this ZDNet piece. It seems Microsoft is switching tactics again because Red Hat doesn't want to play. Either that or CEO Steve Ballmer is bored and decided to toss around more threats.


But the threats appear to be a little different this time around. Blogger Mary Jo Foley says Ballmer is specifically calling out Red Hat. Quoting a story on, she says:

"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.

Why single out the leading Linux distributor -- besides the fact that Matthew Szulik's company has adamantly refused to sign patent protection agreements with Microsoft thus far? Foley suggests the following:

Ballmer hinted that Eolas -- the company that sued Microsoft for browser patent violations and won a settlement with the Redmondians -- might be the kind of company to go after Linux and open-source vendors for patent violations. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I can't help but wonder if one of the terms in the Eolas-Microsoft settlement might specify that Eolas lodge a patent lawsuit against Red Hat or other open-source vendor.

Maybe, but we've heard repeatedly that Microsoft's claims are not legally motivated. I think Ballmer's boredom is to blame.

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Oct 11, 2007 3:25 AM Wang-Lo Wang-Lo  says:
When Steve Ballmer dances around the stage and chants "Developers, developers, developers," he is sending independent software vendors a message: "It is profitable to develop software under the Microsoft umbrella." On Oct 1, 2007, he sent them another message: "It is hazardous to develop software outside the Microsoft umbrella."Want to develop a killer real-estate indexer? Steve won't let you. Want to enable your clients to talk to their computers in English? Steve won't have it. Want to build a three-dimensional spreadsheet program? Better check with Steve first. Because if you go off and independently develop a major piece of software, based on your own original ideas, building everything from scratch, using only methods and concepts already published in textbooks - Microsoft will sue you for "intellectual property" violations.At least that's what Ballmer is telling Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and several thousand prgramming veterans who created the GNU software suite and the Linux kernel. Their fundamental and entire mission is to write software which does not encroach on anyone's rights. Remember, they have software. What they want to make is completely unencumbered software. Ballmer says they didn't do it, they can't do it, and he won't let them do it. And if Stallman and Torvalds, who set out to do nothing else, cannot write legitimate computer programs, then you can't either.The world according to Steve Ballmer. If you code, you break the law. If you pay off Microsoft, they'll help you.-Wang-Lo Reply

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