Steve Ballmer claims Linux uses Microsoft IP

Linux infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has stated during a Q&A session following a keynote in Seattle. The statement follows Microsoft’s tie-up with Novell, under which the two companies entered a patent sharing agreement to protect users—and each other—from potential lawsuits. Ballmer stated last week that he was open to similar deals with other Linux vendors like Red Hat. However, in the Q&A session, Ballmer reportedly insisted that “Linux users, apart from those using SUSE, are taking advantage of Microsoft innovation, and that someone – either Linux vendors or users – would eventually have to pay up.”

Considering the aforementioned patent sharing agreement cost Novell a cool $40 million, Ballmer appears to be threatening other Linux vendors with potentially costlier lawsuits unless they pay up via similar deals. And of course, Ballmer’s age-old strategy of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt among Linux users has this time turned into a direct threat.

Still, other Linux vendors may not play Microsoft’s game. Red Hat, for one, has stated, “We do not believe there is a need for or basis for the type of relationship defined in the Microsoft/Novell announcement.” The company has also called Microsoft’s threats an “innovation tax,” adding that it has the power to protect its users against potential patent claims.

Comments closed
    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    /[<#57, True, they essentially bought MS-DOS and sold it to IBM and the genius was using a licensing model instead of outright selling the code in the way they got it. If anything they are staying true to their roots. <]/ Actually, they "stole" Gary Kildall's innovation. When Gary Kildall's wife sent IBM packing, Microsoft bought a reverse engineered version of Gary Kildall's CP/M from another company and renamed it DOS. They sold it to IBM as their own, shiny, new OS and the rest is history. Sounds like Microsoft started their OS enterprise by stealing OS innovation in a worse way than they allege Linux has done.

    • seeker010
    • 13 years ago

    say what you will. I look forward to the next round of MS v Linux (IBM) lawsuits.

    • lyc
    • 13 years ago

    sounds like microsoft have gone full circle: they copy everything from apple (lol @ §[<http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4134446112378047444<]§ ) and a lot of apple stuff is and is derived from opensource code ;) edit: oh yes, i forgot: > "And of course, Ballmer's age-old strategy ..." §[<http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1274983729713522403<]§ you mean that *[

    • lovswr
    • 13 years ago

    My take is Vista & it’s New & Imporved DRM(tm). Imagine a world where just about every thing is locked down, but joe user is vaguely aware of this “other” thing. He/she asks the office geek & before you know it, joe user is running debian.

    Vista will only be vulnerable for say, the first 18 months of widespread rollout. If *nix is going to get some kind of significant majority minority, it will be in that brief window.

    After that, well I for one, will welcome our new DRM overlords.

    • Ma10n3!
    • 13 years ago

    Microsoft founders are forgetting their roots and making it nearly impossible for entrepreneurial innovation without fear of obscure patent violations.

      • Gandhi
      • 13 years ago

      What roots? They have always been this way.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 13 years ago

        True, they essentially bought MS-DOS and sold it to IBM and the genius was using a licensing model instead of outright selling the code in the way they got it. If anything they are staying true to their roots.

    • TheTechReporter
    • 13 years ago

    I was so proud of Microsoft when I first read that they were working together with Novell. I actually gave them some credit until I read this article. Somehow it figures that they would do something like this.

    The funniest part of it all is where Ballmer accuses others of “taking advantage of Microsoft innovation”. He should become a comedian with a line like that one.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 13 years ago

    Well, this only makes me wonder how long they’ve been sleeping on this IP; Not so much with the M$blows line of thought.

    • Ryu Connor
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • duffy
    • 13 years ago

    Microsoft’s Incessant Pilfering should not be infringed upon.

    • Code:[M]ayhem
    • 13 years ago

    Steve Ballmer is a blithering idiot, why would anybody listen to the drivel that spews from that morons mouth.

    • Ryu Connor
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • BeowulfSchaeffer
    • 13 years ago

    Microsoft wouldn’t dare sue a linux vendor. It would open their own code for audit under discovery, and I would bet you there is Linux code in Windows that they are not GPL compliant with.

      • Kunikos
      • 13 years ago

      While I doubt there is Linux code, I’m pretty sure they ripped off the BSD networking stack for Windows XP.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 13 years ago

    At least my beloved FreeBSD is safe (for now)

    • Ryu Connor
    • 13 years ago

    q[

    • IntelMole
    • 13 years ago

    So lemme get this straight…

    Microsoft accuses Linux, an open source kernel and it’s associated open source operating system components, of stealing from a closed source operating system?

    Remind me how you do that again?

      • FubbHead
      • 13 years ago

      Oh, it’s so much more advanced nowadays, you wouldn’t believe!

      You don’t need to copy source anymore. You can get sued at the click of a mousebutton these days, cause someone patented just *that* click already! 🙂

    • Ryu Connor
    • 13 years ago

    WINE and Saba seem like decent targets in Linux for having Microsoft IP.

    As far as I know they are bundled in pretty much every major distro as well.

    Of course the WINE and Saba team process of reverse engineering is probably totally on the up and up, but that doesn’t preclude them from getting sued and having to prove it.

      • Forge
      • 13 years ago

      Who is this ‘Saba’?

      • mirkin
      • 13 years ago

      i doubt its samba, smb predates ms – perhaps novells open exchange ? wine perhaps?

      i suspect its bs – sco like bs, some lines of code here and there, as opposed to an app

      • muyuubyou
      • 13 years ago

      Any lawsuit against WINE and Samba is doomed. There are provisions defending exactly what they’re doing.

      • evermore
      • 13 years ago

      Whoever gets sued doesn’t have to prove anything in this case. Microsoft has to prove that the Linux makers/users did something wrong. Considering that the Linux code has been freely available for 2 decades, even a dumb judge might just ask why Microsoft is only now attempting to sue over it. Microsoft can also quite easily be told “point out the code that infringes, and then show us what patent it infringes”. Then the judge says whether it does or does not. Of course, that’ll be prolonged into a 2 year case, as Linux people try to explain to a 95 year old judge who was confounded by electric typewriters why it’s not an infringement.

      Of course there is a reasonable chance that something in Linux ended up being just barely infringing on one of the wide-ranging, vague patents that the USPTO decided were acceptable, or that MS bought yesterday.

    • radioactive21
    • 13 years ago

    No one mentioned that Oracle has threatened Red Hat’s turf……

    Say Oracle does what it says and is hugely popular…that runs Red Hat to the ground. Either Red Hat has to agree to merge or be bought out by Oracle, or stay competitive and do what Novell has done….partner with the Devil….i mean microsoft…

    I think it will happen.

    • bdwilcox
    • 13 years ago

    To A_Pickle:

    #17, “Do you remember slimy bundling deals to kill competition?”

    All I can think of there is how people are able to include vast, powerful software libraries in operating systems like Ubuntu Linux (OpenOffice, the GIMP) or Mac OS X (iLife), while if Microsoft tries to do it with Windows, they get sued for “antitrust” by the same dolts who bundle stuff with their operating systems. Hell, Microsoft would’ve been sued by PowerDVD or InterVideo if they’d tried to include built-in DVD playback.

    “Slimy?” Poor word choice, considering Microsoft’s competitors do it.

    *[

    • VTOL
    • 13 years ago

    Linux fans UNITE!!!

      • FubbHead
      • 13 years ago

      Yeah! LETS BLOW OURSELVES UP! 🙂

    • DrCR
    • 13 years ago

    Wow, this sure was a suprise….not. Anyone else expect this after hearing about the Novell deal?

    • Gungir
    • 13 years ago

    While I can understand a company trying to protect its interests, this is just draconian. I’m willing to bet that enough detailed programming information is traded in dinner table chats among software gurus to start lawsuits fit to put a dent in even Microsoft’s gargantuan coffer. I have a very hard time feeling sorry for the largest software company in the world, especially given their history. Crimping widespread innovations like all of the flavors of Linux out there is contrary to the whole philosophy of engineering and constructive design.

    • packfan_dave
    • 13 years ago

    I’d be shocked if Linux didn’t infringe on any of Microsoft’s IP (heck, I’m certain that without cross-licensing deals, OS X would infringe on tons of Microsoft IP, and Windows would infringe on tons of Apple IP); they must have hundreds or even thousands of patents relevant to pretty much any modern OS (and which the other big commercial OS vendors deal with via cross-licensing or simply have enough IP of their own that a cross-licensing deal would be the inevitable result of any lawsuit).

    • A_Pickle
    • 13 years ago

    I think it’s funny, to be honest. It’s irritating of Ballmer to threaten Linux for infringing on “Intellectual Property,” because, while it does, so too does Windows. It’s the nature of the industry, and whining about copying this or that feature isn’t going to stop it, and shouldn’t stop it. Ballmer, shut up and steal some of that plainly available code.

    • apsog33
    • 13 years ago

    stay away from my ubuntu

    • AGerbilWithAFootInTheGrav
    • 13 years ago

    never ending bollocks, where is SCO now?

      • just brew it!
      • 13 years ago

      This is probably happening now precisely /[

    • Krogoth
    • 13 years ago

    MIcrosoft should be quiet on accusing others of stealing their ideas.

    They are one of the largest avocates of stealing other companies, people’s ideas then market the bejesus out of it.

      • 5150
      • 13 years ago

      LIES!

      • A_Pickle
      • 13 years ago

      Unless they absolutely can’t, Microsoft has a history of generally buying the patents to intellectual property they intend to use. I can’t really blame them for that.

        • Krogoth
        • 13 years ago

        Xerox Alto, need I say more?

          • A_Pickle
          • 13 years ago

          Um… wasn’t Apple the one that took advantage of the Alto?

            • Krogoth
            • 13 years ago

            They both did.

      • Gandhi
      • 13 years ago

      Microsoft is known to be the Walmart of the software world. While they may not outright infringe on patents, they are quite happy to learn what ever they can (ideas, trade secrets, business methds) and adapt it for thier own use, under a false sense of security.

      By that I mean: Microsoft approaches an innovative tech startup under the guise of wanting to buy them out. Both parties enter negotiations and begin to share information. The small-fry company, giddy as a school girl, happily divulges vital trade secrets on thier products before any confidentiality, non-compete, non-disclosure agreement is signed, and Microsoft learns whatever it can about the product during this negotiation period. Once they learn everything, they break off negotiations to buy out the company and shortly introduce a competing product of its own.

      There have been numerous patent infringement suits filed against Microsoft for such practices. And lets not even begin to talk about SCO v. IBM.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 13 years ago

    I’d like to know what exactly Linux is infringing on.

    Funny, do I hear the song of SCO in the background?

    • mirkin
    • 13 years ago

    what IP would this be, Sounds like the price of not having to deal w/ endless litigation w/ a 500lb gorilla is only 40 million, what a bargain.

    • d2brothe
    • 13 years ago

    And thus you have microsoft, the evil corporation, akin to the big bully…or giant monster…and they wonder why people hate them.

      • dmitriylm
      • 13 years ago

      No, actually they don’t. People keep buying their software, and will continue to do so.

        • Gandhi
        • 13 years ago

        That’s because they don’t have a choice if they want to buy a PC from a box makers

      • A_Pickle
      • 13 years ago

      No, people hate them because they’re Microsoft. It doesn’t matter what they do, be it good or bad, it will always receive criticism because they are Microsoft. If they don’t try to measure up to the competition, then they’re slacking, lazy, and inept. If they do try to measure up to the competition, they’re exercising their monopoly muscle to try and kill the little guy. It never ends, it just worsens.

      This? This is legitimately critique-able. Ballmer really has no right to go in and say Linux’s IP “theft” is wrong, as Microsoft has done it’s share of “stealing” itself. It’s part of the industry. Open-source software steals, Microsoft steals, and Apple steals. They do so to compete, and that’s the way it is.

        • moose17145
        • 13 years ago

        It’s true, my dad works at Lawson programming Microsoft Add-Ins for their Office programs like Excel and Access, and everyone hates them just because they are Microsoft. What i find funny though is that for as much as people think they are evil they DO do a lot of good, and have provided more jobs than people care to realize even if it is indirectly (as in my dads case where he doesn’t work FOR M$, but because of them he has a decent paying programming job that has allowed him to provide for his family). But Pickle is right, no matter what they do they will always be evil to everyone just because they became a huge success. Funny really, because huge success seems to sometimes be a bad thing.

          • PerfectCr
          • 13 years ago

          Oh no, someone just had to do it…

          §[<http://home.cfl.rr.com/emp/M$.gif<]§

            • A_Pickle
            • 13 years ago

            What’s funny is, I first got into tech when I was living in my parent’s house in Wyoming… and I’m an ardent trekkie. Redeemingly, I don’t use the “M$” acronym at all, because I picture something entirely more degrading whenever somebody DOES use it in a slanderous manner against Microsoft.

            That strip sure has a place near to my life, though. 😀

            • Forge
            • 13 years ago

            You know, you preach at the ‘M$’ using folks for being lame and unoriginal, but I AM SO FREAKING SICK of seeing that SAME PENNY ARCADE strip EVERY FREAKING TIME.

            Just a thought, you know?

            • PerfectCr
            • 13 years ago

            And you will keep seeing it until, 1) PA comes up with another “M$” comic, or 2) people stop using that lame acronym.

        • snowdog
        • 13 years ago

        Nope, I hate them because they have been evil for 2+ decades. Hate them because they are microsoft?? What is that even supposed to mean? 20+ years of slimy tactics that they continue to get away with is reason for most of those I know who hate them. And no open source doesn’t steal. Try to find incidences of anything like what microsoft does at other companies.

        Do you remember slimy bundling deals to kill competition?
        Do you remember them putting in code to break DR DOS?
        Do you remember them screwing over people they claimed they were “Negotiating with”. Like Stac/Burst etc. Microsoft negotiates while learning all the details of the product, then says no thanks and copies it instead.

        Do you remember the back door funding of SCO?

        Do you remember them screwing over Spyglass to get the code for the IE browser. Microsoft signs a deal for the code that gives spyglass a cut of sales. Then includes it in the OS for free and tells Spyglass they get nothing. Hows is that for theft?

        Evil to the core.

        These are a mere handful of examples. This is how microsoft does buisness. Screw everyone over because they have a monopoly and load of cash and can get away with it.

          • A_Pickle
          • 13 years ago

          y{<*[<"Do you remember slimy bundling deals to kill competition?"<]*<}y All I can think of there is how people are able to include vast, powerful software libraries in operating systems like Ubuntu Linux (OpenOffice, the GIMP) or Mac OS X (iLife), while if Microsoft tries to do it with Windows, they get sued for "antitrust" by the same dolts who bundle stuff with their operating systems. Hell, Microsoft would've been sued by PowerDVD or InterVideo if they'd tried to include built-in DVD playback. "Slimy?" Poor word choice, considering Microsoft's competitors do it. y{<*[<"Do you remember them putting in code to break DR DOS?"<]*<}y No. I remember them putting code into a /[

            • Gandhi
            • 13 years ago

            Microsoft is held to a different standard (notice I did not say higher standard). Simply because they are a monopoly. That’s just the way the law works. Get over it.

            IMO, they have done more harm then good. Just look at Internet Exploder 6 as an example. Once Netscape was killed off (by Microsoft’s illegal practices), they just sat with their thumbs up their butt while hackers went wild with trojans, buffer overflows, viruses and what not. No innovation, no improvements, and no security fixes until there was a huge PR outcry. Then they simply worked on security – no innovation.

            It took a free alternative for Microsoft to finally start innovating the browser(though innovation would be a generous description for Microsoft – copying is more like it).

            • d2brothe
            • 13 years ago

            Microsoft is a monopoly, and they use that power to crush competitors…they use slimy tactics. When they do somethign good…I recognize it, but generally they follow it with something like this…in general, the only reason they are forced to do something good…is when they feel the need to stamp out some more little guys…

            • snowdog
            • 13 years ago

            Nice whitewash, are you a microsoft employee?

            /l[http://www.vaxxine.com/lawyers/articles/stac.html<]§ On burst, they were a real company, they had a real product. MS broke it in a new version of windows. They then incorporating the technology and killed them off. Hardly a pure patent troll. §[<http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/03.16.05/burstdotcom-0511.html<]§ /l[

            • A_Pickle
            • 13 years ago

            y{<*[<"I am talking about the extortion Microsoft worked on OEMs. Basically if you you sold a PC you had to pay microsoft for a windows license whether you sold one or not. This effectively made it impossible for any other OS to take off."<]*<}y Big claim, from someone who suddenly insists on posting links and sources to said claims. May I see where that one is verified? y{<*[<"This was standard microsoft FUD, the code served no purposed but fail out under DR-DOS. It worked under PC-DOS btw. Microsoft was later sued and settled."<]*<}y No, from what I can read, Microsoft removed the code from the final release, Windows 3.1. When and by whom were they sued, in what lawsuit? y{<*[<"Why don't you provide the link to this info, sounds more like you are just heaving FUD at stac. MS told stac it wanted to include it's patented tech. Here is the the lawsuit information. I can't imagine how you make stac out to be at fault here. Microsoft basically said give us a royalty free license or else. They didn't get it so they stole it."<]*<}y Seriously, it's amazing how poetic you make it seem. Microsoft didn't "basically say" anything. It's true, Stac showed Microsoft some of it's source code and Microsoft implemented it in their operating system. Of course, when Stac found out they sued. The jury found that Microsoft did not willfully infringe upon Stac's copyright, but it did rule that $120 million be awarded to Stac in compensatory damages. Stacker was the program from Stac which was in question, and the jury later ruled that Microsoft's counterclaim (that Microsoft technology was illegally used to develop the MS-DOS Stacker) was legitimate. That's the full story. §[<http://www.msversus.org/archive/stac.html<]§ y{<*[<"On burst, they were a real company, they had a real product. MS broke it in a new version of windows. They then incorporating the technology and killed them off."<]*<}y There you go with fantastic word choice again. CNN would love you. But hey, that's just me. Burst.com? Still seems to exist, to me. They've sued Microsoft, and they're currently suing Apple, for streaming video technology. They're suing Microsoft and Apple for similar features, features which Microsoft and Apple seem content to coexist with one another about. Namely, Windows Media Player 9's "Instant On" feature (introduced January 27th, 2003) and QuickTime's "Fast Start" feature, (introduced July 15th, 2002) both of which are simply broadband streaming features. §[<http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_17/b3981070.htm<]§ §[<http://playbacktime.com/2002/10/31/burstcoms-streaming-snake-oil/<]§ y{<*[<"The license was two part: a general license fee and a royalty on sales. Microsoft immediately bundled IE and screwed them on the royalty."<]*<}y You're right. Spyglass then reminded them of their contract, and Microsoft settled for $8 million. §[<http://www.windowsitpro.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=16683&DisplayTab=Article<]§ y{<*[<"I provided links this time and more detail. If you want to back up your FUD against companies like Stac, please do so, you seemed only interested in whitewash of Microsoft and throwing some FUD. Very MS like."<]*<}y Done and done.

            • Gandhi
            • 13 years ago

            y[<"I am talking about the extortion Microsoft worked on OEMs. Basically if you you sold a PC you had to pay microsoft for a windows license whether you sold one or not. This effectively made it impossible for any other OS to take off."<]y g[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft<]§ r[

            • snowdog
            • 13 years ago

            .y[http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0CGN/is_3679/ai_54854150<]§ MS contract with IBM is essentially. No OS/2, no netscape or your windows OEM price will go through the roof. Or Microsoft Eliminates Competition Through Coercive OEM Contracts: Summary of Facts §[<http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/10/23/13219/110<]§ OR USA vs MS: See section on exclusionary agreements: §[<http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f1900/1914.htm<]§ Or It is also in the Caldera suit: §[<http://www.courttv.com/archive/legaldocs/cyberlaw/microsoft/msnsued.html<]§ y[http://www.maxframe.com/DR/Info/fullstory/factstat.html<]§ "There is an obvious conflict quickly approaching us, and I get the feeling we are not very prepared PR wise. The conflict is Windows 3.1 and DR-DOS. Apparently DRI is quite aware of our plans to not test with DR-DOS, our plan to not let them enter the Win 3.1 beta program, and our plan to detect the presence of MS-DOS and warn the user they are on an un-tested OS if MS-DOS is not detected." "What the guy is supposed to do is feel uncomfortable, and when he has bugs, suspect that the problem is dr-dos and then go out to buy ms-dos. or decide not to take the risk for all the other machines he has to buy for in the office." "We are forcing them to NOT ship any DRI machines." "Opus agreement has finally been signed by Redmond. Another DRI prospect bites the dust with a per processor DOS agreement." y[< It's true, Stac showed Microsoft some of it's source code and Microsoft implemented it in their operating system. Of course, when Stac found out they sued. The jury found that Microsoft did not willfully infringe upon Stac's copyright, but it did rule that $120 million be awarded to Stac in compensatory damages,Stacker was the program from Stac which was in question, and the jury later ruled that Microsoft's counterclaim (that Microsoft technology was illegally used to develop the MS-DOS Stacker) was legitimate. That's the full story.<]y Microsofts counter was farcical. They were esentially suing them for reverse engineering DOS in order to interoperate with it. Something they needed to do to get around MS monopolistic buisness practices. y[

    • Vrock
    • 13 years ago

    Uh-oh.

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