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10.18.08

Microsoft Threatens Red Hat Again, Uses Novell as Excuse

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Steve Ballmer at 2:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”

The Prickly Prince From Microsoft Strikes Again

T

HE FSF may be doing too little against software patents at this stage, but it must not distract anyone from a most serious peril, which even Linus Torvalds is aware of and concerned about. it’s resolvable through dissemination of knowledge.

Every now and then, Microsoft makes snide remarks at Red Hat, claiming that Red Hat and its customers owe it money. This happened one year ago, just before Acacia hired some Microsoft Intellectual Monopoly people and then sued Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Now there is some more of this from Microsoft’s mouthpiece at CNET [1, 2]. The latest post contains little more than subtle (seemingly polite) Microsoft propaganda:

That doesn’t mean Microsoft is ready to sing Kumbaya with Red Hat, or other companies that haven’t made an IP deal with Redmond. While Microsoft is patient, Gutierrez indicated that Microsoft’s patience is not unlimited.

“If every effort to license proves not to be fruitful, ultimately we have a responsibility to customers that have licenses and to our shareholders to ensure our intellectual property is respected,” he said.

Microsoft has, on a number of occasions, asserted that Linux violates a ton of Microsoft patents, but Microsoft has never sued a company over those claims.

[...]

In an effort to help head off patent disputes, Microsoft is an investor in Nathan Myrhvold’s patent-buying Intellectual Ventures effort and has also made deals with several other such patent companies. “We’ve done deals with a number of others,” Gutierrez said.

On the positive side, though, are deals like the Novell one, Gutierrez said. In the end, Novell has grown its business, Microsoft got added revenue and customers end up with products that work better together. Gutierrez wouldn’t name names, but he said to expect more deals along the lines of the ones Microsoft struck with Novell and Sun Microsystems.

In case it’s not obvious, this short article ought to show why Novell is so dangerous to the freedom of Free software. Red Hat is being verbally threatened again.

Microsoft is also singing Novell’s “mixed source” tune, and not for the first time either. Novell happily brags about its “mixed source” identity [1, 2, 3, 4], insisting that it is not an open source company. This serves to justify Novell's own patent FUD and empowers Microsoft’s pressure on other GNU/Linux vendors. In turn, this helps Novell.

Nathan MyhrvoldIf they ever sue, there will be a strong reason for Red Hat to go to court, and there will be public fueling for Red Hat to go all the way up to the Supreme Court, using the assistance of many others to eliminate software patents once and for all.

In the disclosure above, Microsoft’s desperate strategy is showing. They admit to investing in the world's biggest and nastiest patent troll — something we already knew about (the personal investments from Bill Gates himself).

It ought to be added that the selective media does not tell the full story. Gutierrez is also one of the men behind extortion, namely the use of threats and software patents to secretly extract money from unnamed GNU/Linux users.

“There is nothing more that can be done. Everything we do is now available to licensees as well.”

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Imaginary Property Officer

Horacio Gutierrez

Picture contributed by a reader

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47 Comments

  1. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Gravatar

    If these patent threats have anything to it other than obviousness (Pg-Up/Pg-Dn, double-single click). They’re really scraping. Microsoft acts like anything that’s done on a PC is because they made it so. They did not invent the micro computer and the Abacus is prior art.

    Didn’t know Gutierrez was a bottom-feeding, patent troll like Intellectual Vultures, Nathan Myrhvold. Corruption feeds corruption.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft acts like anything that’s done on a PC is because they made it so. They did not invent the micro computer and the Abacus is prior art.

    Mundie: Google owes business to Microsoft

    Microsoft Invented the iPod?

  3. xISO_ZWT said,

    October 18, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Gravatar

    quote/ “If we didn’t succeed at the PC, they wouldn’t have a business,” Mundie said /quote

    And if the inventor of the wheel didn’t succeed we wouldn’t be traveling in autos.

    quote/ Mundie said. “I’d like to see Google and someone else come up with something that really threatens our business model.” /quote

    How about honest Anti-Trust Law enforcement.

    quote/ ….Microsoft is now rumored to be mounting a proxy fight for Yahoo. /quote
    quote/ ….”Right now, we’d just like to close the Yahoo deal,” he said. /quote

    The trains’s leaving the station and MS is running hard to catch the door.
    As for the iPod, we were talking about that in one of our discussions; one of the guys said it was, “MS Submarine Patent Filing v1.1″. Look for success in the marketplace and if there’s no patent, file one, even if you don’t have the product.

  4. selller_liar said,

    October 18, 2008 at 6:13 pm

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    Patents is the most stupid invention of the world.

    The greed is making the people enclosure the knowledge.
    People want to make money doing nothing.

    This system does not work anymore.Patents are not suitable for all this technology which produce fast ideas and innovation.

    Maybe patents was suitable in 400 years ago where are nothing globalized and connected.But this not work anymore.

    Patents should be destroyed ,both physical and non-physical .

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 19, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Gravatar

    Little update:

    Groklaw has just done a post about it as well.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20081018165715723

    More Patent Threats From Microsoft

    But what is clearer to me now is that Microsoft is apparently determined to control or destroy FOSS as we know it. And they think patents give them the power to do it. What I think will really happen is a whole mess of litigation, including some antitrust claims. I don’t rule out Red Hat’s ability to be legally creative, of course, but no one can do a Novell-style deal again, with respect to GPLv3 code, without triggering results [PDF] I am sure Microsoft would not wish for.

  6. HarryTuttle said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Gravatar

    It is remarkable silent from those shills like AlexH…
    Believe it or not:
    Like the money-system had to come to an end and cost the public soso many dollars, investing in mono and MS-technology-clones is for obvious reasons the same ticking bomb…

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:26 am

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    I’ll ping Alex. Let’s see how he responds to this.

  8. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:31 am

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    Respond to what, exactly?

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:33 am

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    We are showing you, Alex. Microsoft is threatening Free software using patents.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:34 am

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    I should add: how come Sun or IBM don’t do the same? Who would possibly want to aggravate users of Free(dom) software?

  11. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:38 am

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    Microsoft have done this for years, that’s nothing new. I don’t see anything which particularly deserves my response here.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:41 am

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    You seem to insist that Microsoft is no more risk than other companies. The news above contradicts you.

  13. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:48 am

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    No, I didn’t offer any opinion on who was the greater risk. What I did say was that they are not the only risk.

    Seems like you are pretty much the only person trying to scare free software users:

    No one I know, including FOSS lawyers, is losing any sleep over these threats.

  14. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Gravatar

    Just as PJ implied Microsoft was desperate, so did I:

    If they ever sue, there will be a strong reason for Red Hat to go to court, and there will be public fueling for Red Hat to go all the way up to the Supreme Court, using the assistance of many others to eliminate software patents once and for all.

    Don’t try to accuse /us/ of being the bad guy.

  15. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:53 am

    Gravatar

    Hide behind PJ, uhuh :) I’m not accusing her of anything – in fact, I’m pointing out her entirely sensible position of not listening to Microsoft’s idle threats.

    You want people to be scared of all this PR fluff. PJ’s not losing sleep over it, neither am I.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 4:56 am

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    Nor I. Yet she points out that Microsoft is threatening again, as did I. Your attitude here is two-faced.

  17. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:00 am

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    No, my attitude isn’t two-faced at all. We can all agree that Microsoft is issuing threats, as they have done for years and probably will do for years – that’s how they work.

    Where we differ is our *response* to the threats.

  18. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:04 am

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    Yes, you permit the entry of Trojan horses, whereas I stand against it.

  19. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:08 am

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    What do trojan horses have to do with Microsoft threatening Red Hat?

  20. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:16 am

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    They may be putting them in GNU/Linux.
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/10/18/reply-to-request-for-mono/

  21. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:20 am

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    Except that Microsoft’s threats are nothing to do with Mono, and if Red Hat felt threatened by that one piece of software they could drop it tomorrow.

  22. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:33 am

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    Except that Microsoft’s threats are nothing to do with Mono, and if Red Hat felt threatened by that one piece of software they could drop it tomorrow.

    True.

    BTW, Microsoft’s little ‘propaganda piece’ is finding its way into more sites this morning.

    http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/software/0,39044164,62047404,00.htm

  23. pcole said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Gravatar

    microsoft is losing (not making) big bucks; Many SMBs and larger business entities are refusing to migrate to “hasta la vista”. Recently ballmer said the coming windows 7 is based on vista. Once again you see ms try to coerce it’s customers into the “upgrade” thread. The clients are not having any of it. It’s seems like an impasse for ms – either it cleans up its dealings or it’s time to sing “The party’s over”.

  24. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Gravatar

    Its party’s over.

    Now it’s time to defend FOSS from a patent troll (by proxy) and shameless aggressor. That’s what this site is about.

  25. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:02 am

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    I would suggest that “defending FOSS” ought to be considered to include “not attacking FOSS projects”. IMHO, obviously…

  26. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:07 am

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    Warning about possible dangers != attacking.

  27. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:12 am

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    Actually, it is. Take for example the article about Apache. Most of the article talks about patents, in the context of Hadoop. You later agreed that patents were completely irrelevant. But the article hasn’t been corrected.

    That’s not “warning” or “informing”.

  28. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Gravatar

    There was no mentioning there of patents. That second part of the post was a reference to .NET, not Web server software. Only *then* was the notion of patents introduced.

  29. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:19 am

    Gravatar

    Sorry, but no. You repeated the blog post which said “there may be some “patented” technologies in [Hadoop]“, and called it “Predictable” and said they did the same thing to PHP.

    You asked if I thought that was FUD, and of course it is. But it still remains up there.

    So your revisionist history doesn’t work. Patents were mentioned with regards to Apache.

  30. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Gravatar

    The quote “there may be some “patented” technologies” comes from Glyn Moody. Perhaps you should head over to ComputerWorld and debate this with Glyn, who is always open for discussion. You did not show me saying that there are patents in Apache/Hadoop (I was saying about something else that it was predictable.

    If anything, your explanation above seems like misattribution that fits well with your pattern of crusading against this Web site.

  31. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks for trying to malign me Roy, but didn’t attribute it to you; I said you repeated it.

  32. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Gravatar

    I included a large block of text. Since you previously insinuated that Groklaw does not spread what you referred to as “FUD”, perhaps you should, at this moment, check out:

    http://www.groklaw.net/newsitems.php

    ” * What Comes After “Embrace, Extend”?
    * 11:27AM October 10/19/08, 2008
    * Alongside that embracing, we have some potential extending:

    Few will have noticed, but Microsoft’s Jim Kellerman just announced that he and a Microsoft colleague have “been cleared to contribute patches again” to Apache, and specifically to the Hadoop project.

    This is how it will go. Purely in order to “improve” the performance of Apache and Hadoop on the Windows platform, Microsoft will helpfully offer some really cool hacks….which will of course only work on the Windows platform.

    This will effectively fork the Apache/Hadoop/whatever code – all for the good of their communities. Of course, there may be some “patented” technologies in there, but Microsoft will promise never, ever to sue anyone using this “optimised” open source – cross its heart and hope to die. Look for Microsoft to get involved with other leading open source projects in the same way. – Glynn Moody, ComputerWorld UK”

  33. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 6:50 am

    Gravatar

    Groklaw doesn’t offer commentary or opinion.

    You asked me if I thought it was FUD; what do you think?

  34. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Gravatar

    You claimed that repeating it is FUD. Why don’t you contact Glyn? It’s clearly something he wrote that you disagree with, but you vent out your frustration at this site.

  35. Michael Meyers said,

    October 20, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Gravatar

    LMAO Boy, you are such a wiener.

    Microsoft is spreading some unfounded claims, someone stop the press, that’s a new one … not.

    Only thing I’m missing is the obligatory Novell libel.

  36. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Gravatar

    @Roy: I think it’s highly enlightening that you won’t answer a simple question…. ;)

  37. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Gravatar

    Which question?

  38. Dan O'Brian said,

    October 20, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Gravatar

    The last question he asked, maybe?

  39. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Gravatar

    Groklaw found it worthy of inclusion and quoting. Alex would deny that it’s FUD because it is not quoted by a site he disagrees with.

  40. Michael Meyers said,

    October 20, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Gravatar

    Oh Boy … :D

    Once again you are avoiding the question but are just babbling along …

    The questions wasn’t what Alex would, in your opinion, deny or not, but, to quote it, “You asked me if I thought it was FUD; what do you think?”.

    So, perhaps, since the question is now clearly pointed out, you manage now to answer it?

  41. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Gravatar

    Alex asked a rhetorical question, daring me to read his mind. My guess and answer is “No”.

  42. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Gravatar

    It wasn’t a rhetorical question, and I’m not sure why you think I was “daring you to read my mind” given I stated the question in extremely simple terms.

    But anyway, it appears you think that it’s not FUD to say that Microsoft will be putting patented code into Apache… well. That speaks volumes, I guess.

  43. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Gravatar

    No, your question as I read it was about whether /you/ thought Groklaw had been FUDding Apache merely by quoting Glyn.

  44. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Gravatar

    Ok, so now we’re clear on the question: is Glyn’s article about the potential danger of software patents in Apache FUD or not?

  45. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Gravatar

    If he suggests that Microsoft will try to poison Apache/Hadoop with software patents, then I disagree with him because they don’t need to do this. Knowing Glyn’s history (we also correspond sometimes), he didn’t intend to FUD Apache; he aggressively works to defend Free software from many dangers, including software patents.

    I still suggest you contact Glyn.

  46. AlexH said,

    October 20, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Gravatar

    Well, we know what road is paved with good intentions.

    Making a statement about a contributor putting patents in Apache is conjuring demons where there are none. Intentional or not, it’s still FUD.

  47. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Gravatar

    Fine. Please inform Glyn then. Stop throwing accusations at sites you dislike merely for quoting another.

    By the way, the Ina Fried shill has not thrown those threats (by proxy) for the first time here. A couple of months ago s/he mentioned Red Hat out of the blue in some post about cross-licensing deals. Microsoft is still using mouthpieces and it is /THEM/ you should criticise; not me, not Glyn, thank you very much. :-)

    Please try to recognise the /real/ threats, not those who merely /inform/ about it.

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