This is just too much:
…because open-source Linux does not come from a company — Linux comes from the community — the fact that that product uses our patented intellectual property is a problem for our shareholders
No Steve, the fact that you launch a patent for loads of trivial and pre-existing technologies (I mean come on, the smiley!) is a problem for your shareholders. The software patent system is flawed in so many ways, and it is all coming to a crunch as people realise how ridiculous it is to judge the “innovativeness” of a company based on a big purse and the ability for its many lawyers to extract IP from pre-existing and completely trivial software “inventions”. People are also hopefully starting to realise that software patents have too long a life in an industry when perhaps 5 years is the longest life you have to extract value from a new invention. As Bill Gates himself said in 1991 with a confused message of foreboding and obviously the position Microsoft chose to take since then:
If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today… The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.
Anyway, what started this post was Ballmer had an interview recently where he implied the deal with Novell is all about Microsoft getting “appropriately compensated… for [their] intellectual property”.
…because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft
Just when you think they are starting to get a clue. It amazes me the hypocrisy of the statement when significant chunks of the Microsoft software and infrastructure use FOSS, but it makes me even more angry for Microsoft to use this Novell deal to try to bully people into only using a version of Linux they will get compensated for. Novell, for all the good intentions I’m sure you had in this, witness the beast you have created.
Amazingly, Novell’s Open Letter to the community about the deal makes pretty clear that:
Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property.
Then Microsoft responded again making clear they think Linux infringes on their IP, however:
Novell is absolutely right in stating that it did not admit or acknowledge any patent problems as part of entering into the patent collaboration agreement.