Ballmer singles out Red Hat in patent row
Steve Ballmer has warned Red Hat customers specifically that they may have to pay Microsoft for using its intellectual property. It’s the latest shot across the bows for Red Hat, which has become the target of Microsoft’s attacks on the Linux community since it rejected the software giant’s patent deal last year.
“People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense, have an obligation eventually to compensate us,” Ballmer warned at a conference in London.
“We spend a lot of money, the rest of the commercial industry spends a lot of money on R&D. When people come and say ‘hey this commercial piece of software violates our patent or intellectual property’, Microsoft will either get a court judgement or it’ll pay a big cheque,” he argues.
“I think it’s important that open-source products have an obligation to participate in the same way in the intellectual property regime.
“That’s why Microsoft’s done the deal with Novell. It’s not only working on technical interoperability between Linux and Windows but it’s also made sure it can provide, for the appropriate fee, Novell customers with the rights to use its patented intellectual property.”
“I think it’s great the way Novell has stepped up to say intellectual property matters,” he added in a backhanded swipe at Red Hat.
Red Hat has so far refused all overtures from Microsoft to sign any sort of business deal, earning the ire of the software giant which has already turned its anti-Linux site on the company.
Open source proponents have already dismissed Microsoft’s tactics towards open source vendors as just “smoke and mirrors”, but Ballmer went on to suggest that the question is a broader one than just Microsoft versus open source, citing its patent suit loss to Eolas in August.
“There are plenty of other people who may also have intellectual property,” he says. “Every time an Eolas comes to Microsoft and says pay us, I suspect they would also eventually like to go to the open-source world too. Getting an intellectual interoperability framework between the two worlds is important.”
Red Hat declined to respond to the comments.