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Another Company Affiliated with Microsoft Sues Red Hat Using Software Patents

Posted in Bill Gates, Courtroom, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat, Steve Ballmer, Windows at 4:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO

Summary: Red Hat’s latest headache and some other news about Microsoft’s aggressive crusade against Linux

THIS latest lawsuit seems like a combination of the Firestar case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and also the ongoing case of Acacia, whose connections with Microsoft cannot be emphasised strongly enough [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. How much can Red Hat trust Microsoft?

Last month we saw a Microsoft partner, T3, attacking IBM and now we find a company whose partners include Microsoft attacking Red Hat using patents.

A small software company on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against open source distributor Red Hat and several vendors that sell Red Hat products, claiming that Red Hat’s JBoss middleware violates one of its patents.


Software Tree’s partners include Microsoft, IBM, Borland, and Sun, while customers range from Concert Communications to the Los Alamos National Lab and News Corporation’s Kesmai unit.

It is not unusual for Microsoft to attack Linux via any of its partners, allies, or hired guns. There are many examples that we’ve covered over the past couple of years, with victims that include Google. Is it too far fetched in this case? Maybe so, but all possibilities ought to at least be taken into account.

Going Direct

There was a reasonable assumption that Microsoft will only ever attack Linux indirectly, but inclinations to believe this changed about a week or so ago when Microsoft proudly announced to its shareholders that it was suing TomTom. We’ve covered this before, but here is a quote from Keith Bergelt (OIN) which is not worth missing:

When I spoke to Keith Bergelt of the Open Invention Network, he was far more directly critical: “The message that Microsoft has been putting out over the last year to 18 months, thanks to their presence in open source forums and Sam Ramji, is that a lot of that effort is not more than rhetoric, and that their behaviors are the same. The inclusion of patents and the targeting of Linux, whether it’s by design or not, is provocative.

“And it’s unfortunate, because any of the work they were doing to develop a better manner of comportment and integration within the community will be for naught. It also solidifies the resolve of the community to support Linux users and the rights of them to use Lx. Irrespective of whether TomTom has other [patent] issues, this is a separate action. This action, by dragging in those Linux-targeting patents, is just more of Microsoft being Microsoft, and underscores how far they still have to go to be accepted by the open source community.”

Pamela Jones at Groklaw adds: “I can’t resist pointing out that when SCO first sued IBM it told the media that it was not a fight against Linux developers, just a dispute between it and IBM. That proved untrue.

Microsoft: “Come to Haven, Windows”

As we showed earlier today, formal and informal spokespeople of Microsoft (such as Enderle) keep pretending that this is not about Linux, but it is. Microsoft is trying to ‘embrace’ open source while only pretending it has no problems with “Linux”.

Even though some believe that Microsoft’s recent patent lawsuit against TomTom is a prelude to an all-out legal assault on Linux, that doesn’t stop Bob Muglia, the company’s president of Server and Tools Business, to look into the future and state that Microsoft’s products will look more and more to open source software. In fact, he predicts most Microsoft products will have open source in them at some point.

Regarding the above, writes Groklaw in reference to the headline (“Muglia: Open Source To Permeate Microsoft”): “Just not in a good way, I’m guessing. So… is this the embrace part?

Balzac, over at our IRC channel, writes: “Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer want to profit from “open source”, control it, subvert it, marginalize truly free software, never offer a mea culpa or apologize for their years of being belligerent and wrong about everything. All of this in the interest of protecting their egos, because they can’t admit they clung to an archaic business model and licensing approach.

Microsoft Wants to Impose Linux Tax

As asserted by Harald Welte, it’s about cost. Another person makes a similar suggestion, arguing that Microsoft wants to rationalise “Linux tax”.

How can you compete with free ? That’s the question every business publication has been asking to Microsoft lately. Of course priceless software is actractive per-se, so many online journalist and bloggers already foresaw Microsoft’s decline in the OS war.

Well, seems like Microsoft had an answer lately, and a good one.

In the last few days, perhaps taking advantage of me being offline ;-), Microsoft sued TomTom on 8 software patents. Amongst them 3 related to filesystem management. Something as stupid as ‘Common namespace for long and short filenames’.

akf wrote to say that “some already pay”. This point was stressed several days ago and as akf notes, “The really sad thing is, if you read the texts carefully, there seem to be companies, which already do pay Microsoft for Linux! Only TomTom refused to do that.

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

(Usually attributed to) Mahatma Gandhi

Steve Ballmer license

Image from Wikimedia

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  1. Gentoo User said,

    March 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm


    I noticed the other day you wrote an entire post based on Slashdot comments (some of which I think you later mentioned you had modded up), so here’s an interesting one I noticed on the discussion of this topic over there this morning. To quote (because it’s really good):

    Yay for selective quoting! (Score:5, Informative) … on Wednesday March 04, @08:44AM (#27065889)

    “Software Tree’s partners include Microsoft, IBM, Borland, and Sun”

    Fixed that for you.

    Another, as a reply to that one:

    Only their website doesn’t even mention Microsoft as a partner. IBM, Borland, Sun and Oracle are mentioned as partners, though, with contact details.

    What was the intention of mentioning Microsoft and leaving out those partners? Is Microsoft a business partner at all?

    I hate software patents. But summaries like this blatantly trying to skew facts to weasel in hints of a grand Microsoft conspiracy does the fight against software patents disservice.

    What a crook. Bad! I had to look twice because I fully expected this to be a “kdawson”. Not this time, though.

    I assume these people must work for Microsoft, as you are keen on quickly pointing out in cases like these.

  2. Dan O'Brian said,

    March 4, 2009 at 7:54 pm


    Don’t you know? Microsoft are like the Illuminati, they are everywhere and they are nowhere. They control everything.

  3. David Gerard said,

    March 5, 2009 at 10:00 am


    Note that this is two competitors for the price of one: Red Hat and Java.

    In real commercial server use, Java is everywhere. .NET faces an uphill battle and no-one takes it seriously.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 5, 2009 at 10:17 am


    .NET faces an uphill battle and no-one takes it seriously.

    Must you really insult Novell?

  5. David Gerard said,

    March 5, 2009 at 11:27 am


    I mean, of course, against users ;-p Specifically internal software developers at companies, who are the 95% of developers who *don’t* work on shrinkwrapped software.

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