Bonum Certa Men Certa

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Extortionists With Software Patents

Goodfellas



Summary: Bill Gates' personal role in racketeering is revealed by the CEO of Sun Microsystems; Steve Jobs is not any better

NOT so long ago we showed that Bill Gates was scheming to use software patents in order to fight against OpenOffice.org. How about that? Using software patents rather than creating products. Comes vs Microsoft exhibits show this very clearly.



The outgoing CEO of Sun Microsystems is finally spilling the beans about what was happening behind the scenes. Check the following portion of his new text:

As in life, bluster and threat are commonplace in business – especially the technology business. So that interaction was good preparation for a later meeting with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy, Sun’s then CEO – who asked me and Greg Papadopoulos (Sun’s CTO) to accompany him. As we sat down in our Menlo Park conference room, Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” OpenOffice is a free office productivity suite found on tens of millions of desktops worldwide. It’s a tremendous brand ambassador for its owner – it also limits the appeal of Microsoft Office to businesses and those forced to pirate it. Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket.


Bill Gates can carry on pretending to be charitable with his patent foundation that he uses to make even more profit and monopolies. At the end of the day, he is just another bully in a sweater, wearing glasses.

But wait. Steve Jobs, the patent bully who is attacking Linux at this moment [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], is no better. From the same post as above:

I feel for Google – Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too.

In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.”


People should understand that when they buy something from Microsoft or from Apple they are paying money to racketeers.

Update: There is more coverage of this in Groklaw and BTL.

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