“In comments confirming the open-source community’s suspicions, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer today declared his belief that the Linux operating system infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property,” Eric Lai reports for Computerworld.

Lai reports, “In a question-and-answer session after his keynote speech at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle, Ballmer said Microsoft was motivated to sign a deal with SUSE Linux distributor Novell Inc. earlier this month because Linux ‘uses our intellectual property’ and Microsoft wanted to ‘get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.'”

“‘Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SUSE Linux is appropriately covered,’ Ballmer said. This ‘is important to us, because [otherwise] we believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability,'” Lai reports.

“‘My reaction is that so far, what he [Ballmer] said is just more FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt],’ said Pamela Jones, editor of the Groklaw.net blog, which tracks legal issues in the open-source community. ‘Let him sue if he thinks he has a valid claim, and we’ll see how well his customers like it,'” Lai reports.

“Jones also challenged Ballmer to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ and detail exactly what part of the Linux kernel source code allegedly infringes upon Microsoft patents, so that ‘folks will strip out the code and work around it or prove his patent invalid,'” Lai reports. “Ballmer did not provide details during his comments today. But he was adamant that Linux users, apart from those using SUSE, are taking advantage of Microsoft innovation, and that someone — either Linux vendors or users — would eventually have to pay up. ‘Only customers that use SUSE have paid properly for intellectual property from Microsoft,’ he said. ‘We are willing to do a deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors.’ The deal with SUSE Linux ‘is not exclusive,’ Ballmer added.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft and “innovation” go together like Steve Ballmer and antiperspirant.

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