» Ballmer: Linux “Infringes our intellectual property” | Hardware 2.0 |

17 Nov

Link to » Ballmer: Linux “Infringes our intellectual property” | Hardware 2.0 |

Y’know the process of using selective quotes to attain a personal goals in Blogs has become not only rampant but almost expected.  Look at that headline.  Read it.  It’s got drama.  It’s got impact.  It’s got everything except… truth.  Steve Balmer Did Not Say What That Implies.  Go ahead – read what he said..

Now read the actual quote.

"We’ve had an issue, a problem that we’ve had to confront, which is because of the way the GPL works, and 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. We spend $7 billion a year on R&D, our shareholders expect us to protect or license or get economic benefit from our patented innovations. So how do we somehow get the appropriate economic return for our patented innovation, and how do we do interoperability." [emphasis added by Adrian in his blog]

So what Balmer ACTUALLY said was: 

1) Linux comes from the community.  It doesn’t come from a company or a corporation and that’s the issue they have with the GPL from a legal viewpoint there’s no one to hold accountable.

2) When I read "the fact that that product uses our patented intellecutal property"… sounds inflamatory.  But go back and put the sentence in the context of the conversation.  Realise that he’s not refering to Linux as it stands – he’s talking about a world where if Microsoft got into the Linux environment, Microsoft has to explain to it’s shareholders how they plan on protecting their protected IP after it’s been placed out on the open range if you will, out there as a part of Linux.  And yes – that’s a very serious concern for Microsoft.   

For Office or ANY software for that matter to feature interoperability – it’s going to have to acees the OS – all programs do.  It’s going to need access to those API’s and it’s going ot need make use of someone elses Patented IP.  In this case – the patent is not from a legal viewpoint particuallarly clearly determined who really owns it. You know why?  Because those law suits haven’t happened on the GPL.  Microsoft knows all about them without the GPL – they’ve already been there thank you – and it’s cost them a fortune every time a contractor even thought about using a snippet they saw somewhere.  It’s verbotten.  Forbidden and the highest offense within these walls to do that for that reason.

Right now – from a legal view, they run a pretty sterile shop here.  But they are willing and interested in opening up.  In getting into the market.  The fear is – and has always been – that you once you break that sterility – it’ll be hell to put the genie back in the bottle.

Now – let’s say you’re willing to misread that into meaning that he really is saying that Linux violates Microsoft Patents.  I personally DON’T read it that way – but let’s say that is Steve’s intent.  It’s not like everyone else has not said this before.  And by everyone … the SAME PEOPLE WHO PUT THIS ARTICLE UP… had this little Gem not long ago:

Here let me put up the headline info for you …

Group: Linux potentially infringes 283 patents

By Stephen Shankland, CNET
Published on ZDNet News: August 1, 2004, 9:01 PM PT

Now – I COULD if I was unscrupulous as the guy who quoted Steve say, 283 Patents Linux Violates!!  But that isn’t what that story really is about either (seems to be a trend with ZDnet and CNET).  What it really states that would be pertinent – is that there may be, based on the study by the Open Source Risk Management company – as many as 27 potentially that are Microsoft IP.  Okay? 

So – even if that was the meaning that Steve had – and I don’t think it was based on the conversation … it’s not like that charge has never been surfaced before.  That was two years ago an outside firm.  It’s not something that hasn’t been said many times.  But it was not said in the interview above.  What I got out of it – is that Microsoft ain’t thrilled with the issues related to dealing with the OpenSource community… but it defintely wants to.

He’s not saying "No".  He’s not saying "There’s Microsoft Patented IP in Linux."  NO WHERE in the interview … does Steve Balmer say that.  Unless you take him out of context. Not unless you picked up the story off another blog or web page and just glanced over the parts you wanted to hear.  Not unless you’re just doing your best – to create a story wherfe there is none.  To, in essence, make something up.

Thats what annoys me the most.   When I was in High School I remember the words of my School Paper’s Mentor, a man who had worked for many years in the news paper trade before becoming a teacher.  Mr. Sparks told me… "I do not want to see a story come to me that cannot tell me who, what, when, where, why and how – and back it up with facts.  Every fact you get wrong – you owe me another story.  Eventually you’ll get me one that tells the truth.".

This isn’t high school – and C|Net shouldn’t be acting like it is.  They’re not the Weakly World News or the National Aspirer either… they’re people who get paid to report the facts.  Not make them up as they go along.

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Posted by on November 17, 2006 in Uncategorized


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