Ballmer Repeats His Demand for License Payments from Red Hat Users

Oct 12, 2007

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has again demanded license payments from Red Hat users.

In his speech at a company event in Great Britain, Ballmer quotes intellectual property infringements as the basis for claims. "People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us," Ballmer said. This isn’t the first time that the Redmond boss has targeted attacks at Linux distributor Red Hat. In contrast to Novell and other Linux companies like Xandros or Linspire, Red Hat has not yet signed “patent assurances” with Microsoft, although Microsoft is obviously pushing in this direction.

Referring to the continuing attacks by Microsoft, Red Hat Germany boss Werner Knoblich said that the only topic for an agreement that Red Hat could see thus far was that of interoperability between the two operating systems. Red Hat Germany has issued a statement on the subject.

To give customers assurances, Red Hat recently set up a website explaining the legal situation from its point of view. Red Hat points to its "Open Assurance Program" in which it assures customers that it would immediately replace every single line of provably controversial code. Red Hat currently has no information on claims against Linux code: “We are also aware of no patent lawsuit against Linux. Ever. Anywhere.”

In the course of his appearance at the conference, Ballmer went even further and accused Open Source users in general of infringing on Microsoft’s patents. This isn‘t the first time that the corporation has threatened FOSS users with lawsuits. In March 2006, stated that it was his duty towards his shareholders, and the attacks have not stopped despite agreements being signed with Linux companies like Novell (November 2006). In an interview with Forbes magazine, Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith even specified the numbers, stating that Microsoft had ascertained that free software infringed on more than 235 patents.

Microsoft employee Lars Lindstedt published Ballmer’s controversial speech on a British corporate website.

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