I admit, it is a little late to get to the most important story in tech – Microsoft’s not so subtle patent power play – but I needed to absorb it all. What Microsoft does with those 235 patents that open source products are infringing upon, remains to be seen. There are still two issues that the story raised…
* First, for Microsoft’s very public approach indicates that open source is having a material impact on Microsoft.
* Second issue is very aptly brought up by Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz on his blog.
“You would be wise to listen to the customers you’re threatening to sue – they can leave you, especially if you give them motivation. Remember, they wouldn’t be motivated unless your products were somehow missing the mark,” he writes.
Schwartz, tells the story of his own company’s decision to embrace open source, which you might want to read. I would love to get your thoughts on the why-the-patent-story question.
13 thoughts on “The Microsoft Patent Threat… Why?”
I think you hit the nail on the proverbial head with #1. The Linux/OS X/Open Source/Sun complex grows like a subtle Hydra – so far.
M$oft has decided to be IBM to counter the threat. Of course, most of us recall how successful Big Blue was back in the day when it blamed it’s failures on competitors who did a better job of listening to what consumers wanted.
IBM kept market share for a long time by playing on the fears and hangups of business customers. M$oft will continue to do the same. Ignoring the market changes wrought by people who persist in buying “personal computers” instead of aping the IT dept wherever they work.
This is crap.
In their race to follow in the footsteps of their equally-IP-dishonest mentor IBM by filing patents on virtualy every “blade of grass difference” they can come up with (or steal from others), MS again shows their true colors…
I’ve taken a look at a number of their “patents,” and they’re worthless. Little or no prior art listed–including the critical non-patent art; lying to the patent office about prior art they know about–or should know given their industry expertise (time to depose their engineers)–but which they refuse to disclose in their apps as they’re legally required to do; and managing to obtain patents on already created inventions due to overworked patent examiners’ lack of adequate search and other resources and unfair time and production pressures…
Oh, and look–they refuse to supply the actual patent numbers on what they say is being infringed.
Gee, do ya suppose that could be because they don’t want the press to be able to quote others who would quickly slap this intellectual crap into the sewer where it belongs (and where it will end up if they ever dare decide to attempt to assert it aginst other industry big boys)?
Oh, I think so.
And all this from a company that cries like a baby whenever anyone else asserts one single patent against them…running to Congress for “relief” from these “trolls”…
Oh boo hoo!
This is hypocrisy of the highest order.
Microsoft should be ashamed of themselves.
I believe the timing of this has a lot to do with Dell considering the offering of Ubuntu Linux on their desktop PCs. Offering Ubuntu obviously impinges on the Vista market and this gives Microsoft 235 reasons to stop Dell from promoting the effort.
i hate microsoft,
I can’t speculate as to the “why now?” question, but it seems suicidal. Microsoft is trying to convince developers to migrate to a number of new web-ish platforms of theirs, like Live.com and Silverlight, to ultimately replace the stagnant Win32 platform.
Antics like these will remind everyone of MS’ past business practices as revealed during the DoJ antitrust lawsuit and will stifle whatever slim chance of attracting the short-memoried developer demographic.
Let see how powerful FUD really is.
MSFT is in essence telling the CTO/CIO guy that the Linux based solutions they were eying is tainted.
This is not new at all. First Microsoft went with the absence of Enterprise software on Linux and problems of interoperability. After that did not work, Microsoft went with the FUD of total cost of ownership. Now its the FUD of tainted IP.
The IT manager making platform decisions would be scared by these sticks and attracted by the carrot of easy low cost stable solutions on .NET – Atleast thats the Redmond theory.
Friends from Redmond have said that Windows Server is doing pretty well. Windows Server has been making strides and gaining marketshare. However is this gain at the expense of old Enterprise Unix or Linux is not so clear.
BTW Om, Microsoft is not doing badly. It is just paranoid as usual – The big competitor in the enterprise space is Linux and this is just a stab at them.
I liked the title of the Fortune article. In a fight of Microsoft against the free world, Microsoft has no chance at winning. However in a war of information. FUD is pretty powerful !
i hate Microsoft, but i like Bill Gates and his money:)
Why am I reminded of SCO and =its= (paid behind the scenes) attempts to quash other Linux implementations?
Microsoft has always used patents in a defensive way, to ensure they do not get sued, rather than sue.
“True greatness is measured by how much freedom you give to others, not by how much you can coerce others to do what you want.”
– Larry Wall Creator of Perl
If someone stole the technology to the scroll wheel for an iPod, put it in another media player device (with an open source OS) and resold it, would Apple sit by and not claim patent infringement?
Put this in perspective, if the open source community infringed upon Microsoft’s patents, how are they any less liable?
I think people fail to understand that IP protection (not without many problems) is one of the competitive advantages of the US economy.
While it makes people mad, if Microsoft was founded in China (or another loose IP country), it certainly wouldn’t have standardized the desktop environment; or, ironically, created a passionate user base devoted to open source competition.
Kyle Redinger misses the point. The point is not so much that there are 235 alledged infringements on Microsoft patents.
The point is that Microsoft refused to detail specifically what those alledged infringements are. Plus they want to collect royalties on it.
That’s like being presented with a statement with invoice numbers blacked out.
No one in their right mind would pay that.
Microsoft has a right, and indeed a duty to protect it’s intellectual property, however their refusal to provide specific information calls the validity of their claims into question.
After a week studying the issue in the broader context of what’s happening to software as a license model and more specifically Microsoft’s multiple business challenges, I am convinced this is a new campaign. The FUD is a tactical effort by Microsoft to provide leverage. Leverage for Microsoft to buy its way into FOSS and milk the cash cow one last time by selling indemnity. You can read my full analysis at http://gotastrategy.typepad.com