Enterprise Linux Log

May 17 2007   10:47AM GMT

Microsoft’s patent FUD –> target Red Hat?


Comments made today by LinuxToday editor Brian Proffit on his blog The Hoosier Penguin resonate with what IP attorney John Rabena told me yesterday in our interview, “Microsoft’s anti-Linux patent claims: Arm-twisting for Novell-like deals.”

The Hoosier Penguin:

In pool, specifically Nine Ball, there is a phrase known as “rolling the cheese,” where you hit one ball into the nine ball and hope that the nine ball actually ends up in a pocket. Microsoft is rolling the cheese by threatening customers and developers alike with these allegations, but that is not their real goal. Their nine ball is Red Hat.

I believe the big reason why Redmond is trying this stale tactic again is to get one specific thing: a cross-licensing or covenant agreement with Red Hat, similar to the one they have with Novell. That is the real goal here–anything else, like customers fleeing Linux for Microsoft, would simply be a bonus.

In our interview with Rabena, he said pretty much the same thing without naming Red Hat specifically. “The biggest targets by far are the larger users of Linux and open source software … By targeting them, Microsoft is either trying to get together more Novell deals with those companies or is getting together some type of global agreement with providers,” he said.

Red Hat’s vice president of enterprise applications Tim Yeaton told me at the Red Hat Summit last week that Red Hat has no intention of pursing an interoperability or patent strategy with Microsoft in any way, shape of form. Brian over at LT says Red Hat told him (paraphrased here) that it would be akin to doing a deal with the devil. I think that’s basically what Yeaton told me in our one-on-one interview, albeit with a tad more politeness.

Microsoft is ramping up the patent debate once again not as an effort to frighten customers, but to rope Red Hat into a Novell patent covenant-type arrangement. Thing is, Red Hat’s message has remained constant since October/November 2006, when they were hit on two fronts by Oracle Linux and the MS-Novell deal. This week’s patent saber rattling by Redmond doesn’t seem to have had any effect either.

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