Red Hat is assuring its customers that they can continue to deploy its Linux operating system with confidence and without fear of legal retribution from Microsoft, despite the increasingly vocal threats emanating from the Redmond, Wash., company.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a small meeting of Web 2.0 developers and partners on Oct. 1 at its London office that "people who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to eventually compensate us."
Ballmer, in response to a question about Microsoft and open source, lauded the deal it struck with Novell last year.
"Not only are we working on technical interoperability between Linux and Windows, but weve also made sure that we could provide the appropriate, for the appropriate fee, [protection for] Novell customers [so that they] also get essentially the right to use our patented intellectual property. And I think its great the way Novell stepped up to kind of say intellectual property matters," he said.
Ballmer threatens Linux and open source with patents again. Click here to read more.
In a scathing response to Ballmers remarks, Red Hats IP team said the reality is that the community development approach of free and open-source code represents a healthy development paradigm, which, when viewed from the perspective of pending lawsuits related to intellectual property, is at least as safe as proprietary software.
"We are also aware of no patent lawsuit against Linux. Ever. Anywhere," the team said in a blog posting.
The Linux vendor, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., also gives customers open-source intellectual property protections through its Open Source Assurance Program, which includes a promise to replace the software if there is an intellectual property issue.
"This provides customers with assurances of uninterrupted use of the technology solution. Protecting our customers is a top priority, and we take it very seriously. Our confidence in our technology and protections for customers remains strong and has not wavered," the blog posting said.
Click here to read more about Microsofts claims that open-source technology violates 235 of its patents.
The Open Invention Network also has an independent patent portfolio to help protect and maintain the pro-competitive effect of the open Linux environment.
For his part, Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, dismissed Ballmers comments as just another "FUD attack squarely aimed at slowing the threat Linux and open source represents to its business."
He also pointed to the fact that Microsoft has yet to specify which of its patents are allegedly being infringed, and appeared skeptical that it ever will.
Microsoft sees no conflict with its patent and open-source initiatives. Click here to read more.
"Based on Microsofts experience to date in litigating patent matters, it is not surprising that they are reticent to begin the process and watch the resulting weeding out of their patent portfolio. Nor do they wish to test the open-source communitys ability to respond to a specific patent allegation. Unfortunately, we are getting used to these Microsoft scare campaigns that seem to pop up every six months," he said.
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