Ballmer on Patents: Swinging a Saber or a Salami?
Mark Rais for the OPINION/EDITORIAL section

In a new article on LinuxToday titled "Ballmer rattles intellectual property saber at Linux", Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols makes several important points that deserve both recognition and attention. The original article is also found on LinuxWatch.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols points out that "Microsoft, if it actually had anything to show, would likely be relying on patents rather than copyrights, against Linux."

He then clarifies that litigation against a company such as RedHat now has to be taken in the content of the Oracle Linux scenario. Would MS also choose to start litigation against Oracle?

This must also be tempered with the fact that IBM is unlikely to attend the games at the modern Circus Maximus without also putting in a contender.

If MS plans to sue for intellectual property related issues, IBM is unlikely to choose an obsequious posture. Today's leaders at big blue don't cower to opposition. Moreover, even when tides turn, they demonstrate some unique strategy of their own. Perhaps that's a component of why the company continues after over 118 years . Let's also keep in mind that IBM is the heavyweight contender when it comes to patents.

And for some who believe even IBM can turn face and begin chest thumping and aggressively asserting its "rights" against the OSS world, there is a unique pledge to free many patents.

So, yes as Steven well noted, IBM is entirely likely to play a substantive role if there is ever a real legal wrangling over patents.

Most poignantly, the article surfaces a reality that Ballmer may not understand: corporate saber rattling can only ensure the intensity of the opposition.

I see that others in big (IBM, Oracle, etc) and small (average Linux enterprise users) ways will march on with intensity whether or not MS slaps litigation into the picture. In fact, such a move may be a catalyst for faster integration of Linux in situations where people have been dragging their feet and are forced to make a decision.

In his article, Stephen effectively conveys how the sheer audacity and ignorance of MS business strategy combine to create a reality not seen before except when Ballmer threatened Asian National Leaders with the "litigation" concern.

The day when corporate law can be used as a tool to dominate users and implementers is over.

Instead, today as national governments embrace Linux, perhaps the picture we now see is of a man swinging not a saber but a salami, high over-his-head.

This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information. It contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author at the time of publication. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have been posted do not necessarily express the opinions of Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. IBM is the registered trademark of International Business Machines. Microsoft, Microsoft Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. MS is used in certain cases to further denote Microsoft Corporation. RedHat is the registered trademark for RedHat Inc. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.