Steve Ballmer's Prophecy Comes True: Former Microsoft Execs Sue Red Hat, Novell Over Patents

from the funny-how-that-works dept

Jon writes in to let us know that a small patent holding firm, IP Innovation, has sued Red Hat and Novell over patent infringement concerning a ridiculously broad patent. As the Groklaw report outlines, the suing company is actually a subsidiary of Acacia, which is considered to be one of the more egregious firms in using bad patents to squeeze money out of companies. Groklaw also notes that Acacia has recently hired a bunch of execs from Microsoft, leading to the conspiracy theory that Steve Ballmer's recent predictions of patent lawsuits against Red Hat were more than random speculation. I'm not willing to go that far just yet, but as you can see from Ars Technica's breakdown of the patent earlier this year (when the company sued Apple), it describes very broadly the concept of workspaces in a computer user interface. This is yet another example of the worst of our patent system at work. Companies that offer innovative products getting sued using vague, overly broad patents on obvious ideas that never should have been granted in the first place.
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Filed Under: linux, open source, patents
Companies: acacia, microsoft, red hat

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  1. identicon
    Jimmy Z, 12 Oct 2007 @ 3:10pm

    Wow, I'm constantly baffled by how fucked up our patent system is. Where are the retard police? Oh nevermind, I forgot, Geek Squad bought them out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    insomniac4104, 12 Oct 2007 @ 3:12pm

    from Patent_System
    where Company_Description LIKE "%TROLL%"

    That should fix it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    TW Burger, 12 Oct 2007 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Jimmy Z

    Jimmy Z that was one of the most crass, foul-mouthed, politically incorrect comments I have ever read on this site. Well done! Keep fighting the good fight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    inc, 12 Oct 2007 @ 3:50pm


    0 rows returned

    DROP patent_system;

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2007 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Jimmy Z

    that's the worst comment you've ever read on this site? noob... :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2007 @ 4:58pm

    one interesting bit is that novell is actually a customer of acacia's.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Reed, 12 Oct 2007 @ 8:12pm

    Lets go out on the limb

    I know you don't want to be wrong Mike, but come on! First SCO with its secret Microsoft backing and now this from a affiliate of the company just after monkey boy predicts it?

    By the way, it's only a conspiracy if it is hidden, and there isn't much hiding here so far. Just like the the dinosaurs of the RIAA, the people involved in the proprietary model of software development are just starting to realize the comet is coming and no amount of lawyers will save them in the end.

    Good riddance to bad coding and poor philosophies IMHO

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    CharlieHorse, 12 Oct 2007 @ 10:03pm

    agreed, Reed

    yep - this ain't no coincidence ... m$ knows that it has to tread carefully and so put some distance between itself and any actions of this nature, lest the anti-trust cat be let out of the bag again and even good pals BushCo won't be able to stem the anti-trust tide washing over m$ if they get their hands too dirty on this one.

    this was plan "d" all along anyway.

    plan "a" was fud battle - which was pretty much lost before it even started -

    plan "b" was, well ... more of plan "a" along with thinly veiled threats about "patent infringement" - meant to scare off IT investment in FOSS - all the while back-door funding sco to promote a lawsuit - all meant to fracture the FOSS community ... as well as the tons of planted "research" and "reporting" show how eeeeeevil FOSS is ... oh, well, I guess I already said fud, didn't I ...

    plan "c" was, yeah, more of plan "a" and "b" with more overt efforts to fracture the FOSS community - in this step they also went back to the tried and true "embrace, extend, extinguish" model by "partnering" with novell ... which has likely spelled the doom of novell unless they can worm their way out somehow - but hey, sleep with the devil and you're bound to get fleas ... errr, or something like that ... (alas, poor Yorick ... I knew him Horatio ...)

    plan "d" was/is: "crap, nothing is working ... FOSS is kicking the crap out of everything we make by orders of magnitude ..." so finally, they are starting to unleash the patent trolls - and you can be sure they will very carefully watch to see how this turns out.

    if it's over quick, they may back off again for a bit to re-think, but more likely if it drags out - you can bet that suddenly lots of m$ buddy companies will be discovering that they, too, need to sue FOSS companies ... probably a lot of the same companies that suddenly realized how much they needed to be full p-members of the ISO committee just before the open office xml vote ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Buzz, 13 Oct 2007 @ 12:33pm


    That was golden, inc. I love SQL queries. ^_^

    Can't the Linux people just agree to forfeit 95% of profits? That sounds fair, right? OK, let's see. Oh that's right! THEY DON'T SELL THE OPERATING SYSTEM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    nevermind, 13 Oct 2007 @ 4:09pm

    Yep. Microsoft can break down Novell and RedHat, but what can they do with RedFlag? Ubuntu? There's a world outside the US, which doesn't give a ... to those ridiculous US patents.
    Anyway, innovation is important, but competition is just as important. MSFT wants to stop competition... It will be too bad for the US and for MSFT as well, if they will have only overseas contestants... We will have a MSFT contintent and some non-MSFT continents... MSFT continent not letting patent infinging Linux in, nom-MSFT continents will not let MSFT out...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    ehrichweiss, 14 Oct 2007 @ 7:33am

    couple of things..

    First, if that's the patent that they're trying to get RedHad/Novell with then it's up to expire next year since it was issued in 1991.

    Also, wasn't it recently ruled that we wouldn't have software patents? I've not had my caffeine yet so I don't remember the specifics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2007 @ 8:49am


    I'm not sure I see a full connection here. Acacia hired some ex-MSFT execs, and then went on to sue over the paten, and I don't see any information that this action is supported by Microsoft. From the sounds of it, Acacia could even go after MSFT over this one (though I doubt we'll see that).

    Regardless, I just don't see the evidence that there is a conspiracy here. I'm sure that Acacia has many employees who have had another job at some point in their life. If John Doe in accounting happened to work a summer at McDonald's in college does that mean that Ronald is now behind the scenes pulling the strings?

    Sure, things are a litle fishy but I don't see how this suit has anything to do with MSFT.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    SailorRipley, 16 Oct 2007 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re:

    They didn't hire some ex-MSFT, the people were working for MS until Acacia hired them, so it's not "another job at some point in their life", it's the job they did until Acacia hired them, just prior to launching this law suit. One guy worked for MS for 16 years before switching to Acacia...

    That does smell very fishy to say the least

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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