Dear Microsoft, Sue This, Please

November of last year, you announced a covenant with Novell not to sue its customers for patent violations. Shortly thereafter you tried to strike a similar deal with Red Hat. Red Hat turned you down. Somewhere early in the public discussion you claimed that all users of Linux owe Microsoft money for using Microsoft intellectual property (read: infringing upon Microsoft patents). Please tell us when you plan to collect said monies. When are you going to sue Red Hat Linux customers? When do you plan to sue the users of other countless non-Novell distributions? Surely Novell customers will feel their protection money was ill-spent unless you follow through with such lawsuits. So please fill us in on your plans to sue. The suspense is excruciating.

Yours Truly,

One of countless proud users of Debian, Kubuntu, PC Linux OS, Mandriva, Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise, Knoppix, Mepis, Mint, Gentoo, and many other non-Novell distributions.


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Linux distriutions

Anonymous's picture

There are a lot of ohter Linux distributions too...

good question

Kronplatz's picture

...I'm very curios of the answer!

This tread

ag tile's picture

I just have 2 words for whoever is responsible for this tread:
wipe-out the-spam.

I'm really confused by some

forum's picture

I'm really confused by some of the other posts. What gives you guys the impression that Nick is somehow saying that other distributions are technically superior to SUSE? I'm dying to know. I just read the article, and this appears to be about Microsoft, not SUSE.


LearningProcess's picture

Hmm, almost sounds like there might be a deal there that we aren't hearing about.

Thank you for your reliable

food's picture

Thank you for your reliable post, that’s what i was searching for.


We think this is an

Home Refurbish Course's picture

We think this is an inspiring article.

I will download the software

bank's picture

I will download the software and will try it. Thanks for the review

go nicholas!

Anonymous's picture

i guess your theories about ms plans to corner every user because of the 'rights' it has over linux because of nouvelle is coming to light...or was that glynn...though you guys are so paranoid, you prove correct with ms statement...

Microsoft can undoubtedly

Anonymous's picture

Microsoft can undoubtedly submit the claim and probably even will try when be to make it. However while we observe as itself Microsoft not in a condition to understand with claims in relation to her, here about what the company should worry first of all.

Nice stance.

free money's picture

Nice article. I like it! It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will we all be sued?

Will they ?

Pozycjonowanie stron www's picture

Will they all be sued ?

It isn't such an easy

Anonymous's picture

It isn't such an easy question. Too many things involved.

MSFT are just big bullies

Mac Millan's picture

MS's legal firm, Klarquist Sparkman LLP, is apparently paid very well. In Texas, where Goldtouch sued MS, the latter got summary judgment in favor of Microsoft that threw out Goldtouch's patent claim. Furthermore, in the western district of Washington State, MS got summary judgment saying that Goldtouch's mouse infringed two Microsoft patents! How's that for a reversal?

flip flop

havaianas's picture

Microsoft will not be suing the collective parties directly. If any action were to be made it would be in the effect of waiting for real values of patent infringment then a settlement later out of court. Its all about getting proof and supplementing that proof to make the battle worth while.

Whilst I agree with the

Alex White's picture

Whilst I agree with the sentiment it still leaves me with a (mild) feeling of nervousness that this is really a matter of taunting a dangerous animal.

On the other hand I suppose that fear is possibly (probably) what they are hoping for industry wide to inhibit the take up of Linux systems.


New Thumbs Daily's picture

Beuracracy gone mad!

I Hate Microsoft

Brooklyn Girl's picture

Is there a more evil corporation than Microsoft anywhere? OK... I'm sure there are many. Watch the documentary "The Corporation" - it's very eye opening.


Mike's picture

Indeed true. I saw that documentary and it was really a good one.


Mike Gravel's picture

Great stuff. I love it when some big corporation tries to flex it's power in some ridiculous way.

Interesting slant on this

Web site Promotion's picture

"their protection money". I was rather entertained with that statement, I hadn't thought of it that way before.

Although I have a tendency to agree more with one of the comments to this article when it was stated "how can Microsoft sue anyone for intellectual property violations when they have never generated an original thought in the computing environment."

Guess it's not who comes out with the idea first or who has the best idea. It comes down to who can afford the best lawyers!

Ha, that's funny. I guess if

Cell Phone Reviews's picture

Ha, that's funny. I guess if you have billions of dollars you can act like you generated original thought, and pay people off to agree with you.

Microsoft huh?

Anonymous's picture

In the tech world Microsoft is like George Bush in the Political world. They rule. I have to agree that Microsoft did not come out with something original, but that is a fight that will last for a long long time with an un-obvious outcome.

A Microsoft Deal is More Than Just Patents

travertine's picture

I discovered a few weeks ago that as part of the Novell deal, and Microsoft selling SLES coupons supposedly, SLES actually has to be a subserviant within a Windows domain controller set up. Ergo, SLES can quite easily be replaced with Windows at a later date without anyone being any the wiser. Presumably, when this deal runs out in five years Microsoft will have hoped that they'll have replaced all the SLES and Netware servers with Windows, replaced a lot of Red Hat servers with SLES replaced with Windows, and Novell will be no more.

I second...

Goa Beach Boy's picture

As rightly said by you... But, anyways thats the reason why we guys use open source


Anonymous's picture

there are many, many other non-Novell distributions.


Greece Travel's picture

Exactly - so what will happen ?? Will they all be sued ??? Surely that ever happening is most unlikely.

Microsoft is not so bad

SoftArea51's picture

If Microsoft was considered a bad figure until now I really think this can change in the future. The competition with Google might be in our advantage after all.

Here is a question:

Patrick G Horneker's picture

How do you sue everyone in a community whose population is more than the combined populations of New York City and Chicago?

This figure would be the total number of users, developers, consultants, and corporations involved in the FOSS movement.

History has shown that such ruthless tactics often backfired, and result in devastation for the aggressors.

In reply

Play Action Games's picture

Which is why there will be no suing. Most companies are scared these days of these sor t of suits giving them a bad name. There's power in numbers: consumer, consultants, developers etc in a way can "vote with their feet"

Microsoft suing anyone

Tom O'Connell's picture

The reason I don't use Microsoft is a deep regard for my privacy.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! MICROSOFT SUE ME!!!


John Black's picture

Well if you can't know what's going on since it's nice open source.I think this comment is worthless

...Deep Regard For Your Privacy...

TF2's picture

You could say that about any executable installed on your system, why would you think Microsoft is going to be the one to violate your privacy (whatever that even means)? No company is under a bigger magnifying glass, particularly in regards to privacy, so I wouldn't call that a reason.

In any case, MS has started to back off from it's hardline stance against competition.

Yes, sue us.

Tom M.'s picture

First, how can Microsoft sue anyone for intellectual property violations when they have never generated an original thought in the computing environment. If they did, their software would be something other than flaky computing security risks. Industry and the general public are being held hostage by the Microsoft empire. I am glad that I learned computing starting some 40+ years ago and continued to use all forms of Unix (and its predecessors) and for the past many years Linux. Microsoft suing Linux users is nothing but humorous nonsense

SCO sue me, too

Anonymous's picture

Yes, come to sue me, too. I use GNU/Linux. I will continue to use GNU/Linux. Phil Hughes of SSC dared SCO to come sue him in Costa Rica, and I dare Microsoft to come sue me in Venezuela.

Come on, Microsoft, ¡adelante! As the famous chico monito estadounidense put it so well: GIVE IT UP FOR MEEEEEE!!!!!

And spammers can come spam me here :-)

MS is successfully FUDing

hpf's picture

MS is successfully FUDing you (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). They want the suspense to be excruciating for the entire market. That is their objective, to create and atmosphere of uncertainty regarding Linux’s future, thus hopefully retarding its future prospects.

Demand to be Sued!

Marcel (WFTL) Gagné's picture

Sounds like a plan to me. I know that online petitions aren't worth the paper they're written on, but with sufficient numbers, they do make a point. We could register (it's available) and ask every Linux user (whether home user or corporate) to stop by and add their electronic signature. Then, we Digg it, Slashdot it, LXer it and lots of other ITs. When the excitement starts to build, encourage users to create YouTube type videos asking Microsoft to sue them for being Linux users. If nothing else, it might generate the kind of viral attention that no company wants, not even Microsoft.

Great idea

Nicholas Petreley's picture

As you know by now, I registered and I've come up with a number of open letters for the site. I've passed them around and people keep raising good objections, and they are concerned that Microsoft might just sue me because I asked for it. The latter doesn't worry me much. But I have yet to come up with a good enough open letter that I'd want to publish it. (No matter how I approached it, I'd let readers "sign" it and leave comments.)

The problem I encounter while writing the letter is caused by the fact that Microsoft has done a wonderful job of being two-faced in its attack. On the one hand, it can truthfully say it is promoting Linux with its voucher system. That's a powerful comeback to any claim that Microsoft is threatened by Linux as competition. On the other hand, Microsoft IS threatening all non-SUSE (their words, not mine) users by claiming we have an undisclosed balance-sheet liability to Microsoft for using something that's not SUSE. Add to that the fact that neither MS nor Novell has made public the details of the deal, and it's nearly impossible to cover all bases in an open letter/challenge of this sort.

Why MS will not sue...

Anonymous's picture

Other than dissing on openSuse (which really was an innocent victim of Novell's poor history of buying companies then trashing the newly acquired products) I would agree that it would be nice for MS to step up and make good on their claim. But the reality is this: IBM holds all the cards. The very moment that MS tries to call on these "patent infringements" old blue will open up their arsenal of claims and things would get ugly real quick. MS knows this. They aren't dummies like SCO. In fact, I do believe that they "encouraged" SCO to go ahead with their lawsuit to see what would happen. We all know SCO's sad fate and I highly doubt that MS would want to go that route. As for all this about SuSE, they (SuSE) agreed to be bought out by Novell in hopes of getting more money and exposure. If they had any idea that Novell was going to make such a deal with MS, I highly doubt that they would have gone along with it. Having said that, I also don't see openSuse being any more a part of SLED than Fedora Core is a part of RHEL. By that I mean, both of these are "affiliated" but kept at an arm's length from the parent company. Dis on SLED - but go easy on openSuSE.

They are already threatening users

cprise's picture

...and cutting deals behind closed doors.

Jeremy Allison:

LinuxWorld: One of the persistent rumors that’s going around is that certain large IT customers have already been paying Microsoft for patent licensing to cover their use of Linux, Samba and other free software projects. And the Novell deal -- isn’t it just taking that and doing the same kind of thing wholesale?

Allison: Yes, that’s true, actually. I mean I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using, which they then cannot redistribute. I think that would be the restriction. I would have to look quite carefully. So, essentially that’s not allowed. But they’re not telling anyone about it. They’re completely doing it off the record.

The problem with the Novell deal is -- Novell gave Microsoft what Microsoft dearly wanted, which is a public admission that they think that Linux violates the Microsoft patent. So, that’s the difference between this and the sort of off-the-record quiet deals. This one is public.

Covert action

Nicholas Petreley's picture

What possible motive(s) does Microsoft have for doing this behind the scenes?

1. It doesn't actually have a case - for example, IBM invented SMB (although there may be other things in SAMBA that Microsoft invented).

2. It has a case but does not want the publicity, just the money.

3. Your idea here.

Covert action

Nicholas Petreley's picture

double post

OpenSuSE also *directly* helping Novell, unfortunately

Anonymous's picture

That's the other great crime here. The actions of Novell's top management have also spit on the contributions of the OpenSuSE developers, too. Unfortunately, we must also avoid OpenSuSE like the plague. The reason is that most of it, too, is covered under that Novell/Microsoft patent agreement. They even say so in their FAQ, available at

"Q. From the customer's perspective, what is covered in openSUSE?
"The patent agreement covers everything from that is included in past and current Novell supported versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. It also covers future versions (for 5 years) of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, with recognition of the fact that development changes may occur that fall outside the terms of this agreement. While some future scenarios may not be included, we have established a working relationship and structure to have conversations about those issues as they arise."

So Novell has directly stated that "the patent agreement covers everything from that is included in past and current Novell supported versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop."

Now, let's say that you're Novell management, and your Microsoft masters direct you to slip some code in, on which MS claims patent rights. You do it in OpenSuSE and keep silent about the patent issue, and further, you make that code GPLv2 to keep suspicion down. Remember that OpenSuSE is the basis for SLED/SLES, in much the same way that Fedora is the basis for Red Hat's RHEL product. Thus, those who work on the OpenSuSE distribution are immediately and directly aiding and abetting Novell's participation in this patent deal. It's a shame, but it's true.

Worse, that aforementioned GPLv2'd code that Microsoft thinks it has patent claims on, could easily (being GPL'd) end up in many other distributions, too--Debian, Ubuntu, Slackware, Yellow Dog, etc. Novell/Microsoft has just infected us all. Oops....

I hope that the members of the OpenSuSE team (including the ones on Novell's payroll) someday wake up, realize what they're doing, and jump ship to another distro. There are several very good ones for them to choose from.

Who and when will MS sue?

Anonymous's picture

I read this blog(31 responses so far) and Mr. Petreley's initial post a couple of times. There are some good thoughts all over this blog. I've been thinking about the question of when and who MS will sue? My short answer - they won't until there losses to OSS are so big they have no other choice. Basically, they won't sue until their hand has been forced. Why? I believe it's because MS realizes that even they might lose such a case. Or they could get a decision with no teeth in it because the infringements are too small and/or to few to make a meaningful difference. As well, the infringements, if any, would be spelled out during the case and then the community could respond to them - definitively.

Another blogger, pointed out that MS is very good at FUD. And this is their strength. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are much more powerful than finality and clarity. MS has built a house of cards or, at least done some meaningful remodeling, using FUD. If they were to get a neutral or disadvantageous decision I think there would be a pretty exodus from their customer list because customers would have "clear" choices. A very scary thought for the MS marketing department.

So these are my musings on "Who and when will MS sue?". I apologize if I have "missed" the point. This is the best I can do under the circumstances.

IBM is one reason; here's another

Anonymous's picture

IBM's huge software patent arsenal is indeed one reason. The second reason, I believe, involves the European Union.

Remember that MS and many other companies (including IBM!) are very strongly lobbying the EU to allow enforceable software patents, USA-style. If MS goes suing Americans now, the EU will see that, and they likely will say, "no, we don't need that nonsense here." MS/IBM/Apple/YouNameItCorp desperately don't want that to happen. These companies are thinking long-term; first, get what we want (the USA software patent regime), and *then*, go sue every F/OSS developer that we can find all over the USA and Europe. To do that, they've got to appear to the EU decision-makers as "making nice." Suing people doesn't accomplish that.

Remember that the largest software patent holders are USA companies, not European companies. Europeans certainly don't want the USA to be able to extort them financially via software patent lawsuits--or the mere threat of same--thus allowing the USA to control what Europe does with software. I, as a USA citizen, am very glad that not all Europeans are rolling over to my government on this one.

For those who are serious

taupist's picture

For those among you who are serious, the first question that comes to my mind is;
How do we get our point of view (understanding) into mainstream media coverage?
The way I see it, this is what it all boils down to. The average computer user needs a fuller and more sophisticated understanding of what the implications are. Amateur radio operaters are almost 'extinct' because people (the general population) want someone else to do all the work for them (buy a box, plug it in).
If you expect everyone to be an 'amateur', it will never work.

Mainstream media

Anonymous's picture

Unfortunately, the mainstream media are bought and paid for by Microsoft advertising dollar$. They will be very reluctant to do anything that they think risks that revenue stream. It's just like the "Tier 1" OEM computer manufacturers; they don't want to risk losing the bribe^H^H^H^H^H "co-marketing" dollar$ that makes or breaks their margins. That's why Dell, HP, Lenovo, Gateway, etc. "recommend Windows Vista™ Home Premium."

There was a post--I think by Nick--about just that, and someone brought up PC Ragazine. At this point, there's just no way we can equal the advertising dollar$ that Microsoft pumps out, and until that economic model changes somehow, mainstream media will continue to promote their cash source: Microsoft. The mainstream tech press is especially guilty of this, but the Washington Post, etc. also suckle at the Microsoft teat.

Twelve years ago, a guy at PC Ragazine had written, and wanted to publish, an article about the truth of Windows 95. Needless to say, the article was not favorable to the product. This dude got fired as an example to others. Why? "Microsoft is our biggest advertiser, don't you know that??"

Word of mouth is, right now, the best thing I see that we have going. We've just got to keep maximizing it. Maybe Canonical has the money; they certainly have the desire.

Good article

Krendoshazin's picture

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Novell, had Red Hat been in the place of Novell, it would be exactly the same situation, that being said, it -is- Novell in this situation, and such actions must come with consequence.
The point of this article is to the fact that Microsoft, as they always have done, employ FUD tactics, they've gotten so good at it that they're able to employ these tactics without even being slanderous about it.

What we have is a free software company who has gone under the wing of Microsoft, primarily for the promise of increased distribution, but also with the promise that any patent issues that -might- arise will not be enforced against their company.
What this essentially does it offer the question, "why would they need protection if we're so sure it doesn't infringe any patents", and with Microsoft pushing the advertisement of increased distribution to the back burner, and focusing on the protection as the sole purpose of the pact, then this starts to paint an entirely new picture.

All they need is to give you just enough doubt to not use a particular product, and suddenly they've got their foothold back, these tactics are dirty and unwelcome, and are most certainly destructive.
Nick is offering you his complete faith in Microsoft's lack of ability to enforce such action, I suggest that you re-evaluate your attitudes, as this is an issue for the community as a whole.


Anonymous's picture

There's a difference between openSUSE and SLED. You are unfairly blackballing the entire community project which is openSUSE. I will refuse to stop using a superior distribution due to something I don't care about at all. Even if I did care, I still shouldn't stop using openSUSE. It's a community project which happens to be funded by Novell. There are many people working on openSUSE that don't get one cent from Novell. Besides, Ubuntu happens to be funded by the Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life. Think about it.

so much missing the point

Anonymous's picture

Sure would be a nice change of pace if you actually got the point of the article.