Groklaw comments on MSFT threatening to sue "Patent Violations".
CNN/Fortune Original article (probably)
ZDnet (Mary Jo Follet)
"Put-up or shut-up" responses:
Linus Torvalis The copyright owner of "Linux" and at The Register
Eben Moglen senior counsel for Free Software Foundation. Author of 'GPL' (GNU General Public License) used to protect Linux kernel.
"we won't sue users": Inforworld reporting MSFT 'Exec'.
I like Pamela's wrap (PJ of GrokLaw):
Microsoft's real problem in the marketplace is that folks already hate the company's business tactics. Making folks hate them more doesn't sound so smart. Even those who pay up in fear will be looking for a way to get away from a company that acts like that, don't you think?
No one respects a bully. And so I take the article as a test, to see what the reaction will be more than an immediate threat.
I think Steve Ballmer, the second largest owner of MSFT stock, *will* sue. [408M shares, ~$10B. BillG has 900M]
He's arrogant enough and driven/reckless enough - we've all watched the 'monkey boy' videos.
From all the Microsoftie blogs around begging their management to fix things, we know another two things:
- MSFT management is very poor [pessimal? i.e. the opposite of optimal]
- Ballmer doesn't listen
From the $28B they have in the bank, we know that MSFT management is extremely poor:
- their normal ROI & ROA are well over 30-40%. Shareholders would be 10-times better off if the $$ were invested internally.
- the MSFT Management *themselves* think they are "one trick ponies" - they can't replicate their success in O/S & Office. Otherwise they'd have invested the money into internal businesses creating rivers of gold.
And if Ballmer sues, it's all over for MSFT - not immediately and not without a huge amount of pain.
The USA will have to choose between it's favourite sons - MSFT and good software used the length & breadth of the country. Not sure even President Shrub would make that call...
Governance and Director Obligations
Following the spate of corporate failures around 2000, especially Enron and "Global Crossings", the USA enacted good governance legislation.
If Ballmer pursues the patent suits and win or lose the share price, the value of the company, will drop. And we're not talking a few percent - but 3, 4 or 5 times - then the shareholders will be able to sue the directors responsible for wiping out the value of the company. That would be one very quick action - with a devastating result for Ballmer and Gates.
And if that doesn't happen, how about a class-action law-suit by MSFT shareholders for the "failure to thrive" of the company - for the last 5 years the company value has stagnated - especially when compared to the rest of the NASDAQ.