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DavidV

Microsoft vs Linux patent FUD

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Please correct me if my take on this is wrong:

Wikipedia: "On May 14, 2007, Microsoft licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez said on Fortune that Linux and associated free software violated 235 patents owned by Microsoft."

Recently, a Microsoft patent attorney refused to reveal the details of those violations because: "Most people who are familiar with patents know it's not standard operating procedure to list the patents...The response of that would be administratively impossible to keep up with."

So, Microsoft claims that Linux violates their patents, they know how many violations there are, but refuse to reveal them due to "administrative" reasons. This is questionable in itself, but a complicating element is the semi-secret licensing deal Microsoft signed with Novell last year.

Wikipedia:

"Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said of the deal, "This set of agreements will really help bridge the divide between open-source and proprietary source software."

The deal involves upfront payment of $348 million from Microsoft to Novell for patent cooperation and SLES subscription. Novell will pay around $40 million to Microsoft over 5 years."

The impression that many people, myself included, have from these events, is that Microsoft paid Novell to (1) create the impression that Linux violates Microsoft patents, and (2) to sell "patent-safe" Linux licenses. Microsoft has a long history of spreading FUD about Linux, but it is now engaging in McCarthy-istic tactics, by claiming to have a list of patents that it will not reveal. This sounds like a threat/bribe to encourage people to either abandon Linux or buy Microsoft's Novell certificates.

It's not hard to guess why Microsoft will not reveal any proof of patent violations: either they don't exist, or workarounds will quickly be created to any legitimate violations. The same tactic was used by SCO UNIX against IBM in 2003. SCO's sagging stock price skyrocketed during the controversy but crashed when they failed to provide any evidence and were left only with a huge legal bill.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novell#Agreement_with_Microsoft

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCO_v._IBM

Edited by GreedyCapitalist
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Personally, I doubt the claims of these violations and even whether or not the patents are valid. Also, Linux developers are not responsible for some of the so-called violations, as some of them are in third party application s, such as OpenOffice, which is Sun Microsystem's fault if anyone's, not Linux developers. Linux developers should not be held responsible for third party application patent violations, as they did not create them.

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