Microsoft : Linux violates 235 of its patents

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Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you, maybe. Fortune's Roger Parloff reports.

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Founders Note:
This is great stuff!! link fixed

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Daimler selling Chrysler ???

Daimler selling Chrysler ???

Sorry.. link fixed

LOL!! It's what happens when I drive a Jeep (a Chrysler Car) and had two stories in my head.. The link is fixed :)

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28/100033867/index.htm

Interesting for many

Interesting for many reasons. TBH, this smacks of being another tactical lawsuit. As the article notes, the Open Source community has a few weapons of it's own, and could potentially launch enough serious lawsuits to, for instance, stop Windows being distributed, pending judical resolution.

Obviously, that would be a stone-cold disaster for MS. Ultimately, if the issue is REALLY forced, it could lead to a long overdue re-evaluation of the US patent system, and I don't think ANY corporate player wants to see that happen. The current system has been quietly finnessed over decades to produce the most favourable environment they can manage. Any adjustment is likely to have adverse consequences for corporate profits.

If MS succeeds in getting clear backing for software patents etc, coporate Linux houses (Wal-Mart, AIG, and Goldman Sachs et al) are hurt, and the members of the OIN (IBM, Sony, Philips, Novell, Red Hat and NEC) actually have stronger weapons to attack MS cash-cows, the OS and Office software. If they fail, they weaken their defenses against open software pacakges.

MS don't want a judgement, they want a deal.

Does anyone remember what

Does anyone remember what happened the last time a large company attempted to sue Linux/FOSS for patent infringement?

I'll give you a hint: In a couple of weeks they'll be delisted from NASDAQ

Open Source...

isn't the most fantastic in terms of business model - but it does build rabid loyalty. As if fanboys didn't hate M$ enough already.

Hmmm, looks like a complete

Hmmm, looks like a complete non-story to me. Microsoft claims FOSS violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties. What is MS about to do about that - nothing at the moment.

Hardly the 2nd SCO, no one has gone to court here yet. Just saber rattling on the part of MS and a slightly excited headline writer. I'd wait for action to come from this before getting wound up.

What is MS about to do about

What is MS about to do about that - nothing at the moment.

Not true. Read the article. It states how Microsoft has made some shifty deals with Novel and some other players.

shifty?

There was nothing shifty about the Novell deal. It was a deal, full stop.

What is shifty is the GPL and the way it tries to contaminate all derivative works.

When looking at source code, the first thing I check out is whether the license is BSD or GPL.

If it's GPL, it gets flushed.

Reading the GPL and the accompanying FAQ is guaranteed to give anyone seriously contemplating compliance a serious case of dyspepsia. It is contradictory and obtuse in a fashion that only the typical mad scientist could dream up.

A few comments

The GPL carries a weight for derivitave projects, but it does so because thats what the developers want. BSD license is great, but allowing anybody and everybody to profit from your work is a pretty big thing to do, and certainly not something that developers should be doing by default.

On the MS front...

The number seems to fluctuate between 2 and 300, but really it's 283. The patents in question are not exclusive to the linux core - a large number of them are in the software distros and if you ever installed linux, you know that there are literally thousands of apps that are included.

This is reminiscent of the SCO deal - "Thousands of lines of code were copied" turned into 12 lines, and those ended up being constant declarations. (i.e. TRUE = 1, FALSE = 0 kind of things).

Roughly 28 of the 283 patents MS is talking about are actually owned by microsoft, and of those patents not all of them have been granted yet.

The list of violated patents has not been made public to my knowledge. It was produced by a consulting firm that sells "patent infringement insurance" to end users and they have decent incentive to keep the information to themselves - 1) they don't want MS or anybody else suing somebody. 2) If they tell the developers, anything less than immediate cessation of offending code would result in TRIPLE damages. So basically, they are better off keeping their list to themselves.

MS on the other hand, has no reason to sue. They have a better strategy - keep linux in murky territory so that they can push MS products to enterprise IT. You don't have to spend 6 million on a lawsuit to do that, you just have to mention the fact that you could spend 6 million on a lawsuit at any given time if you wanted. It's very effective in public enterprises where risk mitigation is clearly a priority, and in the private sector too where the suits are still a little shaky about the whole "free software" thing.

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