GCN Tech Blog

By GCN Staff

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Microsoft adds it up

Last fall, when Microsoft Corp announced its Linux partnership with Novell Inc, one of the more curious items of the agreement was that Microsoft would indemnify Novell-licensed SUSE Linux users from patent infringements. Microsoft was mum about what those infringements might be, or what actions Microsoft saw as necessary for correction.

In the current issue, Fortune magazine offers a glimpse into Microsoft's thinking. The way Microsoft execs count up the numbers, free and open source software infringes on a total of 235 Microsoft patents, according to Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez.

The worst offender, according to Microsoft legal council, is Linux. The Linux kernel violates 42 patents and the Linux user interface violates another 65 patents. Various other open source programs account for the rest.

What will Microsoft do about these perceived offenses? Will they go after companies such as Red Hat Inc.? Open source users themselves? Or, as other speculate, is Ballmer bluffing, offering vague threats in lieu of actual evidence, or as a way to spook other open source companies into signing a similar agreement inked by Novell?

To be certain, this is not the last we'll hear about this issue.--Posted by Joab Jackson

Posted by Joab Jackson on May 14, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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