Microsoft Set to Attack Linux with Patents?

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-03-30 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Experts debate whether recent remarks by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicate upcoming patent litigation against Linux. (Linux-Watch)

Is Microsoft getting ready to attack Linux and open-source software with its patents? Florian Mueller, spokesperson for the European NoSoftwarePatents.com and a leading anti-patent activist, thinks that may be the case. Mueller sees a recent Forbes interview with Microsofts CEO Steve Ballmer as stopping just "short of announcing patent litigation against Linux." In the interview, Ballmer said, "Well, I think there are experts who claim Linux violates our intellectual property. Im not going to comment.
"But to the degree that thats the case, of course we owe it to our shareholders to have a strategy. And when there is something interesting to say, youll be the first to hear it." Click here to read more about the Microsoft FAT patent conflict. Mueller reasoned that, "By intellectual property he must mean patents. IP is a broad term and includes diverse rights, but its hard to see how Linux would infringe any trade mark rights or copyrights held by Microsoft.
"However, given the size of the Linux code, its almost certain that it will violate a number of patents, and some of them, such as the ones on the FAT file system, may indeed be held by Microsoft." Others who are also concerned with open-source and patents dont see Ballmers recent comments as being anything new. "Well, I wouldnt say that [these comments are] noise, [but] its actually less than theyve said in the past," said Daniel B. Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation. Read the full story on Linux-Watch: Microsoft set to attack Linux with patents? Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
 
 
 
 
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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