Summary of the Microsoft vs Open Source patent situation
Novell rejects Microsoft's claims
Justin Steinman, Novell director of product marketing for Linux and open source dismissed Microsoft’s claims that there are infringements of Microsoft intellectual property within Linux. Novell happen to have an arrangement with Microsoft in which the two vendors agree not to sue each other's customers over patent infringment. However, he was more than happy to exclaim that he doesn't think there has been any intellectual property violations.
Linus Torvalds himself tells Microsoft to "put up or shut up"
In the light of Steve Ballmer's claim Linus spoke out saying ""Naming them would either make it clear that Linux is not infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim". A further comment was that Microsoft might well have patent infringements within their software which would be exposed should they expose it's software to public scrutiny.
Linus Torvalds and Eben Moglen agreed that the patent claims were just fear, uncertainty and doubt.
"While Torvalds and Free Software Foundation legal counsel Eben Moglen don't always see eye to eye, they seem to be in harmony on this issue. Moglen said last week at the Red Hat Summit in San Diego that the threat of lawsuits is often more effective than actually suing, because if you sue you have to stipulate which patents are being infringed and show that the patents are good."
Microsoft's evidence can be turned against them
"Ballmer makes a very bold statement by saying Linux infringes hundreds of patents," Ravicher said. "That is extremely different than saying 'Linux potentially infringes x patent,' because the requirement to prove infringement is much more difficult than the requirement to simply file a case claiming infringement."
Linux users defiantly claimed that they weren't afraid of Microsoft
Quite self explanatory I feel.
Intellectual Property lawyers claim MS was only spreading FUD
Microsoft's claims that it will ask distributors and users to pay royalties for up to 235 of its patents included in open-source software, including Linux, is clearly an attempt to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt and make people hesitant to use open source as an alternative to commercial products, intellectual property (IP) attorneys said.
Free software lawyer discusses the validity of Microsoft's claims
In basic terms, as Moglen explained to the online audience, the new version of the license would make Microsoft subject to the GPL, because of its distribution of Novell Suse Enterprise Linux coupons. Under the language of the license, Microsoft would then be prevented from pursuing patent claims against the broader Linux community. Not just Novell's Linux users would be protected.
Microsoft's faux pas over no expiry date on SUSE vouchers
Microsoft's distribution of those SUSE vouchers (which are governed by the GPLv3) have no expiry date and once the GPLv3 code is being distributed, Microsoft (effectively) comes under it's terms.
Microsoft vs. Open Source: military moves
Dana Gardner from LinuxInsider discusses how the entire situation with reference to military operations. Filled with metaphor and comparisons and manages to summarise the situation nicely.
It's clear to see that there are plenty of holes in Microsoft's claims and that the entire community isn't distracted by the FUD that lawyers have written the entire thing off as. I'm quite certain that there is no real intellectual property theft going on to concern the community. Microsoft is likely to have similar levels of "grey areas" in it's software (should they ever release their software in the same way).
It's all very fuzzy but there won't be any sueing going on, nor will anything shocking happen. It's clear that Microsoft were just stirring "FUD" (as Linus explained) and it's not worth paying attention to. Linux users are safe. Keep on using the software without fear.
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