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Microsoft Pulls an SCO, Novell Gives Credence to Arguments

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Steve Ballmer at 7:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who didn’t see that coming?

Feeling the great pressure, Microsoft has just declared a patent war on Free software (including GNU/Linux).

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.

Recall the approach of SCO:

…Darl McBride, CEO of SCO, in 2003:

“The intellectual property roots of Linux are obviously flawed at a systemic level under the current model. To date, we claim that more than one million lines of UNIX System V protected code have been contributed to Linux through this model. The flaws inherent in the Linux process must be openly addressed and fixed.”

Microsoft’s approach here is similar.

Microsoft refuses to state which particular patents are infringed in an attempt to avoid retaliation from FOSS advocates. However, the statements certainly put Linux and its users under a dark cloud — potentially sufficient for a declaratory judgment action under MedImmune v. Genentech (2006).

This is surely going to become a huge debate in weeks to come. How does Novell fit into this? As we have said all along, Novell acknowledges that there is patent infringement.

‘In mid-November, shortly after the pact was announced, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said companies that sell or run Linux, but aren’t covered under the Novell deal, are illegally using Microsoft’s IP. “We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability,” he said.

He said in a later meeting: “I do think it clearly establishes that open source is not free.”

For that, Novell, you will be remembered as the puppet which, instead of fighting patent claims, only offered endorsement. Whose side were you on?

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  1. shane said,

    May 13, 2007 at 7:22 pm


    Hmmm. Why no response to my earlier request for specificity? Obviously, MS has performed a detailed analysis since then, here is a supposed breakdown:

    But he does break down the total number allegedly violated – 235 – into categories. He says that the Linux kernel – the deepest layer of the free operating system, which interacts most directly with the computer hardware – violates 42 Microsoft patents. The Linux graphical user interfaces – essentially, the way design elements like menus and toolbars are set up – run afoul of another 65, he claims. The Open Office suite of programs, which is analogous to Microsoft Office, infringes 45 more. E-mail programs infringe 15, while other assorted FOSS programs allegedly transgress 68.

  2. twitter said,

    December 8, 2008 at 5:23 pm


    Steve Balmer’s reference repudiated Steve Ballmer’s patents claim in November of 2004. Steve got his numbers from an OSRM report by Dan Ravicher about the danger of software patents.

    “Microsoft is up to its usual FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt],” said Dan Ravicher, author of the study Microsoft cites, who is an attorney and executive director of PUBPAT (the Public Patent Foundation). “Open source faces no more, if not less, legal risk than proprietary software. The market needs to understand that the study Microsoft is citing actually proves the opposite of what they claim it does. There is no reason to believe that GNU/Linux has any greater risk of infringing patents than Windows, Unix-based or any other functionally similar operating system. Why? Because patents are infringed by specific structures that accomplish specific functionality,” Ravicher said.

    This really needs to be trotted out wherever M$ waves patent FUD.

  3. G. Michaels said,

    December 8, 2008 at 8:27 pm


    Take what this ‘twitter’ person says with a large grain of salt.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

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