Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Pulls an SCO, Novell Gives Credence to Arguments

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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