"This is not legally motivated."
That's what Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin says about Microsoft's cries of patent infringement against Linux.
In a phone conversation with IT Business Edge this afternoon, Zemlin said the comments were nothing more than an extension of the company's advertising campaign. They are "scare tactics that delay the migration of Windows to Linux." And each day of delay, he says, makes Microsoft "$34 million better off."
What about the idea that folks in Redmond are scheming with Novell to crush Red Hat?
Nope. "It's really about the FUD," he reiterates.
Nor is Zemlin concerned that Microsoft will go after companies that use Linux. Many of the larger companies that use Linux are Microsoft customers, after all, and as he puts it, "You're not in business long" if you're suing your customers. He says:
"I think existing cross-licenses would prevent it. Microsoft hasn't said a word about AIX, Solaris, or any other operating system, so I presume that they wouldn't do anything against Linux either. I just think this is a lot about Microsoft feeling threatened. Linking OpenOffice to this is another example of where Microsoft sees this huge cash cow being threatened and, as smart businessmen, they're taking steps to slow down the threat. I think just in the next few weeks a lot of people in the industry will begin to see this as not a lot of new news, and a lot of hot air."
At the same time, though, he emphasizes that the Linux Foundation is involved in several initiatives to address the intellectual property concerns that open source presents. These include the Patent Commons reference library, the Open Invention Network, as well as the Open Source as Prior Art project.