"Microsoft is running scared."
That's what Steven D'Aprano, open source advocate and operations manager for Cybersource, a Windows/Linux integration consultancy, told iTWire's Stan Beer recently. Discussing the software juggernaut's claim that Linux and other open source programs violate hundreds of its patents, D'Aprano says Microsoft is desperate to prevent customers from migrating to Linux rather than spending the raft of cash necessary to move to Windows Vista. What's more, he says, if Linux really did violate Microsoft patents, the company would have done something about it long ago.
A piece posted at out-law.com yesterday lends credence to D'Aprano's view. The author of the report upon which Microsoft seems to rely in making its claims says the report is being misused; it doesn't say what Ballmer and others are telling you it says.
Dan Ravicher, who founded the Public Patent Foundation to serve "the public's interest with regard to the patent system," did the research last year at the request of Open Source Risk Management, the article says. Ravicher says his report proves the opposite of Microsoft's claims:
Ballmer makes a very bold statement by saying Linux infringes hundreds of patents.... 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.
He misconstrues the point of the OSRM study, which found that Linux potentially, not definitely, infringes 283 untested patents, while not infringing a single court-validated patent.