Open Source Response to Microsoft's Patent Threats: 'So What?'

Lora Bentley

It's a given when Microsoft starts mouthing about open source and intellectual property that there will be a strong reaction from the open source community at large. And we didn't have to wait long. reports this morning that most of the open source world is "scoffing" at Microsoft's claim that various open source programs violate at least 235 of its patents. They say they aren't at all worried that they will be the targets of patent litigation. Microsoft isn't scaring open source users away, they say. Instead, the noise coming from Redmond signals that the software giant is scared -- of the impact open source will have on its business over time.


In a blog post yesterday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Todd Bishop parsed Microsoft's statements and pointed to background information uncovered by blogger Mary Jo Foley, who says that the move appears to be motivated by the Free Software Foundation's efforts to change the GPL v3 to prohibit agreements like the one Microsoft currently has with number-two Linux distributor Novell.


Bishop also quotes blogger Larry Augustin, who says it's time for Microsoft to "put up or shut up" and detail which programs violate which patents so that the validity of the company's claims can really be determined.


We doubt that Microsoft will comply with that request unless there's absolutely no other option, but who knows? We do know that this isn't over yet, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better.

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