Microsoft Announces Linux Genuine Disadvantage™
After 10 years of bashing open-source software, Microsoft is finally getting around to killing it. Or at least trying to. In an interview with Fortune magazine, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, and Horacio Gutierrez, the company’s vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said that Linux and other free software violate some 235 Microsoft patents. And for those violations, Microsoft wants its due: a royalty deal on Linux. “This is not a case of some accidental, unknowing infringement,” Gutierrez told Fortune. “There is an overwhelming number of patents being infringed.”
If that truly is the case, how can Microsoft possibly enforce them? After all, Linux is the creation of a vast community of developers. Pursuing its members would be like … well, like the recording industry suing its customers. Which is obviously possible, but one would think Microsoft would be a bit smarter than that. And, of course, it is. Which is why it’s seeking licensing deals from those with deep pockets and a serious aversion to risk: Linux’s major corporate users.
“Gutierrez and Microsoft aren’t interested in intellectual property rights,” said VA Software founder Larry Augustin. “They’re not interested in allowing the open source world to defend itself. They’re not interested in a fair fight. Like a bully, they refuse to face the open source world in a fair fight, instead hinting at willful infringement and making backhanded threats. Why? Like any bully they fear that when faced with a fair fight in the light of day they will be revealed for the bully they are. Like any bully they fear that which they threaten. If Microsoft believes that free and open source software violates any of their patents, let them put those patents forward now, in the light of day, where we can all evaluate them on their merits. If not, then stop trying to bully customers into paying royalties to use open source. It’s time for Microsoft to put up or shut up.”