Microsoft will not sue Linux for patent violations

May 15, 2007

Microsoft will not sue Linux for patent violations As previously reported, Microsoft claimed to own 235 patents used within Linux. It was up in the air as to whether or not Microsoft would pursue legal action against the open source operating system or its users. A senior Microsoft spokesperson in the intellectual property department had the following to say in an interview with Information Week “We’re not litigating. If we wanted to we would have done so years ago.”

Would have done so years ago? Then why didn’t Microsoft do so? I don’t know and I’m not going to try and figure it out. Microsoft would like to arrange a deal with all Linux distros like it has with Novell.

If you haven’t heard Microsoft and Novell have a deal that allows them to share intellectual property and disallows each from suing the other’s customers.

Such a deal may not be possible as the Free Software Foundation is revising the terms for open source copyrights and would thwart such a deal from happening. It hasn’t happened yet but we will all know come July 3 when the new version of the General Public License (GPL) is unveiled.

Despite not being happy with the revisions, Microsoft will not try to procure royalty payments from Linux users, corporate or home alike. Well, that’s something even though Microsoft still feels that Linux is in violation.

It claims to have made such threats against Linux only to highlight the issue and it does indeed collect royalty money from some corporate Linux users but what dollar amount or companies was not discussed.

It really comes down to this, Microsoft believes that Linux is in violation of its patents but no action is going to take place against the users or the operating system itself. I don’t know if that’s because Microsoft feels they couldn’t win, it would tarnish the already somewhat damaged image of the company or that it’s just not worth the trouble. I do not know which.

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7 Responses to “Microsoft will not sue Linux for patent violations”

  1. Richard Chapman:

    Me and the rest of the Internet had a vote and I lost. I get to tell you folks that you got your information a “little” backwards. You see it’s Open Source who’s not going to sue Microsoft. Not until the GPL3 rolls around that is. You see, collecting royalties on GPLed software is a big no-no. Microsoft is doing precisely what it’s accusing others of doing. Collecting money for other peoples hard work. It also makes them very, very, very (did I say very?) angry. Don’t worry though your paychecks will still be coming through for a long while. Not because Microsoft will be successful in their latest atrocity. No. Because they have a *lot* of money and it’s going to take them a long time to die. In spite of the fact that they’re still breathing, they have made themselves irrelevant.

  2. Keith Kube:

    There is of course another interpretation. There is a possiblity that Linux has patent infringing code. However, the same possiblity exists for Microsoft code. Lets say both possibilities are true. Given this, Microsoft does manage to extract royalties from ‘Linux distributors’, say on a per installation basis. However, Microsoft has to pay back to ‘the Linux distributors’ royaties, again on a per installation basis. I strongly suspect that under this scenario, Microsoft pays more than it receives, and that ‘Linux distrubutors’ could then ‘win’. http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/press_release.php

  3. Wesley Parish:

    The pained sound you’re hearing from Redmond is the sound of Microsoft spokespeople and executives with their (collective) feet in their (collective) mouths, making sure that Microsoft doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    Seriously, they can’t get the support of the F/LOSS community for their fight against AT&T’s patent absurdities, then turn around and stab the F/LOSS community in the back like that. Without losing so much reputation that any “victory” is horribly Pyrrhic.

    However, they must obviously enjoy the taste of their feet. This is far from the first time they’ve been caught with their feet in their mouths.

  4. Karel Miklav:

    Ok, so it looks like we’re winning. I suggest we focus on consolidation of NIX platforms and cross-platform interoperability now, and everything will be just fine.

  5. john S:

    gotta agree with richard chapman….
    they have made themselves irrelevant, the whole accusation may have been to try and rape another Novell
    but i don’t think that anyone was silly enough
    who are they gonna sue anyway?
    open source users?
    all 29 million of us?
    better be a bloody big courtroom
    i wonder if any MS users will be there on the day?
    or will they continue to be the sheep that they have been the whole time?
    i think in the end, MS really underestimated the GPL, and i bet it hurt to know that they have our IP in their product, and the GPL forbids anyone to charge royalties on GPL software.
    it seems ironic that they can read GNU/linux source code, but we can’t look at theirs to see what they have that is covered by GPL

  6. Catmoves:

    Isn’t it strange? The creator of Linux turns around, says he’s going to sue Micro$oft for several hundred more violations of his program. Then M$ drops their suit. Oh, hahahahahahaha.

  7. Circus-Killer:

    for me, the real thing is that MS has no leg to stand on. after all, from the days of windows 1.0 MS has been stealing from apple. i’m sure apple even tried to sue MS unsuccessfully. so if apple couldnt get away with sueing MS, i dont think MS shhould get away with suing anyone else. especially that there systems like steals far more from others than what others steal from MS.

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