From Tech News on ZDNet
Microsoft claims that free and open-source software violates 235 of its patents, according to a magazine report published Sunday.
In an interview with Fortune, Microsoft top lawyer Brad Smith alleges that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, while its user interface and other design elements infringe on a further 65. OpenOffice.org is accused of infringing 45, along with 83 more in other free and open-source programs, according to Fortune.
It is not entirely clear how Microsoft might proceed in enforcing these patents, but the company has been encouraging large tech companies that depend on Linux to ink patent deals, starting with its controversial pact with Novell last November. Microsoft has also cited Linux protection playing a role in recent patent swap deals with Samsung and Fuji Xerox. Microsoft has also had discussions but not reached a deal with Red Hat, as noted in the Fortune article.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is also quoted in the article as saying Microsoft’s open-source competitors need to “play by the same rules as the rest of the business.”
“What’s fair is fair,” Ballmer told Fortune. “We live in a world where we honor, and support the honoring of, intellectual property.”
The story notes that some big tech proponents of open source have been stockpiling intellectual property as part of the Open Invention Network, set up in 2005 by folks like Sony, Red Hat, IBM, NEC and Philips. The article surmises that if Microsoft were to go after open source, these companies’ combined know-how might give it some patent weapons to go after Windows…