Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-05-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The software maker is using the threat of patent violations to try to further muddy the waters around GPLv3.

Microsoft is using the threat of patent violations by the free and open-source software community to try to drive enterprise customers to SUSE Enterprise Linux and to further muddy the waters around the next version of the upcoming GNU General Public License.

As part of this latest strategy, Microsoft has, for the first time, put an actual figure on the number of its patents being violated by free and open-source software.

In an interview with Fortune, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, claims that the Linux kernel violates 42 of its patents, the Linux graphical user interfaces run afoul of another 65, the Open Office suite of programs infringes 45 more, e-mail programs violate 15, while other assorted free and open-source programs allegedly transgress 68.

Some commentators, such as Microsoft Watch Editor Joe Wilcox, believe that Microsoft could use the "tacit threat of a patent-related lawsuit as means of keeping in line customers already committed to swap out Office or Windows for open-source alternatives."

"Microsoft has 235 patents that read on open-source technology," a company spokesman confirmed to eWEEK May 13.

Click here to read more about the third draft of GPL 3.

He also provided eWEEK with a prepared statement from Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's vice president of intellectual property and licensing, in which Gutierrez said: "Even the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, noted last year that Linux infringes well over 200 patents from multiple companies. The real question is not whether there exist substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents



 
 
 
 
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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