Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Linus Torvalds On Microsoft"s Patent Infringement Allegations: "They Are Bluffing!"

“Linux kernel violates 42 of our patents and we'll eventually sue!” threatened Microsoft on Monday. Unfortunately for the Redmond company, not everyone shivered with fear. Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel, gave Microsoft an answer and it was definitely not the thing the software giant wished to hear.

According to Torvalds' mail to InformationWeek, Microsoft is unlikely to hold too many winning card, because:

"Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really 'fundamental' patents. The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection."

Furthermore, Torvalds doubts that Microsoft is really certain of a victory in court. Instead, he believes that the Redmond company is just bluffing in hope that it would reach quick financial settlements with other parties rather than going to court:

"They'd have to name the patents then, and they're probably happier with the FUD [fear, uncertainty, doubt] than with any lawsuit. [...]So the whole, 'We have a list and we're not telling you,' itself should tell you something. Don't you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they'd just tell us and go, 'nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'"

Last but not least, Torvalds wonders if Microsoft isn't the one violating more patents and hints that a thorough review of the source code for Windows might reveal that the software giant is the one that has to pay up to other patent holders.

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