[rescue] fwd: Linus Torvalds Responds To Microsoft Patent Claims
adh at an.bradford.ma.us
Thu May 17 12:10:41 CDT 2007
By Charles Babcock, Courtesy of InformationWeek
May 15 2007 (14:22 PM)
Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel, has a sharp retort
to Microsoft executives' statements in a Fortune magazine article that
Linux and other open-source code violate 235 Microsoft patents.
"It's certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than
Linux does," said Torvalds, holder of the Linux trademark. If the
source code for Windows could be subjected to the same critical review
that Linux has been, Microsoft would find itself in violation of
patents held by other companies, said Torvalds.
"Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the
1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really 'fundamental' patents,"
Torvalds said in a response to questions submitted by InformationWeek.
But he doesn't like any form of patent saber rattling. "The
fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long
since lost any patent protection," he wrote.
Microsoft should name the patents that it claims have been violated so
the claims can be tested in court or so open-source developers can
rewrite code to avoid the violation, Torvalds wrote.
"Naming them would make it either clear that Linux isn't infringing at
all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or
would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever
silly thing they claim," he said.
"So the whole, 'We have a list and we're not telling you,' itself
should tell you something," Torvalds said of Microsoft's stance in the
Fortune story. And for good measure, he added: "Don't you think that
if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they'd just
tell us and go, 'nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'"
Microsoft would prefer not to actually sue anyone, particularly a
Linux user who's also a Microsoft customer. "They'd have to name the
patents then, and they're probably happier with the FUD [fear,
uncertainty, doubt] than with any lawsuit," Torvalds predicted.
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