I’m sure everyone has heard about Microsoft’s patent-infringement claim against Linux and other Free and Open Source (FOSS) software, as described in Roger Parloff’s 14 May article in CNNMoney.com, Microsoft takes on the free world: “Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you, maybe.”
Various commentators include Andrew Updegrove, Elizabeth Montalbano (InfoWorld), Sun’s CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz, and Groklaw, the latter quoting Eben Moglen, legal counsel to the Free Software Foundation.
Meanwhile, Christian Einfeldt (Producer, The Digital Tipping Point) started a “Sue me first, Microsoft” campaign, which quickly became known at Digg (and probably other sites; it’s hard to keep up), causing such a rush on his server that it crashed.
Yes, Christian (and I, and others) are aware that Microsoft has said that they won’t sue “users”. So why is Christian doing this? Here are some quotes from him (in response to comments on Digg):
“Microsoft has said that they have patents that are infringed by GNU and/or Linux, but Microsoft won’t say which patents, or which parts of GNU or Linux or OpenOffice.org. Instead, they have embarked on a public relations campaign to frighten potential users of Free Open Source Software (FOSS) to not use FOSS or even try using it… If Microsoft has valid patent claims, let’s see the details. Otherwise, let’s see the Microsoft threats for what they are, an unmeritorious PR campaign aimed at a competitor.”
“Microsoft’s patent claims against Free Open Source Software creates the misimpression that Free Open Source Software users are doing something illegal. We believe that eventually Microsoft is going to back off of these specious patent claims. We would just like to see them do that sooner, rather than later.”