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Microsoft says it won't sue Linux users

Posted on Tuesday, May 15 2007 @ 14:39:50 CEST by

Microsoft caused quite a stir when it claimed to have found 235 patent infringements in open-source software like Linux and OpenOffice:
Joe Lindsay, chief information officer of Los Angeles-area mortgage company Secured Funding Corp., said that Microsoft's attempt to cause fear, confusion and doubt may scare some users away from open-source software and Linux in the short term, but ultimately will not stop the momentum the open-source business model has.

"It's like saying I have a big baseball bat, and I'm going to hit somebody," he said of the company's claim it will recover fees from open-source users and companies that have violated patents. "Everyone runs away." But in the long term Microsoft is the one who will suffer from its actions, since the company should be more focused on providing more valuable and innovative products than threatening to sue companies that have outsmarted them.
However, Microsoft is already repelling and stating that it doesn't plan to litigate. Instead, the software giant hopes to create more arrangements that mirror the company's deal with Novell.
"We created a bridge between two worlds that before were perceived to be unbridgeable," said Gutierrez.

Microsoft's problem: The Free Software Foundation -- the group that controls Linux licensing terms -- is mulling changes to open source copyrights that would prohibit Linux distributors from entering into the type of quid pro quo that Novell has with Microsoft. Version 3 of the General Public License is expected to be published in July and many believe it will incorporate such changes.

Microsoft isn't happy with the proposed revisions. "The latest version of GPL v.3 attempts to tear down the bridge," the company said in a statement released Monday.

Even so, Microsoft would not likely use the courts to try and extract royalty payments from corporate Linux users that it believes are violating its patents even if it's no longer able to strike deals with Linux distributors. "The bridge that we built is one bridge, one particular way of dealing with this problem," said Gutierrez. "It's not the only way in which the problem can be addressed," he said.



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