Although I’m not a patent attorney, I was drawn to news of Microsoft’s statement in a Fortune article that free and Open Source software violated 235 of its patents. Mary Jo Foley covered the news in detail here. In particular, the claim was made by Microsoft’s Horacio Gutierrez that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, Linux graphical user interfaces violate 65, Open Office violates 45, some e-mail programs violate 15 more, and others violate another 68 patents. As a happy user of OpenOffice, I am concerned as well.
Microsoft has addressed its patents in other open source software by granting licenses, it is unclear currently whether this is a declaration of war by Microsoft to preempt the upcoming version 3 of the GPL, or possibly a bargaining chip to increase its leverage. Only time will tell.
I’d be curious to get a reaction to this news from a Patent attorney, either privately by email or in the comments.
UPDATED TO ADD: You can read Dennis Crouch at Patently O’s take on the statement here, be sure to check out the comments, too.