I read this another forum.. sharing here..!!!
Microsoft claims that free and open-source software violates more than 230 of its patents, according to a magazine report published Sunday. In an interview with Fortune, Microsoft top lawyer Brad Smith alleges that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, while its user interface and other design elements infringe on a further 65. OpenOffice.org is accused of infringing 45, along with 83 more in other free and open-source programs, according to Fortune. It is not entirely clear how Microsoft might proceed in enforcing these patents, but the company has been encouraging large tech companies that depend on Linux to ink patent deals, starting with its controversial pact with Novell last November. Microsoft has also cited Linux protection playing a role in recent patent swap deals with Samsung and Fuji Xerox. Microsoft has also had discussions, but not reached a deal with, Red Hat, as noted in the Fortune piece. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is also quoted in the article as saying Microsoft’s open-source competitors need to “play by the same rules as the rest of the business.”
It’s not the first time that open-source patent concerns have arisen. A 2004 study by a Open Source Risk Management, a company selling insurance against risks of using open-source software, concluded Linux could violate at least 283 patents, 27 of them Microsoft patents. Patents and the open-source movement get along awkwardly at best. Patent law gives proprietary, exclusive rights to patent holders, but open-source programming is built on the idea of free sharing. Newer open-source licenses sometimes address the issue by requiring contributors to open-source projects to grant users and developers of the software a perpetual, royalty-free license to any patents that relate to the contribution. Is this another Microsoft’s attempt to increase their already very high share on software market, or just a step to get some attention? Who knows, but it’s really surprising to read some Microsoft’s statements lately.