by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 9th 2007 9:41pm
Apparently, Microsoft's new strategy against open source is to keep repeating over and over again that open source software violates patents. This is a practice the company started years ago, and repeated earlier this year, with Microsoft execs ominously saying that open source products violate Microsoft patents. Of course, Microsoft has yet to show a single patent where this is true or actually do anything to prove it's true in a court of law. Perhaps that's because it knows the backlash would be a lot stronger than what was seen against SCO (who eventually failed in following a similar strategy). But, that won't stop Steve Ballmer from repeating the threats that Microsoft could sue the likes of Red Hat at any moment for patent infringement. This time, he lobbed in an extra suggestion as well: that open source providers may also face lawsuits from the likes of Eolas, the patent holder that Microsoft recently settled with. Folks from the open source community have asked Microsoft to put up or shut up before -- and it doesn't seem like the company plans to do either thing. Little surprise, really, since apparently the strategy of making people afraid works. The biggest reason companies avoid using open source software is an irrational fear of opening themselves up to patent liability. Still, this is another clear misuse of the patent system to hold back innovation in the market by making companies far and wide afraid of adopting innovation. That's not what the patent system was intended to do at all.
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