Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 05-14-2007

Microsoft is using the threat of patent violations by the free and open-source software community to try to drive enterprise customers to SUSE Enterprise Linux and to further muddy the waters around the next version of the upcoming GNU General Public License.

As part of this latest strategy, Microsoft has, for the first time, put an actual figure on the number of its patents being violated by free and open-source software.

In an interview with Fortune, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, claims that the Linux kernel violates 42 of its patents, the Linux graphical user interfaces run afoul of another 65, the Open Office suite of programs infringes 45 more, e-mail programs violate 15, while other assorted free and open-source programs allegedly transgress 68.

Some commentators, such as Microsoft Watch Editor Joe Wilcox, believe that Microsoft could use the "tacit threat of a patent-related lawsuit as means of keeping in line customers already committed to swap out Office or Windows for open-source alternatives."

"Microsoft has 235 patents that read on open-source technology," a company spokesman confirmed to eWEEK May 13.

Click here to read more about the third draft of GPL 3.

He also provided eWEEK with a prepared statement from Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's vice president of intellectual property and licensing, in which Gutierrez said: "Even the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, noted last year that Linux infringes well over 200 patents from multiple companies. The real question is not whether there exist substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Microsoft Claims Open-Source Technology Violates 235 of Its Patents