Microsoft won't sue over patents anyway

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer remarked on open source patents last week

After all the fuss, Microsoft has said it won't be suing over supposed patent infringements by free and open source software developers. In a statement sent out by Microsoft, the company said "if we wanted to go down that road we could have done that three years ago.

"Rather than litigate, Microsoft has spent the last three years building an intellectual property bridge that works for all parties - including open source - and the customer response has been tremendously positive. Our focus is on continuing to build bridges."

Fair enough, but it's still rather calm considering the remarks given to Fortune magazine last week by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft has claimed that Linux and many other open source applications violate the best part of 250 of its patents.

We interviewed a panel of experts about the matter as part of our regular Big Question feature . And unsurprisingly, many of them were somewhat dismissive of Microsoft's claims. However, Microsoft itself was more forthright.

"Even the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman, noted last year that Linux infringes well over 200 patents from multiple companies," said Horacio Gutierrez, vice president of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft.

"The real question is not whether there exist substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them."

Yesterday we reported that the Free Software Foundation's Eben Moglen took part in an online chat. He said the software giant's patent claims were "to disrupt free software production through the inculcation of a large inventory of most-likely invalid patents."


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.