Microsoft sues its customers

May 15, 2007 – 10:46 pm

There’s a lot of talk about this Fortune article around Microsoft, Linux, and the 235 patents that Microsoft claim Linux infringes upon. Here’s my redux:

Microsoft is extorting patent payments from users of open source software, beginning with the customers who also use Microsoft software.

Microsoft has not identified the patents, neither to the customers nor to the makers of open source software.

Without a list of the patents and where Microsoft thinks they’re being infringed, the claims can’t be verified and so remain unproven baseless allegations.

Imagine if IBM came to Microsoft customers and said “we believe Windows infringes 235 of our patents, you should pay us so we don’t sue you. We won’t tell you what the patents are, we won’t tell Microsoft either. But pay up or there could be trouble in your future.”

With this action, Microsoft joins the Recording Industry in the self-destructive practice of threatening to sue customers. It’s difficult to see a happy ending for anyone doing that.

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