Microsoft publicly asserted yesterday that popular open-source software, including Linux, violates a whopping 235 of its patents—42 for the Linux kernel, 65 for Linux graphical interfaces, 45 for OpenOffice.org, and 83 for other free, open-source software. However, Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds is unfazed by these allegations, as InformationWeek reports. Torvalds goes so far as to claim, “It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does.” He believes that, were the source code for Windows critically reviewed, numerous patent violations would be found. His reasoning is as follows:
“Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents,” Torvalds said in a response to questions submitted by InformationWeek. But he doesn’t like any form of patent saber rattling. “The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection,” he wrote.
Torvalds challenges Microsoft to actually name the patents upon which it believes Linux is infringing. “Naming them would make it either clear that Linux isn’t infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim.” He believes that Microsoft is happier with its perennial strategy of generating fear, uncertainty, and doubt than actually getting its hands dirty by naming the patents or attempting to enforce them with litigation.