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Software Patents: Microsoft Jumps the Shark

May 25, 2007, 21:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brendan Scott)

[ Thanks to Brendan Scott for this link. ]

"On Monday, May 14, Fortune magazine ran an article by Roger Parloff titled 'Microsoft takes on the free world.' The title apparently alluding to Microsoft throwing down the software patent gauntlet at the feet of the entire free and open source software community. If the title weren't enough, the article itself is filled with markers of impeding doom. There is 'a shadow' hanging over Linux, cast by the 'behemoth' Microsoft. We are told that 'If the company gets its way, free software won't be free anymore.' Microsoft has now 'for the first time' revealed the number of patents it's alleging and it's a 'breathtaking' 'overwhelming' number. Quoting Eben Moglen in response the article says it's 'a tinderbox' on which a 'war' will be fought and 'Waterloo' is waiting for someone. Microsoft tried to build a bridge to the free software world, but it has failed and we are all one step closer now to 'patent Armageddon.' Even the subtitle has an implicit threat aimed at the reader ('users like you, maybe').

"This article has been written with a great deal of skill. It has painted the scenario in a dramatic manner and one which highlights some dire consequences. It even ends on an enigmatic phone call to Mr Ballmer, in which he ominously declines to cross a bridge (that would be the 'sue your customers' bridge, not the One-Step-Closer-to-Patent-Armageddon bridge--that's been crossed already)..."

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