"A major component of the problem is that there are
hundreds of thousands of patents and it's almost impossible to
ensure software is not violating any of them. This has been
perpetuated further by all players building up a larger portfolio
of patents to either counter sue or to use as bargaining chips.
It's an arms race that leaves the small players out in the cold.
"Due to this uncertainty, free software developers may not feel
safe without the backing of a major corporation. As it's impossible
to be aware of all patent violations, companies that use free
software might be opening themselves up to the threat of legal
action. At least, this is the angle that companies like Microsoft
are using to stifle the adoption of free software.
"The message to companies is that using free software is not
safe because it might be violating various patents, which would
then expose them to legal action. In short, your company is at risk
if you use free software. This is something that free software is
trying to fight, but which is difficult to do as the patent
infringements are not readily known."