I keep thinking that I’ve got to stop ragging about Microsoft, that there are more interesting things to say. Someday; not today.
It seems from my reading of the daily press that the Free Software Foundation, Presided Over by Richard Stallman and being legally represented by Eben Mogen, is taking the position that the terms of the GPL (GNU Public License) define MS as a distributor of Linux, and as such, the patent protections it agreed to previously with Novell under GPL2 now apply to all Linux users.
In response to the terms of the most recent version of GPL3 in June 2007, MS unilaterally changed the terms of the agreement it had with Novell regarding the Linux coupons it purchased from them. One of the legal arguments now is that MS could not legally change the terms of that agreement: Novell apparently never agreed to any changes.
Irrespective of the legal arguments and how this all might shake out in court ten years from now, I suspect that deep down somewhere MS might be just a bit concerned at the moment. While they might feel they have the best legal minds money can buy, and they might feel they have a strong legal case, juries and even judges can be fickle things, and sometimes they are best avoided. I really doubt that MS wants to take their patient portfolio to court; they have nothing to gain and everything to loose.
This is, of course, mostly moot everywhere outside the US. Europa, while moving in the direction of software patients, still doesn’t yet really recognize them. I hope they learn from our problems. Asia wouldn’t be able to identify a patent if it was prominently labeled as such and bit ’em four times in the posterior (I hate trying to be civil).
Oh, and one final word for Richard: vi rules.