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Linux "infringes 283 patents, not 228"

Ballmer in understatement shocker
Wed May 16 2007, 17:34
LINUX POTENTIALLY INFRINGES 283 untested patents, but none of them has been court-validated, said the author of the report quoted by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.

Dan Ravicher, author of the Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) study Ballmer quoted, and executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, added that it's not unusual for any piece of software to infringe a shedload of patents and that the whole affair is 'boring'. And when a lawyer tells you something is boring, you can guarantee dropping off within seconds.

"As the SCO saga shows, filing a case based on an allegation is one thing, proving the merits of the allegation in court is something completely different," Ravicher told eWeek. "[Ballmer] misconstrues the point of the OSRM study, which found that Linux potentially, not definitely, infringes 283 untested patents, while not infringing a single court-validated patent.

"The point of the study was actually to eliminate the FUD about Linux's alleged legal problems by attaching a quantifiable measure versus the speculation," he said. "And the number we found, to anyone familiar with this issue, is so average as to be boring; almost any piece of software potentially infringes at least that many patents."

Linus Torvalds' Open Source Development Laboratory has set up a legal fighting fund of $10 million to use should Microsoft roll out its legal rottweilers. $10 million should be just about enough to see them through at least the first month of legalling. How the open saucers plan to fund the inevitable five to ten years of subsequent legal activity remains to be seen. µ



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