Microsoft takes aim at Red Hat for Patents, IP


From the ‘can open source and patents get along?‘ files:

Microsoft made waves this week with their GPLv2 contribution of virtualization code. On the other side of the coin, Microsoft continues to take issue with open source vendors over the issue of patents.

One vendor that has called on Microsoft to be more open is Red Hat. In a blog post, Red Hat’s legal team praised Microsoft’s code contribution while asking Microsoft to change its stance on patents.

“To win the respect and trust of the Linux community, Microsoft should
unequivocally disavow such conduct and pledge that its patents will
never be used against Linux or other open source developers and users,” Red Hat stated.

Microsoft however has a different opinion.
Horacio Gutierrez
Corporate VP and Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft has blogged his own response to Red Hat’s call.

“Some observers question how a company can contribute to open source projects while, at the same time, insisting on respect of its intellectual property rights by its competitors,” Gutierrez blogged. ” In fact, these two things are not inconsistent, and striking a balance between them is one of the key things every commercial technology company must do in order to compete effectively in a mixed source world.

Microsoft has been consistent in its approach to the issue of IP and open source software. We have shown our openness to licensing our patented inventions on commercially reasonable terms even to our direct competitors.”

In my personal opinion, Gutierrez is however missing the point of why so many in the open source community have issues with Microsoft’s patent position. First off, to be sure – Microsoft has clearly made tremendous and commendable strides in working with open source vendors and technologies. The patent issue is a little different though.

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