Jerry Rosenthal, chief executive officer of Open Invention Network, has just issued a statement about the Fortune article, which I take as a warning to any litigious folks out there who might be thinking about litigation against Linux that any such action will have consequences. "We stand ready to leverage our IP portfolio to maintain the open patent environment OIN has helped create," the statement concludes.
Say, this is becoming sort of like the Cuban missile crisis. Hopefully some brainiac will figure out a neat walkaway from this brink too. Litigation is a waste of everyone's resources. But don't forget, business folks, that Red Hat offers you indemnification, so you don't have to get involved in any of this. Nor do you have to give in to bullies. I think it's also fair to say that giving in to bullies may have unfortunate consequences. First, GPLv3 is just around the corner, so what are you going to do for updates down the road? And second, if you are treated like this *before* you become a customer, how will you be treated afterward?
Here's the OIN statement:
"A recent article in Fortune Magazine raises - or more precisely, re-raises - tired, old allegations about the Linux operating system for the sole purpose of perpetuating unwarranted fear, uncertainty and doubt among current and potential Linux users and distributors.
This is not the first time that unsubstantiated claims of patent infringement have been leveled at Linux. Moreover, just as in the past, these claims are made without disclosing any evidence. It's time to stop the accusations and show the evidence. What's happening with these accusers is the equivalent of declaring four aces while being unwilling to show even a pair of deuces.
It's clear that these accusations are actually an admission of the rapid uptake of Linux in the marketplace, Linux' success in displacing legacy products of competitors and that Linux provides superior software in performance, security and stability.
Here are some facts to provide clarity around Linux and patents:
* There never has been a patent lawsuit against Linux. Never.
* Linux has excellent intellectual property vetting.
* Linux has thousands of high-quality, dedicated programmers.
* Linux creates a robust, secure computer operating environment.
In less than a year, OIN has accumulated more than 100 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications that span Web / Internet, e-commerce, mobile and communications technologies. These patents are available to all as part of the free Linux ecosystem that OIN is creating around, and in support of Linux. We stand ready to leverage our IP portfolio to maintain the open patent environment OIN has helped create."
Emphasis added. In short, they will respond to any legal threat. It's part of what OIN was set up to do. It's not like the bad old days, when Microsoft could just walk onto the playground and everyone ran away in fear or burst into tears. Linux folks have been expecting this for a long time and have used the time to prepare. Nobody is crying or running away.
Microsoft blinked, according to this report from Tech.Blorge:
"We're not litigating. If we wanted to we would have done so years ago," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's VP for intellectual property and licensing, in an interview.
So, they have patents they think are infringed, but they won't litigate over them. Well, pardon my infringement and call me waiver!