Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"… and GM hired a hundred new lawyers."

You've probably heard the old joke about the two car companies and their responses to new EPA regulations (the phrase new EPA regulations tells you how old the joke must be). The punchline goes, "So Toyota hired a hundred new engineers …"

Looks like there's a new life for that old joke. ITWorld.com is reporting the following [their spelling of "open-souce" corrected by me]:

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, and Horacio Gutierrez, the company's vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said open-source software, including Linux, violates 235 Microsoft patents. And Microsoft wants distributors and users of open-source software to start paying royalties for these alleged violations.

The Fortune story gives more details and lots of analysis, if you're interested.

Clearly, no self-respecting Linux hacker would even look at MS code, if for no other reason than the (sometimes overdeveloped) loathing for the kludginess therein. And clearly, Microsoft has invented little itself apart from talking paper clips -- their entire user interface is a clunky implementation of a blatant rip-off of Apple's design work, and the underlying logic of the OS was originally based on heavy lifting done by DEC.

But the worrisome thing is, a company with pockets as deep as MS can afford a lot of smart and amoral lawyers, so I'm not ready to just laugh this off out of hand. The information superhighway is littered with roadkill from past encounters with the Redmond SUV.

Just to be safe, better grab your copy of Ubuntu now.

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