Torvalds talks tough on Microsoft
16 May, 2007
Linux founder and lead developer of the operating system, Linus Torvalds, has come out fighting in response to Microsoft's claims that Linux and free software violate hundreds of Microsoft's patents.
In a response to an Information Week journalist, Torvalds said: "It's certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does," said Torvalds, holder of the Linux trademark. If the source code for Windows could be subjected to the same critical review that Linux has been, Microsoft would find itself in violation of patents held by other companies."
"Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really 'fundamental' patents," Torvalds said in a response to questions submitted by InformationWeek. But he doesn't like any form of patent sabre rattling. "The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection," he wrote.
Torvalds said that Microsoft should name the patents that it claims had been violated so the claims could be tested in court or so open source developers can rewrite code to avoid the violation.
"Naming them would make it either clear that Linux isn't infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim," he said.
Torvald's response adds weight to a growing backlash against the Microsoft claims which includes Microsoft's recent partner Novell, which has reiterated its opinion that Microsoft's patent claims are false.