Microsoft: Open Source Violates 235 Patents

In an interview with Fortune magazine (available online via the CNN Web site) Microsoft’s VP of intellectual property Horacio Gutierrez and Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith make the bold assertion that free and open source software (FOSS)—including the Linux operating system—violate some 245 Microsoft patents, and the company believes open source distributors and end users should pay royalties on the allegedly-infringed technology. In fact, Microsoft even implies that one reason for the quality of open source software is that it steals Microsoft technology.

Although Microsoft’s assertions are not new, the interview marks the first time the Redmond software giant has offered any details behind its claims. Smith categorized some of the the alleged patent violations, claiming the Linux kernel infringes on 42 patents while elements of Linux user interfaces violate another 65 patents. Smith also asserted the Open Office productivity suite violates 45 patents, open source email applications infringe on another 15, and another 65 Microsoft patents are allegedly infringed by other open source applications.

"This is not a case of some accidental, unknowing infringement," Gutierrez says in the article. "There is an overwhelming number of patents being infringed."

Microsoft appears to be embarking on a strategy aimed at getting the FOSS community to pay royalties on allegedly-infringed patents, while simultaneously besmirching the open source movement and attempting to lay some claim to quality products which have emerged from the effort. Microsoft has also been laying fear-spreading groundwork in its deals with other companies: Microsoft’s recent deal with Novell to improve interoperability with SUSE Linux includes provisions which indemnify Novell from any patent infringement claims regarding Linux; Microsoft recently made a similar agreement with Samsung in a cross-licensing agreement. Other industry players who participate in the open source movement have to be wondering if they will face liability and royalty claims from Microsoft on patent infringement allegations—and with 235 claimed violations, some organizations have got to be worrying that some of the allegations will stick.

For its part, the open source movement is unimpressed with Microsoft’s patent infringement claims. The open software movement has historically claimed that software is fundamentally a mathematically algorithm which cannot be patented, Furthermore, last month the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision which found patents have been granted to "obvious" applications over the last 20 years, and that many of those applications are likely invalid. Industry watchers have pointed to the software industry as the likely home of many patents which could now be more vulnerable to court challenges.

Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Computing

Here’s how you can watch today’s Nvidia GTC 2019 keynote live

Nvidia's rumored 7nm Ampere graphics could debut soon. The company will be kicking off its GPU Technology conference at 2 p.m. PT today, Monday, March 18, and you can watch the opening keynote here.
Computing

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Computing

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Deals

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…
Computing

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.