Microsoft’s Foss Patent Infringement
ITT Technical IT 302
This paper takes an in depth look at the claims from Microsoft that FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) committed patent infringement in 2006. It also discusses how the events have impacted FOSS, whether negatively or positively and how the actions have changed both since 2006. Microsoft’s Foss Patent Infringement
Free software is wonderful and corporate America seems to love it. It's often high-quality stuff that can be downloaded free off the Internet and then copied at will. It's versatile - it can be customized to perform almost any large-scale computing task - and best of all its crash-resistant. More than half the companies in the Fortune 500 are thought to be using the free operating system Linux in their data centers. In 2006, Microsoft cast a shadow over Free and Open Source Software by alleging that they had violated 235 patents such as the Linux kernel, Samba, OpenOffice.org and others. Foss’s legal representative Eben Moglen contended that software is a mathematical algorithm and, as such, not patentable. (Parloff, R. 2007) But what of Microsoft’s claims? Are they valid? But first to answer that you need to understand what a patent really is. A patent is essentially a limited monopoly whereby the patent holder is granted the exclusive right to make, use, and sell the patented innovation for a limited period of time. Granting exclusive rights to the inventor is intended to encourage the investment of time and resources into the development of new and useful discoveries. Once the term of protection has ended, the patented innovation enters the public domain. The problem of the patentability of software has become one of the most debated issues with regards to open source software. The Supreme Court stated in a unanimous opinion that patents have been issued too readily for the past two decades, and lots are probably invalid. For a variety of technical...
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