Redhat and Novell have been sued for patent infringement by a company called IP Innovation LLC, a subsidiary of Acacia Technologies. Since I am not a patent attorney, here is the patent (5,072,412) from the USPTO. From a lay person’s cursory reading it seems that the patent covers tabs–I could be wrong. The folks at Groklaw have broken out the tinfoil hats and concluded that this is Microsoft’s doing. Earlier this year Apple Electronics settled for an undisclosed sum a similar suit.
Without a doubt the company is a patent troll. They make nothing, they do nothing useful for society. They simply buy intellectual property and make money suing companies.
But that is not what I want to write about…it is being covered elsewhere. What I want to discuss is the defeatist, chicken little attitudes of those who profess to speak for the Linux community. Yep, we’re hearing it again…”the end of Linux”…just like we heard when SCO filed its lawsuit. Even though no credible source gave SCO a chance of succeeding, this did not stop the chicken littles from cackling doom. I guess they view these lawsuits as fund raising opportunities. “The end is nigh!!” “Help us save Linux!!” and various other types of hyperbole.
The opensource folks have mirrored the French in WW II. Basically they have created a Maginot Line called the Open Invention Network (OIN). The OIN have been amassing patents so they could counter-sue any tech company that sued open source. But like the French, the OIN has been prepping for the wrong war. IP Innovation is not a tech company, they make nothing, they are not infringing on any patents. OIN is sidelined with their pants down while the battle moves elsewhere.
Is Linux under assault? Sure. Does it have the ability to shut it down? No. Do the folks who profess to speak for the community get something for playing chicken little? Yep, they get to claim that they saved Linux. And what is wrong with that? The folks who build Linux get marginalized…the coders, the monetary supporters, the corporate parents, they all get marginalized and people who built nothing–lawyers and other non-producers, who are really no better than the trolls at IP Innovation, take credit for a non-event. Lawyers are bugs, needing to be squished–no matter what side they claim to be on. They bring nothing to the table, they are as worthless as dust, and twice as damaging.
This is just another hurdle on the way to the finish line–it isn’t a roadblock, it is a minor setback–ignore the chicken littles.
I want to end with a question. Who does more to unsettle the FOSS/Linux waters, Microsoft with its patent threats and FUD or the OSS folks who are always screaming this is the end of Linux?