A recent Fortune article, Microsoft claims software like Linux violates its patents, suggests that the Ballmer empire is about to start seeking royalties from users of open source software whihc, the company claims, violates 235 of their patents.
I don't think they have thought this through. The US Supreme Court has so far issued no ruling on whether software is even patentable, despite the Patent Office's ridiculous willingness to issue patents on techniques that fail even the simplest test of obviousness. When the most powerful software company in the world starts throwing its weight around to gain revenue from those patents it will force the issue somewhat.
The inevitable result will be a Supreme Court ruling that inevitably weakens, or even removes altogether, the protection that patents have been assumed to provide by those who have invested heavily in them. Microsoft senior VP Brad Smith claims, for example, that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents.ourse the joke is that nobody has any idea how many patents Microsoft products violate because, unlike the open source projects Microsoft complains about, the code that comprises them isn't available for public scrutiny.