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Torvalds weighs in on Microsoft's patent dance

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Linus Torvalds has reportedly piled into Microsoft after its senior legal eagle after claimed the Linux operating system violates hundreds of the company's patents.

Torvalds, the Linux trademark holder, told InformationWeek's Charlie Babcock it's more likely Microsoft is a violator of patents given most work on operating systems was done long before Windows, or Microsoft, were a glint in Bill Gates' eye.

He's also called on Microsoft to effectively put up or shut up, by naming which patents violate Microsoft's intellectual property instead of saber rattling.

"The whole, 'We have a list and we're not telling you,' itself should tell you something," Torvalds said. "Don't you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they'd just tell us and go 'nyaah, nyaah, nyaah'."

According to Torvalds, naming patents would let open source coders fix any problems, should they exist.

Torvalds' comments follow those of Sun Microsystems' chief executive Jonathan Schwartz who blogged about the wisdom of taking a SCO-like approach and putting the squeeze on customers by suing for licensing revenue.

"You would be wise to listen to the customers you're threatening to sue - they can leave you, especially if you give them motivation," Schwartz wrote.

Microsoft latest statement - carefully placed to attract the more discerning IT purchasing decision maker in Fortune - appears to be upping the ante on open source. Microsoft has failed to rack up more Novell-like relationships with Linux and open source vendors to - in Microsoft's view - protect IP it claims exists in open source and Linux.

The 235 claimed violations claimed in Fortune are actually down from the 286 number Ballmer inaccurately cited years ago, a number based on a survey by Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), which actually stated that 287 patents existed - different to patent violations - inside the Linux kernel.®

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