Dutch IT magazine 'Webwereld' (1, 2) asked me to comment on the news that Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu Linux, is offering legal protection against potential patent claims of Microsoft on Linux. Red Hat provides a comparable service and refers to it as a 'necessary evil'
The vast majority of software patents are not legally recognized in Europe, making this one of those typical American problems mostly designed to make lawyers very rich. But leaving that aside, how solid are the claims anyway? 2003 Microsoft invested in the anemic software provider SCO to sue IBM on the basis of alleged ownership of crucial Unix/Linux components. The case lasted many years and achieved nothing. Except of course a lot of confusion in the marketplace amongst IT buyers who were considering moving to Linux, thereby sometimes delaying a firm decision. It would seem that this was the primary original objective.
On Saturday May 31st Gendo presented its experience on changing national policy on open standards and opensource at LinuxTag 2008. The slides are here in ODF and PDF. LinuxTag is Europe's largest opensource conference with over 11.000 participants from 31 countries. Doing a talk there was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to next year.
Linux Magazine Germany has a writeup of the talk here. and reported on the Dutch opensource policyplan earlier this year. The presentation was not recorded but an earlier (similar) presentation was taped last december at the CCC congess, also in Berlin.