Microsoft/Linux: Don’t Cross License with Us?
Last week saw the purchase, by OIN, of a portfolio of patents which ultimately originated from Microsoft. OIN has alleged that Microsoft had described this portfolio as relating to Linux. Red Hat has speculated that Microsoft auctioned these patents off in the hope of them being picked up by a patent troll and used ‘offensively’ against Linux (which I take to mean ultimately by way of litigation).
Without being a potential bidder I can’t say whether or not any of this speculation is true, but what if it is?
First, if this speculation is true, it means that Microsoft believed that the patents would be of value in litigation against Linux. By selling the patents it therefore consciously decided not to litigate over them itself.
Second, what is the impact of this sale on manufacturers of Linux based devices who are entering cross-licensing arrangements with Microsoft? What is the value of a cross licensing deal intended to protect against Linux related patents if the very patents you want to license are, will be, or have been, sold off to third parties?
Is Microsoft undermining its patent cross licensing push?