Reseller News

Mandriva Linux to Microsoft: no protection money

French Linux vendor Mandriva is the third Linux operating system company in a week to say it's not interested in any licencing deal with Microsoft to avoid possible patent infringement claims.

In a statement on his company blog, Francois Bancilhon, CEO of Paris-based Mandriva, said, "We don't believe it is necessary for us to get protection from Microsoft to do our job or to pay protection money to anyone."

Bancilhon acknowledged that several other Linux vendors, including Linspire and Xandros recently signed intellectual property and collaboration deals with Microsoft to protect them from potential patent claims related to their software code. Those agreements followed a highly publicised deal Microsoft reached with Novell involving its Suse Linux in November.

Such deals have been more common since Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, and Horacio Gutierrez, the company's vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said last month that open-source software, including Linux, violates 235 Microsoft patents and that the company wants distributors and users of open-source software to start paying royalties for the alleged violations.

Last Saturday, Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworthwrote in his personal blog that Ubuntu has no plans to sign a licensing deal with Microsoft, and US Linux market leader Red Hat has reiterated that it's not interested either.

"Novell, Xandros and Linspire have signed well-publicized agreements with Microsoft," Bancilhon wrote in his blog. "Rumours on the Web have hinted that we might be next on the list. So we would like to clarify our position. As far as [intellectual property] is concerned, we are, to say the least, not great fans of software patents and of the current patent system, which we consider as counter productive for the industry as a whole. We also believe what we see, and up to now, there has been absolutely no hard evidence from any of the FUD propagators that Linux and open source applications are in breach of any patents. So we think that, as in any democracy, people are innocent unless proven guilty and we can continue working in good faith."

Bruce Perens, an open-source advocate and a founder of the nonprofit group Open Source Initiative, said Mandriva's stand is the right one. "Microsoft has been buying up deals with little fish and companies that aren't quite making it financially," he claims of the Linspire, Xandros and Novell agreements. "So it has been easy for [Microsoft], because they have been going after small vendors and getting them [to sign]."