It seems that there have been numerous "deals" behind closed doors going on ever since the famous Microsoft and TomTom case over patent infringement and the FAT32 filesystem back in February 2009. Over and over, reports surface about Microsoft making secret deals over IP rights with various and large companies, like Amazon.com. Now recently yet another one surfaced with Microsoft and HTC (mobile phone manufacturer that deploys Android). No details have been given on the exact terms of these deals, however there does seem to be a common pattern... the companies that Microsoft is targeting all use Linux heavily in day to day operations or in their devices. So what is going on here?
There has been a lot of speculation that Microsoft is targeting these companies to try and punish them for using open source and GNU/Linux. It is true that GNU/Linux has hurt Microsoft, and with the ramping up of Android, I think this threat is getting greater than ever. But, when a company needs to try and use the legal system to its benefit, at the cost of others, I take slight offense. Why can't we compete the good old fashioned way with market competition? If you want to compete, try to innovate and put out a better product to trump the competition. This will put benefit through to the consumers. But by trying to undermine other companies using the legal system is just dirty practice. I admit that Microsoft has some good products and handles its weight pretty well. But over and over I see how they run their business and it gives a whole political balance to this as well. It gives me a sour taste in my mouth and as such, I would rather avoid their products and use those that promote innovation, cooperation, and freedom, like GNU/Linux and open source software.
The root cause of these IP rights deals is software patents. It will be interesting to see how the U.S. Supreme Court decides as it reconsiders the usage and eligibility of software patents.