Contrary to speculation, Microsoft is not behind the patent litigation filed against Linux distributors last week, the company insists.
"Microsoft is not a party to Acacia's lawsuit against Red Hat and Novell, nor are we involved in any way in this litigation," according to an official statement from the company, released Tuesday by Microsoft spokesman Mark Martin.
Industry pundits speculated about Microsoft's possible role in the case in light of predictions about patent litigation made by chief executive Steve Ballmer earlier this month and the appointment of Microsoft's former general manager of IP licensing -- Brad Brunell --to Acacia's top management team just days before the lawsuit was filed. Brunell's new job was announced on October 1 and the case was filed on October 9.
Other events have contributed to the speculation. In May, Microsoft's chief IP attorney claimed that Linux violated more than 40 of its patents and that open source software more generally violated 235 of its patents.
In July, Microsoft Director of Mobile & Embedded (MED) Division Jonathan Taub, also a former IP attorney with Covington & Burling in Wash, D.C., left the software giant and joined Acacia as vice president. Contacted at Acacia, Taub declined to comment. "I honestly have nothing to add," Taub said during a brief phone call. "I really don't want to create spin that's not there."
So we should chaulk all of this up to coincidence?
In a nutshell, yes. When asked to comment on the coincidences and timing of Ballmer's comments, the Microsoft spokesman reiterated that "Microsoft is not involved in any way in this litigation" and hinted that should "address any questions of coincidence or timing."
Observers may not have all the facts but there is ample reason to be suspicious. Microsoft originally claimed that it played no part in SCO's litigation against IBM but it was later revealed that the software giant indirectly handed off $50 million to SCO through BayShore Capital.