Microsoft's lawsuit against TomTom is aimed at Linux but it won't deter the open source operating system's success in the mobile device market, said Open Invention Network's CEO.
Open Invention Network CEO Keith Bergelt doesn't buy Microsoft's contention that the lawsuit, filed last week, is not targeting Linux.
"It's hard to understand how it could not be aimed at Linux ... normal lawsuits related to applications would not spread themselves to look at the operating system," he said about three of the eight patent claims Microsoft has leveled against GPS company TomTom of Amsterdam. "It's a provocative act but it's business as usual with the Linux industry and the inexorable march toward victory with Android and other Linux-based mobile platforms in the next three years for all portable handsets and in the next 7 years for the Linux desktop."
Red Hat, Novell and IBM are key members of Open Invention Network, which is allied with the Linux Foundation, which has also pledged to fight if the case turns on the Linux kernel. Bergelt said TomTom contacted the organization after Microsoft's case was filed.
Yet Bergelt -- a former U.N. diplomat and CEO of two hedge funds -- pointed out that such lawsuits no longer pack a strong FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) punch because past lawsuits have largely failed and customers no longer fear using Linux.
"The reaction [or lack of reaction to the lawsuit] is evidence of the maturing of the Linux community in being able to deal with situations like these," said Bergelt. "People are not reacting the way they did with [the] SCO suit. There's an intense level of support in the community and not the handwringing, nervousness and irrational behavior [of the past]. There is a maturity to this community that should send a message back to Microsoft about [the Linux industry's] ability to withstand a challenge."
He also maintains that the lawsuit wipes away any credibility Microsoft has gained in its efforts to cooperate with the open source community. Microsoft is a Platinum Sponsor of the OSBC 2009 conference scheduled for later this month and has worked with Novell, Red Hat, the Apache Foundation and many other open source projects over the past 18 months.
"The lawsuit is evidence of the inauthenticity of Microsoft's open source effort," he said, noting that the company's legal team and open source team should be coordinated in order to be good citizens in the open source world. ""We've heard over the past 12 to 18 months about Microsoft wanting to work with open source and Linux and this flies in the face of that."
"They brought in people like [Microsoft's Senior Director of Platform Strategy]Sam Ramji but they're frog men pressing on the propeller of a cruise ship. They won't make headway unless [Microsoft] changes its behavioral norms."