WSJ.com - Microsoft's New Plan to License Patents Has Linux Fans Worried "Microsoft Corp., rarely the aggressor in legal affairs, has adopted a new approach to the use of its patents. Some fans of Linux and other open-source software are starting to worry that they could end up as targets.
Microsoft now holds about 4,500 patents, covering its inventions in fields such as how computers store files and how text is displayed on a screen. In December, Microsoft announced a new policy to begin licensing its patents, citing requests from customers, regulators and others, though it is unclear how many of the patents cover techniques already in use by other companies.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant says it has more than 100 patent-licensing discussions under way. It's offering royalty-bearing licenses both to partners and competitors -- even to sellers of open-source products that have emerged as the company's biggest threat.
Marshall Phelps, former chief of International Business Machines Corp.'s intellectual-property unit, joined Microsoft a year ago to start a similar operation. While he was at IBM, that company saw a marked increase in patent-licensing revenue."