The real patent threat: Not Microsoft

Microsoft is not the biggest threat to open source: Intellectual Ventures may be. Arguably the world's largest patent troll, it is set up to simply license its IP.

When I negotiate contracts with customers, intellectual-property indemnification is always the top legal concern. Always.

But it's not because of Microsoft and its recent TomTom patent lawsuit , or other such infringement suits between vendors. The concern is almost wholly related to patent trolls, and predominately because they have no vested interest in keeping customers happy, whereas vendors must...vend, and so can't afford to unduly upset customers.

Hence, while the open-source world is up in arms about Microsoft's TomTom patent suit, it should be far more worried about news that Intellectual Ventures has grabbed another 500 patents through a deal with Telcordia Technologies, as TechFlash reports. Intellectual Ventures, arguably the world's largest patent troll , is set up to do nothing more than license its intellectual property, which it has done to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Microsoft has its problems with patent FUD, which I've called out many times before. But Microsoft is a relatively minor problem compared to a firm like Intellectual Ventures.


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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