Let loose the hounds of war,
The whirling swords!
Send them leaping afar,
Red in their thirst for war;
Odin laughs in his car
At the screaming of the swords!
Far let the white-ones fly,
The whirling swords!
Afar off the ravens spy
Death-shadows cloud the sky.
Let the wolves of the Gael die
Neath the screaming swords!
The Shining Ones yonder
High in Valhalla
Shout now, with thunder:
Drive the Gaels under,
Cleave them asunder -- Swords of Valhalla!
("The War-Song of the Vikings", Fiona Macleod)
At his blog,
(link dead, sorry)
Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation asks us all to calm down about Microsoft suing TomTom. He says:
Right now the Microsoft claim against Tom Tom is a private dispute between those two entities concerning GPS mapping software. We do not feel assumptions should be made about the scope or facts of this case and its inclusion, if any, of Linux-related technology.
He goes on to point out that Microsoft itself assures that this has nothing to
do with Linux.
Let's pretend we buy that. I don't know why anyone with a working brain would ever trust Microsoft, but maybe Jim Zemlin knows something we don't. We'll take them at their word: this case has nothing to do with Linux.
As long as we're engaging in fantasy, let me also note that the economy will be turning around within six months. Yay!
Jim does say that if Microsoft proves to be less than trustworthy (which has
never, ever happened in the past!), the Linux Foundation is ready to meet the threat:
The Linux Foundation is working closely with our partner the Open Invention Network, and our members, and is well prepared for any claims against Linux. We have great confidence in the foundation they have laid. Unfortunately, claims like these are a by-product of our business and legal system today. For now, we are closely watching the situation and will remain ready to mount Linux's defense, should the need arise.
This is the so-called "Nuclear Option". The Open Invention Network supposedly holds a lot of patents that could frustrate and damage Microsoft. If Microsoft attacks Linux, we attack Microsoft. By holding this threat open, we hope to achieve detente.
Where's the carnage?
Let me just ask a question here. If this really could be equated to a "Nuclear Option", shouldn't there be mutual destruction? If OIN and the Linux Foundation
did mount an all-out patent war against Microsoft, I can only see two possible outcomes: Microsoft destroys Linux or OIN destroys software patents.
If Microsoft really thought it could destroy Linux, they'd have already pushed the Big Red button. Yeah, yeah, they have to worry a little bit about anti-trust, but between Apple and the deals that Novell and RedHat will trip all over themselves to make, they'd be fine. They wouldn't really kill Linux - they'd only kill free, unlicensed, unencumbered Linux. They'd leave the shell safely contained in Novell, RedHat and anyone else willing to pony up for the chance to be a Microsoft vassal. But apparently they don't have the firepower to do that.
Does OIN really have the nukes? I don't know. My gut feeling is that they do not, but for our purposes here let's assume I'm wrong. Let's say OIN really does have patents that will cause the blood to drain from Ballmer's ruddy cheeks. Let's say that a boardroom packed with Microsoft lawyers will sit in stunned silence if that gambit is played, no advice coming from their shark-like jaws. If that is anything close to reality, why wouldn't we do it now?
Why wait? Why let Microsoft continue to harry our flanks, whisper lies into the ears of legislators, steal markets with predatory pricing? Why not strike now, let loose the hounds of hell?
Wouldn't it be good for the entire world if we could nullify a lot of the ridiculous patents that clog innovation and progress? Might not an all out patent war possibly hasten badly needed reforms? Do we really have anything to lose?
I certainly don't know. Maybe OIN's portfolio is actually too weak. Maybe both OIN and Microsoft are rattling wooden swords. Maybe the hounds of hell are just madly yapping Chihuahua's. Maybe it's all total B.S.?