Microsoft has been pushing left and right for “deals” with various Linux or Linux-oriented companies. We've seen in the news over and over how some companies like Novell, LG, Xandros and others are more than willing to cuddle up with MS. Recently, however, we're seeing some companies push back and say “No”. Yesterday, we heard from an Ubuntu distributor about how how they will not enter into agreements, at least so far as the others ones have gone.
Red Hat is going a step farther and is outright rejecting Microsoft's advances. They've been approached in the past, and have declined. Now, they are reaffirming that position, letting everyone know they think. They had nothing good to say about patent protection:
The company referenced a statement written when Microsoft revealed it was partnering with Novell, saying that its position remained unaltered. Red Hat director of corporate communications Leigh Day added: "We continue to believe that open source and the innovation it represents should not be subject to an unsubstantiated tax that lacks transparency."
Red Hat is in an interesting position. They are the largest single Linux vendor worldwide. As a for-profit company, actual patent violations would be a very serious hamper to their business. A deal with MS might open up perilous legal doors, or hamper their ability to make money supporting Linux-based servers. Fedora, one of the most popular desktop distros, has long been based off Red Hat.
Hopefully, other companies will pick up on this lead. Just because a bully waves a bat around and tells you to be his friend “or else” doesn't mean that you should. Microsoft has been saying off and on for years that Linux is a boiling pot of patent violations, but have yet to take any serious legal action (outside of, say, name violations with Linspire). Many fear that their patent-protecting deals are just the beginning.