Do you really want to wake up one morning and pay Microsoft (1) or SUN royalties to have the right to use Linux on each of your boxes? Probably not. However, if companies continue playing the little game of open source vs. software patenting, that time might come much sooner than you think.
Take Microsoft for instance, they have a great code repository called CodePlex, one of their show-rooms for open source development advocacy. Except that in the last months, developers have lost their ability to license their code under the GPLv3. As we've shown earlier, Microsoft don’t like the GPLv3 because it provides protection against software patenting.
The latest victim to date is MySQL who has always had a very strong stance against software patent. But like Icarus flying too closely from the sun, MySQL burned its wings: their anti-patent manifesto has abruptly disappeared from their site. (The complete story here).
Fortunately you cannot hide on the internet nor can you erase what has been written over TCP. So we can find traces of Microsoft volte-face on CodePlex bulletin board.
The purpose of patents is to protect the innovator against wrongful exploitation by others of his or her innovation. But when it comes to software, patents unfortunately have the opposite effect. Innovation is stifled and the only ones to gain from the system in the long run are patent profiteers, that is, companies with no innovation who acquire software patents with the sole purpose of extracting royalty payments from the true innovators. On the losing side are large and small software companies with products under closed source and open source licenses.
$1B can certainly buy MySQL a good conscience … but no matter how many IP lawyers will try dropping packets, there will always be a TCP layer watching over to help us remember.
Anyway, Ubuntu is so much faster, do you think it will be sold for much more than Vista?
(1) Linux is supposed to violate 250 Microsoft patents ...
Note: SUN put OpenOffice under the protection of the GPLv3 about a week ago. I wonder from whom they want OpenOffice to be software-patent protected? ;)