Microsoft and its patent threats are not something Linux and open-source developers should be worried about, according to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of open-source firm Ubuntu. He believes Microsoft will itself be fighting against the software patents system within a few years.

Shuttleworth was responding to a recent Fortune magazine interview in which senior Microsoft figures sent shockwaves through the software industry by declaring that Linux and other open-source software violates 235 Microsoft patents.

But while Microsoft is using familiar tactics to put the fear into Linux users, Shuttleworth argued that open source and Microsoft are ultimately on the same side of the software patent issue.


"I'm pretty certain that, within a few years, Microsoft itself will be a strong advocate against software patents," Shuttleworth wrote on his blog. "Microsoft is irrevocably committed to shipping new software every year, and software patents represent landmines in its roadmap which it is going to step on, like it or not, with increasing regularity."

Microsoft makes the "perfect target" for software patent lawsuits, and the company will pay more for such suits every year until they finally threaten its business, Shuttleworth said.

"Microsoft will lose a patent trench war if it starts one, and I'm sure that cooler heads in Redmond know that," he wrote. "The real threat to Linux is the same as the real threat to Microsoft, and that is a patent suit from a person or company that is NOT actually building software, but has filed patents on ideas that the GNU project and Microsoft are equally likely to be implementing."