I’m betting this is really good news for smartphone makers. Open-source poster boy Linus Torvalds stepped up and helped stop a Microsoft patent from being used to choke licensing fees out of other companies. The patent Microsoft owns is being used to force Google Android and Linux handset users to pay licensing fees.
Apparently, Torvalds stepped into the arena and helped convince an ITC Administrative LAW Judge named Theodore R. Essex that Microsoft’s patent in question was invalid. The same judge who determined that Motorola had violated four Microsoft patents, including one known simply as the 352 patent. That particular patent has to do with storing filenames with a lot of characters in old file systems like Windows FAT.
Torvalds told the judge that Motorola had found the posting he had made about long filenames used in a compatible manner with short filenames, and that post predated the Microsoft patent by three years. Torvalds made a video deposition with Microsoft lawyers who tried to cast doubt on the newsgroup postings Motorola and Torvalds said was used rather than the 352 patent. If that patent were ruled to be invalid, Microsoft would lose some of the licensing fees it has been choking out of competitors. We are watching this one with popcorn in hand.