HP’s feared Microsoft’s Litigiousness

An internal Hewlett-Packard Co. memo to senior HP staffers, which surfaced on Friday, reveals HP’s circa-2002 thoughts on when, how and why Microsoft Corp. would start filing patent infringement lawsuits against HP’s use of open-source software.

The memo is dated June 3, 2002 and shows how worried HP executives were that Microsoft might be getting ready to use patents to attack open-source programs.

In the memo, Gary Campbell, then vice president of strategic architectures for Industry-Standard Servers and now vice president and chief technology officer of Enterprise Servers and Storage, explained that HP had just reached a new patent cross-license agreement with Microsoft and that, in the course of making this agreement, he believed that “Microsoft is about to launch legal action against the industry for shipping Open Source [sic] software that may force us out of using certain popular Open Source products.”

Campbell wrote that “Microsoft could attack Open Source Software for patent infringements against OEMs, Linux distributors, and least likely open source developers. They are specifically upset about Samba, Apache and Sendmail. We believe Samba [the Windows-compatible file server/client] is first, and they will attempt to prove it isn’t covered by prior patent cross as a so-called ‘clone’ product carve [sic] out in the previous agreement.”

News source: eWeek


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