Torvalds, the leader of the project to create the Linux kernel, was contemptuous of Microsoft's claims and has asked Redmond to name the infringements so that their veracity can be challenged and workarounds found.
"Naming them would either make it clear that Linux is not infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim," he said in an email exchange with Information Week.
"So the whole 'We have a list and we're not telling you' should tell you something. Don't you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they'd just tell us and go, 'nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'?"
Torvalds added that Microsoft might have patent problems of its own if the company was to expose its software to public scrutiny in the same way as Linux.
He said that operating system procedures have not changed much since the 1960s, and many companies, including IBM, have patents of which Microsoft could well find itself in breach.
Torvalds was sanguine over the possibility of legal action and believes it unlikely that anyone would get sued.
"Microsoft would have to name the patents then, and they are probably happier with the [fear, uncertainty, doubt] than with any lawsuit," he predicted.
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