Microsoft Announces a Patent on the term FUD

Microsoft has announced that they’ll be suing open-source companies and bloggers for patent infringement—on 235 patents related to the term FUD.

Microsoft has made its broadest challenge to date against free speech, claiming that FUD and related phrases violate Microsoft patents and saying it will seek license fees.

The world’s largest software maker said these various spoken phrases infringe patents it holds in areas related to scaring computer users. Only it is allowed to spread FUD.

“The real question is not whether there exist substantial patent infringement issues, but what to do about them,” Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said in a statement.

Microsoft sent the statement to reporters via email, detailing a stance that it disclosed in an article that appeared in Fortune Magazine.

On case mentioned by the spokesman was the inclusion of FUD in the Oxford English Dictionary, which is the most popular type of dictionary, or book that people can open and quote so as long as they share those words with the public. The dictionaries, which are often available for free use, have gained in popularity over the past decade, sometimes including words that Microsoft used regularly. FUD can now be found in the Oxford Dictionary, Merriam-Webster and even Wikipedia. All are thought to be amongst Microsoft’s first legal targets with forum users and bloggers being identified and placed on a list for future legal action. Gutierrez said that:

“Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is a sales or marketing strategy of disseminating negative and mostly incorrect information on a competitor’s product. We have being using that tactic to fight open source software for years, falsely claiming that it is amateurish, unreliable and dangerous for use in large companies. FUD is a key part of Microsoft’s business and we intend it to remain that way for many years to come.”

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