Year 2007, Microsoft's used Forbes to accuse Linux of infringing upon its 235 patents. The one sided, pro-Microsoft Forbes story was seen as an attempt to scare the Linux companies and customers. It failed. I talked to almost every top-shot in the free software world and did a long story exposing how bogus those claims were. You can read the story here [PDF].
Linux continued to grow and with Android it is today the dominant platform of the world in the mobile market. Microsoft has not given up. They are still playing the same old, scare tactics. They are signing undisclosed deals with Android players over Linux patents. Only few companies bother to engage in fight with Microsoft. May be its cheaper to throw a bone at them than to get in a crazy court battle with someone with deep pockets and ultimate desperation. There are companies which do fight back like Motorola and B&N. I guess Microsoft tries to avoid legal battles as it would expose those 'patents' and there validity will be tested. B&N case has shown how bogus Microsoft's patents are. Now, none other than Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux has helped busting one of Microsoft's bogus claims.
There is a Microsoft patent #352 which deals with "storing filenames with lots of characters in old filesystems such as the Windows FAT (File Allocation Table) filesystem that are designed to use very short filenames. Mobile phone makers use this type of technology so that their devices interoperate with other operating systems, including Windows," reports Wired. You can read more about the patent here.
Microsoft was using this patent against Motorola and B&N. Motorola found a post by Linus Torvalds which predated the Microsoft patent by three years. Microsoft lawyers were not happy with this and argued with Linus over the confirmation of the date to an extent that the creator of Linux told them to stop that stupid argument. "At some point, I basically said: ‘OK stop this stupid argument, can we go on to something else?" says Linus.
The invalidity of the patent will have a long-term effect on how Microsoft forces companies into signing deals over bogus patents. No one is going to sign patent deals with Microsoft if they know such patents are invalid.