An excellent explanation by Eben Moglen about why geeks are so outraged about Novell’s agreement with Microsoft:
Our friend Mark Blafkin objects that free software partisans have often claimed that Microsoft patents were a threat to free software when it suited them. This is true, but it’s kind of beside the point. The problem with Microsoft’s behavior isn’t what they say about their patents. The problem is the implicit threat their statements embody.
When Microsoft says “Linux infringes 245 patents and they’d better pay up,” that’s entirely different from a potential litigation target saying “Linux infringes 245 bogus patents and so we’d better change patent law to make sure we don’t get sued.” It’s kind of like the difference between a shopkeeper saying “I’m worried the Mafia breaking my store’s windows so we need increased police protection” and a Mafia don saying “that’s a nice shop you’ve got, it would be a shame if something happened to it.”