Andy Updegrove writes "By now you've probably read more than you want to about Microsoft's announcement that it owns 235 patents underlying leading open source software, including many opinions about whether Microsoft's new assertions do, or don't, represent a real threat to Linux, OpenOffice, and other OSS. To get to the bottom of the issue, though, you have to take a deep dive into how patent cross licensing works these days. When you do, you realize that patents don't mean what they used to, and have far more defensive than offensive value in the marketplace today. It also becomes apparent that it really doesn't matter whether Microsoft has valid patents or not, because so many other companies do as well. Today, what companies worry about isn't asserting their patents against other companies, but maintaining their freedom of activity. In this case, the open source community can simply ride the coattails of the major vendors, because Microsoft doesn't hold enough cards to win the hand, much less the game." Relatedly The Register is reporting that the author of the main report being used by Microsoft to support their patent claims has come out against Microsoft's interpretation of his work and Jonathan Schwartz gives some free advice to the overly litigious.