There's an outstanding article taken from Fortune and published on CNN's Money pages last week that explains in detail the nature of Microsoft's patent claims against Linux. It's the best article I've read on the subject and provides a roadmap to how the future of Ubuntu may play out. (For those who can read between the lines it may also explain why Shuttleworth seems to be backtracking from his original commitment to make Ubuntu "media friendly" by including needed proprietary bits). The article is here:
My take on the situation is that most countries outside the US won't honor Microsoft's patent claims and Ubuntu could continue to develop and be distributed in most places, but may potentially be shut off in the US if the GPL license holders go to court and lose. The best strategic move Linux users can make to contribute to a coming legal armaggedon is to buy an Apple computer if you intend to have a non-Linux machine, because the dollars you put in Apple's pocket will effectively become part of their war chest for the coming battle. Though us Ubuntu users probably aren't under the same illusions about Steve Jobs' altruism or idealism that his fanboys are, I would think a Microsoft attack on Linux licenses would be an attack on Unix rights that Apple would have to answer.
So if you thought playing around with Ubuntu took you away from the troubled Middle Earth run by Microsoft, pay attention to the fires coming from Mordor...