Novell responds to Microsoft

Brandon Stout bms at
Tue Nov 21 15:38:42 MST 2006

Michael L Torrie wrote:

> Let me be a little clearer.  Licensing patents from Microsoft does
> absolutely *nothing* for *any* OSS project, from what I can see.
> I fail to see how this Novell/MS deal will help Linux in the ways you
> suggest.  In fact the opposite is true.  Code from proprietary systems
> is a huge danger to any open source project, unless specifically
> released by a company (copyrights, patents, license).  If Novell's
> patent exchange with MS involves seeing any MS code at all, no matter
> for what purpose, than we simply cannot accept any code from Novell to
> *any* OSS project.  The risk of infringements is increased
> dramatically. . . .
> . . . You haven't presented any supporting evidence for your claims
> How does this Novell/MS agreement help make windows games and
> other software potentially available to Linux users?  If you mean MS will
> sell linux users software, then I guess that's something.  To expect even
> that seems kind of silly.  Microsoft is not interested in making Linux
a peer
> in any of their major markets.  The server room is one thing, the
desktop is
> quite another.
> Also, if you are under the impression that the overall quality of Linux
> will magically increase now that Novell has been taken by MS, I don't
> see how you can arrive at this conclusion.
> Michael


You have good points.  Before I go further, since I'm new to PLUG, let
me make it clear to all: I'm an Open Source advocate.  Any time I can,
I'll talk someone into using OSS alternatives.  Personally, I choose
Open Source whenever it can do what I want.  I didn't site references
because I thought the original Novel reference speaks for itself:

It makes these points:

Our stance on software patents is unchanged by the agreement with
Microsoft. We want to remind the community of Novell's commitment to,
and prior actions in support of, furthering the interests of Linux and
open source, and creating an environment of free and open innovation.
We have a strong patent portfolio and we have leveraged that portfolio
for the benefit of the open source community. Specifically, we have
taken the following actions:

    * We have stated our commitment to use our own software patents to
protect open source technologies. more +
    * We have spoken out against EU legislation that would liberalize
the standards for granting software patents. more +
    * We offer indemnification to our Linux customers accused of
intellectual property infringement. more +
    * We have teamed with the United States Patent and Trademark
Office and other industry leaders to reduce the issuance of “bad
patents” in the software area. more +
    * In 2005, we co-founded Open Invention Network (“OIN”), “an
intellectual property company that was formed to promote Linux by
using patents to create a collaborative environment.” Novell's
substantial contributions to OIN were made to benefit not only
ourselves, but also other Linux vendors, distributors and developers,
and anyone else willing to commit not to assert their patents against
Linux. more +

In closing, we wish to be extremely clear that Novell is committed to
protecting, preserving and promoting freedom for free and open source
software. We recognize that the community of open source developers is
essential to all our activities in Linux, and we welcome dialog with
the community as to how we can continue to work together toward these
common goals.

This article also cites a MS response:

Microsoft and Novell have agreed to disagree on whether certain open
source offerings infringe Microsoft patents and whether certain
Microsoft offerings infringe Novell patents. The agreement between our
two companies puts in place a workable solution for customers for
these issues, without requiring an agreement between our two companies
on infringement.

Both of our companies are fully committed to moving forward with all
of the important work under these agreements. The agreements will
advance interoperability between Windows and Linux and put in place a
new intellectual property bridge between proprietary and open source
software. Customers and participants throughout our industry will
clearly benefit from these results.

We at Microsoft respect Novell's point of view on the patent issue,
even while we respectfully take a different view. Novell is absolutely
right in stating that it did not admit or acknowledge any patent
problems as part of entering into the patent collaboration agreement.
At Microsoft we undertook our own analysis of our patent portfolio and
concluded that it was necessary and important to create a patent
covenant for customers of these products. We are gratified that such a
solution is now in place.

These quotes tell me that both companies are working with each other
respectfully while still adhering to their own ideals, and they both
want to make Microsoft products more OSS compatible.

Upon those things I based my case.

Brandon Stout

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