Microsoft, Novell Truce Troubled

There has been a great deal of activity regarding the partnership between Microsoft and open-source software platform manufacturer Novell. As previously reported in this newsletter, the recently announced business and technical collaboration agreements between the two companies intend to make Novell and Microsoft products more compatible and provide each other’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products. Microsoft committed $286 million to the deal.

The agreements were stated as being in place until 2012, but now one wonders whether they’ll be in place through next year. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has made public comments that assert the deal proves Microsoft’s intellectual property does exist in Linux operating systems. Novell, in turn, issued an open letter to the Linux and open-source community, saying the deal is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes on any of Microsoft’s intellectual property.

The letter from Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, dated Nov. 20, read in part, “Since our announcement, some parties have spoken about this patent agreement in a damaging way and with a perspective that we do not share. We strongly challenge those statements here.

“We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents.”

Novell officers later…



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