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November 20, 2006

The Microsoft Novell honeymoon is over

Posted by David Hunter at 10:21 PM ET.

It looks like the glow is off the elopement of Microsoft and Novell that was announced and consummated on Nov. 2. The proximate cause seems to be Steve Ballmer’s public carrying on about Linux infringing Microsoft patents and the resultant furor among Novell’s relatives in the open source community who already weren’t too pleased with the nuptials.

This drove Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian to an open letter today:

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.

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.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was unrepentant:

“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.”

At least they’re still speaking, but somehow I don’t think this marriage is going to last.



Filed under Alliances, Coopetition, Executives, Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Open Source, Patent Lawsuits, Patents, Steve Ballmer

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4 Responses to “The Microsoft Novell honeymoon is over”

  1. Lipstick for the pigs -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Presumably to calm the rancor over Microsoft’s deal with Novell, Microsoft released the results of a survey of 201 “IT executives, managers or staff” and discovered that they overwhelmingly favor interoperability: “This survey confirms for us what we’ve been hearing from customers all along. They want technology vendors to work together to promote interoperability and to stand behind the products they sell and service,” said Susan Hauser, general manager of customer advocacy at Microsoft. The really interesting part, of course, is what the survey respondents wanted who weren’t in favor of interoperability and vendors standing behind their product. [...]

  2. Microsoft claims open source infringes 235 patents -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer apparently so liked the hole he was digging with his vague dyspeptic grumblings about Linux infringement on Microsoft patents that he called on the Microsoft legal department to dig the hole deeper as Fortune reported over the weekend. The new chief ditch diggers are Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez who are claiming that 235 Microsoft patents are infringed by open source products: In an interview with Fortune, Microsoft top lawyer Brad Smith alleges that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents, while its user interface and other design elements infringe on a further 65. OpenOffice.org is accused of infringing 45, along with 83 more in other free and open-source programs, according to Fortune. [...]

  3. Microsoft adds some more cash to Novell deal | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] deal by Open Source fans was the "patent cooperation" part of the agreement which Microsoft felt bolstered their assertion that Linux infringed on their intellectual property despite Novell’s statements to the contrary. It looks like the lovebirds have gotten over [...]

  4. Microsoft and TomTom settle patent dispute, including Linux infringement | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] specter. The "open source community" will undoubtedly have a lot to say shortly much as they did over Microsoft’s Novell deal that Microsoft claimed recognized Linux infringement on their patents. Filed under Coopetition, [...]

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