Buy this - it's encumbered



As Toby pointed out yesterday the Microsoft-Novell deal does still endure, even if the contentment does not. However, I do not see how this partnership can have legs in the long run:

I will tell you that at a personal level I've been very impressed with the integrity and the approach they took to creating this working relationship.
Novell, 2nd November


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.
Novell, 20th November


The thing is, anyone who watched the webcast of the announcement (at which Novell execs were present), cannot be that surprised. About 7 minutes in, Steve Ballmer makes it very clear that it was the resolution of "IP issues" that paved the way for the deal, and the Microsoft lawyer makes it clear that Novell will be paying royalties to Microsoft on open source shipments.

During the webcast, the deal is trumpeted by Microsoft as an innovative "IP bridge" between the worlds of open source and proprietary software. What I took that to mean was that Microsoft were laying claim to IP that Novell were shipping, but know that under the terms of the GPL, they cannot cross-license their patents in a commercial relationship. What I took the "innovation" to mean was that Microsoft had a non-assert covenant with Novell's customers, thus circumventing the spirit, if not the letter, of the GPL.

Anyway, the nub of the matter is this: the value of this deal to Novell was that Microsoft would endorse and jointly market Novell's Suse Linux. I would love to hear that sales pitch now. "Microsoft endorses Novell Suse Linux because we believe that it contains unlicensed IP, something we are in dispute with Novell about." I don't know about you, but I'm not buying.


p.s. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

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