Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 2nd Nov 2006 22:05 UTC, submitted by anonymous
Novell and Ximian At a press conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce a new partnership between Microsoft and Novell. The unprecedented deal will have Microsoft offering a degree of sales support for Novell's SUSE Linux while both companies work towards better interoperability between their respective operating systems. As part of the agreement, Microsoft also promises not to wield its patent portfolio against SUSE Linux. More here. You can follow the live webcast announcement, by Steve Ballmer, here. Update: Novell has put up a detailed FAQ about this deal.
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RE[5]: is
by h times nue equals e on Fri 3rd Nov 2006 17:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: is"
h times nue equals e
Member since:

Again, IANAL, so please correct me if I'm wrong on this, but for me the situation looks like this:

If Novel distributes their (= they are the sole holder of copyright) original work under the GPL
AND violates a patent, then it should (IMHO) be immanent, that they must get a patent license, preferably before they release the software. If they fail to get a license from the patent holder, that is compatible with the GPL (e.g. allows to obtain a royality free license for all derivative works), then the software does not qualify for the GPL. If they still choose to distribute the software under the GPL although they are fully aware, that the authors of derivative works may be hindered by the patent holder to enjoy their right to create and distribute consequent modified versions, then I guess that the project will loose its appeal to FOSS developers pretty soon. Whether such (hypothetical) behaviour on behalf of any party (incl. Novell) is legal or not, I'm not sure about. But for me, it is clear that the license is not the one to blame here.

I assume that aboves example is the situation you had in mind. Because, if otherwise Novell joins an existing, GPL-only licensed project and creates derivative works + adds patent encumbered technologies with the same restricitve patent licenense from above, it would violate the terms of the license, that granted the access to the base of their derivative works. Novell would loose the right to modify AND distribute their works on base of the GPL.

I agree, that the orthogonality of patents and copyright can lead to situations, where the license itself is ridiculed. Still, I do not see where the GPL is legally questioned with respect to this.

(From the flawed-Car-analogies department; If I buy a car in my country, then I have several rights granted by consumer protection laws including warranty times, not manipualted the kilometer counter, .... , and the full transfer of ownership, e.g. I can sell the car myself, if I have fully paid the price. If the vendor chooses to sell cars he has no right to sell, for example because they are stolen, then this does not render my consumer rights invalid. Ok, this analogy uses contract law, and not licenses, but I hope you get my point)


Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: is
by Tron on Sat 4th Nov 2006 05:58 in reply to "RE[5]: is"
Tron Member since:

Just to sum up because I think this is an important point that few people have mentioned:

Novell just bought patent indemnification for everyone.

Novell is legally required to release Linux the under the GPL or a compatible license. According to section 7 of the GPL, any imposed licenses or restrictions (patents included) are required to be GPL compatible. If Microsoft grants a license (to anyone) to use a patent in GPL code, that license MUST be GPL compatible, and therefore applies globally. All users/distributors of the code should immediately have indemnification for that patent.

Lawyers are no dummies and this seems pretty clear-cut, so here's my take on the whole thing: Microsoft is getting some money from Novell and will attempt to get others to buy into the racket even though it is unnecessary; Novell is banking on the reputation of being a Microsoft partner and being indemnified(even though everyone else is); And everyone gets to use Mono and SMB, reguardless of distribution, without fear of lawyers. A win-win-win situation.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[7]: is
by deanlinkous on Sat 4th Nov 2006 06:39 in reply to "RE[6]: is"
deanlinkous Member since:

Novell just bought patent indemnification for everyone.
No they didn't.
This isn't a patent license or anything. It is a covenant, a agreement, no more than that. The GPL only applies to GPL covered software. They made it a point to mention a "mixed source" product which means they will keep it seperate enough so that the GPL never comes into play. Yet they will make it 'as good as' proprietary since any changes they make to GPL code will be worthless to anyone without the closed source product that it is designed for. They just effectively created a proprietary linux.

As I have said, they spelled out all of this in the webcast. You just had to actually listen to what they said and not just hear what they wanted you to hear.

Patents, Patents, Patents,
Protection, Protection, Protection,
Payments, Payments, Paymets,

Forget developers, developers, developers since we are at a point now to make money off of our portfolio and threats instead of trying to make money off that worthless OS business.

Edited 2006-11-04 06:42

Reply Parent Score: 2