Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 8th Nov 2006 11:24 UTC
Novell and Ximian Microsoft will pay Novell USD 348 million up front, but Novell will return USD 200 million of that amount over five years. The specific numbers came in an a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made by Novell late Tuesday. "The financial commitments Microsoft is making as part of this agreement are significant," company CEO Ron Hovsepian said in a statement. In related news, Microsoft has denied that its patent deal with Novell is in breach of the GPL or will automatically spread Microsoft's patent protection to other Linux distributions.
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RE[3]: Why so hard on Novell?
by stestagg on Wed 8th Nov 2006 14:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Why so hard on Novell?"
stestagg
Member since:
2006-06-03

Doesn't this mean that Novell customers will break the GPL? If Novell are being sub-contracted by Microsoft to sell patent licenses, then Novell customers will break section 7?

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[4]: Why so hard on Novell?
by Jody on Wed 8th Nov 2006 14:06 in reply to "RE[3]: Why so hard on Novell?"
Jody Member since:
2005-06-30

Here is all of GPLv2 Section 7
Source: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/info/GPLv2.html

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by
all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.


If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under
any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to
apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other
circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any
such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the
integrity of the free software distribution system, which is
implemented by public license practices. Many people have made
generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed
through that system in reliance on consistent application of that
system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing
to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot
impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to
be a consequence of the rest of this License.



So to answer your question, Novel could not distribute something covered by a software patent to customers in the first place without breaking GPL. I have to parse through it again, but I think I missed where it says Novell can't continue distributing patent free GPL software.

Edited 2006-11-08 14:12

Reply Parent Score: 1

deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19

Do you see a patent license anywhere? MS and Novell made sure to clarify this is a covenant not to sue and does not mention a patent license.

Microsoft does the FUD again with a similar SCO theme. Really, we have patents and IP and stuff that you are violating. All the while not revealing what IP/Patents they are talking about since this is simply a covenant.

They hold up Suse as "their" linux and says you are safe if you run this. So all the companies that want to use linux - guess what they choose?

Section 7 will be danced around because none of this is clearly defined as patent royalty payments of GPL software. It is about payment for hiring staff to work on the project, for "coupons", for money paid to agree to do this and so forth...

Skips around GPLv2 quite easily. I think v3 would be a bit harder to skip around but could probably be done also. But hopefully this highlights a need that we do need something a bit more defined to try and combat crap like this.

Reply Parent Score: 2

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

The if all the software in a linux distribution is patent-free, what is the point of this 'covenant'?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Why so hard on Novell?
by CrLf on Wed 8th Nov 2006 14:32 in reply to "RE[3]: Why so hard on Novell?"
CrLf Member since:
2006-01-03

Section 7 of the GPL reads,

"For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program."

If Novell's customers can't redistribute the patent grant to other users, then Novell itself can't distribute the software to its customers.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Why so hard on Novell?
by andrewg on Wed 8th Nov 2006 14:39 in reply to "RE[4]: Why so hard on Novell?"
andrewg Member since:
2005-07-06

Which basically means that as soon as Microsoft sues and wins an IP case against anyone distributing the same offending code that Novel uses then Novel's patent covenant means nothing in the sense that they won't be able to continue distributing the code just like everyone else.

Seems like patent covenants with individual companies don't work with the GPL. At least as far as the continued distribution goes.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Why so hard on Novell?
by MollyC on Wed 8th Nov 2006 19:21 in reply to "RE[3]: Why so hard on Novell?"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

I'm not a GPL expert, but isn't it the case that Novell's customers aren't subject to GPL unless they make code "derived" from Novell's and distribute it to the public?

Reply Parent Score: 1

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I think you're right. But as another commenter pointed out:

Part of section 7 reads:
For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by
all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.


This means that Novell have to guarantee that if someone downloads a SUSE distribution ( and potentially re-packages it) that user/group cannot be sued by Microsoft for patent infringement. Therefore if MS tries to enforce soft patents on the Kernel, Novell are no better off than any other distro.

Reply Parent Score: 1