Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Feb 2007 21:00 UTC, submitted by anonymous
Microsoft The same week that Microsoft issued a press release providing further details about some of the technological advances that will result from the November 2006 technology agreement between Novell and Microsoft, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Wall Street what he really thinks the deal means to Microsoft. During a forecast update meeting for financial analysts and shareholders on February 15, Ballmer reiterated that, to him, the deal is more about Microsoft exerting intellectual property pressure on Novell than anything else.
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RE[2]: Ballmer is spot on!
by Priest on Mon 19th Feb 2007 10:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Ballmer is spot on!"
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Shame on Novell for being the first to crack. We will never forget what they did to undermine the rights of the OSS community, without whose work their products would not be possible.

This could be a double edged sword.

By entering into an agreement with Novell, they are spreading "FUD", but at the same time by entering into an agreement that acknowledges these technologies and allows Novell to continue distributing said patented technologies under the terms of the GPL they are legitimizing it.

To GPL something is to give others rights to the patents involved.

At the point that this agreement not to sue Novell customers expires, MS may be forced to order Novell to cease and desist the distribution of these technologies, or be forced to allow the distribution under the terms of the GPL free and clear of any special licensing agreement.

By acknowledging the presence of these technologies and openly allowing them to be released as GPL without any special clauses, it could potentially be interpreted as consent to release them under the terms of the GPL.

Since MS and Novell reviewed the GPL before deciding the terms of this agreement, there is reasonable evidence to believe that MS is aware of what the terms of the GPL are.

So yes, the potential bright side of this agreement is that if Linux does contain MS patents, MS just consented to have them released under the terms of the GPL.

If they are planning a legal attack on Linux, this is going to be a problem.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Ballmer is spot on!
by butters on Mon 19th Feb 2007 19:42 in reply to "RE[2]: Ballmer is spot on!"
butters Member since:

I hadn't really considered this perspective, but I think it's a flawed argument. What Microsoft is doing falls outside of patent law per se. They are merely preying on the fears of impressionable Linux users by making threats of future legal action. Novell's acceptance of this deal lends credibility to these threats.

This has no effect on the outcome of any patent claims that might be asserted on Linux or the OSS with which it is distributed. Microsoft is not granting permission to Novell, they are merely promising not to sue Novell's enterprise customers. That's the danger of this agreement. There is not implicit admission or denial of infringement and no implicit permissions being conferred. It's merely a resolution to ensure that the IP status of Linux distributions remains vague for the next two years.

This benefits both parties, to the severe detriment of the OSS community. Microsoft ensures that concern over the IP status of Linux remains strong in spite of the flagging SCO case, and Novell becomes the only consequence-free island in the sea of Linux offerings.

There is no second edge to the sword. The sharp side is wedged firmly at the throat of the OSS community.

Reply Parent Score: 3