Home > Novell and Ximian > Novell offers legal protection for Linux Novell offers legal protection for Linux Submitted by Ressev 2004-01-13 Novell and Ximian 14 Comments Novell expects this week to begin offering SuSE Linux customers some legal protection for using the open-source operating system, the fourth legal umbrella to emerge from a computing industry grappling with legal threats brought by SCO Group. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 14 Comments 2004-01-13 7:21 am What will SCO have to say about this? I’ve read in earlier articles that they want to stop Novell from buying Suse with a non-compete agreement they signed way back in the days when SCO bought Unix. Can’t wait!!! 2004-01-13 7:22 am If SCO is wrong then its not really an issue, thought arent they supposed to be submitting some sort of proof any time soon? This is good for coporations who use SuSE, I read it was only the Enterprise Edition in which Indemfication was offered but that makes sense. I dont think many Corps use the free versions of linux 😉 Of course Im just waiting for this whole fisaco to blow through. 2004-01-13 7:29 am A lot of software manufacturers have been sued over the years for alleged (and subsequently proven) violations of IP. To this day, none of them offers customers any kind of legal protection for their own product. Therefore, it stinks that they should require Linux to be more catholic than the Pope. It’s a lack of respect for the volunteers who toil at the penguin. 2004-01-13 8:10 am I’m not even sure about this, but it would be my “assumption” that this agreement between SCO and Novell is probably about competing on the UNIX platform and has no bearing on any other areas. It only makes sense. Now if it was an agreement over competing in the OS market, well that is another plausible situation. 2004-01-13 8:24 am Buy a support contract from us or maybe suffer the fate of an SCO/BSA attack on your business or yourself. More likely than not, IBM will “take a dive” (settle) and empower SCO to attack any user or business not protected by indemnification. This will come to pass sometime this year. 2004-01-13 8:46 am “More likely than not, IBM will “take a dive” (settle)” I take it you have something to backup that startling assumption? I take it you haven’t done much reading on the SCO/IBM issue. Try the Groklaw site for some informed opinion by a paralegal. 2004-01-13 8:48 am Novel is betting on SCO losing in court, and basically puts it’s oney where it’s mouth is. 2004-01-13 9:17 am Basically, I’m torn about this. On one side, I guess it’s a good thing for GNU/Linux users (especially corporate ones) to have some sort of protection against the SCO threat still around. On the other side: Probably it’s all about heading for a future where more and more we will have situations like this, like “buy a commercial GNU/Linux distribution to be protected from SCO”. Ain’t that GNU/Linux becoming more and more proprietary in a certain way? 2004-01-13 9:22 am Sun, HP, Novell have nothing to worry about. You as their customer buy a support contract and agree to their license terms to be protected. It doesn’t matter what the Linux experts say, and it doesn’t matter what the legal experts say, it’s what IBM wants to do that matters, and they have the ball in their court. If IBM settles, the major players takeover Linux, MS continues to dominate, end of story. 2004-01-13 12:29 pm Assume for a moment IBM doesn’t settle, and things go forward to a jury. ANYTHING is possible in the hands of a jury. I think one angle to this everyone seems to forget is a jury is not put together with experts, they are just common folk. I can tell you the outcome with a panel of Slashdot readers setting on the jury, but I can’t begin to guess what four housewives, an insurance salesman, two mechanics, three schoolteachers, and a pair of Wal-Marter’s may decide. This may well get decided by a group of people who don’t use Windows, and have never heard of Linux. 2004-01-13 3:34 pm It will not go to a jury but to a judge. 2004-01-13 5:41 pm “Assume for a moment IBM doesn’t settle, and things go forward to a jury. ANYTHING is possible in the hands of a jury. I think one angle to this everyone seems to forget is a jury is not put together with experts, they are just common folk. ” This is a civil trial, not a criminal trial. A judge will be doing the deciding here. -Erwos 2004-01-13 5:53 pm When I sold my business back in 1997, part of the deal was that I sign a no-compete agreement. The lawyers said this was standard practice. The purpose was to keep me from going out and starting a competing business right down the street from my old one, so to speak. I would have had the advantage because all my old customers trusted and knew me, and I would have taken all my ex-companies business away. My lawyers told me, that the standard for a no-compete clause is usually 5 years. It is meant only to give the new business owners a chance to establish the new owner’s reputation and stabilize the clients after such a shake-up. Has SCO done that yet? Point (1) – The fact that both Novell and SCO are in the same business (networking computers) would have made a no-compete clause impossible. Novell would have had to stop doing business on all networking fronts because that would have meant they were competing with SCO. Novell is in the networking business, and signing a no-compete clause with anybody for any reason would have been absolutely stupid. Is Novell stupid? They did not sell their whole business with its client base. Point (2) – If Novell did sign a no-compete contract, and if it were any kind of standard agreement, by now it surely would have expired according to industry standards. No-compete clauses are usually never perpetual. They are only meant to give the new owner a little breathing space for a limited time. If that is the case, then that means a no-compete agreement is really irrelevant to Novell in acquiring SuSE. They (Novell) will do nothing with SuSE that they (Novell) are not already doing when it comes to networking. The same could be argued for the Novell kernel used to operate a computer. Novell, Linux, and Unix kernels all operate computers — how can a no-compete agreement apply without Novell completely stopping their core business? This is simply my opinion on the no-compete issues. The IP issues are separate issues all together. 2004-01-14 6:45 pm Yes, those are valid points. The problem is that IBM and the elite 100 linux hackers would lose much face if IBM lost the jury verdict, that’s why the case will never go to the jury even if it does get to trial next year which it probably won’t. The GPL is a threat to the money people who invest in and advise the big tech companies, and they likely want it done away with. IBM and the rest can get good licence deals while SCO shuts out the independent hacker or user currently bypassing the Wincartel monopoly and their license traps. The only thing IBM has to lose is face, and they certainly won’t put themselves in a position for that to happen. The money people say they have no idea what will happen, but in fact, they know exactly what’s gonna happen because they see this stuff all the time.