Microsoft Clarifies Novell 'Patent Collaboration Agreement'

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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Microsoft agrees to disagree with Novell's CEO over Microsoft patents and Linux.

In an unusually fast turnaround, Microsoft replied within hours to Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian's "Open Letter to the Community from Novell." In a statement, Microsoft acknowledges that Novell never agreed, as some critics of the deal have claimed, to Microsoft's vague contentions of patent violations in Linux.

In his open letter to the community, Hovsepian wrote, "Microsoft asked that we cooperate on patents as well, and so a patent cooperation agreement was included as a part of the deal. In this agreement, Novell and Microsoft each promise not to sue the other's customers for patent infringement. The intended effect of this agreement was to give our joint customers peace of mind that they have the full support of the other company for their IT activities."

In an eWEEK interview, John Dragoon, Novell's senior vice president and CMO, further explained, "Some customers, for whatever reasons, decided they did not want the hassles of addressing intellectual property issues. Our doing this agreement with Microsoft is not an admission that we believe Linux is impugned in any way, but it is an admission that we wanted to remove whatever impediments there are to the adoption of Linux and open source and do that on behalf of our customers."

Hovsepian also wrote, "Our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. To claim otherwise is to further sow fear, uncertainty and doubt, and does not offer a fair basis for competition."

According to a Microsoft representative, "Microsoft and Novell have agreed to disagree on whether certain open-source offerings infringe Microsoft patents and whether certain Microsoft offerings infringe Novell patents. The agreement between our two companies puts in place a workable solution for customers for these issues, without requiring an agreement between our two companies on infringement."

Read the full story on Linux-Watch.com: Microsoft Clarifies Novell 'Patent Collaboration Agreement'

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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