Novell Disputes Criticism Of Microsoft Deal

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The agreement between Novell and Microsoft that will have salespeople offering Windows and Linux to customers had triggered substantial criticism, to which Novell has responded.

Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian placed an open letter to the Linux community online, as an answer to angry suggestions that Novell had admitted Linux infringed on Microsoft patents.

“Our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property,” said Hovsepian. “When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents.”

Microsoft also concurred with this in a statement the company issued.

“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 company said, and also noted Novell was “absolutely right” in its assertion that admission or acknowledgment of patent issues was not part of the agreement.

“Our interest in signing this agreement was to secure interoperability and joint sales agreements, but Microsoft asked that we cooperate on patents as well, and so a patent cooperation agreement was included as a part of the deal,” Hovsepian said.

The CEO also listed several ways he feels Novell has supported the open source community with its patent practices.

Those included indemnifying its Linux customers from accusations of patent infringement, and efforts at helping reform the USPTO process that has resulted in the issuance of hundreds of “bad patents” of obvious, non-original creations.

Microsoft will have to earn some trust among the open source community.

If the company were to act against free/open source software developers where they would not be permitted to distribute their work due to potential infringement, Microsoft will have a full-scale riot on its hands in answer to that.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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