This Covenant Will Self Destruct in…

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patent Covenant, Patents at 8:01 pm by Shane Coyle

Besides the fact that the MS Covenant has been termed worse than useless, Pamela Jones at Groklaw poses an excellent query: What happens after the five year term?

As we have come to expect of PJ at Groklaw, she covers the intricacies of the covenant in depth, reviewing aspects of the Microsoft Patent Pledges – both to “Hobbyists” and OpenSUSE developers, and raises excellent questions regarding the wording of the agreement, including confusing terms such as “captured patents” vs “covered patents” :

But here, we’ll be looking at the programmers who are contributing code to others, specifically to SUSE, both the paid products and the openSUSE project. We may still be able to find a few programmers left who are willing to consider doing that somewhere on the planet. We will start with the “Patent Cooperation Agreement – Microsoft & Novell Interoperability Collaboration”, the Covenant with Customers (ha ha). I will mention in passing that the media is misinterpreting or at least overstating Richard Stallman’s remarks about the agreement and GPLv2′s section 7, in my opinion. There is no “blessing” of this agreement to date that I am aware of, and I think I’d be aware of it if it happened.

This is an especially important read for developers, including OpenSUSE developers, since their are some potential limitations to the covenant. Specifically, as the covenant is worded around ‘customers’ and includes wording to define covered products as those which Novell has derived revenue from, OpenSUSE developers may have to buy SUSE to continue their coverage for their own code!

[editors note: sorry for the blockquote within a blockquote, this is an excerpt from patent cooperation agreement in groklaw article, provided to give PJ’s analysis context.:]

Also, the foregoing covenant will apply to customers’ and developers’ use of copies of Covered Products distributed by Novell that are in development (including, without limitation, work in process; trial, alpha, beta and release candidate versions; and other versions of products intended for but not yet generally released for Revenue on a commercial basis), even if Novell does not receive Revenue in connection therewith, provided that such copies are solely provided for development, testing or evaluation purposes and any support thereof, if any, continues for no longer than one-hundred eighty (180) days from distribution. In any case, the covenant granted pursuant to this paragraph shall expire as to such customers and developers One-Hundred Eighty (180) days from distribution to such covered customers and developers.

So I think that is saying that developers are covered while they work on code that isn’t released yet, but once it is released by Novell, they’d have to buy it by 180 days if they wanted coverage, because it stops being covered then. If I were a developer, I’d want to ask my lawyer about that, because it sounds to this nonlawyer like the poor doob could write code for Novell and not be able to even safely use it after 180 days, let alone distribute it to others. Clearly this is not a normal GPL atmosphere.

As Pamela suggests, anyone who is still considering working with and contributing to Novell/SUSE, you would be best served to consult with an attorney personally to assess your own interests in this deal, since Novell has only thought of their own interests to date.

I personally suggest that you consider no longer associating with Novell.

Embrace, Extend, Exterminate

Posted in Bill Gates, Deals, Deception, Marketing, Steve Ballmer, Windows at 8:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Head over to CIOL and read Chaturvedi’s article about the Novell/Microsoft deal. Being a great thinker with broad knowledge of history, this man understand why the divisive nature of the deal could be the beginning of a disaster.

Embrace, Extend, Exterminate

Since, the eighties, Microsoft has been at loggerheads with some or the all the IT companies. It is renowned for the subversive tactics that it employs to nullify opposition. “Embrace, Extend, Exterminate” is supposedly the corporate philosophy that it lives by. In its three decade of existence, innumerable companies have either been gobbled up or simply run out of existence. Gates (and now Steve Ballmer, the CEO) do not look kindly at competition.

Sun, Oracle, Apple, IBM, you name it, all have been detractors of Microsoft. Google was one of the few companies that was able to steal a march over Microsoft and establish itself as a leader in the online space. Yet, one of Microsoft’s favorite bugbears has been a product company with a cute penguin as its trademark, Linux.

The open source movement is an anathema to Microsoft. The company propagates proprietary systems and is loathe to giving anything away for free or even opening itself.

‘Halloween documents’ is the name given to internal Microsoft memos that were leaked to the open source community in 1998. It is a revealing commentary on how Microsoft perceives competition, mainly Linux kernel-based operating systems. The memos dub open source software as ‘a growing long-term threat to Microsoft’s dominance of the software industry.’

SCO’s Role in This Abusive Relationship

Posted in Deals, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, SCO at 2:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The court battles with SCO ought to teach us that Novell is taking part in an abusive relationship. On the one hand it defends itself against Microsoft-backed anti-Linux FUD while, on the other, it also collaborates and tolerates the abuse. Groklaw has the details on the latest round in the SCO case.

If Novell wins its motion here, obviously that makes it simpler to decide some of the IBM motions. There’s a certain complexity to having the two cases going on at once, and now that the judge has indicated that IBM’s motions will go forward, it matters to have some of the Novell issues decided.

One can’t help but wonder if the Microsoft/Novell relationship plays a role in the offence that’s directed at SCO. This relationship has clearly played a role in antitrust proceedings, OpenOffice and formats, patent infringement threats, etc. The big(ger) question remains: will Novell be encouraged to let the SCO nuisance linger on? This seems improbable. However, the whole bizarre scenario does come to show that Novell fights on two fronts with the same enemy. More oddly, it collaborates with its enemies. Is Novell trying to sell Linux? Or is it interested in having it integrated with Windows? Ron Hovsepian has already confessed that he had a vision of Linux running virtualised under Windows. Additionally, does Novell protect Linux from so-called ‘intellectual property’? Or does it only expose Linux as a whole (itself included)? Does it fight SCO or does it empower it? It is, after all, collaborating with one of SCO’s backers and fuels void speculation that Linux contains tainted bits.

Microsoft Linux and the Kernel Question

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, SCO at 12:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There have been some crazy speculations coming from various people, some of whom suggest that Microsoft wants a BSD or Linux kernel for its Windows applications. Then, they say, Wine could be used to run applications without any problems. Unsurprisingly, a Wine developer was actually among the first people to compare Novell to SCO, just shortly after the Novell/Microsoft deal had been made. While crazy speculations are out in the open, I might as well mention this Nicvell (Microsoft Novell Linux) rumour.

Quotes of the day

From sys-con:

CEO Steve Ballmer picked up the biggest, fattest, slitheriest worm out of that can of worms he opened up

From Linux gazette:

Well, I was extremely unhappy when Novell took over SuSE, but decided to take a wait-and-see attitude. Novell, in my assessment, back in the heyday of Netware was as arrogant and expensive as Microsoft. Hmmm… maybe it’s not surprising that they’re sharing a bed these days.

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