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01.08.07

Novell’s Global Effect on Perception of Software Patents

Posted in Asia, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Ron Hovsepian at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dana Gardner has contributed an interesting piece to ECT News Network. In this short article he explains why Microsoft’s recent actions do more to defeat its goals, rather than promote them. He also insinuates that, looking at the long term, Novell might be a victim in this highway to the success of GNU/Linux.

If Microsoft is willing to make a legal deal with Novell on Linux, why shouldn’t it do the same with the global 2000 customers it sells to? Novell might be gone in a few years, but General Electric will still be around. So will Russia, China, Brazil, India and Massachusetts.

Remember when AOL thought it was doing the world’s researchers a big favor and made a boatload of online user behavior data openly available?

Remember the unintended consequences?

It became fairly easy to link up user preference data with some actual identifiable users. Users were upset, AOL looked pretty goofy, and they apologized and back-tracked.

[...]

Well, thanks to Microsoft Latest News about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s recent transparency on his beliefs about Linux and Windows, we have a similar unintended educational consequence in the works.

[...]

According to a recent survey at least partially backed by IBM, Linux has never been more attractive.

Thinking of Novell as a misfortunate sacrifice (a scapegoat even) seems like a misfit. Given all that Novell has gone through, as well as hateful messages from Microsoft, it is evident that Novell simply needed to search its archives and prevent repetition of its mistakes.

The cost of this validation for Linux, as confirmed by IBM and Stuart Cohen, despite the patent FUD—a little bonfire, at which Novell tossed wood—might be Novell’s business prospects. As our reader John Schudy points out, even Novell customers gain no real protection from so-called patents.

We are currently seeking more proof that (at least some of) Novell employees acknowledge the need for patent protection. In my short coversation with Miguel de Icaza I was referred to something which, at least to me, sounds like a very bad tune. From de Icaza’s blog:

“Not using Mono in any shape or form is not a blank waiver against patents. That means that even if you choose to stick to your beloved C, Python, C++ or anything else, for any new software you write, you are likely to infringe on someone else’s patents (or even the same ones that Mono could potentially infringe).”

It sounds to me as though therein lies an admission by a prominent Novell figure that Linux infringes on software patents. If you are aware of a similar stance at Novell, please keep us informed. Novell has attempted to shrug off (or weasel out of) its commitment with Microsoft as far as patents are concerned. Some speculate that this retraction was driven and motivated by public relation needs rather than inherent belief.

Let us not forget that this company has recently been raving about its ‘mixed source’ strategy. I can recall at least 4 articles which contained this ‘pitch’, some of which have already been covered in this Web site. And even this morning, an article showed up, wherein that same chorus repeats:

He (Sandeep Menon, director- Linux Business, Novell West Asia) stressed on the company’s policy of ‘mixed source’ saying the vendor is “not puritanical or fanatic” about pushing just one type of technology.

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