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02.15.07

Ron Hovsepian Defending Microvell Deal

Posted in Deals, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Samba at 7:10 am by Shane Coyle

I’m still on vacation these few weeks, renovating and painting the homestead, hunkering down in the ice storm and lamenting not going on a cruise again this year. Boy, would St Martin or St Barts be nice right now…

Novell is defending its Microsoft deal once again in the press, you can check out the full article here, but basically it is alot of the same spin we have become accustomed to in recent months, with a little bit of fresh insight.

First of all, it is interesting to see that Mr Hovsepian feels that the departures of Jeremy Allison and the rest of the Samba Team are "nothing significant", and balanced apparently by the return of Hubert Mantel:

Another immediate ramification of the deal was the resignation of Samba developer Jeremy Allison, who fled to Google in protest; however, Hovsepian remains confident in developer morale and said the company’s turnover is low of “key people”.

“It is literally single digit numbers and nothing significant. The team is very enthusiastic,” he said. “Samba is one hot spot with the agreement [and] people thought we signed a cross licensing agreement which we do not. Hubert Mantel, one of the founders of SUSE, has returned to Novell, and when he came back he said he liked the Microsoft agreement. They are very much aware of it and we are listening to the development teams.”

It is also interesting to note that this was "not a deal we(Novell) had to make", but rather a concious ploy to gain more business and customers, he later states that the $240M would be worthless if they did not gain any customers (they’ve gained 1 that we know of from the coupon distribution, whoo hoo!).

Hovsepian also talks about Novell losing potential customers to "IP Overhang" (interesting term) prior to the deal, which was an impetus for the deal. But still noone at Novell has explained why Red Hat didn’t seem to have a problem signing up Fortune 500 customers before the Microvell deal, and why they seem to continue to outperform Novell despite their Microsoft alliance.

And, since they took so much trouble to point it out more than once, let me pass on Novell’s assertion that they haven’t any patent cross-license with Microsoft, and Novell could be sued for infringement by MS at any time:

“We did not sign a patent cross licensing agreement, what we agreed to was not to sue any customers over patents,” Hovsepian said, adding there has been confusion and rhetoric over the intellectual property aspect of the contract.
The deal protects customers, but either company could still sue each other tomorrow, he said.

Something I’m sure that Novell’s stockholders are ecstatic about – so, we’ve made a deal which some feel is tantamount to admitting that there is likely a valid IP infringement in our products, and did nothing to protect our shareholders from that potential litigation.

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