Novell and Sun Microsystems are mentioned in a series of articles, which could not escape without a comment. There is a very close tie between these events in Europe and Novell’s deal with Microsoft. The interesting headline that catches one’s eye was this.
“It could be reasonable to draw the conclusion that behavioral remedies are ineffective and that a structural remedy is warranted,” Kroes stated. While it may strike many as odd that the European Union could order a company located in the United States to split up or otherwise modify its structure, Kroes noted the possibility of such remedies is specifically mentioned in EU antitrust law.
What comes to mind now is that video which we posed the other day. Therein, Judge Jackson talks about the need to spilt Microsoft.
To finish off, here is food for thought. The Comes vs Microsoft exhibits always bring a gem back to life. This time is no exception. From Microsoft’s own mouth:
“For example, we should take the lead in establishing a common approach to UI and to interoperability (of which OLE is only a part). Our efforts to date are focussed too much on our own apps, and only incidentally on the rest of the industry. We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”
As it is, Novell has yet to file its financial reports for the quarters ended July 31, 2006 and January 31, 2007, as well as for the financial year ended October 31, 2006. The company faces delisting from the Nasdaq national market, although a decision on that has been stayed pending further action by the Nasdaq Listing Council.
Mono is absolutely a key component of Novell’s grand plan to become the no.1 Linux reseller. It’s why we invest millions of dollars a year in Linux development and have 20 Mono developers on staff. Mono will enable you to run .NET apps on Linux and if Mono is part of the SuSe Linux enterprise platform and it’s not part of the Red Hat platform because they choose not to ship it, that provides yet another reason for customers to choose SuSe Linux enterprise. I want to make clear that mono is 100% open source. Red Hat could choose to include it. But they choose not to.
These standards [ C#/CLI] are burdened with so many patents, claim MS, that only MS can legally distribute an implementation of the .NET framework. However, the Mono developers are adamant that they do not know of any patent that they infringe on.
Outside of the legallity of reimplementing C#/CLI, is the fact that MS has done the “embrace, extend, extinguish” backwards. As seems to be usual for MS (see the final decision of the EU commision), the published standard is only a subset of MS’ implementation as is discussed
here on GL. Mono does only implement the official published standards, so MS software will be able to use applications developed on Mono, but not the other way round.
A recent discussion on the lkml examined the possibility of a Linux implementation of Sun’s ZFS. It was pointed out that the file system is released under the GPL-incompatible CDDL, and that Sun has filed numerous patents to prevent ZFS from being reverse engineered.
Novell might rebut by saying that its Mono affair is protected from Microsoft legal wrath, owing to the deal, but if so, for how long? What about its tactless claims that customers can still be sued (c/f the most recent example)? Will they be buying it?
Through the agreement, Fuji Xerox will obtain access to Microsoft’s patents for Fuji Xerox’s existing and future product lines, including products that incorporate proprietary source and open source software, such as Linux.
“open source software, such as Linux”
If Samsung gets counted as well, that makes three. Microsoft has apparently learned its lessons from the Novell deal. It no longer makes loud noises or issues any spontaneous threats.
Nevertheless, it does not mean that all is well. It could merely be the calm before a storm. It is important that any deals which involve patents are looked at carefully. There is no reason in the world why Linux should be included in patent deals, but Microsoft may be trying to build a strong and compelling case to serve as precedence, one company (victim) at a time. Could it be just too far-fetched?
Looking at the language in the press, there are subtle inconsistencies, but never any clarifications. It may be vague by design, to increase the doubt and uncertainty factor. From “Linux-based products” in one case, here we have “open source software, such as Linux”. Nobody has ever bothered to explain what products are involved. Justin Steinman declines to comment, putting the blame on the SEC.
Ok, back to questions from me. People like the ‘Boycott Novell’ site say things like: “Microvell, give us the details. Until Novell makes the details of their patent covenant public, they cannot and will not be trusted nor fully embraced by the Free Software community.” Will you ever ‘give them the details’?”
[Steinman:] We are a public company. We will publish the details of the Novell and MS agreement. However we are currently undergoing a voluntary stock option review as we have made very public. We are one of 500 American Tech Companies doing the same thing right now. Until we finish that, we cannot legally by US SEC regulations publish any material data about our business transactions. The Novell and MS agreement is considered material data. Once we are finished with the voluntary review, we will publish the details of the Novell/MS agreement, as legally required by the SEC.
Do you have a rough time frame on when this might happen?
[Steinman:] I honestly don’t know. It’s being done by outside counsel.
Justin, won’t the boycott people say that’s an excuse?
[Steinman:] It’s a requirement by the SEC. Boycott Novell can say what they want, we are a NASDAQ listed company, we have to abide by the SEC rules. There is no conspiracy here.
Justin, the Boycott Novell people are also asking if Novell charging some kind of patent tax for SLES and SLED, given claims that Microsoft is charging a patent tax for every copy of Windows?
You’ve nothing else to add?
[Steinman:] No, there’s nothing more to say. We are not charging a patent tax.
We do not intend to be overly critical, but our criticisms remain. All we receive is a silent answer, a muted defence. It is a hush-hush, wink-wink, nudge-nudge scare, to paraphrase Open Sources on intimidation through implicit threats. It results from uncertainty that is still looming over. It very much resembles SCO’s tactics, which is rather ironic at times when Novell files 4 motions against SCO. If Novell inherits SCO’s role (and technology), it would be hysterical, not just ironic.