That was a question posed directly to Novell as part of Matthew Aslett’s dogged attempts to get to the bottom of the Microsoft-Novell deal, and in response we receive a standard non-denial denial:"As a general policy, licensing deals to which we’re a party aren’t made public by Novell".
Of course, we do expect the MS Agreement to be a part of their upcoming 10-K, perhaps this information will be part of the already-promised redacted sections. Will we ever learn what open source products shipped under the agreement that Novell has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on in exchange for a promise not to pursue their supposed patent rights?
Anyhow, Aslett also is trying to get to the truth regarding Justin Steinman’s ominous statements regarding Novell engineers getting sanctioned access to MS code for Windows-SUSE interoperability:
Q. How does Microsoft promising not sue Novell customers gives Novell engineers sanctioned access to Microsoft code?
A. The covenants Microsoft makes to Novell customers do not provide Novell with access to Microsoft code. The terms of those covenants are publicly available on the Web sites of both Novell and Microsoft. As announced in November 2006, Novell and Microsoft have entered into a Technical Collaboration Agreement under which the companies work to achieve interoperability between Novell and Microsoft offerings. When ISVs enter such agreements, the terms customarily provide for exchanging relevant technical information. Novell has no intention to distribute the code of Microsoft or any third party in an unauthorized manner, and employs customary measures to comply with our license obligations.
Aside form the point that this final answer is a non-denial denial, the answers do explain how Novell got “sanctioned access” to Microsoft’s code, but to my mind, also undermine the suggestion that the patent covenant agreement was somehow necessary for the technical collaboration.
In fact, I would suggest that the answer to the first question makes it clear that the patent access granted by the technical collaboration agreement and the patent covenant not to sue customers are completely unrelated.
It certainly appears to be at odds with Steinman’s earlier statement: “the intellectual property agreement provided a foundation for the interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise”.
So, we’re back at step 1: Let’s speculate, what IP did Novell License, and why?