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05.26.07

“***” means the *** and ***, equivalent offerings and any offerings marketed as “***”.

Posted in Deals, Deception, Microsoft, Novell, OpenOffice, Patent Covenant, Samba at 4:58 pm by Shane Coyle

Unfortunately, the title of this posting is indicative of the what you will find if you want to have a look at Exhibit B of the Microvell deal, the "payments" section – the one that would likely list which open source products shipped under the agreement Novell agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on, and perhaps even why.

Actually, exhibit C is even worse, as a matter of fact Exhibit C is as follows:

EXHIBIT C
***
***
***
***
***
***
***

—————————————
*** Portion for which confidential treatment requested.

From the non-redacted portions of the agreement, we finally learn about what a "clone product" is, and then we notice that, as Bruce Perens had noted early on after the agreement’s release, OpenOffice.org, StarOffice, OpenXchange and Wine are specifically excluded from the protection, but it also stipulates that Novell is not conceding that these are indeed "clone products".

1.7 “Clone Product” means a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party (“Prior Product”) and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product. Those portions of a product that are otherwise licensed to one Party from the other Party, or that are compliant with a specification of a standards organization as to which the other Party has consented to the use of its Patents therefor, shall not be considered in determining whether the product is a Clone Product.
(i) The Parties agree that products sold, licensed, supplied, distributed or otherwise made available by a Party for Revenue before the Effective Date (“Existing Products”) will not be deemed Clone Products. For purposes of clarification, the parties acknowledge that any features and functionality of such Existing Products (“Existing Product Functionality”) may be considered in determining whether a new product (or major component thereof) meets the requirements set forth in the first paragraph of this definition, provided that, even if a new product (or major component thereof) meets such requirements, only those Patents covering inventions in new features and functionality in such Clone Product may be asserted against such Clone Product, and only with regard to Clone Product Functionality. For purposes of this subsection (i), “Clone Product Functionality” means features or functionality (other than Existing Product Functionality) that add to meeting the requirements set forth in the first paragraph of this definition.
(ii) Notwithstanding subsection (i) above, Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice and OpenOffice are not subject to such subsection (i), however, the exclusion of such products from such subsection (i) is without implication as to (and shall not affect the determination of) whether such products (or any features or functionality thereof) are Clone Products. Further, the Parties agree that (A) no inference shall be drawn from the reference to the above products in this subsection as to whether such products are Clone Products and (B) this subsection shall not be admitted or referred to in evidence in any dispute regarding an evaluation of whether any of the products referred to in this subsection is a Clone Product.

Another noteworthy aspect is the absence of the word Samba from the agreement, especially when OOO and Wine are specifically singled out. It appears that Microsoft is especially concerned about Wine, even specifically excluding it from the Release section:

4. RELEASES
4.1 Parties and Subsidiaries. The parties, on behalf of themselves and their Subsidiaries, irrevocably release each other and their respective present Subsidiaries from any liability for Patent infringement (including any infringement by Excluded Products) arising prior to the Effective Date, provided the foregoing release does not apply to any other parties, including the parties’ respective Distributors and Customers.
4.2 Customers and Distributors. The parties, on behalf of themselves and their Subsidiaries, irrevocably release the direct and indirect Distributors of the Parties from any liability for Patent infringement arising on account of using, importing, offering for sale, selling, licensing, supplying, distributing, otherwise making available, or promoting the commercialization of the Parties’ products and services (including Excluded Products) prior to the Effective Date, provided the foregoing release does not apply to Wine or to any product for which such other Party did not receive Revenue directly or indirectly. The parties, on behalf of themselves and their Subsidiaries, also irrevocably release the respective direct and indirect Customers of the other Party from any liability for Patent infringement arising on account of using the Parties’ products and services (including Excluded Products) obtained prior to the Effective Date, provided the foregoing release does not apply to Wine or to any product for which such other Party did not receive Revenue directly or indirectly.

Groklaw’s discussion includes quite a few attempts at deciphering the redacted portions, some sections provide more context than the Exhibit C listed above. There is hope for transparency, however, since the parties have only stipulated to keep the details confidential until November 1, 2016. And, if they both use Microsoft’s OOXML to store the agreement, perhaps we can get to it in 2012.

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