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Novell Technology Assurance Program, Microsoft and GPLv3

Posted in Deals, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, SLES/SLED at 12:26 am by Shane Coyle

Novell’s PR Blog points out that they have updated their indemnification program, one of the "oldest in the industry". Novell Technology Assurance program, or NTAP, is – oh, well let them introduce themselves…

This protection extends far beyond our broad Novell Indemnification Program; you also benefit from the Novell and Microsoft patent cooperation agreement. It ensures that when you buy any Novell products—whether Linux-based or proprietary—you receive a patent covenant from Microsoft. The Novell Technology Assurance Program also affirms our willingness to use the large Novell software patent portfolio as a deterrent to patent aggression. With the Novell Technology Assurance Program and our ownership of the UNIX copyright, we are able to support our customers with one of the most extensive IP protection offerings in the industry.

So, Novell now wants to remind you they have the double whammy in IP protection – a covenant and patent license for themselves and customers from our friends in Redmond, in addition to ownership of the Unix copyrights. Feel free to go check out the details, but the first thing I clicked on floored me: Microsoft is extending their covenant to GPLv3, once a GPLv3 program is in SUSE Linux Enterprise.

Microsoft has extended its covenant to not sue users of Linux-based products from Novell to all GPL v3 users as soon as GPL v3 code is integrated into SUSE Linux Enterprise. This means that the patent protection Microsoft extends to Novell customers now covers every customer who uses any Linux-based software that Novell distributes under GPL v3.

I’m not sure if that means that Microsoft is embracing GPLv3, is confident they can beat GPLv3 in court, or if it means Novell will simply never include v3 code in SLE.

I’ll be poking around the NTAP site some more in the A.M., it’s getting a bit late and I’m bleary eyed. I don’t know how Roy does this so prolifically, sometimes I think there are two of him ;^ ).

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  1. Felipe Alvarez said,

    October 12, 2007 at 12:35 am


    This is startling news indeed. Microsoft? Abiding by GNU GPL? shocker!

  2. BritTim said,

    October 12, 2007 at 5:22 am


    I think Microsoft’s wet dream is having FSF sue them. While Microsoft going after open source projects directly would cause them legal grief and be a public relations disaster, there is no downside to them being the target of a lawsuit. They obviously hope FSF is stupid enough to do that, and they may be right.

  3. Sam Hiser said,

    October 12, 2007 at 9:30 am


    In light of the nullification by GPLv3 of the patent aggression embedded in the Microsoft | Novell deal, it looks like this new acquiescence to GPLv3 is connected at the hip to the IP Innovation LLC | Acacia lawsuit against Red Hat & Novell.

    In other words, Microsoft has abandoned the Linux-vendor cross-agreement strategy and is back to the plain-vanilla patent FUD strategy with a new proxy in the role of SCO. A new proxy, I’ll add, that is not just a bunch of dumb guys from the mountains but the best & brightest from Microsoft’s own IP litigation | negotiation dept. It’s a SCO do-over with competent people.

  4. Sam Hiser said,

    October 12, 2007 at 9:35 am



  5. Shane Coyle said,

    October 12, 2007 at 12:23 pm


    I have asked Kevan Barney to elucidate how the new Novell NTAP will help protect their customers from the recently filed infringement suit, we’ll see if it clears the moderation que and if he can clarify for us all…

  6. Doug said,

    October 13, 2007 at 8:08 am


    “the NTAP extends to customers, and the filing you refer to is against Novell, not our customers”

    I posted this in the comments section …

    Does that mean that Microsoft can still come after Novell for IP violations ?

  7. Shane Coyle said,

    October 13, 2007 at 12:34 pm


    I asked a followup, pointing out that if the court issues an injunction as requested or if Novell loses that their customers indeed would be affected, as well as the fact that as a point of law – end users are potentially liable, as that was the entire crux of the MS patent covenant – that they wouldn’t go after Novell’s customers, however unlikely that may have been.

    Hopefully, Kevan can assuage any Novell customer’s fears by outlining how the NTAP program will help them deploy SUSE with confidence…

    It’s always been the supposed case that MS could still go after Novell, but there is documentation here that shows that Novell did receive a patent license from MS and pays a royalty for it.

  8. Doug said,

    October 14, 2007 at 5:18 am


    Curiously enough neither my comment nor Shane Coyles turned up on …


  9. Anon said,

    October 15, 2007 at 4:10 pm


    Doug: there’s probably a turn-around time for them to show up, because both of Shayne’s posts are there.

    As far as your question about whether or not Microsoft can still come after Novell, the answer seems to be “yes” as far as has been explained to me by Novell.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 15, 2007 at 4:33 pm


    The answer is “Yes”, which as was said many times before, renders the deal with Microsoft pointless (unless you’re Microsoft).

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