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11.25.08

In re Bilski May Show That Novell Harnesses Microsoft’s FUD

Posted in FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Servers at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The Novell/Microsoft package] provides IP peace of mind for organizations operating in mixed source environments.”

Ian Bruce, Novell’s PR Director

This is not the first time that it’s pointed out [1, 2], but Novell clearly uses Microsoft’s FUD against GNU/Linux to its own advantage. Just watch this new press release.

Marking the two-year anniversary of their agreement to build a bridge between SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Windows, Microsoft and Novell, are celebrating strong customer demand for their business model and strategy that provides interoperability and intellectual property (IP) peace of mind.

Again, it’s worth stressing that this is not the first time that Novell markets itself using “intellectual property peace of mind” [1, 2, 3], as if to say: “buy GNU/Linux from us (and from Microsoft, which gets paid patents royalties) or very horrible things may happen to you.”

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”"

Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008

In the last part of Groklaw’s analysis of the Bilski case, the conclusion is as follows:

Speaking for myself, I’d have to say I feel a lot less threatened by Microsoft than I did a year ago. Don’t you? I can’t help but wonder if there ever would have been a “patent peace” deal between Novell and Microsoft if Bilski had been decided earlier.

So, here we have Novell which instead of touting the end of software patents (many of them anyway) is marketing and promoting these patents in press releases, trying to use these to its own advantage (or rather, to other vendors’ disadvantage).

Whereas Red Hat came out with a formal statement praising the re Bilski decision, Novell seemed silent on the subject. Unless we missed Novell’s statement, what does that say about Novell?

There are some more analyses coming, most of which confirm that software patents where there is no transformation of an article to a different state or thing (or the invention is untied to a particular machine), there is no sufficient merit for a patent. This rules out the vast majority of existing software patents, according to some assessments like that from the Free Software Foundation.

Myers predicts that the next wave of business method litigation will focus “on what degree of computerized involvement you have to have in order to meet the threshold.”

Over in Europe, the Community patent seems to be going nowhere, which is good news too.

Delegates at the Fourth European Judges’ Forum, which has recently ended in Venice, have issued a statement deploring the apparent slowdown in negotiations over the creation of a Community patent and a single European patent jurisdiction.

Let them whine. Novell too seems to be interested in software patents broader intellectual monopolies and it is still applying for them. Novell needs these monopolies to exist. Why else would anyone choose its Microsoft-taxed GNU/Linux distribution over the competition, which is cheaper and better?

From a legal perspective, Novell continues to be part of the problem, as opposed to the solution to it. It’s milking the community.

Linux gives blood to Novell

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