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04.22.11

Groklaw Opposes Novell’s Membership in the Linux Foundation, Due to Microsoft Ties

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OIN, OpenSUSE, Patents at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Foundation

Summary: “Novell sold out the community,” explains the editor of Groklaw, who proceeds to warning about other vassals of Microsoft that infiltrate the Linux community to change its goals Kamikaze-style

Yesterday we wrote a couple of posts about Novell and the OIN [1, 2], noting quite rightly based on the evidence that Novell is betraying the OIN and turning its back on the GNU/Linux community by giving software patents to Microsoft.

For reasons we explained many times before (and provided supporting examples), Novell’s role in the Linux Foundation was also somewhat dubious. Novell was Microsoft’s bridge into the Linux Foundation (see the LF-Microsoft banner at the top, as we used it in this context a couple of years back).

“After Novell sold out the community, the Linux Foundation wants another Microsoft partner to join up and participate in groups working on legal topics?”
      –Pamela Jones
The Linux Foundation now opens its doors to a Yahoo! which is occupied by Microsoft folks and Groklaw is concerned. “After Novell sold out the community,” explains Pamela Jones, “the Linux Foundation wants another Microsoft partner to join up and participate in groups working on legal topics? I can’t imagine how anyone could imagine that would work out well. Why not just let Microsoft join, then, if they are going to get the news almost that fast, conceivably, anyway?”

Well, maybe put Elop in there too? That’s already done because Nokia is a Gold Member and the Microsoft executives-occupied VMware, for example, is a Silver Member. Still far from entryism, but still…

It was only yesterday that we wrote about Microsoft’s and Elop’s (a Microsoft mole inside Nokia) sense of urgency in sealing the deal, with the possibility causing problems to Android, using patents too. Here is what Tim wrote amid the signing and the profits slump:

To me, this early signing shows that its crunch time. Microsoft in my view has realized its now or never and it’s got to be quick. Do I think this will make any difference to the acceptance of WP7? – No. Do I think the WP7 will be Ballmers final stand? – Yes. Do I think that everything concerning the WP7 is too little too late? – Yes.

Nokia has already given hints that it may use patents. Maybe it will even sell some to Microsoft if it cannot sue Android directly (it would be frowned upon by the Linux Foundation, even though SCOracle and Google were not secured by common membership in the OIN, for example). Novell “changes patent sale terms” to enable Microsoft to receive its patents, reports AP (via BusinessWeek). There too one can sense urgency:

The Justice Department said CPTN has altered the patent deal in a number of ways. Microsoft will sell back to Attachmate all of the patents that it would have received. But it will keep a license to use those patents as well as the patents that the other companies are purchasing and any patents that Novell keeps. EMC will not receive 33 Novell patents and applications that are related to visualization software.

In addition, all of the Novell patents included in the CPTN deal will be subject to open-source licenses for the GNU and Linux operating systems. CPTN won’t have the right to limit which patents are available under the Linux license and neither CPTN nor its owners will attempt to influence or encourage Waltham, Mass.-based Novell or Attachmate to change which patents are available under the Linux license.

As legal people in Groklaw point out, comparing patents to matters of copyrights (GPL) hardly makes sense as that’s like mixing apples and oranges, then comparing them. Additionally, they refer to GPLv2 and not “or later” (GPLv3 contains language that addresses software patents). “I’m not sure what this means,” wrote Groklaw initially, “that the patents would be “subject to” the GPL. I’ll try to find out.” Groklaw also explains that AttachMSFT and Unxis are unlikely to make any case which jeopardises Linux because there is no copied code. To quote parts of the very interesting new article (“SCO’s nemesis announces her retirement”):

Unxis is holding a busted hand if it has dreams of threatening to sue Linux users over copyrights again. “As for any hopes people have about suing others with the copyrights that the court ruled SCO didn’t get, my analysis is that it won’t work. The court ruled that Novell didn’t transfer them,” PJ said.

Even Attachmate, which is buying Novell and therefore might end up with the AT&T Unix copyrights, will find it very difficult to sue Linux users over those copyrights, PJ thinks. “If you know the history of Unix, you know, as pointed out in the USL/BSDi case in New Jersey, that for a long time AT&T relied on trade secret, not copyright, protection. Back then you had to register your copyright or you lost out and had to rely on trade secret instead. And that is precisely what AT&T did.”

There is still no sign of commitment from AttachMSFT to OpenSUSE, which barely generates any news anymore, with few minor exceptions [1, 2]. What Novell truly left the Linux community with is Mono and Moonlight infestation which might take a very long time to clean up/wash away. Boycott Novell to defend Linux and GNU. Avoid Novell products like Mono.

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