Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell Speaks About Microsoft's Software Patents

Bad decision



Dragoon is probably among those who were part of the decision to go ahead and sign a software patent deal with Microsoft (the first among several others later to follow, possibly as a direct result). The company continues to try quite hard to twist this deal, spinning it as an "interoperability," but the press conference announcing the deal suggests that Novell knew all too well what it was getting into and what it involved.

Just over a day ago, Microsoft did its 'open' media blitz is preparation for the BRM in Geneva where a secretive key meeting [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] is to take place, potentially harming the city's reputation. Here is what Novell's Dragoon had to say about this announcement:

Perhaps not surprisingly, at face value, I’m encouraged and in support of Microsoft’s expanded interoperability as it hits upon two core values that Novell believes in and acts upon: To be Open and Interoperable.


Is this what Novell endorses? Really? Miguel de Icaza's response is actually quite reasonable, so he deserves some credit for parts of it.

Miguel de Icaza, founder of the GNOME project and a Novell programmer working on Mono, an open-source implementation of Microsoft's .Net software: "As a chess move, it is a fascinating one...On the surface it looks very good. (There are) lots of things that we want to interoperate with--Office, SQL Server, SharePoint. Getting the documentation to everyone sounds great, and it seems like they are serious about doing more interoperability work...When the full list for patents becomes available, the question is what will open-source vendors do if they find pieces that have historically infringed: will they choose to license and be the recipients of the community wrath, or will they hold their grounds and risk a lawsuit?"


He is being realistic, but doesn't he virtually spread some FUD that serves Novell at the same time? Aside from the fact that Microsoft never revealed any patents and apart from the reality that only a few countries actually honour software patents, he seems to portray this as positive news (which it is not, i.e. it's neither positive nor is it news).

In actual news, Microsoft has just lost another patent lawsuit, this time in Korea.

A Seoul court ruled that the world's largest software giant Microsoft illegally used patent-covered software technology developed by a Korean professor, ending an eight-year-long legal battle between the scientist and the U.S. company....


Microsoft believes that it needs more patents in order to remain relevant in the long term. Perhaps it will rethink this every time a patent lawsuit against it thrashes its money and affects its limited budget.

"Those who insist that copyright is the same as real property break their own rule by also insisting that they retain perpetual rights to the good, even after it's been sold. If copyright were like real property, after the creator sold it, the buyer could do whatever they want with it, including giving it out for free."

--Mike Masnick [Kudos to Glyn Moody]

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