Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Dodging “Novell Slams Microsoft Patent Licensing Agreement” Article

Did Novell really just do that?

Incidents in the past have taught us that articles are sometimes retracted because they prematurely announce something whose public disclosure is embargoed, not necessarily because their content is incorrect or outdated. Some hours ago, in the news feeds, the following headline showed up:

Novell Slams Microsoft Patent Licensing Agreement - NewsOXY

Leading to broken page now, as you can see for yourself.

A month ago we saw this high-impact article bearing the headline "Novell's de Icaza criticizes Microsoft patent deal" (with quick commentary here and further commentary here). Memories of Miguel's criticism immediately returned when stumbling upon the link at the top, whose temporary existence remains a mystery for the time being.

“...Novell is in the process of moving some 'legacy' products onto Linux (e.g. OES), so once it does that it can 'magically' claim rising Linux sales.”Novell's financial performance is poor. But the company is fooling quite a lot of people by twisting facts and hiding what they do not want you to see. We mentioned this on at least a couple of separate occasions recently [1, 2]. To give you an example of the sort of financial games Novell plays (Microsoft does that too by the way), consider the fact that Novell is in the process of moving some 'legacy' products onto Linux (e.g. OES), so once it does that it can 'magically' claim rising Linux sales. As a matter of fact, what you have here is only cannibalisation of old projects and a distraction from Novell's overall state, which is a steady decline cushioned by decreasing expenses due to axing and offshoring.

Red Hat's former CEO has just sold some more shares. That company too has been relying on buybacks for a while. Nonetheless, its financial state is separate from that of Novell and the admirable thing about Red Hat's work for Free software is its current fight against software patents. Unlike Novell, which welcomes software patents and even tries to use them as a competitive advantage, Red Hat has just unlashed the following press release.

Today, Red Hat took a public stand challenging the standards for patenting software. In the Biliski case that is now before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, this patent issue is ripe for consideration. In a friend of the court brief submitted to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in the Bilski case today, Red Hat describes the special problems that patents pose for open source and seeks modification of the standards for patentable subject matter that take open source into account. Here is a quick summary of our brief.


Further comments and analysis of this press release you can get from Glyn Moody, who was fast to respond.

Let's hope this statement on the Bilski case is the first sign of a new, more assertive Red Hat that takes its rightful place as one of the key voices in the open source world - one that can make some much-needed countervailing noise to the high-level, and high-quality FUD being emitted by the Microsoft PR machine. Heaven knows, it's taken long enough.


So, to summarise, Novell may have reached the conclusion that its patent agreement with Microsoft is bad (yet unconfirmed because the article vanished) while Red Hat, rather than accepting the poor existing state, is actually fighting for change.

MS Novell

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