Bonum Certa Men Certa

BSA and Novell ♥ Software Patents, Microsoft

[Note: see the comments at the bottom for an alternative point of view.]

"Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand."

--Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

"It’s going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate [with Microsoft] on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on."

--Ron Hovsepian (last week)

Digging up some old news, investors or investigators might find that Novell is not exactly averse to patenting, even after its acquisition of S.u.S.E. and FOSS pretense.

It's worth remembering that SCO contributed to Linux just like Novell. That's how it all began anyway.

The following article from 2005 reveals that Novell not only applies for patents (software patents), but it also buys them.

Utah-based tech concern Novell picks up 39 valuable business to business and web services patents from their bankrupt owner.


Novell, however, seems content to fulfill that purpose themselves. Public relations at the Orem, Utah firm state the patents will be used defensively and not for generating a licensing revenue stream.

"We have a stated policy that we will use our patents to defend our open-source offerings against potential patent challenges by others," Lowry said. "The acquisition of the Commerce One patents strengthens our ability to do so."

Novell's patents are significant among its assets, which it can use against GNU/Linux rivals and maybe even (Open)Solaris. In theory, Microsoft can use Novell here, either as a front/proxy (think SCO) or as an acquired company. Regardless, Microsoft has other proxies at its disposal.

The BSA, which is a front for Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, is already lobbying for software protocol royalties and software patents in Europe. It turns out that the BSA is now pressuring Obama as well.

BSA lobbies Obama for software patents at the Democratic Convention in Denver

IP-watch tell us that BSA went to lobby Obama at the Democratic Convention in Denver with a list of principles, where the first one is "inspire creativity and innovation through strong, comprehensive, and enforceable intellectual property policies, including copyright, patent and trademark laws." Software patents are definitely on the top of the agenda of American multinationals. BSA does not has any small software company in its members, and Microsoft more active then the other members in using the association as a vector for its purposes.

Matt Asay has been complaining about this for a while. The BSA is actively working to legalise anti-Free software mechanisms such as RAND. Asay's friend, Dave Rosenberg, has just announced that he is leaving MuleSource and only a year ago he wrote the following with request for Asay to bar Novell and Microsoft from OSBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]).

Open source companies should boycott Microsoft's ISV corruption event


This past Friday a IT banking friend and I spoke at length about the upcoming Microsoft event prior to OSBC which is designed to encourage OSS companies to partner and win with Microsoft. The guys at Olliance have been trying to help Microsoft not be such incredible clowns about open source and this event seemed like a good idea.

Nonetheless, I just couldn't convince myself to attend and in fact I was kind of obnoxious about the whole thing. My main issue was that I had zero trust that Microsoft was going to do right by me, my company or the community at large.

This weekend I was proven 100% correct. Microsoft wants nothing more than to kill open source, and is clearly very threatened--far more than we have realized in the past.

At the end, Novell was not banned, even though It should have. It does not help GNU/Linux against a sworn foe, so it's part of the problem.

"We will do some buying of companies that are built around open-source products."

--Steve Ballmer


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