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Novell’s Software Patents: One Day in OIN, the Next Day in Microsoft Shell

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OIN, Patents at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sea shell - sea life

Summary: Analyses of the impact of Novell’s patents, which are now under Microsoft’s grip

ONE of the common responses we got when raising concerns about Novell’s software patents (which it kept collecting more of) is that they were harmless. We insisted that they can later be used by opponents of GNU/Linux. The trolls and the Novell employees/apologists who commented here were quick to use OIN as Novell’s excuse for using developers’ valuable time just writing patent applications. Well, guess what? Those developers only helped create some ammunition for Microsoft to threaten or attack GNU/Linux with. It’s rather ironic, isn’t it? As our reader gnufreex puts it, “Microsoft a[c]quires 882 patents from Novell” and there are no exceptions:

Microsoft acquired all Novell’s patents, through a proxy called CPTN Holdings LLC. From there, patents will probably end up with some Microsoft-loyal trolls like Paul Allen or Nathan Myhrvold, but this is just a guess. What is certain, $450m in cash buys Microsoft a patent gun to scare and extort companies using GNU/Linux. That is their only option, since Windows is fallen far behind and is beyond repair.

This is an embarrassment for OIN because it used to boast having those Novell patents, which now belong to an opponent of OIN. And to all those who love to vilify “Boycott Novell” for stating its opinion on these Novell patents, guess who got the last laugh? We were right all along, despite discouragement to those who chose comfort over reality.

Another site with foresight has been Jason’s The Source, which was previously active in the Mono/Moonlight debate with the site Mono-Nono (that was before the FSF joined this voice). “Here is one clueful post from Jason at The-Source,” adds gnufreex and to quote:

Novell’s Final Betrayal: 800+ Patents to Microsoft


… almost precisely as Your Humble Host predicted back in May, Microsoft has organized a thin front organization to pick up whatever pieces they think will be useful against Linux. Novell, as has been standard practice for them since at least 2006, has once again chosen to do whatever is best for Microsoft.


Business Insider has already captured the deal’s essence in a piece entitled “Today’s Novell Deal Helps Microsoft Continue Linux Fight“:

The deal helps Microsoft in its decade-long fight against open-source operating system Linux in two ways.

First, it keeps a Microsoft competitor from buying Novell’s SUSE Linux implementation. VMWare was looking at buying SUSE so it could sell a top-to-bottom software stack that would compete directly against Microsoft’s Windows Server and its built-in virtualization technology. This was a major fear in Microsoft’s server group, according to my sources there.

Second, although the companies didn’t say exactly what patents were included, it seems likely that some of them are related to SUSE Linux. If so, these patents will give Microsoft further ammunition to sign cross-licensing deals with companies that sell other products based on Linux. And those licensing deals will continue to raise questions in the mind of potential Linux customers.

Please note Business Insider is not some “freetard” blog. This is rational, business-oriented analysis. Remember that as Team Apologista winds up the spin and attempts to downplay the traitorous nature of this odious deal: the Patent Purchase Agreement portion of this deal is 100% beneficial to Microsoft in its fight against Linux. It strengthens Microsoft’s claims that it owns so-called “Intellectual Property” that entitles Microsoft to demand licensing fees or other tribute in order for someone to run Linux.

Also note there are almost certainly other technologies and/or markets that Microsoft hopes to gain leverage in with these patents – but the essence is how much it bolsters Microsoft’s war chest against Linux. Don’t be distracted by claims that Microsoft has its eye on some other technology (ala Platespin). True as a side benefit, perhaps, but the real importance to Microsoft is – and has always been: to kill Linux, and, failing that, to hinder adoption of Linux, and, failing that, to require payment for the privilege of running Linux.


What happens to any OIN patents? My impression is that the OIN “owns” the patents, so I don’t expect any change in those patents, but it would be re-assuring to confirm that.

The rest of Jason’s analysis is also excellent, so do have a look.

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  1. vexorian said,

    November 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm


    And to all those who love to vilify “Boycott Novell” for stating its opinion on these Novell patents, guess who got the last laugh?

    Clearly, Microsoft got the last laugh. Their former competitor has been crushed and its last action was aid them. This seems to have been MS’ objective every since 2006. If after 2006′s deal Novell survives, they have a company to help them FUD Linux with, as many of us thought back in 2006. But here’s the shocker, if Novell fails, MS wins anyway. It was a win-win scenario for MS. And we did not notice.

    I think MS are the only ones laughing right now. Even to this day, after the outrageous sellout of IP from Novell to Microsoft. We have Novell apologists trying to say that it is not bad and that it is all a conspiracy theory. Downplaying things even as they happen…

    gnufreex Reply:

    Actually, I knew that Microsoft is in win-win situation since Novell-MS deal was announced. That is why I am against the deal. Novell have done very stupid betrayal and wrote it’s death sentence.

    Thinking about the deal, I decided that Novell standing as successful traitor is worse for Free Software than Novell being going under or being bought by Microsoft. Why I think that?

    “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
    Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason”

    I forgot who said that, but it seems very appropriate for this situation. If Novell succeed in their treason, we would see more companies betraying Freedom, and screwing people who write your code would become something that “every company must do in order to succeed”. Kind of mentality that says “Who are you to argue with success? They make money, so they know better. Your are all sheep.”

    This way, even if Microsoft makes success in short term, and start suing with their new patents, we will survive. But this sends a clear message. Nobody will trust companies who do Microsoft’s biding, and when next Novell comes along, it will be boyocotted until it dies. So companies will think twice before deciding to screw us.

  2. Dr. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm


    Yes, exactly. But “Boycott Novell” was intended to weaken Novell (Microsoft) by ensuring that the least number of people wind up in Novell’s (Microsoft’s) “pen of sheep” (‘IP’ prison) and more move to Debian, Mandriva, Red Hat, etc.

    Given the current numbers from SLE* and OpenSUSE, “Boycott Novell” succeeded. Microsoft hardly captured many ‘prisoners’ in the course of 4 years, despite Novell’s (Microsoft’s) FUD-based marketing. Mono adoption has also been met with strong resistance.

    twitter Reply:

    Not exactly. I’m sure you would have been happier to succeed by Novell having become a successful free software company instead of a Microsoft slave/failure. This is the message I got from this site on numerous occasions. Of course, we all knew that Novell being “slaughtered” by Microsoft was bad no matter how it happened. That they did so through appeasement and harm to free software was worse.

    This final capitulation is very stupid and both shareholders and employees should be very angry. Novell still has substantial revenues and could still be competitive if they would focus on competing with Microsoft instead of assisting them. The final sell out, $450 millilon? is silly money when you think of what similar sized Red Hat is worth. Just think of what Red Hat could do with Novell’s legacy software revenue. Even now, there is no need for surrender. Employees, shareholders and customers are all betrayed.

    Under new ownership, the last vestages of independence will be thrown off because Microsoft needs a new SCO. In fact, PJ thinks the SCO trial may carry on.

    Meanwhile, there is another monthly bill for SCO to pay, ha ha, for $10,611 plus expenses, all in the pretense that SCO is restructuring and will emerge from Chapter 11 to fight another day. And who can say nay, given that Novell has agreed to merge with AttachMate, thanks to a payment by a Microsoft-organized consortium for some patents to sweeten the deal? Stay tuned. That’s my advice. It’s the saga that never ends.

    Here’s a dreadful scenerio. SCO and Novell can “settle” in a way that leaves the, what is it now, third judgment unfinished so that SCO can take its copyright attack onto IBM and friends with full cooperation from the new owners of Unix. It’s stupid because the real owners of Unix, Bell Labs, lost that fight twenty years ago to BSD distributors who all admitted to basically copying Unix. We may yet see more grandstanding abuse of US courts, but it would be nicer to see anti-trust regulators do their job. SCO and Novell were both Microsoft puppets, under AccessMSFT they can be used for more trouble.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Some people still refuse to see it that way; they’re in denial over Novell’s board (filled with some Microsoft influence which they added years ago) giving Microsoft an anti-Linux weapon.

  3. vexorian said,

    November 24, 2010 at 8:04 am


    I am sort of hopeful about Attachmate and giving them the benefit of the doubt. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachmate it seems they are a software company with bested interests in unix and they probably wanted a quick way to expand into open source.

    (Of course the fact that the CEO is a complete monster in regards to killing 32 bison (read the wikipedia article…) makes one really hope he is better at the business stuff)

    And yeah, we are yet to know if Attachmate will inherit or redo Novell’s deal. If they were a smart company wanting to enter into OS then they for sure wouldn’t. (Seeing how even Novell ended up dying, it is clear that these patent deals are an amazing way for mixed source companies to die). So, I think that we will be sure about the outcome once we know if they take the deal or not.

    Oh , that reminds me, please note that it is by now proven that signing patent agreements with MS is a death sentence. Without Novell, who is left in team Ballnux? Xandros? Linspire? I have not heard of those guys for years…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    TurboLinux was sort of sold as well. Xandros is MIA, all the rest sold.

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