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Op-Ed: Novell Pollutes Free Software (and GNU/Linux) in Preparation for Microsoft Attacks

A reader's opinion

About year ago we wrote and later tried to show (ideally prove) that Novell just loved Microsoft's saber rattling against GNU/Linux. Novell's response (or lack thereof) sometimes spoke louder than words. Like many companies, Novell is selfish and its roots of vanity do not help, let alone Microsoft's presence.

“It would also be in Novell's interest if Microsoft started suing other Linux distributors like Red Hat.”Some hours ago a reader wrote to say: "The 'do not sue' promise is only for Novell's paying customers. That means the others do not get access to all the patented stuff. It would also be in Novell's interest if Microsoft started suing other Linux distributors like Red Hat. That way, large corporate users of Linux will run to safety in the Novell IP-protected safe harbour. See, that's where the real money is."

A few days ago we showed that Microsoft hasn't softened its hard stance against GNU/Linux. This was made explicit, based on the latest word from Microsoft's lawyers and the recent talk from Brad Smith. IT Pro has just published this article about the use of patent terrorism techniques in the fight against real innovation.

Patents and how they're controlled are damaging the way technology is developed - and the Linux case is a key example of this.

[...]

Litigation as a mode of business is fashionable in the current climate, but offers little or nothing of benefit to users or developers. Authorial copyrights in the US have been extended to 70 years after the author's death. The law that made this possible, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, was passed in 1998. Patent law, meanwhile, increasingly protects the interests of the powerful, encroaches upon notions of innovation and freedom to operate, and is used to inhibit competition. Both are in critical need of reform.


Dana Blankenhorn has also just published an excellent short anslysis which explains how Microsoft used Novell to bypass the courtroom's 'acid test'. Remember that Microsoft's software patents were defeated by Alcatel-Lucent just a couple of days ago, showing that they may be worthless, never to be upheld.

“What's in it for Novell? Some more contracts and about a third of a billion dollars in immediate rewards.”It's almost as though Novell chose to lose in court (staging a defeat, or "taking a dive", to use boxing terminology) and then voluntarily pay Microsoft some royalties. What's in it for Novell? Some more contracts and about a third of a billion dollars in immediate rewards.

In short, Novell sold us out when it possibly ran short of cash and almost got kicked off the NASDAQ. In exchange for Microsoft's bribe generous incentives, Novell also decided to inject some more software patent poison into GNU/Linux , thus fulfilling the prophecy it had initially fell for (and was paid to fulfill with Mono, Moonlight, OOXML translators, and other junk code which is encumbered by Microsoft patents).

Anyway, here is what Dana said:

They have signed innumerable contracts based on the claims, contracts which assume the truth of the claims, and caused the production of products whose chief selling point is that their makers admit the legitimacy of the claims.

Microsoft seems in no hurry to change the status quo. They are not going to put up, in the form of a lawsuit. They are not going to shut up, either, given the commercial advantages they have created.


Our reader concluded with a personal opinion: "And this is what Bill Gates' long-term strategy seems to be. Eventually there will be a Novell/Microsoft merger/takeover and Microsoft/Novell will be the prime seller of fully 'IP-protected' Linux solutions. To get there they have to pollute the ecosystem with hybrid Open Source/Closed-Source solutions. Like what they are currently about."

Novell has already spoken openly about this hybrid model [1, 2] (as far back as 2006). If you care about Free software, then boycott Novell. Now, not later. Do what you can to ensure nobody pays a dime to that company, which shares revenue with Microsoft, for a fact.

If Novell gives software patent infringements by Linux some legitimacy -- no matter the disclosure or validity, as judged by impartial experts -- then Novell must lose all legitimacy and credibility as a Linux vendor.

Linux gives blood to Novell

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