Microsoft-Novell: adaption to customers’ need or nefarious deal?

The debate didn’t come to an end yet.

We all know from the Microsoft statement that

Microsoft and Novell have agreed to disagree on whether certain open source offerings infringe Microsoft patents and whether certain Microsoft offerings infringe Novell patents.

As from Novell’s Open letter to the community we learn that

Our interest in signing this agreement was to secure interoperability and joint sales agreements, but Microsoft asked that we cooperate on patents as well [..]. In this agreement, Novell and Microsoft each promise not to sue the other’s customers for patent infringement. The intended effect of this agreement was to give our joint customers peace of mind [..].
Since our announcement, some parties have spoken about this patent agreement in a damaging way, and with a perspective that we do not share.
We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents.

On the 2nd of November, just few minutes later of the public announcement, I had a chance to comment the agreement with Microsoft’s people. From the very beginning I said that the patent thing would have been considered dangerous from the OS community.

Microsoft and Novell lawyers did a very good job, as stated by Richard Stallman feedbacks, since thet respected the GPLv2 and, likely, the GPLv3 as well (see also my previous post GPLv3 ad personam). But they lacked of good communication, as shown clearly by their disagreements on agreement,and they had bad ideas, like offering a covenant for non commercial OS developers.
I believe that the Intellectual Property frame was a must for Microsoft, but I’m interested in knowing the answers to the following questions (excerpt from a post of Novell’s Chief Marketing Officer):

  • What if we collaborated on innovation that made our customer’s more productive?
  • What if we made Linux and Windows easier to deploy and manage?
  • What if we collaborated on solutions that allowed our customer the choice and flexibility to deploy the technologies most appropriate for their task?
  • What if we made interoperability between the worlds of open source and Microsoft more meaningful?
  • What if we reduced the concern about our respective patents on the use of our solutions?
  • What if we took the customer perspective?
  • What if we used the basis of our competition to cooperate?

While waiting today I did read an interesting comment posted on Groklaw on the 5th of December, and I hope you will enjoy it.