Novell: the truth unveiled, software patents are part of the deal

Matthew Aslett brought some more light on the most discussed partnership in the open source arena, getting feedbacks once again from Justin Steinman, director of marketing for Linux and open platforms at Novell.

The explanation given, see below, makes sense out of the Microsoft-Novell patent agreement, but it remains unclear why apparently it was not part of the agreement.

I asked Novell to confirm whether this was correct and received an interesting response from Justin Steinman, director of marketing for Linux and open platforms at Novell, in which he confirmed the explanation and stated that it was not new, but had been overlooked the press and community.
The statement from Steinman was as follows:

“Since we announced the Novell-Microsoft agreement in November, we’ve always said that the intellectual property agreement provided a foundation for the interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise. This foundation falls into two primary categories: 1) the “covenant not to sue,” which provides customers with peace of mind when they deploy SUSE Linux Enterprise; and 2) the IP access necessary for the technical collaboration to deliver interoperability between Windows and Linux. For better or worse, the community and press at-large have focused on #1, although Novell has talked about both categories since we signed the agreement.

“As you know, engineers at Novell and Microsoft are hard at work on our technical collaboration, and we demonstrated the first results at BrainShare in March. But in order to deliver the interoperability between Novell eDirectory and Microsoft Active Directory, as well as the bidirectional virtualization between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell required sanctioned access to Microsoft’s code in order to develop open source interoperability without violating Microsoft’s intellectual property.

“The Novell-Microsoft agreement is about bridging the worlds of open source and proprietary software, and in order to build this bridge, we’ve had to do several unique things, including signing an intellectual property agreement that would let Novell’s engineers get a look at some of Microsoft’s proprietary code. We’ve also done several other unique things like having Microsoft representatives sell certificates for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions to their customers. I’d submit that all of these things are good for the adoption and growth of Linux.”

I have looked at the original announcement, Novell’s FAQ, Microsoft’s FAQ, Novell’s further details announcement, and its open letter to the community and can find no reference to Novell engineers getting access to Microsoft IP as part of the patent cooperation agreement, but I could be missing something.

Read the full article.

Technorati Tags: Microsoft, Novell, Commercial Open Source, patents