Novell publishes details on its Microsoft patent deal

Summary:Novell has posted to the Securites and Exchange Commission (SEC) Web site redacted versions of the company's patent, business and technology agreements with Microsoft, which it signed in November 2006. Anything juicy make it past the "redcated due to confidentialty" edits?

Novell has posted to the Securites and Exchange Commission (SEC) Web site redacted versions of the company's patent, business and technology agreements with Microsoft, which it signed in November 2006.

Novell officials said earlier this week they would post these documents before the end of May. The company released the filings late on May 25, the start of a three-day holiday weekend in the U.S.

Did anything juicy make it past the "marked as confidential" cuts? Groklaw has highlightsof some of the documentation specific to the Microsoft-Novell patent arrangements:

"If the final version of GPLv3 contains terms or conditions that interfere with our agreement with Microsoft or our ability to distribute GPLv3 code, Microsoft may cease to distribute SUSE Linux coupons in order to avoid the extension of its patent covenants to a broader range of GPLv3 software recipients, we may need to modify our relationship with Microsoft under less advantageous terms than our current agreement, or we may be restricted in our ability to include GPLv3 code in our products, any of which could adversely affect our business and our operating results. In such a case, we would likely explore alternatives to remedy the conflict, but there is no assurance that we would be successful in these efforts."

So now it's even more obvious why Microsoft has been throwing around the "235 patents infringed by open source" claim. Novell is confirming that Microsoft may have to stop distributing SuSE Linux coupons if the Free Software Foundation's General Public License (GPL) version 3 goes through with the current patent language in place.

Having to eliminate the SuSE distribution part of its Novell agreement would hurt Microsoft's campaign to convince other open-source vendors to sign similar deals. It also wouldn't make Microsoft look too good to the handful of large corporate customers (that Microsoft touts every chance it gets) who Microsoft has convinced to go with SuSE Linux.

There is a lot more legal mumbo-jumbo on the SEC site regarding the Microsoft-Novell deal. Anyone see any other interesting nonredacted info?

Topics: Legal, Microsoft, Open Source, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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