Novell's Messman on Groupwise, Hula, patents and Microsoft

Novell's Messman on Groupwise, Hula, patents and Microsoft

Summary: Ever since merging with Cambridge Technology Partners, Novell has been going through one of the most dramatic transformations ever undertaken by a current or former tech titan. The company has placed huge bets on open source and is also trying to leverage its Novell Directory Services legacy into an enduring franchise in the category of identity services.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Patents
0
Novell's Jack Messman Ever since merging with Cambridge Technology Partners, Novell has been going through one of the most dramatic transformations ever undertaken by a current or former tech titan. The company has placed huge bets on open source and is also trying to leverage its Novell Directory Services legacy into an enduring franchise in the category of identity services. In contributing significant amounts of code to the open source community and starting open source projects while also maintaining a patent portfolio, Novell is also one of a handful of vendors that make a business out of straddling the fence of open source and proprietary software. In pursuing charges of unfairly foreclosing on Wordperfect as competitor in the word processing market, it has also found its way onto the legal docket of Microsoft, charging the Redmond company with antitrust violations. Meanwhile, Microsoft appears to be organizing its intellectual property portfolio and legal forces, but for what? Perhaps a countersuit against Novell for patent infringement?

Podcast In this LinuxWorld Podcast audio interview (download the MP3, or learn how to have them automatically downloaded while you're sleeping), Novell CEO Jack Messman gives a report card on Novell's progress since its merger with CTP and discusses the many market and legal challenges that the company is taking on. Here's a sampling of what he said. But you're better off listening to the entire interview for the full context.

Messman on how the transformation is going: If I said that the transition of Novell is over, I'd be misleading you. It's not. I think we're half way through it...We're doing OK now, but we're going to do better after we get through this transition.

On the impact of acquiring SuSE Linux: The SuSE Linux changed the gene pool in the company.

On Novell's play in identity services: Novell is not just about Linux, it's bigger than that.

On what open source license is for Hula: I think we announced yesterday that [the Hula license] was going to be LGPL. I don't know exactly what our thinking is there for sure. That might change, but it's definitely going to be open sourced.

Why patents are good for open source: We're learning that having a patent on open source code is important if you want to fight off people who are suing open source. You've got to have your arsenal of patents, your nuclear detente, so to speak.

His beliefs regarding patents on software: If your competitors are using patents to hurt you, then you have to have patents to defend yourself... We can use our patent portfolio to defend Linux and we've said that anybody who comes after the open source products that we ship, we will use our patent portfolio to defend those products.....We're not going to defend everybody in the open source community because we don't know everybody in the open source community.

On whether Novell will follow IBM's 500 patent contribution: IBM contributed these 500 patents to what they call the commons and they've asked us to consider doing that too, so we're in the process of doing that [considering it].

Regarding Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft...: We wouldn't have filed the [anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft] if we didn't think we had a good [lawsuit]....To the outside world at that time, Wordperfect was a fantastic word processing system. There are still law firms that use it today and that would love to have it in the marketplace. And Microsoft took actions to hurt Wordperfect that were not legal. And that's our position.

....and what happens if Microsoft sues Novell: Who can say what Microsoft will do? Therefore, you have to prepare yourself for the worst. And we have a great portfolio of patents and I would bet that our patents read on a lot more of their revenue than their patents read on our revenue.

Topic: Patents

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

0 comments
Log in or register to start the discussion