Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

Summary: Microsoft and SUSE announced they are extending the 2006 Microsoft-Novell Linux patent-protection agreement, and that Microsoft is buying $100 million worth of SUSE Linux Enterprise certificates for its customers.

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In November 2006, Microsoft inked its controversial cross-licensing pact with Novell. In exchange for Microsoft distributing to its customers certificates for Novell’s SUSE Linux, Novell paid Microsoft patent-licensing royalties for Linux.

The original pact was due to expire in 2012. On July 25, Microsoft and SUSE announced a year ahead of that expiration date that they're extending their partnership.

Microsoft is buying $100 million in additional SUSE Linux Enterprise certificates and the pair are going to continue to collaborate on interopability solutions through January 1, 2016. The SUSE certificates are designed to insure Microsoft customers who are implementing Linux that they won't be caught in any Microsoft-Linux patent crossfire.

In the years following the original Microsoft-Novell agreement, a lot happened. In February 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated the deal between Microsoft and Novell was proof that open-source vendors need to respect Microsoft’s intellectual property. One month later,Microsoft licensing officials claimed publicly that Linux and other free software violated 235 Microsoft patents. Microsoft convinced a few smaller Linux vendors to sign patent-licensing deals with the company.

In 2010, Attachmate ended up purchasing Novell for $2.2 billion, and Microsoft and a handful of other tech companies bought 800 or so Novell patents as part of the arrangement.

In more recent months, Microsoft has increased its IP licensing pressures on Linux and Android vendors and has convinced quite a few, including Amazon, General Dynamics, Onkyo and Velocity Micro, to sign patent-licensing agreements. Barnes & Noble, maker of the Linux-based Nook, is fighting Microsoft over its attempt to exert its IP claims.

Microsoft and SUSE said that the agreement is benefiting customers and partners who need interop guarantees to do things like run SUSE guests on Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor.

Topics: Operating Systems, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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36 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

    yup we get it... linux is good and microsoft is bad!
    taabello@...
    • More like bad to the bone

      @taabello@... ...baby!
      Mr. Dee
  • that's a despicable extorsion scheme!

    the community has denounced this evil pact and are calling on people to rise against M$ and its lap dog Novell:
    http://techrights.org/2011/02/24/novell-reduces-freedom/
    Linux Geek
    • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

      @Linux Geek

      Your statement kind of reminds me of the old "dictatorship of the proletariat" sloganeering that the Bolsheviks were so fond of. Are all teatards Communists, or just you?
      Sir Name
      • are you blind?

        @Sir Name <br>the people are outraged about this FUD and the link I posted you is a living proof the coming from experts.
        Linux Geek
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        @French fisherman

        Whatever you say, comrade.
        Sir Name
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        @Sir Name
        you are very confused so here is a hint for this picture: http://www.teapartysoldier.com/
        We are coming to cleanse Washington and fight the axis of evil software.
        Linux Geek
  • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

    It's easy to criticize Novell/Attachmate in this issue, but the underlying issue is as old as the hills. It is a form of the protection racket. It is easy to say businesses need to stand up to the bully on the block, unless you're one of them. A lot of smaller businesses figure it's easier to pay the bully rather than risk damage to their business. Only law enforcement can have much effect, but often they are implicitly part of the scheme, such as here in the U.S. Law-makers have very little motive to do anything about these rackets. It wouldn't help their pocket book any!
    fretinator@...
    • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

      @fretinator@...
      +1
      NPR did a story about that. "You have such a nice shop, it would be a shame if someone was to sue you..."
      MS=biggest patent troll in the room
      kirovs@...
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        @kirovs@... A patent troll generally refers to non-practicing entities. I think it a difficult argument to make that Microsoft qualifies.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        @rbethell@...
        Not really. Not when fees from abuse of patents are bigger than the income from your own product....
        kirovs@...
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        @kirovs@...

        lol i am pretty sure Windows and Windows server has made more money then Suse linux :)
        Viper589
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        @Knix96@...
        Windows phone buddy?
        kirovs@...
  • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

    @fretinator.

    I disagree with the application of Patents to software. It is, however, the law of the land at the moment.

    if your proposition is that any organization that enforces it's property rights when perceiving trespass against those rights is involved in the equivalent of criminal extortion, then you have just slurred just about every business that has ever existed.

    Let us not forget that regulatory enforcement actions, like the anti-trust lawsuit against MS in the 90s and the FTC action against Google now, never happen in a vacuum and only occur with substantial "pushing" from other commercial competitors who have a lot to gain from the primary commercial vendor being targeted for enforcement.

    If you are advocating a libertarian position whereby we dramatically cut government intervention in the market place to reduce the amount of leverage the big guys have from influence in all aspects of "the law" as repeat players, then I can see logical advocacy in your post.
    fhsheridan
    • You can disagree with a law

      MS patents, some of them broad and largely indefensible, is the primary anticompetitive weapon used by the company today. Unlike their past behavior they're now within the law. But let's not defend the law that allows this to happen!

      They aren't the only company doing it, all the large players set out to develop large patent portfolios. Conveniently they then cross licensed each other. Few have gone as far a MS paying competitors to intimidate other competitors as with this Novell deal.
      Richard Flude
      • That's far from true, Richard Flude

        @Richard Flude
        [i]MS patents, some of them broad and largely indefensible, is the primary anticompetitive weapon used by the company today[/i]

        That's about the 100th time you said it, and no matter how many times you've been proven wrong, you still repeate it like it will come true or something.

        Just pointing that out.
        William Pharaoh
      • Proving something wrong requires proof

        Saying something doesn't "prove" anything wrong.<br><br>Why is it not an anticompetitive weapon (when by their nature patents restrict competition)?<br><br>Are you claiming the large companies don't have cross licensing deals?<br><br>Why did MS (under Gates) start deluging the United States Patent and Trademark Office from 2005 with a target of 3000 patents a year? Many unlikely to survive a appeal on nonobvious idea grounds (yet expensive to fight or defend for SMEs).<br><br>Gates himself said in 1991 (in response to Apple action for lifting their ideas) "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can." Fine for him with MS's resources.<br><br>There's plenty more, now your turn;-)
        Richard Flude
      • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

        <i>That's about the 100th time you said it, and no matter how many times you've been proven wrong, you still repeate it like it will come true or something.</i><br><br>Yes and for the 100th time you'll come up with some lame response without actually refuting anything that's been said. <br><br>The sign of a well-indoctrinated parrot.
        ScorpioBlue
      • Richard has it right, William

        @William Pharaoh,

        "MS patents, some of them broad and largely indefensible, is the primary anticompetitive weapon used by the company today." Well, here are a few:

        1. <em>Patent 6,594,674 - System and method for creating multiple files from a single source file.</em> This patent covers packing a couple of files together into one package, from which you can extract individual files. This patent has been awarded July 15, 2003. ZIP file technology has been around well before 2003 and violates this patent. Hmmmm.

        2. <em>Patent 6,604,008 - Scoring based upon goals achieved and subjective elements.</em> This patent covers scoring in computer games that does not only award points for achieving goals but also for performing feats. The patent has been granted August 5, 2003. Really? Moving on to the next level without a minimum score? Again, in 2003?

        3. <em>Patent 6,606,618 - Method for optimizing the performance of a database.</em> This patent covers using (automated) numerical key-files for database systems that contain text or objects. The patent has been granted August 12, 2003. Everyone who has worked with databases knows using numerical key files is a must if you want to efficiently access data. Everyone generates numerical key files if the data does not contain natural numerical keys. This is basic computer science that has been taught in the earliest courses on datastructures.

        4. <em>Patent 6,606,101 - Information pointers.</em> This patent covers the use of "popup notes" when you move your mouse pointer over an object on the screen. It has been granted August 12, 2003.

        5. <em>Patent 6,618,857 - Method and system for installing software on a computer system.</em> This patent covers installing software on a computer system whereby more than one file is copied to the system and files that already exist are only overwritten in special circumstances. The patent has been granted September 9, 2003. Virtually all programs nowadays are installed in this manner.

        Need I go on? There are so many inane patents that Microsoft owns (that they did NOT invent the processes for) that even The Onion got into the act: http://www.theonion.com/articles/microsoft-patents-ones-zeroes,599/
        benched42
    • RE: Microsoft and SUSE extend Microsoft's controversial Novell Linux pact

      @fhsheridan The key is, they don't actually use the law to do it - it is just the threat of possible future litigation that they are using as a weapon. Companies with deep pockets and large war chests of vague software patents use the fact that they can "litigate" smaller companies to death as a potent weapon to exact protection money (IP cross-licensing fees). It not really about defending IP, it's about defending turf. As Vonage found out, you pay a high price to roll with the big boys.
      fretinator@...