GPLv3 may threaten Microsoft-Novell pact

In a filing to the SEC, Novell has expressed concerns that the GPLv3 could see Microsoft halting the distribution of Suse Linux

Novell is concerned that Microsoft could stop selling Suse Linux coupons if the GPLv3 remains in its current form.

Its worries were aired in the delayed regulatory filing of its annual report for the fiscal year to 31 October, 2006, on Friday.

The 144-page document posted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website contained "redacted" (confidential information withheld) versions of Novell's business, patent and technology agreements with Microsoft, which it signed in November 2006.

While much of what was (officially) released is known, Novell did express concerns that the final version of the General Public License (GPL) — which slipped its March 2007 deadline — could see Microsoft halting the distribution of Suse Linux, which have a financial impact on Novell.

"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..." Novell stated in the document.

Another worry is that Novell may be restricted in its ability to include GPLv3 code in its products.

Novell admits (in the statement) if any of the cases arise its business and operating results will be adversely affected.

Also, according to the statement, certain software programs are not covered in the Microsoft-Novell pact, opening the door for Microsoft to pursue patent litigation. The programs named include OpenOffice, StarOffice, WINE and Open-Xchange.