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Microsoft, Novell, and "Clone Product" Lawsuits 156

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sue-sue-sudio dept.
El_Oscuro writes "The MS/Novell deal specifically excludes patent protection for "clone products." In the agreement, a clone product is broadly defined as "a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party ... and that has the same or substantially the same user interface, or implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product." The text of the clone product definition subsections is very cumbersome to read, but it specifically mentions OpenOffice, Wine, and OpenXchange by name without asserting that they are necessarily clone products."
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Microsoft, Novell, and "Clone Product" Lawsuits

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  • ...The user interface

    Problem Solved
  • OS, Office, Samba, Music Players, Directory Browsers, ...well, I'm bored.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimstapleton (999106)
      For business users, I'll just name what would be the top 3 they know of or don't think about...

      Device Drivers
      Web Servers
      SQL Database Servers
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Yup, pretty much everything is excluded, making it a nonsence agreement. However, considering that MS paid Novel M$40 for the agreement, it makes sense from Novell's point of view...
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Teh problem is, Novell never intended the agreement to include linux in itself. It intended the agreement to cover products it was going to create in the future to seamlessly cover the integration of Other apps and software with microsoft systems. This means that Novell would create a connector for exchange, a 2003 active directory login client for SuSe desktops and so on. And because the software codes don't exist yet, they can be licensed however they see fit. Seeing how the GPLv2 already discourages plac
  • In other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xzvf (924443) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:14AM (#19322015)
    Novell open source users are not protected from Microsoft's vaporware patent lawsuits.
    • Re:In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

      by dattaway (3088) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:17AM (#19322065) Homepage Journal
      or in plain English, "Novel is fucked and didn't read the license before accepting."
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by all204 (898409)
        See THATS the problem with click through licensing...
      • But I still don't get it. Surely Novell must have lawyers and "some" set of intelligent people there. Why did they agree to such an incredibly crappy deal?
        • by dattaway (3088)
          Why did they agree to such an incredibly crappy deal?

          Money. It had a business plan to those inking the deal. They stole from the company.
    • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#19322595) Homepage
      the word they're looking for is not "clone" but "competition". This is, therefore, a Very Special agreement indeed:

      "We will not sue you for patent infringement as long as your products are not similar to ours."
      • by HAKdragon (193605)
        ...as in "eats paste" special?
        • by sconeu (64226)
          As in "After School" special.

          Plot: Ronny meets Stevie, who has him sign an agreement. Ronny tells everyone it's a wonderful thing, but Stevie has other plans. What will Ronny do?
    • by cshark (673578)
      I don't think Microsoft would dare, unless they could get public support for it. Based on the Wording, I'm not so worried about Wine and the other mentioned in the article. But considering that it is Novell, and this wording did come up, I would say that they were talking almost specifically about Mono.
  • by uspsguy (541171) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:16AM (#19322035) Homepage
    Functionality is the key. Linux products are dependable and do not crash so they are functionally different than any MS product.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrNemesis (587188)
      Karma to burn, so here goes...

      I realise you're semi-joking and for a large part of Linux/FOSS I'd agree with you. I've never had apps like Samba or BIND or OpenSSH fall over on me, even under reasonably high loads, (the only problem I've had recently has been the experimental sky2 driver) but on the desktop things are a bit of a different story.

      And I'm not even talking about things like little basement apps written by people like me with little to no programming experience. By far the biggest problem for me
      • by Darundal (891860)
        No idea what version of Windows you have been using, but all the versions I have used (9x and NT based) are still way too crash happy with the desktop for my preferences. Yeah, the invulnerability of Linux apps doesn't quite translate to the desktop stuff, but overall, there are still far fewer crashes with Linux (including the desktop environments) than there are with Windows.
        • by MrNemesis (587188)
          Well, maybe I'm just lucky - granted I use Linux desktops full time at home, and a homogenised NT5.x/Office setup at work, so I guess I'm more predisposed to see more of the bad side of Linux than anything else. Most problems I have on windows are various chunks of apps hanging when bottlenecked on slow/inaccessible IO resources (which usually leads to users randomly killing processes and/or rebooting). Sometimes happens to a limited extent with KDE, but it's far less noticeable - KIO slaves just plain rock
      • Ok, I'll flame you then (sucker! :-)).

        X probably exercises a lot of memory, so have you ever tried to install a memory checker such as memtest86, reboot with it, and run it all night? It might catch memory errors that don't often show up under regular use. I don't know about the i810 driver, but if you experience problems when you do the exact same action (e.g. playing a 3-d game or something) then you might want to spend the energy to complain at your distribution maker that game Y always crashes or has

    • by PPH (736903)
      No "Mr. Clippy". No "Cancel or Allow" nag boxes. No BSOD. I guess they're not really clones after all.
    • Well, while i'm happy it exists, wine can compete with the original windows in this aspect.
  • out of OpenOffice. I sat in a Novell presentation about a year ago and the very charismatic presenter made Novell sound like the best thing to open source since binary. He mentioned what a great source of improvements for OpenOffice. I finished my bagel and left, but that was a tad rude of me.
    • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:36AM (#19322387) Homepage Journal
      I attended an infiniband conference [infinibandta.org] and someone from Novell spoke there about Linux and Infiniband and the changes that they are making to linux for real time performance. He specifically mentioned using RTLinux [wikipedia.org] and was a bit rude to me and did not answer my question when I asked him specifically about the RTLinux/FSMLabs/WindRiver patents [linuxdevices.com] which have been controversial.

      Doesn't matter to me though, Xenomai [xenomai.org] wins in every way and it is not encumbered by any existing patents.

      --jeffk++

      • by ls -la (937805)

        Doesn't matter to me though, Xenomai wins in every way and it is not encumbered by any existing patents.
        Don't tell Microsoft, they'll patent it.
    • out of OpenOffice. I sat in a Novell presentation about a year ago and the very charismatic presenter made Novell sound like the best thing to open source since binary. He mentioned what a great source of improvements for OpenOffice. I finished my bagel and left, but that was a tad rude of me.

      Wasn't rude at all. Shouting Penn and Teller quotes to the presenter in the middle of the presentation would have been rude. Walking out shows that you aren't one of the sheep. More people need to learn that voting

  • Windows Clone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lost Penguin (636359) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:18AM (#19322087) Homepage
    Windows was a clone product. (MAC/X-Windows)
    Microsoft Exchange is a clone (sendmail)
    DOS (CPM)
    Microsoft does not invent, only "embrace, extend, extinguish".
    • Re:Windows Clone? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The FooMiester (466716) <(goimir) (at) (endlesshills.org)> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:27AM (#19322253) Homepage Journal
      MS would do better to stop piracy than to stop "clone products".

      Besides, what "new computing concept" have they come up with?

      I used Word Perfect before there was an MS Word

      I used visi-calc before there was an Excel.

      I can't think of one piece of software that was written by MS that wasn't written somewhere else first. I could be wrong, however.

      Unless they're talking about "look and feel", which I won't comment on.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mstahl (701501)

        I was going to suggest Powerpoint but then . . . does anybody still remember HyperCard??? That program was amazing! I don't think you could write Myst in Powerpoint.

        For the youngins out there, HyperCard was a presentation app like Powerpoint but it allowed scripting in much the same way that Flash does nowadays. Myst was made by adding extensions to HyperCard, written in Pascal (which was another of its tricks). Yay HyperCard, boo Pascal!

      • by nelsonal (549144)
        Um Bob, Clippy? Don't be forgetting Microsoft's contribution to innovation!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Locutus (9039)
        Exactly, why are/did companies think they were getting any real protection from Microsoft and actually purchase these Suse contracts from Microsoft? Doesn't Walmart have a couple or three lawyers around to look at this contract between Microsoft and Novell? Or did Microsoft write up an nice summary for them and THAT is what the decision was based on. There were huge holes in the original agreement which let Microsoft sue anybody no matter if they had a Suse license or not. Now, we find that there is a "clo
      • MS would do better to stop piracy than to stop "clone products".

        Every box running pirated copy of Windows is a box that doesn't have Linux (or any other OS) that would otherwise. Every competing product (what they are calling clone products here) that is running on a box is market- and mindshare taken from MS products. Therefore, I don't think that stopping piracy is in their interest, but stopping competing products is in their interest, hence the decision to start another FUD campaign in which they me

      • I can't think of one piece of software that was written by MS that wasn't written somewhere else first. I could be wrong, however.

        I can think of plenty

        MS-Bob
        Clippy
        Microsoft OS/2
        Customiseable BSOD in Windows
        Dr Watson
    • Well no, I would not be so harsh. The Microsoft security flaws are all their own innovation.
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:21AM (#19322121) Homepage Journal
    The section is vague at best. Hundreds of open source projects have "the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of [Microsoft] and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product."

    Samba could be viewed as a clone product, but so could gedit (clone of notepad). Firefox might be a clone of Internet Explorer 7. What about totem? Looks an awful lot like Windows Media Player, at least the older versions. Nautilus behaves a lot like Windows Explorer, huh?

    This section is stupid and ridiculous and is likely to get struck down by the first courtroom judge that looks at this thing as being too vaguely worded.

    IANAL and this is not legal advice.
    • Missing The Point (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mpapet (761907) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:48AM (#19322599) Homepage
      IMHO the whole point of the effort on Microsoft's part was to thin the money-making distro herd.

      1. Create the perception that there is an approved Linux distro. This is a requirement for bureacracy-bound businesses that have to check with Legal/PHB's before "purchasing" a Linux distro.

      2. What better way to waste Novell's resources than create documents that protect nothing? It's a poorly run organization and this agreement is an excellent example of _exactly_ how poorly it is run. I'm sure there are great people that work at Novell, they just don't get to make strategic decisions. Novell is slowly circling the drain and Microsoft needs the perception of competition and cooperation to keep legislators pushing their agenda. http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=NOVL [yahoo.com]

      3. One of Microsoft's goals is to capture Linux revenue. This, more than anything else will keep OSS at bay.

      • When Microsoft clones a linux application or a GPL (especially v3) feature will they try and act as though this liscense protects them from linux lawsuits?

        This is a pretty interesting legal attack, one partner company is allowed to use certain resources and the other isn't (because one is the evil empire)... This move is going to create such a shitstorm no matter what they're trying to do.
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      This section is stupid and ridiculous and is likely to get struck down by the first courtroom judge that looks at this thing as being too vaguely worded.

      Of course, the experience of Mic^H^H^H SCO vs IBM is that it takes four years of expensive legal shennanigans before the judge is allowed to even speculate about the possibility of considering making such a judgement.

      Anyway, you seem to be mistaking this for something that is intended to be legally enforcable.

      The idea is to imply that lots of products

    • by samkass (174571)
      Samba could be viewed as a clone product, but so could gedit (clone of notepad). Firefox might be a clone of Internet Explorer 7. What about totem? Looks an awful lot like Windows Media Player, at least the older versions. Nautilus behaves a lot like Windows Explorer, huh?

      Firefox brings up an interesting question. It inherits from Netscape which inherits from NCSA Mosaic, so that brings up another question: is the contract written such that if Microsoft's product is the "clone" rather than vice-versa, is t
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by init100 (915886)

        There are countless other FOSS projects which got started when someone said "I wish we had an open source version of X" because they didn't want to pay the original developer for having developed some useful capability.

        There are several reasons to develop an open source clone of a proprietary product, not just the free-as-in-beer reason.

        I think Microsoft has every right to protect their inventions from such "predatory open-sourcing".

        You call writing a clone product "predatory open-sourcing"? I'll tell you what would amount to predatory open-sourcing: Disassembling your binary and posting the resulting code under the GPL. I strongly disagree that merely implementing your own clone of a product amounts to any predation.

  • *Rolls Eyes* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VE3OGG (1034632) <VE3OGG@[ ].ca ['rac' in gap]> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:21AM (#19322139)
    So according to their exclusion agreement, Novell can't create an operating system? While it may not use the same APIs, it sure as Hell duplicates obvious functionality (well, duplicates in the sense that they do the same thing, not in the sense of Microsoft doing it first).

    Come to mention it, if such an agreement were widespread, how would anyone ever create a better product, since by the very virtue of the fact that you need to recreate some of the functionality to improve upon it.

    Sigh, I feel as if a thousand lawyers screamed out in delight when they wrote that clause in...
  • Various vendors implementing a common API is the very basic definition of modularity and interoperability. So far MSFT made its products non-interoperable by its marketshare muscle and political action etc. But it knows that once the users learn the difference between interopearability and microsoft-compatibility, people would demand truly interoperable products. It can confuse the issue only so long. Even if it pushes OOXML as an "international standard", the issues are being discussed in the open and at s
  • It has no other reason to exist but to run Windows software, so it clones the Windows API. Both Evolution and OpenOffice.org are no closer to Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office than other competing software. They do substantially the same tasks and the free software packages certainly are influenced by the Microsoft competitors, but then again both of them are heavily influenced by the same software predecessors.
    • And Novell is the current 'pusher' of Mono and it's Microsoft fanboy( Miguel de Icaca ). I wonder how much egg is on the face of the Novell lawyers now, or if they still have a job at Novell?

      LoB
      • This worries me a bit... I was actually happy to see the original agreement, because I am a fan of .Net, and mono's progression has brought nothing but delight at the thought of using the environment in cross-platform development, and deployment... I'm a sad panda...
    • I think Wine's best defense is to demonstrate a dozen Windows applications that won't run properly under Wine. Given there are thousands to chose from, they shouldn't be hard to find.
  • Magic Beans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:26AM (#19322235)
    The more details come to light... the more I'm wondering what Novell got out of this deal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Novell got Fourty Million Dollars out of it. MS is the loser. Novell is an incredibly shrewd company. Over the years they have screwed MS out of almost a billion dollars in the form of out of court settlements. MS must have seen another one coming and did a pre-emptive submissive roll over...
      • by grcumb (781340)

        Novell is an incredibly shrewd company. Over the years they have screwed MS out of almost a billion dollars in the form of out of court settlements.

        The bulk of this billion dollars you talk about derives from the breach of contract lawsuit between Novell and Microsoft concerning their 'collaboration' on directory services. Microsoft effectively built Active Directory on what they learned from Novell Directory Services. A few years later on, we see Microsoft's implementation everywhere and Novell effective

        • by Degrees (220395)
          I mostly agree with you, but I do disagree on one point. Yes, Novell has been screwed by Microsoft a lot. As a Novell server administrator, I can recall five different instances where Microsoft deliberately shipped code (or worked with developers to ship code) with features to sabotage Novell customers. In essence, since 1990, Novell has been the biggest target of Microsoft's plan to crush it's competition.

          Has Microsoft been successful? Like you say, Novell used to dominate their sector, and now.... But: i

          • Good Post. Last year Novell's market cap was $2.24 Billion. Yeah, with a 'B'.

            There's no doubt that Novell has been hosed in markets in which they used to be King of the Hill. For the last 10+ years they've transitioned to a King of Stealth/Doughbrained Marketing position, but in spite of this they've still got a chunk of business, and manage to put out the odd cool product.

            All this in spite of regular /. declarations of Imminent Death and sometimes even obits.

            The upside of the Microsoft/Novell deal is t

    • by acvh (120205)
      While I dislike this deal as much as anyone, one thing I've learned from following the SCO lawsuits is that Novell has some pretty sharp lawyers working for them. I know they are expressing concerns over GPL3, but I think that is more for the investment side of things than legal.
      • by Locutus (9039)
        if that is the case and the Novell lawyers knew mostly nothing at all was legally valid in the contract, what will they do once the contract ends and Microsoft starts asking for licensing fees directly from those customers? Will Novell stand up and tell them that there never was any protection, that the original contract excluded pretty much every aspect of the Suse distribution? I don't believe Microsoft will continue to work with Novell for vary long once they sucker enough high profile customers into th
  • Mono (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pavon (30274) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:31AM (#19322307)
    While the definition is vague, and one could argue that programs like OpenOffice are no more clones of MS Office as any other office program out there, other programs like Mono, Moonlight, and WINE would absolutely be considered clones by any definition. So much for this deal promoting interoperability.
    • by Locutus (9039)
      There is lots of chatter that Microsoft has no intention of ever taking this to court like SCO did. That the intension is to use FUD to move the market and eventually do the damage to the OSS/Linux image such that businesses will stay away from it and go back to the loving arms of Microsoft. Since it has already been shown that much of the contract is so vague that there is really no protection not to sue left in the deal, adding vagueness to what is and isn't covered sounds just like Microsoft lawyers plan
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpcNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:33AM (#19322349) Homepage
    Read on... the agreement excludes patent suits with the following exceptions: clone products, foundry products, and other excluded products. Here's the parts I have trouble with:
    • The clone product part of the agreement includes the following text "...that are compliant with a specification of a standards organization as to which the other Party has consented to the use of its Patents therefor, shall not be considered in determining whether the product is a Clone Product." in other words, if a product is compliant with a web standard for which MS or Novell holds a patent, they can't use the inclusion of the functionality standard to defend against a lawsuit. Great. Wanna bet MS has patents related to browser rendering (a major component) functionality that hits this?
    • More fun language... "even if a new product (or major component thereof) meets such requirements, only those Patents covering inventions in new features and functionality in such Clone Product may be asserted against such Clone Product, and only with regard to Clone Product Functionality." In other words, if MS adds something that may or may not have patent to a product, if a "clone" figures out how to duplicate it, the patent protection agreement doesn't apply. Hmmm. Sound familiar?
    • Notwithstanding subsection (i) above, Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice and OpenOffice are not subject to such subsection (i)... AKA reverse engineered clean room code which began development before the DMCA existed isn't going to be protected from lawsuits -- even though there is no copyright infringement and no digital rights law that relates to that early code.
    • It gets worse: "Foundry Products" i.e. third part products not designed by or specified by Novell etc. aren't covered. So if I read this right any tools, demos, etc. that might exist on a SUSE distribution are excluded from patent litigation protection and are explicitly denied protection by the clause which states that software which is " made, reproduced, sold, licensed or otherwise transferred through or by the Acting Party for the primary purpose of attempting to make such product subject to the covenants under the Covered Patents of the other Party so that a third party's customers can receive the benefit of such covenants." will be excluded. Hooray. Good job Novell -- cover yourself but shoot all third party developer's ability to protect ourselves by excluding our work -- even if you distribute it.
    • and finally my personal favorites. Other excluded products include (a) office productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc.).... (b) new features and functions in the following categories of products of the Parties, but not to the extent the products embody operating system software or other enabling technologies: (i) video game consoles, console games, video game applications designed to run on a computer, and on-line video gaming services ... (ii) business applications designed, marketed and used to meet the data processing requirements of particular business functions, such as accounting, payroll, human resources, project management, personnel performance management, sales management, financial forecasting, financial reporting, customer relationship management, and supply chain management; (iii) mail transfer agents (aka email servers); and (iv) unified communications. In other words, none of the major applications or application types usable by a business are covered by the no-suit ingredient.

    Sounds like a good enough set of reasons to not support Suse Linux any more. Ubuntu anyone?

    • IANAL, but if I understand things correctly (I'm sure lawyers in the crowd will correctly) Novell customers are in deep trouble if Microsoft ever decides to make patent lawsuits.

      Novell basically agreed that there are infringing patents in SUSE Linux (otherwise, what are they licensing per SUSE license?). Novell customers who use the Microsoft coupons have agreed that this is the case also, so they are infringing.

      But the N-M protects them, so they don't have anything to worry about for 5 years (the life of t
      • well said and it lends proof that Microsoft must have another plan for how they will stop OSS/Linux growth. I've stated elsewhere that I believe one such plan could be the same plan they used on the Win32-on-UNIX vendors/customers( google for "Microsoft Bristol UNIX" ). In short, hook them on a licensing fee, then when enough customers bite, increase the licensing fee so much that it effectively ends any product(s) covered by the license.

        I don't believe that there is any Microsoft interest in collecting mon
      • Novell basically agreed that there are infringing patents in SUSE Linux (otherwise, what are they licensing per SUSE license?)
        By your logic, Microsoft also agreed that their Windows product infringes patents held by Novell. It's a two-way cross-licence.
  • wasn't the suit between MS and Apple/Mac a while back over not being able to patent a UI? I thought it was.

    I think MS is playing a dangerous game here, and I think they are going to loose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      No, that lawsuit set absolutely no precedent. Apple had actually licensed Microsoft to use nearly everything they sued them for and most of the remaining elements were found to not be copyrightable since "they were the ONLY way you could do it" (not because UI isn't copyrightable).

      The judge made NO ruling on whether you could copyright UI and it had NOTHING to do with patents. In fact, since the judge DID decide that some parts were NOT copyrightable because "they were the ONLY way you could do it", that
  • a clone product is broadly defined as "a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party ... and that has the same or substantially the same user interface, or implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product."

    What a long-winded, obfuscated way of saying "interoperable competitor".

  • by phrostie (121428) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:38AM (#19322423)
    the nerve to clone wonderful original works like WordPerfect or Lotus123,,,,wait, are they saying MS Office is original?
    • That's the biggest problem I'm having with this, and it's actually amusing in its irony. Microsoft doesn't have an original bone in its body, and some of Microsoft's most important, profitable, and successful products are indeed clones of other products. It's like they're saying that they're allowed to copy their competition and absolutely obliterate them in the process, but if someone copies them - or copies their copies - they can sue you into the ground. If they actually tried to take anyone to court ove
    • If you're going to say something ironic about MS and clones, don't use WordPerfect or Lotus123 as examples. They're no more original than Word or Excel.
      • by phrostie (121428)
        true,
        but those were names that most would know.
        i thought about saying quatro-pro, but i know it wasn't first either(just what i used to use)
  • 'cause MS Word is a clone product of Word Perfect!
    (and Wordstar).
  • The applications companies might even remotely want protection against Microsoft lawsuits for are OpenOffice, Samba, Evolution, OpenXchange, and Mono. Yet, it looks like the Novell/Microsoft deal fails to provide protection for specifically those packages. Seems to me that that makes Novell's deal largely worthless for licensees, since they receive no more protection by buying from Novell than they do by buying from RedHat.

    (And while there's nothing legally wrong with their definition, it's absolutely rid
  • As the Rebel Alliance of Linux vendors fought valiantly against the Evil Dark Forces of the Empire, little did they know that some of their supporters who claimed to be Open Source were pushing DRM behind their backs, and preparing their law suits.

    But, even if they lost the wars and were betrayed like the Jedi were, they knew that the Force would ultimately prevail, for Information wanted to be Free!
  • by Shotgun (30919) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:58PM (#19323715)
    I'm soft of totally confused looking for any relevance to anything here. Microsoft gave Novell $40M, and agreed not to sue Novell's customers, unless Novell's customers were using Novell's product (the wording of the exceptions seem to exclude anything that could possibly be in a distribution).

    My question is, "What difference does the agreement make?"

    M$ could possibly sue Novel, et.al., before the agreement was signed. Now, M$ is out $40M, and still could possibly sue Novel, et. al. The possibility of M$ winning such a lawsuit remains as remote as it was before. It appears that the $40M was simply the cost of a publicity stunt. Wouldn't another fake grassroots campaign have been more effective?

    • Microsoft benefits from the spector of legitimacy. If Novel and SUSE felt a need to sign an agreement, then there must be something there. As someone wrote a week or so ago. If you work at a businss where everything is passed in front of a lawyer. What will a lawyer who is not a sepcialist in software patents do? A) Study up B) Refer you to a patant lawyer C) Avoid the whole mess and recomend you just stick to using Microsoft products? C is the most likely answer.

      Microsoft has been able to rattle their sab
      • by Shotgun (30919)
        Ok. I agree with you, once you add the "year or two" conditional.

        M$ has learned several time that the computer industry is a constantly changing landscape. Delaying tactics can make today's lawsuits and market conditions irrelevant. Keep 'em busy with patent scares until we can get the DRM measures in place.

        I think they're getting desperate, though. The fact that they had to pay $40M for the deal seems to be cutting at the core of their credibility. PHBs may not understand software or software patents,
  • There are more than one way to put a feature into software without violating a patent. Suddenly this document makes features as patents, which is not even true.

    Microsoft's definition of a feature. [msn.com]

    Microsoft's definition of a patent. [msn.com]

    They are not even remotely the same.
  • Did Novell just signed an agreement that doesn't really help them at all? I mean, from MS' view anything linux can be a clone thus this deal does not protect anyone from getting sued from MS it seems that MS' intrinsic fear of going to court in a patent suit does much more to protect Novell users...
  • I think that GPLv3 is doing the right thing in disallowing the kind of deal that Microsoft and Novell concocted but I do have one concern.

    The community has just demonstrated that it's willing to deal a major financial blow to a company who the community feels violants some of their core beliefs. Could this precedent deter future companies from entering the Open Source distribution business as they now fear a misstep could lead to a massive, and damaging, community backlash?

    Note, I don't think this is a rati
    • Try backstabbing.
  • Unless there is something in this that isn't mentioned in the summary then this was already reported the day Novell released the details of the agreement.

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