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Microsoft, Novell, and "Clone Product" Lawsuits 156

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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  • 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:Lets name them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:20AM (#19322111) Journal
    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
  • 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.
  • Re:Lets name them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:30AM (#19322287)
    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...
  • 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 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.


  • Re:Magic Beans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:37AM (#19322403)
    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...
  • 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.

  • by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:07PM (#19322911) Homepage Journal
    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 are apps like X, with which I've experienced lockups and crashes even when using completely FOSS drivers (i810).

    Sure, explorer.exe hangs the entire UI when you're accessing a newly inserted CD or a slow network share in windows, or modal dialogues grab focus here there and everwhere and (if they have the bad luck to end up behind their parent window) give the impression of a "hung" app, or windows without taskbar entries (whose bright idea was that?! Completely ruins the whole WIMP/taskbar paradigm IMHO) vanishing from view, but I haven't had the windows desktop crash on me since NT5 - it's still a far too common occurrence with Linux IME. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but browsing my usual forums shows it still happens with some regularity for other users.

    I'm not trying to bitch about X.org (I realise it's very much in it's infancy as regards to opening up the monolithic structure, etc) or anything else, and for the most part the nuts and bolts of what makes Linux cool, especially on the server side of things, are pretty damned bulletproof. But I don't want newcomers to Linux starting with the misapprehension that nothing ever crashses, because sometimes it does.

    Flame away, but I like to think that FOSS isn't above some (hopefully) constructuve criticism* :)

    *hides under bridge*

    * Yes, I do submit bug reports where possible - often the issues are already fixed upstream anyway
  • Re:Windows Clone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:56PM (#19323675)
    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 "clone" clause which again, pretty much excluded every bit of software in Novell Suse Linux.

    So are these companies so afraid of Microsoft that they'll sign a deal worth less than the paper it's written on just because it has the Microsoft corporate logo on it since there appears to be no legal "promise" in the docs. The best I can see is that between the handful of 'viable' Linux distros, picking one which is part of Microsoft's planned attack against OSS and Linux is better than picking a Linux distro which is not part of Microsoft's plan since that would piss them off immediately. Whatever pissing them off means.

    Come to think of it, if there isn't pure ignorance involved, such a deal with Microsoft could be part of a massive migration off of Microsoft software. After all, the only thing Microsoft has against these companies which holds any legal water are their current Microsoft software licenses. Because it is sure looking like being locked into Microsoft software now means being locked out of all other software. IMO.

  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @01:14PM (#19323947) Journal
    Does this mean Novell can sue Microsoft for copying the GUI from UNIX? X Windows is older than Windows and Windows certainly acts similar to the old UNIX workstations I used to use back in college.

    No, wait, according to Apple, Microsoft stole the GUI from them! Ah, never mind. Maybe PARC should start throwing around some law suits...
  • Re:cars (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deanoaz ( 843940 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @01:27PM (#19324181)
    Actually there is a precedent for cars.

    A patent on the automobile was granted and many manufacturers were forced to pay up. Look up the "Selden Patent".

    It was Henry Ford who finally broke the scheme by refusing to pay and putting his money into lawyers to attack the patent holder instead. He initially failed, but kept at it and won on appeal on the basis that the engine design Selden used in his design (Selden had built an engine, but never a car) was not the same design Ford and other car makers were using.

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