Also, through the accumulation of patents that could be used to shield the Linux environment, including users of Linux software, OIN had obviated the need for offers of protection from others. "In less than a year, we have accumulated more than 100 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications that span the Web, the Internet, e-commerce, mobile and communications technologies," Rosenthal said."We stand ready to leverage our IP portfolio to maintain the open patent environment OIN has helped create," he said. Asked why Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian had done this deal, which would probably have been unthinkable under former CEO Jack Messman, Dragoon said Hovsepian has a background of working at the forefront of the customer agenda and knows what they were looking for. He made the call to Microsoft that was the catalyst for this deal. "That is what customers were asking for," he said. Its also important to note that Novell is not taking criticism from all sides, but rather from just one of its five stakeholder communities, he said. "Of the customer, partner, employee, investor and community stakeholders, four of them think this is the absolute right thing to do. This is an agreement that advances the customer agreement, and I have yet to have a conversation with a client who thinks it is a bad deal. The same can be said for most investors, partners and employees," Dragoon said. But it also appears unlikely that Microsoft is going to back off voicing its assessment of the deal, especially the view that the deal is a validation of the fact that Linux infringes on its intellectual property. Asked if Microsoft plans to be a little less vocal about how it views the deal, Kaefer said that whatever the company said was looked at very carefully, "but I do think it is important for us to be transparent about our views, and we have been unapologetic about the need to share these with Novell and the community," he said. But Kaefer added that the unique aspect of its deal with Novell is that it does not just relate to proprietary products, but to open-source ones as well. The fundamental trick is to do that in a way that gives customers assurance but does not get in the way of what the open source is all about: its development culture and licensing model, he said. "I do think there is a bit of a double-edged standard here where, frankly, there are several corporate backers who are so strongly behind much of the success of the open source community and who have been licensing patents for years and years. "There is a certain recognition among large enterprises that this is a normal and appropriate way of doing things as it promotes collaboration as opposed to getting in the way of it," Kaefer said. Microsoft would also continue to reach out to Red Hat about a similar deal, even though the Linux vendor has rejected that, because they have shared customers who could benefit from such a deal, Kaefer said, noting that Microsoft remains committed to its interoperability agreement with JBoss. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
These patents were available to all as part of the patent commons that OIN was creating around, and in support of, Linux.