The bridge building business,

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-05-30 Print this article Print

not the bridge burning business"> Asked if the third draft of the GNU GPL (General Public License) version 3 was also a reason for Microsofts decision to talk about the specific patent numbers and violations, Gutierrez declined to comment on the license specifically, saying it was still under development. But what he would say was that he felt it "unfortunate that while Microsoft is trying to build bridges wherever possible between the commercial and open-source software industries, some seem intent on tearing down those bridges. We are in the bridge building business, not in the bridge burning business."
Microsofts focus had consistently been to ensure that there was a viable solution to the problem, which was constructive and accessible to anyone and which solved customer problems, he said.
But even Novell has expressed concern about the potential impact of GPLv3 on its patent deal with Microsoft. In its latest annual report filed with the SEC, the company notes that Microsoft may be forced to stop distributing SUSE Linux coupons if the current text of the third draft of GPLv3 is included in the final license. Read more here about why Novell went public with the documents describing its patent agreement with Microsoft. "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, we may need to modify our relationship with Microsoft under less advantageous terms than our current agreement, or we may be restricted in our ability to include GPLv3 code in our products, any of which could adversely affect our business and our operating results," the Novell filing said. "In such a case, we would likely explore alternatives to remedy the conflict, but there is no assurance that we would be successful in these efforts," the filing said. When asked what Red Hat Linux customers, who did not want to switch to SUSE Linux, were supposed to do, Gutierrez was evasive, saying that Novell had "taken the leadership step" in signing the patent co-operation agreement with Microsoft. However, Microsoft was working hard to ensure that other companies had the same ability. "Microsoft has no intention or design to limit that arrangement to just Novell, and we have been saying openly that we are open to entering into similar agreements with others. You would expect that to happen over time as customers manifest to their vendors that IP indemnification is an area they care about given the realities of litigation on patents," he said. As to what happens next, Gutierrez said this was the same as what had happened over the past few years. Microsoft continued to have discussions and make progress as it had with Novell, Samsung and Fuji Xerox. "I think you are going to see a number of additional announcements in the next few weeks that point in the same direction. We believe we are making progress as many companies realize we are being open and flexible in building solutions that meet their requirements from both a business and licensing perspective," he said. Microsoft also did not believe that litigation was an efficient way of dealing with these issues, he said, before adding that, "this does not mean you may not have to go there some day, but it is not a preferred option, and certainly not a preferred option for us. We are hoping that this can be addressed in a different way. Our focus is on solving this through licensing, and that approach should work between the worlds of open source and proprietary software," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel