Novell/Microsoft Patent Deal Secrets
The Novell/Microsoft patent partnership was long seen by many as damaging Linux and open source. Now, it appears to be a double-edged sword to Microsoft's regret.Most of the Novell/Microsoft patent deal is now out in the public. With this, the veil has been lifted in part from this controversial patent partnership. With this unveiling we now know that there is still no proof, other than Microsofts flat unsupported statement, that Linux violates any of Microsofts patents. We also know that it appears, as Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian has said, that Novell never agreed that Linux violated Microsofts patents. In the agreement, as no less a figure than Richard M. Stallman, the author of the GPL, said not long after the Novell/Microsoft patent deal became public news, "Microsoft has not given Novell a patent license, and thus, section 7 of GPL version 2 does not come into play. Instead, Microsoft offered a patent license that is rather limited to Novells customers alone."
Stallman also said: "It turns out that perhaps its a good thing that Microsoft did this now, because we discovered that the text we had written for GPL version 3 would not have blocked this, but its not too late and were going to make sure that when GPL version 3 really comes out it will block such deals. We were already concerned about possibilities like this, namely, the possibility that a distributor might receive a patent license which did not explicitly impose limits on downstream recipients but simply failed to protect them."