Novell fights to defend its reputation

By   |  November 21, 2006

Reacting to a statement last week by Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer that the company had signed a deal with Novell because Linux incorporated Microsoft intellectual property, Novell has issued an “Open Letter to the Community” in which it tries to regain credibility in the free software world.

“We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents,” writes CEO Ron Hovsepian in the letter published on the Novell website.

“Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. Our stance on software patents is unchanged by the agreement with Microsoft,” Hovsepian stated.

Microsoft in return issued a statement in which the company said it had agreed to disagree with Novell:

“Microsoft and Novell have agreed to disagree on whether certain open source offerings infringe Microsoft patents and whether certain Microsoft offerings infringe Novell patents. The agreement between our two companies puts in place a workable solution for customers for these issues, without requiring an agreement between our two companies on infringement,” Microsoft said.

“We at Microsoft respect Novell’s point of view on the patent issue, even while we respectfully take a different view. Novell is absolutely right in stating that it did not admit or acknowledge any patent problems as part of entering into the patent collaboration agreement,” Microsoft acknowledged.

The Microsoft statement concluded: “At Microsoft we undertook our own analysis of our patent portfolio and concluded that it was necessary and important to create a patent covenant for customers of these products. We are gratified that such a solution is now in place.”

Hovsepian concluded by saying: “we wish to be extremely clear that Novell is committed to protecting, preserving and promoting freedom for free and open source software. We recognize that the community of open source developers is essential to all our activities in Linux, and we welcome dialog with the community as to how we can continue to work together toward these common goals.”

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