Now the Open Invention Network is speaking out about the Novell-Microsoft agreement. I reproduce the statement in full, but the essence is this -- Novell doesn't need a "patent agreement" of any kind from Microsoft and neither do you:
OIN continues to support the Linux community’s ability to collaborate and innovate. Through the accumulation of patents that may be used to shield the Linux environment, including users of Linux software, OIN has obviated the need for offers of protection from others.
Update: We now also have a statement from IBM regarding the Novell-Microsoft patent deal:
Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of Linux and open source, said that the patent protections included in the Novell-Microsoft deal are unnecessary.
"We aren't sure what Microsoft's intentions here are, but IBM has long asserted that we don't see the need for this coverage," Handy said. "To our knowledge, there has never been a patent suit against Linux, and it is our view that legal claims, if they exist, should be settled without involving end-user customers."
Handy said that Microsoft is trying to create "fear, uncertainty and doubt" around Linux because it poses a competitive threat.
OPEN INVENTION NETWORK ISSUES COMMENTS ON THE MICROSOFT-NOVELL DEAL
New York (November 21, 2006) – Jerry Rosenthal, chief executive officer of Open Invention Network, issued the following statement today:
“Numerous organizations have sought OIN’s opinion of the recent agreement between Microsoft and Novell. We are referring to the recent announcement regarding Novell and Microsoft’s collaboration; ostensibly to make it easier for Novell’s version of Linux to operate with Windows in corporate data centers.
“We at OIN believe that the openness and collaborative culture of the Linux community is an engine for innovation. It is clear that there is significant value in Linux community members’ intellectual property and patents.
“Hearing Microsoft agree that Linux is a major force in the information technology industry is welcome news. Many IT customers and software programmers have recognized that Linux is a first-rate computer operating system with performance, stability and cost-of-ownership that compares well with all its competitors, including Microsoft’s own offerings.
“Customers can only benefit from greater interoperability between Linux and Microsoft products. In fact, interoperability has long been a known requirement, and is a key driver behind Linux.
“Unfortunately, embedded in Microsoft's recent endorsement of Linux are claims regarding customers’ needing protection from patent attack. Those claims are baseless. In fact, there have been no patent suits against Linux. While patent disputes are not unheard of between and among software developers and distributors, they are almost always resolved between these commercial entities – not by dragging in end-user customers. Isn’t the real issue the fact that Microsoft is making such a threat against its own customers?
“OIN continues to support the Linux community’s ability to collaborate and innovate. Through the accumulation of patents that may be used to shield the Linux environment, including users of Linux software, OIN has obviated the need for offers of protection from others.
“In less than a year, OIN has accumulated more than 100 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications that span Web / Internet, e-commerce, mobile and communications technologies. These patents are available to all as part of the patent commons that OIN is creating around, and in support of Linux. We stand ready to leverage our IP portfolio to maintain the open patent environment OIN has helped create."
About Open Invention Network
Open Invention Network is an intellectual property company formed to further the Linux environment by acquiring patents and ensuring their availability. It promotes a positive, fertile ecosystem for Linux, which in turn drives innovation and choice in the global marketplace. Open Invention Network has considerable industry backing. It was launched in 2005, and has received investments from IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony. For more information go to www.openinventionnetwork.com.