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Novell says Microsoft’s patent covenant extends to GPLv3Matthew Aslett, October 12, 2007 @ 4:47 am ET
Given the fuss this week about Microsoft’s potential patent claims against Red Hat it is interesting to note that Novell updated its Technology Assurance Program yesterday to include its agreement with Microsoft.
It is particularly relevant given that, according to Novell’s NTAP information, Microsoft’s covenant not to sue Novell users will be extended to “all GPL v3 users as soon as GPL v3 code is integrated into SUSE Linux Enterprise.”
That statement runs contrary to the claims made by Microsoft in July this year, when the company insisted it was not a party to the GPLv3 and that its support certificates did not extend to GPLv3 code.
The NTAP information states the following:
“Under the Novell and Microsoft patent cooperation agreement, when you buy any Novell products — whether Linux-based or proprietary — you receive a patent covenant not to sue from Microsoft. Also under this agreement, customers have unprecedented choice and flexibility through improved interoperability and manageability between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise.
“Microsoft has extended its covenant to not sue users of Linux-based products from Novell to all GPL v3 users as soon as GPL v3 code is integrated into SUSE Linux Enterprise. This means that the patent protection Microsoft extends to Novell customers now covers every customer who uses any Linux-based software that Novell distributes under GPL v3.”
It would take a patent lawyer to decipher what impact this would have on Microsoft’s apparent claims against Red Hat, and I’m not one of those.
The statement appears to contradict Microsoft’s former position, however. It also appears to backup the Free Software Foundation’s claim that Microsoft “cannot declare itself exempt from the requirements of GPLv3.”
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