Novell Goes Public with MS Patent Agreement Documents

After a delay due to a stock option investigation, Novell has just filed its 10K. The filing includes, as attachments, documents from the recent Microsoft deal:

The text of the 144-page 10-K filing does not get into the specifics of the Microsoft deal, but it does include, subject to some redactions, the full three Microsoft agreement documents: the second amended and restated technical collaboration agreement, the first amended and restated business collaboration agreement and the patent cooperation agreement.

One of the most notable things about the report, according to Pamela Jones’ Groklaw Web site, is that it explains that Microsoft may be forced to stop distributing SUSE Linux coupons if the current text of the third draft of the GNU GPL (General Public License) 3 is included in the final license.

“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.

That may explain why Microsoft has gone on the offensive about the GPLv3 during the past few weeks, claiming that free and open-source software infringes on 235 of its patents and directing its ire at the upcoming open-source license.

Keep in mind that the attachments do have redactions, which is standard operating procedure for releases like this. More details can be found on Groklaw.

–jeremy

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