In an open letter to the community issued on Monday, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian issued a clarification from the Novell point of view, on the recent Microsoft / Novell agreement and directed a portion of his remarks clearly at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, saying "We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents."
Last week we reported that during a Q&A session at the PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) summit in Seattle, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated that Microsoft was motivated to sign a deal with SUSE Linux distributor Novell earlier this month because Linux "uses our intellectual property" and Microsoft wanted to "get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation." Ballmers remarks have sparked many a heated debate among both the Windows and Linux communities, and have led to many speculations about the future of open source, especially pertaining to Novell. To those concerns Hovsepian had this to say. "Our stance on software patents is unchanged by the agreement with Microsoft. We want to remind the community of Novell's commitment to, and prior actions in support of, furthering the interests of Linux and open source, and creating an environment of free and open innovation. We have a strong patent portfolio and we have leveraged that portfolio for the benefit of the open source community."
*Update* Thanks to nw_raptor for the heads up.
Microsoft has "agreed to disagree" with Novell. In a statement posted via Microsoft PressPass a company spokesperson stated that "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. 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."
News source: Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian's Open Letter to the Community
News source: Microsoft Statement on Novell Agreement