If the GNU General Public License v3 becomes effective in its current state, Novell may have to rethink its agreements with Microsoft. The Linux distributor admitted as much in its recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings, according to a CRN report.
Under the current draft of the license, while Novell is in an agreement that includes patent protection with Microsoft -- "a third party that's in the business of distributing software" -- the company would be prohibited from conveying software released under the GPL v3; thus, it will be forced to "modify [its] relationship with Microsoft" or "explore alternatives," the article says.
It may mean little that the current draft of the GPL v3 contains a "grandfather clause" exempting software distributed under such an agreement prior to March 28 of this year. As the writer points out, if the license is enforced as is, customers who benefited from the Microsoft-Novell agreement before then would not receive upgrades or updates to their SuSE systems. Obviously, that could prompt them to opt for a different Linux distribution.
Since the agreement with Microsoft has already yielded significant benefit for Novell -- $7.6 million in gross revenue, according to CRN -- the company doesn't want to see the deal fall apart. But no one will know until the final GPL v3 is released.