Microsoft Works to Improve Patent Pledge

Lora Bentley

Microsoft's Jason Matusow admits the patent covenant that's part of Redmond's agreement with Linux distributor Novell is still in process. Novell isn't completely happy with it, he says in a recent blog post, where he also solicits input on the covenant from the wider open source community.


Comments have no doubt been pouring in since the partnership was announced two weeks ago. As the INQUIRER reported recently, the folks at are none too happy. They accuse Novell of breaking up what has been the "unified defense" of the open source community against software patents -- and for what? A short-term competitive advantage? They're asking Novell to work with the Software Freedom Law Center to have the agreement rescinded.


Of course, the SFLC has an opinion on the patent covenant, as well: It's "worse than useless," according to, which quotes an open letter drafted by SFLC Chief Technology Officer Bradley Kuhn. The agreement, Kuhn says, protects only non-commercial developers for code they build at home and don't distribute, and it lulls open source users into a false sense of security in so far as patent litigation from Microsoft is concerned.


Matusow cautions that the process to this point has been complicated. We'd venture to guess it will only get more so before a majority of those involved are satisfied.

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