Novell Disputes Ballmer's Infringement Claim; Parties 'Agree to Disagree'

Lora Bentley

Let's review: Last week, Steve Ballmer commented that compensation for Linux's use of Microsoft code was Redmond's motivation for agreeing not to assert patent claims against Novell's customers. The inevitable flood of "I told you so"s ensued, and the open source faithful challenged Ballmer to point out the offending code.


Yesterday, Novell responded with an open letter from CEO Ron Hovsepian, which directly disputed Ballmer's claim that Linux infringes Microsoft IP. Novell did not, by entering the agreement, agree or acknowlege that Linux infringes Microsoft code, nor did the company pay Microsoft to avoid threatened infringement litigation.


It seems that the companies have "agreed to disagree" on the issue of infringement, which a ZDNet Asia blogger says is simply an agreement that whether infringement actually occurred isn't important right now.


That's the catch: It doesn't matter right now. But if we understand correctly, Microsoft has reserved the right to change the terms of the agreement at any time. So how much peace of mind do Novell's customers have when Microsoft decides it does matter? Not much.

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