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Microsoft, Novell, and "Clone Product" Lawsuits

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the sue-sue-sudio dept.

Linux Business 156

El_Oscuro writes "The MS/Novell deal specifically excludes patent protection for "clone products." In the agreement, a clone product is broadly defined as "a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party ... and that has the same or substantially the same user interface, or implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product." The text of the clone product definition subsections is very cumbersome to read, but it specifically mentions OpenOffice, Wine, and OpenXchange by name without asserting that they are necessarily clone products."

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I patent... (0)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19321939)

...The user interface

Problem Solved

yeah well (4, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322237)

I patent the numbers 0 and 1

A penny per usage

(patents for the numbers 2, letters F and U still pending)

Re:I patent... (0)

Arimus (198136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322275)

To high-level,

My patent is a system of counting which only uses two discrete values - 1 and 0. These values can be represented by different voltages and so lend themselves perfectly to computing.

Right: Everyone send me all the 1's and 0's in your computers. Or send me 1 cent for every 1 or 0 present in any of your computers or electronic devices. I include lights as 1 or 0 - 1 on, 0 off so I'll need a cent for every light...

Re:I patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322773)

where is high-level and how do i get there?

Re:I patent... (1)

Cryolithic (563545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323399)

Right Here! [google.com]

Windows a clone of X windows? (2, Interesting)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323947)

Does this mean Novell can sue Microsoft for copying the GUI from UNIX? X Windows is older than Windows and Windows certainly acts similar to the old UNIX workstations I used to use back in college.

No, wait, according to Apple, Microsoft stole the GUI from them! Ah, never mind. Maybe PARC should start throwing around some law suits...

Lets name them (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322003)

OS, Office, Samba, Music Players, Directory Browsers, ...well, I'm bored.

Re:Lets name them (2, Interesting)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322111)

For business users, I'll just name what would be the top 3 they know of or don't think about...

Device Drivers
Web Servers
SQL Database Servers

Re:Lets name them (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322287)

Yup, pretty much everything is excluded, making it a nonsence agreement. However, considering that MS paid Novel M$40 for the agreement, it makes sense from Novell's point of view...

Mono (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322641)

Can't forget the .NET clone that's infecting almost every major Linux distro now.

In other words... (4, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322015)

Novell open source users are not protected from Microsoft's vaporware patent lawsuits.

Re:In other words... (4, Informative)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322065)

or in plain English, "Novel is fucked and didn't read the license before accepting."

Re:In other words... (2, Insightful)

all204 (898409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322607)

See THATS the problem with click through licensing...

the word they're looking for (4, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322595)

the word they're looking for is not "clone" but "competition". This is, therefore, a Very Special agreement indeed:

"We will not sue you for patent infringement as long as your products are not similar to ours."

Re:the word they're looking for (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323989)

...as in "eats paste" special?

Re:the word they're looking for (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324203)

As in "After School" special.

Plot: Ronny meets Stevie, who has him sign an agreement. Ronny tells everyone it's a wonderful thing, but Stevie has other plans. What will Ronny do?

Re:the word they're looking for (0, Troll)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324459)

So they can still sue the crap out of Novell if they include Open Office or Evolution with their Linux? Afterall they ae clones of Office and Outlook. Hell, most of the good Linux software is a clone of a better commercial product.

They are not clones (5, Funny)

uspsguy (541171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322035)

Functionality is the key. Linux products are dependable and do not crash so they are functionally different than any MS product.

Re:They are not clones (2, Interesting)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322911)

Karma to burn, so here goes...

I realise you're semi-joking and for a large part of Linux/FOSS I'd agree with you. I've never had apps like Samba or BIND or OpenSSH fall over on me, even under reasonably high loads, (the only problem I've had recently has been the experimental sky2 driver) but on the desktop things are a bit of a different story.

And I'm not even talking about things like little basement apps written by people like me with little to no programming experience. By far the biggest problem for me are apps like X, with which I've experienced lockups and crashes even when using completely FOSS drivers (i810).

Sure, explorer.exe hangs the entire UI when you're accessing a newly inserted CD or a slow network share in windows, or modal dialogues grab focus here there and everwhere and (if they have the bad luck to end up behind their parent window) give the impression of a "hung" app, or windows without taskbar entries (whose bright idea was that?! Completely ruins the whole WIMP/taskbar paradigm IMHO) vanishing from view, but I haven't had the windows desktop crash on me since NT5 - it's still a far too common occurrence with Linux IME. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but browsing my usual forums shows it still happens with some regularity for other users.

I'm not trying to bitch about X.org (I realise it's very much in it's infancy as regards to opening up the monolithic structure, etc) or anything else, and for the most part the nuts and bolts of what makes Linux cool, especially on the server side of things, are pretty damned bulletproof. But I don't want newcomers to Linux starting with the misapprehension that nothing ever crashses, because sometimes it does.

Flame away, but I like to think that FOSS isn't above some (hopefully) constructuve criticism* :)

*hides under bridge*

* Yes, I do submit bug reports where possible - often the issues are already fixed upstream anyway

Re:They are not clones (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323717)

No idea what version of Windows you have been using, but all the versions I have used (9x and NT based) are still way too crash happy with the desktop for my preferences. Yeah, the invulnerability of Linux apps doesn't quite translate to the desktop stuff, but overall, there are still far fewer crashes with Linux (including the desktop environments) than there are with Windows.

Re:They are not clones (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324209)

Well, maybe I'm just lucky - granted I use Linux desktops full time at home, and a homogenised NT5.x/Office setup at work, so I guess I'm more predisposed to see more of the bad side of Linux than anything else. Most problems I have on windows are various chunks of apps hanging when bottlenecked on slow/inaccessible IO resources (which usually leads to users randomly killing processes and/or rebooting). Sometimes happens to a limited extent with KDE, but it's far less noticeable - KIO slaves just plain rock! Hopefully the transition to Qt/KDE 4 will leave me even happier.

Might just be windows-fu on my part; many desktop ailments can be "cured" by killing/respawning explorer, and doing the same thing with stuff like KDE is a little harder - you might have to restart kicker, or dcop, or any host of other things that (very) occasionally die. Incidentally, if explorer.exe crashes windows is usually clever enough to restart it automatically, but I don't think KDE (or Gnome - although don't use it very much) have equivalent functionality to ensure a bunch of "essential" apps are running all the time.

Never really had much experience with 9x - my first computer came with 2k which was generally very well behaved, but my flatmate had WinME, so I'll concede that point to you there :D

As to being far too crash happy for my liking - yes, I'll happily agree with that. But then I'm of the opinion that anything more frequent than a crash every week or so is too many :)

Flaming response (couldn't resist) (3, Informative)

fritsd (924429) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324255)

Ok, I'll flame you then (sucker! :-)).

X probably exercises a lot of memory, so have you ever tried to install a memory checker such as memtest86, reboot with it, and run it all night? It might catch memory errors that don't often show up under regular use. I don't know about the i810 driver, but if you experience problems when you do the exact same action (e.g. playing a 3-d game or something) then you might want to spend the energy to complain at your distribution maker that game Y always crashes or has weird stripes in 800x600 resolution with your kernel version and video card etc.

I'm as big a Linux fanboi as the next, but I would never claim that you're doing something wrong. That kind of behaviour (lockups and crashes) is simply unacceptable, I think everyone agrees. When you say X.org is still in its infancy I guess you refer to the version 7 split into modular system; do you mean you never had such lockups under a previous version? That might also be an important data point to tell in your bugreport.

As you said, you submit bug reports where possible: great. For other readers I'd just reiterate: don't expect anyone helping you out if you never send in a short formal bugreport with the details you (at your technical level) deem important. The authors of the software (X.org in this case) may have never tested it out in your exact configuration; PC hardware is very diverse. Complain to your distribution makers: they'll assess it and pass it on upstream (possibly after a long time; if you want instant results, hire somebody to solve it).

Try to see it from the X.org programmers' perspectives (no, I'm not one of them, I'm guessing here): if you receive a lot of similar, readable, not too ranty, detailed bug reports then maybe (if you have time) you can track and fix the issues. But you are not going to trawl general forums (like slashdot) to see if somebody complains "it doesn't work".

Re:They are not clones (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322951)

No "Mr. Clippy". No "Cancel or Allow" nag boxes. No BSOD. I guess they're not really clones after all.

they're trying to push Novell (1)

darth_linux (778182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322061)

out of OpenOffice. I sat in a Novell presentation about a year ago and the very charismatic presenter made Novell sound like the best thing to open source since binary. He mentioned what a great source of improvements for OpenOffice. I finished my bagel and left, but that was a tad rude of me.

Re:they're trying to push Novell (3, Interesting)

statusbar (314703) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322387)

I attended an infiniband conference [infinibandta.org] and someone from Novell spoke there about Linux and Infiniband and the changes that they are making to linux for real time performance. He specifically mentioned using RTLinux [wikipedia.org] and was a bit rude to me and did not answer my question when I asked him specifically about the RTLinux/FSMLabs/WindRiver patents [linuxdevices.com] which have been controversial.

Doesn't matter to me though, Xenomai [xenomai.org] wins in every way and it is not encumbered by any existing patents.

--jeffk++

Re:they're trying to push Novell (1)

ls -la (937805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322917)

Doesn't matter to me though, Xenomai wins in every way and it is not encumbered by any existing patents.
Don't tell Microsoft, they'll patent it.

Re:they're trying to push Novell (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323643)

out of OpenOffice. I sat in a Novell presentation about a year ago and the very charismatic presenter made Novell sound like the best thing to open source since binary. He mentioned what a great source of improvements for OpenOffice. I finished my bagel and left, but that was a tad rude of me.

Wasn't rude at all. Shouting Penn and Teller quotes to the presenter in the middle of the presentation would have been rude. Walking out shows that you aren't one of the sheep. More people need to learn that voting with your feet is in fact not rude. Good Job

Windows Clone? (3, Interesting)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322087)

Windows was a clone product. (MAC/X-Windows)
Microsoft Exchange is a clone (sendmail)
DOS (CPM)
Microsoft does not invent, only "embrace, extend, extinguish".

Re:Windows Clone? (4, Insightful)

The FooMiester (466716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322253)

MS would do better to stop piracy than to stop "clone products".

Besides, what "new computing concept" have they come up with?

I used Word Perfect before there was an MS Word

I used visi-calc before there was an Excel.

I can't think of one piece of software that was written by MS that wasn't written somewhere else first. I could be wrong, however.

Unless they're talking about "look and feel", which I won't comment on.

Re:Windows Clone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322407)

Besides, what "new computing concept" have they come up with?

Bloatware, the public as beta testers, software that does nothing except slows down a PC.

I can't think of one piece of software that was written by MS that wasn't written somewhere else first. I could be wrong, however.

The one in Windows3 that stopped DRDOS from working properly.

Unless they're talking about "look and feel", which I won't comment on.

Nah, thats copied too.

Re:Windows Clone? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323513)

Actually, DR-DOS worked just fine. It was just that Windows detected it and then pretended it did not work properly.

Re:Windows Clone? (2, Informative)

mstahl (701501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322489)

I was going to suggest Powerpoint but then . . . does anybody still remember HyperCard??? That program was amazing! I don't think you could write Myst in Powerpoint.

For the youngins out there, HyperCard was a presentation app like Powerpoint but it allowed scripting in much the same way that Flash does nowadays. Myst was made by adding extensions to HyperCard, written in Pascal (which was another of its tricks). Yay HyperCard, boo Pascal!

Re:Windows Clone? (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322669)

Today's fortune:

Pascal Users: The Pascal system will be replaced next Tuesday by Cobol. Please modify your programs accordingly

Re:Windows Clone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323345)

I was going to suggest Powerpoint but then . . . Powerpoint was acquired by Microsoft through purchase of Forethought in 1987. See http://www.mcmillan.cx/innovation.html [mcmillan.cx] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerpoint [wikipedia.org]

Re:Windows Clone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323347)

Harvard Graphics?

Re:Windows Clone? (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322623)

Um Bob, Clippy? Don't be forgetting Microsoft's contribution to innovation!

Re:Windows Clone? (0, Offtopic)

Miguel de Icaza (660439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322897)

"Besides, what "new computing concept" have they come up with?"

I think the ribbon interface in office 2007 is a great idea. I really find it useful they way it guesses the features you might need and presents them to you, exposing new capabilities previously buried in obscur submenus. It would be great to have something similar in abiword, someone should clone it for google-summer-of code.

Re:Windows Clone? (3, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323885)

From what you described as the "ribbon interface" in MS Office 2007, it sounds like context based toolbars. The application menu and tool bars of a mid 90s OpenDOC container part comes to mind. It's also pretty common in most word processor and spreadsheet apps since they do this when adding things like graphics and charts to a doc. And there are probably tons of other examples of menus and/or toolbars changing based on the context of the editing or user interest.

Is this the Microsoft "innovation" you are talking about?

LoB

Re:Windows Clone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323281)

Yeah.. isn't Macrosoft pretty much screwing itself with this? What kind of business model do they hope to lead? How is Microsoft's "Visual earth" different from google earth. All the products I've ever seen M$ make have been.. clones..

Re:Windows Clone? (2, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323675)

Exactly, why are/did companies think they were getting any real protection from Microsoft and actually purchase these Suse contracts from Microsoft? Doesn't Walmart have a couple or three lawyers around to look at this contract between Microsoft and Novell? Or did Microsoft write up an nice summary for them and THAT is what the decision was based on. There were huge holes in the original agreement which let Microsoft sue anybody no matter if they had a Suse license or not. Now, we find that there is a "clone" clause which again, pretty much excluded every bit of software in Novell Suse Linux.

So are these companies so afraid of Microsoft that they'll sign a deal worth less than the paper it's written on just because it has the Microsoft corporate logo on it since there appears to be no legal "promise" in the docs. The best I can see is that between the handful of 'viable' Linux distros, picking one which is part of Microsoft's planned attack against OSS and Linux is better than picking a Linux distro which is not part of Microsoft's plan since that would piss them off immediately. Whatever pissing them off means.

Come to think of it, if there isn't pure ignorance involved, such a deal with Microsoft could be part of a massive migration off of Microsoft software. After all, the only thing Microsoft has against these companies which holds any legal water are their current Microsoft software licenses. Because it is sure looking like being locked into Microsoft software now means being locked out of all other software. IMO.

LoB

Re:Windows Clone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323991)

I was thinking Microsoft was the first to create the EULA? ;-)

I think you have it backwards. (1)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324233)

MS would do better to stop piracy than to stop "clone products".
Every box running pirated copy of Windows is a box that doesn't have Linux (or any other OS) that would otherwise. Every competing product (what they are calling clone products here) that is running on a box is market- and mindshare taken from MS products. Therefore, I don't think that stopping piracy is in their interest, but stopping competing products is in their interest, hence the decision to start another FUD campaign in which they mention by name the two products that do the most to ease the Windows to Linux transition (openoffice and wine, which also means cxoffice and cedega).

Take care
-mat

Re:Windows Clone? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322347)

Well no, I would not be so harsh. The Microsoft security flaws are all their own innovation.

Re:Windows Clone? (1)

Benaiah (851593) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322639)

Well no, I would not be so harsh. The Microsoft security flaws are all their own innovation.
Hah, This allows companies like Symantec, Norton and Macafee to exist... If MS wasn't so patetically coded these companies would never have had a market to exist in.

Re:Windows Clone? (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322695)

Microsoft does not invent, only "embrace, extend, extinguish"
I prefer to think of them as environmentally friendly. The use the three R's when dealing with software: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Not necessarily in that order.

Section is vague at best (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322121)

The section is vague at best. Hundreds of open source projects have "the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of [Microsoft] and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product."

Samba could be viewed as a clone product, but so could gedit (clone of notepad). Firefox might be a clone of Internet Explorer 7. What about totem? Looks an awful lot like Windows Media Player, at least the older versions. Nautilus behaves a lot like Windows Explorer, huh?

This section is stupid and ridiculous and is likely to get struck down by the first courtroom judge that looks at this thing as being too vaguely worded.

IANAL and this is not legal advice.

Missing The Point (3, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322599)

IMHO the whole point of the effort on Microsoft's part was to thin the money-making distro herd.

1. Create the perception that there is an approved Linux distro. This is a requirement for bureacracy-bound businesses that have to check with Legal/PHB's before "purchasing" a Linux distro.

2. What better way to waste Novell's resources than create documents that protect nothing? It's a poorly run organization and this agreement is an excellent example of _exactly_ how poorly it is run. I'm sure there are great people that work at Novell, they just don't get to make strategic decisions. Novell is slowly circling the drain and Microsoft needs the perception of competition and cooperation to keep legislators pushing their agenda. http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=NOVL [yahoo.com]

3. One of Microsoft's goals is to capture Linux revenue. This, more than anything else will keep OSS at bay.

Re:Missing The Point (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323951)

When Microsoft clones a linux application or a GPL (especially v3) feature will they try and act as though this liscense protects them from linux lawsuits?

This is a pretty interesting legal attack, one partner company is allowed to use certain resources and the other isn't (because one is the evil empire)... This move is going to create such a shitstorm no matter what they're trying to do.

Re:Section is vague at best (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322875)

This section is stupid and ridiculous and is likely to get struck down by the first courtroom judge that looks at this thing as being too vaguely worded.

Of course, the experience of Mic^H^H^H SCO vs IBM is that it takes four years of expensive legal shennanigans before the judge is allowed to even speculate about the possibility of considering making such a judgement.

Anyway, you seem to be mistaking this for something that is intended to be legally enforcable.

The idea is to imply that lots of products are in violation, without making any concrete claims that could be tested and possibly disproved. If the open source community make the GPL less acceptable to industry in a well-meaning but doomed effort to nail this jelly to a tree then that's just a bonus.

Re:Section is vague at best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323417)

Firefox might be a clone of Internet Explorer 7.

You obviously don't know the history. IE is the clone. Firefox is a direct descendent of the original web browser. (mosaic->netscape->mozilla->firefox)

Re:Section is vague at best (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324011)

You didn't read the text. All it says is that what matters is two products have the same functionality, it doesn't mention anything about whose product came first.

Re:Section is vague at best (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323893)

Samba could be viewed as a clone product, but so could gedit (clone of notepad). Firefox might be a clone of Internet Explorer 7. What about totem? Looks an awful lot like Windows Media Player, at least the older versions. Nautilus behaves a lot like Windows Explorer, huh?

Firefox brings up an interesting question. It inherits from Netscape which inherits from NCSA Mosaic, so that brings up another question: is the contract written such that if Microsoft's product is the "clone" rather than vice-versa, is the FOSS software still protected?

Samba is pretty obviously a clone product-- that's its only purpose in life. There are countless other FOSS projects which got started when someone said "I wish we had an open source version of X" because they didn't want to pay the original developer for having developed some useful capability. I think Microsoft has every right to protect their inventions from such "predatory open-sourcing". Other FOSS software is fairly innovative, and those should be protected from random big-company patent blind-siding.

*Rolls Eyes* (2, Insightful)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322139)

So according to their exclusion agreement, Novell can't create an operating system? While it may not use the same APIs, it sure as Hell duplicates obvious functionality (well, duplicates in the sense that they do the same thing, not in the sense of Microsoft doing it first).

Come to mention it, if such an agreement were widespread, how would anyone ever create a better product, since by the very virtue of the fact that you need to recreate some of the functionality to improve upon it.

Sigh, I feel as if a thousand lawyers screamed out in delight when they wrote that clause in...

Common API is the key (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322171)

Various vendors implementing a common API is the very basic definition of modularity and interoperability. So far MSFT made its products non-interoperable by its marketshare muscle and political action etc. But it knows that once the users learn the difference between interopearability and microsoft-compatibility, people would demand truly interoperable products. It can confuse the issue only so long. Even if it pushes OOXML as an "international standard", the issues are being discussed in the open and at some point people would demand a unified standard. So it foreses the day it has to use other means to thwart competition. The other means will not be lowering the price or improving the product. It will be some soft of legal action to keep Open Standard products in a legal limbo.

Hopefully the customers will see through the effort. The marketplace has changed a lot. Netscape was smothered. But Firefox rose from the ashes. Let us not confuse Open Standard Software with free software or even open source. Another player with some financial muscle, that will benefit by taking a marketshare slice from MSOffice franchise should be able to challenge the fundamental applicability of patent protection for clone products.

Wine is by definition a clone product (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322231)

It has no other reason to exist but to run Windows software, so it clones the Windows API. Both Evolution and OpenOffice.org are no closer to Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office than other competing software. They do substantially the same tasks and the free software packages certainly are influenced by the Microsoft competitors, but then again both of them are heavily influenced by the same software predecessors.

So is Mono and therefore any Mono application (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324195)

And Novell is the current 'pusher' of Mono and it's Microsoft fanboy( Miguel de Icaca ). I wonder how much egg is on the face of the Novell lawyers now, or if they still have a job at Novell?

LoB

Magic Beans (3, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322235)

The more details come to light... the more I'm wondering what Novell got out of this deal.

Re:Magic Beans (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322403)

Novell got Fourty Million Dollars out of it. MS is the loser. Novell is an incredibly shrewd company. Over the years they have screwed MS out of almost a billion dollars in the form of out of court settlements. MS must have seen another one coming and did a pre-emptive submissive roll over...

Re:Magic Beans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322483)

I'm wondering what Novell got out of this deal

money !

Re:Magic Beans (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322493)

While I dislike this deal as much as anyone, one thing I've learned from following the SCO lawsuits is that Novell has some pretty sharp lawyers working for them. I know they are expressing concerns over GPL3, but I think that is more for the investment side of things than legal.

Re:Magic Beans (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324399)

if that is the case and the Novell lawyers knew mostly nothing at all was legally valid in the contract, what will they do once the contract ends and Microsoft starts asking for licensing fees directly from those customers? Will Novell stand up and tell them that there never was any protection, that the original contract excluded pretty much every aspect of the Suse distribution? I don't believe Microsoft will continue to work with Novell for vary long once they sucker enough high profile customers into the MSFT/Novell coupon scam since Microsoft does not care about making money from Linux or OSS on Linux. They care about keeping marketshare for Windows and collecting the billions per month from that which they fully control.

I don't see how this could have been a plan for Novell and its lawyers unless they were only concerned with keeping the company afloat with this deal for maybe 3-5 years. Even with the publicly listed holes in what is/isn't valid in the MSFT/Novell license, large companies have signed up for this and paid the protection moneys. Get a dozen or so more and then yank the rug out from under it by increasing the protection fees and you'll have some very large companies publicly locking out OSS and Linux products like they were Typhoid Mary at the door. So how does this plan work for Novell in the long run( > 3-5 years )?

LoB

Mono (2, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322307)

While the definition is vague, and one could argue that programs like OpenOffice are no more clones of MS Office as any other office program out there, other programs like Mono, Moonlight, and WINE would absolutely be considered clones by any definition. So much for this deal promoting interoperability.

Re:Mono (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324615)

There is lots of chatter that Microsoft has no intention of ever taking this to court like SCO did. That the intension is to use FUD to move the market and eventually do the damage to the OSS/Linux image such that businesses will stay away from it and go back to the loving arms of Microsoft. Since it has already been shown that much of the contract is so vague that there is really no protection not to sue left in the deal, adding vagueness to what is and isn't covered sounds just like Microsoft lawyers planned and are good at.

The bad part of all this is that companies are falling for this and purchasing the coupons from Microsoft and therefore paying the protection moneys. Microsoft just needs to hook a dozen or so more high profile corporations over the next few years before the contract ends. Then, they might continue directly with these customers for a short term contract before massive license fee increases or they'll go directly to that if they feel the market is ripe. This way, they'll make using OSS and Linux more expensive than Windows and more problematic and in the process give businesses a foul taste for thinking Linux and OSS was a good move. Effectively keeping businesses away from it for another 10 years or so and keeping it's marketshare down to niche levels.

Continuing to discuss how little this contract really provides might just help keep more companies from signing up and buying the coupons, thereby taking the wind out of this latest Microsoft plan to stop OSS/Linux growth. IMO.

LoB
 

IBM clones? (1)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322335)

Have not clones become fully legal long ago? (I mean the IBM clone for example)

The devil in the details -- again (5, Informative)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322349)

Read on... the agreement excludes patent suits with the following exceptions: clone products, foundry products, and other excluded products. Here's the parts I have trouble with:
  • The clone product part of the agreement includes the following text "...that are compliant with a specification of a standards organization as to which the other Party has consented to the use of its Patents therefor, shall not be considered in determining whether the product is a Clone Product." in other words, if a product is compliant with a web standard for which MS or Novell holds a patent, they can't use the inclusion of the functionality standard to defend against a lawsuit. Great. Wanna bet MS has patents related to browser rendering (a major component) functionality that hits this?
  • More fun language... "even if a new product (or major component thereof) meets such requirements, only those Patents covering inventions in new features and functionality in such Clone Product may be asserted against such Clone Product, and only with regard to Clone Product Functionality." In other words, if MS adds something that may or may not have patent to a product, if a "clone" figures out how to duplicate it, the patent protection agreement doesn't apply. Hmmm. Sound familiar?
  • Notwithstanding subsection (i) above, Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice and OpenOffice are not subject to such subsection (i)... AKA reverse engineered clean room code which began development before the DMCA existed isn't going to be protected from lawsuits -- even though there is no copyright infringement and no digital rights law that relates to that early code.
  • It gets worse: "Foundry Products" i.e. third part products not designed by or specified by Novell etc. aren't covered. So if I read this right any tools, demos, etc. that might exist on a SUSE distribution are excluded from patent litigation protection and are explicitly denied protection by the clause which states that software which is " made, reproduced, sold, licensed or otherwise transferred through or by the Acting Party for the primary purpose of attempting to make such product subject to the covenants under the Covered Patents of the other Party so that a third party's customers can receive the benefit of such covenants." will be excluded. Hooray. Good job Novell -- cover yourself but shoot all third party developer's ability to protect ourselves by excluding our work -- even if you distribute it.
  • and finally my personal favorites. Other excluded products include (a) office productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc.).... (b) new features and functions in the following categories of products of the Parties, but not to the extent the products embody operating system software or other enabling technologies: (i) video game consoles, console games, video game applications designed to run on a computer, and on-line video gaming services ... (ii) business applications designed, marketed and used to meet the data processing requirements of particular business functions, such as accounting, payroll, human resources, project management, personnel performance management, sales management, financial forecasting, financial reporting, customer relationship management, and supply chain management; (iii) mail transfer agents (aka email servers); and (iv) unified communications. In other words, none of the major applications or application types usable by a business are covered by the no-suit ingredient.

Sounds like a good enough set of reasons to not support Suse Linux any more. Ubuntu anyone?

Re:The devil in the details -- again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322769)

No, I'd go with Fedora. Given Mark Shuttleworth's admiration for Microsoft [markshuttleworth.com] and the Dell/Canonical deal, I wouldn't be surprised if Ubuntu joins Suse in the MS patent blackmail.

Re:The devil in the details -- again (1)

SoulRider (148285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322845)

I think the day Novell signed the agreement with MS was the day to stop supporting SUSE.

Novell customers beware, watch out for the coupons (1)

g2devi (898503) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323211)

IANAL, but if I understand things correctly (I'm sure lawyers in the crowd will correctly) Novell customers are in deep trouble if Microsoft ever decides to make patent lawsuits.

Novell basically agreed that there are infringing patents in SUSE Linux (otherwise, what are they licensing per SUSE license?). Novell customers who use the Microsoft coupons have agreed that this is the case also, so they are infringing.

But the N-M protects them, so they don't have anything to worry about for 5 years (the life of the agreement).

However, the N-M agreement excludes a large number of products which they are likely using. So if a Microsoft patent appears in both a covered and excluded product in SUSE, Novell customers are on the hook. And since they can't plead ignorance, they're a much easier target than someone use uses a non-SUSE distribution, in much the same way that SCO's customers were their first targets.

Now I don't think that Microsoft would dare file a patent lawsuit against Linux or Novell...there are too many interested parties in Linux that have patents and it would risk a patent Armageddon, but if you use SUSE Linux, it would be safer if you avoided the Microsoft coupon.

That's just my uninformed opinion.

---
Beware of Microsoft Geeks bearing gifts

Re:The devil in the details -- again (1)

openfrog (897716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323243)

No, I'd go with Fedora. Given Mark Shuttleworth's admiration for Microsoft [markshuttleworth.com] and the Dell/Canonical deal, I wouldn't be surprised if Ubuntu joins Suse in the MS patent blackmail.


RTFA that you yourself link to. Mark Shuttleworth rhetorically "side" with MS to invite them to fight software patents. Of course, idiotic reporting got only the sensasionalist side. I am surprised that you put forward this illiterate reading while pointing to the actual article.

Re:The devil in the details -- again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323355)

I'd suggest you re-read the article he linked to. This sounds like admiration to me:

"I have high regard for Microsoft. They produce some amazing software, and they made software much cheaper than it ever was before they were around. Many people at Microsoft are motivated by a similar ideal to one we have in Ubuntu: to empower people for the digital era."

What part of that did you not understand? Please, stop being an Ubuntu fanboy/Shuttleworth worshipper for just one second. It won't kill you. Really.

A Toast! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323935)

To Evil.

I didn't think you could patent a UI (1)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322359)

wasn't the suit between MS and Apple/Mac a while back over not being able to patent a UI? I thought it was.

I think MS is playing a dangerous game here, and I think they are going to loose.

Re:I didn't think you could patent a UI (2, Informative)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322879)

No, that lawsuit set absolutely no precedent. Apple had actually licensed Microsoft to use nearly everything they sued them for and most of the remaining elements were found to not be copyrightable since "they were the ONLY way you could do it" (not because UI isn't copyrightable).

The judge made NO ruling on whether you could copyright UI and it had NOTHING to do with patents. In fact, since the judge DID decide that some parts were NOT copyrightable because "they were the ONLY way you could do it", that would seem to indicate the judge at least believed some elements were copyrightable.

You'd have to find a different case to disqualify any copyrights or patents Microsoft has on look and feel. I'm pretty sure Adobe has litigated based on UI elements in their applications in the past long after the Apple look and feel suits were over with. Apple also continues to patent their UI elements as well as claim copyright protection for Mac OS X look and feel.

Re:I didn't think you could patent a UI (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324021)

loose./> I'm always amazed at how much trouble people have spelling lose right.

Boolean Dissection (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322369)

"a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party ... and that has the same or substantially the same user interface, or implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product."

a := a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party

b := has the same or substantially the same user interface

c := implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product

Clone Definition: a ^ b v c [a and b or c]

We will assume the standard boolean or in this case, being the inclusive form. Given all that, the definition is actually ambiguous. They could really mean (a ^ b) v c, or a ^ (b v c), given what little of the phrasing we have available to us it's hard to say. In the end, it might all depend on where the commas appear!

Re:Boolean Dissection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322497)

it might all depend on where the commas appear!
That's not out of place for contract law.

Translation (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322391)

a clone product is broadly defined as "a product (or major component thereof) of a Party that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of the other Party ... and that has the same or substantially the same user interface, or implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product."

What a long-winded, obfuscated way of saying "interoperable competitor".

how dare they clone us! (2, Funny)

phrostie (121428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322423)

the nerve to clone wonderful original works like WordPerfect or Lotus123,,,,wait, are they saying MS Office is original?

Re:how dare they clone us! (1)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323611)

That's the biggest problem I'm having with this, and it's actually amusing in its irony. Microsoft doesn't have an original bone in its body, and some of Microsoft's most important, profitable, and successful products are indeed clones of other products. It's like they're saying that they're allowed to copy their competition and absolutely obliterate them in the process, but if someone copies them - or copies their copies - they can sue you into the ground. If they actually tried to take anyone to court over this, they'd probably just get a stern talking to about their own history and have the case thrown out the window.

This whole deal reeks of bullshit, with more than a hint of FUD floating around too.

wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322433)

1/ wine is named in this agreement.
2/ dell joins the game.
http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2035907410.html [linux-watch.com]
3/ " Wine for Dell Ubuntu Users, Says Shuttleworth" and bullshit us about the true reasons:
http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/11/ 1220219 [slashdot.org]
4/ profit for who?

Does this include HomeWord? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322453)

Which was the most popular word processor for a few years before Microsoft WordPerfect came out.

Re:Does this include HomeWord? (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322509)

There was no Microsoft WordPerfect [wikipedia.org] . It's just called Word.

Like Dr Dos (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322463)

Come to think of it, Novell bought a pretty good clone of DOS [novell.com] long ago, originally from the makers of CP/M [wikipedia.org] (Digital Research).

I've often wondered about WINE... (1)

aabxx (1108623) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322591)

What isn't Microsoft trying to sue the hell out of it?

Would be a shame though if that happened. WINE's gotta be the finest killer app there is in the linux world. Not only do you get to run all the linux goodies, you even get to run a lot of windows goodies! Can't beat that.. :)

Re:I've often wondered about WINE... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323143)

"What isn't Microsoft trying to sue the hell out of it?"

What for? You don't have to be doing anything illegal to get sued, but a judge is likely to throw the case out if they're not breaking any laws.

What laws are the WINE developers breaking?

oh christ why couldn't someone have said it before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19322843)

begun the clone wars have...

mod up! stupid!

You're guilty of clone products yourself Bill.... (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322869)

'cause MS Word is a clone product of Word Perfect!
(and Wordstar).

Re:You're guilty of clone products yourself Bill.. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324243)

<JEDI-MIND-TRICK type="sith">
Microsoft invented/innovated everything in computing. Nobody had anything before Microsoft.
</JEDI-MIND-TRICK>

cars (1)

Epiphenomenon (977580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19322915)

I've noticed that a lot of cars have the same functionality, API, etc. Does MS hold a patent on the look-and-feel of cars?

Re:cars (2, Interesting)

deanoaz (843940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324181)

Actually there is a precedent for cars.

A patent on the automobile was granted and many manufacturers were forced to pay up. Look up the "Selden Patent".

It was Henry Ford who finally broke the scheme by refusing to pay and putting his money into lawyers to attack the patent holder instead. He initially failed, but kept at it and won on appeal on the basis that the engine design Selden used in his design (Selden had built an engine, but never a car) was not the same design Ford and other car makers were using.

On the other foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19323027)

If you can sue a clone product, couldn't Microsoft be sued because Excel is a clone of 123 or VisiCalc, or IE is a clone of Netscape, or Windoze is a clone of Apple, or their anti virus is a clone of Norton or outlook is a clone of ...

meaning... Novell's deal is worthless (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323439)

The applications companies might even remotely want protection against Microsoft lawsuits for are OpenOffice, Samba, Evolution, OpenXchange, and Mono. Yet, it looks like the Novell/Microsoft deal fails to provide protection for specifically those packages. Seems to me that that makes Novell's deal largely worthless for licensees, since they receive no more protection by buying from Novell than they do by buying from RedHat.

(And while there's nothing legally wrong with their definition, it's absolutely ridiculous for Microsoft to go around and talk about "clone products", given that almost their entire product line consists of "clone products".)

Yes, actually. The cat does "got my tongue." (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323447)

> The text of the clone product definition subsections is very cumbersome to read,
> but it specifically mentions OpenOffice, Wine, and OpenXchange by name without
> asserting that they are necessarily clone products.

Ya gotta love lawyers.

"Clone products that infringe each other's patents shall be considered as not infringing on each other's patents. Such clone products are, for example OpenOffice, Wine, and OpenXchange, which are not clone products if you're going to sue us over patents and try to twist our words around to hurt us in unanticipated ways."

OT: Your sig (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324301)

Who the f*** decided that sentences on the Internet shall no longer be formatted with two spaces after a period?!

Thank you. I learned typing the old-school way (on a manual typewriter), and we always used two spaces after a period. This, of course, assumed said period was the end of a sentence, and not merely part of an abbreviation.

And so began the Clone Wars (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323637)

As the Rebel Alliance of Linux vendors fought valiantly against the Evil Dark Forces of the Empire, little did they know that some of their supporters who claimed to be Open Source were pushing DRM behind their backs, and preparing their law suits.

But, even if they lost the wars and were betrayed like the Jedi were, they knew that the Force would ultimately prevail, for Information wanted to be Free!

Is there any relevance? (4, Insightful)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323715)

I'm soft of totally confused looking for any relevance to anything here. Microsoft gave Novell $40M, and agreed not to sue Novell's customers, unless Novell's customers were using Novell's product (the wording of the exceptions seem to exclude anything that could possibly be in a distribution).

My question is, "What difference does the agreement make?"

M$ could possibly sue Novel, et.al., before the agreement was signed. Now, M$ is out $40M, and still could possibly sue Novel, et. al. The possibility of M$ winning such a lawsuit remains as remote as it was before. It appears that the $40M was simply the cost of a publicity stunt. Wouldn't another fake grassroots campaign have been more effective?

But features are not patents! (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 7 years ago | (#19323835)

There are more than one way to put a feature into software without violating a patent. Suddenly this document makes features as patents, which is not even true.

Microsoft's definition of a feature. [msn.com]

Microsoft's definition of a patent. [msn.com]

They are not even remotely the same.

Did Novell just (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324171)

Did Novell just signed an agreement that doesn't really help them at all? I mean, from MS' view anything linux can be a clone thus this deal does not protect anyone from getting sued from MS it seems that MS' intrinsic fear of going to court in a patent suit does much more to protect Novell users...

Effects on Linux Investment? (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 7 years ago | (#19324363)

I think that GPLv3 is doing the right thing in disallowing the kind of deal that Microsoft and Novell concocted but I do have one concern.

The community has just demonstrated that it's willing to deal a major financial blow to a company who the community feels violants some of their core beliefs. Could this precedent deter future companies from entering the Open Source distribution business as they now fear a misstep could lead to a massive, and damaging, community backlash?

Note, I don't think this is a rational fear except for really big players like, Novell, Red Hat, and IBM, whos misdeed could be big enough to motivate a license change but I can see a lot of businesses being tentative about dealing with such an organized and motivated community.
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