Microsoft to Novell: Respect

Ballmer in a china shop

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Statements yesterday from Novell and Microsoft sought to clarify and repair relations between the new friends, damaged by Steve Ballmer's comments last week.

Ballmer said Microsoft had signed its recent support and development alliance with Linux distributor Novell because it "uses our intellectual property".

The comments drew this response from Novell:

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.

Full statement here.

Worried that it might have offended a new buddy, Redmond aimed to defuse a potential war of words:

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.

The solution apparently being they won't mention it again. Microsoft's statement is here.

A lot of fuss about nothing perhaps, but the tension will no doubt be seized upon by the open source community, which is seeking to nix the MS-Novell alliance.

Novell sought to reach out to its base, adding: "We wish to be extremely clear that Novell is committed to protecting, preserving and promoting freedom for free and open source software." ®

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