The deal that could kill open source

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Microsoft
SUSE

On the surface, it may seem that the Microsoft-Novell agreement was a watershed moment for Linux. But if you look under the hood, things are not as altruistic as it seems.

Both Novell and Microsoft said they are paying each other for "covenants" that one would not assert patent rights against the other.

Yes, Novell has said the money it's paying Microsoft does not imply Linux is infringing Redmond's patent arsenal. But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer clearly thinks otherwise, when he said during a recent conference in Seattle that Linux infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property.

Yesterday, Microsoft released a statement that said: "Microsoft and Novell have agreed to disagree on whether certain open source offerings infringe Microsoft patents and whether certain Microsoft offerings infringe Novell patents. The agreement between our two companies puts in place a workable solution for customers for these issues, without requiring an agreement between our two companies on infringement."

There will be a special meeting conducted by Novell on the #openSUSE-project Freenode IRC channel this Thursday at 17:00 GMT, to discuss the Microsoft-Novell deal. I'd certainly be tuning in.

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