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Monday, 28 May 2007 07:08

Novell documents tell us nothing new

How much more do we know about the Microsoft-Novell deal now, after Novell posted some of the details of three agreements on the web on Saturday as part of a regular filing with the SEC? Precisely nothing that we did not know earlier.

 The three agreements posted are the patent co-operation agreement, technical collaboration agreement and business collaboration agreement. And, of course, selected portions are redacted.

About the only thing that can be inferred from the three documents is that the GPLv3 may get in the way of Microsoft distributing SUSE Linux - but then we knew that long ago.

Apart from the people at the two companies, one man had already seen the agreement after signing a non-disclosure agreement - Eben Moglen, the chief legal eagle of the Free Software Foundation. And Moglen was the one who came to the conclusion that the existing GPL - version 2 - could probably not stop the deal. He also concluded that language in the GPLv3 could be used to block the deal.

So what's new?

Novell had not filed any periodic reports with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for almost a year as the company was said to be reviewing the issue of stock  options - a similar investigation to that which Apple undertook and came up with facts that caused some problems for Steve Jobs.

Last week, Red Hat's chief legal counsel, Mark Webbink, told me from Tokyo that Novell was expected to make the agreements public within the next 60 days. As indeed they have.

The company can withold information for various reasons - the usual weasel words like commercial secrets, trade sercrets and so can be used to justify anything and everything.

And there is nothing unusual about a company filing such agreements as part of its regular SEC filing when the agreement could have an impact on its financials.

Nothing to see here, people, please move on.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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