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Patent Policy

Novell Statement on Patents and Open Source Software

As a pioneer in the software industry, Novell has introduced award-winning products in areas such as networking, directories, resource management, and identity management. In general, the existing system of intellectual property rights protection around the world has allowed Novell, and other software companies, to compete, invent and deliver the benefits of their innovation to customers and the marketplace.

Novell is well aware of public discussion about patents relating to Linux and other open source products. To ensure that the marketplace has a clear understanding of Novell's position, we offer the following statement:

  • We believe that customers want and need freedom of choice in making decisions about technology solutions. Those considering Novell offerings, whether proprietary or open source, should be able to make their purchasing decisions based on technical merits, security, quality of service and value, not the threat of litigation. Novell intends to continue to compete based on such criteria.
  • As with all purchasing considerations, customers should keep software patents in perspective. In reality, open source software poses no greater risk of patent infringement than does closed source software.
  • Consistent with this belief, Novell will use its patent portfolio to protect itself against claims made against the Linux kernel or open source programs included in Novell's offerings, as dictated by the actions of others.
  • In the event of a patent claim against a Novell open source product, Novell would respond using the same measures generally used to defend proprietary software products accused of patent infringement. Among other things, Novell would seek to address the claim by identifying prior art that could invalidate the patent; demonstrating that the product does not infringe the patent; redesigning the product to avoid infringement; or pursuing a license with the patent owner.
  • As appropriate, Novell is prepared to use our patents, which are highly relevant in today's marketplace, to defend against those who might assert patents against open source products marketed, sold or supported by Novell. Some software vendors will attempt to counter the competitive threat of Linux by making arguments about the risk of violating patents. Vendors that assert patents against customers and competitors such as Novell do so at their own peril and with the certainty of provoking a response. We urge customers to remind vendors that all are best served by using innovation and competition to drive purchasing decisions, rather than the threat of litigation.
  • Novell has previously used its ownership of UNIX copyrights and patents to protect customers against similar threats to open source software made by others.

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