Novell Supports Innovation, Competition in Open Source with Patent Policy

October 12, 2004

Novell today publicly commited to use its patent portfolio to protect its open source software offerings.


  • Will use its existing patent portfolio to protect open source products against potential third-party patent challenges
  • Urges other patent holders to take similar steps

Novell today publicly commited to use its patent portfolio to protect its open source software offerings. In a policy statement (, Novell said it would utilize its patent portfolio to defend against potential intellectual property attacks by others on its open source products. The statement serves to reassure customers that they can choose open source solutions with confidence, knowing they have strong backing from Novell on patent issues.

"Open source is a disruptive technology. As a collaborative development model, it delivers economies of scale and a quality of software that traditional software vendors are hard-pressed to match. This is great for IT customers, because it means more innovation and choice," said Jack Messman, chairman and CEO of Novell. "Because of its disruptive nature, open source threatens entrenched interests, some of whom are fighting back with vague accusations of intellectual property risks in open source technologies. Novell today is taking an active stand in defense of the software we offer both proprietary and open source­ by stating our willingness to use our own patent portfolio to help our customers. We urge other vendors with relevant patents to make the same commitment."

The rapid growth of open source software in recent years has introduced welcome competition into the IT market, with Linux*, Apache*, MySQL*, JBOSS* and other leading technologies offering new alternatives to companies looking for better value and performance from their IT systems. Customers benefit greatly from freedom of choice in making decisions about technology. Novell's policy statement explains why Novell customers can make those decisions based on technical merits, security, quality of service, and value, not patent concerns.

"The intellectual property risks associated with open source software are really no different than those with proprietary software," said Joseph A. LaSala, Jr., general counsel of Novell. "Novell is committed to the protection of intellectual property in the emerging 'mixed source' environment, where proprietary and open source solutions co-exist. While patents play an important role in protecting intellectual property, their use by some vendors to influence customer choice is without precedent. We believe that customers should be free to make purchasing decisions based on factors such as price, value, security and service, not based on threats of intellectual property litigation."

"Our approach is to protect customer choice, not threaten it, and support the innovation inherent in the open source model," Messman added. "With this policy, we're saying we'll use our patents to actively protect Novell's open source technologies against any third party asserting its patents. We will use our patents for the original purpose patents were established to encourage innovation not to shut down options for customers. We hope our leadership in this arena will lead other patent holders to take a similar stance."

About Novell
Novell, Inc. is a leading provider of information solutions that deliver secure identity management (Novell® Nsure™), Web application development (Novell exteNd™) and cross-platform networking services (Novell Nterprise™), all supported by strategic consulting and professional services (Novell NgageSM). Active in the open source community with its Ximian and SUSE Linux brands, Novell is firmly committed to open source and offers comprehensive Linux products and services for the enterprise, from the desktop to the server. Novell's vision of one Net - a world without information boundaries - helps customers realize the value of their information securely and economically. For more information, call Novell's Customer Response Center at (888) 321-4CRC (4272) or visit Press should visit

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