BT et C

Friday, November 17, 2006

Metaphors II

Mr. Ballmer gives us a textbook example of the danger of relying too much on metaphors, which I just recently spoke about. Let's begin. Microsoft and Novell

agreed on a, we call it an IP bridge, essentially an arrangement under which they pay us some money for the right to tell the customer that anybody who uses Suse Linux is appropriately covered. There will be no patent issues. They've appropriately compensated Microsoft for our intellectual property, which is important to us.

An "IP bridge"... ? Curiouser and curiouser ...

If you didn't know already, descriptions of the MS-Novell deal are weird and getting weirder because telling it like it is would utterly ruin Novell. What's happening is that Novell is licensing software patents from Microsoft. They cannot say this though, because the GPL forbids distributing covered code unless you give the recipient all the freedoms you have. So we will hear about things like "IP bridges". We will hear that "Novell's customers receive a covenant not to sue directly from Microsoft" (src). The last is curiousest since the covenant's terms are not fully disclosed to the customers it is supposedly being given "directly" to.

Metaphors can be tools of enlightenment or of concealment. Take care.


  • Did you see this?

    I totally agree with Matt.

    "I respect that Novell means well by this agreement. It hasn't done well, but it means well. Microsoft? Not so much."

    I'm a fan of Novell and Suse.

    I don't think the metaphor is quite as obfuscatory(!) as you seem to think. Esp. after reading both companies' letters. They're just saying, "We're not going to be able to work out any kind of 'licensing' deal because we have completely different views and strategies on what 'licensing' should be. But we can and do agree not to sue each others' customers."

    So maybe less of an "IP bridge" and more of an "IP Inter-universe wormhole" which is MUCH more clarifying, eh? :)

    By Blogger luke, at 2:53 PM  

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