Published: July 5, 2007
Microsoft is not a party to the GPLv3 license and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license.
While there have been some claims that Microsoft’s distribution of certificates for Novell support services, under our interoperability collaboration with Novell, constitutes acceptance of the GPLv3 license, we do not believe that such claims have a valid legal basis under contract, intellectual property, or any other law. In fact, we do not believe that Microsoft needs a license under GPL to carry out any aspect of its collaboration with Novell, including its distribution of support certificates, even if Novell chooses to distribute GPLv3 code in the future. Furthermore, Microsoft does not grant any implied or express patent rights under or as a result of GPLv3, and GPLv3 licensors have no authority to represent or bind Microsoft in any way.
At this point in time, in order to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft has decided that the Novell support certificates that we distribute to customers will not entitle the recipient to receive from Novell, or any other party, any subscription for support and updates relating to any code licensed under GPLv3. We will closely study the situation and decide whether to expand the scope of the certificates in the future.
As always, Microsoft remains committed to working with the open source software community to help improve interoperability for customers working in mixed source environments and deliver IP assurance. Our partnerships with Novell and other Linux platform and desktop providers remain strong and the IP bridge we built with them, embodied in our collaboration agreements, remains intact. In particular, our technical and business collaboration with Novell continues to move full steam ahead, including our joint development work on virtualization, standards-based systems management, identity interoperability and document format translators. In addition, the patent covenants offered by Microsoft and Novell to each other’s customers are unchanged, and will continue to apply in the same way they did previously.