Here is a comment by Microsoft’s Bob Muglia in an interview on eWeek:
There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers. But we certainly have no intention of releasing the source code to .Net to the community, but the community is free to go with Mono and enhance that and build solutions for customers.
So, Novell customers are “legally” entitled to the IP associated with Mono, and the “community” is free to go and enhace Mono for Novell’s benefit at their own risk? In the situation described by the analysis of the MS Patent Promise, individual developers wouldn’t be permitted to distribute these improvements and the “community” would not benefit. This is why the patents must be granted to everyone’s free use, does Novell really think that the community is going to continue to develop their proprietary software for them?
Questions remain regarding the VBA support Novell is adding to OpenOffice.org and whether it too could be an IP minefield, not to mention the “Interoperability” portion of the MS-Novell pact regarding compatibility for the MS Office XML Format in OpenOffice. One statement I found curious was:
The agreement is designed to ensure that customers using OpenOffice.org will continue to be able to read and write documents using future Microsoft Office file formats, as they do with the existing closed and proprietary file formats employed by Microsoft Office today.
So, Microsoft is OK with this feature? There has long been wonder on how MS felt about OSS projects reverse engineering their proprietary file formats? Oh wait, notice how it says “customers using OpenOffice.org” and recall that MS is only indemnifying Novell “customers”.
Yes, this tin foil hat is itchy.