Mandriva: We Won't Sign Microsoft Pact

Mandriva has become the latest Linux vendor to publicly refute speculation that it will join Novell, Xandros and Linspire in signing a patent covenant with Microsoft, in which the Redmond company agrees not to sue for potential intellectual property infringement.

The statement from Mandriva CEO Francois Bancilhon follows a similar refusal from Canonical chief executive Mark Shuttleworth; Canonical makes the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. Red Hat also said it would not sign any patent pledge with Microsoft.

Microsoft's agreement with Novell, inked last November, formed a rift in the Linux community. Some companies felt they could use the patent covenant to help protect their customers, while others felt Microsoft was simply spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt to push businesses to Windows instead.

While the deal between Microsoft and Novell included work on interoperability between the two platforms, it primarily focused on intellectual property. Novell agreed to make royalty payments to Microsoft in exchange for lawsuit protection, although Microsoft has yet to specify what patents Linux may infringe upon.

"Interoperability between the Windows and Linux world is important and must be dealt with, and anything that helps this interoperability is a good thing," wrote Mandriva's Bancihon. "We also believe what we see, and up to now, there has been absolutely no hard evidence from any of the FUD propagators that Linux and open source applications are in breach of any patents."

Red Hat said it would not pay an "innovation tax" to Microsoft. Like Ubuntu's Shuttleworth, Banchion characterized Microsoft's offer as a protection racket, similar to that employed by the mafia.

"We think that, as in any democracy, people are innocent unless proven guilty and we can continue working in good faith," he continued. "So we don’t believe it is necessary for us to get protection from Microsoft to do our job or to pay protection money to anyone."

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