LWN’s Jonathan Corbet attended Novell’s Special Meeting about the Novell/Microsoft deal. LWN has a transcript of the Novell IRC meeting. Of particular interest is Jonathan’s question itself:
Novell claims to have not acknowledged any patent infringements by Linux. But Novell is now paying a tax to Microsoft on the Linux distributions it ships. What, exactly, is Novell paying for?
Novell’s answer is fairly unsatisfying. If anyone can sue anyone at any time for any reason (and this is true in the US, though you may have to deal with the consequences of an angry judge who rules that you sued for a very stupid reason), why not make such agreements with everyone?