August 6, 2007 9:15 AM PDT

Novell boosts legal team with litigation expert

Novell has signed up one of America's top patent lawyers.

Eric Acker, head of litigation for the San Diego office of global law firm Morrison & Foerster, has a formidable history, including 45 jury trials as a federal prosecutor.

His firm is a global expert in litigation, concentrating on a number of sectors including technology. Morrison & Foerster is on the "A" list of elite law firms, according to The American Lawyer magazine. Morrison & Foerster is already assisting Novell in its proceedings against The SCO Group.

Novell, which develops Suse Linux software, is involved in an ongoing, and controversial, partnership with Microsoft. Just three weeks after the partnership agreement was signed in November, the companies fell out with each other.

As part of the deal, Novell paid $40 million to ensure that Microsoft wouldn't sue its customers for patent infringement, and the two companies then declared a "patent peace."

Referring to Acker's appointment, blogger and legal expert Pamela Jones wrote on the Groklaw site: "That tells me that they (Novell) are seriously preparing for trial, and they are making sure their heavy guns are in place. This doesn't mean the other lawyers on Novell's team are now shoved aside by any means. Litigation is a team sport."

Microsoft recently claimed that open source violates 235 of its patents, yet it has said it will not sue for now.

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7 comments

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The high cost of getting into bed with Microsoft
I hope that Novell is going on the offensive to get MS to disclose the alleged patents so they can invalidate them. This is why MS is only using vague generalities, because if those alleged infringing patents exist they will be easily invalidated.

This deal allows MS to spout FUD without showing a single bit of proof. I hope Novell shoves that FUD down Ballmers huge throat and he chokes on it.

Of course, had Novell shown an ounce of foresight and intelligence, all this money wasted on laywers would not be necessary.

If you knowingly lie down with the biggest ***** in town, you can't complain of the consequences.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
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also
I seriously doubt the Novell hired him to focus on the SCO trial like many people seem to be implying on Groklaws message board.

SCO is done financially and legally. It has been what, 3 or 4 years since SCO bragged they had millions of lines of infringing code?

So far: 0 lines and a very tired and annoyed judge. Much higher legal fees then revenue and a permanently destroyed public image. The newest lawyer couldn't bungle up the case against SCO now.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
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You're kidding, right?
Novell cannot require MS to show anything to the world. On what grounds? If you want to go search patents that have been granted, there is a public database at uspto.gov ;-)

If Microsoft wishes to assert its patents, it will. Do I believe they have patents? Absolutely. They're granted by the thousands every year.

What the open source community lacks is patents. Unless somebody provides the legal resources to product patents on behalf of the open source community, it is entirely vulnerable. Even if just one of those hundreds of patents Microsoft claims to have is shown to be valid, that's a big problem for Linux.

How many patents does the open source community have in its possession?

Paul
Posted by paulej (1261 comments )
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Duh, like hiring a lawyer after signing the contract
What good is the lawyer now that Novell acquiesced, LOL? Little Miss Schlocklaw sounds defiant once again. This broad is going to be eating crow soon enough once MS asserts its constiutional rights.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
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Clarification from Novell
Richard:

Eric Acker is an attorney with Morrison Foerster, the San Francisco firm that represents Novell in SCO v. Novell. Eric has been added to the litigation team by his firm. He will be assisting with the trial work. This is unrelated to Microsoft, so this article is misleading. Thanks.
Posted by blowry (12 comments )
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Even more clarification from Novell
I'm also not clear what you mean by us and Microsoft having a falling out three weeks after the deal with signed. Actually, soon after the deal with signed, we landed deals with important customers like Wal-Mart, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and others. And the patent agreement involved financial flows in both directions, not just to Microsoft. In fact, the net financial flows on the patent deal favor Novell. So, beyond the fact that the Eric Acker move has nothing to do with Microsoft, the Novell-Microsoft agreement is mis-characterized in this piece. This seems like an attempt to create a controversial story when their really isn't one. Thanks.
Posted by blowry (12 comments )
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