Osnews brought up an interesting story:
In the seven weeks since Microsoft and Novell announced their controversial interoperability and patent protection agreement, Redmond has handed out some 16000 subscription certificates for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Redmond is also trumpeting the fact that several of its existing enterprise customers - such as Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse and AIG Technologies - are among the first to take advantage of these certificates and the interoperability between Windows Server and SUSE Linux.
The side effect is that Redmond could get access to SuSE customer data for individual patent indemnification certificates. That is a company is informed who uses products of its competitor, thanks to a patent indemnification agreement with that competitor.
Customers of SuSe who have questions regarding the competition policy effects of a potential data leakage of their IT infrastructure to an external party outside the EU could ask the EU Competition Consumer Liasion Office or their national or federal data protection authority for adevice. It is also an issue whether customer data may be leaked from transatlantic companies such as Novell or Microsoft. The reacent case of SWIFT bank transmission data leakage to US authorities brought the data protection problem to the attention of European polititicians.
Novell and Microsoft will need to explain to their customers whether their patent agreement required exchange of customer data and was compatible with EU data protection standards. Observers need to bear in mind that patent indemnification agreements with competitors bear a customer spyout risk.