Novell and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are to work together to reform global software patents.
"It is increasingly obvious that software patents are not a meaningful measure of innovation," said Jeff Jaffe, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Novell.
"As a long-time innovator in the industry, and a holder of many significant patents, Novell understands the rationale behind the patent system in general. But we believe that reform is necessary to promote software innovation."
The firms will lobby governments and national and international organisations to develop legislation and policies around patents designed to promote innovation.
A key area of focus will be the World Intellectual Property Organisation, where member governments of the United Nations meet to coordinate positions on intellectual property issues.
Given the ease with which software ideas and code cross borders, the firms argue that the issue requires a global approach.
Novell also vowed to contribute "significant resources" to the EFF's ongoing Patent Busting Project.
Launched in 2004, the project is designed to attack patents that impose particularly heavy burdens on software developers and internet users by identifying prior art that can be used to invalidate those patents and by pursuing invalidation of those patents through re-examination efforts.
EFF executive director Shari Steele said that Novell's support of will be a "great boon" to the organisation's efforts to "rid the industry of innovation-killing patents".
"Today's announcement is a logical step for Novell in its efforts to make patents a non-issue for the software community," said Nat Friedman, chief strategy and technology officer for open source at Novell.
"Under the current patent system, without a willingness by all companies to share their patents freely, software patents hobble open standards and interoperability.
"They impede innovation and progress, threaten the development of free and open source software, and have a chilling effect on software development.
Novell and EFF tackle software patent reform
By Robert Jaques on May 25, 2007 5:00PM