The latest discussion draft of the GNU General Public License has been strongly criticized for its position on the Microsoft-Novell deal in which Microsoft agreed not to assert whatever patent rights it might have. The Association for Competitive Technology has published white papers extremely critical of the new draft. These publications provide a legal analysis of the relevant portions of section 11 of the latest GPLv3 draft.
Richard Wilder and Noah Clements argue in GPLv3 is a Contract and Why it Matters that the GPLv3 draft contains provisions more like contract terms rather than provisions based on copyright law. Their detailed analysis is summed up this way:
Paragraph 4 of Section 11 is aimed squarely at Microsoft and states that a patent owner that grants a patent license that enables software covered by the GPLv3 to be used or conveyed is “automatically extended to all recipients of the covered work and works based on it.”1 The FSF recognizes that the GPL had no direct influence on Microsoft as they would not “convey” a work covered by the GPL. That is, Microsoft is not threatened by the loss of a license under the GPL if they do not comply with its requirements. Accordingly, the FSF drafted Paragraph 4 to require the automatic grant of a license to all recipients of a covered work if they “convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered work.” The flaw in this provision is two-fold. First, Paragraph 4 is a contract term, not a license term. Because Microsoft and companies like them are not parties to the contract, they are not bound by it. Second, while aiming at Microsoft and the Microsoft-Novell agreement, the FSF has hit a much broader target that threatens the ability of the proprietary and open source communities to work together productively.
Those interested in the details and the specifics of their analysis can read the paper (6 pages).