Novell boosts legal team with litigation expert

Company taps high-powered patent lawyer Eric Acker, who has a formidable history, including 45 jury trials as a federal prosecutor.

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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