Microsoft and Novell are agreeing to disagree over statements by the former’s CEO Steve Ballmer about the nature of open source Linux, but Adobe is less keen to turn the other cheek.

Ballmer said last week that Linux "uses [Microsoft] patented intellectual property" and that an aspect of his firm’s technology pact with Novell would be "appropriately compensated" for that intellectual property.

But Novell Chief Executive Ron Hovsepian has a different view of the world. "Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property," he said. "When we entered the patent-cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents."

A Microsoft statement backtracked on these claims this week in a bid to avoid conflict between the two firms. "Microsoft and Novell have agreed to disagree on whether certain open-source offerings infringe Microsoft patents and whether certain Microsoft offerings infringe Novell patents,” it said.

Novell and Microsoft have signed a wide-ranging truce whereby Microsoft pays $108 million up front to protect its customers from potential patent litigation, while Novell agrees to pay at least $40 million over five years to similarly protect its customers.

But with war with Novell off the agenda (for now) there’s trouble brewing on another front with Adobe preparing to provide the Europen Union with information about Microsoft's plans to offer the capability to export documents to PDF files in its upcoming Office 2007 package.

Significantly Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen did not rule out the possibility that Adobe will sue Microsoft over the feature, but said that Adobe will leave the decision about further action to the EU Commission "for now”. Office 2007 is scheduled to become available for business customers on November 30.