Bruce Perens pointed out some implications of the deal. This is like the Microsoft-SCO dealings in reverse: Microsoft threatens Linux vendors with patent lawsuits and Novell is the first to buy protection. If you think this sounds like conspiracy theory, see what Ballmer has to say. Microsoft presumably hopes to force Linux into a conventional pay-per-seat business model, because it's a master of that game.
Look at who the press release quotes as acclaiming the deal and remember that these sponsors of Linux and free software are not our friends. They sponsor free software so long as they think it's good for business. We shouldn't expect loyalty from public corporations, nor give it to them.
From the same press release, I quote:
Novell will also make running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenues from open source products.
If you are a copyright holder of software that Novell receives and distributes under GPLv2, please ask them whether they have obtained a patent license covering your work, and if so, how they intend to comply with section 7.