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1/11/2011
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Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, EMC Still Pursuing Novell Patents

The four-company consortium, CPTN Holdings, plans to buy hundreds of Novell patents, despite withdrawing its plan from German regulators; a move Microsoft has asserted was merely procedural.

Open source advocates celebrating Web reports that a Microsoft-led consortium has withdrawn plans to buy hundreds of Novell patents will have to put the corks back in the champagne bottles.

Microsoft sent on Tuesday to InformationWeek and other news media a statement saying its withdrawals of the plan from German regulators was just a procedural matter. Bottom line: Nothing has changed.

"This is a purely procedural step necessary to provide time to allow for review of the proposed transaction," the statement says.

The software maker's response was to an earlier report from PC World that the consortium, called CPTN Holdings and formed by Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and EMC, had withdrawn its plan to buy more than 880 Novell patents for $450 million. Some of those patents are believed to cover technology used in open source software. Novell has been a leader in the open source movement since the purchase of the German company Suse Linux in 2003.

Open source advocates fear that if CPTN gets a hold of the patents, then it would open the door to lots of patent infringement suits against the developers of open source software. The Open Source Initiative and other groups have voiced their opposition to the purchase and have appealed to the German Federal Cartel Office, which is investigating the transaction.

The Novell patents became available when the company agreed last November to be purchased by Attachmate for $2.2 billion. The transaction included sale of the patents to CPTN. Novell at the said it expected the sale of the company to be completed in the first quarter of this year.

Novell had built a product portfolio around Suse Linux and also operated a separate unit that marketed open source software. Novell signed a deal with Microsoft in 2007 to develop integration technology between Suse Linux and Windows. The agreement also protected Novell and Microsoft from suing each other over patent infringements in their respective technologies.

SEE ALSO:

Attachmate To Acquire Novell For $2.2 Billion

Enterprise 2.0: Novell Launches Vibe Platform

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