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Attachmate completes its acquisition of Novell

Microsoft beaten off from Unix patents
Thu Apr 28 2011, 12:47

SOFTWARE FIRM Novell has completed its sale to Attachmate and with it around 850 patents to CPTN Holdings.

Novell had announced the $2.2bn sale of the firm to Attachmate along with a separate sale of "certain intellectual property assets" to CPTN Holdings, a consortium led by Microsoft, back in November 2010. In February Novell shareholders approved the deal, meaning yesterday was the final day that Novell was traded as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the US.

The sale of Novell to Attachmate wasn't particularly contentious, however the $450 million sale of its assets that included Unix patents to a consortium that included Microsoft and Apple led to widespread concern that a new wave of litigation was on the horizon. Novell had won a lengthy court battle with SCO to show that it owned certain UNIX copyrights and it was thought that by handing its patent portfolio over to a Microsoft-led consortium, SCO's legal fiasco might reappear under a different guise with another set of protagonists.

So great was the concern that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) waded in, hobbling the CPTN member firms' ability to file patent infringement lawsuits based on Novell's patents. CPTN will essentially sell back to Attachmate the patents that it acquires in the deal, with Attachmate licensing Novell's patents for use by the members of CPTN.

The open source community owes a debt of gratitude to Novell for its robust defence against SCO and its backers, and now with the DoJ's help this deal should mean that even with a Microsoft-led consortium paying $450m for important software patents, it won't be able to use them to scare people off from or attack Linux. µ


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