DOJ limits Microsoft's purchase of Novell patents

Novell and CPTN agree to change a deal for the Microsoft-organized consortium to buy Novell patents

Microsoft will not be able to keep patents it proposed to buy from Novell under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Novell, distributor of the SUSE Linux OS, has agreed to change its proposed deal to sell patents to CPTN Holdings, a Microsoft-organized consortium of companies, in order to satisfy DOJ concerns about the impact on open-source software, the DOJ said.

The agreement with the DOJ will require Microsoft to sell the Novell patents back to Attachmate, which announced in November it was merging with Novell. Microsoft will receive a license to use those patents and patents acquired by the other three owners of CPTN.

Novell has no comment on the agreement with the DOJ, a spokesman said. A representative for Microsoft didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the agreement.

The agreement from both Novell and CPTN to modify the deal will not end a DOJ investigation into the sale, the DOJ said in a press release. But the changes will allow the first phase of the US$450 million deal to proceed, the DOJ said. CPTN, owned by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC, filed paperwork in November announcing its plan to buy 882 Novell patents.

The patent sale, as originally proposed, would have jeopardized the ability of open source software to innovate and compete in middleware, virtualization, and server, desktop and mobile OS markets, the DOJ said.

"The parties' actions address the immediate competitive concerns resulting from the transfer of Novell's patents," Sharis Pozen, deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's Antitrust Division, said in a statement. "To promote innovation and competition, it is critical to balance antitrust enforcement with allowing appropriate patent transfers and exercise of patent rights."

CPTN sought to buy the patents in a two-stage transaction related to Novell's planned merger with Attachmate, also announced in November. In the first phase, CPTN would acquire the patents and applications, and in the second phase, CPTN would distribute the patents to each of its four owners.

Under the agreement with the DOJ, EMC will not acquire 33 Novell patents and patent applications that have been identified as related to virtualization software.

In addition, all of the Novell patents will be subject to the GNU General Public License, Version 2 and the Open Invention Network (OIN) License, a significant license in Linux, the DOJ said. CPTN will not have the right to limit which of the patents are available under the OIN license, and CPTN and its owners will be prohibited from encouraging Novell or Attachmate to modify which patents are available under the OIN license, the DOJ said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourceMicrosoftregulationOraclebusiness issuesAppleLinuxlegaloperating systemsunixnovellattachmatesoftwareemcantitrustU.S. Department of JusticeMergers / acquisitionsnon-WindowsCPTN Holdings

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?