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Microsoft-backed CPTN Altered Novell Patent Acquisition Terms to Address Antitrust Authorities Concerns

Microsoft and other CPTN Holdings LLC owners attempting to acquire more than 800 Novell patents are altering their original agreements to head off potential antitrust concerns, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 20.

Last November, Seattle-based Attachmate Corp. announced plans to buy Novell for $2.2 billion. Microsoft officials originally refused to divulge which other companies were part of CPTN, but it came to light that the CPTN group also included Apple, EMC and Oracle.

Under the CPTN plan, the four companies in the cartel planned to buy the 882 patents in question in a two-stage transaction. First, CPTN would acquire the patents and applications, then the patents would be allocated and distributed to each of the four companies.

Antitrust flags were raised almost immediately about the terms of the deal, and both the U.S. DOJ and the German Federal Cartel Office began investigations.

Today’s press release from the DOJ explained the new requirements:

  • Microsoft’ll sell back to Attachmate all of the Novell patents that Microsoft would have otherwise acquired, but will continue to receive a license for the use of those patents, the patents acquired by the other three participants and any patents retained by Novell
  • EMC willn’t acquire 33 Novell patents and patent applications that’ve been identified as related to virtualization software
  • All of the Novell patents will be acquired subject to the GNU General Public License, Version 2, a widely adopted open-source license, and the Open Invention Network (OIN) License, a significant license for the Linux System
  • CPTN doesn’t have the right to limit which of the patents, if any, are available under the OIN license
  • Neither CPTN nor its owners will make any statement or take any action with the purpose of influencing or encouraging either Novell or Attachmate to modify which of the patents are available under the OIN license.

[Source: DoJ]

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