When I first read a story that CPTN Holdings-a Microsoft-led group that also includes Apple, EMC, and Oracle--was no longer in the running to buy 882 of Novell's patents, I knew the story couldn't be right. Yes, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) had protested against the patent deal to the German Federal Cartel Office, but just because CPTN has withdrawn a filing to the Office didn't mean that CPTN was giving up on the deal. Far from it.
I suspected that since Attachmate's acquisition of Novell has been delayed by Attachmate needing more funds to seal the deal and Novell had to re-set the acquisition clock thanks to the Christmas holidays, that the closely-associated CPTN deal had run into similar problems. I was right.
Sources close to Novell told me that was indeed the case. The CPTN group will be re-filing to obtain the patents. Their plans haven't changed a bit. A Microsoft representative confirmed that CPTN was still planning on buying the patents. The PR rep said, "This is a purely procedural step necessary to provide time to allow for review of the proposed transaction."
Now, this is not to say that the Novell deal is sure to happen. I find it more than a little odd that Attachmate was still looking for just over a billion dollars to close the deal in late December. Microsoft is already helping Attachmate buy Novell and Attachmate was already getting a steal of a deal on Novell.
Be that as it may, even if Attachmate doesn't end up buying Novell, CPTN can still end up owning Novell's patents! As Andrew 'Andy' Updegrove, a founding partner of Gesmer Updegrove, a top technology law firm, points out, "If the Attachmate deal just doesn't close, whether because of a deterioration in Novell's business, a failure of the Attachmate funding, or whatever … CPTN has the right to cherry pick the Novell patent portfolio."
No, neither Microsoft, nor its CPTN allies, is walking from this deal. The German Federal Cartel Office, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or, least likely, the U.S. Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) may yet put an end to it, but no mere protests from open-source groups are going to frighten Microsoft and friends away.