Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

Summary:The mysterious CPTN Holdings -- the organization that bought the 882 Novell patents as part of the terms of the Attachmate acquisition of Novell -- has been unmasked.

The mysterious CPTN Holdings -- the organization that bought the 882 Novell patents as part of the terms of the Attachmate acquisition of Novell -- has been unmasked.

CPTN Holdings isn't just a front for Microsoft. It is a coalition that includes Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle, according to information from the German Federal Cartel Office (which I found via Florian Muller's FOSS Patents blog). The Federal Cartel, a k a, the Bundeskartellamt, listed the CPTN Holdings partners in a list of antitrust-related notifications.

On November 22, Seattle-based Attachmate Corp. announced plans to buy Novell for $2.2 billion. At the same time, Novell announced the “concurrent sale of certain intellectual property assets to CPTN Holdings LLC, a consortium of technology companies organized by Microsoft Corporation, for $450 million in cash.” At the time, Microsoft officials refused to comment on the specific patents purchased or on CPTN Holdings in any way.

I'm more curious than ever now about how Microsoft came to "organize" this motley crew and how the patent spoils have been divided. Since Attachmate has said it plans to continue operating the SuSE Linux business, it's doubtful (I'd think) that there are Linux-related patents in the CPTN war chest.

I speculated earler that perhaps some of the patents having to do with the WordPerfect antitrust case between Novell and Microsoft might be part of the 882. EMC's inclusion in the coalition makes me think some virtualization-focused patents may have been part of the spoils, as well. (There were some folks hinting in November that EMC/VMware might try to grab Novell from Attachmate in a last-minute bid, but with this new information, I'd think such a move is highly unlikely.)

I've put in another query to Microsoft to see if the company will share more now about its CPTN involvement. I'm not holding my breath for an answer.

Now that we know more about CPTN, any other thoughts/guesses as to what other Novell patents might be part of the 882?

Topics: Open Source, Legal, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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