Novell shares more specifics on patents it is selling to Microsoft, Apple

Novell shares more specifics on patents it is selling to Microsoft, Apple

Summary: According to a January 14 filing with the Security and Exchange Commission, Novell is selling off 800-plus of its management, security, identity and collaboration software patents to a consortium of tech companies, including Microsoft.

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According to a January 14 filing with the Security and Exchange Commission, Novell is selling off 800-plus of its management, security, identity and collaboration software patents to a consortium of tech companies, including Microsoft.

Prior to this filing, the members of a group calling themselves CPTN Holdings declined to divulge what kinds of patents were among those it plans to buy from Novell as part of the deal involving Attachmate Corp.'s purchase of Novell.

CPTN Holdings is a Delaware company created by Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle. CPTN was organized by Microsoft, and is paying $450 million in cash for the Novell patents.

According to the new SEC proxy, the patents in question "relate to enterprise-level computer systems management software, enterprise-level file management and collaboration software in addition to patents relevant to our identity and security management business."

The proxy notes that "the patent sale does not require a vote of our stockholders, and our stockholders will not consider or vote on the patent sale at the special (shareholder) meeting" on February 17, which will focus on the pending Attachmate purchase of Novell.

PC World, which wrote about the new proxy filing on January 18, noted that CPTN members discovered there are some lapsed and duplicate patents in the original batch of 882 which the group planned to purchase. CPTN is proposing it purchase 861 patents plus be given additional issued patents and pending patents from Novell's portfolio to compensate for the miscount, PC World explained.

PC World also noted that about 43 percent of the patents in question are U.S.-issued patents. Another 30 percent are U.S. patent applications; 22 percent are patents issued in foreign countries; and 5 percent foreign patent applications.

In other CPTN-related news, EU antitrust authorities seemingly are unconvinced that the CPTN patent purchase requires further scrutiny, according to a January 18 blog post by Florian Mueller, founder of the FOSS Patents blog. The OSI and Free Software Foundation Europe have been advocating for EU German antitrust authorities to examine the proposed CPTN patent purchase.

Update: Groklaw discovered an interesting clause in the Novell proxy statement, which notes that an undisclosed "Party E" contacted Novell on January 11 about a possible interest in purchasing the abovementioned patents "and maybe more."

Topics: Legal, Apple, Microsoft, Open Source, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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5 comments
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  • RE: Novell shares more specifics on patents it is selling to Microsoft, Apple

    You are mistaken wrt FSFE and OSI. They asked the german authorities - not on EU level. The EU authorities currently are not involved as certain thresholds have not been met that are required. This is what EU has said. Florians interpretation that they have no interest is just that - his interpretation.
    jan.wildeboer
    • FSFE and OSI

      Thanks for the correction re: FSFE and OSI. I amended my post.

      I noted that Florian's statement "seemingly" means the EU authorities are not interested. He does seem to have some good evidence to back up his claim... Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
    • it doesn't matter whom they asked

      @jan.wildeboer
      The EU commission and Doj should go into action.
      Who cares if it's Germany, EU or US?
      Linux Geek
  • I thought the deal was off

    Turns out the deal is back on and moving forward. This to me is unfortunate due to the fact that there is a lot of patents that will be locked away and never fully realized.
    nucrash
    • RE: Novell shares more specifics on patents it is selling to Microsoft, Apple

      @nucrash

      Without the threat of patent ligation hanging over them it means those technologies will be more likely to be implemented by one or more of those companies.
      Mythos7