What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

Summary: Seattle-based Attachmate Corp. is buying Novell for $2.2 billion, the companies announced on November 22. 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."

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Seattle-based Attachmate Corp. is buying Novell for $2.2 billion, the companies announced on November 22. 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."

So far, Microsoft is saying little about its role in the deal.

"We are pleased to be a part of the acquisition of certain intellectual property assets of Novell. Microsoft looks forward to continuing our collaboration with Novell into the future, to bring mixed source IT solutions to customers," said the company via a statement from Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing.

I asked Microsoft officials for more information about which Novell IP assets they're purchasing. I also asked who else is part of CPTN Holdings. Microsoft officials haven't yet responded to my query. are providing no information beyond the statement above. For the record, there are no court filings for CPTN or any record of the consortium until today. CPTN doesn't turn up in any documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, either.

There is an 8-K which notes that Microsoft and its unnamed CPTN partners bought 882 patents as part of this transaction, however.

I'm also wondering whether the Microsoft IP purchase means that Novell's plan to appeal its antitrust case against Microsoft involving WordPerfect is now DOA. I'd assume so, but Microsoft officials are not commenting, they told me.

Novell and Microsoft's shared IP history has been tumultuous. Novell, the company behind SuSE Linux, entered a patent-protection deal with Microsoft in 2006. Via that deal, Microsoft agreed to distribute to its customers certificates for Novell’s SuSE Linux, and Novell basically conceded that its implementation of Linux violated Microsoft patents and agreed its customers needed patent-enforcement protection. That pact was designed as a five-year deal (which would expire in 2011). As part of the 2006 arrangement, Microsoft and Novell also agreed to improve interoperability between Windows and Linux.

Attachmate officials have said they plan to operate Novell as two business units, Novell and SUSE, and join them with their Attachmate and NetIQ businesses.

Update: It sounds like Mono development will continue under the new Attachmate owners, as well.

Update 2: One IDC analyst suggests that Microsoft may have had designs on the Novell Platespin datacenter management/virtualization technology. Here's more on Platespin.

Topics: Legal, Banking, CXO, Enterprise Software, 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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47 comments
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  • Obviously, MS knows they can not compete on the merits, and will go the

    patent route to kill competition. It will be a nuclear war with IBM, Google, RedHat, and others.

    Microsoft will find themselves more isolated as time goes on.
    DonnieBoy
    • PLease explain why and how MS will be isolated by this ....

      @DonnieBoy

      OK MS follow Oracle Path they buy there open source part .... to use it or kill it that will remain to be seen but i dont see how or why it will isolate MS ....


      One thing is sure This will end up bad
      Quebec-french
      • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

        @Quebec-french They will become more isolated as IT managers like myself find ways to do without Microsoft. It's only a matter of time.
        epitax
    • Replace MS with Google

      @DonnieBoy

      and then re-write your post. I bet your tone and emotion will be different then...
      DontBeEvil
      • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

        @DontBeEvil
        Why would he do something like that 'Replace MS with Google'?

        It is like to ask him to 'replace a common citizen (no convicted) with Charles Manson '(convicted murderer)

        and...yes... 'the tone and emotion should be different then'...
        Marco nn
    • Obviouslly, MS knows they CAN compete on merits and

      these patents just add even more technology which they can [i]leagally use[/i], unlike Linux which apparently is infringing on patents from a few companies, even MS.

      Linux is losing market share it seems, and they have to stop infringing on other's work or find themselves isolated to hobbiest, and one or two open sorce companies.
      John Zern
      • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

        @John Zern I don't think Linux is actually losing market share, if anything it's actually increasing...Also the patent disputes are still up in the air, as of yet RedHat the largest vendor, has not shelled out protection money and is still in business. The correct way to say that would be "allegedly infringing".
        snoop0x7b
      • My fault, I will clarify snoop0x7b

        In terms of "losing market share" I wasn't implying that usage has dropped, it has actually grown, but overall not at the same rate that Windows and OSX have recently. Yes their percentage of overall market share in usage has dropped a bit , but still higher then what it was previouslly in terms of comparing it to itself alone.
        John Zern
      • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

        @John Zern Yes, the world's largest software company, once pleading with the public to leave it alone to innovate, needs government protection through patents to compete.

        Hypocrisy is an understatement to describe what is going on.
        epitax
      • That's a load of crap

        And you know it.

        [i]these patents just add even more technology which they can leagally use, unlike Linux which apparently is infringing on patents from a few companies, even MS.[/i]

        Prove it, shill.

        ;(
        ahh so
    • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

      @DonnieBoy
      And that my Donnieboy is a nuclear none responsive statement befitting the notorious "Donnieboy."
      eargasm
    • Dude, can you read?

      @DonnieBoy They are buying intellectual property meaning something that is already covered by a patent. The property is just changing hands from one company to another.

      Microsoft has done this many times before and it doesn't necessarily mean killing the product. MS SQL Server, for example, which is now a key piece of Microsoft's server lineup was originally something the purchased. There are many other examples...but then...you already knew that.
      cornpie
    • Donnie - quit talkin' out your backside..

      @DonnieBoy
      In all seriousness.. WHO is it that can't compete? Could it be Novel - whose Netware server OS hasn't been significant in the realm of server OS's since the mid 1990s? Could it be Novel who felt the urge to buy SUSE Linux and STILL couldn't monetize it into a stable income?

      If they were doing such - then why are they selling off their IP?
      Wolfie2K3
    • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

      @DonnieBoy

      I see the kiddy comedy show is still going and you at least have work.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
    • RE: What's Microsoft's role in the Novell-Attachmate deal?

      @DonnieBoy You truly are a f**king idiot. You're parents should be slapped every day for giving birth to a twat like you.
      JoeHTH
  • Probably to collect from SCO ;-)

    nt
    Economister
    • Collect WHAT from SCO?

      There's still talk that Microsoft was behind the whole SCO suit in the first place to help drain Novell of its financial resources. Now that it looks like it may be winding down (and not in SCO's favor) it's likely cheaper to just buy Novell than to keep up the sham. After all, Novell will never collect on what SCO owes them.
      NoCalDrummer
  • Who's next

    Red hat , Canonical , Some one will pay Berkeley for obtain BSD right ,
    One thing is sure the play-field have just light up and This will turn into a Chinese stare-down and someone will blink.

    We live into interesting time to say the least.

    That a big news can wait to see the repercussion on the industries.

    IBM,Googles ,Apple, start writing some checks ITs the opensource Xmas shopping spree .

    But also if its start for real nobody will be safe .
    Adobe,Corel, name it you have it. Now its how much you have in your bank account, resume to how much damage youll do to this industries .
    Quebec-french
  • MS hat yet to sue Red Hat

    Have I missed a headline somewhere? I know some Linux distributors (and Linux-based products) signed agreements and/or paid MS so as not to be sued, but maybe it was just cheaper for them to do so instead of enter into litigation with MS and their deep pockets. This would create the perception that Linux does violate MS patents and cause them to stay away from Linux, and you know what they say about perception.

    I'm a die-hard OpenSUSE fan and I would hate for it to be mismanaged. Yes, it's the community-based product, but somebody has to commit to maintaining it.
    davidr69
  • Maybe IPX protocol will make a comeback!

    (God I hope not)
    RationalGuy