Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

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.

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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 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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27 comments
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  • Makes sense to me.

    Keep it out of the trolls so the patents can just (mostly) die.
    Bruizer
    • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

      @Bruizer In the right hands, those patents can be licensed out properly to generate profits for new innovations with further research and development. This is mostly why IBM has built up such a large patent portfolio.

      It's the exploitation for pure profit that makes patents purely useless.
      nucrash
      • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

        @nucrash

        "It's the exploitation for pure profit that makes patents purely useless."

        That's the whole point of a patent: Providing an incentive for innovation. Other than money, what incentive is there?
        msalzberg
      • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

        @nucrash

        The software industry initially built itself up very successfully before USA-only software patents were enforceable. Patents are no guarantee that a company will be MORE successful.
        DonRupertBitByte
      • I'd like to add

        @nucrash

        building patent portfolios through acquisition also protects one from future lawsuits from those like SCO looking for a quick buck.
        People
      • But until our legal system is changed

        @nucrash

        Patents are property that can be legally sold/purchased. So they are not useless.
        otaddy
      • 500 million is also cheap insurance

        @nucrash

        No reason to even license them.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

        but for the most part are not mutually exclusive<a href="http://www.6999999.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> automotive</font></a> of industry that <a href="http://www.belex-homes.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">home</font></a> from any the <a href="http://www.fwtrack.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">track</font></a> from people of <a href="http://www.wa2dci.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">best</font></a> any other food <a href="http://www.hemofilia-malaga.org/"><font color="light&amp;height">blood</font></a> to the money.
        gogon gondrong
      • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

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  • I would guess that part of the sale of these patents

    are contingent on VMware (or any of the other compaines involved) not trying to buy Novell for themselves.
    John Zern
  • SCO 2.0

    I thought at first it was Nathan Myhrvold adding to his portfolio. But a better use would be to protect itself from submarine patents. Then concentrate and finish off Linux or make it fork big time.
    osreinstall
    • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

      @osreinstall err, what an odd take on the merits and effects of forking. You, me, Google, anyone, can fork Linux. In fact, Linux is already forked, but, amazingly, seems to have survived.
      THUFIR.HAWAT
      • Just a thought

        @THUFIR.HAWAT

        This is the kernel we are talking about that MS has some 285 patent claims against. I was wondering who would rally to their defense once Novell's IP is now MS's. If MS won it would be a major rewrite or MS would use it to incorporate the code in question into their product. It will be interesting. Like I said in the past, software patents should be limited to device drivers for 10 years only.
        osreinstall
  • Anyone who argues over MS vs. Apple...

    is clearly not understanding that they are not competitors. Apple does not compete with Microsoft. Apple is exactly where it wants to be and can manage mindshare and cost with the smaller base. They can focus on their hardware in the computer, MP3 and phone sectors, among others.

    Microsoft continues to sell plenty of Office and Windows licenses on Apple Hardware, and Apple can continue to support any x86/x64 OS.

    They understand their relationship. Why can't so many users?
    PlayFair
    • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

      @PlayFair You're serious?
      Rich Miles
      • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

        @azzlsoft

        Yep. Apple are primarily a consumer electronics and media seller. MS are primarily an enterprise software company.

        They're both huge companies with diversified interests and so compete in some areas, but for the most part are not mutually exclusive.
        OffsideInVancouver
      • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

        @azzlsoft

        Certainly I am serious. Competitors don't team up consistently. Maybe in video games and cartoons, but not in business.

        The whole rivalry angle is a media spin that we fall for time and time again. True competitors would not share things like they do and be partners in as many things as they are.

        And their partnerships are of course mutually beneficial, but that is how it goes with big businesses. And as OffsideInVancouver mentioned, one focuses on Hardware, while the other focuses on software.
        PlayFair
      • azzlsoft, he is correct

        in the mid 80's General Motors purchased Hughes Aircraft. While this allowed them to overlap Boeing in area of satellites, avionics, and advanced weaponry, people would hardly catagorize both General Motors and Boeing as being "in the same business" based on their core products, that being automobiles vs aircraft.<br><br>Microsoft and Apple are no different in that respect.<br>

        :|
        Tim Cook
  • How are they a &quot;front for Microsoft&quot;...

    ...when Apple, EMC, and Oracle are also part of the group?
    itpro_z
  • RE: Who bought those 882 Novell patents? Not just Microsoft

    This smells. Cartel smelly.
    hoaxoner