Microsoft and other members of the CPTN Holdings group that is attempting to acquire more than 800 Novell patents are altering their original agreements to head off potential antitrust concerns, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 20.
Last November, 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.” Microsoft officials originally refused to divulge which other companies were part of CPTN, but it came to light that the CPTN group also included Apple, EMC and Oracle.
Antitrust flags were raised almost immediately about the terms of the deal, and both the U.S. DOJ and the German Federal Cartel Office began investigations.
"As originally proposed, the (CPTN) deal would jeopardize the ability of open source software, such as Linux, to continue to innovate and compete in the development and distribution of server, desktop, and mobile operating systems, middleware, and virtualization products," said the DOJ in a statement today. "Although the department will allow the transaction to proceed, it will continue investigating the distribution of the Novell patent to the CPTN owners."
Today's press release from the DOJ explained the new requirements:
Under the CPTN plan, the four companies in the cartel planned to buy the 882 patents in question in a two-stage transaction. First, CPTN would acquire the patents and applications, then the patents would be allocated and distributed to each of the four companies.