CPTN Holdings still alive and well

Procedural steps fake out opponents of Novell patent purchase deal

In a seeming reversal, the holding consortium formed by Apple, EMC, Microsoft, and Oracle, known as CPTN Holdings, LLC, withdrew its application from the German Federal Cartel Office, leaving many hoping if this was a sign of the end of a patent deal that has sent shock waves through the open source community. This was not what happened.

Today, PC World reported that according to the Bundeskartellamt site, the consortium has apparently canceled its application to exist as a German business entity. The cancellation was effective on Dec. 30.

But, while CPTN Holdings may no longer exist under Germany law, the company is still in existence in the United States, calling into question speculation that the patent deal--in which CPTN will purchase 882 patents from Novell as part of Novell's acquisition by Attachmate--is itself finished.

In the US, CPTN is registered as a corporation in the State of Delaware and checking the Delaware Secretary of State's website shows that CPTN is still very much in existence.

Indeed, just an hour or so after the first reports of the German cancellation came through, TechFlash's Todd Bishop contacted Microsoft and learned that the cancellation was "a purely procedural step," according to his source at Microsoft.

While the news was enough to work the open source community into a dither today, there was little reason to think that the companies involved in the consortium would withdraw their bid to pick up 882 Novell patents for $450 million.

Still, it was a solid fake-out: the Bundeskartellamt is the same government agency the Open Source Initiative (OSI) complained to about the Novell-CPTN deal in December, which led many to think CPTN was getting out of town while the getting was good.

For now, the deal is still on. According to the , the patent deal will still be on even if the Novell-Attachmate acquisition falls through.

Which should give us all a big clue about how much the CPTN member companies really want those patents.

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