Microsoft purchasing 882 Novell patents

Attachmate's planned acquisition of Novell will allow it to work with vendors such as IBM and Microsoft

By Chris Kanaracus and Joab Jackson, IDG News Service |  Open Source

CPTN Holdings LLC, a consortium of technology companies organized by Microsoft, is purchasing 882 Novell patents for US$450 million cash, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing submitted Monday by Novell.

The deal is part of the Attachmate acquisition of Novell, also announced Monday, and expected to close in the first quarter of next year. In the original announcement, Novell stated only that CPTN would acquire "certain intellectual property assets."

In a Form 8-K filing with the SEC, Novell stated that in the patent purchase agreement "Novell will sell to CPTN all of Novell's right, title and interest in 882 patents ... for $450 million in cash."

A quick look through the U.S. Patent Office database finds 461 patents that listed Novell under the assignee name.

Microsoft declined to comment beyond sending out a statement from the company's general counsel. "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 Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel.

It was not clear Monday which other technology companies are involved with CPTN Holdings. A limited liability corporation of that name was formed in Delaware on Nov. 4, according to a search of the state's website, but few other details were immediately available. A similar search on the website of Microsoft's home state of Washington turned up no results.

Also not clear is Microsoft's interest in these patents. In 2004, Novell hit Microsoft with an antitrust lawsuit, alleging that Microsoft tried to squelch competition in the office-productivity-applications market during the time that Novell owned WordPerfect, which is now owned by Corel.

The patents that would be acquired by CPTN in Attachmate's purchase of Novell probably wouldn't have that much bearing on the antitrust case, though, noted Charles King, Pund-IT's president and principal analyst of the Pund-IT analysis firm.

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